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Our Learning

St Thomas More Primary School Mt Eliza

At St Thomas More we are committed to excellence in Catholic education. We aim to achieve the highest standards possible for our students by using data, research and evidence to ensure progress and growth in learning for all. We provide children with a learning environment where they feel safe, engaged and challenged to do their best.

 

We encourage the natural curiosity of our students and support them to become lifelong learners, equipped with the necessary skills to solve problems in an ever-changing world. Teachers plan, assess and report according to the standards of the Victorian Curriculum and adjust their teaching in order to ensure that all students enjoy access to the full curriculum. 

 

At St Thomas More, we believe that children learn most effectively when:

  • they feel happy and secure

  • they are confident that they will be successful learners

  • they are learning at their own rate and readiness levels

  • they view mistakes and risk taking as part of the learning process

  • they are actively involved in decisions about their learning

  • they are able to observe good modelling from teachers and peers

  • they have opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other

  • they are challenged, engaged and having fun in their learning

  • they have access to a wide range of contemporary resources and learning tools

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Education in Faith

Our Catholic faith permeates all that we do at St Thomas More. We celebrate our faith through our daily interactions with each other and through regular opportunities for prayer and liturgical celebrations. Students learn that we are called to serve others within our community and live and learn in harmony. Our strong emphasis on social justice teachings makes it explicit for our students that it is through justice we achieve peace in our world.

Throughout their primary years, children are invited to reflect on the stories and teachings of Jesus, talk with God through prayer, discover the beauty of God’s creation and explore the meaning of symbols and rituals within our Church. Students develop an understanding of Catholic teaching and its implications for their choices personally and in community, learning to build just and compassionate relationships based on love and respect for self and others.

Our Religious Education curriculum encourages students to see and respond to God in their lives. Through a ‘pedagogy of encounter’ children are engaged in dialogue and encouraged to seek meaning and explore questions about the world around them. They are encouraged to take part in Social Justice actions that demonstrate God’s love in our world.

 
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English

The English curriculum is an integral component of many areas of the broader curriculum. At St Thomas More we aim to equip our students with the skills necessary to become active and informed members of their community. The three modes of the English curriculum (Reading, Writing and Speaking & Listening) are explicitly taught each day. Teachers work collaboratively to plan for and implement pedagogical approaches and programs that best support student learning. 

Students need to confidently communicate their ideas with others in both spoken and written form. We seek to develop a love of reading and appreciation for the richness of language and the ways it may be used to evoke feelings, convey information, persuade or present an argument. 

 

Teachers utilise whole class and small group instruction to ensure that the learning needs of all students are met, based on student assessment data and the stage of the curriculum that is reflected in these assessments. Teaching teams meet regularly to discuss and evaluate current practices, in order to ensure that meaningful adjustments are made to support student learning.

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Mathematics

At STM we recognise the importance of Mathematics to enable students to confidently and competently engage in the world around them. Our mathematics curriculum provides students with access to important mathematical ideas, knowledge and skills that they will draw on in their everyday lives, now and in the future. 

 

Through our mathematics programs, we seek to build students’ understanding in the areas of Number, Measurement, Geometry, Statistics and Probability, helping them to view themselves positively as mathematical thinkers. We encourage students to develop a growth mindset and understand the importance of persevering when problems are challenging.

 

Our aims for the teaching and learning of Mathematics are founded on a belief that ALL students should enjoy access to a high quality Mathematics curriculum that will develop their essential numeracy and problem solving skills. 

 

Through Mathematics programs that are targeted to meet individual needs, our students are supported to:

  • develop efficient mathematical skills for everyday life, work and as citizens in a technological world

  • develop a positive attitude towards mathematics and a desire to investigate mathematical concepts in everyday life

  • build confidence in their knowledge of mathematics and their ability to apply mathematical learning in everyday situations

  • identify connections and apply mathematical concepts to pose and solve problems across a range of curriculum areas

  • develop abstract and critical thinking skills

  • achieve their fullest potential as they build on previous learning experiences 

 

Opportunities for maths extension and numeracy intervention also exist to meet students' individual needs.

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Learning Adjustments

Learning and teaching programs are devised to cater for individual needs in each and every classroom. Students’ individual abilities are measured by a rigorous and comprehensive assessment schedule which is used to inform classroom-teaching practice. 

 

For many students, quality differentiated classroom instruction is all that is necessary to ensure that they achieve maximum growth and progress in their learning. For some students, additional targeted support is required to help them reach their potential and develop essential skills in areas such as Reading or Mathematics. 

 

Students with additional learning needs are supported in the classroom via small teacher-lead focus groups and with individual assistance from our Learning Support Officers. We also offer a range of intensive intervention programs to meet individual learning needs. These include:

  • MiniLit (Reading Intervention)

  • LLI (Leveled Literacy Intervention) 

  • Small group numeracy intervention

 

A range of extension opportunities also exist for students and include participation in the Australian Mathematical Olympiad, Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge and various Writing Competitions.

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Inquiry Learning

Through a model of Inquiry based on Rich Concepts and Understandings, students develop a range of strategies and tools empowering them to discover, inquire and apply their understandings to the world and how it works. Inquiry based learning caters for a diverse range of students’ learning styles and involves students in decision making about their own learning. Experiences are designed to promote students’ capacities to manage themselves as learners, social beings and active citizens. At St Thomas More’s the Inquiry Cycle is a two year program that incorporates:

  • History

  • Geography

  • Science

  • Civics and Citizenship

  • Economics and Business

  • Critical and Creative Thinking

  • Ethical and Intercultural Capabilities

  • Design and Digital Technologies

 

We utilise the Horizons of Hope Learning schema where reverence for the sacred dignity of each learner provides a foundation for pedagogy. Through pedagogical choices our educators seek to develop deep learning, powerful teaching and to create animated learners who are inspired by the Holy Spirit to act for justice and strive for the common good. (Horizons of Hope: Pedagogy in a Catholic school, p.2 & 6)

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Languages

At St Thomas More we believe that every student is entitled to a quality languages education program. In order to make this a reality, in 2021, we implemented a new model for languages learning. In this model, teachers are co-learners of language with their students and Japanese can be heard in every classroom every day.

 

Learning of language at STM is now led by a Japanese coach. Japanese is embedded into everyday learning in classrooms, with teachers learning alongside their students. Each day, ten minutes is dedicated to learning new vocab and practising words and phrases that have already been covered. Throughout the day, children are encouraged to use this language in everyday situations.

 

This new approach to language learning has been an outstanding success. Children from Prep - Year 6 can be heard using Japanese around the school each and every day. We are very excited to see how our student’s language skills continue to develop in the coming years.

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STEM

Science Technology Engineering Mathematics.

The continual advances in technology are changing the way students learn, connect and interact every day.  STEM is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Skills developed by students through STEM provide them with the foundation to succeed throughout Primary School and beyond.

 

STEM at St Thomas More Primary School is a hands-on experience that encourages students to think critically, work cooperatively and develop problem solving skills. Critical and creative thinking skills are fostered as children are provided with the opportunity to ask questions and seek solutions to a range of problems. Students are engaged in STEM activities within the normal classroom program, as well as during weekly STEM specialist classes.

Through STEM, students develop essential skills including:

  • problem solving

  • creativity

  • critical analysis

  • teamwork

  • independent thinking

  • initiative

  • communication

  • digital literacy

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Outdoor Learning

We are blessed at St Thomas More Primary School to be situated in a beautiful woodland setting. This provides a stunning backdrop for students to learn about living things and the importance of caring for our natural environment through sustainable practices. 

Our Outdoor Learning program helps students develop the knowledge, skills and values necessary for them to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It provides our students with opportunities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. Sustainability education is future-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action.

Outdoor Learning facilities include:

  • An outdoor classroom

  • An enviro-trail

  • Extensive garden areas

  • A brand new kitchen garden

 
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Art

The Visual Arts program at STM encourages students to participate and generate artworks that communicate their own ideas. Students learn to respond, reflect and evaluate artworks of their own and others. Where possible, classroom themes are used as a stimulus to make connections.

 

Students create works in visual art forms such as drawing, design, painting, colour media, collage, mixed media, printmaking and construction. Elements of art such as colour, texture, shape and form are examined to allow children to explore these in various mediums. They will study and use the skills, techniques, processes, conventions and technologies of the Arts.

A positive, happy and respectful environment allows all students to be curious, use their imagination and enjoy the process of creating and making.

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Music

Music at St Thomas More is an exciting and inclusive program created to encourage students to participate with confidence and develop skills to express themselves through the Arts.  

 

The program provides a range of opportunities for students to explore and create music through singing, movement and the playing of musical instruments.  Students explore the musical concepts of pitch, dynamics, duration, tone colour and structure as well as elements of theatre arts and stagecraft.  Students are encouraged to express themselves by performing, composing and improvising, as well as developing the skills and language to respond to, interpret and evaluate their own work and the work of others. 

A highlight of the program is the Senior Musical Production, held every second year and involving all Year 5 and 6 students. The growth and development of students’ Performing Arts skills throughout their primary years are exhibited in a high quality musical theatre production.

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Physical Education

Physical education is an important part of our curriculum; it aims to promote lifelong physical activity through fun and engaging experiences. We have a comprehensive physical education program provided by an experienced specialist physical education teacher. 

 

The physical education program includes:

  • Weekly physical education classes

  • Annual intensive swimming programs

  • Athletics carnival

  • Cross country event

  • Swimming carnival

  • School camps

  • Interschool sport where students can represent St Thomas More at School Sport Victoria events from District through to State level

  • Strong involvement in community sport including our own netball and basketball clubs run by the parents

  • Participation in the Walk Safely to School Day

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Leadership Program

In Year 5/6, students participate in a formal leadership program that has been designed to help our student leaders to:

  • Lead by example, service and action

  • Build healthy relationships with their peers

  • Develop a positive school culture

  • Make a positive, lasting impact in the school community by implementing a positive impact project

  • Experience genuine, authentic opportunities for all of our senior students to contribute and serve the school community

  • Improve collaboration, teamwork, respect, listening skills and empathy

  • Focus on contribution and improving the world by thinking globally and acting locally

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Library

At St Thomas More, we believe an effective school library enhances student learning outcomes by providing a range of resources which support teaching and learning. It also supports and encourages students’ reading experiences.

Our library is open throughout the week for book borrowing and library sessions. Students attend a library session with their class once a fortnight. Through reading, listening to and talking about texts, students extend their knowledge and understandings of the world and themselves.