St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School OatleyStudents at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Oatley have been learning resilience through extension in one of their favourite subjects.

Five of the school’s Year 6s have been visiting Marist Catholic College Penshurst once each week alongside children from St Declan’s Catholic Primary School Penshurst, examining advanced Mathematical concepts such as algebra, integers and indices.

The lessons have extended them beyond the primary school curriculum, explained Assistant Principal Maria Rose, but have been equally crucial in teaching resilience to bright young minds.

‘To begin with the content was very challenging and they were a bit concerned,’ Ms Rose said. ‘Sometimes you’ve always been the top of the tree at school, and then it’s a bit confronting when you don’t do as well as you’ve always done.’

‘I just said to them ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ so once you get there and you’re taught you’ll be fine. That has sent them off on this tangent where they’re just flying academically.’

Students tackle Years 7 and 8 work, and sometimes pack content from four high school lessons into an hour-long block. Some are now earning marks of nearly 100% in tests.

Being able to offer students this level of extension and chance to excel is one of the advantages of being part of a system of Catholic schools. The partnership between the primary and secondary schools is only growing, with primary school teachers learning the tools to extend gifted Year 6 children beyond the typical primary curriculum, and high school teachers invited to ask students and teachers their questions ahead of an expansion that will add Years 7 and 8 to the currently 9-12 school.

The program has also provided students a chance to ease any transition nerves about moving to high school. Attendees Raphaelle, Jack and Christian said they were previously nervous about some of the social elements of high school but excited about the possibility of learning new things. The program has allowed them to explore extension opportunities, and also to ease any tension about stepping up into a new stage of life.

‘Now that I’ve been there I’m a bit less worried,’ Raphaelle said. ‘It’s different from how everyone says it is, and how it is in the movies.’

‘I liked it because we could just get stuck into the work, instead of having to listen to somebody explain it for half an hour,’ said Christian. ‘It was awesome, I actually got to work without getting bored.’