VAPS Newsletter

26 April 2019
Issue Two
Events Calendar
AGM - Chair's Report
AGM - Treasurer's Report
AGM - EIO Officer's Report
Australasian Philosothon
Regional & Rural Schools
Philosothon Grants
PD - Ethics Trail at Melbourne Zoo
Schools Workshops
Philosophy in Schools Readings
Victorian Association of Philosophy in Schools
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

Events Calendar


Friday 3rd May

Ethics Trail PD - Melbourne Zoo

Sunday 19th May

VCE Unit 3 Forum - University of Melbourne


Friday 14th June

Primary Years Philosothon (NGV)


Thursday 18th July

Middle Years Philosothon (Immigration Museum)

Friday 26th July

Ethics Trail PD - Melbourne Zoo

Sunday (TBC)

VCE Unit 4 Forum


Sunday 4th August

Community of Inquiry Level 1 Training (day 1)

Tuesday 13th August

Secondary Philosothon (Wesley College)

Sunday 18th August

Community of Inquiry Level 1 Training (day 2)


Sunday 1st September

Community of Inquiry Level 1 Training (day 3)

Thursday 12th September

Middle Years Philosothon (Scienceworks) 


Friday 18th October

Ethics Trail PD - Melbourne Zoo


21st November

Middle Years Philosothon (Melbourne Museum)



VAPS will host six Philosothons this year.


Primary Years Philosothon (years 4-6) at the NGV (14th June)

Middle Years Philosothon (years 5-8) at the Immigration Museum (18th July) 

Middle Years Philosothon (years 5-8) at Scienceworks Museum (12th Sep)

Middle Years Philosothon (year 5-8) at Melbourne Museum (21st Nov)

Secondary Philosothon (years 8-11) at Wesley College (StK) (13th Aug)


All Primary & Middle years Philosothons are 10 students per school.

The Secondary Philosothon comprises teams of 8 students per school: 

2x year 8, 2x year 9, 2x year 10, 2x year 11.

(Fewer students per school can be arranged by negotiation).


For more details or to register early interest in attending, please contact the Philosothon Coordinator here.


Facilitators are needed for all philosothons.

This is a chance to visit the exhibits for free and gain some valuable professional development experience conducting philosophical communities of inquiry with students.  You will love it!


If you are interested, please fill out this short form or contact the education officer here.


Introduction to the Community of Inquiry Training will begin for semester 2 on the 4th of August.

Registration forms can be found here.

More details can be found here.


Bookings are also being taken for the Semester 2 training starting on 4th August. 


For more information, please contact our Education Officer here.









VAPS has elected a new executive committee after the 2018 AGM on the 14th of March. Your new executive are:


                        Chair:                                     Harry Galatis

                        Deputy-Chair:                    Jill Howells 

                        Secretary:                            Marilyn Wiber

                        Treasurer:                            Ben Kilby


Contact details for the VAPS executive, as well as other non-executive positions can be found on the VAPS website here.

Passing the Torch

The VAPS committee as a whole would particularly like to thank Bonnie Zuidland & Tristan Hill for the enormous amount of work they have put into VAPS over the years. Both have served as chairs of our association, and have lead our VCE network. Bonnie & Tristan are looking to spend more time with their growing families and so will not be continuing in a significant capacity for 2019. Thank you both for your years of hard work and dedication, and we wish you and your families well for the exciting future.

New Committee Members

VAPS is a volunteer run schools association, and as such, relies on the generosity of those people who are able and willing to offer their time to further the cause of promoting philosophy in schools throughout Victoria. 


VAPS welcomes anyone who wishes to help out to join the committee for 2019. Whether you are a seasoned expert, or have just recently been introduced to philosophy in schools and are wanting to learn more. The best way to become more involved in our activities is to put your hand up to join the committee. There are no requirements to join, and all jobs associated with the work we do are voluntary. We have members who teach philosophy in the tertiary sector, at VCE level, Secondary school, Primary school, and in Early Learning Centres. As a volunteer-run association, we rely on the expertise and willingness of our diverse array of members to contribute to our team. Please consider joining the committee for 2019. You can do so by contacting anyone already on the VAPS committee.









AGM - Chair's Report

Chair's Report - Tristan Hill

I am very pleased to report that the Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools successfully planned and managed an impressive array of activities since our last General Meeting.


These activities were conceived and executed in order to promote the aims and purposes of our Association. Our activities over the past year involved the exploration of philosophical concepts through critical and reflective thought, the provision of high quality professional development opportunities for teachers and the encouragement of the Community of Inquiry methodology in classrooms.


I will summarise our notable achievements this year.

Our work establishing a full programme of Philosothons has now meant that we have Philosothons running at Primary level, a number of Philosothon events running for the Middle Years and our ever successful Victorian Secondary Schools Philosothon. I thank Janette for her excellent work in establishing and maintaining such a wonderful programme of events for the students of Victoria.


As the subject association supporting philosophy teachers across the state, VAPS hosted several VCE Network meetings on topics from the writing of SACs to preparing for the VCE Examination. We ran a very successful seminar for beginning teachers of VCE Philosophy. We organised two Forums with the generous support of The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Both were well attended and were very informative and enjoyable. For the first time, we invited the Chief Examiner for VCE Philosophy to discuss the VCE Philosophy examination and this session proved to be exceptionally valuable for the students in attendance.


VAPS worked to support regional students and teachers of philosophy to attend philosophy events, and we continue to reflect and establish events and practices which will help our regional and rural members.

Through our ongoing efforts to review our COI training methods, we have already established ourselves as a leader in P4C in Australia, and we continue to develop these methods to the highest standards.


The crowning achievement of our already impressive work last year was the VAPS Conference. There were around 2-dozen workshops and seminars offered with approximately 84 attendees across two days in the north of the city. The Conference attracted some excellent speakers on a range of topics which sought to improve the philosophical capacity of students across the state. What was most enjoyable, perhaps, was the opportunity for those collegial conversations with like-minded teachers. I for one thoroughly enjoyed the event and was pleased to hear this sentiment echoed by numerous attendees who commented positively on the variety of panels and the practical advice they had received which would have, I am sure, enriched their teaching and their students’ learning.


Lucas McGauran, has served as our secretary and was the conference convenor. He is to be commended for his excellent organisation for our Association and for his ability to craft such an interesting programme at the Conference. I am grateful for his enthusiasm and energy on the days of the Conference itself. Without a doubt, it was his gentle humour and careful leadership which steered this event to success. Lucas, thank you.


So, we have much to be proud. And now, we can cast our ambitions forward: What will we strive to achieve next? We are emboldened by an understanding that what we represent as an Association is

a commitment to help, to improve and to be even better. And we look to a new crop of Committee members – our most exciting opportunity, to be sure.

I take this opportunity to thank all members of the Committee for their work over the last year. Your considered advice, your willingness to pitch in and your enthusiasm for our cause has been well appreciated by our members. Thank you.


Janette Poulton, our Education and Innovations Officer, has once again spear-headed our success this year. She is indefatigable, and her tireless enthusiasm for the good work of VAPS is the backbone of our success.


I thank, especially, the Executive of the Committee.


Ben Kilby has been exemplary in his work as Treasurer this year. His attention to detail in his job has been immense and I am most grateful. Ben has also completed a lot of work this year on the VAPS Newsletter. He reformatted the document to make it more appealing and engage our membership directly, keeping the community involved in our events and current news. Thank you, Ben.


I thank Harry Galatis who has served as Deputy-Chair. His wise counsel and calm demeanour as the peace-maker of our little band has been integral to our success this past year, for sure. Thank you, Harry.


Bonnie Zuidland, as our Chair, proved once again that she is one of the most hardworking and dedicated members of our Committee. Bonnie resigned as the Chair earlier this year with the happy news that she and her partner, Johnny, were expecting their first child. Bonnie is an acknowledged master teacher. Just ask my wife who attended one of Bonnie’s workshops at the 2016 Conference and has been raving about it ever since! She is a leader and role model for many, me included. I am proud and humbled to consider her a friend, too. I am sure you will all join me in thanking her for her many years of camaraderie, her enthusiasm for the work of VAPS and her unwavering dedication to Philosophy for Children in Victoria. Bonnie, thank you.


I said something of the same as what I am about to say this time last year, but I will not continue in the position of Chair of the Association after this meeting. Indeed, I will be retiring from the Committee in full.

Instead, I look forward to spending more time with my family and especially my two baby daughters, Lily, born October 2017 and Isabella born just last month. For all the many very happy memories of our time together, at Conferences, at Philosothons, Forums and meetings, I want to say simply: thank you.


My colleagues, fellow members, our work as an Association continues, but we can all be proud of our accomplishments over the last year


AGM - Treasurer's Report

Treasurer's Report - Ben Kilby

VAPS has had a strong financial year, increasing income from $23,487 in 2017 to $45,558 in 2018 and profit from $2882 in 2017 to $6344 in 2018.


All areas of our finances have received a boost, with: 

  • income from membership increasing from $8822 in 2017 to $10,959 in 2018, showing solid growth in membership
  • income from VAPS training increasing  $4498 in 2017 to $7406 in 2018, mainly due to the fact that we were able to run an Advanced Practice course in 2018
  • income from events increasing from $2274 in 2017 to $8149 to 2018, mainly due to new philosothons and the fact that we ran a conference in 2018 (but not in 2017)

Our events made up 50% of our income, and we have seen them as sustainable features of our association. In 2018, we were able to sustainably run our junior philosothons and our biennial conference. Our secondary philosothon was more than sustainable, allowing us room to provide subsidies for disadvantaged or regional/rural schools to attend in the future. However, our forums were less sustainable. The first one only just made a profit and the second forum made a loss. This is due to having to pay high fees for a venue in 2018, which is an area to address going forward.


We received a grant from the Victorian Department of Education for $9608 per year to support regional and rural schools to participate in philosophical practices, including schools and teachers attending any of our events. We only managed to spend $1582 of this grant, and 100% of that was on teachers attending the conference. As this grant continues into 2019, we need to look at new ways of inviting regional and rural schools into the fold.








AGM - EIO Officer's Report

Education & Innovation Officer's Report - Janette Poulton

We have made further developments to the structure of of Community of Inquiry training programs, including our assessment of assignments as part of the training. Our courses are all in line with FAPSA requirements. We are also building into our training the opportunity for new graduates of the Introduction to Community of Inquiry course to facilitate at one of our regular philosothons.


We have also been able to recognise three Lighthouse Schools this year. These schools were Brunswick East Primary School, Serpell Primary School, and Brighton Primary School. These schools have been highlighted for not only their exemplary work in involving their whole school (F-6) in philosophical inquiry, but also to work with VAPS on developing their school's curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher training in a rigorous capacity. We would welcome other schools who are beginning to explore philosophy at their school, or who are looking to move towards a whole school approach to philosophy, to get in touch with VAPS.


We have wrapped our Ethical Capabilities project, which was funded with a grant thanks to the Victorian Department of Education. These resources are undergoing a final round of proofreading and graphic design, and will soon be available both on the VAPS website, and on FUSE as part of the Department of Education's resources platform.


We have also expanded our philosothon series. In 2018 we tied together three Middle Years Philosothons across Melbourne Museum and the Immigration Museum on the theme of rights and freedom. We also trialled a successful Middle Years Philosothon at Scienceworks. Moving forward in 2019, we will use this model going forward, and already have the theme of 'The Future' to tie together our for Middle Years Philosothons, which will run across Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, and Scienceworks Museum. This series of Middle Years Philosothons will run in parallel to our established and ongoing Primary Years Philosothon at the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Secondary Philosothon.


Australasian Philosothon

Australasian Philosothon 2019

This year Radford College in Canberra is hosting the 8th FAPSA Australasian Philosothon between the 1st & 3rd of October. There are 20 schools participating in the event, each qualifying team having been successful in their local Philosothon. 


Anyone experienced individual wishing to judge can apply can contact Matthew Wills here and also click here to apply for travel funding. 


The Head judge this year is Professor Stephan Millett and we have several other prominent figures participating including Dr Jen Glaser and Professor Rob Wilson. 


Congratulations to our two Victorians schools who will be participating in the Australasian Philosothon after their quality contributions at the 2018 VAPS Secondary Philosothon: Ballarat Grammar School & MacRobertson High School.



Ballarat Grammar School VIC
Cavandish Rd High School QLD
Churchie QLD
Georgiana Molloy Anglican School  WA
Lindisfarne  NSW
MacRobertson High School VIC
Meriden NSW
Methodist Ladies College WA
Nth Sydney Girls High School NSW
Prince Alfred College SA
Scotch College WA
Seymour College SA
St Andrew Cathedral School NSW
St Marks ACS WA
St Patrick's College NSW
St Peters Girls School SA
The Hutchins School TAS

Regional & Rural Schools

VAPS Philosophical Practice Officer

VAPS has implemented a new position to assist regional and rural schools with incorporating philosophical inquiry into their schools.


The Philosophical Practice Officer is available to visit schools seeking to build philosophical inquiry into their school's practice.


VAPS has secured grant money to assist regional and rural schools thanks to the Department of Education. Regional and Rural schools will receive at 75% discount of all costs (which will be taken from the grant money).





For more information, contact the treasurer here.

Philosophical Practice Officer's Offerings

                                                           (75% discount for Regional or Rural Schools)

TYPE                                                                                                                     COST (dis)

School Visit Base Fee (0-2 hours from Melb)                                       $100 ($25)

School Visit Base Fee (2+ hours from Melb)                                        $250 ($63)


School Day in Class (demonstrations; mentoring; planning)     $500 ($125)

After School PL (1 Hour)                                                                             $400 ($100)

Whole Day PL                                                                                                $1200 ($300)


*Combinations of sessions available

*These sessions can be made available to non-regional or rural school for the full fee upon request.


For more information, contact the treasurer here.


VCE Network

As champions of our VCE network, Bonnie & Tristan have worked continually on keeping this network running at a high standard. Given that they have both retired from running this network, we would invite other VCE teachers to take a more central role. Some of our initial thinking is to instigate roving VCE network meetings, with various VCE Philosophy teachers putting their hand up to host at their school once or more throughout the year.

If you are interested in stepping into a more prominent role within our VCE Philosophy network, please get in touch with our Education Officer here.


VCE Network Meetings will be organised through our Google Group. Please request to join here.

VCE Forums

Sunday 19th May at University of Melbourne

VCE Unit 3 Forum

PLEASE NOTE NEW VENUE:  Room, 230 Melbourne Graduate School of Education 234 Queensberry St, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia



A/Prof Olivia Carter On The Science of Consciousness

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne. 

Her expertise is in  Consciousness, Perception, Psychosis, Psychopharmacology, Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroethics


Dr Laura Schroeter On MInds and Bodies

After getting her PhD at the University of Michigan, Laura took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Research School of the Social Sciences at the ANU. She has been an Australian Research Fellow and joined the University of Melbourne in 2008.

 Her research focuses on the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, and metaethics.   


Dr Dana Goswick On Personal Identity

Lectures in the School of  Historical and Philosophical Studies at University of Melbourne.   Her  work centres on ontology and essence.  


Sunday July (TBC)

VCE Unit 4 Forum

Venue TBA


The Chief Examiner's Report from 2017 is now available. Please find it here.


The 2019 exam specifications are available here.


2019 will bring with it a new study design. Get your head around it here. Also have a look at the new 2019 prescribed texts here


Please see our website and calendar for full details about venues, times, and registrations for all events.

Please join the VAPS VCE google group here.



Philosothon Grants


VAPS has received funding from the Department of Education to support regional and remote schools to access philosophy events. 

Funding is available to attend all VAPS events, including Philosothons, and Level 1 training.


All regional and rural teachers and schools can apply for grants for upcoming philosothons this year or any of the trainings this year

For more information, contact the treasurer here.


PD - Ethics Trail at Melbourne Zoo

Teacher Professional Development with Zoos Victoria Ethics and Conservation: Exploring the ethics trails at the Melbourne Zoo

If you’re a Levels 3- 10 teacher this professional development day is for you. You’ll be able to preview the Melbourne Zoo Ethics Trails and case studies and get the chance to develop your competency for teaching ethical issues in an engaging and non-formal education setting.


The professional development will be delivered by experts in the field of philosophy and ethics education from VAPS (Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools) in partnership with the Melbourne Zoo Learning Experience Team.


The content of the day will be based on the new Ethics Trail and self-guided program, Ethics and Conservation, which has been specifically developed for the Melbourne Zoo.


Primary and Secondary teachers can attend this free professional development day at Melbourne Zoo to support their teaching and learning practice in the Victorian Curriculum area of Ethical Capability.



Time: 9.30am – 3.30pm

Location: Melbourne Zoo

Cost: FREE for Zoos Victoria members ($70 to join as a teacher member) 


For bookings call 1300 966 784


  • Friday 3rd May (Term 2)
  • Friday 26th July (Term 3)
  • Friday 18th October (Term 4)


Download the teacher and student notes for years 3/4, 5/6. 7/8, 9/10, and VCE.

You can find additional resources and support at Victorian Association for Philosophy in Schools.


More details available at the Zoo website.

*Free with a Zoos Teacher Membership.

Schools Workshops

Ethical Capability School Workshops

WORKSHOP 1 - Introduction to the Ethical Capability Curriculum (1 Hour)


This 1 hour workshop is an introduction to the Ethical Capability curriculum via a hands-on interactive exploration of an ethical concept using tools from the toolkits through the pedagogical approach of Community of Inquiry.


WORKSHOP 2 - Implementation of the Ethical Capability Curriculum (6.5 Hours)

This 1 day workshop supports teachers to plan their Ethical Capability curriculum by taking them through the three stages of planning. At each stage participants are taken through an exploration, using tools from the toolkit and modelling the practice of Community of Inquiry, of an ethical issue. Participants explore and experience how to use the toolkit to explore conceptual understanding and ethical decision making. At each stage teachers are provided with time to reflect on the implementation of the curriculum in their own classroom.


WORKSHOP 3 - Implementation of the Ethical Capability Toolkit (6.5 Hours)

This one day workshop supports teachers in developing their toolkit for their own classroom.


WORKSHOP 4 - Practicing Ethical Capability in Context (6.5 Hours)

Is a one-day training program that familiarises participants with the EC curriculum and gives them the experience of thinking together and learning within a Community of Inquiry in a public place.


WORKSHOP 5 - A developmental Approach to Assessment and Reporting of the Ethical Capability (12 Hours)

This workshop introduces practitioners to using a developmental approach to learning and assessment. Focussing on the learning intentions and achievement standards outlined in the Ethical Capability, participants

will learn to gather appropriate data and create rubrics useful for their teaching context.


This training meets AITSL standards for PD requirements for Pre-service, Graduate and Proficient teachers in relation to professional development supporting the implementation of the Ethical Capability in the Victorian Curriculum Levels F-10.

Philosophy in Schools Readings

Clinton Golding - Thinking together with Philip Cam: Theories for Practitioners and Assessing Thinking

These are practical theories designed to be useful for practitioners of Philosophy for Children, rather than abstract theories designed to contribute to the scholarship of Philosophy for Children. I first explain what I mean by a practitioner theory, using Cam’s Question Quadrant as an illustration. Then, for the rest of the article I give a more detailed analysis and elaboration of Cam’s practitioner theory about assessing thinking. This theory first appears in Thinking Together in the form of a table that teachers can use to assess how frequently their students perform different thinking moves. For example, we can assess student thinking based on how often they ask questions, or build on what someone else has said. I will show how this seemingly simple theory captures a great deal of theoretical complexity, combining themes about thinking moves from Splitter and Sharp, making thinking visible from Perkins and Richhart, and habits of mind from Costa and Kallick. I will also show how we can develop Cam’s practitioner theory into a sharper tool for assessing thinking if we incorporate further insights about learning to think, and assessing thinking, from Perkins, Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky and Bloom.


Full article available here.








Chair: Dr Harry Galatis (Email)

Deputy-Chair: Jill Howells (Email)

Secretary: Marilyn Wiber (Email)

Treasurer: Ben Kilby (Email)



Education and Innovations Officer: Dr Janette Poulton (Email)

Membership Officer: Ben Kilby (Email)

Philosophical Practice Officer: Ben Kilby (Email)

VAPS Newsletter