14 May, 2024 Academic - K-6 spotlight

St Michael’s receives Australian Education Excellence Awards

St Michael’s has been distinguished for its outstanding performance in primary education at the Australian Education Awards. Due to the meticulous work of our Head of the Junior School, Mrs Nicole Armatas, and our Junior School educators, we received two awards across the following categories:

  • Primary School of the Year (Non-government)
  • Innovation in Learning Environment Design


Primary School of The Year (Non-Government) Awardee

Our Junior School has been recognised for its innovative Signature Programs, each carefully tailored to align with the unique stages of a child’s educational journey. These programs are designed with a keen focus on fostering the six global competencies: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, citizenship, and character. They also aim to instil vital learner dispositions such as justice, agility, curiosity, confidence, reflection, and tenacity, while nurturing motivation, self-regulation, and resilience.

Our Signature Programs are sequential, grounded in evidence-based practices, and tailored to the developmental stage of the learners. This approach underscores our dedication to shaping well-rounded individuals, equipped with the skills and dispositions necessary to navigate the future with confidence and creativity.

Early Learning Centre: A foundation of belonging, being, and becoming

In the Early Learning Centre (ELC), students are guided to focus on family, community, culture, and place. This approach encapsulates the tenets of Reggio Emilia, fostering a sense of belonging, being, and becoming.

Prep to Year 2: Exploring me, exploring you, exploring us

As our students progress from Prep to Year 2, programs are offered that allow them to develop a strong sense of identity as they transition into and through their first years of schooling. The educational focus is on building a strong sense of wellbeing, supporting children to become effective communicators, and developing foundational skills in Literacy and Numeracy. In Year 2, students are welcomed into the Sailing Cygnets Signature Program, where they learn sailing basics, teamwork, safety, and explore local fauna – including the cygnets (young swans) on Albert Park Lake.

Years 3 and 4: Community and collaboration

In Years 3 and 4, learning expands to encompass both the school and beyond. Students are encouraged to consider collaboration and community, and our Signature Programs enable them to develop the dispositions and competencies to approach more complex problems and to apply critical thinking.

In Year 3, students embark on the Penguin Squad program, investigating the breeding cycle of St Kilda penguins and caring for the local environment.

Year 4 sees the introduction take part in the Tomorrow’s Leaders for Sustainability program, during which they learn about Indigenous connections, climate change, biodiversity, sustainability, and local history.

Years 5 and 6: Enterprisers in action

In Years 5 and 6, the focus shifts towards service and leadership in the wider world. Students are inspired to think both locally and globally. Hence, amidst a rapidly changing world, the development of persistence, agility, resilience, curiosity, and initiative is fostered.

In Year 5, the Lead the Future program explores the concept of leadership, including self-leadership.

In the Year 6 Enterprising Futures program, students learn about entrepreneurialism and the associated concepts of storytelling, pitching, collaboration, creative problem-solving, ideation, and design thinking.

St Michael’s is honoured to be recognised for excellence in Australian Education Awards 2024: Primary School of The Year (Non-Government). This achievement recognises our commitment to nurturing holistic development and preparing our students to navigate the complexities of the future with confidence and creativity, and it fuels our ongoing dedication to educational excellence.



Innovation in Learning Environment Design

The Centre for Inquiry and Innovation (CII) at St Michael’s has been recognised for Excellence in the Innovation in Learning Environment Design category. This award recognises the transformative role the CII plays in facilitating student-led, research-based learning in the primary years. The adaptable spaces within the CII enable the School to focus student learning on the co-creation of knowledge, while cultivating skills in investigation and research and nurturing attitudes for active, self-directed learning through the design-thinking process.

The CII is purposefully designed for ethical research, with a special emphasis on the School’s connection to nature, the land, and its history. It fosters collaborative, cross-age engagement, promoting learning from, with, and for the community.

At St Michael’s, the power of deep listening is valued, as genuine collaboration yields the best outcomes. This ethos was also a cornerstone in how the CII was designed, as we worked collaboratively with its architects, Sally Draper Architects, to create a building that was customised to our needs, preserved the School’s culture, and fully embodied its educational vision of fostering creativity through inquiry-based learning.

The CII at St Michael’s represents a paradigm shift in education, transforming learning environments into catalysts for growth. The CII offers adaptable spaces where students can experience a dynamic blend of indoor and outdoor environments. These spaces foster creativity, curiosity, and inquiry, allowing for various modes of research-based learning.

At the heart of the CII is a firm belief in student agency. Learners are encouraged to shape their own learning spaces, exploring, and experimenting independently. Visual cues guide their explorations, and materials are readily accessible, empowering students to imagine, create, and take ownership of their learning journey.

The CII is also a hub for a variety of specialist programs, ranging from yoga for 3-year-olds to self-directed research projects. It hosts coding clubs, language classes, philosophy discussions, and staff and parent forums.



This dual recognition is a testament to the dedication of our Junior School educators and the innovative design of our learning environments; it reflects our unwavering dedication to empowering young learners, fostering their creativity, curiosity, and resilience, and preparing them for the challenges and opportunities of the future. We look forward to continuing our journey of excellence and innovation in primary education.