St Mary’s Junior School embraces the framework of the National Curriculum Statement.

In the intermediate and senior phases, called the Senior Primary at St Mary’s, our academic programme focuses on the core skills of Mathematics and language development. The two classes in each grade are split into smaller sets, with specialist teachers, allowing individual time for students to ask questions, or be extended or supported.

After extensive research both locally and abroad, we implemented Singapore Mathematics. This approach teaches fundamental number manipulation skills, as well as routine and non-routine problem solving. It is structured and developmental with a successful learning spiral.

In all languages – English, isiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans, there is a focus on communication and comprehension. The girls look at different genres and language usage while visual literacy also extends their skills. Creative writing and poetry provide them with opportunities for intra-personal communication and self-reflection, all lessons to enable them to face busy, challenging futures.

We are members of the International Primary Curriculum, affiliated to Fieldwork Education, founded in the United Kingdom. This curriculum integrates learning across the sciences and technology, and develops international-mindedness from an early age.

In the Natural Sciences the scientific approach to investigation and problem solving is taught, with a strong focus on environment and the sustainability of our practices and our world. We attempt to give them understanding and knowledge from early learning experiences.

In the Social Sciences the girls look at and research how events have changed people's lives, and countries, politically and economically. Current affairs forms a great part of this learning, and the teachers and girls use our fully-resourced media centre and iPads for regular research.

The use of technology, both information and design, and economic management science, are integrated into many aspects of the curriculum to develop entrepreneurial and computer skills and design ability. Classrooms are fitted with interactive electronic Promethean boards for digital, online learning and creative lesson development.

Visual and performing arts play a major role in the extension of creative ability and performance opportunities and art exhibitions are a regular part of the school week.

The values of our school are non-negotiable and this is what you support when you are part of our wonderful community. Academic excellence, top sporting achievement and participation by all, a rich cultural programme and a deep spirituality; teaching care, kindness and love, and giving thanks for our lives, are what underpin all we offer. Your commitment to this ethos will ensure your daughter loves her school and is successful.

Singapore Maths

International and local research highlighted the necessity for a teacher-friendly Mathematics curriculum that meets the demands of the South African context. A study of the results of Trends in Maths and Science (TIMMS), and success in Singapore and the independent schools in the USA, pointed to the Singaporean approach.

Singapore Maths has been implemented at St Mary’s Junior School since 2008. The baseline assessments conducted each year have shown a significant improvement in the number manipulation, computation and problem-solving ability of all the girls. These results have reflected a 40% improvement since implementation.

The teachers have reported that the girls are more prepared in all aspects of mathematical ability, and are delighted with the skills and knowledge the girls have gained, and which they are successfully able to implement across routine and non-routine number work and problem solving.

THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading and Spelling Skills)

THRASS is an auditory spelling and reading programme that provides the link between phonemic awareness and graphemes. It teaches the link between letters and sounds and lays the foundation for reading and spelling. Children are taught to blend words to form compound words, using auditory strategies and visual clues.

The programme is accompanied by a THRASS chart, which offers a choice of phonemes for specific sounds. This chart has become known as the “periodic table” of language. The programme also teaches correct letter formation, to encourage neat and legible handwriting.

THRASS is implemented from Grade 0 and continues in the Junior Primary phase. The children learn the phonemes alongside the relevant grapheme with raps and songs.

Learning support

In the Junior School, our learning support team consists of two educational psychologists, Heidi Burkhalter and Lara Rammutla, and an intern, Carmen Schoeman. We work holistically with all members of the school in the area of learning and development. 

Our role is to collaborate with members of staff and private therapists (occupational, physiotherapy, remedial and speech and language), to ensure the wellbeing of each of our girls.