Junior School (Prep to Year 6)
Our Junior School has a Christian and caring environment that provides challenging educational opportunities for young girls. Girls benefit from a blend of tradition and innovation that draws on long-standing values of commitment, diligence, service, teamwork and tolerance, as established by the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent.
Our community is guided by the Anglican faith. We care for each individual and aim for each girl to develop her knowledge and skills to the best of her ability. We offer a varied range of extra-curricular activities. We value appropriate class sizes throughout the Junior School, and endeavour to create an intimate environment where access to teachers is enhanced for children and their parents.
The pastoral care systems and curricula developed for our girls have taken into consideration recent research into gender-based brain functioning, learning styles and group dynamics. We provide education for girls – not just education that includes girls.
Our curriculum learning areas include: English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, The Arts – Art and Music, Languages Other Than English (LOTE), Health and Physical Education, Technology. Religious and Values Education and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) are also important components of our curriculum in the Junior School.
We progress from an integrated approach in the early years of schooling to a more specialised, subject-specific curriculum in Year 6. We strive for a seamless and continuous curriculum, with programs being designed to specifically suit the needs of individual students at St Aidan’s. We recognise that students learn differently from each other and strategies and programs implemented in classrooms reflect that reality.
Also of great importance is the acquisition of thinking skills. We want our girls not only to be “deliberative and clever thinkers” but also “creative and critical thinkers”.
Extensive use of computers and information technology is made accessible for the curriculum at all year levels - each student has a laptop for use in the classroom. iPads are used in the early years’ classrooms and the Junior School Library. The teachers and students make use of learning technologies throughout the day in many subject areas. Students also complete a sequential computer skills program so as to efficiently and effectively use the technology.
All Junior School students benefit from the expertise that is provided by specialist staff members in Physical Education, Music, Languages (Chinese, French, German, Japanese) and Library. Students from Kindergarten to Year 3 participate in the Every Day Music Program and the Every Day Languages Program. Students are involved in these specialist lessons for shorter periods of time every day, rather than for longer periods twice-weekly. Students from Year 3 also receive specialist lessons in Art. Girls in Year 6 have specialist teachers for all subjects as well as a distinct precinct of rooms closely aligned to the Secondary School. This greatly assists girls with their transition into Year 7.
Students are also well supported by our Chaplain, Counsellor and Learning Support Staff. Our learning support staff aim to help students either individually or in small groups, when they require assistance with aspects of the curriculum. The nature of this support is determined by advice received from specialists and the resources available.
Enrichment & Extension
In addition to the modification of student tasks that can occur by classroom teachers in a range of subjects, students demonstrating exceptional levels of creative thinking in a variety of curriculum areas and high levels of task engagement, persistence and commitment from Prep-Year 6, attend small group Mathematics and English extension/enrichment lessons. These lessons offer an opportunity for students to experience aspects of the curriculum in more depth and to challenge or accelerate their learning. Activities are designed specifically for the needs of academically able students, by offering an enrichment experience which challenges the students to think critically, solve problems and further develop their abilities and interests.
Students across the school, and within a wide range of subjects, are offered the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitions which are promoted as enrichment activities. Real-life experiences through the effective use of excursions, field trips, guest speakers, workshop participation and participation in community action and fundraising ventures add to the variety of the Enrichment Program at St Aidan’s. Our Extra-curricular Program, with activities such as Chess Club, , Code Club, Environmental Club, Art Club, Public Speaking and Debating also provides opportunities for students of varying ages in different contexts to engage with topics of interest.
St Aidan’s has a policy of acceleration as one of its strategies to assist students with particular talents and abilities to move through the academic curriculum. This form of acceleration moves students out of learning groups composed of their age-peers, placing them with students who are older. The strength of this form of acceleration is that it is subject-based, allowing students to maintain ties with same age peers while forging ahead in particular academic areas.
The purpose of subject based acceleration is that it facilitates learning for highly able students. These students have the opportunity to be exposed to the appropriate level of academic challenge. Limiting acceleration to subject areas, rather than whole grades, can take into account the fact that a student may not be ‘above their peers’ in all subjects: for example, they may be particularly advanced in their mathematical knowledge, but not in English.
This form of acceleration does not bring major changes to students’ lives and, in a sense, provides the best of both worlds for the able student. Students will continue to develop amongst their peers, who mirror their own levels of physical, emotional, and social development, and there is little disruption to patterns of experience and rites of passage that typically characterise those of the same biological age. In addition to this, subject area acceleration acknowledges intellectual readiness in a particular subject like mathematics and is a flexible approach to catering for the learner with particular talents.