Hi All, I wanted to update this thread with my own experiences. Mostly, because I took this thread as great advice when I selected Southern Monti (SMS) for my school and I have now had to remove my child from there. SMS had a great reputation and was really hard to get into a few years ago. I have a feeling that things have changed a little since 2011. There's a new principal to start with and it's much easier to get your child in. My child was there for one year of pre-school and 3 terms of Reception before I removed them. I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt and hoping that I should just "trust" them (as I was encouraged to do… by them) but, in the end, they failed my child and failed to convince me that they knew how to fix things. Here are some of the things I experienced - Good and bad to help anyone making the same choice: The vast majority of parents at the school are lovely and there is genuinely a lovely community there. Most of the community I connected with were made up of the parents and carers I bumped into at drop off and pickup and we still have regular dinners together. Really nice people The kids, on the whole are wonderful, kind and courteous. They're also very independent - which is a strong part of the monti philosophy which was great. The curriculum is somewhere between what's in the Montessori Curriculum and the Australian Curriculum. However, without my explicitly asking (and giving several weeks notice) not once was I ever told where my child was up to academically. In fact, they failed to notice some significant learning and cognitive functions my child was experiencing. I called a meeting to discuss my child's report wherein he got the lowest mark for "love of learning" - a shock to us because at home learning consumes our spare time. After a long conversation about techniques used in class and how my child was responding, when I asked about the structure and content of the report, I was pretty much told that the reports where just things that they do to meet the government requirements. That as an educator myself (I’m a teacher too) I should understand that they're done quickly and not really with much deep thought and I shouldn’t worry about them too much because well... they're not that important or accurate. ?!?!? – not my professional opinion of such a vital document tbh. One morning, after dropping my child off to class, leaving them with their teacher and returning to our car, my husband was flagged down by a parent asking if this was our child. Our 5 year old had left the classroom, wandered across the oval and was looking for their dad. If this well-meaning parent hadn't stopped them, our child could have been in real danger. This happened after the bell had gone. When returned to the classroom the teacher didn't even seem to have noticed they'd left. They pushed the whole incident back onto our five year old. The fact that the gates are left wide open. Gates right next to the R class or that the teacher didn't know where our child was were brushed off. We were told that closing the gates "was a can of worms" that the principal was reluctant to work through?? This was never addressed properly. The gates are left unlocked and open to this day. On this matter, we were also told that "duty of care" was a little different in my child's class and that it started when they were sat on the "mat" after the bell. The school states in its policy documentation (and in its induction process meetings) that duty of care starts at 8:30am whilst staff are on duty in the playground. To add to the confusion of this statement from the principal, when we looked in the classroom we found that there was no "mat" on the floor in the classroom. On the morning after we'd met with the principal and gone through these new rules with our child, a relief teacher was taking the class. kids were running in and out of the room for a good 15 minutes after the bell. My husband stood there, waiting for duty of care to be handed over - signs of which were that my child was on the mat and the register was being taken. This hadn’t happened 15 minutes after the bell had gone. He felt so strange standing there that he had to leave and then he let the principal know that there was not mat and that the kids were running in and out... No consistency or routine for 5/6 year olds. My child was learning to read at 2 and so we chose SMS because they said that they would meet the child where they were at. Unfortunately, it seems to me that they are unable to describe or define where a child is at in any real terms. How they then purport to plan from that lack of information is unclear to me. When he joined the pre-school from another Montessori setting (we'd recently changed suburbs) he had readers and site words each week. That Monty was meeting him where he was at and they had a great idea of who he was/is. At the pre-school at southern monty I had to fight to get them to give him the readers that the students in the top end of cycle one have. At the 6 months in mark - when we had our first teacher interview, I was very excited that my child had been writing whole sentences at home and I had assumed this was as a result of the teaching on site. When I thanked the teacher I was told that they had never seen them write. They had no idea what my child was able to do. My child was labelled with a standardised idea (gained from previous experiences I guess) of what a 4 year old should be doing and was made to do that work only. There was no attempt to meet his interests or needs as far as I could see. This continued for a while. We stayed only for the Friday program. The Friday program is where the pre-school get to work with the Reception teacher. This was where the teacher actually noticed how my child worked and what they knew. We felt his needs were being met and were excited that Reception would be different. It turns out that we were wrong there too. The three terms of reception, plus the 1 year of pre-school taught my child how to dumb down, stay quiet, conform and make loads of cool friends. To my kid, school was about socialising. It has a great ethos when it comes to community and friendships/relationships but does not have a strong grasp on academic achievement or attainment. My child came to learn that school was where you learnt about how to make friends and play. That was pretty much all it was. We've moved to a new school this term. Fingers crossed things get better for him. At SMS they are stuck in their ways, they won't listen to the parents, they dismiss concerns to readily and the board is unable/unwilling to hold anyone to account. In the last term I know of 5 families who have either left or have made plans to leave. There are some wonderful aspects to this school but we had so many serious concerns that we had no choice but to remove our child. Even the way they choose to treat parents is below par. I did not have a good experience here at all. That doesn't mean it wouldn't be a great fit for you and your family. We did have some specific needs that needed to be met and they were to unskilled to meet them properly. Please know that I tried hard to work with the school. I was on the P+F committee briefly. When asked I always supported their policy and other developments. However, in doing so, I had senior management laugh in my face, blatantly ignore me, say "no" when I asked for help (whilst shoving their hand in my face) and more.... Not a good experience. A very bad, very stressful one. I am so glad it's all in the rear view mirror. Please note that I am not posting this because I want to defame a school. I"m not angry. I just want anyone who comes across this thread to know my experience. I genuinely don't want another family to go through what we did.