The Carlsruhe Annexe of Woodend Primary School is a separate campus situated at the old Carlsruhe Primary School site in Nicholas Street, Carlsruhe (approximatley 8km from the main school). This beautifully treed half hectare property consists of the original red brick classroom, a portable classroom, mud brick poultry pen, large fenced vegetable garden, small orchard, a playing oval and two paddocks for the farm animals.
The Carlsruhe Annexe has been providing a unique program since 1984 for Woodend Primary School’s Grade Four students. The program endeavours to give students a rural school experience by placing them in this small social and physical setting for one year. The program highlights farming activities that give students the opportunity to be responsible for the care of farm animals, the gardens and the maintenance of the property. In doing so, students use a variety of tools, learn new skills, build self esteem and practise working co-operatively with their peers.
The program is implemented through many hands-on activities. Students care for the Annexe farm animals and pets, consisting of hens, ducks, lambs, rabbits and guinea pigs. They tend a large vegetable garden, propagate and grow trees and manage a large compost heap. The students research mini beasts, birds, wildlife and plants existing at Carlsruhe to find out the part they play in the cycle of life.
The program also provides students with practical learning activities which emphasise ways in which they can help to protect our fragile environment from damage caused by humans. Thus we hope that through this program students will become more caring and responsible towards themselves, each other, animals, plants and the environment and that this caring and responsible attitude will prevail throughout each student’s life.
The Carlsruhe Annexe becomes a small community where the Grade Four students learn to be responsible and caring towards each other. Students will be given the opportunity to organise this little community themselves. They will set up a parliament to govern the community and take turns at a variety of jobs within the community. Jobs available include running the newspaper, environmental officers, farmers, maintenance and plenty more.
Students are involved in a Waste Wise Program to learn about ways of reducing, reusing and recycling waste products. Students understand that the environment needs to be kept rubbish free, in order to protect the delicate balance of natural cycles including plant and animal life, the soil, water resources and the atmosphere.
Students learn that the part humans play in farming and using the environment to cater for their needs can very easily destroy the balance of nature. The program emphasises ways in which we can farm the land organically and protect it from salinity and erosion problems.
Students are also involved in activities that help them to understand that caring for the environment in these ways can also reduce costs. For example, less rubbish – less cost to school having rubbish removed, soil enriched with nutrients from compost, worms and mulch will enhance growth of crops, collecting cans which can be sold will finance feed for animals thus helping to make the Annexe more self sufficient.