‣ Disclaimer
This article contains information that is for general information only and should not be used for the basis of making any decisions regarding education or anything else. It is solely the writer’s opinion of the writer’s experience of one open day at the school and the writer’s interactions with the people present on that day. The writer’s article is purely subjective. Facts and information may or may not be complete, accurate, reliable or valid reflection of the school in question.

I encourage you to personally tour the school and meet the educators and students, form your own opinion and leave a comment here.

Best of luck with your search for the perfect school!

* This article is sponsored by Port Melbourne Primary School. Sponsored school tours are written and published based on the author’s experience of the tour. It is a condition of sponsored school tours that schools cannot ask for alterations or additions or subtractions to the content. *

Tour Details

Tour date: Friday 22nd March (Open Morning)

Tour time: Presentation at 9:30am followed by a staff and student-led tour.

Number of visitors: Approximately 100-120 people

Tour groups: Large group broken into approximately 6 groups of 15-20 guests on individual tours.

Vibe and physical layout of Port Melbourne Primary School

Pleasant, bright-faced children greeted us into the hall where the introduction presentation was being held. Another set of students then ushered us into the hall and handed us a Port Melbourne Primary school showbag, secretly I felt quite excited to receive one, it even had a lolly pop in it and my very own Port Melbourne PS badge.

Well-dressed teachers, staff and also a parent representative sat on the panel at the front of the large brand-spanking new gymnasium which afforded the guests with a view of the expansive playground and netball/basketball courts. It was impressive.

A young, tall man stood at the front adjusting the projector and ensured the technology was fully functioning. I assumed he was the tech expert he was so down-to earth in how he held himself. It was only when he took to the mic and introduced himself that I realised he was in fact the school principal Tom Cain.


Tom introduced himself along with a panel of four, comprising of two student leaders, one teacher and a parent.

Aside from the slick presentation and well-considered words from the panel, what really stood out for me is the way Tom Cain, the principal, reached out and entrusted a grade 5 or 6 student (clearly the resident technical wizard) to resolve a small technical glitch. It gave me a good sense of staff and student collaboration, which was one of the key points of difference for the school and something it prides itself on.

The moment I parked my car and stepped off Graham Street onto Clark Street I forgot I was right near Melbourne’s CBD. The lush greenery that surrounded the quiet street that led me into the school grounds gave me a sense of tranquillity.

There is something reassuring and comforting about the original school building (from 1890) that has since been renovated with various school facilities, namely the open-plan learning spaces, gymnasium (or hall) along with an art room and outdoor sports facilities. It does feel like we are entering an old community space that still values connection. 

The modern facilities coupled with a heritage façade did leave me a little dizzy in terms of finding my bearings. But with the signage I soon felt much more comfortable in the space. Though the school currently has 715 students, it didn’t seem crammed and it didn’t seem like that many students actually shared the space. 

There is also a lovely, outdoor ‘sensory play’ space that is a novelty for the kids which has been designed by a parent, another example of community involvement.

Port Melbourne Primary School principals view

Tom Cain spoke with pride about the importance of the Port Melbourne community and how the school plays a key role in it. He also said that it is a privilege for the school to partner with parents in bringing up their children. 

He mentioned that originally the suburb was working class and due to gentrification has gradually become more middle class. It was evident from the way the staff, students and even visitors were dressed that we were in a more affluent suburb; and the school and the facilities did present that way also.


With a cohort of 715 students – 30 classes of which 4 are prep classes some may consider this on the larger side. Tom mentioned the benefits of a larger public school is the scale of budget, STEM dedicated space enabling the school to specialise on the STEM program as well as French, which is the schools language other than English (L.O.T.E). He also said that in larger cohorts, each child finds their groups more quickly.

Tom reiterated that the school has an engaged and connected parent community, the learning spaces and facilities are modern, light-filled and inviting. With no major building works.

He defined Port Melbourne Primary school as complete, “Our school is complete”. I only assume he means both structurally as well as a school.

He then proceeded to talk in more detail about the three pillars of the school; Excellence. Collaboration. Community.

Excellence at Port Melbourne Primary School

Students being on their own pathway, meeting each student at their point of need.

A data driven approach enables excellence at the school. It allows them to review where their current opportunities are and then devise a plan (in collaboration with external support where necessary) to address any gaps or opportunities for improvement. 

The excellence in learning is supported with a well-being approach. There is a big focus on well-being in the school and they do this with a three-person well-being team.

Excellence in staff – attract and retain high quality teachers.

Collaboration at Port Melbourne Primary School

Collaborating plan with co-teaching model. Teachers work together to devise the syllabus to meet the curriculum and address the opportunities demonstrated by the data.

“We cultivate a nurturing, collaborative and inclusive culture.”

This was also evident in the way the student leaders were involved in the running of the tour as well as the open morning.

Community at Port Melbourne Primary School

Kids are embedded in the local community with various activities. An example of this is participating and training with local community sports after school. Also, the annual school production and school fete engage and depend on community support.

Sitting in the gymnasium, with my Port Melbourne Primary school showbag, I have to say, I did feel like I wanted to belong in the Port community. I got a strong sense of community bonds from the way the staff, parents and students seemed to ‘fit’. Having said this, I am not sure how out of zone students would feel but I am sure when they are amongst it, they would be made to feel included.

A whole school assembly takes place fortnightly in which parents are invited to attend. Preps only attend the assembly from term 2 so that they don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers.

Also, a parent-led second-hand uniform shop is run on premises.

Enrolment at Port Melbourne Primary School

Enrolments have now eased as there are other neighbouring schools opening. Out of zone applications will be considered and will need to be applied for in writing and sent directly to the school.

Sports at Port Melbourne Primary School

In addition to P.E offered at the school, kids get involved in local sports clubs after school and also have a good reputation in the district interschool sports. Basketball is particularly popular in the school.


Music / Performing arts at Port Melbourne Primary School

Port Melbourne primary recognises the importance of performance arts in the development of children. It is one of the specialist subjects that is offered; and is interchanged with visual arts. These students do a semester of each in the school year.

There is also a grade 4 school production.

STEM at Port Melbourne Primary School

Port Melbourne primary school took pride in the STEM program that is offered. With two STEM focused teachers who showed me their space with excitement and spoke of the syllabus with joy, especially when they mentioned that they have drones and robots in the space.

Sustainability and a kitchen garden (grade 5 students) are also a part of the STEM program here.

Academics at Port Melbourne Primary School

The school is not play-based. They adopt the explicit based model as they believe students need clear instructions before they are able to apply their learnings to their areas of interest.


The staff were very clear that the school doesn’t have “open plan” classes, but uses a co-teaching model. It is unique in that there are two groups of students with two teachers with highly structured routines in a calm environment.

The specialist areas include:

  • STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths)
  • Visual Arts (one semester)
  • Performing Arts (alternate semester)
  • Physical Education
  • L.O.T.E: French
  • Masterclass: Gaps in knowledge in literacy and numeracy

There are 12 learning support staff that are allocated to students that have funding (separate to NDIS funding). This is also available to other kids that require support but may not have the funding.

Extension for students requiring this, occurs within the classroom. Since there are two teachers in the co-teaching model, they are able to work together to identify the students that require extension support and provide specialised advanced learning within a classroom environment. There is an intervention space located near the library for those requiring additional learning support if they are falling behind.

There is also a third-party extension program that is offered at the school, called Born to Soar, that is open to both Port Melbourne PS students and kids from other schools.

Clubs at Port Melbourne Primary School

Staff-led lunchtime clubs are open to all year levels. 

These can be of any area of interest ranging from choir, gardening, young engineer and even a quiet club. This is a good opportunity for kids to mix with like-minded individuals regardless of age.

After school chess club is also offered once a week.

Diversity / Inclusivity at Port Melbourne Primary School

There is a big focus on diversity and inclusivity at the school. It was mentioned several times by the principal and the staff and there were posters and pictures around the school to support this.

Wellbeing at Port Melbourne Primary School

There is a team of three well-being staff. I didn’t get to speak to them but they did emphasise the importance of well-supported, happy children.

In terms of bullying and discrimination, the principal said that they work with the kids to understand discrimination and use it as an educational opportunity. Needless to say, it is not tolerated.

Student Comments

Comments from the student leaders on the panel.

“We have gala days where we play sports…soccer, basketball, AFL… this brings a lot of people together.”

“I love the teachers, the specialists, staff and families come together… always there to support each other.”

Parents and staff

The parent representative on the panel spoke very highly of her experience as a parent. She mentioned that when she injured her leg and was finding it challenging to manage school pick ups and drop offs other parents volunteered to support her. She enjoys being a part of such a close-knit community.

She also mentioned that though she was initially unsure of the co-teaching model, she found it to be supportive for her child’s learning and highly recommended it.

The lady that conducted our tour is a parent and office manager. She spoke really highly of her experience at the school to the point where she wanted to join the staff.++


There are three 45-minute sessions in term 4 for Prep transition. In addition, an orientation day in December. While the kids are being shown around, parents are invited for morning tea.

Preps have their own little playground where they can feel safe. Additionally, they are guided/ushered from their designated area into assembly or after school care.

To help them settle in, Foundation students have the first five Wednesdays off in the year.

After school care

Before, After and holiday care is provided by Team Kids, a third-party.


From the moment I entered Port Melbourne Primary School, I got a sense that I was a part of something bigger. As a non-local, I did get a strong sense of the community and this was then echoed several times in the presentation and the tour that followed.

To me, the principal and staff came across like they cared about the learning and development of the students. The principal particularly was impressive with his approach and the way he is steering his team to support the students.

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