New Penguin’s Teacher Julia Gallois

Jan 26, 2017   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments

We are so pleased to welcome the gentle and dynamic teaching presence of Julia Gallois as the Penguin’s Teacher for 2017. Julia is starting out her Primary career at BIS and we are honoured to be the educational model that she will have closest to her heart. The Rule Oriented Teaching Team of Sally and Tim will be working closely with Julia as this team supports the full cohort from Big Cats to Kestrels and Penguins. Welcome Julia!

Can you give us an overview of your background and training

Before studying at The University of Queensland, a part of me always knew I would be a teacher.  Everything I have done has always centred around working with children;  Teacher Aide work in a variety of schools, nannying, worked in a Before and After School care and Childcare.  I come from a family of Teachers so it must be in my blood.

Growing up, I lived in England for six years before moving back to Australia and then spent a year studying Education at Syracuse University in New York. I only lasted there for a year because it was SOO COLD!  I managed to travel around the States with new found friends, escaping the cold for a while, which was a fantastic experience.

I then spent a month living in Bali while I was doing a Practicum placement at Green School. This was a facinating experience and it made me fall in love with South East Asia. I love to travel and last year I took some time out of my degree to spend a year teaching English in Barcelona. I had never been but felt very drawn to the country; it would be a great way to learn Spanish!

During my year there I managed to travel to other exciting places including Marrakesh and many parts of Europe, including driving through 3 countries in one day (Bordeaux, France to Andorra then back down to Barcelona, Spain).

 I started to harass Meli into passing my info onto Jen whilst I was in Spain as I wanted to do my final placement at BIS. Even though I was fairly certain that no job would come of it because it is such a small school, I knew  I had to spend my longest practicum at BIS because everything that I had heard about it was something I wanted to experience for as long as I could. Then as fate would have it, I somehow managed to score the job of a lifetime and was offered a permanent, full time position at a school that I had always dreamed of being a part of. I still can’t believe how lucky I am.  

Q&A to get to know you better

What led you to BIS?

The alternative teaching style that looks at children in a more holistic manner through the integral framework. What has made me even more impressed by it is the supportive nature of all the Teachers, Staff and general community.

What is your most exciting memory?

My most exciting memory would probably have to be just over a year ago when I took a chance and moved to Barcelona with no job, apartment or anyone that I knew and landed in this amazing city with everyone speaking all these different languages around me. Just walking the streets with the idea of not knowing what would happen or how my year would work out, while absorbing the incredible scenery around me, was such an exciting feeling I will not soon forget. I have had many other exciting moments in my life, though this one was exhilarating on a very personal level as I was really pushing my personal boundaries of comfort.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

The way education is taught worldwide! By creating an educational system that encourages children to see the joy of learning and teach them how to be respectful of others, we create generations of people who will become more educated and aware of the world they live in and how to interact within that in a positive way. This would create a future of understanding one another as opposed to condemning one another for having alternative opinions.

Imagine you are part of a pioneering crew setting up a colony on Mars. You can only take on 5 personal items with you as space is limited, what would you take?

  • A book about how to successfully colonise Mars
  • A lighter
  • A notebook with a pen (that counts as one, right?)
  • An iPod with a labyrinth of songs in all sorts of genres
  • A pocket knife

What is your favourite song/artwork/dance/movie or book?

Song – “Here comes the sun” by the Beatles or “Ramble on” by Led Zepplin or “Ignition” by R. Kelly……yeh too many and all different styles, couldn’t possibly name just one

Artwork – My mother’s painting of the base of a tree trunk 

Dance – Either Salsa or Swing

Movie – Probably “He died with a Felafel in his hand” but there are quite a few that I love

Book – “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson or “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling

Growing into ourselves

Jan 22, 2017   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments
Over the past 5 years BIS has been going through some amazing growth. There is an obvious need in the community for a school that both encourages intellectual excitement as well as allowing the social and emotional needs of the child to flourish through an exploratory learning framework.


Growing into our Expedition

Our five year plan has been to slowly increase in numbers to allow us the flexibility to fully run our inquiry based and skills mastery program to its best iteration. This year realises our vision, with a cohort of 80 starting the year and all five rooms working with a discrete developmental stage or transition stage. Each group is designed to either consolidate their developmental stage (Kestrels and Otters) or to explore new perspectives of the world (Penguins and Dolphins).

This full span of developmental stages allows for all the experimentation of the last five years to reach fruition as we gently launch our learning framework. The first step begins with teaching the children the language to describe the learning process; the metaphor of exploration fits the BIS Expedition Framework.

Step 1 – The Expedition Terminology

The five classes are being introduced to the idea of exploring from their first stop of the day: their home classrooms. Renamed “Base-camps”, these home rooms are for students and teachers to meet and plan for the day. The plans are drawn from each class Map (overview) of learning for the term as well as individual student Maps (individual interests or needs). The students will be exploring these Maps to discover new ideas as well as ensuring that their “Skills and Training” are developing as would be expected.

This early language describes in detail their process of learning, in a manner that will make sense to them in their concrete reality, where ideas need to be based in the senses. The imagery of the Explorer is richly developed for the students with these terms being introduced:

  • setting up in Base Camp (orienting to the day and preparing through discussion);
  • choosing the Map and Journey (a record and plan of their own individual needs as well as the general class inquiry);
  • planning the Skills and Tools they need (specifying what they need in direct instruction and lessons);
  • getting the Crew together (clarifying who they need to work with or have a lesson from), and;
  • planning the Schedule and Checkpoints (the process and timeline).

Although still providing appropriate coverage of the Australian Curriculum, the BIS Expedition framework allows students to explore even more deeply whilst gaining mastery across the curriculum and having a whole heap of fun exploring!

This powerful concrete sensory journey culminates at the end of the day with our Study Of Self program as students engage in the “Return” phase of their learning, coming back to Base-camp after a big day or exploring and mastering skills. They have time to reflect on their day, focus and relax as well as orienting their ideas for the next day.

The exploring nature of the BIS learning framework sets our students up for a life of journeying, with the tools and skills they need to thrive stored in their travel packs as well as the encouragement to be courageous. We cannot wait to see how they enjoy this new way of exploring their learning.

Learn More

This was just a tiny taste of the richness of the BIS Expedition Learning Framework, so please look at our events for upcoming sessions with Jen Haynes our Principal.

Loving what your body can do!

Oct 23, 2016   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments

791At BIS we know that a child’s love of both their body and mind is what keeps them active in the world. You would think this was a simple goal but school sports often tell kids that failure to be the best means that their physical self is not okay. They lose confidence to be physically active in the group for fear of this judgement which soon seems them stop trying at all and they retreat into the safety of watching not playing.

The baleful cries against the indolence and laziness of teenagers has been a consistent complaint in all educational environments in the last 20 years. A study found that 70% of children drop out of sports activity during their adolescence [1]. As home computers and gaming became a ubiquitous part of children’s lives educators and parents watched with concern as they simultaneously spent less time in nature doing active play that taught them the parameters of their body. This combination of inactivity produces children who are closed off from their physical selves.

The challenge to this belief that technology equals idleness is that not all children go down this path. Many kids still play sport, climb mountains, ride bikes and challenge themselves to dance or master the techniques of a martial art. Why do some continue to be active and others not?

An important study from George Washington University in the US found that children could easily identify the reason they liked or did not like doing sport: fun [2].

The list below highlights some of the findings that the children in the study shared and it gives us some really powerful advice. A child’s definition of fun is complex and about learning to love the interaction of body and mind working together. Their connection to their friends and the team is fundamental—they need to trust in their team to take risks and have fun.


  • Trying your best
  • When the coach treats the player with respect
  • Getting to play on the field
  • Playing well as a team

Less Fun

  • Winning
  • Playing tournaments
  • Getting pictures taken

The full list available at Project Play

(The Project Play website has some wonderful resources for parents and teachers to help us make sure that we keep children connected to their bodies and engaged)

At BIS we have used these findings as a basis for our sports program. Our kids engage in yoga, jiu jitsu, and morning personal HPE goals. We design our grounds to give them the chance to explore their physical risk levels with climbing, jumping and balancing challenges. We want them to know that they are both their body and mind. A few weeks ago as we held our annual Olympics I watched with joy as it showed the effectiveness of our strategy.

Cheering Kids

Our children prepare for the Olympics for the term before, practicing various sports and team skills to feel confident in participating on the day. We also formed the kids into houses for the sole purpose of letting them practice making war cries and to e
xperience the notion of belonging to a house. We only had 2 (very fun activities) that were team against team. We also offered competitive races for the children who were hungry for this opportunity. This is usually a focus for the Dolphins class, who are at the stage where they love trying to use their skills to win.

The focus remains, always, on fun and participation.

On the day I watched and helped ease the children into giving it a go. The children who had recently arrived from other schools were the ones who found this the hardest. They had all been teased for not succeeding at sport—the notion of having fun was absent from the conversation. There were many discussions and hugs that afternoon to reassure them, with the help of their classmates, that no one would judge them and no one would yell at them for making a mistake. These children had experienced so much judgement at their previous schools for not being “good” at sport that they had removed themselves entirely from that risk. They had learnt far too early that their bodies were not okay, and would not give them what they needed. They had learnt to stop trusting it and to stop loving it. It was a huge journey for them.

After 12 activities the children were covered in their multicoloured participation ribbons and all laughing and smiling. The final event was the cross country, an event that they could all choose to participate in or not. Those who had started the day with fear didn’t even hesitate. They decided to give it a go with a lot of laughter and passion.

The moment that I knew our model was just right occurred near the end of this event. I saw one of my students curled up near the slippery slide, crying. I raced over and asked her what was wrong. This little sprite was a prolific writer, gifted and academic, who tried to sneak into the classroom to write or read at every possible opportunity. When she first came to us, crippled with anxiety, she was fearful of taking her shoes off, let alone running.

She told me how she was running and suddenly got this pain, not like a stitch but something else. I held her hand while she steadied her breath and I told her she had done the right thing to stop because her body knew when to tell her to have a break. I suggested that maybe since she didn’t run much it was just a bit spooked, and needed some more practice. As her breath steadied, she told me her pain was gone. She added, “maybe I could run around my park a few times a week over the next year and then my heart would be used to it so I could just run and run.”

I held her hand, swallowed my tears and nodded agreement. She smiled and ran off to join her friends. I sat with the pride I felt over the opportunity we had given her to experience the freedom to love her physical body. A love she had gained to match the love she had for her mind.


This had changed her life trajectory. She knew her body and mind were one, were her, and she loved them both.

Not much to ask from your childhood really. I love BIS!


[1]  Eitzen DS, Sage GH. Sociology of North American Sport. 8. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers; 2009.

[2]  Visek, Amanda J., et al. “The fun integration theory: towards sustaining children and adolescents sport participation.” Journal of Physical Activity & Health 12.3 (2015): 424.


New Teacher Profile – Sally Willmett

Aug 21, 2016   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments

We are very excited to welcome a new staff member to BIS. Sally is going to be the new Kestrel teacher as Richelle moves into the lead teacher role for our new Otters group and another new recruit takes on the Penguins. Sally has already thrown herself into the philosophy, helping out with our new Literacy direction.

Sally graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2005 with a Bachelor of Education (Primary).  After teaching out west in St George for four years, Sally decided to move to the UK “for a year”, working as a guaranteed supply teacher in London schools.  Well and truly bitten by the travel bug, the year turned into two, and soon Sally found herself with a soon-to-be-expired UK Visa, and no desire to return to Australia just yet!  As such, she found a job as an ESL teacher for children at a school in Budapest.  After a year of only teaching English, she craved the primary classroom again, and luckily secured a position in the Early Years at the British International School, Budapest.  The Early Years team at BISB was inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education, resulting in Sally’s attendance at a study week in the town of Reggio Emilia in 2015.

After returning home at the end of 2015, Sally was teaching at a state school in north Brisbane, and immediately found herself disheartened by many of the changes that had occurred in the Australian Education system during her time overseas.  So when the opportunity to teach at BIS arose, Sally was very eager to apply, and thrilled to be offered the position.  She believes that schools must offer learning experiences to students that are meaningful, motivating and challenging, and which respond not only to the Curriculum, but – most importantly – to each child’s needs and interests, and those of the class as a cohort.  Sally is looking forward to the opportunity to further her teaching practice through learning about and implementing the Integral framework at BIS.  She is very excited to be a part of the BIS community.

Q&A to get to know you better

What is your most exciting memory?

I am very lucky to have had many amazing experiences in my life, leading to many treasured memories.  One such memory is when I travelled to Tromso in Northern Norway with a group of friends to see the Northern Lights.  Having already failed to catch the lights on a previous trip to Iceland, I was so overwhelmed when we finally saw them dancing across the sky – I was so lucky to be witnessing this natural phenomenon in an amazing part of the world, surrounded by some of my favourite people!

Another treasured moment is when I arrived home late last year, arriving from London with my brother and sister-in-law and their baby to surprise my parents… they were so happy to have their whole family together again after many years, and to meet their grandson!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Not to sound like Aretha Franklin, but I think we need more respect in the world.  An increase in the amount of respect that everyone has for themselves, other people and the environment would lead to more harmony and happiness… and I think this comes through education, and being life-long learners.

Imagine you are part of a pioneering crew setting up a colony on Mars. You can only take one 5 personal items with you as space is limited, what would you take?

  • A pencil and paper/book
  • A harmonica (not that I can play one, but i’d learn beforehand)
  • Ugg boots
  • A tub of Lucas’ Pawpaw ointment
  • A camera (solar powered, obviously)

 What is your favourite song/artwork/dance/movie or book?

  • WAY too many to name just one.

Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself with us Sally! Welcome to BIS.

Moral Development in Children

Aug 21, 2016   //   by bisadmin   //   Events  //  No Comments

Mahli small for website

Event Description:

This is a great lecture and discussion for Parents, Educators and anyone who wants to learn about how Staged Development works. Principal Jennifer Haynes takes you on the journey of Kohlberg’s Moral Development framework and how it applies in everyday interactions at home and in the classroom. You will come away feeling much more confident about how your child’s behaviour is unfolding and an awareness of your own journey. To book please email  $20 per person, Free for BIS current and future families.

Event Date

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Event Time

From: 18:00 – To: 19:30

Event Venue

Brisbane Independent School Library

Event TimeZone

(GMT+10) Australia/Queensland

Prep Classrooms should be about Joy

Aug 5, 2016   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments
Come and experience an education for the 21st century

Come and experience an education for the 21st century

With concerned parents seeing a drop in their young children’s enthusiasm for schooling and a spike in anxiety, the internet is abuzz with the question, “Is formal schooling stressing out our Prep children?” This concern has led to a study by the Queensland Government investigating the age appropriateness of the curriculum and pedagogy that mainstream schools are using.

The inappropriateness of the standard curriculum has been clear to us at BIS for the last 4 years as we have watched tiny children come to us showing terrible signs of anxiety after only one year of mainstream schooling. A five year old is completely attuned in their body and mind to the concrete, physical world around them, to their senses giving them direct feedback and their body moving in response. A five year old is supposed to wriggle, move, laugh, talk and run the gamut of emotions as they build a strong and powerful sense of self in the world around them. Making a five year old sit still and silent at a desk is making that child live in their mind not their body, and the mind of a five year old can be a scary place because they still believe in monsters, magic, and mystery around every corner. That little mind, when taken away from the sensory world of feeling and exploring, will make up scary stories and answers that build anxiety and fear of the world around them. In the mainstream search for early academic outcomes they are building silent, compliant, terrified and disconnected children who are trained out of their natural bravery and into a world of fear.

So what can you do? Amy Cox, is so concerned about what is happening to our little children that she has started a lobby group called Protecting Childhood. This organisation, can be found on Facebook or by visiting their website is determined to raise awareness of the plight of our prep-age children by petitioning government to change their policy and bring back play-based learning for Prep. You can help by visiting the site and signing their petition that already has over 5000 signatures from concerned Queensland citizens. If you want to do something more direct, you can write to your local member, the Education Minister Kate Jones and the Premier to tell your stories and to remind them that Parents want their children to love, not fear, schooling. The time is now for the parents of Queensland to stop saying “maybe it will be better next year” and instead demand a schooling system that will make them proud right now, to say “My child is thriving!”. If you want to know more about this topic or see a school that is doing high quality, evidence based education that nurtures the creative and academic mind, come and visit us at to find our next talk on childhood development and how education should be incorporating it.

Don’t just wait and hope, make a better choice today.

Jen Haynes – Principal


Come and See Morning Tea

Apr 20, 2016   //   by bisadmin   //   Events  //  6 Comments
Come and experience an education for the 21st century

Come and experience an education for the 21st century

Event Description

Join BIS Principal Jen on Wednesday for a tour of the grounds and in the classrooms whilst they’re in session. Then enjoy tea, coffee and cake whilst she takes you through our philosophy and curriculum. To book your place email

Event Date

Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Please RSVP so we know if to wait for you to come!

Event Time

From: 10:00 – To: 12:00. If you hope to have a chat with Jen about your specific circumstances please book a private interview through our enrolment officer for a date after the tour.

Event Venue

Brisbane Independent School, 2447 Moggill Road, Pullenvale 4069. Just follow the path from the carpark up to the Office and we will show you where the tour begins.

Event TimeZone

(GMT+10) Australia/Queensland

Self-Directed Learning Talk

Nov 3, 2015   //   by bisadmin   //   Events  //  No Comments

Spencer searching for bunyips

Event Description

Self Directed Learning (SDL) is a core part of everyone’s Lifelong learning journey. Principal Jen would like to share the BIS model of SDL that aligns the 7 Characteristics of Self Direction with developing skills in social and emotional learning. Come along and learn about this new model. Handouts and tea/coffee are provided.

Event Cost

  • $15 per adult. $10 students or concession  to pay at door.
  • Free to BIS Current and Future Families

Event Date

August 5, 2016 – please RSVP via School Stream for BIS families and for visitors via

Event Time

9:00 am – 10:30

Event Venue

Brisbane Independent School, 2447 Moggill Road, Pullenvale 4069. Just follow the path from the car park up to the Office and our Admin staff will direct you to the venue. .

Event TimeZone

(GMT+10) Australia/Queensland

Honouring a new BIS lifemember

Oct 3, 2015   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments
Our new Life Member and past Chairperson Maelle

Our new Life Member and retiring Chairperson Maelle

Every year BIS, as an Incorporated Association, has an AGM. It is always a great opportunity to celebrate our growth and elect Life Members, awarded to people who have gone far beyond the normal “Call of Duty”.  This AGM had both the celebration of electing Chairperson Maelle Farquhar as a life member and the sadness of having her resign as Chairperson of the BIS Board, as she and her family had decided to return to France for a time.

Maelle’s impact on BIS and its future is hard to overstate. When she first took on the Chair role, the school faced some challenges:

  • The board, and therefore the school had becoming somewhat inward looking; and
  • The Board lacked a clear direction and strategy for the school.

Today, thanks to Maelle’s clear thinking, strong leadership and a huge slice of her time, all these issues have been addressed.

Maelle conceived and implemented a plan to change the structure of the BIS board from being entirely made up of parents to being a fifty/fifty mix of parents and board members drawn from the broader community who brought specific skills and experience that she saw were lacking.

This restructured and revitalised board has developed and is implementing clear, short and long term strategic goals that will ensure the school’s continued, healthy growth while remaining fully consistent with the school’s philosophy and core values.

Careful financial analysis and management together with growing our student numbers, has put us into a position to enact our future vision.  Maelle also established a successful succession policy ready for a vibrant change over of Chairperson to continue implementing this new vision.

At the AGM, Anthony Element OAM, the first of the external board members to be elected to the board, in 2012, was elected to replace Maelle as Chairperson. His objective is to – as seamlessly as possible – lead the board in continuing the work that Maelle so ably began.

Exciting times ahead.








Oct 3, 2015   //   by jhaynes   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Opti MInds PhotoOn 23 August 2015, six Brisbane Independent School (BIS) students competed in a team challenge at the annual Brisbane West Opti-MINDS challenge along with more than 20 other schools at St Peter’s Lutheran College and were awarded the “Spirit of Opti-MINDS” award.

The Opti-MINDS Creative Sustainability Challenge is an inclusive team challenge which EMPOWERS participants to THINK, CREATE & COMMUNICATE. Opti-MINDS is a creative problem solving event for teams of participants from Preschool to Adult within 4 divisions.

This is the first time BIS has participated in Opti-MINDS for more than 12 years.  Their student team had to respond to a social sciences question about a utopian community in the future and decide how members were selected – this all had to happen through their own team work and ideas.

The students had to write the script alone. All costumes and props were their own design and had to fit in a $50 budget – everything was priced, even the bamboo from the garden!

The teams also had a spontaneous challenge on the day to response to where they were graded on their collaboration and evidence of team spirit.

“The students worked hard in the 4 weeks leading up to the day to create a delightful response to the challenge question” says BIS Principal and Teacher, Jen Haynes.

The team showed such strong teamwork and collaboration that they were given the Spirit of Opti-MINDS award by the judges, an extraordinary feat for a group in their first year.

As a school with 50 years of progressive vision for education the award demonstrates how the BIS philosophy and curriculum of child empowerment and integrative thinking creates the critical and creative thinking, personal and social capability, ethical understanding and general capabilities of students which is so important to the future of education in Australia.

“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the BIS team’s capacity to create and complete a project alone to such a high standard and then to perform it in front of strangers with such confidence and skill” says Jen.

“I know groups of adults who could not have done it. I cannot wait to see what their performance will be like next year now that they know what to expect.”

The school was honoured to have Pullenvale Ward Councillor Margaret de Wit present the certificate to the Opti-MINDS team at their school meeting on 14 September.

BIS hopes to have two teams compete in Opti-MINDS next year.





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