Curriculum at Mt St John's Primary

(Click on each heading to view more informaiton for that subject)



Learning English involves speaking and listening, reading and writing.

At Mt St John’s students are immersed in quality texts which provide a rich source of enjoyment, information, vocabulary and examples of punctuation, grammar and spelling.

If students can’t say it, they can’t read it or write it. Oral language is an important building block for learning to read and write. Whole sentence answers, giving reasons for their opinions and correct articulation are sought in every lesson.

Students read and write every day. The more students read and write, the better their skills become.

Mt St John’s uses the Gradual Release of responsibility model. This involves explicit teaching and practice:-

  • Teachers provide accurate modelling of English skills.
  • Students are placed in small groups based on their needs for more individualised instruction.
  • Students practise these skills for mastery.


At Mt St John’s, we teach Mathematics from the NSW Mathematics Curriculum. We use Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) to monitor student learning, to guide our teaching so we can ensure that students work on tasks that provide suitable challenges to drive their learning.

Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) is an evidence-based, whole school approach for the teaching and learning of Mathematics. It is an essential element of our school to continually improve mathematical outcomes for students through the development of conceptual understanding of Mathematics.

In the Diocese of Lismore Catholic schools, we believe that every student has the right to quality and equitable learning experiences that promote the communication of truth and abundance of life for all students. Our beliefs align closely with the core beliefs of the EMU whole school approach.

The core beliefs of the whole school approach are that:

  • It is a fundamental right of every student to be numerate
  • All students can achieve high standards given the right time, support and opportunity
  • Early and on-going intervention are essential
  • All teachers need to be able to articulate the instructional decisions based on their data and pedagogical content knowledge

The whole school approach emphasises quality classroom teaching and learning of Mathematics. The Mathematics Assessment Interview (MAI) is undertaken by every student in our diocesan primary schools at the beginning of each year. The MAI data provides valuable information for classroom teachers that allows their planned learning experiences to be targeted to the needs of their learners.

We recognise that for some students this may not be sufficient to enable them to thrive mathematically and may require more targeted support with their Mathematics learning at different points in their schooling. EMU Specialist Teachers are qualified specialists with a deep understanding of the learning process of Number and provide intervention for the most mathematically vulnerable students. The highly effective EMU intervention accelerates growth in conceptual understanding for the most mathematically vulnerable students to enable them to access the classroom curriculum.


The pedagogy (the way we teach) within our Mathematics Block follows a model based on research by Peter Sullivan. Students will participate in a warm up, which is usually an EMU task related to their level of learning. They will then progress to a rich task, which will encourage students to think deeply about the mathematics concept being studied. Throughout this task students will be encouraged to reflect on their learning. A reflection takes place at the end of each Mathematics Block to assist students in making connections to the concept, to share their misunderstandings to form future learning and to explore the mathematical language of the concept being studied.


“Our faith defines who we are. We use Jesus as our example in everything we undertake.”

At Mt St John’s we have a Religious Education program that supports students to build a progression of learning. As students study Religious Education we aim to enhance and deepen their understanding of scripture and engage their head, heart and hands. We study Religious Education for 2 ½ hours per week. This dedicated time allows students to draw key messages and examples from Jesus’ life to help them learn to respect others, creation and themselves in order to achieve ‘fullness of life.


Through studying Science and Technology, students explore scientific and technological concepts and gain knowledge and understanding of the world. They develop skills in conducting scientific investigations and designing and producing solutions through learning about the Living World, Material World, Physical World, Earth and Space, and Digital Technologies.

Science and Technology K–6 is an integrated discipline that fosters a sense of wonder and curiosity in students about the world around them and how it works. Science and Technology K–6 encourages students to embrace new concepts, the unexpected and to learn through trialling, testing and refining ideas.

The study of science and technology develops the building blocks of inquiry and students’ abilities to solve problems. Students are provided with opportunities to develop understanding based on evidence and reason. These skills enable students to participate responsibly in developing innovative ideas and solutions in response to questions and situations relevant to personal, social and environmental issues. The learning students experience enables them to contribute to the world as active global citizens, both now and in the future.

Science and technology are pedagogically linked and through their practical application promote genuine learning opportunities for students. The application of Working Scientifically, and Design and Production skills enables students to develop a sense of accomplishment and enhance their skills in inquiry and manipulating tools and materials to produce solutions. These skills are important in preparing students to succeed in a rapidly developing technological world.

Students studying science and technology are encouraged to question and seek solutions to problems through collaboration, investigation, critical thinking and creative problem-solving. Students are provided with opportunities to apply thinking skills and develop an appreciation of the processes they can apply as they encounter problems, unfamiliar information and new ideas. These attributes are fundamental to the development of students who use evidence to make decisions and solve problems.

Science and Technology provides students with the opportunity to make meaningful connections with the broader learning outcomes of the K–6 curriculum in English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Creative Arts, Languages and PDHPE through authentic application of relevant knowledge and acquired skills.

Science and Technology K–6 develops students’ curiosity about natural phenomena and the built environment. It provides students with the opportunity to develop a sense of achievement by using the practical application of knowledge in the development of solutions. The skills and capabilities developed through the study of science and technology provide students with opportunities for skill development and a strong foundation for learning across the K–10 curriculum.


Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. It is a rich and complex discipline that integrates knowledge from natural sciences, social sciences and humanities to build a holistic understanding of the world.

Students learn to question why the world is the way it is, reflect on their relationships with and responsibilities for the world and propose actions designed to shape a socially just and sustainable future.

Geography emphasises the role, function and importance of the environment in supporting human life from local to global scales. It also emphasises the important interrelationships between people and environments and the different understandings of these relationships. The wellbeing of societies and environments depends on the quality of interactions between people and the natural world.

Geographical inquiry involves students acquiring, processing and communicating geographical information. Through an inquiry approach students explain patterns, evaluate consequences and contribute to the management of places and environments in an increasingly complex world.

This process enables them to apply inquiry skills including: asking distinctively geographical questions; planning an inquiry and evaluating information; processing, analysing and interpreting that information; reaching conclusions based on evidence and logical reasoning; evaluating and communicating their findings; and reflecting on their inquiry and responding, through action, to what they have learned. Engagement in fieldwork and the use of other tools including mapping and spatial technologies are fundamental to geographical inquiry.

The study of Geography enables students to become active, responsible and informed citizens able to evaluate the opinions of others and express their own ideas and arguments. This forms a basis for active participation in community life, a commitment to sustainability, the creation of a just society, and the promotion of intercultural understanding and lifelong learning. The skills and capabilities developed through geographical study can be applied to further education, work and everyday life.


History is a disciplined process of inquiry into the past that helps to explain how people, events and forces from the past have shaped our world. It allows students to locate and understand themselves and others in the continuum of human experience up to the present. History provides opportunities for students to explore human actions and achievements in a range of historical contexts. Students become aware that history is all around us and that historical information may be drawn from the physical remains of the past as well as written, visual and oral sources of evidence.

The study of History from Kindergarten to Year 10 investigates the actions, motives and lifestyles of people over time, from individuals and family members, to local communities, expanding to national and world history contexts. It introduces the idea that History contains many stories and that there is never only one uncontested version. There are many differing perspectives within a nation’s history, and historians may interpret events differently depending on their point of view and the sources they have used.

The study of History strengthens an appreciation for and an understanding of civics and citizenship. It also provides broader insights into the historical experiences of different cultural groups within our society and how various groups have struggled for civil rights, for example Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants and women. History encourages students to develop an understanding of significant historical concepts such as cause and effect, change and continuity, significance, empathy and contestability.

History as a discipline has its own methods and procedures. It is much more than the simple presentation of facts and dates from the past. History provides the skills for students to answer the question ‘How do we know?’ An investigation of an historical issue through a range of sources can stimulate curiosity and develop problem-solving, research and critical thinking skills. It develops language specific to the discipline of History and provides opportunities to further develop literacy skills.

Students learn to critically analyse and interpret sources of evidence in order to construct reasoned explanations and a rational and informed argument based on evidence, drawn from the remains of the past. Students engage in research involving traditional methods and ICT, including evaluating web-based sources and using a range of technologies for historical research and communication.


Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) is a wonderful opportunity for our students at Mt St John’s to learn essential life skills. Our aim is to teach physical literacy and foster wellbeing for each student. The PDHPE curriculum includes the following Content Strands: Health, Wellbeing and Relationships; Movement Skill and Performance; and Healthy, Safe and Active Lifestyles. The PDHPE Skill Domains are: Self-management, Interpersonal and Movement Skills. These skills are important for children and young people to live healthy, safe and active lives.

Our students acquire Fundamental Movement Skills via physical education lessons conducted on a weekly basis. We endeavour to foster positive attitudes and behaviours in our students to ensure their successful engagement in a variety of sports.

We are part of the Clarence Zone. Pathway sports are offered through Clarence Zone, Lismore Diocese and NSW Primary School Sports Association. These include swimming, cross-country, athletics, winter and summer sports.

We conduct swimming lessons in Term 1 and Term 4 free of cost to our parents. Our swimming program is very effective and enjoyed by our students and staff. We have a close relationship with our local YMCA pool.

Our students are encouraged to participate in wider community and regional sporting events. We wish to instill in our students a sporting habit that will last their lifetimes.


At Mt St John’s, students have numerous opportunities, both in class and extra-curricular, to engage with Creative Arts. Each term, students study one strand of Creative Arts; e.g. Music, Drama, Visual Arts and Dance. Over the course of the year all students will have studied each strand. Students have the opportunity to engage with the arts as an extra-curricular activity.

The school has a choir which performs regularly in and around Dorrigo. In 2018, the choir placed 2nd at the Coffs Harbour Eisteddfod. We have a Craft Club that meets during lunch times. Items created in this club are sold at local Made in Dorrigo Day stalls, which goes toward supporting charity work we undertake as a school community.

In Visual Arts, students develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes in making and appreciating by engaging with the concepts of ‘artists’, ‘artworks’, ‘the audience’ and ‘the world’.

In Music, students develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes in performing, organising sound and listening by experiencing musical concepts within a range of repertoire.

In Drama, students develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes in making, performing and appreciating by engaging with roles, dramatic contexts, elements and forms.

In Dance, students develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes in performing, composing and appreciating by engaging with the elements of dance through a range of contexts.