Curriculum K – 12


We believe in exposing our students to new and diverse learning opportunities. We empower our families and parish community to create an inclusive environment that promotes effective learning and values within our individual students.

All schools in the Diocese of Lismore follow NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum which are NESA approved. As a Catholic system of schools, Lismore Diocesan schools also offer Religious Education. Please visit the NESA Parent Guide for information on the NSW syllabuses.

The curriculum in our schools is organised into Key Learning Areas (KLAs). These are:

  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • English
  • HSIE
  • Languages (optional in primary school)
  • Personal Development Health and Physical Education
  • Creative Arts
  • Religious Education
  • VET (secondary school only)

Teachers in the Diocese of Lismore are supported to maintain a contemporary understanding of developments in curriculum and pedagogy to be able to respond to diverse student needs and curriculum changes.

Learners in Lismore Diocesan schools have opportunities to engage with the NSW Curriculum through the subject areas, but also in integrated ways in areas such as STEM. Schools in the Lismore Diocese also offer a range of broader curriculum-linked opportunities in the Arts, Sport, Science and Technology and Writing.

For more about Learning in our Catholic schools, please click on the tabs below.

Contemporary Learning


A contemporary learning approach is personalised, responding to the learning needs, interests and experiences of each student. Contemporary learning is different to the way many parents of today’s students were taught. It offers teachers and students many more options than the old textbook driven approach to teaching. Contemporary learning aims to empower students with the knowledge, skills and capacities to respond creatively to the challenges of their world.

Learners thrive in environments that are safe, supportive and secure. Flexible and intentionally developed learning environments encourage innovation and inquiry and help create a sense of belonging and purpose that strengthens the learning culture. These environments are stimulating and appropriately resourced. They promote high expectations and respect diversity and difference, facilitating learning for all students. Adaptive learning environments have no conventional boundaries because, being ICT rich, they are connected to the world beyond the classroom.

The Learning & Teaching Statement is a diocesan response to the challenge to clearly articulate what we value as our educative purpose, our agreed pedagogy. The Learning & Teaching Statement neatly expresses what we value and believe about learning. The statement guides, challenges and supports the notion of powerful learning. It will help us shape the appropriate curriculum to serve our educative purpose for the current and future contexts.

Download the Learning & Teaching Statement (PDF)

Learning in the Early Years

Young students sitting on the floor looking attentive

In fulfilling the Mission of the Catholic Schools Office, schools are called to enable students to achieve the fullness of life. In doing this, primary schools acknowledge the special nature of the early learner (birth to 8 years old), and the need for personalised transition, age appropriate pedagogy and intentionally considered learning environments.

The early learner is a child of God, coming into the primary school setting with their unique interests, abilities and stories, that stem from differing experiences with family, home life, prior-to-school settings and their world.

The two key national curriculum documents that inform curriculum in early learning are: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) and the Australian Curriculum for New South Wales. It is important for educators to understand the way that the principles, practices and outcomes of the EYLF are reflected in the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum, particularly in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1.


  • establishes the foundations for effective learning in school and throughout life
  • has a specific emphasis on learning through exploration and play
  • emphasises the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development.
  • applies to settings that cater for birth to 5 year olds and also the transition into school
  • identifies a set of priorities for learning in prior-to-school settings, which are prerequisites for successful, equitable learning via the Australian Curriculum.

The Australian Curriculum for New South Wales:

  • builds on the key learning outcomes of the EYLF
  • includes agreed curriculum content that is designed to help all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.
  • applies to learners from Early Stage 1 to Stage 5
  • prioritises literacy and numeracy in the early years of schooling

The Australian Curriculum and the EYLF provide coherence and continuity between prior-to-school education and that of early primary school. Educators in both settings are required to design learning experiences that are intentional and planned, to allow for rich learning experiences that are developmentally and pedagogically appropriate.

When students enter primary school in the Diocese of Lismore at Kindergarten age, their experiences, learning and relationships are valued and respected with the family acknowledged as the context in which children learn first.

Vocational Education & Training (VET)

Students in a workshop with a teacher

Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses provide students with authentic, applied learning that is practical and work-based providing the opportunity to develop transferable employment related skills whilst at school. Students can undertake accredited VET courses which not only count towards the HSC, they are recognised throughout Australia under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) providing students with a head start towards further study and/or employment.

The Diocese of Lismore Catholic Schools Limited RTO 45649 offers a wide range of VET courses for students with further options delivered by external providers such as TAFE or private providers such as Motor Trader’s Association.

Visit the Catholic Schools Office, Lismore Diocese VET site for more information.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education (Indigenous Students)

Young Indigenous student with a teacher

Indigenous communities in the Diocese of Lismore are strong with a rich and diverse culture. They are places where identity is central to student wellbeing. Indigenous Education Workers (IEWs) employed in all schools with indigenous students provide a positive role model for all Indigenous and non-Indigenous children on a daily basis. Indigenous Education Workers make themselves known to the Indigenous students and families within the first few weeks of school.

The IEWs have a strong commitment to education. These key people help to monitor attendance, provide homework help and implement support strategies that assist students with their learning. Our schools recognise the students’ desire to connect with the curriculum and to perform well academically. We acknowledge their relationship with family, friends and their community.

We are a Catholic system and therefore it is expected that the students are part of the Catholic Life of the school including attending retreats, reflection days and school Masses. We acknowledge all significant Indigenous cultural days and promote reconciliation.

You are welcome to phone the Indigenous Education Officer at the Catholic Schools Office any time for more information on how we can support your child’s social, emotional and educational growth.


Young students doing mathematics

Mathematics is an entitlement for all learners. It enables students to participate fully in society by becoming reflective, creative and critical thinkers who make informed and responsible decisions for themselves and others. Mathematics is essential to our mission: to enable students to achieve ‘the fullness of life’ (John 10:10).


"Yet the human mind invented mathematics in order to understand creation; but if nature is really structured with a mathematical language and mathematics invented by man can manage to understand it, this demonstrates something extraordinary." 

Benedict XVI (Address to young people of the Diocese of Rome, 6 April 2006)


The Diocese of Lismore, in partnership with Parish schools, aims to improve the Mathematical understanding and numeracy skills of all students through the intentional implementation of the Mathematics Strategy 2015 - 2020.


The Mathematics Strategy aims to:

  • Strengthen the pedagogical content knowledge of classroom teachers to improve the learning and teaching of Mathematics for all students.
  • Build leadership capacity of Mathematics curriculum leaders
  • Provide targeted intervention programs for students who require additional support to achieve growth
  • Increase student performance in Mathematics K-12
  • Promote higher order thinking skills in Mathematics; problem solving, reasoning, creative and critical thinking.
  • Foster a love for and confidence in Mathematics

Literacy & Numeracy

Students and teacher reading

Literacy involves students listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of contexts. In the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum, literacy is a general capability which is addressed across all Key Learning Areas.


Numeracy is fundamental to a student's ability to learn at school and to engage productively in society. It involves students recognising and understanding the role of mathematics in the world and having the dispositions and capacities to use mathematical knowledge and skills purposefully. In the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum, numeracy is a general capability which is addressed across all Key Learning Areas.


In Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Lismore, both literacy and numeracy development are given priority as a skill for lifelong learning and for students to be active, informed participants in society.

Numeracy and literacy are seen to be one of the key elements in all school improvement processes with a strong focus being given to quality for professional learning for teachers in numeracy and literacy knowledge, understanding and teacher practice as well as intervention and other.

Religious Education

Large group of students in a church

Religious Education lies at the heart of the Catholic School. It develops the learners’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity in the light of Jesus, and the Gospel’s unfolding story for today’s world.

Religious Education encompasses the teaching of the Catholic Tradition through liturgy, prayer and sacraments, retreat experiences, school evangelisation and social justice activities, and opportunities for service in the world.

Learning in Religious Education sets out to help young people find a worldview that promotes integrity, goodness and truth. In this we believe that:

  • All have an opportunity to come to know and experience God
  • The Good News of Jesus is central
  • Through God's Word and the Good News, God’s purpose for us is revealed
  • In Spirituality we can encounter and build a relationship with God
  • Pedagogy provides experiential learning, critical thinking and an authentic accompaniment of students.
  • Stronger relationships are fostered between families, the school and the parish at the centre of the school community.

Innovative Learning Environments

Students sitting in a cirlse

An Innovative Learning Environment is the successful merging of an innovative space design including furniture, technology and other infrastructure with innovative teaching and learning practices (ILETC, 2018).

Innovative learning and teaching pedagogy reflects current best practice helping students develop skills and dispositions in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, character and citizenship. The overall aim and purpose is to improve student learning and well being outcomes through providing an innovative learning environment that promotes the curiosity and freedom to engage with content in the way that suits student needs best. 

A growing body of evidence-based research is emerging supporting Innovative Learning Environments. A clear finding is that creating innovative learning spaces must be accompanied by a change in pedagogy. This change requires a more contemporary or student-centred learning approach with teachers designing, guiding and facilitating learning experiences within a space that can be personalised, flexible and agile to meet student learning needs (Byers & Imm, 2017, cited in Bellart, 2017).

Online Education Centre

Students using laptops

The Online Education Centre is an initiative of the Diocese of Lismore. It supports students in Catholic high schools and colleges across NSW to study a variety of NSW Preliminary and Higher School Certificate courses that may not be otherwise available to them at their home school. 

Changes over the past ten years have broadened the options for students enrolling in courses for the New South Wales Higher School Certificate. Students are no longer confined to a mostly academic pathway or limited to courses that can be taught at their schools. It is now possible to study using several different modes of delivery, attending different campuses and institutions, pursuing various pathways over a number of years.

Online, flexible delivery courses have been made available to students in systemic, congregational and independent Catholic schools to cater for specific student needs. 

Online courses are not intended to replace existing face-to-face classes. What schools are endeavouring to do is to maintain a Catholic education for these students and to provide them with access to subjects that traditionally have created timetable difficulties due to their very small class size. 

The Online Education Centre commenced operation in 2003 in the Diocese of LIsmore. With the assistance of the Maitland-Newcastle, Broken Bay and Wagga Wagga Dioceses, it has grown significantly to deliver an increasing number of online courses to senior high school students in Catholic schools across New South Wales. 

To find out more visit the Online Education Centre.

Technology & E-Learning

Student examining a drone

For students, technology provides them with different ways to go about creating, composing, responding to and using information, rather than just reproducing and consuming it. Effective teaching involves students in learning that is engaging, inspiring and exciting, empowering our learners with the skills and knowledge they need for today and the world of tomorrow.  Our understanding of how students learn has changed and you can see this reflected in the Contemporary Learning Framework.

Technology is constantly changing, therefore it is important that we teach our students digital literacy skills to empower them to use technology appropriately and with confidence. Students need to be able to think critically and creatively, so that they are able to learn in today’s world, and become active and contributing members of a digitally rich society.


Students playing football

Sport is a fundamental component to the integrated education provided by our parish schools. It is a major component of the New Personal Development, Health and Physical Education Syllabus K – 12.

A typical whole school sport program would include fundamental movement, dance, athletics, swimming, cross country and numerous ball sports and other games. This program is structured to meet participants’ individual needs and stage of development. The main emphasis is on skills development, fitness, participation, enjoyment, teamwork, fair play and providing for a sense of achievement.  The weekly sports session is the cornerstone of most schools’ programs but there are many other related aspects and opportunities throughout each term e.g. skills development in PDHPE lessons, daily fitness programs, school carnivals and representative sport.

The Diocese of Lismore offers a structured representative sport pathway for children (Years 2-12), including multiclass students (children with disabilities), that begins at school level through regional to state level and culminating at the national level.  In addition to the representative pathway, schools are invited to enter teams in a variety of primary and secondary interschool /college championships, knockouts (diocesan and state level) and gala days.

More detailed information regarding specific parish school sport programs, including multiclass students (those for students with disabilities), can be found by contacting individual schools. For more specific information regarding the representative pathway and other events and opportunities beyond school level can be found on the Diocese of Lismore Sport website.

Students with Additional Needs

Teacher helping a strudent

All Catholic students in the Diocese of Lismore have an equal right to an appropriate and inclusive education in a parish school.

Students with disabilities or additional needs are enrolled in their local parish school. Like all students the primary responsibility for their education rests with the classroom teachers. Teachers of students with disabilities may receive assistance through a range of options including:

  • Access to school based Additional Needs Teachers
  • Access to Catholic Schools Office Inclusion Officers
  • Teacher Assistant support
  • Targeted professional learning

Depending on needs and abilities some students may work on the Australian Curriculum in NSW with nil or minor adjustments. Some students may require substantive or extensive adjustments including a modified curriculum. Students spend the majority or the whole of their time in regular classes.

High Potential Learners

Student playing guitae and singing

The Catholic Schools Office provides a system-wide approach to facilitate the development of quality educational opportunities to meet the diverse needs of those students.

The key components of this are:

  • Leadership commitment
  • Identification and use of data
  • Capacity building of staff
  • Targeted strategies for gifted pedagogy
  • School-wide and cluster approach to gifted education

Catholic schools celebrate the diversity and achievements of all students, encouraging them to discover their abilities and reach their potential in all aspects of school life.