As our children learn to walk when they are ready and talk when they are ready, so to do they acquire the skills of reading and writing.
The needs of the individual are paramount at St Mary’s. Our teachers utilize Class Profiles in which they assess, record and track student progress. Using the Class Profile gives teachers a tool to see children’s strengths and helps them make decisions about how to support the child to progress, rather than having a focus on what a child cannot do.
Reading Recovery is offered to students in year 1 needing Literacy support each year as an intervention which is aimed at having life-long benefits.
Students varying needs are met through teacher intervention, the use of School Support Officers working within the classroom to provide additional help to students, and with School Support Officers withdrawing students from the classroom for special projects.
The modern classroom provides many pathways to the same destination. St Mary’s staff are aware that students learn in many and varied ways, and that student’s interests are very diverse. In order to best engage students staff use a variety of technology and offer a number of ways for students to complete tasks.
A recent task in years 5 and 6 was to complete a reflection on the impact of the discovery of gold in Australia. Responses from the students were not limited to an essay. Students presented imovies, powerpoint presentations, reflections spoken aloud in period costume, posters and several original musical scores played and sung live by the authors – a wonderful example of engaging students and enriching tasks by offering multi modal presentations and setting open ended tasks.
St Mary’s School screens students as part of its Gifted and Talented Program. The AGAT and SLOSSON assessments are given to students to ascertain those who would benefit from taking part in programs within the school and more widely in the Diocese.
In 2013 more than 20 St Mary’s students took part in the SPLICED program offered by the Diocese of Wollongong. SPLICED stands for Stretching Potential through Learning in Interactive Challenging Environments in the Wollongong Diocese. Students from all over the Diocese attend an immersion day which outlines the topic and gives students and staff an opportunity to engage in high interest, hands on activities.
Each week students engage in open ended tasks during class time. There are also additional activities for students to complete at home if they desire.