Junior School Curriuclum
It is the goal of every educator at The Cathedral School to provide each child with an engaging, relevant and meaningful curriculum. Our greatest priority is the development of solid foundations in Literacy and Numeracy, for every student.
Each year level cooperatively plan common units of study each term. These units of work provide a cohesive framework on which to organise curriculum areas and use an Inquiry approach where every possible. Inquiry-based learning is regarded as essential when encouraging children to become investigative learners. Students develop a diverse range of thinking skill necessary to allow them to become lifelong learners. Students are taught in a wide range of Key Learning Areas:
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is integrated throughout the Junior School Curriculum, with every classroom providing students with access to computers and Interactive Whiteboards (Smartboards). Classes also have access to the central computer lab located in the IRC or the mobile class set of Laptops.
In addition to the above areas, students also receive instruction in Music, Physical Education, Japanese and French (Years 1 to 6), Library Skills and Christian Education.
Guided Inquiry Based Learning
Guided Inquiry Based Learning is not a new phenomenon and research has revealed that primary aged students learn best when this approach is adopted. Inquiry learning requires students to work as problem solvers and teachers as facilitators of learning, encouraging students to question and research in order to develop a deeper understanding of the unit topic.
Teachers cooperatively plan units of study that are guided by the Australian Curriculum and the Essential Learnings. Throughout the unit, there is a delicate balance between teacher-initiated and child-initiated inquiry learning experiences. Inquiry-based learning is regarded as essential when encouraging children to become investigative learners who have the ability to reflect on what has been learned and how they have been involved in this learning process. The very nature of Inquiry learning encourages students to extend their own thinking with open ended problems with students often engaging in the use of higher order thinking skills. Within these units of study, specific skills and knowledge content is explicitly taught to students to enable students to fully participate in the inquiry process.
Prep also follow the Australian Curriculum however, they are also governed by the Early Years Curriculum Guidelines. The units of study are cooperatively planned and reflected the necessary elements of each curriculum document. The units of study follow an inquiry approach as well, however, it is very important that the units retain maximum flexibility to accommodate the interests and abilities of the younger students. Play is still a vital and essential element of any Prep classroom. It is through play that meaningful leaning occurs in a risk free environment. It develops a child’s natural love of learning and allows them an avenue to follow areas of personal interest.
The English Curriculum aims to:
- Develop the ability to speak, listen, read and write with purpose, effect and confidence in a wide range of contexts.
- Develop knowledge of the ways in which language varies according to context, purpose, audience & content.
- Develop a growing understanding of the linguistic and grammatical structures and features of English.
- Develop knowledge of a broad range of literature both traditional and contemporary.
- Build the capacity to analyse texts and language critically and with appreciation.
These aims are achieved through integrating proven programs such as Jolly Phonics into the vast bank of teaching strategies, without an over reliance on any single program. A strong commitment by our teachers to ‘Best Practice' ensures all students are exposed to a wide variety of teaching strategies. Prep to Year 2 teachers use a variety of strategies to teach phonetics, reading and writing. One program utilised is Jolly Phonics. This program teaches students the necessary letters and sounds using oral, visual and kinaesthetic strategies. The Casey the Caterpillar program is used to teach handwriting in the lower school. This ensures students and teachers have a consistent language to use when discussing letter formation. Students in Years 3 - 6 continue to consolidate this knowledge and deepen their understanding of grammatical structures through the explicit teaching of Grammar. Students are also explicitly taught reading and comprehension strategies. Each year, students in Years 3 and 5 participate in the National Literacy Tests.
Mathematics is taught involving a hands-on approach with students being encouraged to discuss the processes they use in undertaking problem solving. The Mathematics Program is organised around the strands of
- Number and Algebra
- Measurement and Geometry
- Space and Probability
Students are encouraged in the memorization of mathematical tables to promote efficient recall of basic number facts. In the Junior School, teachers implement the Stepping Stones Maths program which is based on the Australian Curriculum. In addition to this, teachers implement a Mental Maths program, focusing on a variety of mental strategies and problem solving skills. Mathematical concepts are made relevant to the students through the use of real life situations, hands-on activities, games and explicit instruction to the individual, small .group or whole class.
Through observation and the process of visual inquiry, students develop an understanding of the elements of visual arts. They create two and three dimensional art works using skills in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and textiles. The program is integrated into our units of study and is taught by the classroom teacher.
Students are given many opportunities to express themselves dramatically, both in classroom activities and public performances. All students are involved in annual performance evenings, and they have the option of participating in other events such as school musicals and the Townsville Eisteddfod. An annual nativity performance and a biennial production and Wakkakirri competition are highlights of the Junior School's Arts calendar.