Celebrating Service at Oakleigh Grammar

By Melissa Fitzgerald, MYP Coordinator, Oakleigh Grammar
November 10, 2021
Atticus Finch once said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960. A wise and moral character he taught millions of readers the value of empathy by imagining what it would be like to walk in the shoes of others. Just like Atticus Finch, IB learners strive to make a positive difference in the community and the environment.


At Oakleigh Grammar our service journey started in 2020 after it was identified as a matter to be addressed during our remote evaluation. Like many schools we struggled to embed service so it becomes part of the school culture rather than just a box to tick. This article shares the steps we took to embed the service learning outcomes in the curriculum, in every year of the programme during 2021.

Much of the literature on education and school improvement supports the role that transformational leadership plays in engaging and motivating staff towards achieving a common goal, in this instance the goal was to embed the service outcomes in the curriculum. This entailed a meeting with all the MYP staff with their respective subject group overviews. In teams, staff reviewed their units and looked for meaningful opportunities to embed the SAA outcomes. Collectively staff decided that our first step would be for students to meet the outcomes once per term through the curriculum and once per semester through the pastoral programme.

After agreeing when and where the service learning outcomes would be introduced we created a handbook for the school community. The MYPC met with staff as they were introducing the service outcomes to explain the relationship between the IB mission statement, the IB learner profile and the SAA outcomes to students. The MYPC then supports staff to collect evidence of these outcomes which are tracked via a spreadsheet.

Currently Oakleigh Grammar year 9 students are learning about the issues surrounding Food Security in individuals and societies, the year 8 students are learning the role leisure plays in creating and maintaining healthy communities, the year 7 students are building a relationship with an orphanage in Fiji and the year 6 students are using digital media to campaign on a range of student chosen issues. Even during lockdown the service units have proceeded with the language acquisition students learning about shopping ethically in China and the science students learning about ethics and medical procedures.

Following are reflections from the Y7 students who learnt to budget for refugees in mathematics:

  • “Sharing the planet has major responsibilities and rights along with it, we have the struggle to share the limited resources around us with all the world and its people. The communities and friendships within our world between us, we should all have access to equal chances at life and to resolve our conflicts.”
  • “We had trouble choosing cheap but nutritious food for our refugee. We also found it hard to find a good apartment with service and low rent. This activity has made me feel thankful for what I have and eager to help others.” 
  • “Although I will never be able to fully understand what it feels like to be a refugee, I might be able to have a small idea. Living in refugee camps would be challenging, very challenging. Not knowing whether you were going to have food that night, or be able to stay in a house for another month would be scary, especially for children. Some issues include finding a job, finding somewhere to live, having to put up with racism and having to learn the language of the country.”
  • “When attempting to create our budgets for food and rent, we found it difficult because the food and rent both costed a lot, and we struggled to find a balance. We eventually got a good balance and found a better apartment that costed less, and also had a better space.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of remote learning there haven’t been many opportunities to share and celebrate service learning with the school community via assemblies. However, during this term staff and students will reflect on the service learning practice from 2021 in order to make improvements for 2022. This will involve discussing the positives and negatives of the SAA units to ensure our work is purposeful and meets student needs.

Imagine if the town of Maycomb shared the IB mission, to create a more caring community driven through education, how different the lives of Boo Radley and Tom Robinson would have been.


If you would like any further information or a copy of the Oakleigh Grammar SAA handbook, please contact Melissa Fitzgerald at [email protected]