Maxwell Creative School

Maxwell Creative School

SoCE is creating a holistic creative school from prep – year 12, called the Maxwell Creative School.

A creative school integrates:

  • a curriculum (we’ve chosen the Australian Curriculum), with
  • inquiry-based learning (eg, hands-on projects, innovation, design, collaborations, presentation and studio work), with
  • democratic learning (eg, choices, self-directed, self-organised, co-governed, co-developed).

Creative Education is a union of:

  • learning through the creative process
  • democracy… everyone governs and designs our school
  • individual education programs
  • multi-age classes
  • self-directed contract learning
  • project-based learning (innovation, design, collaborations, presentation and studio work)
  • animal, art, occupational and speech therapy
  • student-lead social and ecological enterprises
  • union of high-tech, high-eco environments, and
  • local, national, and international community engagement.

Expressing Interest for 2020+

Maxwell Creative School expressions of interest

Would you like to express interest in enrolling your children at the Maxwell Creative School, Prep to Year 10, from 2020? It’s free to do so we can stay in touch.

Expressing Interest


At 6 Rainy Hill Rd, Cockatoo, Victoria, our school combines the outdoor spaces of a farm and natural landscape with the indoor space of a studio-style centre.

The combination of the farm and studio provides the potential of an amazingly creative experience rich with collaboration, problem solving and self-expression.

Our school enjoys and cares for:

  • conservation zone
  • dam
  • paddocks
  • sacred garden
  • outdoor classrooms
  • vegetable gardens
  • an orchard
  • basketball court
  • sandpits
  • outdoor playground
  • fire pits, and
  • small outdoor auditorium.

Maxwell will enjoy a three to five year lease in Cockatoo, while we acquire and develop a permanent 25+ acre property more north-west, around Seville… our intention always to serve the community of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.

Our Educators


SoCE’s Mission

Our mission is to enable students to learn, grow and achieve in light of who they are through, the creative process rather than traditional academic processes.

SoCE’s Vision

Our vision is for our school to be a creative education and democratic ‘school of thought’ for creative students and adults on campus and online.

SoCE’s Values

Our values of:

  • sustainability
  • self-sufficiency
  • re-cycled and up-cycled
  • hand-made, and
  • local

inform our choice of materials, toys and furnishings. Everything that is inside can go outside, and everything outside can come inside including our educational assistance dog, chickens, duck and mini horses!


Maxwell Creative School facilitates the Australian national curriculum.

Literacy and Numeracy

Each student participates in  daily literacy and numeracy classes in multi-age groups designed to stages of development, reflecting all levels, before their day opens to their self-managed learning contracts, project work and specialist classes.

Specialist subjects

Specialist classes in subjects of the Australian curriculum… arts, music, Auslan, sciences, health and physical education, studies of society and environment, technologies and creativity, will be facilitated by home-group educators, specialist educators, and members of the community volunteering with Working with Children Checks directly supervised by our educators.

Weekly timetable

Every morning the school meets in the Community Room for community circle, a whole school democratic meeting where problems are raised and worked towards resolution, and ideas are generated or built upon.

During the next session back in the home-groups’ classrooms, students organise:

  • their literacy and numeracy classes
  • their project activities
  • their self-managed weekly contract tasks covering the remaining six key learning areas of the Australian curriculum, and
  • any other areas to be incorporated into the structure of each day.

Each student’s weekly contract reflects their IEP.

At the end of the day, the home-groups reflect upon the day’s achievements through a gratitude circle and do the ‘house-work’ such as cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming where needed, before going home.

Educational outcomes

For our children to enable their creativity, their education must be creative.

Our educational objectives are to enable each students’:

  • lifelong creative learning journey
  • capacity to identify and create solutions to problems
  • development of creative and co-creative capacities and capabilities
  • ability to co-create their society, environment and collective aesthetic
  • progression through curriculum levels, and
  • achievements of national benchmarks in literacy and numeracy

by facilitating and evaluating developmentally appropriate creative and democratic experiences that build upon students’ innate state of creativity and drive for creative and academic learning, and to ensure the school:

  • plans for and achieves improvements in these learning outcomes in the context of our creative and democratic learning community.

Australia’s Victorian government states in its 2015 Education State Consultation Paper, “Our economy is changing rapidly and we’re experiencing unprecedented demand for highly skilled and creative workers. Employers want a workforce that can think critically and creatively, apply skills that are relevant to industry, understand the world through the eyes of others, and work collaboratively to solve problems.”

The creativity agenda is here, and many schools around the world are educating to it. The difficulty is that creative education in the mainstream environment requires substantial changes in curriculum, delivery, and evaluation practice.

So, creative schools are being consistently created.

From across the globe, approximately 610 student-directed, learner-centred educational settings are registered with the Alternative Education Resource Organization in New York. AERO’s goal is to advance student-driven, learner-centred approaches in education. SoCE is registered with AERO, along with 12 other schools across Australia, and has developed supportive relationships particularly with
Fitzroy Community School in North Fitzroy and Koonwarra Village School in Koonwarra.

As an example, a review of research on inquiry-based and cooperative learning by Dr Brigid Barron and Dr Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University found, “Decades of research illustrating the benefits of inquiry-based and cooperative learning, helping students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in a rapidly changing world.”

The results they found include:
• “students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration
• active learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable including student background and prior achievement
• students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn, and
• students learn increasingly important twenty-first century skills, such as the ability to work in teams, solve complex problems, and to apply knowledge gained through one lesson or task to other circumstances.”


Barron, Brigid, and Darling-Hammond, Linda. Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Re-view of
Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning. Stanford University. [Re-port] Retrieved from

State of Victoria Department of Education and Training. (2015) The education state; consultation paper. Retrieved from

School structure


The Maxwell Creative primary and secondary School will have home-group classes, something like this depending on enrolment numbers:

  • junior primary (prep – year 1)
  • middle primary (year 1/2 – year 3/4
  • senior primary (year 4 – year 6)
  • junior secondary (year 7 – 8)
  • senior secondary (year 9 – 11), and
  • college (year 12 and educators)

whereby students from all home-groups participate in multi-age projects and classes depending upon their learning goals and interests.


The staff of the school will include the:

  • Chief Creative Director (principal)
  • Educators (home-group and specialist)
  • Classroom assistants
  • Business management, and
  • A range of community volunteers including artists, therapists, scientists and entrepreneurs.

College of educators

Educators will be encouraged to become ‘teacherprenuers’. As ‘teacherprenuers’, they undertake self-directed creative practices in studios shared by students on-site.

Role of educators

It will be the role of the educators to facilitate the creative learning process in their classes.


  • guide students in their home-groups to design, implement and evaluate their Individual Education Programs
  • help access the resources the students need to fulfil projects
  • participate in the fulfilment of the students’ projects
  • teach and oversee subject specific classes including compulsory Literacy and Numeracy every morning, and topic specific classes timetabled throughout the week, and
  • assess, report and monitor the learning and well-being of all students according to our policies.


  • are registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching
  • have a firm understanding of inquiry-based learning, and
  • are educated and experienced in their professional and personal inquiry.

Growth and projections

Maxwell Creative primary and secondary School
Our intention is to grow up slowly with the children who form the older cohort of the primary school.

At the beginning of each year:

2019: 20 children in primary school

2020: 30 children in primary school

2021: 45 children in primary school and 20 children in year 7 – 8 secondary school

2022: 60 children in primary school and 40 children in year 7 – 10 secondary school

2023: 75 children in primary school and 60 children in years 7 – 12 secondary school

Why a creative school?

A social problem

The call for more creativity is loud.

Greater creativity and wellbeing are being called for by our social, environmental, industrial and political sectors. They are faced with ‘wicked problems’ and seek our collaborators, project workers and problem solvers.

Our children want greater creativity and wellness too … they know they are faced with problems and yearn to be our collaborators, project workers and problem solvers and our educational sector asks our schools to integrate these needs.

The problem is that, despite the call, creativity is not encultured in Australian education.

Furthermore, research shows our academic process actively disables creativity.

Knowing this, should we consciously ask, is it true? Do we really allow our schools to kill creativity? Are we choosing, consciously or otherwise, to disable our kids’ creativity?

If our answer is “yes”, can we intentionally ask, why are we doing that? What purpose will it serve? And most importantly, what can we do about it?

After all, we have a duty of care.

In the U.S.A., creative education is viewed as a children’s rights issue.
We don’t talk about that in Australia.

What we talk about is the children who struggle in education. 25% drop out. Frustrated, bored, intelligent, questioning, rebellious, distracted, disengaged, tenacious, they slip through the cracks.

A social solution

Research shows the creative process over the academic process:
• enables creativity
• develops academic skills and knowledge
• enhances wellbeing, and
• is a natural educator.
Creativity is even predicted to create a more just society.

On top of these arguments for creative education, research shows:

  1. global social, ecological and industrial sectors are calling loudly for more creativity
  2. our children are more likely to be able to deal with the social and ecological problems facing them if their creativity is empowered
  3. the creative industry is growing 40% faster than any other
  4. the creative process is an equally, if not more effective approach to learning as the academic process
  5. creativity and its capacities grow only by being creative… by being immersed and practiced.

For a list of the resources that have affected SoCE’s thinking, please click here. 

Creative Education

The creative process is possibly mans’ most natural teacher. Learning through it about us, the world and our relationship with it is an effective, efficient learning method with a growing body of global research behind it.

Creativity requires the integration of the creative person, the creative process, and the creative product. These three elements generate a creative experience, and this experience informs and builds skills, knowledge, and creative capacities.

Creativity is a pathway into projects including academic research and is also rich with collaborative, democratic, and community engagement opportunities. It also enables the growth of creative capabilities and practices that academic methods don’t promote.

Inquiry-based learning

In creative education, inquiry-based learning integrates a democratic environment. Inquiry-based learning incorporates many learning methods, each one slightly different to another. They are experiential and personalised by nature.

They include:

  • project-based learning
  • place-based learning
  • problem-solving learning
  • passion-based learning
  • team-based learning
  • studio-based learning
  • community-based learning, and
  • design-based learning.

Self-direction is the experience and responsibility of the creative, and usually their greatest desire. In school, it is experienced personally and communally, as each student is encouraged to participate in the design and development of their culture, facilities, programs and projects.

Project-based learning

Implementing the creative process, students are required to:

  1. prepare project plan
  2. document the development of their project from an inner and outer point of view
  3. create the project
  4. reflect upon and evaluate their learning outcomes including skill development, new knowledge, and understanding of self along the way with their educator, and
  5. exhibit or present it formally to the project’s beneficiary (if any) and the school community.

passion process


Students will participate in self-directed, personalised, individual and concurrent projects called

  • Gift Enhancement Projects, which seek to enhance a unique, natural ability of a student
  • Knowledge Enhancement Projects which seek to enhance a student’s innate curiosity about one area of the world, without judgement
  • Zen Enhancement Projects which seek to enhance each student’s ability to build strategy for zen-out time, through a project that may be in the crafts, sciences or sports

Projects will be formed by small groups or classes, and the full school community. Projects can partner with and / or benefit local, national and international communities. Many projects will have a view to a social or ecological solution to a question, inquiry and problem.

These projects do not work in isolation or act as rewards for other learning or behaviour, rather they are integrated into daily learning experiences.


Over their time, students develop a digital portfolio of projects which demonstrate students’ creative, academic, and entrepreneurial achievements.

This portfolio contains evidence of progress through the Australian curriculum and International Baccalaureate. Students upload evidence of their learning twice a term. Students may choose to add to their portfolio more often. Students and educators will include work samples that reflect subjects, as well as Zen Enhancement, Knowledge Enhancement and Gift Enhancement projects. Creative and experiential learning may be recorded as voice recording, video or photos. Documentation regarding inquiry plans and design projects will also be required in the portfolio.

passion process

Democratic education

Democratic education compliments and enhances creative education. It teaches students to employ and further enable their creative practices in a group setting.

Creative practices begin with the self. They include self-direction, self-regulation, self-governance, self-contemplation, self-evaluation, self-awareness. To offer them in a group setting means the group must also be self-directed, self-regulated, self-governed, self-contemplative, self-reflective, self-evaluative and self-aware… equaling a democratic learning environment.

Being a democratic school, students and staff will participate equally in whole school meetings where they will raise ideas and problems, and democratically decide for themselves their best courses of action.

The school body may use these meetings to consider establishing or enforcing their rules, build upon projects, or design and vote upon the nature of their school. The board of directors will focus their attention upon ensuring the business and well-being needs of the school are met, while the students and educators will be in the role of self-governance.


One of the organisations Jane worked with to create the SoCE model is the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) in New York. Jerry Mintz, AERO’s founder, says

“There is no monolithic definition of democratic education. But what we mean here is ‘education in which young people organize their daily activities, and in which there is equality and democratic decision-making among young people and adults’.”

(AERO’s Directory of Democratic Education)

Democratic meetings

Creative and democratic schools implement democracy in various ways, depending upon the nature (the experience and culture) of the school that the students, educators, committees and board are continuously building.

Weekly whole school meetings held in the community room bring students and staff together to raise ideas and problems, and democratically decide for themselves their best courses of action.

In effect, if the staff, students or committees want to solve a whole or partial school issue, come up with rules of engagement or enforce their rules, enhance resources for projects, develop whole or partial school project ideas, or vote upon the direction and design of their school, they must be proposed and decided upon at a democratic meeting.

As well as whole school meetings, spontaneous meetings can occur any time of the day on any weekday and will be called by the Initiator by a special bell ring across the school. Students and staff can elect to attend.

At each meeting, there is:

  • an agenda that can be added to any time
  • a chairperson (student preference)
  • a minute taker (student preference)
  • sharing of ideas, concerns and thoughts, then…
  • “If a minority opinion is indicated, others listen very carefully to that minority opinion, and allow it to be fully expressed, perhaps changing the decision of the whole group. But ultimately, if

they feel that the minority opinion is fully explored and that there is no options offered, the decision of the majority becomes the decision.” – Jerry Mintz

  • followed by voting…

“The meetings often make many creative decisions, decisions that might not be thought of by any individual operating on their own. It is important to note that we go into a meeting without having a pre-set idea about the decisions that the meeting “should” make, but rather, fully expect that the meeting will be greater than the sum of its parts, and may find a creative solution that no one individual could foresee.” – Jerry Mintz

democratic education

Individual Education Programs

IEPs reflect integrated creative education with the Australian curriculum and International Baccalaureate. In the primary school, within each IEP, inquiry-based learning is combined with the Australian Curriculum in the eight learning areas.

IEPS are designed to meet the individual learning needs of the student regardless of the level (grade) they have been placed within the school’s multi-age classes. Each student’s academic needs are assessed by the home-group educator at the beginning of the year using formal and informal assessments to determine the Australian curriculum levels to appropriately teach and suggest goals for.


Each IEP contains learning outcomes stated as goals for the following Australian curriculum learning areas:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • The Arts
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Language
  • Sciences, and
  • Information and Communication Technologies.

as well as Creativity; the subject.

The IEP also includes Gift Enhancement, Knowledge Enhancement, and Zen Enhancement projects within any of the eight key learning areas of the Australian curriculum, that may be developed by individuals, small groups, whole classes, or the whole school.


Every term, each student will develop their Individual Education Programs (IEP’s) with their home-group educator, reflecting their goals and evaluation strategies (criteria) for their studies, weekly timetable for classes, and their projects. IEP’s are founded upon areas of interest, skill sets and diversity, through projects and subjects of the Australian curriculum.

Review and development

IEP’s will be reviewed every Friday in a democratic meeting between student and home-group educator and assessed and monitored against the Australian curriculum by the students’ home-group and specialist educators. Parents will be encouraged to participate in these reviews. This is an opportunity for students, educators and parents to meet to reflect on student participation the previous week and identify learning outcomes and strategies for the week ahead.

Self-directed learning and its principles are key to the IEP, as it empowers students to be aware of their learning progress through opportunities for ongoing self-evaluation and independence in their learning. Each project is self-evaluated by the student or student group and the cohort who participate in its presentation.

IEPs will be reviewed formally at the end of terms 2, 3 & 4 at the Parent Educator Child Review (PEC review).

Timeline for the development, evaluation and reporting of IEPs 

Each term

  • assessments and IEP meetings and development completed by the end of the 3rd week for terms 1 and 3, and by the end of the 2nd week for terms 2 and 4, according to the Student Learning Outcomes Policy
  • IEPS uploaded by the end of the 3rd week and submitted to the Chief Creative Director, recommending any changes if required, otherwise the Chief Creative Director signs them
  • administration will give a copy of the signed IEP to the student, educator, send a copy to the family, and upload a copy to the portfolios.

Each semester

  • end of semester assessments and student evaluations begin no later than week 7 of the term, including the compilation of the semester’s portfolio of project artifacts, project documentation, and journals
  • parents and carers invited to a Parent – Educator Interview
  • the semester’s Student Progress Reports completed and submitted to the Chief Creative Director by the end of the week 8
  • the Chief Creative Director recommends changes to the reports and Educators are to make these changes if agreed and re-submit by the end of the last week with their signature
  • all reports are filed into portfolios
  • during weeks 9/10 of terms 2 and 4, the school will host a whole school Project Exhibition open to all members of the school community and beyond. Assessment, reflection or feedback is uploaded to students’ portfolios
  • administration will send the signed original report to the parents and carers.

School fees

The school is registered as an independent school.

Primary school fees are currently $3600 per child for the whole year. Fees can be paid term-by-term.

Secondary school fees are not yet established.

School hours

School hours are 9am – 3.30pm Monday to Friday during school term.

School terms

  • Term 1: Tuesday 28th January – Friday 28th March
  • Term 2: Tuesday 14th April – Friday 19th June (3 week winter break)
  • Term 3: Monday 13th July – Friday 18th September
  • Term 4: Monday 5th October – Friday 11th December


MCS does not have compulsory homework for any of the students.

Students are invited to take their projects home with them to continue developing them or to show them to family members, however are asked to bring them back when they next return to school. If a student asks for homework, seeks to be tested, or needs a home-study timetable, the educators will provide or help to develop these.

Grade six students are offered an optional homework program to practice completing homework before they go to secondary school. It involves weekly homework tasks which are established with each student, are sent home each Monday, and need to be submitted on Friday morning.


Cultural creativity values:

  • sustainability
  • self-sufficiency
  • re-cycled and up-cycled
  • hand-made, and
  • local

informing our choice of not only materials, toys and furnishings, but be incorporated into the buildings and overall development of our property as well.

We aim to be Australia’s first metro off-grid school.

So, for example, the bulk of our toys and art materials are pre-loved, recycled or up-cycled… our paints and pencils have been half-used by artists, and our timber toys are painted in non-toxic paints and made from sustainable sources where possible, and many are hand-made.

All art supplies, dress-ups, tools and toys are freely accessed by the children and adults throughout the session and used outside, so they may go with the flow of their ideas without restrictions or limitations… just as our animals including our educational dog, chickens, mini horses and guinea pigs are allowed (with supervision!) inside.


Students are able to wear free-dress.

We ask that any imagery that advertises products, services and companies including logos are small, if any.

The school’s community may decide to make elements of a uniform that will not be compulsory to wear.

As we’ll be spending a great deal of time in outside classrooms, children are asked to always have wet weather gear and a change of clothes available. Being on a farming environment, children are expected to wear gumboots, despite the weather, while outside, except for sport when runners are needed. Arch supports can be placed inside boots.

Broad-rimmed hats are to be worn outside during terms 1 and 4. Please refer to our Sunsmart Policy.

Names of educators

The students are asked to call their adults by the adult’s first name.

Social enterprise

It is essential to SoCE’s development that we engage with the global creative community and that our online presence and our students’ and educators’ project-based enterprises thrive.

Not only do we have a lot to learn and stay abreast of, but we also aim to have a lot to offer to a globally creative marketplace.

Long-term property and facilities

Committed to enabling cultural creativity in our students and community, our permanent property of between 25 – 70 acres, in the area around Seville, will facilitate our passion to create a high-tech / high-eco educational experiences, giving young creatives the space, opportunity and resources to pursue a wide range of experiential education opportunities. The property may offer about 25 acres of cleared land to support the development of buildings, gardens, the food farm, and animal farm including our equine therapy, and 25 acres of wilderness to support our water rehabilitation and conservation work.

Our facilities will grow with our need for them and our capacity to build them, including studio classrooms, a fine art and media studio, science and technology lab, performing arts spaces and gallery, gardens, the food farm, animal care, sporting and festival fields, and conservation zones. We will build a kitchen and school café for the collaborative preparation of meals that could also host whole school community meetings.

Our values of:

  • sustainability
  • self-sufficiency
  • re-cycled and up-cycled
  • hand-made, and
  • local

inform our choice of not only materials, toys and furnishings, but will be incorporated into the buildings and overall development of our property. We aim to be Australia’s first metro off-grid school.

We’d love to see the property grow in light of the children’s projects. Our big dream is to build a creative, sustainable, socially-entrepreneurial village around it, born of the programs of the school and generating income for the school.

For more information, please follow this link.


Our Maxwell Creative School is named after Mrs Maxwell… a brave and tenacious, loving and kind, insightful and honest Steiner teacher, mother of two, poet and author, and Jane’s decade-long mentor and confidante. They have dreamt of a creative school for nearly a decade and now it’s here!

Her philosophy of the creative school formed the heart and soul of our culture and is embedded in our curriculum.

These are her words…

The Creative School

We are a non-hierarchical school: students and teachers learning together. Each person has something valuable to impart to others; thus respectful relationships are the basis of all interaction. Certainly we have different revelations to impart, but we deem them all valuable- what a child reveals and what a teacher reveals, both open the mind and heart to a new perspective.

Our ideal is to look with wonder at each human being comprising our school’s population.

Learning is a respectful, mutual experience. It requires deep listening by students and teachers to each other, to the environment, to history, and to the gifts of inspiration which come from each. We cherish each person involved in the school as a human being with the potential to open the wonders of learning.

Our hope is that students, as well as everyone involved in the school, will carry the attitudes of mutual respect into society, helping support a culture of non-violence and openness to individual difference. A culture where co-operation brings out the best in each person.

The ethics of our school are like seeds of life-long education, flowering into open minds and hearts.

Of course we will follow a syllabus which covers the range of core subjects expected in the primary school. However, these subjects can be tackled from various angles, encompassing the various ways we human beings explore our thirst for knowledge. By beginning with the quest for understanding, all regular school subjects can be embraced. It certainly takes imagination to learn and teach in this way. The paramount path we will keep before us is an attitude of genuine co-operation in the search for understanding life in our world.

Maxwell Creative School policies and procedures

School of Creative Education Policies