A number of specific programs are in place for students with special needs, we have also implemented whole-school pastoral care and support programs for the social and emotional development of students.
Individual and small group programs are developed in consultation with parents and are supported by the school's special education teacher and teacher assistants. Our special education teacher works within the classroom to help differentiate the curriculum for these children. Extra literacy support is provided for students who are identified as at risk in their learning. This is provided by teacher assistants in consultation with classroom teachers.
Positive Behaviour Support for Learning (PB4SL)
St Nicholas of Myra implements PBS4L which is an evidence-based framework that establishes understandable expectations where teachers reinforce positive behaviour. It provides a common language and purpose in relation to behaviour. The framework's aim is to improve pupil behaviour and increase learning times.
At St Nicholas we have three expectations - I am SAFE, I am RESPECTFUL, I am a LEARNER.
It is important that children are comfortable in new learning environments. The change from pre-school to kindergarten can be a daunting one, as can be the process of changing to a new grade; to ease this, we have developed a number of transition programs for students requiring extra support.
Transition to Kindergarten
Children who are entering Kindergarten in the following year, and their parents, can take part in a transition-to-school program. Parents participate in a three-phase process incorporating aspects of school, such as practical assistance of Kindergarten children, the school setting, expectations, and educational input about Religious Education, Mathematics and English.
Students attend an orientation in the Kindergarten classroom involving structured play, English activities, and singing and dancing. These activities are separate from the activities occurring with the current Kindergarten class. As part of this transition, some preschools are visited by the special education teacher for the purpose of observing enrolled students in order to best support their needs when they begin Kindergarten.
Transition between grades
At the end of the year, all children participate in class promotions to meet their new teacher for the following year.
Transition to secondary school
Each of the local Catholic secondary schools offer an orientation program for children enrolled at the school for the following year.
Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU)
The Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) Intervention Program is a research-based intervention program developed by Associate Professor Ann Gervasoni from Monash University.
In Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, EMU Intervention is the "second wave" component of the system numeracy strategy. It targets mathematically vulnerable students working with trained EMU specialist teachers.
EMU groups are the main focus of the intervention strategy. Groups of three children, identified as mathematically vulnerable, work with a trained EMU specialist teacher for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for between 10 and 20 weeks (25 - 50 hours) to accelerate their mathematical understanding so they are able to access the classroom mathematics program. These children are then tracked and monitored throughout the primary school years to ensure sustained progress.
EMU Middle Years Intervention for Years 3-6 and Years 7-8 is also run by trained EMU Specialist Teachers.
Reading Recovery is an early literacy intervention that provides one-to-one teaching for children who need greater assistance in learning to read and write following their first year of school.
Reading Recovery represents the Second Wave intervention for Literacy in the CEDP. It is an accelerated intervention focusing on individualised instruction for targeted under-achieving individuals who have not responded to quality literacy instruction in the classroom.
Reading Recovery is a daily, individualised intervention delivered by a specialist teacher that engages children in reading books and writing their own stories. It enhances the classroom reading and writing program and enables children to quickly "catch up" to the average level of their class.
Reading Recovery builds on the strengths of each child and encourages them to become independent, strategic readers and writers.
Pastoral Care Program
Pastoral care is a high priority for staff and students at St Nicholas of Myra. It is closely linked to our Religious Education program and Student Management policy.
We use a buddy program with Kindergarten and Year 5, and Year 1 and Year 6. This creates opportunities to promote care, respect and responsibility in students. The school counsellor provides support for students and parents who may be experiencing difficulties. The school also works to support local charities such as St Vincent de Paul, in collecting Christmas hampers for needy families.
Our Parent Group runs a pastoral care service to assist families in crisis, by helping with uniforms and food where needed.
Our teachers are very committed to working pastorally with students who are experiencing difficulties, by having a common whole school approach for dealing with crises and problems. Talking with students at their level is a key part of our support for them on a daily basis.
Our Student Management policy aims to help students identify rights and responsibilities, follow common rules and take responsible action when necessary by adhering to our five core values. Appropriate behaviour is acknowledged at assemblies and a special St Nicholas of Myra Award is presented to students seen living our core values.
Each classroom displays our values so that there is a consistent understanding and expectation across the whole school. When strategies are required to change behaviour, these are used fairly and in consultation with the leadership team and parents. When necessary, outside agencies and support from the Catholic Education Office Student Services are utilised to assist students and their families.
Consistency and high expectations are an integral part of student and family participation at school. The full text of student management, welfare and discipline policies can be obtained through the school office.