How do you organise Preps to Year 12 in the one school?
MECS has Kindergarten to Year 12 on the one property, and each section of the school – Kindergarten, Primary, Middle, and Senior School has its own space. This allows for a smooth transition as a student grows and moves into the next level.
Within the Primary and Middle Schools, we have multi-age classes (refer to the question about multi-age classes on page 22 for further details). Prep to Year 2 are organised as Junior Primary, Years 3 and 4 are Middle Primary, and Years 5 and 6 are Senior Primary. in the Middle School Years 7 & 8 are organised in multiage classes and Year 9 is a stand alone program.
There are a wide range of opportunities to build relationships right across the student community. We have whole school gatherings regularly and each of the sections gather weekly or fortnightly. Year 11 and 12 students at times assist with Junior Primary students. Prep students have a Year 6 and a Year 12 buddy. Middle School students at times help with Primary School sports. Not only do these enhance learning, they foster an attitude of service and contribute to the tangible sense of community we have. One very special experience focuses on our Year 12 students when they graduate. At this time Prep students will make a special farewell card for their Year 12 friend – it creates a ‘bookend’ kind of experience in the community..

Please describe the character and style of the Kindergarten.
The MECS Kindergarten will be opening in 2013 - an exciting extension of Christian education for young children. The Kinder will be a special community where young children will feel safe, secure, respected and loved by others.
The program incorporates playgroup, and 3 and 4 year old kindergarten, with programs that will be full of opportunities for learning through exploration and discovery, within a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere where immersion in projects and play experiences can occur. The most up to date information on the Kinder is available from the school office.

Please describe the character and style of the Primary School.
The Primary School (PS) is situated at the lower end of the school grounds (closest to York Road). It has 11 classes grouped around a model of 2 Prep classes, and triple (or clustered) classes of Junior Primary (Years 1 & 2), Middle Primary (Years 3 & 4) and Senior Primary (Years 5 & 6). These triple classes are located together to enable the three class teachers to work closely within a teamwork and cooperative learning model.
The key curriculum focus is on foundational learning in Literacy, Numeracy and Core Studies. Each morning block is given to Literacy and after recess to Numeracy. Specialist teachers work in Library and Information Literacy, PE and Music, while Art is undertaken by the class teacher. The Primary playground has three main areas: the garden area in front of their Prep/JP classrooms (for Prep to Year 2 only); the main quadrangle (for all); and the Primary oval and playground (for all).
The size of the Primary School at maximum would be 270 students. Prep classes ideally would be 18 students, incrementally rising to 28 in Senior Primary. The smallness and close community of the Primary School means every class teacher knows the names of all students in their cluster and oftentimes most primary students.
There is a strong history of parent involvement in the Primary School. Parents mainly help in the classroom but there is opportunity for a wide range of other involvement. MECS really appreciates a close relationship with Primary parents.

Please describe the character and style of the Middle School
The Middle School is situated to the south of the Primary School, behind the school office. It incorporates Years 7-9 with approximately 180 students. Class sizes are deliberately structured around 21 students, with each class having their own class teacher and classroom, and each student having their own desk space and internal locker. The class teacher teaches approximately 60% of the curriculum for their class (mostly core studies). Classes are designed to be homely, comfortable and reflective of the work and character of the group. The communal, relational/pastoral atmosphere of the Middle School is very different to most mainstream junior secondary schools.
The Year 7 & 8 curriculum follows a 60% Core Studies/ 40% Skills (more traditional subject based studies) arrangement. In 2011, the completion of a new Year 9 centre as part of the refurbishment of the Middle School, worked in conjunction with a decision to develop a ‘stand-alone’ Year 9 program: the Open Village. Year 9 now undertakes an innovative approach to middle adolescent education, designed to enable them to take more responsibility for their work practices. Students are involved in negotiating their own suitable assessment tasks with teachers, and have more opportunities for self-directed learning.
There is a specific orientation program for Year 7 students new to MECS to assist them in understanding the MS culture and to help them adjust.
Throughout the MS years, Parents continue to have a close relationship with their child’s class teacher. While not assisting in the classroom, they can provide great assistance on camps. A more detailed account of what happens in the Middle School can be found in the Middle School Handbook.

Please describe the character and style of the Senior School
The Senior School (SS) is situated at the top end of the school approximately 200 metres up from the main office. Access is provided via internal school pathways, or via a second driveway on Hawkins Road (300 metres south from the first driveway). The SS facilities are grouped around a central courtyard. The SS office can be found within this precinct. Students have access to specialist areas for PE, Careers and VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) as well as having a dedicated Study Centre, Computer Lab and Theatrette. Specialist Art, Manual Arts, Science and Library are accessed by a short walk down the hill. It has its own canteen that operates each day. The buildings and facilities of the SS are designed to reflect the holistic character of MECS education, and are arranged for inclusion and community, not separation. SS staff are not separated into subject/faculty areas but work together in the one central staffroom. Students are welcome to have respectful access to teachers within the staffroom. The friendly and close relationship between teachers and students is reflective of the warm, relational approach in the SS.
The Senior School encompasses students in Years 10 – 12, with Year 10 being a bridging year between Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary. Year 10 students have a curriculum program designed between the MS model and the VCE. Many Year 10 students undertake a VET (Vocational Education Training subjects are offered across the Yarra Valley VET Cluster; 16 different subjects at various venues) subject on Wednesdays; some commence a VCE Unit 1&2 subject; and students are introduced to Study Blocks (supervised and unsupervised ‘self’ study periods in the Study Centre). Students undertake 15 periods of English and Core Studies with the one Year 10 class and Year 10 teacher. Specialist teachers deliver the rest of the Year 10 curriculum. Year 10 students also arrange for two weeks of work experience during their school year.
The Year 11 and 12 program is largely shaped by the VCE. A Student and Parent Information Night is held in August, where the Senior School Handbook is distributed. This Handbook explains all the necessary details for making subject choices as well as addressing all relevant issues. Students are required to undertake compulsory perspective subjects. This is further explained in the curriculum area of this booklet. MECS offers VCAL (a more practical/vocationally directed program that runs parallel to the VCE) at all three year levels; though a strict application process applies. The compulsory weekly SS assembly is a key gathering for all students. Daily home groups mark the roll, as well as distributing ‘house keeping’ details and spending time in devotional reflection. A more detailed account of what happens in the Senior School can be found in the Senior School Handbook.

How does MECS ensure my child isn’t overlooked in a system?
If your child joins us, they will soon have a sense of belonging. Our staff will not overlook them and they will not be lost in the throng. We can confidently assure you of that because we have been doing this successfully for over three decades. The ways we achieve this are by maintaining small class sizes and by ensuring that teachers are the primary source of pastoral care for students. Remember that in our approach to education we view each child as a special individual created in God’s image. This is not just rhetoric; we live it.

What are the advantages of your small classes?
Our view is that limiting class size is vital because the class (whether inside a room or outdoors) is the primary place of learning, discipleship, nurture and pastoral care. For us the ability to form effective teaching/learning relationships between the teacher and students is of paramount importance. Class size has a direct bearing on such relationships. When the teacher knows each student’s unique skills, gifting, and struggles they can focus the teaching, discipleship and care that takes place.

What is your approach to bullying and how do you handle it if it occurs?
Concern and responsibility for the safety and well-being of all students is of prime importance. The image of God as Father, the supreme “care-giver”, establishes the foundation that MECS is a community where teachers and parents work together in partnership to establish a safe and supportive environment for all students. As a result, MECS is committed to providing an environment where students are free from any form of harassment, bullying and exposure to harm and where children are encouraged to develop into self-disciplined young people. We identify students at risk and ensure appropriate measures are made available to address their needs. We encourage an attitude of positive self-esteem and self-worth through the knowledge that God has created each child with unique contributions and gifts. We ensure that appreciation is fostered through ‘who one is’ rather than ‘what one can do’.
Bullying is identified as students exhibiting the following behaviours towards their peers or other members of the student body: Exclusion; Teasing; Harassment (sexual/physical); Discrimination (appearance, ability, race, gender, Christian ethos); and Intimidation. Apart from teachers being vigilant regarding overt and covert behaviour and students or parents informing teachers, students have the opportunity to express their concerns through a Bullying Survey. If we identify bullying, procedures that involve the parents are established for the elimination of bullying, and there are on-going support counselling sessions with student/s.

What kind of rapport do you encourage between teachers and students?
Terms such as respect, care, esteem and value describe the kind of relationship we desire between teachers and students. We encourage our teachers to be aware of the personal background and individual needs of their students. We foster cooperative relationships between students and teachers. It is much more common in secondary schools for there to be an ‘us and them’, adversarial relationship between students and teachers. We work hard to avoid this and feel we are doing fairly well at facilitating the kind of relationships that help effective learning.

You have two sets of 3-week holidays through the year. Do MECS students have less school days?
The MECS calendar for the following year is published about a half year earlier and is available on the website. It is built on a model of no less than 182 school days (for Prep – Year 9; more for Years 10-12); four week-long workbreaks (the MECS name for weeks where teachers attend and students do not) at the commencement of each term; full school weeks with the exception of public holidays; and, even terms.
This number of student school days is quite similar to most independent schools, and slightly less than state schools. However, with curriculum and reporting days (4 government provided days plus 2 days if applied for) scattered through the year and the way in which the last two weeks of the school year are run at most state secondary schools, there is not a great deal of difference in actual ‘teaching’ days between MECS and state secondary schools. For primary schools, it will depend on how those last two weeks are run.
The exception to the 182 days is for senior school students who have extra requirements. Year 12 students have learning intensives, study camp and exam week requirements; Year 10 and 11s have work experience; and Year 10 students have their Centre Trip. These all occur during workbreaks. The finish date for Years 10-12 also differs as this is determined by the VCE exam timetable. The specific number of school days for Years 10-12 differs for each year level and can be calculated by checking against the school calendar.
MECS teachers start the year earlier and have one week less of holidays overall, as a part of the workbreak arrangement. The school has always benefited wonderfully from these four workbreak weeks. They have enabled our teachers to pursue the development of Christian education and to support our school-based curriculum.

Can I inspect your grounds and facilities?
Yes, please come for a visit to explore MECS. We are sure that when you do our wonderful learning environment will surprise you. What you will experience is the result of careful planning with creative designs, though we have worked hard at not being extravagant. Beyond the classrooms and offices, our built facilities include the library resource centre, the science centre, the media centre, the senior school study centre, the theatrette, the manual arts complex, a multi-purpose primary school space, three staff rooms, and a community room. All of these fantastic facilities and heaps of playground space are found in our lovely bushy treed setting, which is something we prize and guard carefully. We believe that you’ll agree with us that the result is quite beautiful. It certainly makes it easier for us as an educational community to be more aware of our natural environment and care for it.

Do you have school buses?
MECS has several buses that transport children to and from a number of areas. We are dependent on parents to act as drivers for these routes. Drivers are paid for their services. Being a mini-bus driver is a great way to serve the MECS community. We also use charter buses for certain routes.
Each year we revise our bus routes to meet the changing needs of MECS families. As far as possible, the bus services aim to assist families travelling significant distances. Given the increasing demand, we also give preference to full-time users. Forms to apply for bus seat allocation are sent to families of newly enrolled students in their orientation pack after they enrol.
MECS Mini-Buses and charter buses– serve areas to the south and west of MECS, and the Yarra Glen/Healesville area. There are also other bus services that can cater for student transport:
Billanook Bus - Private Bus. From Mt Evelyn to Belgrave
Martyrs Bus - Warburton - Wandin - Clegg Road - MECS
Invicta Bus
Ringwood Station via Canterbury Road - Bus No. 670
Ringwood Station via Chirnside Park - Bus No. 679
Lilydale Station via Swansea Road - Bus No. 4
You can always ask for current bus route details at the school office. Apart from buses, many of our families also organise car pools with other parents from their area.