It is not just about what is taught in schools but how it is taught that makes a difference to the lives of the students in our schools. The way that teaching happens (pedagogy) can help students find meaning and purpose in their lives. It also provides a framework for their values, which will form the basis of the key decisions they will make in the future.
As educators in Catholic schools, the person of Jesus Christ should be at the heart of what we teach and how we teach it. His example inspires us to ensure that our teaching is reflective of modern society and generates a search for meaning. Good teaching helps students to better understand themselves and what is important to them.
The schools of the 21st Century are mostly knowledge-based learning environments that rely heavily on technology. For the students, it’s about creating, composing, responding to and using information rather than just reproducing it. Good teaching is about involving students in learning that is exciting, meaningful and transformational. Our understanding of how students learn has changed. We now see them as creators and managers of their own content. What they learn helps them to make meaning of their own lives.
Catholic schools are very exciting places!
The key priorities for Sydney Catholic schools over the next five years are identified in the document Building on Strength: Future Directions for Catholic Schools. In the area of Curriculum, these include:
Students and their Learning
Students learn differently and at different speeds. Personalised learning is about making sure that every student is provided with a ‘learning pathway’ that meets his or her individual needs and abilities.
The best learning happens when students can be themselves and feel good about who they are. Student wellbeing is so important in ensuring happy successful learners.
Special Learning Needs
We are committed to making sure that students with special learning needs are given opportunities that are challenging, stimulating and achievable. We also recognise that learning models for students with special learning needs must be sustainable.
English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D)
It is critical that students who have English as an additional language or dialect are supported through the provision of integrated resources and teaching approaches that are based on sound research and best practice.
Sydney Catholic schools are deeply committed to ensuring that students identified within the ‘gifted’ range are, like all other students, given opportunities that allow them to explore the full range of their potential and interests.
Learning in the Early Years
Learning in the early years (K-2) should be inspiring! It should allow children opportunities to inquire, imagine and create. Sydney Catholic schools are reshaping the curriculum in these early years to ensure that students have the best possible start to their school journey.
Learning in the Middle Years
We recognise that the programs offered in the middle years of schooling (Years 5-8) should be motivating. They should give students opportunities to find out what they are good at and what they like by exploring topics at a depth and a pace that suit them.
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Vocational Education courses are vitally important to so many students from Years 9-12. Providing more opportunities for students to undertake school-based VET courses is a strong priority for Sydney Catholic schools.
Our school communities take their responsibilities for environmental stewardship very seriously. There is a strong desire to strengthen this commitment even further through the teaching and learning, as well as through the community activities that happens in each school.
Pedagogy (The Art of Teaching)
Contemporary Teaching Practices
21st Century classrooms need 21st Century teaching practices and the latest technology. A key part of ensuring this happens is the provision of regular and targeted professional learning for teachers.
The Australian Curriculum
A common curriculum for students in all schools right across the country is on the way! The aim for our schools will be to implement this in an effective and creative way.
We acknowledge that having access to reliable data is essential, particularly when attempting to identify and address specific areas of need in student learning. This is more important than ever in an era of national testing in Literacy and Numeracy.
It goes without saying that improving literacy for ever student in every Sydney Catholic school is one of our highest priorities!
Strengthening teachers’ skills in the teaching of Mathematics lies at the heart of a strategy to bring about further improvements in student achievement in this foundational learning area.