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 Maths. 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 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 hold membership in 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 the environment and the sustainability of our practices and our world. We attempt to give the girls 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 everything we offer. Your commitment to this ethos will ensure your daughter loves her school and is successful.
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.
St Mary’s adopted the Time2Read methodology for teaching reading and phonics to our girls in January 2019. We investigated different programmes but strongly believe that Time2Read meets the needs of our girls and is a good follow-on to our previous Teaching Handwriting Reading and Spelling Skills (THRASS) programme.
Time2Read empowers learners to become confident readers and spellers by developing:
- Vital skills underlying reading and spelling
- An understanding of the relationship between sounds and symbols
- All skills systematically and explicitly
Our Junior Primary girls have taken to the methodology with ease and we are delighted at the progress that they are making.
Matific is a Mathematics programme that allows learners to work and achieve at their own pace. Matific gives pupils an exciting way to learn mathematical concepts that they previously found daunting.
It is a fun, interactive and hands-on educational programme that is open to all types of learners. Matific is created with real-world stories, it develops a problem-solving mindset, is evidence based, and invites student-centred learning into the classroom.
Reading Eggs makes learning to read interesting and engaging for learners, with great online reading games and activities. Learners love the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards, which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivate them to keep exploring and learning.
Reading eggs uses five essential keys to reading success. The programme unlocks all aspects of learning to read, focusing on a core curriculum of phonics and phonemic awareness, sight words, vocabulary, comprehension and reading for meaning.
Reading through Automaticity, Vocabulary, Engagement and Orthography (RAVE-O) is a programme used within the Grades 1 and 2 classes. Groups of girls from Grades 1 to 4 are supported outside the classroom by means of this approach.
In the Junior School, our learning support team consists of two educational psychologists. This team works holistically with all members of the school in the area of learning and development.
Their role is to collaborate with members of staff and private therapists (occupational, physiotherapy, remedial, and speech and language), to ensure the well-being of each of our girls.