Teaching and Learning

The following information outlines the current programs that focus on specific aspects of teaching and learning at St Mary’s Cathedral College. These programs have been created to address current areas of need in student learning, and to assist in the Professional development of teaching staff.

DEAR – ‘Drop everything and read’ program

This is a compulsory reading program that requires ALL students in the College to read a novel for 20 minutes each morning before the administration period. This program aims to support and build the literacy skills of all students.
The Learning Support Department also uses DEAR to provide intensive reading support for identified students in Year 7. Each of these students is assigned a buddy in Year 10 who assists the student’s literacy development by listening to them read and helping them with the comprehension activities that are part of the reading program.


At the College, all Stage 3, 4, 5 & 6 students are given an opportunity to consolidate and extend their literacy skills. Staff teaching Stages 4, 5 and 6, are well rehearsed in the teaching of a consistent format for paragraph writing (PEEL) and work toward comprehensive extended writing and essay skills.


PEEL has been a proven and reliable method of writing that all students across the curriculum can access in the formation of paragraph writing, and eventually essay writing.
At SMCC, members of staff comprise the Literacy PLC, and meet regularly to discuss literacy strategies and share ‘best practice’.

Year 7 enjoy Project Based Learning, one lesson a week, where students focus on a question or problem, then answer the question or solve the problem through a collaborative process of investigation over an extended period of time.

The aim is to develop students’ critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, and foster a love of learning. Students are offered STEM opportunities, while others might engage in the more creative projects. Projects include:

  • Design a basketball shooter
  • Design a dream home
  • Strava

NAPLAN/Allwell Test results

The Colleges uses all data, especially that generated from external exams, to inform teaching practices. Results from NAPLAN and Allwell tests are used to:

  • inform and provide teachers with specific information in relation to their students in order to understand current needs
  • aid professional development of KLA coordinators in relation to the NAPLAN package
  • aid professional development of all staff to engage with the data and implement effective teaching strategies in response.

Teaching Environment: Classrooms

Continue to encourage changes and flexibility to basic classroom set-up to support changing teaching strategies and increased student-centred teaching practices, and the use of Bloom’s taxonomy and student engagement.


  • All staff at the College has an iMac computer and all classrooms are fitted with projectors to support teaching and learning.
  • The school also currently has smart boards fitted in the Stage 4 classrooms.
  • The College will commence their BYOD program in 2018 for students in Year 7. Mac Airs are the designated devices for Years 8-12 and iPads being the designated device for Primary.
  • There is a continual focus and support for teaching strategies that support computer use and there are programs in place, such as Project learning, changing classroom environments & i-learning projects.

Diverse Learning

At St Mary’s Cathedral College the Diverse Learning staff collaborate with all teachers, parents, Sydney Catholic Schools, Allied Services and students, to promote and foster a comprehensive inclusive school culture and to support students with diverse learning needs. The Diverse Learning initiatives at the college are all undertaken with commitment to enhancing holistic learning experiences and opportunities for all students on the continuum, inclusive of students with gifts and talents, through to students with additional and different learning support needs. All initiatives are founded in principles of inclusive practices ad endeavour to facilitate curriculum access and participation and student wellbeing.

Diverse Learning at the college is committed to:

  • Collaboration with stakeholders to implement, monitor and review Individualised and Personalised Planning for students with diverse needs
  • Provision of targeted support to students, teachers and families to support educational goals
  • Ensure currency and sharing of information to support students’ learning growth
  • Undertake initiatives to support students, to build collective teacher capacity, and to provide targeted interventions to respond to diverse student needs