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HoL primary is a modified version of Hands on Learning tailored to intervene early to keep middle years students connected to school.

Hands on Learning - primary

Melbourne, Australia
Students are supported by artisan-teachers on practical projects outside the classroom one day a week. Teams work collaboratively across year levels on creative projects around their school and community. Targeting students before engagement is entrenched provides a 'release valve' of time out of normal class that re-ignites interest in learning and promotes positive secondary school transitions.

The earlier we act the greater the impact

“When I go back to class after a HoL day I work better because I’ve had a break and I can then concentrate more on my work. ”

Jack, Year 5

What we do?

An innovative new version of Hands on Learning has been specifically developed to target younger children and features a modified shape of the day, along with practical building and hospitality projects that are specifically tailored to foster middle years students' personal and social capabilities.

This primary school model builds the self-esteem and confidence needed to promote engagement and keep younger students connected to learning.  It has been so successful that over 30 metropolitan and regional schools currently deliver the HoL program to primary aged students across Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.

HoL primary assists with transition issues identified by the school. Individual reflective practice fits nicely with the school’s aims to provide students with a sense of personal development, confidence and resilience, as well as enhance group participation.

Why we do it?

Increasing numbers of primary schools are reporting the onset of disengagement, often the exacerbated by trauma, in younger students.  There are growing calls for greater support for vulnerable 8-12 year old students at this critical stage of their development to prevent them falling through the cracks as they transition to secondary school.

“HoL is all about self-esteem and building the strong wellbeing foundation critical for learning.   We were finding kids of a young age starting to disengage, self-harm, not believing in themselves.  The trauma some of these kids have seen effects their lives and when we give them hope of something better, a belief in what they can achieve, they strive to turn their lives around. 

It’s the structure, method and training that’s behind it that makes Hands on Leraning so successful. Our staff have been able to pick it up and run with it immediately. The reflective practice at the beginning and end of the day gives students the opportunity to reflect on what they have achieved. When students are older learning achievements don’t come as quickly.  HoL primary allows you to have quick wins every day you do it – it’s a brilliant program. I’d love to run a whole school like this, that would be my dream, that’s how powerful Hands on Learning is..” 

Jodi May, Principal, Heywood Consolidated School, Australia

“We introduced Hands on Learning to build aspiration and confidence, and meet the diverse learning needs of our students. Some kids take to the classroom with ease, while other need differentiated ways to engage in learning at school. The most obvious impact has been the sheer excitement of students to be at school on their Hands on Learning day, and the transfer of skills into the classroom. Our students are now talking about how they feel more confident doing maths - measuring, forecasting and planning - and more willing to give it a go. Their personal and social skills have also developed as they have greater awareness of making connections with kids they normally wouldn’t work with.”

Marina Milich, Principal, Koroit Primary School, Australia

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Schools employ artisan-teachers and provide the supplies needed for the projects, with Save the Children's HoL School Support team providing ongoing training and professional development. Contact the Hands on Learning team at
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Learning by doing is the cornerstone of success
Reaching out to middle years students disconnecting from the traditional classroom - giving them practical learning experiences that foster connection to school, develop capacities and skills, and allowing them to gain confidence and meaning from what they do at school.
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