Small School, Big Opportunities!
Santa Maria is unique to Australia in being a Years 5 – 12 college. One of the enormous benefits of this model is that our members of the Year 5 and 6 community enjoy the benefits of a four-stream system while still remaining a small community of 192 students.
What does four streams mean?
The number of streams in a school refers to the number of classes per year group. At Santa Maria we have four classes of approximately 24 students each in both Year 5 and Year 6.
What are the benefits of four streams?
There are a number of really important benefits of having multiple streams per year group:
- Students are able to have friends outside of their immediate class group. Socially this is important. We all need a variety of social contacts; our girls are no different. At Santa Maria we promote intra-class friendships and social mixing at recess and lunch time, as well as in a number of learning contexts.
Girls have opportunities to learn with peers from different classes during some electives, Pastoral Care Time, House time, during cocurricular activities and in Enrichment classes. Our teachers will also take the opportunity to join classes together when it will facilitate the best learning outcomes and enjoyment for girls.
- Having four classes per year group allows us to offer a variety of Enrichment classes. These classes are managed by the Enrichment Centre. Students who need to be challenged academically and those who require some support in their learning are able to be removed from all four classes at once to form groups of students with similar needs. This gives us the ability to differentiate learning powerfully.
- Having more students per year group allows us to invest in a greater range of quality resources. Instead of dividing our resource budget between Years K – 6, we are able to spend all our resource power on students who are at a similar point in their education. These resources can then be used across classes.
- All of our teaching staff in Years 5 and 6 are especially chosen for their experience and expertise with upper primary students. They are a close-knit group of professionals who receive a large amount of focused professional development. This additional training is not only on the learning needs of students, but also the very specific developmental and social needs of early adolescents.
- Being a four-stream school means we have the capacity to participate in interschool sporting competitions and offer opportunities to more of our girls. We are a member of the Junior Independent Girls’ Schools’ Sports Association (JIGSSA). The schools in this association include:
- Iona Presentation College
- Methodist Ladies College
- Penrhos College
- Perth College
- Presbyterian Ladies’ College
- St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls
- St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School
- Santa Maria College
In this association we compete in athletics, cross-country, swimming, basketball, netball, cricket, soccer, hockey, AFL football.
We still have the advantages of a small school
While leveraging the advantages of having four streams, Santa Maria is also in the unique position of being able to provide a small, close community where a sense of belonging and connection is fostered.
One only has to visit one of our fortnightly assemblies to really appreciate how wonderful a small school community can be. Everyone in the group is seen and known. The teachers know the names of all the students, not just their own class, and the girls are familiar with all the teachers.
The smaller community creates wonderful academic opportunities. We can closely monitor the academic progress of every student. No child falls through the cracks, especially with our strategically low class numbers.
Small class numbers also make it easy to run project-based learning or to take a whole year group on excursion. These are opportunities not readily afforded a large primary school.
Santa Maria is unique in being able to masterfully balance the advantages of a small primary school with the benefits of a four-stream college. It is a winning combination that is the envy of other schools and the result of some masterful planning by the Mercy Sisters.