Through our theme of connect, create and challenge, which is threaded throughout Junior School learning, Reception students at St John’s Grammar learn to soar through inquiry-based learning, discovery, creativity and co-curricular opportunities. We offer smaller-sized, single year level classes with dedicated, Home Group teachers to ensure individual attention.
With two Reception entry points in Term 1 and Mid-Year, we ensure a supported and inclusive transition for students as they begin their Junior School journey.
Throughout the year, a formal buddy program sees the Receptions partnered with Year 3 or 4 buddies, who support them through a new world of learning and discovery.
The core curriculum includes English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, Technology and Health Education, taught by classroom teachers. A specialist subject program is taught by specialist teachers in the areas of Music, the Arts, Physical Education and Indonesian.
Using educational theories and practices, such as Edward de Bono’s six hat thinking model, our highly qualified and experienced teachers show students how to think about and solve problems, developing skills in lifelong learning. St John’s Grammar offers differentiated programs and workshops based on ability, with Student Services Officer support to ensure each child has an opportunity to learn at their pace and achieve success.
The use of iPads supports students in their learning for phonics, reading, Maths and writing. Classrooms are also equipped with interactive whiteboards.
Our Junior School connects with our families and community by using technology, such as Seesaw to showcase and share student work and achievement, and our Receptions have a number of unique signature experiences to provide a rounded educational journey.
Learning through play
Guided Inquiry in Reception to Year 2 further provides the structure for students to learn through play. Recognised as an important focus of the Early Years Learning Framework, there are four dedicated double lessons per week for Guided Inquiry. These sessions see numerous learning/inquiry zones set up within each classroom to focus on different learning areas.
As well as learning through play, Guided Inquiry allows students to shine at what interests them, develop relationships with other students and test their theories while providing early enterprise experience.
Structured, natural inquiry with Belair National Park
With our campus adjacent to Belair National Park, a structured natural inquiry program sees our Receptions have one session per week at Belair National Park where they work with the Natural Resource Management Board and Belair National Park rangers to collect seeds to revegetate an area for the native bandicoots.
This opportunity to learn in the Park adds a richness to our learning by providing unparalleled opportunities for children to learn; not only from an Environmental Science perspective through observing seasons, lifecycles, landscapes and habitats but also opportunities for calculated risk taking and resilience as they play amongst the natural environment.
Signature experience for Reception students
Our Receptions have a number of unique programs and initiatives as part of their schooling experience.
Some of these opportunities include the Environmental Science seed propogation project with the NRM Board and Belair National Park and a social conscience initiative to raise funds and provide food to the charity, Beacon.
Receptions also enjoy a dedicated Swimming Week and they also take part in the Junior Primary Fun Day which sees them converge on Belair National Park for a day of exploration, play and fun at the end of Terms 1 and 3. A book making project in partnership with Blackwood Library provides an opportunity to solidify new literacy skills and further encourage of love of sharing stories, reading and writing.
Learning in the community is at the forefront of the Reception journey with students undertaking excursions to the Adelaide Central Market, Bonython Park, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Migration Museum, South Australian Museum, Mitcham Shopping Centre and Mitcham Library.
LIteracy and numeracy focus in Reception
The Junior Campus places great importance on the teaching of numeracy and literacy, and a dedicated Maths Support and Extension teacher is engaged to tutor smaller groups with individualised attention and guidance according to student needs.
In Reception, differentiated programs and workshops based on ability help with the explicit teaching of foundational literacy and numeracy concepts.
In practice, this involves our Reception students using Phonics Hero to identify common sounds for all letters and incorporate them in their writing. To aid in the development of writing skills, students are explicitly taught how to recount and structure narrative, how to report and to undertake descriptive writing through the Learning Teams program. Bookmaking in partnership with Blackwood Library further encourages a love of writing and stories. Our aim is to have students reading at level 5-10 by the end of the year.
Our goal for Numeracy, on the other hand, is for Reception students to be able to identify and use numbers up to 20. We achieve this through the use of the Matific program which provides personalised, interactive learning that engages students in games and activities to teach core tenets of numeracy while providing real-time reporting back to teachers to further engage and personalise learning.
Our Receptions also take part in our Maths Teams program. This is a weekly needs-based Maths differentiation program where students break into smaller teams to work on Maths problem solving. Class teachers support the mainstream learners, with students needing extra scaffolding supported by SSOs and students needing extension supported by specialist teachers.
Differentiated Learning program
Across Reception to Year 6 we offer a Differentiated Learning program which is aimed at ensuring every child has the opportunity to soar.
Differentiated Learning provides small, targeted learning groups based on ability to help with the explicit teaching of foundational literacy and numeracy concepts. This approach allows class teachers support the mainstream learners, with extra scaffolding for students who need it to be provided by Student Support Officers (SSO) and specialist teachers able to provide extension for those students requiring it.
Creating a learning environment that is nurturing and contributes to the development of students’ self-esteem and enthusiasm for ongoing literacy and numeracy learning is the outcome of our Differentiated Learning framework.
We have developed a unique and comprehensive genre-based literacy program called Learning Teams and a rigorous, synthetic phonics program called Spelling Teams.
Learning Teams is a small-group initiative that focuses specifically on the development of writing skills such as: planning, organising ideas when writing, applying grammar, self and peer editing, reflection and applying feedback. Specialised, student-friendly genre templates and rubrics help engage and demystify the assessment and feedback process.
The Spelling Team program explicitly teaches students how to segment and blend words. This program is underpinned by the Letters and Sounds Framework. Letters and Sounds is a systematic, high-quality phonics program based on best practice from international research. From Reception right through to Year 6, the Letters and Sounds Framework methodically teaches each sound in depth across every phase. The aim is to give enough time and practice to support your child to transfer their new spelling learning into their everyday writing.
Both programs provide targeted learning groups to allow class teachers support the mainstream learners, with extra scaffolding for students who need it to be provided by SSOs and specialist teachers able to provide extension for those students requiring it.
To further support literacy learning, our Phonemic Awareness Program helps students identify syllables, onset rime and phonemes. Developing such skills is a precursor for reading success and gives students extra advantage in developing and consolidating this fundamental literacy skill during their formative years. Lastly, Decodable Readers dovetail with our Phonemic Awareness Program and Letters and Sounds approach of teaching our students how to decode words for meaning.
Our approach to numeracy in the Junior School has been led by research into the highest-ranking countries for numeracy knowledge in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
Following best-practice education, we have introduced the PR1ME Maths program for our Year 1-6 students. This program has been modified to complement the content and outcomes of our Australian Mathematics Curriculum at each year level. It promotes a CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) approach whereby students learn through the use of hands-on materials, then transfer that knowledge to pictures or images before cementing the concepts by recording in symbols. The sequenced curriculum also focuses on teaching concepts in the correct order for maximum understanding and retention. Teachers continue to use traditional pencil and paper assessments, observation and group work to assess student capabilities as well as digital assessments to inform the personalisation of the programs and teaching.
The PR1ME program is complemented by the Matific program. Matific offers an interactive teaching and learning platform for Reception to Year 4 students. This learning resource engages students in games and activities in a fun way using digital technology with teachers able to differentiate the learning experience by assigning activities to suit the abilities of individual students.
The Maths Teams program also sees students undertake weekly problem solving challenges in targeted learning groups. Of the eight Numeracy lessons each week, two of those lessons are dedicated to Maths Teams problem solving and incorporate a growth mindset approach. The challenges are open-ended and are designed to develop and promote verbal and written reasoning of Maths.
Targeted learning groups see class teachers support the mainstream learners, with students needing extra scaffolding being supported by SSOs and students needing extension being supported by specialist teachers. Our smaller student-to-teacher ratio enables teachers to carefully monitor and assist each student with recording their thinking and sharing of their understanding.
Supporting our learners
An ELC to Year 12 Wellbeing Framework is further supported by our CARES program (courtesy, awareness, responsibility, empathy and service) and Program Achieve. Commencing with the Bright Beginnings wellbeing program during the first two weeks of term 1, students are set up to start school with their best foot forward and equipped with skills, knowledge and a positive attitude to be successful in all areas of School life.
The Wings program, which spearheads our Whole School Wellbeing Program, teaches age and stage appropriate social and emotional learning to enable students to better manage their relationships with themselves and others. The wellbeing concepts and strategies are taught by a specialist teacher.
We offer SSO supported individual and small, targeted group sessions for students needing extra scaffolding in their learning as well as many opportunities for high achievers to be extended.
An overall focus on individualised learning for all ensures students have a tailored learning journey to build ability and confidence.
Extra curricular activities in Reception
Receptions have access to a number of extra-curricular opportunities after school on our School grounds including netball skills, Auskick, Dance, Cricket and 22Too, a gymnastics and acrobatics program.
A number of special lunch time special-interest clubs are available to all students, including a Lego club, gardening club, art club, coding club and more.
Facilities at our Junior School
Standing proud for 60 years, St John’s Grammar Junior School is located in the Adelaide Hills, adjacent Belair National Park with picturesque views of the Mount Lofty Ranges.
Our well resourced Junior School Campus comprises individual classrooms catering for each year level, including a learning support/extension centre, a multi-purpose School activity hall, specialist Music and Language classrooms and our signature Centre for Creativity.
Students have access to a resource centre, which incorporates our award winning library, a dedicated art room, and a media room equipped with a green screen and an array of recording and media equipment.
The centre also houses a multipurpose room that provides a myriad of additional uses and opportunities for collaborative learning, specialist presentations and workshops, co-curricular activities and ‘out of class’ learning experiences.
A purpose built all-weather sporting field and courts provide a useable surface for sporting activities and play all year round, and a variety of outdoor spaces include two well-equipped playgrounds, vegetable gardens, sand and mud pits, and a ‘Play Pod’.
Our Play Pod is an exciting initiative where students use a variety of materials to build, create, learn and have fun during recess and lunch as they play in a beautiful setting at the edge of Belair National Park, where they can enjoy regular access to the Park’s rich natural resources, amenities and sporting facilities.
The Enterprise precinct, Nature playscape and student designed and managed Scientific Garden feature prominently in the daily educational offering for our children.