St Mary’s has been an integral part of the Altona community since the Sisters of St Joseph opened the first school in 1928. We have continued to build on this rich educational foundation to maintain its place as a significant part of the wider Altona community. We proudly proclaim ourselves as a “Caring Catholic Community in the Spirit of Mary MacKillop.”
Since its beginning St Mary’s has experienced a range of achievements, changes and challenges. The strong sense of community within our school and the local area has endured to assist us with building the positive outcomes we currently demonstrate.
St Mary’s is in the western suburbs of Melbourne, approximately 16 kilometres from the city, and Altona is situated within the City of Hobsons Bay which is a municipality that includes a wide range of cultural and socio-economic groups. Our school reflects and celebrates this diversity of cultures and traditions. We have a large multicultural cohort within our School Community.
We currently have 275 students in 12 classes. These classes are organised into groupings that support our strong focus on multi-age philosophy. We have two Prep classes, three Year 1/2 classes, three Year 3/4 classes and four Year 5/6 classes.
Our classrooms and facilities are spread across three separate buildings.
We have a large grassed area which is supported by five 30,000 litre water tanks, two Adventure Playgrounds with shade sails, a large sandpit, basketball and netball courts as well as some synthetic grass playing areas and passive recreation areas. While it is managed and organised by an outside agency, we make space available for Out of School Hours Care.
We have a strong interest in preparing our students for the global world with their use of technology. We therefore place a major focus on providing adequate access to digital technologies. We have interactive whiteboards in each classroom. The school has wireless capability throughout. Prep – 6 classes have access to iPads. Year 3/4 and 5/6 students are part of a 1:1 Chromebook program.
We are a Google Apps for Education (GAfE) School. Students have a school-managed Gmail address. Through Google Drive students share documents with each other and teachers. In Years 3-6 homework is completed online through Google Classroom.
At St. Mary’s we believe that a purposeful learning environment in which students are engaged and experience success is vital. Our recent focus has been on personalising learning and clearly articulating learning intentions and success criteria.
Overall we have continued to place a major focus on Literacy Intervention Programs to support students who are at risk in their learning behaviours. We have a Full Time Equivalent teaching allocation for a Learning Diversity Leader and Intervention Teacher. Our eight Learning Support Officers (LSOs) work in various classrooms with children who are on NCCD funded programs and with those who have learning or behavioural needs. They also supervise our “Stop And Have A Rest Awhile” (SAHARA Program), which operates inside for half of lunchtime as a respite for those children who struggle in the general playground environment.
St Mary’s School supports The Arts. Half of our specialist teaching allocation is directed to The Arts: Performing Arts (Music) and Visual Arts (Art). These areas showcase the creative ventures of students through displays and performances in a range of settings. The students are given the opportunity to undertake a private instrumental music program (keyboard or guitar) by sessional Music teachers. Children will be taught AUSLAN through weekly lessons. This is a new specialist area beginning in 2022.
St Mary’s School supports the social & emotional and physical wellbeing of our students through our Student Wellbeing and Physical Education / Sport programs. We have a history of policy development and initiatives in both of these areas and have a Teacher Reference sub-library dedicated to Wellbeing for staff and parent use.
We have a strong student leadership program consisting of; four School Captains, eight House Team Leaders, two Social Justice Leaders, two Wellbeing Leaders, four Choir Leaders and two Junior School Council Representatives from each class.
The staff at St Mary’s are dedicated and hardworking. We have a broad range of levels of experience within our teaching staff and we believe this to be a strength. Our retention of staff is high which is another positive.