Why Being a Small School Gives Our Students Unique Benefits

Most of us wonder how our children will go leaving the nurturing environment of home and heading to school where they will be one of many. They'll be one of at least 25 kids in their classroom, amongst multiple year levels, amongst many hundreds playing in the playground in their uniforms and bucket hats.

If parents could design the perfect school, it would more than likely be just big enough to allow kids good choice when it comes to friendships and just small enough so that they will be individually understood and known. A bit like BAC.

But what are the other reasons that small schools like BAC are a great choice for most children?

Small schools foster strong relationships

The relationship between a teacher and a child is one of the most powerful things about schools like BAC. Your child is known from year to year and teachers develop programs and learning strategies around the needs of the individuals who enter the classroom each year. Students are known on more than one level, in more than one way. Their academic and social wellbeing is nurtured by classroom teachers who follow their development from year to year, their emotional and spiritual wellbeing is nurtured by a pastoral care team who know them from their very earliest interactions to when they’re young men and women ready to step out into the world. With each passing year and each meaningful formal or informal encounter, relationships deepen and this contributes to confidence and security.

If you want to witness the strength of such relationships, watch the school teachers watching their former students step gowned and tuxedoed from limousines at Year 12 formals, listen to the playground conversations where teachers ask about a student’s brother or sister, watch how a smaller school draws people back like they’re coming home. 

PHOTO: Mrs Morgan with Year 12 graduates she taught in Year 6.

Small schools offer flexibility in learning

With smaller student numbers, schools like BAC can avoid the logistical nightmares of larger schools and interactions and incursions can be more creative, more hands on and therefore can result in a greater learning impact. For instance, earlier this year, Mr Martin brought his interactive beehive over for a Year 2 incursion and IT manager Mr Matthews flew his drone to show Year 1 to add to the study of Mount Gravatt that they had been doing this year.

Smaller schools like BAC also offer greater opportunities for collaborative learning, like in the case of our twinning Year 4 teachers Mrs Mead and Ms Ugljesa (featured in a Courier Mail news story earlier this year) who work together to pitch learning programs that challenge and support students in both classrooms, thus improving learning outcomes. Schools with good resources and fewer student numbers nurture student development in ways that larger schools cannot. They respond more nimbly when students have gaps in their learning or learning disabilities. 

PHOTO: Mrs Mead and Ms Ugljesa know how to make learning in Year 4 unforgettable.

Small schools see individuals as unique assets and foster citizenship

Smaller schools like BAC have tight, interwoven communities, resulting in a high degree of coherency and approachability. Staff are chosen for their expertise and multidimensionality, and student involvement is of greater significance. In a large school, students with developed skills will tend to be chosen for leadership, sporting and extracurricular roles and positions, whereas a smaller school offers more opportunity for personal development across a greater diversity of situations because the same needs exist, just with fewer students. Most of all, teachers at smaller schools model critical and engaged citizenship because they often perform a variety of roles in a school, which models a crew mentality rather than a spectator one to students. You can see this in the high percentage of students choosing to be involved in service trips like Sonship to the Solomon Islands, or preferring to spend their week in Mungindi with STORMCo rather than on the Gold Coast with other schoolies after graduation.  

PHOTO: The goal at BAC is to help students grow in character and ability, and to show them how to be active local, national and global citizens.

Schools are about education—but they're also about much more. When children feel well-known and cared about, when they know that they occupy an important place in their community, they become more confident and secure, more readily internalise the values taught by the school and take chances with their learning. What's more, they recover more quickly from the hiccups of childhood and adolescence and take greater ownership over their impact on others in their community, which fosters a culture of empathy, understanding and kindness. 

In a society where we often feel disconnected and isolated, we're grateful for the BAC family atmosphere, the great standards of behaviour shown by our students, and the close links we have with parents, church and the local community.