Teaching & Learning

St John's Primary School Clifton Hill

Our students and their individual learning needs are at the heart of everything that we do at St John’s. Our classrooms are alive with quality teaching and strategic, needs-based learning. Our students are engaged, focused and secure in their personalised learning environments, where relationships are nurtured to ensure that every child embarks on their most rewarding academic journey, in safe and productive learning environments.

We teach every child from their point of need, supporting learning challenges and making authentic links to our local and community. It is our vision to see our students progress to secondary school with the appropriate tools for deep thinking and learning and with a solid understanding of themselves as a learner. 

Quality learning at St John’s provides opportunities for whole-class explicit learning (Tell me), smaller needs-based groups (Show me) followed by independent opportunities (Let me) designed to develop and scaffold a resilient, problem solving and inquiring mind and teach learning skills necessary for school and life beyond.

Our approach in the classroom is to provide each child with the opportunity to reach their potential in a supported and inspiring contemporary learning setting. Our contemporary learning spaces are stimulating and inspiring aiming to meet the varied needs of our students. 


Literacy and Numeracy are our high priority learning areas, as the skills and concepts developed during these core areas strengthen learning across the whole curriculum. Wellbeing and Learning Diversity team, our Tutor program and our Literacy and Maths Leader.


Visible Learning

  • Learning at St John’s Primary School is made visible for our students. We are deliberate in ensuring thatstudent achievement – students know what they are learning (Learning Intention), where their learning is going, how they are going to get there (quality teaching and learning feedback cycle) and when they have reached their goals (Success Criteria).

  • Learning through our Learning Powers of curiosity, resilience, creativity, connections, self awareness, reflection and collaboration.


At St John's we are committed to connecting our faith with our daily life and culture, in the education of the whole child. We aim to nurture all aspects of their physical, social, emotional, cognitive, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing.

Our St John’s vision celebrates our Catholic identity and is based on the fundamental belief that life is sacred. We strive to live as Jesus taught us as we pass on our Catholic tradition.

We play a vital role within the Parish of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Collingwood and Clifton Hill. The school looks to honour the values of respect and responsibility, courage and compassion, service and loyalty that lie at the heart of our community.



Literacy conventionally refers to reading, writing, speaking, viewing, and listening effectively in a range of contexts. In the 21st century, the definition of literacy has expanded to refer to a flexible, sustainable mastery of a set of capabilities in the use and production of traditional texts and new communications technologies using spoken language, print and multimedia.


Students need to be able to adjust and modify their use of language to better meet contextual demands in varying situations and learn how language enables people to interact effectively, to build and maintain their relationships, and to express and exchange their knowledge, skills, attitudes, feelings, and opinions.

The study of English is built around three interrelated strands that support students’ growing understanding and use of English: language, literature and literacy.


The teaching of literacy at St John’s is explicit, evidenced informed and research based. Our Preps begin their phonics learning through explicit teaching guided by the Jolly Phonics and THRASS program. This occurs daily and continues in a consistent, needs based approach until Year 2.

The Jolly Phonics (Prep to  Year Two)  is a thorough foundation for reading and writing. It is fun, kinesthetic, child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is highly motivating.

At St John’s, we have implemented the whole school THRASS and SMART Spelling approach, from Prep to Year 6, to initially teach, then reinforce and practice reading and spelling skills. 



At St John’s we believe that key ideas are central to the learning of mathematics, as they link many 

Mathematical understandings in a whole. This supports our students to connect and relate ideas and strategies together.


We develop the students numeracy capabilities to deal confidently and competently with daily life. We encourage students to become self-motivated, confident learners through inquiry and active participation in challenging and engaging experiences. 


Our maths lessons:

  • include open ended questions where children are thinking, reasoning and communicating

  • support and enrich children in their learning

  • develop childrens’ number sense and understanding of number concepts and operations

  • encourage children to talk about their learning during maths activities

  • provide opportunities for children to reflect on their learning through sharing and reflection time at the conclusion of each lesson

  • use materials and technology to support children in their learning

  • link mathematics to real life experiences and investigations 

  • use ongoing assessment to inform our teaching and plan for individual student needs

  • are creative, fun and challenging. 


Learning mathematics creates opportunities for and enriches the lives of all Australians. Mathematics has its own value and beauty. Mathematical ideas have evolved across all cultures over thousands of years, and are constantly developing.


Personalising Learning

At St John’s it is our role to empower learners by: 

  • celebrating difference and 

  • providing educational opportunities that eliminating discrimination

  • focused on growth and progress for all. 

(Horizons of Hope - MACS)

At St. John’s we recognise that every student’s academic, physical, social and emotional learning needs are different to those of their peers.  Every student & their family should expect the right to access a full and engaging education on the same basis as their peers. 

At St. John’s we want every student to experience learning success.


Social Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning is a core component of our weekly curriculum as we nurture and value the connection between social and emotional wellbeing and academic success. Student Wellbeing discussions form the basis of every Staff and Professional Team Meeting as we share a whole school understanding that in knowing the needs of our students, we can more effectively cater to their individual needs.

To nurture the safe, secure and respected learning environment we implement the following programs and initiatives:

  • University of Melbourne SEL Curriculum - Rights, Responsibilities & Respectful Relationships

  • Restorative practices for conflict resolution such as Circle Time.

  • School Wide Positive Behaviour program including Student Merit & “Gotcha” Awards

  • Drug education

  • Water Safety

  • Student leadership and Student representative council (SRC)

  • Orientation to school (for new students and their families)

  • Buddy program (prep- 6)

  • Transition to secondary school (for Yr 6)

  • Personalised transition programs for students with additional needs.

Languages - French

In 2021, we welcome French to our LOTE (Languages Other Than English) program. Our program is culturally immersive, aiming to teach our students basic French language skills whilst exploring the culture and history of France and celebrating important French events. Learning is experiential, hands on and engages many aspects of the curriculum - for example, The Arts, History and Geography.


The Arts - Visual Art

At St John’s the Visual Arts program is embedded in our Inquiry Curriculum across all strands. The Arts forms an integral and valuable part of student learning and responding at all levels, and across all areas of learning.


Therefore, every classroom teacher at St John’s is an Art Teacher, providing students with the opportunity to express their knowledge, ideas and feelings in an individual and expressive way. Students learn to respond constructively to the artwork of others in association with developing the language of visual arts. 

Our students develop their visual art language around artistic elements such as; line, shape, colour and texture to enhance their own awareness of art creation and appreciation. 

  • Teaching through the arts can present difficult concepts visually, making them more easy to understand.

  • Art instruction helps children with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness.

  • Visual arts teach learners about color, layout, perspective, and balance: all techniques that are necessary in presentations (visual, digital) of academic work.

  • Integrating art with other disciplines reaches students who might not otherwise be engaged in classwork.

  • Arts experiences boost critical thinking, teaching students to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world.

  • The arts provide challenges for learners at all levels.

  • Art education connects students with their own culture as well as with the wider world.



St John’s students engage in an engaging, hands on, dedicated science lesson each week.

Learning is centered around Biological, Chemical, Earth, Space and Physical Science, underpinned by critical and creative thinking skills. Scientific learning opportunities provide our students with understanding, knowledge and skills which aims to inform their scientific views of the world. 

Through Biological science our students investigate living systems, explore life cycles, body systems, structural adaptations and the behaviours of living things, seeking to make connections between these features and how they aid in survival. 

In Chemical Science our students are challenged to develop an understanding of the composition and behaviour of substances, classify substances based on their structural properties, explore physical changes and investigate how chemical reactions result in the production of new substances. 

Earth and Space science encourage students to explore Earth’s place in space, how day and night occurs and why we have different seasons.

In Physical science our students develop their understanding of the nature of forces and motion,  investigate motion is influenced by different forces and develop their understanding of the concept of energy and how it can be transferred and transformed.



Digital Technology enables students to become confident, creative and respectful developers of digital solutions through the application of information systems and specific ways of thinking about problem solving. Students acquire a deep knowledge and understanding of digital systems, data and information and the processes associated with creating digital solutions so they can take up an active role in meeting current and future needs.


St John’s students participate in a one hour weekly specialist class in Digital Technologies, learning and practising skills and knowledge that are embedded into other curriculum areas. The school has a Digital Technologies lab and students have a range of hardware to use including laptop computers,  1-1 Chromebooks, iPads and robotic coding equipment such as Ozobots. 


Physical Education & Health

At St John’s, our students participate in a twice weekly Physical Education classes; one with a specialist Physical Education teacher and one with their individual classroom teacher. ​Our Preps & Year 1 students also participate in weekly PMP (Perceputal Motor Program) improve their eye/hand and eye/foot coordination, fitness, balance, locomotion and eye-tracking skills.


Our junior Physical Education program provides students with the opportunity to strengthen their understanding and awareness of body space through movement and games, learn and develop their fundamental motor skills of throwing, catching, running and striking.

Our senior Physical Education program aims to refine our students’ fitness skills and develop an awareness of their own strengths and challenges, provide opportunities to practice and conduct an awareness of "fair play" through sport development and the umpiring of games, learn about tactics and strategies through the creation and participate in minor games, develop skills for more positive engagement.

All students participate in our Annual School Athletics Carnival. Senior Students have the opportunity to represent the school in Inter-School athletics, Swimming and Cross Country.

​Year 5 & 6 students compete in Inter-School sporting opportunities against other schools.


District & Interschool Sports

At St John's students in Years 5 and 6 participate in Interschool Sports as part of the Carlton District School Sports Association.  The program runs throughout Terms 2 and 4 on a weekly basis allowing students to practise the skills for a range of different sports including; T-Ball, Netball, Soccer, AFL, European Handball, and Basketball and apply them to modified game situations. Along with the summer and winter inter school sports competitions, our Year 4 - 6 students have the opportunity to represent the school at a district level in cross-country and athletics. 

Learning Highlights 


Class Masses

Parish based Sacramental program

Whole school Masses

Morning and afternoon prayer

Christian Mediation 

Strong Parish connections

Social Justice Focus

Child and Adult Faith Nights



Maths Olympiads & Games

Tournament of the Minds

Year 5/6 Camps


Transition Programs

Buddy Programs

Lunchtime Activities

Cybersafety awareness

The Resilience Project


Bounce Back


Twilight Sports

Sporting School

Interschool Sports

School Swimming

Disctrict Cross Country

District Athletics

District Swimming



Visual Arts Show / School Production (alternating) 

Music Program

Book Week Activities

Lunchtime Painting Club


Becoming 'hands-on' learners about sustainability

Taking responsibility (with support) for composting & worm farm

Nurturing our veggie patch

Learning about plant and animal life cycles

Learning about and seeking other pathways to become a sustainable school