The Victorian Curriculum Foundation–10 sets out what every student should learn during their first eleven years of schooling. The curriculum is the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for lifelong learning, social development and active and informed citizenship.
At School of The Good Shepherd, the beliefs and practices of our Catholic faith and tradition are embedded in every aspect of our lives. We aim to provide opportunities for our community to recognise God’s presence in their daily lives, in those around them and in their environment. Like the Good Shepherd, all members of our flock are important to us and reflect the work of God. Learners are encouraged to develop their personal relationship with God and staff aim to empower students to live a life based on the life and teachings of Jesus – The Good Shepherd. As a Catholic school, prayer, liturgy and the celebration of Masses throughout the year, provide opportunities for students, staff and families to gather together as a community of faith and learning.
Sacraments are celebrated with First Reconciliation in year 3, Eucharist in year 4 and Confirmation in year 6.
Our goal is to make Learning Visible to every student every day. We are committed to develop our students as learners by providing them with the skills and dispositions needed to build upon their prior knowledge, grow and flourish. Our philosophy is based on the research of John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
We explicitly teach skills that enable students to achieve success across all areas of the curriculum by getting learners to understand and implement the characteristics of a Visible Learner.
- can be their own teacher
- can articulate what they are learning and why
- can talk about how they are learning – the strategies they are using to learn
- can articulate their next learning steps
- can use self-regulation strategies
- are assessment-capable (understands the assessment tools being used and what their results mean and can self-assess)
- seek, are resilient and aspire to challenge
- can set mastery goals
- ask questions
- see errors as opportunities and are comfortable saying that they don’t know and/or need help
- positively supports their peers’ learning
- knows what to do when they don’t know what to do
- actively seeks feedback
- have metacognitive skills and can talk about these (systematic planning, memory, abstract thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, etc.).
We pride ourselves in making learning visible. Learning intentions are displayed in ‘learner friendly’ language to help our learners know how am I going?, where am I going? and where to next? By making learning and progress visible we empower both our learners and their parents.
At School of The Good Shepherd we believe that a successful literacy program reflects the general requirements of the curriculum whilst addressing the specific needs of each student. This is achieved through analysing data collected from each child, strong planning practices and explicitly teaching students at their point of need. To facilitate this, a daily literacy block is mandated at each level of our school. It is structured so that teachers work with both whole and small groups, enabling differentiated teaching and learning to take place.
We explicitly teach the skills of oral language, reading and writing as well as embedding English language skills into other curriculum spheres.
We believe that oral language is the key to strong literacy acquisition so we plan tasks that enhance oral language development and listening skills in our students.
We are committed to developing a love of reading in our students. From the early years, children are taught how to choose literature appropriate to their abilities and interests. Through the explicit teaching of critical reading skills our students also develop an appreciation that reading is fundamentally ‘about thinking’ and making connections to their own experience and life. Our students are exposed to a wide range of rich literature, visual texts and language experiences which aim to build vocabulary and to provide the stimulus for learning about language.
In Prep-Year 2, we use literature and language experience to provide a context for writing. As our students progress through the school we believe in the explicit teaching of text types in the context of inquiry units. Simultaneously, we respect our students’ voice by giving them opportunity to experiment with writing independently. Spelling is taught explicitly and in context from Prep-Year 6.
We are committed to supporting those students who are experiencing difficulty in reading through Reading Recovery/Discovery and small group interventions (LLI).
Students with English as an Additional language are supported through specifically addressing their needs in planning or through additional support in class. We are also fortunate to be in partnership with a number of universities whose speech pathology students provide our children with speech interventions where necessary. We are also supported generously by numerous volunteers who attend our school weekly, supporting our students’ literacy development in the classroom.
At School of The Good Shepherd, our Mathematics program has a strong focus on the individual student, the strengths and areas of need for each child and on collaboration. Through ongoing, strategic assessment these strengths and needs for each individual student across the Mathematics curriculum are identified and planned for by the classroom teachers with assistance from the Mathematics Leader.
There is a strong focus at School of The Good Shepherd on ensuring the teaching of Mathematics is explicit and targeted and that all students are challenged each and every lesson. We believe in a balanced curriculum with a focus on mental arithmetic and number skills as well as developing our students’ problem solving and thinking skills around all mathematical concepts.
In the classroom
Each Maths lesson begins with students having the opportunity to practice various number skills often through cooperative games or tasks. Targeted teaching around previously identified needs of the class then occurs followed by time to explore the new skill or concept either individually or in small groups. During this time, individual students’ needs are addressed through varying activities or teacher led focus groups.
At the end of each lesson students are given the opportunity to reflect and discuss the learning that has occurred during the lesson and are encouraged to always explain and justify their thinking. Our lessons are structured to meet the needs of all types of learners with a commitment to presenting the information in a variety of ways. VAK is our mantra in mathematics; having Visuals, Audio and Kinesthetic materials at hand for our students to manipulate.
Faith Life Inquiry
At School of The Good Shepherd we value the questions our young people ask. Their questions remind us that finding meaning is at the heart of being a fully alive human being. This need to inquire and find answers about our world sparks learning on many levels and in many forms; we wonder, plan, research, analyse, create and reflect.
Inquiry teaching at School of The Good Shepherd seeks to capitalise on the natural curiosity of children to generate momentum in learning and to make connections with their everyday lives. Our Inquiry units develop knowledge at a deep conceptual level as well as develop skills that help students make meaning. Solid links are made from life to faith, ensuring we look at issues, questions, idea from our Catholic lens as well as a historic, scientific, geographic one. It does this in an environment that promotes individual and group work skills, persistence, flexibility, creativity, innovation and reflectiveness.
In each Faith Life Inquiry unit, our students move through a process of inquiry where they; tune in to new concepts or contentious issues with an engaging and immersive experience, generate wonderings about the concept or contentious issues, use research skills from a variety of sources to find out new information, sort out their new learning, reflect on what this new learning means for them by making connections and finally, taking action – acting on their learning in a meaningful way, encompassing the faith aspect of their learning.
Throughout this process teachers integrate skills and content from multiple disciplines or learning areas. They explore big ideas that include sustainability, identity, culture, change, technology, wellbeing, scientific laws, needs and wants, rights and many more.
School of the Good Shepherd believes ICT and contemporary tools are used consistently to provide flexible and diverse learning experiences. Our students have access to information and communication technology across all year levels. We are one of the few schools in our area that offer 1 to 1 iPads in Grade Prep.
In Grades 1 – 6, we offer 1 to 1 Chromebooks with the Grade 5 and 6 children able to take theirs home. Our aim is to embed practices that enable all students to learn how to use technologies to create and innovate. Teachers plan for and provide opportunities for students to be users, designers and producers of new technologies. Access to devices enables all learners, students and teachers alike, to access information that enhances the learning for engagement.
Learning always culminates in a time of action and sharing with each other and the community. Some of our learning celebrations have been an art show, film festival, science show and a circus. Whatever the learning, it is always something to celebrate!!