Mater Christi Catholic Primary School
- Number of Students: 696
- Percent eligible for Education Maintenance Allowance: 7.5%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 2%
- Percent of Special Education: 3%
- White: 93.6%
- Black: 0.7%
- Hispanic: 0.5%
- Asian: 2.5%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 2.7%
Mater Christi Catholic Primary School is situated in the growing community of Cockburn, Western Australia, and is a three-stream school catering for boys and girls from 3 years old (Pre-Kindergarten) to 12 years old (Year 6). In 2009, the staff, lead by the Principal and the leadership team, turned attention to the development of a learning culture and a professional learning community in order to raise student achievement levels across the school. Now, some 6 years later, the school boasts a reputation as an empowered learning community, consistently acknowledged as a high achieving school in the Catholic Sector in Western Australia and as a Professional Learning Community that continually works towards meeting the learning needs of all students.
Features of the Professional Learning Community at Mater Christi include:
A focus on learning
There is a shared commitment to improving the learning of all students. Student information gained through both formal and informal strategies is used to inform and direct effort to ensure advancement of learning for all students. Staff continually review data on student progress, ensuring that learning programs are adjusted to meet the diverse needs of the student population.
Teacher ownership of the decision-making regarding curriculum and pedagogical developments
Developments in teaching and learning are lead by staff teams. Membership of the curriculum teams is a highly prized, sought after position on the leadership team of the school. There is close connection with the principal and administrative leadership team, however the curriculum teams make decisions regarding the focus of PLC work. At the heart of the work is an action learning cycle that encourages all staff to discuss and debate new practices, trial and assess innovations and review and refine the school approach as a staff collective.
Data driven decision making that is action oriented and results focused.
The staff is committed to continuous improvement in an effort to raise achievement for all students. There is shared responsibility for the growth of all students and cluster groups (junior, middle and senior primary) are active in seeking innovations that work for the student cohort particular to Mater Christi. The staff celebrate their success but understand that the deeper you explore complex issues in teaching and learning, the more you can learn and develop in order to make the school and classroom experience positive for all community members.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Monitoring of students at Mater Christi is comprehensive and cyclical. Routines begin very early in the school year with all staff members involved in gathering baseline assessment information. For this purpose, the staff use formal diagnostic tools across all levels. The tools are developmentally appropriate and used to inform teachers of the cohort entering the year level and their class. The tools are mainly focused on providing an understanding of the literacy and numeracy skill levels of all students.
Lessons are structured to enable teachers to work with small groups and individuals throughout the school day. This is important to ensure that all teachers maintain assessment records on the progress of students. Lessons are adapted and strengthened frequently based on comprehensive data sets.
The use of progress data is central to weekly, ninety minute planning sessions that are scheduled into the timetable for all staff members. The school timetable permits each cluster to meet as a group to plan and review instruction. Lesson sequences are planned and utilise a fluid grouping arrangement that ensures that all students spend time with teachers in re-teaching or extension activities, depending on their individual progress.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
Mater Christi provides a three-tiered system of intervention for all students who require additional time and support for learning.
Staff provide uninterrupted, structured class time to ensure that all students have the opportunity to work towards meeting year level expectations. Staff continually review data and respond to errors and misconceptions as soon as they are noticed. Those students who begin to move away from the year level cohort, in terms of development or academic performance are offered places within second-tier interventions.
At Mater Christi, second tier interventions are comprehensive and well monitored. There is focus on prevention with resources and personnel allocated to early literacy and numeracy intervention strategies. These strategies include Reading Recovery, Extending Mathematical Understanding and MiniLit. Additional programs are also offered for students who require extension and subsequent broadening of the curriculum. These second tier programs strategies are in addition to solid in-classroom instruction. Specialist second-tier teachers meet regularly with classroom teachers to ensure that classroom instruction is seamless and appropriate to the learning needs of the students.
Identified students who require ongoing program adjustments or individual education plans, because the main classroom program does not meet their needs, are offered third-tier support. Students accessing third-tier strategies are very much a part of classroom programs and all effort is made to ensure that these students benefit from the social aspect of peer-to-peer learning, even though the academic goals may be very different.
Additional staff including, but limited to, literacy and numeracy specialists, psychologists, speech therapists and teacher assistants supports learning programs. This provides enhanced opportunities for monitoring and assessment of students as well as expert advise and mentoring of teachers who require enhanced practice to deal with particular students.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
Professional Development that aims to bring focused expertise found to be required at Mater Christi is highly regarded. Teachers are proactive in seeking skills and knowledge that is required. Teachers seek out and attend professional development and bring back and share learning to the Professional Learning Community.
All members of the school community, including classroom teachers, additional program staff, teacher assistants and parents are given focused learning opportunities geared towards providing comprehensive support for all students. The staff value each and every contribution from community members geared to problem-solving teaching and learning.
Teachers structure their formal professional learning community meetings in the same way classroom learning is structured. The whole staff meets to focus learning, break into smaller groups to explore learning for their cluster or level of knowledge and then return to share learning. Staff are reflective and honest. The willingness for all staff to share learning misadventures and teaching mishaps has grown and adds a real flavour to the problem solving that has become a hallmark of the school. Meeting agendas are structured to reflect the National Teacher Standards and are available for staff to assist in documenting accreditation requirements.
Professional Development is sourced that either matches the school focus or individual teacher needs based on the appraisal process that all staff engage in. The school allocates additional resources to ensure that professional development support is timely, focused and provides additional resource that cannot be found in the school already.
Data has been attached as a separate document (see resources).
The data reflects the ongoing effort of Mater Christi staff in ensuring learning success for all students. The data contained in the document, reflects the ability of the professional Learning Community to add value to all students across the range of abilities present at each year level.
In 2011, Mater Christi Catholic Primary School was awarded a LEAD award by the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia. The award celebrated the focused needs-based learning program offered to 4 and 5 years olds as part of the Preprimary program.
Mater Christi also enjoys a reputation as a successful catholic school in relation to achievement in the National Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Program (NAPLAN). The school has enjoyed this reputation for a number of years and is constantly called upon to tell this story.