Learning & Teaching

At St Joseph’s Primary School, Learning and Teaching reflects our Vision Statement. We aim to develop and implement a curriculum that supports all learners in our community spiritually, academically, physically, emotionally and socially. Critical to learning and teaching include quality teaching staff, organisational structures and supportive leadership within the school.

Teachers aim to create a supportive and productive environment for students, promoting independence, cooperative learning and self motivation. At St Joseph’s we believe that students learn best when the learning program reflects their needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests. Students are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application, with strong community links that extend beyond the classroom.

At St Joseph’s we encourage our students to be actively involved in their learning, accepting challenges and being encouraged to take risks and explore their own creativity in all curriculum areas. We promote a culture of inquiry based learning, incorporating effective learning of knowledge, strategies and skills. We attempt to integrate all areas of curriculum where possible, allowing students to find meaning in their learning and make connections with their world.

With a committed and highly professional staff, St Joseph’s provides an exceptional standard of education for all students. There are 12 classroom teachers, supported by paraprofessionals. We have specialist teachers in the areas of LOTE (Italian), Library, Arts (Visual and Performing), Physical Education, and ICT specialist. Lunchtime clubs provide further opportunities for craft, technology, literacy and problem solving. Literacy, Reading Recovery, Learning and Teaching

Parents are valued and welcomed as partners in education and we provide opportunities for them to be involved in student learning, as well as developing their own learning.

Partners in Education

St Joseph’s is a dynamic learning community. We are very lucky to have such strong parent partnerships which enhance learning for our students. Our weekly newsletter is full of learning and teaching news, tips and challenges. Parents are encouraged to help in junior classes, assist with excursions and may be asked to be guest speakers when students need to ask an expert in the field. All parent helpers are required to have a Working With Children Check. Application forms may be obtained at the office. Parent helpers are required to sign in and out and all visitors in the school must wear a visitor’s pass.

Inquiry and Personalised Learning

Inquiry describes an approach to learning and teaching where students question, enquire, collaborate and seek solutions. An ‘Integrated Inquiry’ refers to an inquiry that spans across many of the subject areas. The content of this curriculum is concerned with developing students’ understandings about the complexity of the world in which they live.

The inquiry process begins with an engaging topic and builds on what students already know. It involves students forming their own questions about the topic and having time to explore the answers. We call these Wonderings and Discoveries. Inquiry is teacher guided and student driven, which makes the learning relevant and meaningful for students and helps them make connections to their own world. Inquiry is a natural learning process as children are naturally inquisitive. It has the potential to develop skills for lifelong learning such as thinking skills, research skills, problem solving and decision making. The Inquiry approach also fosters independence, communication and collaboration as students explore and investigate independently, in groups or as a whole class. It caters to different learning styles and helps to personalise learning. The engaging inquiry topic is integrated into other areas of the curriculum.

Personalising learning involves an approach to education that places the needs, interests and learning style of each student at the centre. It is about responding to the diverse needs of individuals rather than imposing a common solution on all students. We have begun our journey towards personalising learning, particularly in Inquiry, where we take into account student interests before and during planning, as well as giving students choices in relation to their learning.

Extra-Curricular Activities

We have a very long list of extra-curricular activities that our students are able to enjoy. These include excursions, incursions, guest speaker visits, special theme days, celebrations, lunch time clubs, as well as a variety of sporting opportunities. Scroll down to see a few examples of what’s been happening in 2010. We love the excitement at St Joseph’s, particularly on dress up days!

Professional Learning

The staff at St Joseph’s are provided with the latest professional learning opportunities, keeping up to date with contemporary learning and teaching theories and practices. Over the last two years we have been involved in CTLM (Contemporary Teaching and Learning Mathematics). This professional learning opportunity offered by the Catholic Education Office, in conjunction with Australian Catholic University, has breathed new life into our Maths program, with students achieving excellent results and looking forward to their daily Maths session. Staff also work closely with professional mentor Dr Jeni Wilson, focussing on thinking, inquiry and personalised learning. Teachers have opportunities to be involved in professional learning in Religious Education, Literacy, Special Needs and Gifted Education.

Teachers are also involved in Professional Learning Team (PLT) meetings on a weekly basis. These meetings offer teachers professional learning opportunities facilitated by curriculum leaders, as well as the opportunity to share ideas, strategies and experiences.

Teachers engaged at CTLM

Team planning

Parent Evenings

At St Joseph’s we often invite parents to attend information evenings in the areas of curriculum and parenting issues.

In 2010, we hosted Stephen Biddulph, author of ‘Raising Boys’ and the specialists from the CEO Maths Team who facilitated a Mathematics evening for our parents. These evenings are very interactive, giving parents the opportunity to learn new information and skills that they can use at home to help their children on an academic level, as well as a social and emotional level.

In the past year we have provided seminars on How to Help Your Child at Home (in Literacy), Writer’s Festival (biannual event), a Maths Expo and a Maths parent evening.

We are looking forward to offering parents an evening on Cybersafety and an Art Exibition in the future.

Parents and teachers engaged in a maths parent evening

Parent Helpers

At St Joseph’s the junior literacy program is enhanced by the involvement and support of our wonderful parent helpers. Parent helpers are asked to commit to one or two hours on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This is negotiated with the classroom teacher.

Our Literacy Leader facilitates a Parent Helper Program at the beginning if the year. It has been very popular with an average of twenty participants per year. The program runs for approximately 1.5 hours and gives tips on how you can support teachers and students during the literacy session in the classroom.

Parents often comment on how they feel empowered by the program and by helping in the classroom. These skills are also a great way to learn how to support your child at home.

Parental assistance is also appreciated on excursions and other curriculum areas. Your child’s teacher will let you know if any other assistance is required. Many parents who are unable to help due to work commitments or having toddlers to look after offer to help in other ways such as cutting, laminating, covering books, and so on. All you need to do is let your child’s teacher know you are available!

*Please note that all parent helpers require a current Working With Children Check. Forms can be collected at the school office.