Academic Programs

A broad and comprehensive curriculum is offered to our students in the Junior School which has a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy. The foundation of a student’s learning is built carefully and deliberately in these early years.

The curriculum reflects and incorporates current national and state requirements. The Key Learning Areas of English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, The Arts - Drama, Dance, Media Studies, Visual Art and Music, Health and Physical Education and Technology are all included in our curriculum.

A focus on English and Mathematics, with an integrated approach, is developed for our classes with an emphasis on supporting the needs of individual students. We recognise that students learn differently and strategies and programs within each classroom reflect this philosophy. Critical thinking skills and information literacy skills are also actively taught and embedded in our programs.


Canterbury utilises the THRASS approach. THRASS is an explicit phonological approach to teaching reading and spelling skills to learners of any age. THRASS is not a program, nor a replacement for quality literacy instruction; it is an approach to the teaching of literacy skills. With THRASS, the key to the success of early literacy outcomes is for students to be taught from the beginning that letters can make multiple sounds, and they need to look at where the letter is in a word to read and spell it.

Students should be taught from the beginning that the English language has 26 letters and 44 sounds (phonemes). At Canterbury, students are taught from Kindy that there are more than five vowel sounds, with 20 vowel phonemes and 24 consonant phonemes.

An English session at Canterbury does not consist of THRASS time, rather THRASS permeates through the entire school day. For example, students learn and reference the chart while trying to spell 'ship' in HASS, match graphemes to words during the reading block, call on the THRASS rap and rhyme while handwriting and look at the origin (etymology) of the word during a maths session. If a student is struggling to spell a word, the teacher will ask them to reference their THRASS chart and use this as a targeted explicit teaching moment.

Prep – Year 6 students take home a levelled text to read every night. It is an expectation that all students read on a nightly basis, with reading recorded in the diary. Canterbury has a whole-school approach to the explicit instruction of writing. All students are issued with a login to complete home learning in the area of English, which focuses on the child’s individual point of need.


Mathematics at Canterbury focuses on a mixture of teaching students to be fluent, to be able to reason and to process maths concepts. All students are issued with a login to complete home learning in the area of Mathematics, which focuses on the child’s individual point of need.

As part of the Australian Curriculum, Mathematics aims to ensure that students:

• Are confident, creative users and communicators of mathematics, able to investigate, represent and interpret situations in their personal and work lives and as active citizens, 

• Develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of mathematical concepts and fluency with processes, and can pose and solve problems and reason in number and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability, 

• Recognise connections between the areas of mathematics and other disciplines and appreciate mathematics as an accessible and enjoyable discipline to study. 

Mathematics sessions at Canterbury aim to build up mental fluency, with students exposed to a variety of hands-on activities and investigations.


Our Prep and Year 1 teachers implement a play-based curriculum called iTime. iTime is based on the Walker Learning Approach (WLA). The WLA is the "first major Australian based total and holistic pedagogy to be designed and implemented for students in Preschool to Year 8". This pedagogical approach is based on decades of research about play-based and personalised learning and social constructivism. The WLA has a focus on the education of the whole child, from birth to 12 years, through theories of practice, parent education, empowerment and inclusion, teaching and learning at school, and establishing and sustaining links and networks between family and community. The WLA supports a student’s natural desire to engage in experiences which are based on interests and developing skills.

The Early Years Learning Framework: Belonging, Being and Becoming clarifies the many roles that educators take in play and the variety of strategies that can be used to support learning. The framework sees play as a way for children to learn by organising and making sense of their social worlds and engaging actively with people, objects and representations.

iTime in our Prep classrooms is a highly structured continuum of sessions which build on the developmental domains of each individual student. iTime sessions are not an add on for the day; we do not try and ‘squeeze’ additional play time into the curriculum, rather it is a major pedagogical tool for teaching and learning whilst engaging students in active, hands-on learning. At least four times a week students start their day with iTime. Students begin with a tuning-in stage with the classroom teacher, which helps them to focus on their learning from the previous day and direct them into the learning intention for the morning. The tuning-in time is particularly important as it sets the tone and pace for the whole day. The teacher models the language of learning, consistent with the intention mapped out in the learning intentions. This session is tuning in for the learning for the whole day, not just for the investigations. Teachers may use some photographs from the previous day to help tune children in. It is during this time that the ‘focus students’ are selected (these include a reporter, a photographer and a focus child) and the teacher provides prompts or begins to spark student learning.

After tuning in, students then begin the investigations. There are six stations set up in the classroom, and these stations change on a frequent basis, but may include a literacy or numeracy station, a construction or sensory station or a scientific station. During this time, the teacher supports and guides the learning of the focus child, and roams and conferences with other students. Students move freely to other stations depending on what sparks their interest. 

After the investigation comes reflection time. This time is not an opportunity just for students to report back to the classroom, but also an opportunity for students to express what they have learnt. Students are explicitly asked what they have learnt, not what they have done. It is during this time that the reporter presents back to the class with their observations and the focus students have an opportunity to reflect in a detailed way about their learning for the day. When the iTime session is complete, learning continues throughout the rest of the day. The teacher will reflect back to learnings from earlier iTime sessions during other explicit teaching sessions later in the day, or utilise resources that were created as part of iTime to further develop student learning.


Students in Years 5 and 6 participate in Spark every week. Spark is a two-hour session where students select an elective and undertake that elective with a specialist focus. Subject selection changes yearly, with subjects including philosophy, business, industrial tech, media, digital technology and science. A parent expo is held every semester where students showcase their learning and set goals for future learning.


Students participate in a Science lesson every week, focusing on the four Science domains of Biological Science, Chemical Science, Physical Science and Earth and Space Science. A dedicated Junior School Science Laboratory is used by classroom teachers to tune students into learning and ignite scientific interest.


Teachers in the Junior School undertake a holistic approach to student wellbeing. This includes a curriculum which explicitly teaches students about the importance of gratitude, empathy, mindfulness and emotional literacy. A strong focus on the Canterbury Values permeates through our classrooms.


Students in the Junior School learn Spanish right from Kindy. Learning a language broadens the personal, social and cultural understanding of students. The connectedness of countries and communities means learning a language supports people from all walks of life to negotiate experiences and meanings across languages and cultures. Learning a language also extends the capability to communicate and extends literacy proficiency in English. By understanding the idea of language and culture, students develop an intercultural understanding of different experiences and perspectives across the world. In turn, this helps a learner to reflect on their own heritage, culture, identity and values.

There are proven cognitive advantages of learning a language. Students become better multi-taskers and improve their memory and attention span. Learning a language also strengthens analytical and reflective capabilities and enhances creative and critical thinking. Learning a second language exposes students to wider future options, in areas such as art, music, dance, travel, philosophy and science. 

Health and Physical Education

Students participate in weekly Physical Education lessons with our specialist teachers. In Health and in Physical Education, students develop the skills, knowledge and understanding to strengthen their sense of self, and build and manage satisfying, respectful relationships. They learn to build on personal and community strengths and assets to enhance safety and wellbeing, whilst critiquing and challenging assumptions and stereotypes. Students learn to navigate a range of health-related sources, services and organisations.

At the core of Health and Physical Education is the acquisition of movement skills and concepts to enable students to participate in a range of physical activities – confidently, competently and creatively. As a foundation for lifelong physical activity participation and enhanced performance, students acquire an understanding of how the body moves and develop positive attitudes towards physical activity participation. They develop an appreciation of the significance of physical activity, outdoor recreation and sport in Australian society and globally. Movement is a powerful medium for learning, through which students can practice and refine personal, behavioural, social and cognitive skills.

Health and Physical Education provides students with an experiential curriculum that is contemporary, relevant, challenging and physically active.


Music in the Junior School provides opportunities for students from Kindy to Year 6 to actively engage with many genres and styles of music. The subject allows for personal expression through the activities of performing, creating, moving, dancing and listening. Music occupies a significant place in everyday life of all cultures and societies, and so students at Canterbury explore the many uses and functions of music. These include the use of music as an expression of emotion, culture and history.

The Junior School music curriculum is grounded in the philosophy of music educator Zoltan Kodaly, who believed that every person has musical aptitude and that every child should be actively engaged in music making from the earliest years. Singing is the foundation of music education and students learn the concepts of music through song.

Beginning in the early years, students engage in the social aspects of communal music-making through singing games, movement and dances. They learn the basic concepts and skills in reading and performing music through musical play. This engagement in singing games and activities continues through the years of the Junior School as more complex concepts and skills are introduced and mastered. Among these are reading traditional music notation and composition where students create and perform rhythms and melodies, using their voices, bodies and classroom instruments.

An exciting feature of the Junior School classroom music program is the integration of the Arts Academy’s Strings and Band Immersion Programs, whereby students in Year 3 learn a string instrument and students in Years 5 and 6 a band instrument. In addition to learning to play their instrument, students continue their music reading skills and explore how to play cooperatively in ensembles.

Digital Technologies

Digital Technologies is taught to our Prep to Year 6 students. It comprises of four areas of learning;  Data, Digital Systems, Robotics and Coding, and Online Safety.

The study of data involves students actively collecting data and organising it to make generalisations.  The students will creatively present the data as charts, tables, diagrams or illustrations.  This work could be paper-based, computer-generated or utilising augmented reality. Students will become familiar with digital systems, be able to identify the hardware and software and describe how data is moved between the components.

Coding is taught to assist students in understanding how both computers and robots require algorithms to carry out tasks. Online Safety is a necessary component for the digital age in which we live, as students have a digital footprint which they need to understand and protect.


At Canterbury we appreciate the significance of books, storytelling and regular visits to the Discovery Centre (Junior School Library) which are all incorporated into the weekly routine. We know that if our students feel confident and comfortable in libraries, they will view reading and research in a positive way.

Research shows that exposure to a wide variety of literature is extremely beneficial to a child’s education and academic performance. Canterbury students from the early years and beyond have a strong link to the library and its plethora of resources.