Learning & Teaching

Our teachers work collaboratively with two other Catholic schools to develop all learning areas from Maths and Literacy to Religious Education, Health, Arts, Humanities and Science. Our teachers work in teams with teachers from St Malachy’s, Edenhope and St Joseph’s, Coleraine. The ‘Western Trinity’ formed in 2016 and has won a number of education awards, including the John Laing Award, for the innovative way in which we collaborate across three schools while holding onto our individual school identities.

The following is a summary designed to provide an overview of the current teaching practices employed at Sacred Heart. This will provide insights into our approach to teaching English and Mathematics, focusing on structured literacy, skills building, mental computation and problem-solving. We also outline what happens in other subject areas.


Structured Literacy Approach

    1. Phonics and Phonemic Awareness:
      • Phonics: Systematic instruction on the relationship between letters and sounds
      • Phonemic Awareness: Activities that help children recognise and manipulate sounds in words, such as rhyming and segmenting
    1. Reading Fluency and Comprehension:
      • Fluency: Practice through guided oral reading and repeated reading to improve speed, accuracy, and expression
      • Comprehension Strategies: Teaching children to make predictions, ask questions, summarise, and infer meanings from texts
    1. Vocabulary Development:
      • Explicit teaching of new words and their meanings
      • Encouraging wide reading to naturally enhance vocabulary
    1. Writing Skills:
      • Spelling and Grammar: Direct instruction in spelling rules and grammatical structures
      • Composition: Techniques for planning, drafting, revising, and editing written work
    1. Assessment and Feedback:
      • Regular assessment to monitor progress and identify areas needing support
      • Celebrate achievements and provide constructive feedback to guide improvement


    Skills Building, Mental Computation and Problem Solving

      1. Numeracy Skills:
        • Number Sense: Understanding numbers, their relationships and how they are used in various contexts
        • Basic Operations: Mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
      1. Mental Computation:
        • Strategies for quick and efficient mental calculations
        • Encouraging estimation and approximation skills
      1. Problem Solving:
        • Teaching students to approach mathematical problems systematically
        • Encouraging logical reasoning and critical thinking
        • Use of word problems and real-life scenarios to apply mathematical concepts
      1. Conceptual Understanding:
        • Fostering a deep understanding of mathematical concepts rather than rote memorisation
        • Use of visual aids, manipulatives and interactive activities
      1. Applied Mathematics:
        • Integration of mathematics into other subjects and everyday situations
        • Projects and activities that demonstrate the relevance of mathematics in real life
      1. Assessment and Feedback:
        • Continuous assessment to track progress and identify learning gaps
        • Timely and constructive feedback to support student learning and growth


      Catholic schools welcome all who share their educational philosophy. Through this distinctive educational style, Catholic schools make an immeasurable contribution to the intellectual, ethical and spiritual well-being of their own community and of Australian society. 

      Religious Education is the discipline-based learning area that promotes and facilitates student learning in the knowledge, practices and self- understandings of Catholic Christianity in particular, and of other Christian denominations and other religious traditions in general. The content of this learning area focuses on the sources, history, worship, beliefs, structures and roles of the faith community, and on the ways the Church interacts with other groups and with the state in Australia and in other societies. 

      Religious Education is deeply interconnected with other curriculum areas as it addresses the fundamental human questions of meaning, identity and purpose that arise for individuals and societies. Therefore, learning in Religious Education is both practical and transformational for all involved. It challenges and equips students to respond intelligently, creatively and responsibly to their own and others’ religious identities and commitments or nonreligious worldviews, as religiously literate members of Australian society.


      At Sacred Heart, we believe Catholic Social Teaching, including Sustainability should be an important focus for our students. Catholic Social Teaching (CST) offers a way of thinking, being and seeing the world. It provides a vision for a just society in which the dignity of all people and the planet is recognised, and those who are vulnerable are cared for. 

      Our lessons are inspired by the teachings of Jesus to love one another and care for our world and the words of Pope Francis… “A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si 2015)

      We focus on 3 important areas…  

      • Care for our Earth
      • Care for our Community
      • Care for those less fortunate

      Becoming a green school is high on our list of priorities. Students work with staff and families to implement ‘greener’ practices at school and home and to learn ways to protect and look after the environment.

      As well as weekly CST lessons, students in the Senior class also have the opportunity to join Mini Vinnies. This group of dedicated students plan, organise and run a variety of fundraising and awareness raising projects throughout the year.


      Physical Education classes at Sacred Heart School provide opportunities for students to experience success when learning new skills. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and to strive towards performing “Personal Bests” which develops a positive attitude towards lifelong physical activity. Activities are always provided in a safe and supportive environment so that each child has the confidence to participate fully. Through the Physical Education Program at Sacred Heart we aim to encourage a commitment to regular physical activity and the development of positive attitudes and self-worth. This should provide students with the basis to achieve greater levels of success within and beyond primary school.

      The Physical Education Program consists of ball handling, athletics, swimming, gymnastics, basic movement, minor games, dance, sport education and sport skills. Fundamental motor skills and fitness education are taught within each component.

      Other events throughout the year form an integral part of the Phys. Ed Program, including:

      • 8 Day Intensive Swimming Program
      • Football and Netball Lightning Premiership
      • Athletics Carnival
      • Cross Country
      • Inter-school sports competitions
      • AFL Footballer visits
      • Clinics, Guest Speakers & PB Challenges

      We combine with the Western Trinity Schools for our house sports in swimming, athletics and cross country. All students compete in these events and their performance, for students in grades 3-6, is used to qualify for the Casterton District Schools Sports Association (CDSSA) events.

      We have a high proportion of students who represent our school each year at both the Division and Region level in swimming, athletics and cross country. As a district, we also have the opportunity to enter teams in division competitions in other sports.


      Health education promotes the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of students. The curriculum is designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing.

      Physical Health: Students learn about the importance of regular physical activity, nutrition, and personal hygiene. They explore topics such as the benefits of exercise, healthy eating habits and how to maintain personal cleanliness. Lessons also cover basic human anatomy and the functions of different body systems.

      Social and Emotional Health: The curriculum emphasises the development of positive social skills and emotional intelligence. Students are taught about the importance of friendships, effective communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. Programs like anti-bullying and resilience training help students navigate social interactions and build strong, supportive relationships.

      Safety and Wellbeing: Students receive education on how to stay safe in various environments, including home, school, and the community. This includes understanding road safety, water safety, and internet safety. Additionally, students learn about mental health, including strategies for managing stress, recognising and expressing emotions and seeking help when needed.


      We have a carefully developed curriculum to learn about the Humanities subjects (history, geography, civics and citizenship and economics). These rich units of work take place over a term.

      Built into each unit are opportunities to:

      • Build the skills required to investigate and communicate information.
      • Establish and develop skills to be able to justify a point of view.
      • Develop an appreciation of other cultures.
      • Nurture an interest and awareness of the natural environment.
      • Develop competence in finding and using appropriate resources.  
      • Use co-operative skills to solve problems in group situations.
      • Communicate scientific understanding using language appropriate to a topic.  
      • Promote a sense of self-worth, dignity and rights as individuals.
      • Use and access information itilising current information technology tools. 


      Our approach for grades F-2, implemented four days a week, revolves around the belief that all children are adept learners who thrive in a play-based setting. Extensive evidence supports this notion, emphasising the efficacy of play in fostering optimal learning experiences for young learners.

      Our educators, in collaboration with the students, plan play-based programs to cultivate exploration, creativity and social interaction. Recognising the significance of intentional engagement, we actively participate in children's play to stimulate their thinking and enrich their educational journey while honouring their burgeoning independence.

      Through intentional teaching practices, such as fostering meaningful conversations, posing open-ended questions and facilitating collaborative learning experiences, we tailor our approach to complement the learning goals of our young students. Additionally, we continuously reflect on and refine our strategies, ensuring they align with the evolving needs and interests of our students.


      “Learning diversity refers to the infinite variety of life experiences and attributes a child brings to their formal learning at school. All students with diverse learning needs have a right to access a full and engaging education on the same basis as their peers. Catholic schools seek to empower learners by celebrating difference and providing educational opportunities aimed at eliminating discrimination and focused on growth and progress for all.”  

      Horizons of Hope Foundation Statement: Learning Diversity in Catholic Schools, 2017


      At Sacred Heart, we ensure all students, regardless of background or abilities, have equal access to education and full participation in school life. We value diversity, equity and respect, fostering a supportive environment where every student feels included and valued.

      Key Principles:

      • Presuming Competence: Believing all students can learn and succeed, providing necessary support and opportunities.
      • Inclusive Teaching: Adapting instruction, collaborating with support staff, encouraging social inclusion and building positive relationships.

       Supporting Diverse Learning Needs:

      • Personalised Learning Plans (PLPs): Teachers develop PLPs and organize Parent Support Group (PSG) meetings each term to discuss progress and set new goals.
      • Interoception: Understanding and supporting students' ability to sense and interpret internal bodily sensations, especially for those with sensory differences.

       Learning Diversity Leader:

      • Collaborates with teachers to create Individual Learning Plans for additional student support.

       Intervention Programs:

      •  Designed, based on assessments, to target specific needs, offered one-on-one, in small groups, or within the classroom, supplementing regular teaching.

       Program Support Meetings:

      •  Termly meetings with parents and caregivers, teachers and the Learning Diversity Leader to review student progress and plan further interventions.

      At Sacred Heart, we recognise that students' needs can vary widely due to various factors, and our commitment to inclusive education ensures that all students are supported to learn and thrive.


      THE ARTS

      Our arts program is committed to fostering a rich and varied artistic education, closely aligned with the Victorian Curriculum, to develop students’ skills, creativity and appreciation for the arts. Through a balanced and comprehensive approach, we aim to nurture the next generation of artists and creative thinkers.

      The program covers multiple disciplines within the arts, including:

      • Visual Arts: Drawing, painting, sculpture, digital media
      • Performing Arts: Music, dance, drama and theatre
      • Media Arts: Film, photography, digital storytelling


      Indonesian has been our language of choice so that students can transition to Monivae or Casterton Secondary College with ease. Difficulties in securing a language teacher have led us to apply for an exemption this year and we aim to transition to AUSLAN in 2025.


      All students in grades 2-6 have their own Chromebook and Foundation and Grade 1 students have one-to-one access to an iPad. Students follow a sequential program from F - 6 where they learn ICT skills and develop their understanding of cyber safety. Each classroom is equipped with a smart television to provide engaging lessons and maximize student participation.


      Staff at Sacred Heart carefully monitor each child’s learning. Students regularly complete assessment tasks that allow teachers to gain a clearer understanding of what each child needs to learn and to gauge how well each child is understanding what has been taught.

      Information is gathered and analysed by teachers and is also utilised when reporting to parents and guardians. Sacred Heart’s formal reports are aligned with the standards outlined in the Victorian Curriculum.

      Parents receive two formal written reports each year. These reports are available through the Parent Access Module (PAM). Students also receive a folder with a portfolio of their work from the semester.


      Our school has engaged the services of a School Pastoral Care Worker through CatholicCare Victoria to provide support to students, their families and school staff. The worker is qualified in helping with issues around grief and loss, family separation, developing skills and social competence, parenting, self esteem and conflict resolution in friendships. The Pastoral Care Worker works with the school’s Wellbeing Team to support students and their families.