Southern Cross Primary School is situated in the South Eastern Suburb of Endeavour Hills, 30 kms from Melbourne. Demographic change has seen our enrolments maintained at an average of approximately 200 students with growth indicated by the interest in enrolments.
We have a diverse community catering for approximately 42 nationalities. We provide several community assistance and interest programs. School Council is culturally diverse in the effort to support our range of family cultures. All members of School Council are supportive of the school and active in their roles as community representatives.
Our growing Community Harmony and Team Spirit Group,(CHaTS Group) meets monthly and assists the school in a variety of ways. This group also works with school staff to welcome and integrate new families into our School Community. Many students begin at the school with little or no English, necessitating in modification of teaching approaches in order to give them the best opportunity to learn.
Southern Cross Primary School is a friendly, caring school community that aims to facilitate a high standard of academic learning, nurture individuality, challenge and understand all of our students. We provide intellectual tools that enable students to be inspired, creative, curious, optimistic and capable individuals who aspire to become lifelong learners and be responsible, resilient members of society.
Our Individual Learning Plans, accelerated learning programs, special support and ‘neuroplasticity action research’ caters for the abilities of all students. Our Learning Community provides an inclusive and accepting environment for all students, staff and parents. Our deeply embedded student wellbeing programs and our high expectation of daily behavior, focus on interactions that show respect and attentive listening by all adults and children. This approach ensures our classrooms, playground and whole school environment are always happy and supportive.
Our school comprises a flexibly designed 12 classroom block, music room, multimedia centre, multi – purpose room, hall, administration and staff work area. Additional spaces for Literacy Development and LOTE also exist. We have a 1:4 computer ratio and a fully networked school with at least 5 computers in every classroom, a set of 30 Laptops for use in the middle and senior school and a lab of 30 desk tops in the Multimedia Centre. Our middle school students follow a program that teaches animation skills and our senior students complete a movie making program with the use of our blue screen.
Extensive play areas include hard court, oval and 2 student adventure playgrounds. We also have an enclosed courtyard for quite games, outdoor chess covered area, a closed rotunda for crafts, an enclosed sandpit and an open rotunda with power supply for more outdoors type activities.
We have an inspired and educationally curious, multicultural student population who have supportive parents. Our staff members work in sub-school teams arranged around Early Years, Middle Primary and Senior Primary. We have close working relations with our local secondary college and preschools. Our School Council fully supports staff in their working life and aims to provide programs and support to enable the best balance between work and home. A successful Integration Programme operates to support our students with a wide range of learning needs.
We employ enthusiastic, flexible and talented, team oriented staff members, who have high expectations of themselves and of student learning approaches. They want to make a positive contribution to our learning community through ongoing professional development and a love of lifelong learning.
At Southern Cross Primary School we continually strive for school improvement. Maintaining our high outcomes is a result of thorough teacher moderation and close tracking of student data. Consistent teaching and learning approaches across the school teaching teams ensures that we are providing a learning environment that builds upon each students’ ability consecutively across the learning levels. Our programs ensure that our children feel safe at school, are happy and feel that they are listened to. This results in them wanting to attend school each day and enjoying our caring and respectful family atmosphere.
Our school curriculum is based on the outcomes approach adopted by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development but has been enhanced with emphasis on student learning. A thinking oriented curriculum has been based on the research of Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University on ‘growing the brain’ and its positive effects on learning. Our flexible programming and an increasing knowledge of alternative learning approaches, leads to innovative and highly successful classroom practice. We consistently aim for the development of a school curriculum based on highly successful teaching and learning methodologies drawn from school based, national and international best practice.
We are continuing our action research into neuroplasticity through investigating 'growth mindset' in children and adults. We are developing a teaching approach that focuses on effort and mastery which enables students to want to be high achievers in learning and life. This is a cohesive and comprehensive whole school approach to student thinking, linking learning, teaching and assessment. Both formal and informal assessment methods are used ensuring teachers gain a thorough knowledge of individual students. Teachers maintain a comprehensive file of student learning outcomes evidence and tracking information. This forms the basis of their individual teacher performance assessment.
The DEECD e5 Model of learning and teaching is the foundation to our research and daily practice. The confidence and self – belief that has developed in both teachers and students is already producing enormous shifts across our school community with a higher optimism and expectation of what can be achieved. Our programs continue to be a whole school approach from Foundation to Year 6 with the inclusion of the parent community. Parents and School Council are supportive and active participants in the approach and implementation of our learning programs and the daily life of our school.
When parents wish to enroll we provide a meeting for discussion and tour of the school. The majority of parents who request an enrolment tour have visited our website and have come to us due to their interest in our approach and our programs and very supportive word of mouth reports. We like to explain in depth how teaching and learning occurs, what our programs entail and how they link to and support a comprehensive curriculum across the school. We explain the importance of the parent, student teacher relationship and how mutual respect is modelled by everyone who enters this school. Parents who choose to enroll their children tend to come from a very similar and supportive mindset that has helped us dramatically change the behavioural culture of the school over recent years.
Southern Cross Primary School follows the Victorian Curriculum and implements it using the advised hours of instruction as laid out by the DET and the VCAA. All areas of Literacy and Numeracy, Integrated Studies including science, geography, civics and citizenship, Health and well-being, Physical Education, The Arts, Music, ICT, LOTE, Library and Research. Also included in our curriculum are extensive student well- being and support programs that have had a very positive impact on student safety and behaviour. Tribes, Better Buddies, Circle Time and Restorative Practice have all been instrumental in maintaining a safe and caring school environment. The addition of the Growth Mindset Program and the practice of Mindful Meditation have also been strong influences on student engagement in the classroom leading to positive outcomes in student learning. Children learn about their brain and how it works from Foundation Year to year 6. They are taught how to calm their minds through calming breathing exercises and how to engage their brains in deep thinking and productive work practices.
Student leadership is developed in a variety of ways to empower the children to be thoughtful, respectful, confident and responsible members of this school community. Class captains are elected through a speech process and peer voting throughout all class levels. As the children progress through the school responsibilities are increased. The students in year 5 and 6 are responsible for planning and running assembly each week. The student leadership team is made up of School Captains, House Captains and Tribes/Better Buddies Captains. They are given many opportunities to develop their individual skills through running programs and activities with teacher supervision and assistance across the class levels. The importance of the balance between academic, social and emotional learning has been a priority for us and has steered the types of programs we have implemented over the years.
We have seen a major shift in the behavioural culture of the school over the past six years leading to a much more settled, safe and happy environment. Teachers work in teams and use a mixture of shared teaching and individualised instruction. Classrooms are designed for classes to come together for joint sessions or to move to their own areas when individualised instruction is necessary. There are many opportunities for multi age student learning where older students are learning buddies for younger ones. A range of curriculum is covered in these sessions including academic and social emotional topics.
There are specialist classes for Art, Music, Dance/ Drama, Multi Media, LOTE and Physical Education. Interschool Sport is held on Fridays including students from years 4-6. Teachers also have the facility to take their students to the Multi –media centre for ICT classes and the Library for book appreciation, borrowing and research.
Our Education Support staff work across the school with a range of children who need learning assistance in literacy and numeracy. We run a range of support programs for social and emotional development and growth provided by class teachers and SSSO staff to support students in issues around relationships and friendships.
How do we know our students are learning?
At Southern Cross, we carry out ongoing extensive assessment of students learning and teaching strategies throughout the year. Student achievement is measured against expected outcomes and teaching is evaluated and planned to suit those needs. Our students are happy and engaged and our teachers are professionally engaged in their roles. Our use of e5 has assisted us to refine and improve our practice and our strategies for providing successful learning opportunities. Our students have also been encouraged to be vocal about how they think they are learning. It is an expected practice that children will express any confusion about their learning openly in class and this is respected and celebrated by all students establishing an atmosphere of encouragement and support. The results of the array of teacher directed formal and informal assessments, surveys, Naplan and Victorian Curriculum data provide the evidence of highly successful learning outcomes.Student feedback is very crucial in our assessment and planning of our teaching content and we ensure that programs to address their ongoing needs are always included and outcomes are monitored to measure the success of the results. We continue to strive for the best outcomes we can achieve on a daily basis as this continues to raise the bar across the curriculum in teaching practice and learning outcomes.
Feedback to students occurs daily in class both formally and informally in a variety of ways. Our Growth Mindset Program also supports students learning by teaching them about their own individual abilities and how to focus on individual effort to gain improved results. Whole class discussions always focus on learning success through encouragement and celebration of positive effort by and for all students. Student self- assessment, peer assessment and teacher assessment are a continuous process throughout each term. Parent-teacher interviews and information sessions are held at the beginning of the year, mid -year and on request at the end of the year. Many students are supported further by Education Support Group meetings and focused Individual Learning Plans.
Reports are distributed twice yearly per the formal process and class teachers keep parents informed throughout each term both individually and by class newsletters. It is policy in the school for teachers to be proactive in contacting parents whenever there is an issue relating to a childs’ learning or well- being. The School Council and CHaTS Group (parent group) is also given monthly updates on teaching and learning across the school at their meetings to help to disseminate information more personally across the school community. Parents are also continually invited to contact the school to make a time to discuss anything they may have an issue with. We celebrate the successes of student learning on our website, in the newsletter and at school assemblies. Parents enjoy attending our assemblies held each fortnight in our hall. There are a range of other activities and events throughout the year where parents are involved and are very much a part of the learning process. These include Harmony Day, Family shared learning picnics, Incursions, Excursions, Integrated Curriculum days, ‘Southern Cross Has Got Talent’ and many others across the year.
If you are interested in becoming a member of this vibrant educational community please call us to make a time to meet with our staff and enjoy a tour of the school.
Averil Nunn – Principal.