The Core Curriculum

Our Junior School has a proud history of academic achievement and St Catherine’s follows the curriculum guidelines as prescribed in the Australian Curriculum.

We believe in the progress of every girl and our dedicated staff are committed to ensuring girls understand their progress through feedback, guidance and encouragement of the necessary growth mindset to accept challenges and persist in their efforts to improve.

Our academic programs are sequential in nature, developing a level of rigour that ensures each girl strives for her continual improvement and captures the personalised approach of a Barbreck education. We also pride ourselves on our consultative and collaborative approach of connecting with parents to ensure information regarding their daughter’s learning plans and academic progress is comprehensively communicated.

The St Catherine’s expansive curriculum is based on Best Practice teaching and is carefully planned with our students’ knowledge, needs, interests and varying abilities in mind. It is underpinned by the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) and is both rigorous and sequential.


Students develop skills in reading and writing, speaking and listening. The program builds upon existing skills and extends the child’s interests and skills through a range of activities including story reading, shared and guided reading, word study, literature and novel studies in upper primary, handwriting, oral and aural activities and creative language work.

There is also a structured spelling program, literature work and a focus on analysis and comprehension of different texts. Students are exposed to a variety of genres through their writing and reading experiences. Public speaking and various speaking opportunities are introduced as they move through the School.


Students learn mathematical concepts related to Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Probability and Statistics. There is a focus on using concrete aids before moving to the visual and abstract representations to ensure students have a thorough understanding of the mathematical concepts/skills they are learning. The application of their knowledge and skills to solve problems is a key outcome of the mathematics program.

Students learn through a range of activities and develop mental strategies and written skills, mathematical knowledge and use relevant technological skills such as calculators and computer programs.

The Humanities and the Social Sciences (HASS)

Topics are based on the current Humanities and Social Sciences in the Australian Curriculum. It aims to ensure that students develop:

  • ‘a sense of wonder, curiosity and respect about places, people, cultures and systems throughout the world, past and present, and an interest in and enjoyment of the study of these phenomena
  • key historical, geographical, civic and economic knowledge of people, places, values and systems, past and present, in local to global contexts
  • an understanding and appreciation of historical developments, geographic phenomena, civic values and economic factors that shape society, influence sustainability and create a sense of belonging
  • the capacity to use inquiry methods and skills, including questioning, researching using reliable sources, analysing, evaluating and communicating’.


Students create artworks that draw upon play and imagination and the artworks of renown artists. They are introduced to a variety of simple drawing, painting, printmaking, textile and collage, modelling and construction techniques, materials and tools. The building of skills in the Art area is apparent through a sequential developmental curriculum framework. The resultant artworks are displayed and used as a means for communication. Through activity and discussion, your daughter will be assisted in her development of an appreciation for Art and be capable of expressing her ideas about various art movements and techniques, as appropriate to her age.


The Barbreck Music program uses the Kodaly and Orff approach to Music education to develop an understanding of basic concepts used to create music. Students learn about the elements of Music such as beat, rhythm, pitch and simple music structures by being actively engaged in sequential choral, movement and instrumental programs.

Our classroom Music program is enhanced by opportunities to learn specific instruments at designated year levels such as violin In Year 2, recorders in Year 4 and the band program in Years 5 and 6.

The development of her voice is a key focus of the Music programs that incorporates a range of choirs across the primary years, Prep- Year 2 Choir, Years 3 and 4 Choir, and Years 5 and 6 Choir.

The instrumental, band and choir programs are included in the weekly timetabled suite of lessons.

Health and Physical Education

Health and physical education are key components of the Junior School program.

In Years P-4, students are timetabled for two physical education lessons and one health lesson per week.

In Year 5-6, the girls are timetabled for one physical education lesson and two sports lessons where they either learn the sports or compete against other schools, and one unit of health across the year.

Students develop gross motor skills through a wide range of activities including running, skipping, hopping and jumping. They also develop their aquatic skills through swimming sessions. The number of swimming sessions throughout the year varies according to the needs of the physical education program and varies across Year levels.

The Perceptual Motor Program (PMP) for Years Prep and 1 is conducted weekly throughout Terms 2 and 3 for Prep. These sessions provide opportunities for simple team games that emphasise co-operation and listening skills as well as fundamental motor skills development. As our girls move into the higher levels, they are introduced to sports

  • Years 3 and 4 have optional after school sport on Mondays.
  • Years 5 and 6 have compulsory after school sport on Tuesdays.

The Physical Education program incorporates units on a range of sports such as Hockey, Netball, Soccer, Handball, Basketball, Volleystars, Softball, and Cricket.


Students learn to read, write, speak and listen to the French language in a sequential program, The French program in the Junior School utilises the AIM methodology and combines the teaching of vocabulary, grammar, oral and written language skills at age-appropriate levels of complexity.

High levels of importance are placed upon French oral interaction during class time, and students are supported towards the use of contextual French at all times. Students collaborate with staff to ensure that meaning, purpose and skill retention are all ingredients of an effective and interesting program. Students at all levels learn grammatical structures implicitly, with more attention given to the explicit teaching of grammatical rules at more senior levels.


The Barbreck Library is the hub of School, encouraging students to read for pleasure, expanding their horizons and building empathy. It enables them to see the world through others’ experiences and to find answers to the issues they may face as children and young adults. The library has a wide collection of resources, including fiction and non-fiction books, E-books and audible. The weekly library sessions support various educational programs and project-based learning to develop students’ skills in locating, researching and using information. The library runs events and competitions throughout the year to promote reading and literature. The Children’s Book Week Celebrations are a highlight for both students and teachers.

Science and STEM

The Junior School STEM program is diverse and engaging, enabling students explore the world around them in new ways. Students participate in learning experiences that explore the five areas of Science: Biological, Chemical, Earth and Space, Physical, and Science as a Human Endeavour.

Embedded within these are the essential elements of Design and Technology. A major component is the development of thinking skills and strategies that align with both the design and scientific process. Students engage as critical and creative thinkers, and questioners ready to problem solve and tackle challenges.

Academic Extension

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is of critical importance to developing women of the future who will live and work in the 21st Century.

Our Junior School STEM program challenges every girl to apply learning from across many disciplines into practical, problem-based scenarios. This program supports students to design and carry out their own open-ended science investigation and technology projects.

The Maths Extension Program encourages Years 5 and 6 students to develop a breadth and depth of mathematical understanding. The Extension Program enables the exploration of challenging mathematical problems and aims to nurture enthusiasm for mathematics while ensuring students develop their analytical and problem solving skills.