At secondary level, your child’s learning focuses on the development of more complex and sophisticated thinking in areas of logical reasoning, critical analysis and reflection, creative thinking and problem-solving.
The emphasis is on fostering your child’s independence as a learner and further developing their ability to organise ideas and information, and apply practical skills as appropriate. They will be encouraged to participate in situations and problems that relate to real life, and to work with the local community and other useful resources outside the school. In addition, they will explore and identify possible pathways for future learning.
The student is at the centre of all learning arrangements in Catholic schools. Catholic schools recognise that students are individuals, each with diverse learning needs.
Teachers design learning experiences that are responsive to the different ways in which students achieve their best.
Deep learning and powerful teaching
In their approach to learning, teachers in Catholic schools:
- aim to maximise growth and progress for all students
- enable students to develop deep understandings about the world and how to operate effectively in that world
- build capacity for lifelong learning
- use questions and issues as drivers for learning
- create flexible learning opportunities in response to the different ways in which students learn and achieve their best
- encourage effective use of technologies to deepen and accelerate student learning, both inside and outside school
- encourage learners to think and work creatively, explore and experiment, plan and reflect, communicate and collaborate
- create learning opportunities in different environments within and beyond the classroom.
Our schools provide facilities that enable your child to use and develop skills in various technologies, as well as to learn in engaging and effective ways.
Our secondary school curriculum
The curriculum is planned carefully to ensure the development of the whole child, including intellectual, spiritual, physical, emotional and social dimensions.
The curriculum is based on the dignity of the human person, a culture of community, and a commitment to social justice and service for the common good. It is designed to prepare students to be lifelong learners who can respond creatively to the challenges of the future, including rapid developments in science and technology, the environment, global activity and social change.
All our schools meet the curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements set by the Victorian and Australian governments. Catholic schools base their curriculum on the Victorian Curriculum F–10, including Towards Foundation Levels A–D, which sets out what every student should learn during their first 11 years of schooling.
The curriculum is the common set of knowledge and skills required by students for lifelong learning, social development, and active and informed citizenship. The Victorian Curriculum F–10 incorporates the Australian Curriculum, and reflects Victorian priorities and standards.
For more information on the Victorian Curriculum, see https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au.
Some Catholic secondary schools offer the International Baccalaureate, which includes its Middle Years Programme (students aged 11 to 16) and Diploma Programme (students aged 16 to 19).
Our schools invite and support students to discover God’s presence in their daily lives. Within a gospel-centred environment, students are challenged and supported to understand themselves and the world in which they live through a world view founded in Scripture and in the traditions of the Catholic community − its stories, its worship, its experiences and its teachings.
Religious education is at the centre of the Catholic school curriculum, and is reflected in a visible Catholic symbolic culture and active sacramental and liturgical practice. Religious education explores students’ life experiences in the context of Church teachings and tradition. Participation in religious education is compulsory for all students in all of our schools.
Christian education in sexuality
Our schools are encouraged to design their own program in positive human relationships and human sexuality in line with the universal teaching of the Church, based on the particular character of the local community and in partnership with parents.
The study of English helps create confident communicators, imaginative thinkers and informed citizens. It is through the study of English that individuals learn to analyse, understand, communicate and build relationships with others and the world around them. English helps students become ethical, thoughtful, informed and active members of society. It also helps students to engage imaginatively and critically with literature to expand the scope of their experience.
English teaching promotes continuity of literacy learning from primary to secondary schooling and supports literacy in the senior secondary years. Our schools monitor student literacy achievement and use results to plan for students’ distinct learning needs. Where necessary, teachers use specially designed intervention programs to consolidate basic understanding in English.
Mathematics provides students with essential mathematical skills and knowledge in number and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability. It develops the numeracy capabilities that all students need in their personal, work and social lives, and provides the fundamentals on which mathematical specialties and professional applications of mathematics are built.
Our schools monitor student mathematical achievement and use results to plan for students’ distinct learning needs. Teachers target learning experiences to develop understanding, as well as consolidate and extend the mathematical knowledge and skills of all students at their point of need.
Science provides an empirical way of answering interesting and important questions about the biological, physical and technological world. The knowledge it produces has proved to be a reliable basis for action in our personal, social and economic lives. Science is a dynamic, collaborative and creative human endeavour arising from our desire to make sense of our world through exploring the unknown, investigating universal mysteries, making predictions and solving problems.
All students need to appreciate the significance of science for the long-term future of our society.
The language learning experience in secondary schools builds on the progress of student growth and achievement in primary schools. It is designed to enable all students to successfully engage in learning a language in addition to English. Languages education aims to develop the knowledge and transferable skills to ensure students become effective communicators in the target language, and understand the deep relationship between language and culture. Language studies enhance student literacy skills and knowledge of systems of language, supporting them to understand themselves as communicators and develop intercultural capability.
For details of programs offered by the Victorian School of Languages, see www.vsl.vic.edu.au.
Health and physical education
Health and physical education teaches students how to enhance their own and others’ health, safety, wellbeing and physical activity in varied and changing contexts. The health and physical education learning area has strong foundations in scientific fields such as physiology, nutrition, biomechanics and psychology, which inform what we understand about healthy, safe and active choices. Health and physical education offers students an experiential curriculum that is contemporary, relevant, challenging, enjoyable and physically active.
Our schools promote the development of a healthy lifestyle by providing a well-organised and active environment in which students can participate in a wide range of sports and physical activities. As well as improving fitness, participation in sport and physical education at all levels develops a sense of fair play, self-confidence and an ability to work with others as part of a team.
The humanities learning area comprises history, geography, economics and business, and civics and citizenship.
History aims to ensure that students develop knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society.
Geography focuses on characteristics of places that make up our world, using the concepts of place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability, scale and change.
Economics and business enables students to understand the process of economic and business decision-making and its effects on them and others, now and in the future.
Civics and citizenship enables students to investigate political and legal systems, and explore the nature of citizenship, diversity and identity in contemporary society.
The arts are a vital part of secondary school experiences. The learning area enables exploration of the dynamic relationships between the five arts subjects: dance, drama, media arts, music and visual arts. This can involve students making and responding to artworks in traditional, contemporary and emerging forms, and using materials, techniques and technologies from one arts subject to support learning in another. Within all arts subjects, design facilitates the creative and practical realisation of ideas.
This learning area encourages students to apply their knowledge, practical skills and processes when using technologies and other resources to create innovative solutions, independently and collaboratively, that meet current and future needs. The technologies learning area includes design and technology and digital technologies.
Capabilities are explicitly taught and developed in Catholic schools, supporting students to manage their own wellbeing, relate well to others and make informed decisions about their lives. Students develop into citizens who behave with ethical integrity, relate to and communicate with people and across cultures, think creatively and critically, work for the common good, and act with responsibility at local, regional and global levels.
These capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.
As part of the curriculum, your child may complete one or two weeks of work experience. This is usually offered in Year 10, but is not restricted to that year level.
While on work experience, students are able to observe different aspects of work and assist with tasks allocated by their supervisor. This opportunity provides students with a greater understanding of the world of work, as well as helping to improve their communication and organisational skills.
Employers also benefit from work experience because they are able to build closer relationships with Catholic schools and the local community.
For more information, see https://www2.education.vic.gov.au/pal/work-experience/policy.
Leadership and peer support programs
Where opportunities are available, students are encouraged to be involved in student representative councils (SRCs) and programs within their local community.
There are several leadership and peer support programs in schools to encourage self-awareness and personal development. Although official leadership positions won’t be held by all students, they may be recognised as leaders through role modelling and engagement in the school community. Mentoring systems, where older students support younger students, are common in schools and have two main benefits – the older student learns to take on leadership and responsibility, while the younger student knows they have another student at school to whom they can turn for assistance.
Student study tours and exchanges
Exposure to international cultures and experiences has a positive effect on students and teachers in today’s global society. Many of our schools offer students the opportunity to participate in short-term international study tours. This is often linked to the study of a language or to an experience which will enhance social awareness and a deeper understanding of social justice. These tours are undertaken by individual schools.
Every year around 1,000 Victorian students enjoy the benefits of exchange programs. You may contact your child’s school for more information.