Learning & Teaching
At St. Mary’s, we believe that the best education we can give our children is one where the school and family work together in partnership. We attempt to present a broad and comprehensive curriculum that responds to the stated vision and mission of the school, encouraging the total growth of each child in our care. It is our intention to challenge each child and help them to embrace new challenges and set personal goals. This makes up a full primary education according to the Catholic Tradition.
AT ST. MARY’S WE AIM TO:
- Integrate the teachings of the Catholic faith into all areas of the curriculum.
- Acknowledge that all children are capable of learning to the best of their ability and to foster this conviction in them.
- Provide an environment that is caring, supportive and has a clear sense of direction.
- Build strong working partnerships between, families, the school and the wider community.
- Develop in children a sense of responsibility for their own learning and the confidence to achieve personal goals.
- Provide children with a variety of learning experiences that:
- meet the global advances in technology
- are suited to the needs of each child
- give all students a sense of achievement, and in so doing, develop their self-esteem
- develop numeracy, literacy and problem solving skills
- allow opportunities for working co-operatively with others, for sharing and reflection
- embrace the pursuit of excellence
- Use assessment procedures which actively support learning, and report regularly to parents on the progress of each child.
- Create opportunities for staff to participate in professional learning experiences that support current educational theory and pedagogy, in order to further build their capacity to provide a comprehensive curriculum suited to the needs of diverse learners.
- Implement the National Curriculum as mandated by the Federal and Victorian governments for all schools in this state.
- Provide competent, caring, professional teachers and support staff who are committed to teaching within the Catholic ethos.
Reporting to Families
One of the key elements of strong educational outcomes for students is excellent communication and partnerships between parents/carers, teachers and relevant school support services. It is imperative that both parents and teachers provide early communication of any issues or concerns arising, both big or small. This ensures that we can work together to address the needs of each child and provide relevant support if necessary. Staff try to make regular contact with parents, in person or by phone, to discuss their child’s progress at school as the need arises.
Teachers work with students to create a portfolio of work completed throughout the term. This portfolio is sent home with students to share with parents and family members. The portfolio is a great way for parents to keep in touch with their child’s learning activities.
Term One In the first few weeks after the school year commences, families and teachers are provided with opportunities to get to know one another. We conduct introductory parent/teacher interviews so that parents are able to meet with their child’s teacher/s on a one-to-one basis and share important information about their child.
In June, parents receive a written progress report which explains where their children are working academically, in relation to the learning standards implemented in Victorian and Australian schools. Parent/teacher Interviews are held at the end of the term. This provides an opportunity for parents and teachers to work together to answer questions regarding the child’s progress and to set some goals for the future.
At the end of the year, parents receive another written report which demonstrates the progress made since the last report, and within the last twelve-month period. We also offer a final parent/teacher interview at this time.
At St. Mary’s our class groups are generally multi-age groups. These are sometimes compared to the composite classes that existed when many adults attended school. There are, however, some very real differences between composite and multi-age classes. In the old composite set up, there were times when in a year 3/4 class when the teacher would be doing year 3 work with half the class, while the others worked quietly on something; and then the teacher would do year 4 work with the remaining students. This is no longer how a classroom operates. In a multi-age classroom, all the children are regularly assessed and their teachers know what they can and can’t do. They work in small groups with their teacher on their areas of need.
Meanwhile the other children in the class are busy consolidating, practising and working together on something that they need to be doing—regardless of their actual grade level. In this way children who are very able, can be extended, and those who need lots of practice and repetition can receive that, without feeling singled out and losing belief in themselves as learners.
In a multi-age class there can be leaders who model what is expected for their younger peers. There are always other children who can provide assistance if the teacher is working with someone else, because in a multi-age classroom we encourage and teach children to be responsible, independent and to always strive to be their very best.
In any single class group, the age range can still be up to two years difference because parents exercise their right to send their children to school when they feel it is appropriate. In a multi-age classroom there is always scope to deal with this difference in a way that is supportive and nurturing.
If parents are unsure about the value of multi-aging, we would suggest that they talk both to parents from our school community about how it has worked for their children and to our staff.