Learning and Teaching

St John Paul II Catholic College offers a very broad education that reflects the academic, social, physical and spiritual needs and interests of students.

Our learning and teaching programs place particular emphasis on the development and enhancement of literacy and numeracy skills across all Key Learning Areas.

Gospel values permeate all areas of the curriculum, not just Religious Education, and we encourage every student to pursue individual excellence, celebrate their own successes and that of others, and respect the dignity of others.

The Learning Continuum

Learning Continuum

The Learning Continuum focuses on implementing stage based ways of learning that allow students to develop learning skills and knowledge that can be utilised and extended as they continue through their stages of high school. 

The skills and knowledge students learn in Stage 4 Cooperative Learning is necessary for the students to continue to Stage 5 Active Learning, where they further develop skills and knowledge. In Stage 6, students use the skills developed in earlier stages, supported by online learning, to allow for time in class to be skills focused.

Stage 4 Cooperative Learning

The Stage 4 (Years 7 - 8) model focuses on Cooperative Learning. Cooperative Learning aims to organise classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences, where students work in groups to complete tasks collectively to achieve learning intentions. This model of learning allows students to develop positive interdependence, individual and group accountability, promotive interaction, interpersonal and small group skills and group processing.

Successful Cooperative Learning strategies are intellectually demanding, creative, open-ended and involve higher order thinking such as: Think Pair Share, Jigsaw, Reciprocal Thinking, Accountable Talk, guided reading and reading circles. 

Stage 5 Active Learning

The above skills developed in Stage 4 are utilised and further developed as they continue onto Stage 5 (Years 9 - 10) Active Learning. Active Learning, inclusive of cooperative learning, focuses on the responsibility for learning on learners, where students engage in higher-order thinking tasks such as analysis, evaluation and problem-solving. Active learning makes connections between learning in the classroom and the outside world.

Active Learning includes strategies such as Learning Cell, Class Debate and Learning by Teaching, working collaboratively, discussing materials, debating, taking part in role play, class games, engaging in case studies and creating simulations to result in deeper learning, understanding and transfer. Students engage in meaning-making inquiry, action, imagination, invention, interaction and personal reflection.

Stage 6 Blended Learning

Similarly, Stage 6 (Years 11 - 12) Blended Learning reflects skills and learning from the previous two Stages, yet allows students to learn through the delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media, therefore giving more control over the time and pace for learning. 

Strategies such as a Flipped Classroom, Lecture Capture, Google Sharing, Google Sites, Blogger and Lucidcharts allows students to learn content online so that face-to-face learning can be focused on the development of skills and application of content.

Key Learning Areas

Subjects offered in Stage 4 include:

  • Religious Education
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography
  • Personal Development Health and PE
  • Technology
  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • Italian

Subjects offered in Stage 5 include:

  • Catholic Studies
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Australian History
  • Australian Geography
  • Personal Development Health and PE
  • Commerce
  • Music
  • Drama
  • Dance
  • Photography and Digital media
  • Physical Activity and Sports Science
  • Visual Arts
  • Textiles Technology
  • Food Technology
  • Graphics Technology
  • Industrial technology - Wood
  • Information Software Technology
  • Agriculture
  • Italian

Subjects offered in Stage 6 include:

  • Catholic Studies
  • Studies of Religion
  • English (all courses)
  • Mathematics (all courses)
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and Environmental Science
  • Physics
  • Senior Science
  • Ancient History
  • Business Services
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Legal Studies
  • Modern History
  • Society and Culture
  • Work Studies
  • Community and Family Studies
  • Exploring Early Childhood
  • Sport, Lifestyle and Recreation
  • Personal Development Health and PE
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Entertainment
  • Music
  • Photography, Video and Digital Imaging
  • Visual Arts
  • Visual Design
  • Agriculture
  • Food Technology
  • Hospitality
  • Industrial Technology
  • Information Processes and Technology
  • Software Design and Development
  • Textiles and Design
  • Italian


St John Paul II Catholic College is a technology rich school and we believe that students at St John Paul II should be equipped to deal with the digital world in which they live.

The integration of the technology has allowed the learning environment to be extended beyond the physical constraints of classrooms to give our students the capability to collaborate, share information and experiences, work across subject areas and take control of their learning.

Students and teachers have access to a range of tools that assist making learning stimulating, purposeful and more engaging.

  • iPads for Stage 4
  • Laptops for Stage 5 and 6
  • Wireless TVs in the classrooms
  • wireless mobile devices
  • Parent/Caregiver Purchase Programs

The use of technology will assist your child to develop confidence, creativity and productivity in the classroom while preparing them for the workforce.

iPad Mac Days

St John Paul II Catholic College is excited that in 2018 we will be continuing our Year 7 Parent/Caregiver iPad Purchase Program.

At St John Paul II Catholic College we value your child’s education and we believe that the 1 to 1 Parent Purchase/Caregiver iPad Program will allow your child to develop confidence, creativity and productivity through the use of technology in the classroom that will prepare them for the impacts of technologies in the digital world.

The 1 to 1 iPad Parent/Caregiver Purchase Program at St John Paul II Catholic College will extend the learning environment from the physical constraints of the learning and teaching spaces, to give our students the capability to collaborate, share information and experiences, work across disciplines and take control of their learning. Students and teachers have access to a range of tools that assist making learning stimulating, purposeful and more engaging.

The 1 to 1 program will equip each student with an iPad to use at school and at home, enabling students to have 24/7 access to resources and learning material 

iPad Purchase Program Information Sheet

Below are FAQs for Parents and Students. If you have any further questions please complete the Parent iPad questions form.

Will the students be using iPads in all their lessons?

Whilst they will have the potential to use them in all their lessons the intention is that they will be used when it is felt appropriate for the teaching and learning experiences. This is a new way of learning and so there will be a period of adjustment for teachers as well as students. Teachers will have a range of on­going training opportunities to ensure that they can make the most of the iPad to enhance learning.

If a parent has more than one child - can they share?

No. The device has to be available exclusively to each child at any point during the school day. As such, students cannot share devices.

What happens if a student forgets to charge their iPad or leaves it at home?

The expectation is that all students will charge their device fully overnight and bring it in each day to school. The long battery life of an iPad will allow it to be used all day at school without recharging during the day. We will not supply facilities for recharging.

Can I opt out of the iPad program?

No. The benefits of a tool like this in a school situation can only be achieved if all students use the chosen device. Our curriculum will be developed around the use of this technology.

Will students still use books?

iPads will replace bookwork in some instances, however, the importance of handwriting skills is still relevant and therefore students will still complete some tasks or aspects of their work in books. Students may need fewer books dependent on use.

Do St John Paul II Catholic College staff know enough about how to use an iPad for this to be useful?

St John Paul II Catholic College is aware that the successful implementation of the devices will depend to a large extent on how comfortable teachers feel in using the device. As such we are committed to ensuring that all Year 7 staff have adequate, appropriate and on­going training in the use of the iPad to enhance learning and creativity in the classroom.

What other accessories will my son/daughter need for their iPad?

It is important that you protect the iPad so purchasing a good quality case is highly recommended.

Are students allowed to listen to music during classtime?

Students are not allowed to listen to music during class time unless a teacher has given permission.

See School Notes in the right column for supporting documents to help parents with decisions regarding the purchase of iPads for Year 7.


laptop info

(Click the image above to access the Year 9 & 10 Macbook Program Information site)

  A laptop in a school environment will last at least 4 years and will ensure that your child has access to this laptop until the end of their schooling with St John Paul II Catholic College. The 1 to 1 program will equip each student with an Apple Mac Laptop to use at school and at home, enabling students to have 24/7 access to resources and learning materials.

Applications that the school will supply include Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The STJPII ICT Team will continue to support students by assisting them with any technical difficulties experienced and by supporting the maintenance of the laptops including organising quotes or any repairs agreed to by their parents/guardians.

It is important to note that students will be given access to the college network and will be monitored whilst using this network inside school hours. In addition, the student and laptop will still need to abide by school acceptable use policies. This involves you and your son/daughter signing a contract.

Students will also take part in a MyMac Day at the beginning of 2015 to ensure that all students have an understanding of school procedures and security, an understanding of the acceptable use policy, and an understanding of how to maintain their laptop in areas such as battery life etc.

See the School Notes in "Current Families" for supporting documents to help parents with decisions regarding the purchase of Laptops for Year 9.

Other Learning

Extra-curricular activities and initiatives designed to develop our students include a detailed and varied Learning Enrichment Program that occurs each week and a Year 6 into Year 7 Transition Program including an Orientation Day in Term 4 as well as integrated Year 7 teaching programs. Additionally Mathematics and general Homework Assistance is offered each week.


School counselling is available to all students and parents/caregivers at the school. Parents and caregivers can phone with concerns about their children, and that can just be to ask for some advice or to arrange for their child to meet the counsellor (phone 9208 7200). In most years about 10% of students we see are referred by a parent or caregiver.

Many students refer themselves. During an average year we talk with somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of all students enrolled, with a majority having one or two sessions. Students can have a chat by talking to the counsellor directly, sending an email, or asking at the office.

We can tell you about counselling options outside the school if that is what you prefer. These extend from adolescent and family counselling services through to specialist adolescent mental health services, paediatricians, and other professionals. See Where to Get Help for more information.

Counselling is not just about problems. It can help students decide on their goals, increase their motivation, learn to manage their studies, and handle their stress, all with the aim of helping them to make the most of their time at school by building on their existing strengths.

Counsellors are aware of the importance of privacy and we take care to talk with students at the beginning about what cannot be kept confidential due to risk of harm or child protection reporting requirements. Almost everything can remain private, and if that is not possible we negotiate about who needs to be told and what they need to know. In some cases students agree that if certain people know about their circumstances – including parents/caregivers – more support can be offered.

There’s a section about counselling in the information pages of the student diary, along with a list of some useful websites and phone helplines for both students and parents/caregivers.

Keep an eye out for Counsellor's Corner in each edition of the school newsletter (available on this website) for news and views on parenting, adolescence, and schooling from the counselling perspective. You'll also find a collection of articles at the Counsellor's Corner Blog.


Mr Martin Graham
School Counsellor

Learn about some of the other services available to young people and their families apart from regular school counselling.


A young person who is at risk of suicide or significant self-harm needs to be assessed and helped to keep themselves safe as a matter of urgency.

Go to the emergency department of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead (up to 16 years) or Blacktown Hospital. Ensure that a follow-up plan involving mental health professionals is in place and is actually implemented. Young people in this situation need to be followed-up within days, not weeks.

Clarify what you can do to keep your young person safe.

Consider letting the school know what has happened so that appropriate support and consideration can be given, while maintaining student privacy.

Student Services Team – Catholic Education Office

An intermediate counselling option, half-in/half-out of school, is available as part of enrolment in a Parramatta Diocese Catholic school. Families have free access to staff from the Catholic Education Office’s Student Services Team. Referrals are usually made through the school, and in each case two outside staff are involved: one is a teacher consultant who works with the student and the school to get things back on track, and the other is a family counsellor who will see the student and family for confidential counselling so that home settles down too.

The Student Services Team can also offer a small number of family therapy sessions at a facility in the grounds of Mt Druitt Hospital. See more about family counselling below.

Outside the school

Sometimes you might prefer that your child’s problems be dealt with in a different setting, separate from the school, so the information below concerns some of the other services available to young people and their families apart from regular school counselling.

At the doctor

One step in assisting your child could be to take them for a medical check-up to see if the current difficulties have any organic causes. The doctor may suggest a referral to a paediatrician (a doctor who specialises in the medical and behavioural issues of children) or to a psychiatrist (a doctor who specialises in mental illness) for an assessment.

The doctor may also prepare a mental health plan for a referral to a professional who is registered with Medicare to provide counselling. These professionals could include psychologists (who are not doctors but have up to six years of university training), social workers, or mental health nurses, providing up to 10 counselling sessions per year. Medicare will pay a scheduled fee and the client will pay any gap, unless the professional bulk-bills in which case there is no charge. If paying the gap will be difficult for you the doctor can refer you to another Medicare-funded program administered by the Western Sydney Primary Health Network. Some private health insurance policies also rebate psychology services.

Medicare will also rebate up to 10 group counselling sessions per year, in addition to or instead of individual sessions.

You can ask the doctor to recommend someone, or do your research first and ask the doctor to refer you to the professional you have chosen (and probably have spoken to on the phone to get a sense of whether this is the right person for your situation). The Australian Psychological Society provides a “Find a Psychologist” service that is very useful.

In doing your research you may wish to ask the following:

  • What's your background and training in working with children?
  • Have you worked with these particular issue before? What approaches do you use?
  • How do you involve parents? Do I need to attend?
  • What will happen in a typical session with my child?
  • How long should children and families typically work with you?
  • Do you contact my child's school or healthcare providers?
  • Can you work with a client of my cultural background?
  • What is the cost?

Another option you may have is to use the Employee Assistance Program if your employer provides one, as these programs usually cover immediate family as well.


Most services have intake officers whose job is to talk with you when you phone so that you can decide if the service offered is what you need. They can also suggest alternatives. Where services charge fees it is usually on a sliding scale according to your ability to pay. Most services also have waiting lists.

In the public sector

The NSW Mental Health Line (1800 011 511) is a 24-hour service designed to connect callers with the right care for people of all ages in NSW.

NSW Health provides up to 12 sessions of free child, family and adolescent counselling for people who live, work or study in the Blacktown, Doonside and Mt Druitt Local Government Areas. Phone the Mental Health Line for a referral.

NSW Health also runs the Blacktown Early Access Team (BEAT, accessed through the Mental Health Line). They see 12-24-year-olds living in the Blacktown Local Government area with major mental health problems. For children under 12, the Paediatric Mental Health Team is on the same number.

The Western Area Adolescent Team (WAAT, 9881 1230) at Mt Druitt has a focus on hard-to-reach, marginalised young people, including those who are homeless.

The Transcultural Mental Health Service can help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to access mental health services, from childhood to adulthood, in a variety of languages (1800 648 911).

Non-government agencies

In the non-government sector, headspace at Mt Druitt (8887 5600) and at Castle Hill (8820 9995) is a ‘one-stop shop’ for young people aged 12-25 years, and their families, providing easy access to a broad range of health services including physical health care, mental health care, drug and alcohol services, and counselling. It is a consortium of agencies led by Uniting Care Mental Health, and sees young people who are eligible for referral to a psychologist under a mental health plan prepared by a doctor at headspace.

Several non-government agencies specialise in working with teens and their families. Many are based in Parramatta, Norwest, Blacktown or Mt Druitt. Why might you choose family counsellingRAPS (part of Relationships Australia, 9890 1500) and Unifam Counselling and Mediation (part of Uniting Care, 8830 0700) will work with the family members who live together on all kinds of issues such as arguments at home, family violence, fostering and adoption, living in a stepfamily, school problems, appropriate limits and consequences, etc.

CatholicCare Social Services, (9933 0222 - formerly known as Centacare) offers relationship and family counselling, while Blacktown Reconnect (9832 3934) also works with young people and their families. 

Interrelate at Rouse Hill (8882 7850) has a long history (since 1926!) of working to strengthen family relationships.


University clinics are another option. They often charge reduced fees for therapy by psychologists-in-training who are supervised by senior psychologists. See the Psychology Clinic at Western Sydney University or Macquarie University's Centre for Emotional Health.


On the phone

Parents/carers of children 0-18-years-old can contact a 24-hour parenting helpline run by CatholicCare Sydney (formerly Centacare Sydney) on 1300 1300 52 to talk about any parenting issue.

Where violence or abuse is occurring, including from adolescents to their parents/carers, free counselling is available through the Australian Government’s 1800RESPECT service (1800 737 732). 

More helplines for students and their parents/carers are listed in the front pages of the Student Diary. HealthDirect https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-helplines maintains a list of mental health helplines, and recently Connections Western Sydney Helpline http://ontheline.org.au/wshelpline has been established on 1300 096 273.

Going Private

In the private sector there are many choices of counsellors and therapists. You should ensure that anyone you consult has the appropriate qualifications and is a member of a recognised professional association.

Further Assistance

The NSW government funds the Family Referral Service (1300 403 373) which helps people find the right service in their local area for their needs, including family support, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health, post separation, parenting education, respite care and so on. Sometimes they can make a referral on your behalf if you want.

The Australian Government's Health Direct allows searching for counselling and psychology services by location and by preferences such as bulk billing.
Head to Health makes it easy to search for help delivered online rather than face-to-face, with links to resources, forums, apps, and email/chat counselling.
Finding the right help can be challenging. If you are unsure what to do, you are welcome to contact the school counsellor to help point you in the right direction.

Counsellor's Corner is an occasional blog providing information on a wide range of adolescent issues and topical weblinks. Most posts have been previously published in the College Newsletter. We invite you to provide your feedback and thoughts on any of these issues.

View the blog posts