VAPS Newsletter

27 January 2020
Term 1 2020

Inspired by the Philosophy for Children movement, VAPS promotes critical and creative thinking among young people.

We believe that learning Philosophy opens students' minds to big ideas.

We support teachers in fostering the intellectual and social skills that enable students to think philosophically - through training, networking, curriculum development, and events.

Events Calendar
AGM - Upcoming
VAPS Conference 2020
Schools Events - PIPS: Philosophy in Public Spaces
World Philosophy Day 2019
Teacher Training
VCE Philosophy
Regional & Rural Schools
Philosophy in Schools Grants
Schools Workshops
Philosophy in Schools Readings
Victorian Association of Philosophy in Schools
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000

Events Calendar


Friday 7th February

Call for Presentations for the VAPS 2020 Conference Close

Sunday 23rd February

Intro to VCE Philosophy Teachers 2020 - Multicultural Hub

Sunday 23rd February

Teacher Training - Introduction to Community of Inquiry Day 1


Sunday 15th March

Teacher Training - Introduction to Community of Inquiry Day 2

Thursday 19th March

VAPS AGM - All members invited at 6:00pm

Sunday 22nd March

Teacher Training - Introduction to Community of Inquiry Day 3


Thursday 23rd April

Teacher Training - Community of Inquiry introduction at NGV

Friday 24th April

Professional Community of Inquiry for Adults at NGV

Thursday 30th April (TBC)

Philosophy in Schools - Melbourne Museum Event for Years 5-8


Saturday-Monday 2-4th May

Teacher Training - Advanced Practice in Community of Inquiry

Sunday 17th May

VCE Unit 3 Forum

Friday 29th May

Wisdom in Education Conference at Wesley College


Friday 12th June

Philosophy in Schools - National Gallery of Victoria Event for Years 4-6


Thursday-Friday 9-10th July

VAPS Conference

Sunday 26th July

VCE Unit 4 Forum

Thursday 30th July

Philosophy in Schools - Immigration Museum Event for Years 5-8


Sunday 2nd August

Teacher Training - Introduction to Community of Inquiry Day 1

TBA August

Philosophy in Schools - Community of Inquiry for Years 8-11 - University of Melbourne 

Sunday 16th August

Teacher Training - Introduction to Community of Inquiry Day 2

Sunday 30th August

Teacher Training - Introduction to Community of Inquiry Day 3


Thursday 10th September (TBC)

Philosophy in Schools - Scienceworks Event for Years 5-8


Thursday 19th November

Philosophy in Schools - Melbourne Museum Event for Years 5-8

AGM - Upcoming

AGM - Upcoming

The Victorian Association of Philosophy in Schools will hold its Annual General Meeting on Thursday 12th March at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. This is located at 234 Queensberry Street, Parkville VIC 3053, and the meeting will take place in Room Q509 (Level 5).


VAPS encourages members to attend and check in on the successes of VAPS over the last year and its direction going forward. All current members of any type (individual, student, institutional) are welcome and encouraged to attend. 


Immediately after the AGM there will be a general committee meeting, which is for committee members only. If any VAPS members want to have greater input into philosophy in schools throughout Victoria, they are welcome to join the committee, please send an email through to the committee. We are a not-for-profit charity and anyone available to give their time to help further the reach of philosophy in schools is always needed and welcome. 


At the AGM, there will be opportunity for VAPS to nominate an Executive Committee, as well as other officers to support VAPS. You may like to think about putting yourself forward for one or more of these roles on the night:

Executive Committee - Roles

Chair of the Association

Deputy Chair of the Association

Secretary of the Association

Treasurer of the Association

General Committee - Roles

Education & Innovation Officer

Junior & Middle Years Schools Philosophy in Public Spaces Events Officer

Senior Years Schools Philosophy in Public Spaces Events Officer

VCE Network Officer

VCE Forums Events Officer

Communications Officer

Website Officer

Philosophy with Disadvantaged Youth Project Officer


You may also put forward your interest at assist with any VAPS work (without being the lead officer) by nominating for the General Committee and expressing your interest to work with the officer in charge.

VAPS Conference 2020

Introducing the VAPS Conference for 2020

On July 9th & 10th, VAPS will host its biennial conference for 2020.

We are proud to announce our two keynotes for the conference:

Dr Philip Cam & Professor Thomas Wartenberg

Our focus for this year is on Sharing Best Practice

The conference will focus on best practice for everything that we do, including:

Philosophy for Children

Community of Inquiry

VCE Philosophy

Teacher Training

Curriculum, resources, strategies, assessment, and more!


We are in the final days of taking proposals for presentations, which are due by the 12th of February. 


Click here to fill out a submission to present.

Click here to purchase a ticket

(don't purchase a ticket yet if you're a presenter)


Keynote Speakers

Our two Keynote Speakers, Professor Thomas Wartenberg & Dr Phillip Cam, have been invited to present at the VAPS Conference not only a result of their decades of experience within the Philosophy in Schools community, but because of their highly accessible and practical publications. Our conference focus is on Sharing Best Practice, and both of our Keynote Speakers have shared much of this best practice in ways that are easy to pick up and use for everyone; from recent inductees into Philosophy in Schools to the most seasoned veterans.

VAPS would like to highlight their work over many years and invite VAPS members to begin thinking about the Best Practice in our field that our two keynotes provide through their through various and extensive publications, even before the conference begins!


Phillip Cam - Teaching Ethic in Schools: A New Way to Approach Moral Education

Thomas Wartenberg - Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children's Literature

Phillip Cam - Twenty Thinking Tools

Thomas Wartenberg - Philosophy in Classrooms and Beyond: New Approaches to Picture-Book Philosophy

Phillip Cam - Philosophy Park: A Beginners Guide to Great Philosophers and their Ideas

Thomas Wartenberg - A Sneetch is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries: Finding Wisdom in Children's Literature

Phillip Cam - Thinking Together: Philosophical Inquiry for the Classroom


And an upcoming book that will be released just in time for our conference!

Phillip Cam - Philosophical Inquiry: Combining the Tools of Philosophy with Inquiry-Based Teaching & Learning

Schools Events - PIPS: Philosophy in Public Spaces

2020 PIPS Events

You may have noticed that the regular VAPS events for Secondary Students, and Middle & Primary Students at Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, and the National Gallery of Victoria have been renamed. VAPS is no longer describing our events as 'Philosothons', as this terminology is more synonymous with the competitive style of philosophy practiced elsewhere, and we are refocusing our activities to support the development of caring thinking alongside critical and creative thinking.

These events are now referred to as PIPS events (Philosophy in Public Spaces).

VAPS will continue to run our full suite of events for students in 2020, with all of the same organisers still on board there are no changes other than the name, and we plan to make our 2020 events bigger and better!


Schools' Philosophy in Public Spaces (PIPS) Events for 2020

Middle Years (years 5-8) at Melbourne Museum (30th Apr)

Primary Years (years 4-6) at National Gallery of Victoria (12th June)

Middle Years (years 5-8) at Immigration Museum (30th July)

Senior Years (years 8-11) at the University of Melbourne (TBA August)

iddle Years (years 5-8) at Scienceworks Museum (10th Sep)

Middle Years (years 5-8) at Melbourne Museum (19th Nov)


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

The Secondary event is comprised of groups 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).


To register interest in attending any or all events, please contact the PIPS Coordinator here.


Facilitators are needed for all events.

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.





World Philosophy Day 2019

Melbourne Museum Recap

On 21st November, 2019 VAPS partnered with Melbourne Museum to deliver a Middle Years PIPS event on World Philosophy Day. 80 students in Years 5 to 8 from different schools came together to collaborate philosophically. Students from different schools were grouped together collaborating within a Community of Inquiry about various speakers


Please see our Philosophy in Schools Events page for 2020 events, including how to register students or to participate as a facilitator.


Lloyd Street Primary School - Reflections

By Zoe
The Philosothon made me wonder what we can do and how we can help the environment moving forward. I was inspired by how everyone said we can make a difference and we can choose how we contribute to changing the earth’s warming. But it also got me thinking how change only works if everyone is involved and committed to doing the right thing. How can we change? Is it too late???


By Lauren
The philosothon was really inspiring and it was great talking to new people with new ideas. What I found really interesting was the speaker Wren. She was really interesting and her message was very powerful and related to children.  It left me wondering how I can change my behaviour to make future generations have less green house gases. My question is, whose responsibility is it to make sure things are set right?


By Hailey
The Philosothon was really exciting and it was an amazing learning experience. I was inspired by different actions people were doing to stop climate change. I was inspired by the people taking action. I wonder what I can do?


By Alexander
The Philosothon was very interesting and it was good to open up our minds and actually think about solutions that would benefit us all as well as solving problems. It was good to think about everyone else’s perspectives and their ideas. I was inspired by the guest speaker Isabelle and her traditional story about koalas. Everyone thinks they can just chill and sit back and let others people solve the problem but that story really put into perspective how serious climate change is. I really want koalas to survive beyond ten years. What I found really interesting was the talk about meat and how a lot of our greenhouse gases come from red meat. Scientists are trying to introduce lab. meat which is made from stem cells or chemicals. Also, Australia actually eats the most meat of any country in the world! It left me wondering that if we got told the time that the world has left to get too warm, would we still act quickly or would we wait until the last five years? 

Teacher Training

Teacher Training 2020

Introduction to the Community of Inquiry Training will run in Feb-March, and again in Semester 2 during August. These training sessions run across three Sundays.


Training takes place at Brunswick East Primary School for Days 1 & 2, and Melbourne Museum for Day 3.

The dates are:

Semester 1

23rd February

8th March

22nd March

Semester 2

2nd August

16th August

30th August


Registration forms can be found here.

More details can be found here.


Bookings are being taken for all intakes.


Advanced Practice Training will be run as an intensive three days in May for those teachers who have already completed the Introduction to the Community of Inquiry Training and are looking to develop their practice further.

The dates are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of May.

Training takes place at the University of Melbourne.


For more information about all professional development, please contact our Education Officer here.












VCE Philosophy

VCE Network

Semester 1 VCE Philosophy Activities  


The annual Introductory VCE Teachers Workshop  (New & Experienced Teachers) for 2020 will be held over February 23 (Sun) at the Multicultural Hub.


VCE Network Meetings (Venue and time TBA)

Term 1: Week 8 

Term 2: Week 6 


The structure and content of VCE Network meetings will be determined via a survey to be sent to members shortly. VCE Members are invited to respond to the survey to find out their preference for:

a) day/time 

b) content for the sessions (SAC moderation, text discussion etc). 


The survey will also be a chance to seek interest from those who may want to present in the VCE stream at the conference mid-year. 



Bonnie Zuidland  

Kristy Forrest 

VCE Forums

VCE Unit 3 Forum

Sunday 17 May at University of Melbourne

Melbourne Graduate School of Education 234 Queensberry St, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia

Speakers TBC


VCE Unit 4 Forum

Sunday 26 July at University of Melbourne

Melbourne Graduate School of Education 234 Queensberry St, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia

Speakers TBC



Janette Poulton

Getting Prepared

The Chief Examiner's Report from 2018 is now available. Please find it here. The 2019 Chief Examiner's Report will be available later in the year.


The 2020 exam specifications are available here.


The 2020 study design can be accessed here. Also have a look at the new 2019-2023 prescribed texts here


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


Please join the VAPS VCE google group here.

Please join our VAPS VCE Facebook group here.








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 through its Strategic Partnerships Program. 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.

Philosophy in Schools Grants

VAPS Department of Education Grant

VAPS has received funding from the Department of Education through their Strategic Partnerships Program to support regional and remote schools to access philosophy events. 

Funding is available to attend all VAPS events, including Philosophy in Schools Events for students, Teacher Training, VCE Events, and the VAPS 2020 Conference.


All regional and rural teachers and schools can apply for grants for upcoming events at any time

For more information, contact the treasurer here.

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

Thomas Wartenberg - Picture Book Philosophy

In the lead up to the VAPS Conference, we are wanting to introduce you all to our keynote presenters through our 'Philosophy in Schools Readings' page in the newsletter. Firstly,  we have an article by Thomas Wartenberg about using Picture Books to do philosophy with young people. 


Philip Cam - Teaching Ethics in Schools - A Book Review by Ho Wah Kam

It is important to note that Teaching Ethics In Schools has this as its subtitle“A new approach to moral education”, which promotes a fresh approach to moral education. As stressed in the book blurb, “Far from prescribing a rigid set of mandated values, codes of conduct, behaviour management plans, or religious instruction, Philip Cam skilfully presents ethical thinking and reasoning as a dynamic and essential aspect of school life”.
The book is divided into two sections – Part One and Part Two - preceded by a very useful introduction for the school teacher. Teachers trained in Philosophy for Children will find the introduction particularly relevant to their work.
The introduction focuses on the problem of moral education, the need for philosophy, developing good moral judgments and on to the core of the argument, which is teaching ethics through collaborative inquiry. The author explains: Since ethics is a branch of philosophy, the key to success in teaching it is to engage students philosophically, which involves reasoned inquiry into issues and ideas. It may be as elementary as learning to distinguish between moral and non-moral uses of a word such as ‘good’, or as advanced as determining whether the consequences of a given action are more (or less) morally significant than the intention with which a person acted. At any level, there is a vital difference between teaching ethics through inquiry and teaching it didactically. The latter gives students much to learn but little to reflect upon. The former shifts the emphasis from telling students what they should think about moral matters to helping them to think morally.
In Part One, the first two chapters draw on philosophy and the theoretical aspects of moral education in succinct terms to support teachers in their conceptual understanding of the issues. Chapter 1 ends by stating that attitudes to morality change, like everything else. The author adds,“It cannot be denied, however, that societies are always on the move — technologically, economically and socially. Education must keep pace with these changes and help us to manage them. Moral education is as much an ingredient in the advancement of society as is scientific and technological education and we need to take a forward-looking approach”. This “forward-looking approach” is elaborated on in Chapter 2, in which collaborative inquiry is stressed.
In fact, when we try to solve a moral problem of any complexity, we are often well-advised to discuss it with others. This reliance upon others applies equally to the objectives of moral inquiry in the classroom. If we want students to grow out of the habit of going with their own first thoughts, to be on the lookout for better alternatives, and to become disposed to consider other people’s points of view, then we cannot do better than having them learn by exploring moral issues, problems and ideas together. If we want them to become used to giving reasons for what they say, to expect the same of others and to make productive use of criticism, then we cannot go past giving them plenty of practice with their peers. And if we want them to grow up not to be so closed-minded as to think that those who disagree with them must be either ignorant or vicious, then the combination of intellectual and social engagement to be found in collaborative moral inquiry is just the thing. These are all good reasons for adopting this approach.

Chapter 3 is the “bridge” chapter between Part One and Part Three. It provides a useful introduction to ethics, ethical theories and ethical inquiry.
Ethics is the philosophical study of morality. It is concerned with the ends that we ought to choose and the considerations that should govern those choices, as well as with the kinds of people we should strive to be. Ethics is less interested in how people actually behave than with how they ought to behave. It seeks to understand the basis of moral obligation and the nature of ‘the good’.
Part Two consists of two practical chapters. Chapter 4 provides a guide to teaching ethics, focusing on topics such as working out the basic pattern of inquiry and how to make ethical inquiry collaborative. Chapter 5 deals with the construction of activities, discussion points and exercises for class use, methods of questioning, conceptual exploration and reasoning. Many of these activities and exercises are stimulus materials for teachers to adapt for and apply across different school subjects, in both primary and secondary schools.
In his book, Teaching Ethics In Schools, Philip Cam shows how an ethics-based approach to moral education can serve as a natural fit with current trends in education stressing citizenship education and character development.




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)

PIPS Officer: (Email)

VAPS Newsletter