Learning & Teaching
We are an ADA accredited school
St Thomas More is a student centred school where everyone is valued, where we build authentic relationships, develop a love of learning, have access to a comprehensive and contemporary curriculum and become responsible citizens and confident lifelong learners.
We build our student's capacity to be great communicators, thinkers, collaborators and researchers who manage themselves effectively and are invested in the ownership and success of their learning.
We ensure a personalised approach to our student’s learning based on their strengths, challenges, interests, talents, experiences and background. Learning and Teaching is explicit and scaffolded to establish learning intentions, success criteria and feedback to ensure access and success for all.
Our staff are trained in Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) teaching, this is an evidence-based learning approach that links reading, writing, and spelling.
We offer a program that promotes skill development in reading and viewing, writing, speaking, and listening in a supportive and stimulating environment. Planning is based on the Victorian Curriculum and is evidence-based, supported by best practices around literacy acquisition. We are working towards having a knowledge-rich curriculum and explicit direct instruction across all year levels. At St Thomas More we strive for two-hour daily literacy blocks that are non-interrupted learning time for students in Prep to Year 6. Strong literacy skills are crucial for future academic success, while reading for pleasure is also extremely important. We want our students to love reading for enjoyment, improving social skills, mental health, and learning outcomes.
The English language is a melting pot of linguistic ingredients and has a complex code that has evolved over the decades. Many word origins are borrowed from Latin, Greek and even Japanese. Learning to read is not a natural process like learning to walk, and students need to acquire knowledge at school about the patterns and constraints that are unique to English. Our brains are not hard-wired to read, and reading is a skill that is biologically secondary. The Science of Reading (SOR) refers to an enormous body of research and an emerging consensus that converges into how the brain learns to read and how educators should teach reading to ensure the best outcomes for all students. Structured literacy and explicit teaching are particularly beneficial for students with English as an Additional Language / Dialect (EAL/D).
Our Early Years’ Educators engage all students in Prep to Year 3 with daily Heggerty Phonological & Phonemic Awareness activities. We engage students in a Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) program. SSP instruction is very structured and teaches students the 44 letter sounds and how we blend sounds to read and spell. Decoding, 'set for variability' (the ability to identify a mispronounced word correctly), and phonological awareness are crucial skills for early reading and spelling success. Our students are taught to use their code knowledge to spell words using the same patterns they are learning in reading. We have invested in new sets of decodable readers for our beginning readers. Our students use decodable readers to practise the sound-spelling relationships and use the decoding skills taught in phonics lessons. We provide students with authentic texts for adults to read aloud until children can decode well enough to tackle the books themselves. Our students borrow up to 3 library choice books per week. Teachers share rich texts with their students daily. We challenge students to read for at least 15 minutes a day in class, and nightly reading is encouraged. Parent/carer involvement is welcomed in the classroom.
There are six key components of reading, which need to be integrated throughout reading opportunities.
Students at St Thomas More Primary School will explore morphology (the study of words and their parts), syntax (sentence structure), and the fascinating world of etymology (the history and examination of the origin of words). Students learn a range of words with prefixes and suffixes throughout their time at primary school, usually starting in Year 2 and Year 3. Learning root words, prefixes and suffixes help students understand words better and unlock the structure and meaning within words. Students also begin to see links between different words and identify word families.
e.g. the word destructive
the prefix "de-" means, in this case, "removal" (eg "dehumidify" "defame" "detoxify").
the root "-struct" means "to build" or "to assemble".
Literacy support at St Thomas More Primary School is our priority and a social equity issue. We have introduced a multi-tiered approach to learning instruction. In Tier 2 or 3 intervention, we differentiate instruction and target specific skills for struggling learners. Our team provides:
Tier 1 - whole-class instruction using evidence-based teaching
Tier 2 - support in small group sessions for students identified as at risk to supplement skill-building
Tier 3 - individual intensive 1:1 targeted support for our struggling learners.
We offer the same model for literacy and numeracy.
Our internal data indicates that our change in practices implemented in 2021 is working for our students. At St Thomas More Primary School, we have undertaken significant professional development to align our instruction with evidence-based research.
St Thomas More Primary School has proudly signed the Primary Reading Pledge. Five from Five, AUSPELD, and Learning Difficulties Australia have collaborated on an evidence-based framework to dramatically reduce the number of students who finish primary school unable to read proficiently. We endorse and are working towards the goals outlined in the pledge. Our school is committed to using evidence-based reading instruction, assessment, and intervention.
At St Thomas More the purpose of numeracy teaching is to enable students to value mathematics as an integral part of life and develop their ability to work mathematically through purposeful, engaging and challenging activities. We promote a positive attitude towards learning by developing students’ understanding for applying mathematics effectively to become proficient problem solvers and to value the place of mathematics in our society. Students are encouraged to question and seek alternate strategies while taking risks in their learning to develop an enthusiastic and persistent approach. Students experience the use of hands-on materials, interactive games and technology to introduce and challenge their thinking and learning through mathematics. Teachers conduct formal and informal assessments to monitor and track the progression of each student to provide challenging and meaningful tasks. Students are taught effective communication of mathematical concepts, an understanding of mathematical literacy and the importance of using mathematics in everyday situations to become lifelong learners.
Our faith is at the centre of everything that we do at St Thomas More. We are committed to fostering an environment where we educate the whole person and encourage everyone to reach their full potential. At St. Thomas More, Religious Education promotes the message of Jesus and develops students’ understanding of living as a person of faith within their family, school, parish and the wider community. Religious Education permeates all aspects of the curriculum and school activities.
We teach Religious Education using an integrated inquiry approach in line with the Horizons of Hope Religious Education Curriculum Framework (developed by Catholic Education Melbourne). Religious Education at St Thomas More aims to help students grow as a faith filled people. We aim to build on the experiences of each student, enhance their opportunity for rich dialogue with others and allow them to form their own understandings and make deep connections with their faith.
St Thomas More Primary School Offers:
many opportunities for prayer, liturgy, meditation and celebration
an environment and atmosphere where the Gospel Values align with our behaviours and actions
a Religious Education program that is taught through an Inquiry approach, where connections to the real world and life experiences underpins the learning of our mission as Catholics
preparation and participation for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation
opportunities to plan and undertake various social justice actions within our local and global community
Inquiry Based Learning
Inquiry Based Learning gives attention to identifying core knowledge, skills and understandings that are required to be successful in today's world. Core capacities such as higher order thinking, creativity, collaboration and the use of contemporary literacies are considered to be powerful learning opportunities for the contemporary learner.
At St Thomas More we believe that education should be about developing the whole child. As empowered and intrinsically motivated individuals, students develop the critical skills and understandings that will allow them to be successful, active participants in an ever-changing and increasingly global community.
Informed by The Victorian Curriculum and guided by the principles and knowledge of how each individual student learns, we provide a developmental approach to teaching which maximises opportunities for success for every student. Creativity, cooperation, problem solving, self-direction, self-regulation, empathy and the capacity to manage change, are embedded throughout the curriculum.
As much as possible, we aim to provide learning experiences that:
allow for flexible learning pathways
respond to diverse needs
develop contemporary literacies
foster communities of learning
enable rich and timely assessment
Each week our students participate in the following specialist classes:
STEAM (Science, Technology, ART, Engineering and Mathematics)
Classroom Teachers book the Art Room on a weekly basis to teach Visual Arts. Different artists, techniques and media are taught and used. Our students’ artworks are displayed throughout the school demonstrating their unique talents and skills taught.
Assessment & Reporting
Assessment is both formative (informing our teaching) and summative (a summary of how student learning is progressing). Students are assessed at a number of points throughout their time at school and in each school year. Student feedback is most effective when it is timely, relevant, encouraging and offers suggestions for improvement.
We conduct learning conversations with parents and teachers (interviews) in February and June and written reports are provided in June and December. These written reports are based on the Victorian Curriculum which outlines what is essential for all Victorian students to learn during their time at school.
Extra Curricular Opportunities
Some of the most exciting times at Primary School are participating in the extra curricular aspects of school life. At St Thomas More, we offer a wide variety of non-classroom based activities including:
Sports days (Athletics, Swimming, Inter-School Sports)
Camps (3/4 and 5/6)
Excursions and Incursions
School Productions (bi-ennial, our 2021 production was Peter Pan)
Art Show/STEAM Show (bi-ennial, will be scheduled for 2022)
Maths and Literacy game nights