About Us

Background

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, North Sydney, is a Catholic systemic co-educational primary school located in North Sydney. The school is part of Our Lady of the Way Parish consisting of the churches of St Mary’s, North Sydney; St Francis Xavier, Lavender Bay; and Star of the Sea, Kirribilli. The school caters for students in Kindergarten to Year 6 and has a current enrolment of two hundred and twenty-seven students.

St Mary's has a long and proud tradition as a school, having operated on its present site since 1888. It was originally opened by the Marist Brothers with sixty five boys as students, but when numbers increased to three hundred they moved to their current site next door in 1916. The Sisters of St Joseph then ran St Mary's as a secondary school. In 1956 it became a primary school and was run by the Sisters of Mercy until 1989, when the first lay principal was appointed.

During 2010 as a result of Federal Government funding, the kinder to year 4 learning environments were refurbished and extended, creating greater capacity in these rooms for flexible learning spaces. As well, two new learning spaces were built for Years 5 and 6, thus ensuring the creation of flexible learning environments, reflective of twenty-first century pedagogy.

In 2011 and 2012, after a research project with UTS, our new learning environments were further enhanced with the refurnishing of Early Stage One, Stage One and Stage Three with furniture suitable to a more flexible, digital, boundary-less learning experience.

The completion of the parish and school hall in October 2012, will further add to the capacity of the school to provide additional flexible learning, gathering, recreational and performance spaces.

School Community

Students

Students attending this school come from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities. It draws most of its students from the local parish community and the immediate local area. Approximately seventeen per cent of students come from non-English speaking backgrounds. The smallness of the school promotes a caring, supportive, happy and welcoming parish school community. The school is small enough to care but big enough to dare.

Staff

The school employs twenty-seven staff comprising of sixteen teachers and eleven non-teaching staff, the latter being employed in a variety of capacities including learning support and office staff. Staff members at the school are committed to continuous improvement of teaching and learning in all facets of the school curriculum.

The staff consists of the Principal, 7 classroom teachers, administrative staff (1 secretary 5 days, 1 admin support-10 hours), Special Needs teacher (1.5 days), Intervention teacher (3 days), Gifted Education Teacher (3 days), Reading Recovery teacher (2.5 days), Teacher Librarian (2 days), library assistant (1 day), Specialist teachers (1 day)- French, Music, PE, Executive Release teachers (AP 2 days, Coordinator 1 day) and five Teacher's Aides (various hours)

Parents

There is a high degree of parental interest, support and practical involvement at St Mary's. Parents are actively informed and consulted through a variety of school opportunities and initiatives which support them in their role as partners in their child’s learning. These opportunities and initiatives include: Parent membership on the School Advisory Council and committees such as the ICT Development and Playground Committee; the Parents and Friends Association; parent contribution to the SRI, student leadership programs, staff development days, school promotion, social and fund raising events and attendance at education sessions.

The Parents and Friends Association is most supportive of the school. It actively raises and donates funds towards specific school needs as well as seeking to build community spirit.

The parents of St Mary's students have high expectations and are keen and appreciative of all efforts to inform and involve them in the teaching and learning of their children. Many parents volunteer in the classrooms and library and assist with specialist support programs. St Mary’s school has a culture that promotes engagement with parents and the wider community. The warmth and welcoming nature of the St Mary's community is often remarked upon and valued by all.

Religious Dimension

We believe that the heart of life and learning at St. Mary's School is the person and message of Jesus Christ as presented in the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church.

We believe that pastors, parents and teachers share the challenge of handing on to our students Jesus' message of joy, love, justice and peace in relevant and meaningful ways. Our school motto is: Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with our God. Our emphasis is on relevant and meaningful religious education, the development of prayer experiences, on social justice issues and the support of parish programs.

The school and parish work closely together as a positive and active team. The Parish Priest is Father Anthony Smith, SJ, and three part-time Pastoral Associates support Father in his work. The school is involved in Parish Masses as well as whole school and class Masses. Sacramental programs are Parish based. Over 40% of our school's families are actively involved in the St. Mary's Parish. Such involvement includes coordinating the liturgy for the 9.00am Family Mass on Sunday, group leaders for the Sacramental programs and the children singing in the St Mary’s Parish Children’s Choir.

Teaching and Learning at St Mary’s

St Mary’s School, as a faith and learning community, affirms the inherent dignity of each person and respects the right of all to learn. We aim to:

  • Maximise learning outcomes and opportunities for all students by acknowledging diversity, implementing an inclusive and effective school wide pedagogy, differentiated learning, intervention and gifted programs.
  • Develop creative, critical and engaged learners who effectively utilise available technologies in their learning, through programs such as robotics and multi-modal learning.
  • Empower our students to act responsibly thus make a difference personally, locally and globally through their understanding of global connectedness, environmental stewardship and involvement in sustainability and social justice projects.
  • Foster authentic, responsible student voice and leadership through our leadership programs and reflective practices.
  • Challenge students to be the best they can be and achieve high academic excellence. At St Mary’s we believe It Is Easy to Be Ordinary, We Want to Be Extraordinary.

Our teaching and learning is also informed by our beliefs:

About children, each:

  • is an individual
  • comes to school with a wide variety of experiences and learning
  • has the ability to fulfil his/her maximum potential and ability should not be underestimated
  • learns in different ways and at different levels of development
  • is responsible for and has ownership of his/her learning
  • needs a safe environment in which to learn and take risks
  • needs time for reflection and thoughtful consideration
  • learns best in a positive and encouraging environment

About learning, which:

  • occurs in a faith-filled community
  • is encouraged by high expectations
  • needs to consider the whole child
  • is a life-long journey
  • is a process
  • is a shared responsibility
  • needs to be challenging
  • should be fun, exciting, meaningful and relevant
  • should be a positive experience

About ourselves as teachers, we:

  • recognise and acknowledge the Catholic foundations upon which our school is built
  • need to be learners
  • need to model learning
  • share a partnership in learning
  • are dedicated, innovative, supportive and conscientious
  • value and recognise teaching as a vocation
  • are honest, reliable and trustworthy
  • are well-presented and well-organised
  • work effectively as a team
  • provide a bright, flexible, challenging, innovative and happy learning environment
  • have a sense of humour
  • communicate effectively and regularly with our colleagues, school leadership team and parents.

Curriculum

Provision of a curriculum tailored to the specific learning needs of our students continues to motivate our decisions relating to allocation of resources and personnel.

The school runs a number of programs aimed at ensuring students have every opportunity to reach their capacity. These include:

  1. Targeted Intervention Programs in which three teachers are employed specifically to implement a range of strategies with individuals or small groups to enhance literacy and numeracy.
  2. The Reading Recovery Program which provides eleven year one students with the opportunity to participate in the one-to-one reading lessons five days a week ensuring that at this critical stage of reading development they do not fall behind their peers.
  3. Special Education Program in which a teacher works with individual students, small groups and class teachers on modifying programs to meet the specific and identified learning needs of students.
  4. Gifted Education Program which includes the testing and identification of gifted students, curriculum differentiation, Mathematics and English extension, a mentoring program with Marist College North Shore and the Electronic Thinking Actively in Sydney Catholic Classes (e-TASCC) project with students accessing challenging online learning.

At St Mary’s Primary School, North Sydney the engagement and empowerment of learners, including teachers, through the integration of ICT across the curriculum continues to be a major focus. Thanks to the ongoing generous support of the parents, St Mary’s school is very well resourced.

Over the past five years a major focus for resource development and purchasing has been the upgrade and expansion of our technology resources and facilities. This upgrade has enabled the implementation of a number of innovative ICT projects and programs and enhanced teaching and learning at the school including: robotics, multi-media, laptop and ipad program, digital devices, i-learn projects, cine club and the integration of interactive whiteboards as an effective teaching and learning tools.