Our School Curriculum
We consider our most important task is to enable children to 'learn how to learn' and to address their "needs" in the 21st Century. To achieve this we endeavour to develop challenging learning opportunities in a warm, co-operative and caring School environment. Many of our methods include hands-on, practical experiences, topics of interest, thematic approaches, special events, educational visits and cultural activities.
Activity work is far more obvious than passive listening and the emphasis is on individual learning and achievement. On-going encouragement and positive feedback are essential for children at all stages of learning.
Broadly speaking, the Curriculum offers a learning framework, which enables children, at their own individual ability levels to:
- express their faith in their everyday lives;
- speak, listen, read and write efficiently and effectively;
- master mathematical ideas, knowledge and skills;
- appreciate their heritage and natural world they live in;
- grow in understanding of culture and "language" of other peoples;
- observe the physical world around them and gain understanding of it by posing problems, making investigations and drawing conclusions;
- express themselves through drama, art and music;
- be physically fit and understand the important aspects of good mental and physical health; and
- gain hands-on experience in information technology, enterprise, civics and science.
Many learning programmes are integrated across curricula areas by way of topics or themes. Children in the Primary areas do not naturally observe or relate to "subject" areas. They learn effectively by making cognitive links across all learning domains. However, for the sake of clarity, it is useful to look at the different areas separately.
All staff use the First Steps developmental Literacy and Numeracy Continua, Literacy Net, School Based Assessment and diverse sources for student learning, assessment and evaluation purposes. This allows all students to progress developmentally. Progress may be monitored methodically through normal daily class activities and observation. In Catholic Schools, Religious Education is the foundation 'learning area' and in Western Australia, a further eight key learning areas, which reflect the knowledge, skills and processes essential for all students' development.
Mandated collectively this provides a Curriculum Framework for students' learning and further assist teachers to monitor individual students' progress in specific learning areas.
This is a foundational in the life of our school. Prayer life is very important. Children pray regularly during the day and pray one decade of the rosary together each Wednesday morning. Our School Prayer is part of the School Gathering. Our School Song "Grow in Love" reflects the pastoral emphasis present in our school. Values education is integral to all Learning Areas.
Whole school and class masses are held regularly. All families are encouraged and welcome to attend. The children from Years 2 to 7 take turns to prepare the liturgy. The children prepare and present the readings, prayers, music etc. Children in Kindergarten, Pre-Primary and Year 1 prepare paraliturgies.
On special occasions eg Holy Days of Obligation, the whole school may attend Mass together. Parents and family are always encouraged to attend on these occasions to join the children in prayer and celebration. Children, staff and families often attend Parish Masses during the term too. There are occasions during the school year, eg Graduation and the Family Concert, when the children and their families have agreed through the Conditions of Enrolment Policy to support these occasions by their attendance. Community links are forged and nurtured during these special times.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated in Year 3, and the Sacrament of Eucharist in Year 4. This is a time when the children are called to begin their own personal commitment to their faith. These sacraments highlight the beginning of their active participation in the life of the Church. The Sacrament of Confirmation is celebrated in Year 7 and is coordinated by the school. The Bishop of Bunbury is the Celebrant.
Catholic children from the school follow the Religious Educational programmes and also attend the Parish based Sacramental programmes for Penance and Eucharist after the 9am Sunday Mass. This preparation with children from other schools helps to enhance the spirit of "Parish" family and highlight the reception of the sacraments as a community celebration rather than a school activity.
As the FAMILY is the prime inspiration and model of the faith formation of the child, at least one parent is expected to be present at meetings during the time of Sacramental preparation.
NB: When accepting of a place at Our Lady Star of the Sea, family support of the religious education programme of the school and the Christian values it endeavours to impart is implicit.
LITERACY / ENGLISH
A holistic approach to language is used across all learning areas from Kindergarten-Year 7. Language is the important means by which critical thinking skills, thought processes and creativity etc endure.
Speaking and Listening
These are very important aspects of language. Children are provided with opportunities to work in groups, planning together, discussing learning problems, or sharing ideas, while at all times, observing accepted courtesies for speaking and listening. In these sessions, children are encouraged to express themselves clearly and with confidence. Students learn how to listen and speak appropriately and effectively for different purposes in a variety of situations and for a range of audiences.
Written expression is seen as a means of communication and is also basic to learning. Children are encouraged to write daily about their ideas and experiences. Writing is taught as a 'process' which on occasion involves the discussion of ideas, the jotting down of notes followed by the writing of a copy. This copy is then edited for appropriate spelling, grammar, punctuation and clear expression of ideas. Often children in Early Childhood begin to write and we encourage them to do so. Children's writing is sometimes typed by parents or made into class books, which become important reading resources too.
The 'process' writing method begins in Early Childhood and the children's language development is easily monitored as they move through the different stages of approximation and 'inventive' spelling to becoming conventional writers. Many different formats of writing are experienced - letters, lists, stories, recording facts etc.
It is important for children to maintain a legible hand. We teach the WA Handwriting Style. This begins in the Kindy year on an informal basis. Victorian cursive handwriting is introduced in Year 4.
Information Communication Technology
The use of word processing skills using a PC is an attractive additional tool for writing. Children are introduced to the 'word processor' in Pre-Primary, Year 1. In subsequent years they become more proficient in publishing computer assisted writing activities. This skill continues as the children advance through the Primary years.
The teaching of writing eclectically has created a new context for the learning of spelling as it takes place primarily as an integral part of the writing process. Emphasis is placed on proof reading skills and the child's ability to detect errors, which are then checked by using a dictionary/thesaurus or other reference. Students build their own personal spellingl lists, which are tested weekly. Phonics continue to be taught as just one of the many strategies of word-attack skills, and spelling lists are also used at all year levels.
The school has an in-school spelling programme appropriate to the learning needs of each student.
Reading and Viewing
In the early school years teachers build on early home experiences by introducing a language experience programme, accompanied by rich literature support. The stress is always on finding 'meaning' in the printed word and children progress at their own rate on individualised programmes. Reading involves intellectual thought, ie. working out 'in the head' how print works, while using contextual clues.
The 'language experience' format continues throughout the School, with the children having a wide variety of excellent books to read, leading to the reading of novels in middle and upper primary years. Factual and fictional texts are important from Pre-Primary upwards across curriculum areas.
Early opportunities in the home are vital to successful reading. The more children read and enjoy a variety of literature, the better readers they will become. Consequently, the children are encouraged to read widely and on a daily basis. Reading for information is an important aspect of the School reading programme. Children are taught strategies for extracting information from the printed text. The importance of this is crucial towards the Upper Primary level when more and more, students read from factual texts.
Reading is enriched and encouraged by regular timetabled sessions in the Library for book borrowing and Library skill lessons. Students are encouraged to read whenever possible for pleasure and for information and to expand their ideas across learning areas.
NUMERACY / MATHEMATICS
Mathematics is a creative activity involving invention, intuition and exploration. It includes observing, representing and investigating patterns and relationships in social and physical phenomena. It enhances our understanding of our world and the quality of our participation in Society.
There are six Mathematical learning strands - Working Mathematically, Space, Measurement, Chance and Data, Number and Algebra. In Mathematics the emphasis is on understanding and problem solving. Effective language development is therefore crucial. All new learning concepts are introduced in a practical way using concrete materials.
The teacher first explains, demonstrates and models. This is followed by hands-on practical work and much discussion between teachers and students and also amongst the students themselves. Underpinning all of this is regular practice of fundamental skills involving the children in automatic recall of number facts, eg. tables. Children should be encouraged to handle and count a variety of materials frequently eg; money.
The children are taught how our number system works, how to solve everyday problems using addition, subtracting, multiplication and division and this leads to an understanding of fractions, decimals and percentages etc.
Use of calculators in Year 1-7 is part of the Mathematics programme. Children also learn techniques for measuring length, mass, capacity, area, temperature, time and angles etc. Studies in spatial knowledge involve the children in investigating shapes through cutting and folding and also in the making of simple plans and models.
At all times the importance of 'estimating' before completing the actual calculation is stressed. Many normal home activities and children's' games may support learning of mathematical concepts.
The mathematics programme is developmental in its approach with each student's progress being recorded individually as specific skills are achieved. Developmental records are continued as the student moves through the Primary years. The acquisition of life skills in relation to mathematics is essential eg; shopping
STUDIES OF SOCIETY AND ENVIRONMENT and (Civic Responsibility)
The Society and Environment Learning Area develops students' understandings of how and why individuals and groups live together; interact with and within their environment; manage resources; and create institutions and systems. Students further understand that, over time, these relationships and interaction may change to varying degrees.
Knowledge is developed that is relevant to students in Western Australia, within local, national, regional and global contexts. This will enable them to more effectively understand the changing world around them in terms of places, cultures, use of resources and natural and social systems in the past, present and future.
Students are encouraged to apply their understandings and skills in their own lives, in developing environmental consciousness, social competence and civic responsibility. In doing so, they are engaged in actively exploring, making sense of and contributing to improving the world around them.
Curriculum Framework, 1998
Aboriginal studies involves the perspective of the Aboriginal culture that is integrated across the curriculum. Aboriginal Studies is a Learning Area that is compulsory in all schools. It embraces the process of Reconciliation which promotes understanding, respect and positive interaction between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people.
At our school we are involved with the following activities to gain cultural awareness.
- "Sorry Day" celebrations
- NAIDOC week activities
- Aboriginal studies investigation corner
- Class lessons
- Guest speakers
It is in learning about Aboriginal people, that an understanding of their values, ideas, dreams and culture is experienced. We look back to remember the past, we try to understand the present and we try to prepare ourselves for the future.
In the Science Learning Area students learn to investigate, understand and communicate about the physical, biological and technological world and value the processes that support life on or planet. Students can experience the joy and excitement of knowing about and understanding the world in which they live. A knowledge of science enables them to value the systems and processes that support life on our planet, and to take a responsible role in using science and its application in their daily lives.
Learning about science enables students to explore the organization and structure of the social, economic, political and technological world. They learn how science and technology are inter-related, and how their applications shape the way humans live.
Science education empowers students to be questioning, reflective and critical thinkers. It does this by giving them particular ways of looking at the world and by emphasising the importance of evidence in forming conclusions. Science education develops students' confidence to initiate and manage change to meet personal, vocational and societal needs. Science education assists students to be active citizens by providing the understandings they need to be informed contributors to debate issues.
Curriculum Framework, 1998
TECHNOLOGY AND ENTERPRISE
This area involves the purposeful application of knowledge, experience and resources to create products and processes, which meet human needs. It includes the ability to identify needs and opportunities and to take action, which will be beneficial. Students learning focuses on:
- designing, making and appraising
Technology awareness starts in Kindergarten by learning through play and develops through the primary years using "hands on" methods.
A wide variety of activities and resources assist in developing students' creative thinking and application skills, eg. use of lego construction kits, "junk" materials, natural environmental materials, everyday objects etc.
Computers are used as learning tools to develop skills across learning areas at all ability levels from Kindergarten to Year 7. Computers are class based and a Computer Lab operates within the School to enhance Information Technology skills and concepts.
HEALTH AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION
Students focus on personal decision-making and behaviours, community structures and practices conducive to good health and participation in physical activity. Learning activities involve study of:
Physical Education / Sport
- Health of Individuals and Populations
- Human Development and Relations
- Human Movement
- Physical Health and Activity
- Mental Health
Physical Education classes aim to develop in all children an enthusiasm for physical activity so that they become committed to pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle. The programme is designed to improve skill development through stimulating and challenging situations with the
emphasis being on the value and enjoyment of participating rather than competition. Daily fitness is also a part of each year level's Physical Education programme.
Children are involved in well planned lessons designed to develop their motor skills, balance, spatial orientation, directionality, eye/hand and eye/foot co-ordination and left and right laterality. This includes movement to music, folk and educational dance.
Kindergarten to Year 3 students may participate in the Perceptual Motor Programme, which stimulates co-ordination of physical and intellectual development. Parents are required to assist with the groups. Small group games promote movement skills and techniques.
From Years 2 to 7, the basic skills of games such as T-ball, netball, basketball, football, soccer, hockey etc are developed and athletics introduced. Modified equipment is often used to suit the size and development of the child.
Children in Yrs 6 and 7 participate in a number of local Inter-School sporting competitions, including Netball, Soccer and Football.
All children in Pre Primary - Yr 7 participate in a swimming programme arranged through the Esperance Leisure Centre.
Inter-Schools and Faction activities are part of the overall programme with an Athletics Carnival being an annual event.
During the year all students from Pre Primary to Yr 7 participate in activities such as Jump Rope for Heart (skipping rope activities) and Lapathon (walking, jogging or running)
Sports Clinics for a variety of sporting activities are held during School time. Co-curricular sport is available in a variety of Winter and Summer games. Parental involvement is encouraged in sessions and is important and welcomed in running a successful Athletics Carnival.
The Health and Wellbeing Programme
The Health and Wellbeing programme aims at helping children develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary for healthy living, including self concept, self esteem development leading to drug awareness programmes. These are planned to help the physical and emotional development in young children through to adolescents.
Students engage in activities where they express imagination, record creativity, construct meaning and communicate by means of values. The Arts include Dance, Drama, Media, Music and Visual Arts. Often these are inter-related by exploring and developing ideas, using skills, techniques and processes, and using Arts Languages.
Art and craft work is often integrated with other areas of the curriculum with thematic studies and topics forming the basis for creative work. Needlecraft, handcrafts and cooking activities are also included.
Primary Art is classroom based.
Drama/Arts are encouraged at all Year levels, often leading to a class or group presentation to the School or a celebration at a special event e.g. Book Week.
The Kindergarten to Year 7 Music Programme, which may include the Up-Beat developmental programme, incorporates singing, movement/dance and instrumental playing, eg. recorder group. The programme aims for each child to experience and enjoy as many different types of practical music making activities as possible, through songs, games, band and dances. From Kindergarten to Year 7, Music lessons are taken by the Music Specialist and class teachers.
In addition, lessons focus on preparation for Assembly and worship (liturgical) music and performing for special in-School and out-of-School events. We enjoy singing our School Song created by our students "Grow in Love". Class teachers assist with the Music Programme by supportive activities in the classroom setting.
Appreciation of a variety of musical expressions is encouraged. Visiting musical groups are part of the Arts programme and much enjoyed by the children.
Individual instrumental lessons may be arranged after school. Enquiries concerning lessons offered and their availability should be directed through the Principal. 2003 saw the inauguration of a Successful School Band.
All students have an opportunity to be involved in class lessons and in a variety of additional curriculum activities, which develop children's drama skills and confidence in public speaking. Role playing activities support class topics and themes and assist in addressing everyday relationship and cultural issues. Students gain skills of judgement, choice, interpreting and values. Lessons extend across all learning areas.
All children from Year 1 to Year 7 will be required to do some homework from Monday to Thursday. As a general principle, homework is not given on the weekends, as this is a time for family outings and activities. Some children however, may be required to finish some school work or projects not completed at the designated time.
Some parental supervision of homework is necessary and parents are requested to sign the children's diaries or read weekly class newsletters where applicable. In the main however, children need to be encouraged to study independently. If children are having consistent difficulty in completing their homework, parents should consult with the class teacher and send a note into class if homework set is not completed.
At the commencement of each school year, the class teacher will discuss a suggested timetable for homework. To facilitate study it is recommended that a specific area and a specific time be set aside for each of the four week nights.
If written requirements are less, the children should be encouraged to read for the appropriate amount of time. This helps to develop consistent habits of study.
Please refer to the School Homework Policy for further information.