Curriculum Information

Salisbury Downs Primary School (SDPS) is currently involved with many programs which aim to integrate the students’ curriculum with life skills, enjoyment and best prepare them for life after school.

Play Is The Way

Download Play is the Way attachment (Adobe PDF, 139KB)

We are committed to working with families to develop pro-social behaviour in all our students and developing their emotional intelligence.

We believe children need resilience, perseverance and other life skills if they are to remain optimistic in the face of life’s daily challenges. Too many children come to school with the belief that “I come to school to be better than others”.

If a predominance of children is in the pursuit of being better than others, it’s hard to believe that the classroom could be anything other than tense, hostile and tiring. It is important that we counteract this belief by working to convince children of its dangers and encourage them to see school as a place where they “come to better themselves by being able to work with others”. The focus always must be on pursuing their “personal best”.

As adults, our happiness in life revolves around our relationships, so we instil in children that “the more others I can work with the better person I will become.” If we can create safe classrooms where children are considerate of themselves and others, then they will have every opportunity to reach their potentials. We use The Game Factory (Play Is The Way) program to educate our students to become strong and successful adults.

Play is the way games assist teachers to guide children beyond the simple pleasures of playing games to the character building benefits that can be achieved.

Play is the Way games:

  • help children to develop and habituate patterns of behaviour that are personally advantageous and culturally appropriate.
  • teach children to respond appropriately to the thrill of success and the disappointment of failure. To enjoy competition with good grace and consideration for the other side.
  • assist children to control impulsive behaviour and control the need for immediate gratification as they strive for long term rewards and goals.
  • encourage children to use their skills to advantage others in the pursuit of common objectives. They strengthen the skills of teamwork and cooperation and help children to manage relationships.
  • create a common awareness and language with which to discuss the processes of human action and interaction. They encourage empathy, respect and an appreciation of difference.
  • engage children’s emotions and call for mastery and control of those emotions to achieve success. By being challenging, the games develop self motivation and perseverance. They help children to identify the reasons for failure and foster optimism and resilience.
  • act as metaphors and analogies for life and by playing these games children hone the skills that help them to live, learn, work and play well.
  • improve the social, emotional, physical and mental health of children.
  • By playing the games children initiate a process of self awareness and discovery. They create a shared body of experience that is used to build up relationships within the group and to develop the group.
  • Because they require effort and application, The Games Factory games help children to understand the value of process in the pursuit of success.
The Balanced Reader

Download The Balanced Reader attachment (Adobe PDF, 189KB)

Strong Foundations in Reading and Literacy    

Literacy is an important part of succeeding in life. The ability to read and understand what you are reading is at the centre of this development.

Research shows that adults who read well have a wider access to the many and varied job opportunities which are constantly changing in our 21st century world. In today’s society, a child may end up having five or more different careers or jobs in their lifetime! In fact we really do not know what the job opportunities will be over the next decade and beyond. Literacy learning gives our children the knowledge and skills needed to do well in other curriculum areas which they will need throughout life beyond school.

The use of a wide variety of books to teach literacy skills means that students learn different ways to go about writing and open up new experiences through books.

At Salisbury Downs we teach reading by ensuring that students are Balanced Readers, going from ‘Learning to read’ to ‘Reading to learn’. Many students learn all of their letter sounds and blends and can read the words on the page well, but reading is much more than that. Readers need to be fluent with their reading, use expression, good phrasing, follow the punctuation on the page and have a reading rate that allows them to not lose the understanding of what they have read. Speaking of understanding, we read to understand, so readers must have comprehension of the words on the page not just how to say them. The need to understand the simple things the author is writing about, but more importantly how to “read between the lines” and understand the hidden meaning. We call this the understanding of Here, Hidden and Head questions.

Learning to read is not like a running race where everyone competes against each other to be first across the line. Parents often think that if their child can read all the words on the page (decode) then they are ready for a higher level book and that the child’s reading success is measured by the reading level they are on. Many parents worry that their child is significantly below another child in their class or not moving up levels as fast as they should.

A reading level (whether it be a number, colour or letter, depending on the book) indicates to the teacher what type of reading book the child is able to access. A child could be a beginner reader, emergent (developing) reader or an independent reader. The level is usually displayed at the front or back of the book. A reading level is given by a teacher who has conducted a “running record”, which is a reading assessment tool. Teachers use this record of reading to ensure that the student is moving through reading levels as a “Balanced Reader”. Yes it is important that a student can read the words on the page, but they must also be fluent, use phrasing, have expression and have a reading rate that is suitable for their age. Eg 8 year old should decode at a rate of 80 words per minute, a 10 year old should decode at a rate of 100 words per minute and a 12 year old should decode at a rate of 120 words per minute. In addition to these skills a student must have strong skills in understanding what they have read. This is called comprehension.

Comprehension – Going from ‘Learning to read’ to ‘Reading to learn’ 

Comprehension is the understanding of any text being read, viewed or listened to. This includes finding information in tables and graphs, understanding a commercial on television or a street sign as a few examples. We believe in putting the right book in the hands of the right child at the right time and know that pushing students onto harder books just because they can read or decode the words does not mean they can read fluently or deeply understand what they have read. Reading at the right level is the key to being able to access information and make sense of the world around us. The comprehension taught in schools includes activating prior knowledge that is gained in our daily life, inferring meaning from a clue, analysing the information presented to us, knowing how and where to locate information and being able to communicate what has been learnt.

At Salisbury Downs, staff have been highly trained in all aspects of comprehension and explicitly teach these skills using the gradual release of responsibility model. This means students are supported in their learning as teachers gradually give more independent control to students as they show evidence of learning.

Good readers utilise a set of highly complex and well developed skills before, during and after reading so they can understand, learn from the text and remember what they have read. These skills include:

  • reading words rapidly and accurately
  • noting the structure and organization of text
  • monitoring their understanding while reading
  • using summaries
  • making predictions
  • checking predictions as they read
  • revising and evaluating predictions as needed
  • integrating what they know about the topic with new learning through their own knowledge and understandings related to their cultural and social background
  • making inferences and using visualization.
  • making connections – text to self, text to text and text to world

All of the aspects of being “A Balanced Reader” must be able to be done across a wide variety of text types.

Salisbury Downs offers quality teaching of all aspects of Literacy which are integral to the lifelong learning, future financial stability and success of literate students.


Download Playgroup attachment (Adobe PDF, 221KB)

FRIDAYS 9:00 – 10:15 (During School Term)
In the Orange Room
Ages 0 – 5

“Why we love Playgroup”

For Children

  • Provides an environment for social interaction
  • Provides an opportunity for children to play and learn
  • Assists in language development and communication
  • Provides a space for children to participate in and enjoy new activities
  • Provides access to a variety of toys and equipment
  • Provides a safe and happy place for children

For Adults

  • Gives parents the opportunity to play and interact with their child
  • Provides a great space for social interaction with other parents and their children
  • Provides a routine activity for families

Once you have joined our playgroup you will have access to our closed Facebook group, where you can get the latest news and information from our group leader who is also one of our Reception Teachers!

“Play, Learn, Connect Playgroup SDPS”

The Walker Learning Approach

Download The Walker Learning Approach attachment (Adobe PDF, 102KB)

Walker Learning Approach at Salisbury Downs Primary School

We believe in a rigorous play based approach to learning in the Early Years and base our program on the philosophy and work of an Australian education expert Kathy Walker. WLA provides a balance of children actively investigating a range of skills and experiences for life through strategically planned play that helps with the transition from pre-school to school.

WLA key elements are:
• Resilience
• Problem solving
• Creativity
• Thinking skills
• Resilience
• Self-concept
• Intrinsic motivation

The Walker Learning Approach was developed and designed to engage children in authentic and meaningful ways so that children will enjoy their learning. It draws upon evidence from neuroscience and human development and reflects and respects the uniqueness of culture, family and relationships.

There is a strong emphasis on literacy, numeracy and social skills based on outcomes selected from the Australian Curriculum document.
We strive to foster a love of learning, an understanding of each other and encourage confident self-managed learners.

Creating Engaging Centres in Play and Personalised Learning K-2

Some of the key goals for children’s learning is to promote in them the ability to think laterally and creatively. To be able to self-initiate, to explore the properties and elements of things, to problem solve, to take risks, to think deeply, to construct ideas and meaning, to utilise their own understandings and discover new ones, to become interested in endless possibilities and opportunities and to become increasingly intrinsically motivated to learn, to find out, to try, to have a go and to develop resiliency.

An important aspect of the learning environment is to ensure that children have the opportunity to construct, to create, to explore and investigate in ways that are purposeful, planned, intentional and robust by the teacher and specifically, carefully and strategically set up in ways that foster and develop skills such as problem solving, thinking critically and creatively, taking risks, constructing meaning and developing a range of skills.

Creative, open-ended investigation areas are an important element of the Walker Learning approach. Through regular play based curriculum, the nature of how and what resources are established, set up, displayed and provided for the children is extremely important and intentionally planned.

Rich print around the room, children’s own writing, texts, posters, labels, the richness of literacy and numeracy, oral language, conversation, children’s own planning and thoughts and ideas will fill the learning spaces every day.

Learning intentions are displayed each day on the parent information board along with the focus children and reporter and photographers tasks all provide many opportunities for intentional and purposeful links back to literacy and numeracy.

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