Learning & Teaching
St Peter's Primary School Epping
It’s not the curriculum that we offer that sets St Peter’s apart, it’s the manner in which it’s delivered.
Any school can teach a curriculum. Amazing schools like ours are full of teachers actively and passionately exploring the possibilities of making their teaching practice more innovative, engaging and fun at every turn. This is the ingredient that drives the most growth in our students.
The success we attain is not only evidenced by the assessment data – but it’s seen through the smiles and joy we see on our student’s faces as a concept is grasped. This is the indefinable element that drives us as teachers to produce and grow our own teaching skills year in, year out.
At St Peter’s Primary School, we are committed to supporting all students in the development of literacy skills and knowledge as they grow to become competent and confident communicators.
All our students develop their understanding and skills in all areas of the English curriculum in order to fully participate in the modern world as active and engaged citizens who appreciate and enjoy the English language, using it proficiently.
At St Peter’s, the English Curriculum is based on the Victorian Curriculum and includes the areas of Speaking and Listening, Reading and Viewing, and Writing. We have adopted a school-wide approach to literacy teaching and learning where students are engaged in rich and meaningful learning experiences with consistency of practice evident from Foundation to Year Six.
Once a week the teachers engage in professional learning with an experienced Literacy Coach - during this time Jane Plunkett works with staff planning, analysing data to drive teaching and modelling good teacher practice in the classroom.
At St Peter’s we are building good teacher practice to improve student growth in literacy achievements for all of our students.
Features of the Literacy program
From Foundation to Year Six:
a daily two-hour Literacy block for all learners
explicit attention to student needs through facilitated Teaching Groups
integration of digital resources such as iPads and computers
Small class sizes for literacy instruction
At St Peter’s, a variety of monitoring and assessment tools are used to identify student learning needs and to inform the planning and implementation of teaching and learning experiences. Assessment is ongoing, supporting students at all stages of their learning in order to maximise their growth across all areas of the English curriculum.
The Literacy Leader facilitates fortnightly professional development sessions after school to ensure that current research and best practice across the English curriculum is explored, trialled and implemented as appropriate for our community and for each classroom.
In 2021 we will introduce a Literacy Enhancement Leader.
Small group intervention program with an experienced teacher, providing support for students requiring additional support to develop their reading and writing skills.
St Peter's offers a rich mathematical program that is tailored to meet every student's specific needs. The mathematics program at St Peter’s is designed using student data from a variety of testing to achieve targeted and meaningful learning. Teachers ensure students participate in small explicit teacher groups that are targeted at their point of need, whether that be supporting or extending the learning of each student. We have a balanced Numeracy approach at St Peter's that also ensures students complete challenging tasks.
Numeracy and problem solving skills are essential not only for school but for life. At St Peter’s we aim to grow each student's mathematical understanding so they can reach their full potential.
Mathematics at St Peter’s is aligned with the three inter-related dimensions of the Victorian Curriculum; number and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability. In the classroom, there is opportunity to learn with concrete materials, participate in projects with real world meaning, and integrate learning into different curriculum areas such as Art and Science. Mathematics is brought to life in our STEM program as well as in many of our digital technology programs such as coding and digital graphing.
St Peter’s is fortunate to have a Mathematics Leader who is able to collaborate with teachers to create data driven lessons as well as provide weekly professional development to ensure we are using current best practice. The Mathematics Leader facilitates or oversees a range of programs to help enrich the mathematical understanding of all students.
Supporting programs offered at St Peter’s:
Getting Ready in Numeracy (GRIN) program Grades 3-6
Learning Support Officer one on one support before and during school hours
In 2021 we will introduce maths extensions opportunities for students at St Peter’s.
Growth mindset underpins all mathematics at St Peter’s. It is the belief that we are all capable of learning and improving our mathematical understanding and the importance of persevering with challenging tasks.
So what is STEM?
STEM is an educational approach to our teaching and learning framework. It is a term that integrates the important subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is a learning approach to curriculum that aims to not only engage students in subject content knowledge, but also links specific skills and capabilities to enable content application within authentic, real life issues. In accordance with the National STEM School Education Strategy (2016-2026), “A RENEWED NATIONAL FOCUS ON STEM IN SCHOOL EDUCATION IS CRITICAL TO ENSURING THAT ALL YOUNG AUSTRALIANS ARE EQUIPPED WITH THE NECESSARY STEM SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY WILL NEED TO SUCCEED.”
Why is STEM valued at St Peter’s
Aligning with our National imperative to ensure that all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills, here at St. Peter’s Primary school, the staff have collaborated together to refresh our existing STEM program. The school leaders, teaching staff and specialist teaching teams have developed a highly effective STEM teaching and learning framework that aims to address the Victorian Curriculum, with a priority focus on Literacy, the Sciences, the Technologies which includes designing and constructing (Engineering) as well as the Numeracy strands.
We believe that a STEM approach to teaching and learning will increase student motivation to learn about real world issues that they can relate to in a relevant and meaningful way. This enables positive impacts on students' attitudes to their learning.
The students really look forward to their STEM education; there is a buzz in the learning spaces, a heart beat of excitement, a real anticipation to experiment, problem solve, critically think, test, make and create!
How will STEM be integrated into the Victorian Curriculum at St Peter’s
In 2021, all students will participate in an 80 minute STEM class each week facilitated by a specialist STEM teaching team. These explicitly designed STEM classes will be planned for, in collaboration with the curriculum leaders and teaching teams to coordinate STEM projects, investigations and challenges in a purposeful way. We believe that deeper learning can occur when a cross-disciplinary approach is adopted that exposes students to a range of skills. These skills and dispositions have been obtained from the General Capability outcomes within the Victorian Curriculum. A STEM approach to learning and teaching can provide students with the chance to develop their critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration; vital skills for their future within this 21st century.
Inquiry-based concepts developed within Faith and Life here at St. Peter’s Primary school is where students are encouraged to build on their empathy, curiosity, understanding, questioning and ability to take action.
The LAUNCH design thinking cycle is implemented within our inquiry concepts. It is a student friendly model that enhances the STEM approach to learning and teaching. Here is the LAUNCH acronym explained by the author, John Spencer:
L: Look, Listen, and Learn
In the first phase, students look, listen, and learn. The goal here is awareness. It might be a sense of wonder at a process or an awareness of a problem or a sense of empathy toward an audience.
A: Ask Tons of Questions
Sparked by curiosity, students move to the second phase, where they ask tons of questions.
U: Understanding the Process or Problem
This leads to understanding the process or problem through an authentic research experience. They might conduct interviews or needs assessments, research articles, watch videos, or analyze data.
N: Navigate Ideas
Students apply that newly acquired knowledge to potential solutions. In this phase, they navigate ideas. Here they not only brainstorm, but they also analyze ideas, combine ideas, and generate a concept for what they will create.
C: Create a Prototype
In this next phase, they create a prototype. It might be a digital work or a tangible product, a work of art or something they engineer. It might even be an action or an event or a system.
H: Highlight and Fix
Next, they begin to highlight what’s working and fix what’s failing. The goal here is to view this revision process as an experiment full of iterations, where every mistake takes them closer to success.
Launch to an Audience
Then, when it’s done, it’s ready to launch. In the launch phase, they send it to an authentic audience. They share their work with the world!
As a result of this design thinking process the students are able to gain a rich and thorough understanding of the subject content knowledge and skills within real world application, which will represent the development of their many Faith and Life concepts throughout their seven years of Inquiry Learning here at St. Peter’s.
Our Catholic Calling: Making a Difference
Melbourne Catholic Primary Schools are going M.A.D (Making A Difference) for learning! STEM education encourages students to ‘design a product, service or innovation that makes a difference to others or the environment. STEM aims to address real-world problems and demonstrate how students in Catholic schools take action that matters.’ (Catholic Education of Melbourne).
Here at St. Peter’s, our Catholic calling to act for justice for the common good, to work towards stewardship to heal and protect our environment, and to act towards solidarity is met within our Faith and Life concepts.
St. Peter’s is fortunately well resourced when it comes to STEM education. The students have the opportunity to explore and experiment, in particular within Digital Technologies. The school is well equipped with 3D printers, a green screen and sound recording room, several Robotics that develop coding skills, as well as many construction resources and tools such as Lego Kits. The school has a fantastic, dedicated science learning space with microscopes and other experiment apparatus. We are so very lucky to have sewing machines and a wonderful Arts program to encourage creativity making and design.
We are also extremely blessed to have a blossoming garden with chicken coop. The students utilise fresh produce within our Stephanie Alexander Kitchen.
By implementing the many specific STEM resources within the students’ learning, they can develop a deeper knowledge of how to use digital solutions, as well as develop an understanding on the processes associated with being a creator of digital technologies, so that they can take up an active role in addressing current and future needs, as local and global citizens.