Learning and Teaching

We believe at St. Mary’s School that learning is a meaningful lifelong process and that children need to be active participants in their own learning. Learning and Teaching at St Mary’s centres on supporting each student to access knowledge, understanding and skills that provide a foundation for successful and lifelong learning. 

Our English curriculum is taught in a differentiated and targeted manner. Literacy skills include the daily practice of reading, spelling, grammar, speaking and listening. We explicitly teach strategies for these areas at a whole class, small group and at an individual student level. 

In Years P-2, the explicit teaching of synthetic phonics occurs on a daily basis. We use the Little Learners Love Literacy approach to teaching phonics. Students practice strategies through targeted teaching in whole class, mini lessons and in small group sessions. We also use the Heggerty program in our Prep and Year 1 rooms which are daily phonemic awareness lessons. 

Across the school (P-6)  we use the UFLI program as a tier two intervention for our struggling readers.  

UFLI Foundations targets the following foundational reading skills: 

  • Phoneme blending and segmentation practice 
  • Accuracy and automaticity of grapheme-phoneme correspondences
  • Decoding automaticity of words with previously learned concepts
  • Explicit introduction of new concepts
  • Decoding and encoding practice 
  • Reading and spelling irregular words 
  • Reading and spelling connected text

We are lucky to have a lovely school library with each class from P-6 attends for both a weekly lesson and to borrow new books. 

At St Mary’s we follow the VCOP and Big Write approach to teaching writing.  Our sessions incorporate explicit teaching and modelling of:

  • Speaking and listening - oral language skills
  • Explicit teaching of vocabulary 
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation 
  • Handwriting
  • Self- editing  
  • Feedback 

As a school we have created a whole school writing moderation rubric, which our staff use to regularly meet and discuss student writing and progress. 

In Mathematics, we have a contemporary approach to delivering the Victorian Curriculum  by providing a stimulating environment with adequate resources so that students can develop their mathematical skills to their full potential. We aspire to develop individuals who are numerate, creative, independent, inquisitive, enquiring, confident, risk takers in the area of mathematics.

Ongoing assessment at St. Mary’s drives classroom instruction. We assess students using a variety of tools and methods to personalize Maths instruction so that all our students are challenged and supported within the classroom. 

Our Prep – 2 students engage using a vast array of hands on materials and are explicitly taught a variety of strategies to build a strong foundation in Mathematics. Our 3-6 students sharpen their independence skills by assigning their own Mathematics goals using the pre test data and working towards achieving them. Students’ growth is also monitored through the use of Essential Assessment, PAT, and NAPLAN testing conducted at various stages of the year. When planning units of work we personalise the learning including enabling and extending opportunities for our students. St Mary's continues to have outstanding Naplan results.

Across 2023 and 2024 our school continues to work alongside Michael Minas who has been a leading expert in the area of Mathematics for 25 years. He will continue to work with our staff in 2024 through professional development days and coaching sessions 1:1 with staff. 

In addition to our core learning area students at St Mary's participate in 4 hours a week of Specialist classes

At St Mary’s our Specialists area include: 

  • Health and Physical Education
  • Performing Arts (Dance and Drama) 
  • Languages- Italian
  • ART

Written reports on student achievement are prepared and distributed to parents/carers twice each year, at the end of each semester. We value student voice in their learning. Students from Grade 3-6 write in their own school report with their marks and comments recorded next to the teachers. We want students to understand their role in their educational journey. We offer parent-teacher- meetings throughout the year, but formally at the beginning of the year (meet and greet session) and at the conclusion of semester one after reports are sent home. 

At St Mary’s we run parent-teacher-student conferences (once a year) which provide valuable opportunities for the teacher, student, parents and/or carers to share and learn more about the student socially, emotionally and academically. They are a great way to establish and maintain collaborative relationships between parents/carers, teacher and student, regarding the student’s academic achievement, learning and well-being.