Inquiry Learning

At Courtenay Gardens Primary School students learn about the world they live in, developing an inquiry thinking approach to understand and solve real world problems. They learn to use their knowledge and skills in different contexts using critical and creative thinking. Our inquiry classrooms provide a space where teachers work with students to explore key concepts and in an authentic context.



Discovery Time

In 2021 we introduced a play-based inquiry model into prep and grade 1 classrooms. This is in line with the Department of Education emphasis on supporting young learners to develop their personal and social capabilities.


Key literacy and numeracy understandings will be modelled by the teachers at the beginning of each session. Students will then be allowed time to direct their own learning as they work at the areas set up around the classroom. Learning areas include science, sensory, construction, real life, writing, maths and reading. During this Discovery Time students are doing so much learning and thinking, we do not use the word ‘play’ but rather terms such as explore, investigate and discover. Teachers will work closely with students to scaffold their learning and encourage them to question curiously and record their thinking by writing. On a roster, students will become ‘focus students’ and as part of this special role they will be able to share their learning with the class at the beginning and end of Discovery Time.


Discovery Time will provide authentic context for students to explore their questions and it will be used to drive student learning for the rest of the day.


Questions to ask your prep/grade 1 student about Discovery Time:

  • What area did you explore today?
  • Who did you work with during Discovery Time?
  • Did anything make you curious today?
  • What is something you’d like to learn more about?
  • What did you do when you were the focus student?


Lesson Structure




- Teachers model literacy & numeracy key learnings. They discuss student questions and ideas for students’ explorations.

Discovery Time

- Teachers scaffold the students learning and help with make connections to literacy and numeracy ideas as they explore different areas and resources.


- Teacher supports all students to reflect on their learning.


Project-based Inquiry

Grades 2-6 are implementing a Kath Murdoch project-based inquiry cycle. Inquiry learning is based on the belief that students are capable learners who can collaborate with the teacher to explore the curriculum. It gives our students the chance to pose questions, make room for wondering and take ownership for their learning. Through Inquiry learning we are provoking curiosity in students. Inquiry learning is not just hands on activities, it is about the pursuit of meaning driven by the questions of both teachers and students.


Each term year levels will explore a big question that directly relates to a curriculum content area of the Humanities, science, design and technology or business and economics. Students begin the term by conducting a shared inquiry where they tune into the question, find out information and sort out this data. Student then move to investigating their own personal question related to the topic, by going further into the key concept and by taking action and sharing their learning the wider Courtenay Gardens community. Each term will culminate with an Expo of learning, where students can share the results of their personal investigation.


Questions to ask your grade 2-6 student about Project-based Inquiry:

  • What big question are you exploring?
  • What have you been wondering? Did you put this on the Wonder Wall?
  • Did anything make you curious today?
  • What is something you’d like to learn more about?
  • What are you doing for your personal investigation?

Project-based cycle


Typical Teacher and Student Activity

Tuning In

Sparking student interest & curiosity. Help students make connections to key concepts.

Finding Out

Teachers support students to plan and research new information.

Sorting Out

Students analyse their data and share their understandings.

e.g. I used to think...but now I think…

Going Further

Students begin working more independently on a project/investigation that interests them.

e.g. I want to find out more about…

Taking Action

Students engage in tasks that put their learning into action some way. This might be individual or collaborative.


Assessing student final understandings and growth.

Students reflecting on what and how they have learned.


Wonder Walls

To encourage our students to wonder about the world around them and use questions to drive their learning each classroom has a “Wonder Wall’ display. This is a space where students are asked to record questions that have them thinking. Teachers model open and closed questions as well as ways in which students can find answers to the questions they have.