Reggio Emilia Inspired

Collingwood College views children as strong and powerful contributors to their own learning, and gears the curriculum to suit the individual child whilst maintaining government standards.

A unique and desirable feature of the program is the classroom structure and student to adult ratio. Small groups of children are taught by teams of teachers and teaching interns with the support of a literacy specialist, language, music and physical education teachers.

About the Reggio Emilia-inspired approach
The “Reggio” approach to learning has excited interest and admiration throughout the world and has become renowned for providing high quality education for young children.

The “Reggio approach” is just that, an approach. We do not aim to copy Reggio as our culture is different from that of the Italian community in Reggio Emilia. The key principles of Reggio are adapted to our own community and culture.

The image of the child is central – the child who is curious, full of wonder, rich in resources, able to construct and co-construct his or her own learning. Teachers and students together discover the joy of learning.

‘In Reggio Emilia schools … between learning and teaching we honour the first. It is not that we ostracise teaching but we declare: Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children can do and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.’ 
Loris Malaguzzi,
Theorist and founding director of  Reggio Children.

We aim to build upon the curiosity, wonder and richness that children bring to school and together teachers, children and parents in our program aim to allow children to be:

  • competent thinkers who listen, who can think analytically and creatively, solve problems, and make decisions;
  • inquirers who negotiate;
  • inventors who collaborate and can work successfully with diverse individuals and groups;
  • lifelong learners who are self-directed and can apply learning confidently and successfully to new and different situations and tasks and individuals who believe in themselves.

Our educational vision is in a constant process of refinement driven by research and innovation, drawing inspiration from the teaching and learning in schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy and from Australian and US educators interested in this approach, and from many other sources.

We acknowledge that the experiences of schools and educators in Reggio Emilia cannot be copied but we are continually exploring and discussing applications to our Australian context.

The mission of our Reggio Emilia-inspired program is to strengthen education by creating opportunities to innovate, rethink, and explore new ways of educating children in the 21st century.

The teachers at Collingwood College have worked hard to learn more—not only about different approaches, but also about themselves, and about who they are as they interact with children.

Classroom arrangements
There are three classrooms at Collingwood using a Reggio Emilia-inspired approach – a Prep, a year 1/2 and a year 3/4 classroom. Classrooms have been redesigned in line with the Reggio Emilia teaching approach, which sees the environment as a third teacher.

Students from the surrounding neighbourhood as well as other parts of Melbourne and the world have joined the Reggio learning community in the years since its establishment.

For Prep and other year level enrolments for next year or beyond please contact the school for further information.

Contacts and visits
Many educators from government and private schools and parents have visited the Collingwood classrooms. To arrange a visit or find out more about the program, please contact the school



Semester 2, 2014 began for the Prep students with the arrival of many strange, large and small and smelly bones. Who did they belong to? Where did Meredith and Sormeh find them and what kind of bones were they? As we observed, hypothesised and investigated our way around the bones we discovered scientific facts about bones, our bodies and other living creatures.

This was followed by rocks and crystals. Their shapes, textures and diversity of colours were closely observed, discussed and drawn. Crystals began to grow around the classrooms; not successfully at first! We examined and documented their growth and changes. We explored many crystals and researched through books and the internet to find more information about these and other crystals; their name, where and how they grew and what they may be used for.

It was during these explorations that fossils were introduced into the project. What are fossils and where do they come from? Research and further investigation was required.

As a class we decided to become junior palaeontologists. We studied books, researched the internet and even met a real palaeontologist to find the answers we seek. We delicately scratched, poked and worked through clay to find hidden bones, we dug and excavated sand and earth to find fossilised rocks; we even visited dinosaur bones at the museum. But we did not stop there; our research continued as we explored and further studied about fossils and looked at them closer under a microscope.

Like all scientists we have documented our findings through observational drawings, photographs, descriptive writing and poems. These can all be found in the student’s portfolios and the Prep grade 2014 day book.


The Reggio Emilia inspired grade 2/3/4/5 learning community began the year thinking about the past and what we can learn from history. We have discussed what history is, how we can find out about it and why we would learn about it. In this project the children suggested that a good way to find out about the past was to speak with people who are older than them, ask about life in the past and how things have changed over time. This inspired a connection with the Willowview Day Centre, located directly opposite the school, where elders gather to eat lunch and participate in various activities.

We have been visiting the Willowview Day Centre weekly and children have been doing research into the lives of one elder who they are now planning a project with. We have already learnt many valuable things about the past and are building wonderful relationships with the elders in our community.

We are now also thinking about the question, “What do shared stories teach us about each other and ourselves?

“We are going there to get information and stories from the old people because our project is about stories from the past. It was strange to go there. I thought we were going to play Bingo with the old people but when we got there we just talked. I was shy in the beginning. I thought the old people might be cranky and rude, but we met this old man and his wife, Lionel and Dorothy and they told us a few stories of theirs. Lionel used to work as a train tracker, he knew where all the trains would go. I thought it was great visiting Lionel and Dorothy.” Lukman

“At the Willowview Day centre I spoke with somebody who used to work at the train station. It was hard to talk. I had to yell because he was a little bit deaf in one ear.” Rubin

“The person I was talking to was 80 years old. His name was Peter and he came here from Scotland in the 1950s so that he could see his brother who had already come over. He joined the air-force where he disarmed bombs, using a special pump which blew up the bomb. “We would get behind a bush to avoid the flying shrapnel,” he said. It was a bit hard to understand and Felix and I found it hard to think of questions. I thought I came up with a really good question, when I asked, “Why did you and your wife get divorced?” because that is a story-telling question, but he kind of got side tracked and talked about his mother -in-law.” Ishan

“When I went to the Willow Day centre I had a talk to Lorna and she was really nice because she told us a lot about herself. She told us that in the olden days they had horse carts instead of taxis.” Lawrence

“I was talking to Wally. He was 90 years old. He said he had a job doing wood-work. He is the oldest person I have ever met. He told me that things have changed since the past.” Van-Anh

“The stories that Joan told us were really interesting. Like, she told us all about when she was at school and the girls and boys had to be completely separated at all times. I thought that was a bit strange and I am pleased that it’s not like that any more. Audrey and I decided to make her a card, but she wasn’t there on our second visit, so we will have to give it to her next time.” Alana

Links for further information

Wikipedia entry on Reggio Emilia approach
About the Reggio approach
Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange
A repository of articles about Reggio Emilia
The 100 Languages of Children Exhibit
Laid back learning

Learning links for students and parents
Victorian Education Channel – Primary
Premier’s Reading Challenge
Victorian Curriculum


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