Imagine stepping off the bustling Brisbane city streets and into a haven of tranquility and learning. Welcome to Mary Immaculate Primary, a small school in the heart of Annerley, where the calm learning spaces foster empathy and positive wellbeing. Where every child is known by name by every adult in the school, and no child goes unnoticed.
It’s not just the lessons they teach but the nurturing environment that sets this little haven apart in Brisbane’s educational landscape. All staff are aware of all students’ social and emotional needs, and this environment creates a place where learning is an adventure in a close-knit, supportive community.
Benefits of a small school in Brisbane
The Principal of Mary Immaculate Primary School, Mrs Sally Smith, believes that being a small school in a big city offers Brisbane kids the best of both worlds.
“Being a small school offers opportunities for our senior students to develop leadership skills and be involved in a greater range and number of leadership experiences due to the smaller number of students,” says Mrs Smith.
“We believe in giving our students voice and advocacy, and we see our senior students become self-assured and confident with their leadership responsibilities within the school community.”
The children learn to relate with people of all ages and mix with children from all year groups in the classroom and the playground, allowing them to build strong connections with everyone in the school community. They are not limited to only interacting with those who are chronologically their peers.
“Our students have a strong sense of belonging to the school community, which research shows, is a protective factor against mental health issues and bullying,” adds Mrs Smith.
The small student-to-staff ratio allows for greater curriculum differentiation and opportunities for providing challenges and support. An example is the Whole School Reading Program, where every available adult in the school, including the Principal, supports the reading program three times a week.
“Every student works with an adult in a small group based on their reading age and reading goals, rather than chronological age, and staff have multiple opportunities to monitor progress,” says Mrs Smith.
Parents also enjoy the benefits of being part of a small school. There is regular contact with the class teacher, and due to small numbers, it is easy to make appointments to see the teacher or the principal for feedback and advice.
“There is a real sense of community, and parents are encouraged to engage with the weekly school events like assemblies and “Pop Up Pages” (our reading initiative) as well as the bigger community events. Staff are familiar with all parents too, not just those from their class,” says Mrs Smith.
“I am always so proud of the dedication of the staff. Being a small school is a lot of work for staff who often plan independently. We rely on each other daily, and I am amazed at the generosity and support of staff that comes with being in a small school,” says Mrs Smith.
Active Learner Qualities at Mary Immaculate Primary
Being a small school doesn’t mean less innovation. In an increasingly complex and technologically advanced world, students at Mary Immaculate are nurtured to be globally literate members of society.
“Our students embrace our eight Active Learner Dispositions to adopt a mindset of resilience, critical thinking, problem-solving and innovative ideas to delve into real-world contexts,” says Mrs Smith.
“In a world of social media, our students are encouraged to explore personal and communal identity through a distinctly Catholic worldview. Assuming compassion, inclusivity, courage, integrity, and generosity, Mary Immaculate learners are nourished to be people of empathy, curiosity, leadership, and creativity.”
Preparing Brisbane kids for the future
Mary Immaculate Primary has plenty of programs to best prepare students for their future learning.
“This year, we have introduced a Ready Set Prep Program, and every Friday in Term 3, our Prep teacher runs a pre-prep program for our 2024 Prep students, including visiting kindys and families interested in joining us,” explains Mrs Smith.
“We are also developing the transition program for our Year 6 girls who will attend Our Lady’s College (OLC) for high school. Throughout the year, they have opportunities to meet some of the staff, engage with OLC events, and visit the school before attending the Orientation Day with other schools in Term 4.”
“We welcome visitors to our school and have regular Principal Tours for interested families. We love meeting new families looking to be part of a small and welcoming school community.”