How we teach and support
Our entire teaching staff is dedicated to the detail and we want to ensure every child achieves to their own potential.
This means ensuring we have a robust system of teaching and support that not only caters to the average (or middle student) – but also the advanced student or the student that needs some extra support.
For learning to take place we need to ensure that every child feels safe, happy and confident within themselves – and so a huge emphasis is placed on a strong wellbeing and support program that achieves just that!
We facilitate Literacy Intervention Programs, including Reading Recovery and Levelled Literacy Intervention to further assist identified students across the school. These programs are designed to meet the individual needs of students.
At St Thomas the Apostle School, we have been implementing the CEOM Number Intervention F-4 program for ten years. This Number Intervention program is an initiative of Catholic Education Melbourne, and it targets the number skills of children in Years One to Four.
Research shows that students who join the program make substantial gains in Number confidence – particularly in the areas of mental arithmetic and problem solving.
Our primary purpose is to assist the student to build skills, knowledge and strategies in number especially place value, addition and subtraction. During our sessions we are able to fine tune the student’s learning and gain better insights into how they think, discussing the different steps and decisions they take. We then work on a variety of strategies which will enhance their learning in Number.
Explicit and systematic teaching is used in our Intervention sessions. Explicit instruction is absolutely necessary when teaching content that learners couldn’t discover for themselves or when discovery may be inaccurate, inadequate, incomplete, or inefficient. During each session we provide time for extensive practice in the new strategies and skills, providing each student with immediate feedback.
This information is then shared with the classroom teacher and colleagues so we all have a better understanding of the student and how he/she learns.
At St Thomas’ we assess all our junior students in Term One. From this information, our Intervention teacher writes a program and the Learning Support Officers work with students to help them improve their skills and confidence. This program is consistently updated when the students show success.
Through consultation with teachers, standardised testing results and the Intervention test, students are selected for the program. The Intervention teacher works with the Year 3/4 students in first semester and then the Year 1/2 students in the second semester. We target the students who are most in need.
At St Thomas the Apostle Primary School we believe that all students can learn and that all students can experience success. We embrace differences and diversity. Our curriculum is differentiated to cater for individual needs and abilities of all students. We are committed to teaching students at their point of need, using assessment data, research and evidence to ensure progress and growth in learning areas.
As a school we differentiate learning pathways for students, providing Personalised Plans for students who require additional support; academically, physically, socially and/or emotionally. We ensure that students are provided with equitable access and opportunity.
We do this by:
- setting up Program Support Groups for students; that include teachers and parents
- developing, implementing and monitoring Personalised Learning Plans for students
- developing, implementing and monitoring Behaviour Support Plans for students
- working collaboratively with consultants from the Catholic Education Melbourne and private specialists: Speech Therapists, Educational Psychologists and Curriculum Advisors
“‘Learning diversity’ refers to the infinite variety of life experiences and attributes a child brings to their formal learning at school. All students with diverse learning needs have a right to access a full and engaging education on the same basis as their peers. Catholic schools seek to empower learners by celebrating difference and providing educational opportunities aimed at eliminating discrimination and focused on growth and progress for all.”
(Excerpt taken from CECV Horizons of Hope Foundation Statement: Learning Diversity in Catholic Schools, 2017)
Social and Emotional Learning - YCDI
Social and Emotional LearningAt St Thomas’ we recognise that Student wellbeing is fundamental to successful learning. We aim to meet the spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, and emotional needs of our students. We are committed to ensuring a positive environment where students feel safe and respected.A whole-school approach to promoting student wellbeing assists students to be confident, resilient, responsible and resourceful individuals.Our school is committed to the following strategies that nurture this environment.
⦁ Respectful Relationships: student-student, student-teacher
⦁ Student Services support
⦁ LSO support in classrooms
⦁ ‘You Can Do It’ program focused on Social and Emotional learning
⦁ ReLate Education
⦁ Leadership programs for senior Students
⦁ Lunchtime Clubs and Activities
⦁ Buddy program for P-6
⦁ House Competitions & Lunches
⦁ Student Representative Council P-6
⦁ Student-led initiatives based on Student Voice
⦁ Student Awards of the week
⦁ Orientation to school (for new Preps)
⦁ Transition to secondary school (for Yr 6)
⦁ School garden program
⦁ Community involvement with local organisations such as Regis Aged Care
St Thomas’ has a community garden and chicken coop, which connects parents, students and members of the community together in a shared learning space to participate in Environmental Science and sustainability learning experiences. This garden is maintained by our Year 3/4 students as their special responsibility.
The Kitchen Garden Program is an important part of Year 3 and 4 at St Thomas’. From planting seeds, the students learn how plants grow, and how to look after them until they are ready to harvest and then cook. The students are taught propagation, and how to transplant seedlings and plants, as well as looking after the chickens we have in the garden. We also need to get a bit dirty sometimes by mixing compost, and weeding, but it’s all good fun!
In the kitchen, the students make everything themselves – cutting, grating, mixing and baking. The students learn measurements, procedural writing and maths all while having fun and getting to eat the finished product. We try and use as much produce out of the garden as possible, so we are also learning about seasonality and sustainability.
Other Special Activities
- Swimming and Water Safety Program (Prep – Year 6)
- A one day Beach Safety Program for Years 3-6
- School Camp (Years 5 and 6)
- Leadership Program in Year 6
- School Transition Programs for Prep and Year 6
- Excursions and Incursions
- Biennial Performance and Art Show
- Lunchtime opportunities including Hip-Hop Dance, a choir, lego and sports activities
- External providers offer chess and tennis coaching during lunch breaks and instrumental music lessons (during the school day)