Teaching and Learning
Our Site Improvement priorities are to increase student achievement in Mathematics, with a focus on the Number strand, in Years R-7, and to increase Reading achievement in Years 4-7. We have, in 2019, secured the expertise of the Greater Gawler Partnership SLLIP (Senior Leader: Learning Improvement Primary), Jacqui Atyeo. Jacqui works at our site one day per week, working with staff to understand Numeracy and Literacy Progressions aligned with the Australian Curriculum in assessing student knowledge and abilities, working with PLC’s (Professional Learning Communities) around data informed practice, providing professional development sessions at staff meetings, and modelling best practice for teaching staff in classes utilising the most current, success based research pertaining to student learning. Staff also undertake regular classroom observations, providing opportunities to reflect upon and improve their classroom practice.
We have had a whole site focus on Positive Education, fostering a generation of risk-taking learners that acknowledge that we learn best from our mistakes, and that a positive mindset allows greater growth than a fixed mindset approach to learning, whereby students are discouraged by mistakes and are closed off to learning other methods that differ from their existing strategies and an inhibitive approach to personal growth.
Staff have undertaken a number of training and development opportunities over the last 7 years in their commitment to a pedagogical shift in teaching Mathematics, and resources have been provided to aid in higher engagement and improved outcomes for students. Most recently, staff have undertaken training through Stamford University, focusing on the work of Jo Boaler. Maths lessons provide the learning intention for each lesson (what we want the students to learn), informing students of the reasons why they need to acquire particular skills for their future success (connecting to real-world applications). Students are encouraged to share their strategies with others, in a supportive, reflective approach that fosters collaborative learning.
Staff utilise Professor Dianne Siemon’s “Big Ideas in Number” Diagnostic Assessment tools to assess students’ understanding of Trusting the Count, Place Value, Multiplicative Thinking, Partitioning and Proportional Reasoning. Results are used to reflect on and improve teaching practice, providing a differentiated Mathematics program that cater for the needs of individual students.
In regard to Reading, our Junior Primary teaching staff utilise Deslea Konza’s Big 6 components of Reading, focusing on Oral Language development, Phonological Awareness, Synthetic Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension with a whole school approach to reading using the Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Programs. Students’ reading skills and abilities are measured using Running Records, which also assesses their comprehension and fluency up until they reach Level 30. In alignment with the Department for Education’s Standard of Educational Achievement, we endeavour for students to reach Level 30 by the end of Year 3. Lexile Levels are then determined for independent readers, with regular book quizzes available online for them to access to determine students’ instructional level, connecting them with texts that aren’t too hard to access, but not too easy that students are not developing their vocabulary, fluency and comprehension skills.
The first two years of learning are vital in providing a strong foundation for reading. Students who are identified as having deficits in their reading skills are provided opportunities to work 1:1 with an SSO or teacher, or to work in small groups with students with similar needs. If a student presents with further concerns, raised by the teacher, they may be placed in one of our reading intervention programs.
Intervention at Mallala Primary School
Classroom teachers provide a differentiated learning program across all learning areas, providing customised learning opportunities with adult support where required.
We also utilise the MiniLit and MacqLit Intervention programs for students from Years 1 to 7. The MiniLit Program focuses on the consolidation of phonetic knowledge and phonemic awareness for our Junior Primary students. Students, working in small groups, in a setting outside of their regular class, apply their developing skills to decode words, fostering reading and writing success.
The MacqLit program supports students in Year 3 or above who need some help with their reading to use appropriate strategies when reading and writing. Students are identified for these programs using standardised assessments and summative assessment tasks that are conducted in classes, and from data collected from PAT-R testing and NAPLAN results.
Participants attend Intervention sessions for up to 50 minutes each day for 10 weeks, conducted by our trained, experienced SSOs in our Intervention Room.
At Mallala Primary School our wellbeing program is based largely on the Department for Education’s Wellbeing for Learning and Life framework. We take action around the mental, social and emotional wellbeing of our students, staff and school community using the Wellbeing for learning: a whole school approach resource. Our staff are committed to a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the planning, delivery and review of wellbeing initiatives.
Data from the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection report guides our planning and decision making and enables us to monitor the effectiveness of our wellbeing actions in order to measure impact. Our students benefit from a collaborative care-team approach by staff, students, families and other members of the school community. Leadership skills are explicitly taught across the eight curriculum learning areas and leadership capacity is encouraged through providing space and agency to our students for decision making. We prioritise belonging and skill building in resilience and personal effectiveness. We offer mindfulness practise to all students and regular brain breaks to support self-regulation and awareness.
We promote and explicitly teach pro-social behaviours that are trauma informed. Our behaviour policy describes the ways in which our staff support our students to be safe, respectful, responsible and adaptable and how we teach strategies for connection and success. Restorative practices help our students restore and build community by facilitating the repair of relationships that have been harmed by behaviour choices. Mallala Primary School teachers and school support officers (SSOs) assent to the belief that our students do the best they can within their capacity. We trust that simple and kind gestures are helpful and restorative.
Our students have the opportunity to be part of our Learning Design Team (LDT). Students are able to nominate themselves for a position on the team. The role of the LDT is to work as partners with leaders and teachers to design learning experiences which build wellbeing for everyone in our school community. Our LDT practise being active and informed participants in student-led projects. We use the Student Wellbeing Ambassador Toolkit – VoiceIt to help out students explore, imagine, connect, plan, share and reflect.
WE ARE PROUD OF OUR SCHOOL
AND WOULD LOVE TO INVITE YOU ON A TOUR