BCE schools pioneer pathways to empower future scholars


St Finbarr's School baby sensory group. ©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Finbarr's School, Ashgrove (2024).

Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) schools are at the forefront of Under Eights Week (15 to 21 May), spearheading innovative programs crafted to empower children under eight to thrive and reach their full potential as learners. 

Leading the way are St Finbarr’s School Ashgrove and Good Samaritan Catholic College Bli Bli who are focused on pioneering pathways to empower their future students. 
St Finbarr’s has developed both a Prep Readiness Program and a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) focused playgroup and baby sensory group this Term. 
St Finbarr’s School Principal Catherine Connors said her school’s Prep Readiness Program not only prepares future students for school but also fosters a sense of community and connection.  
"We want our Pre-Preps to feel seen and embraced, creating an unbreakable sense of belonging right from the start of their learning journey,” she said. 
“That is why our Prep Readiness Program focuses on four key areas, early literacy, early numeracy, motor skills, and community connections. These sessions take place across four Sundays following Family Mass, where new families are warmly welcomed. 
“We recognise that building strong community connections is just as crucial as developing early literacy and numeracy skills. 
"This holistic approach helps erase any uncertainties our Preps might have before their big day, ensuring every child feels supported and ready to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally." 
Expanding on St Finbarr’s School’s commitment to enriching experiences beyond the classroom, Catherine highlights the launch of a dynamic playgroup with a STEAM focus in 2024. 
“At the heart of our initiatives lies our community, which inspired the creation of the Playtime Explorer’s Playgroup,” Catherine said. 
“We believe in engaging with our prospective learners long before they step into the classroom. 
“We aim to cultivate an environment at St Finbarr’s School where every child feels not only comfortable but also deeply nurtured, ensuring a lasting sense of belonging.” 
Catherine said all local families are invited to attend Playtime Explorer’s Playgroup, not just prospective families. 
"The playgroup serves as a nurturing ground where creativity flourishes, and exploration knows no bounds,” she said. 
“Beyond fostering a sense of wonder in STEAM, it ignites in children a lifelong passion for learning and innovation. 
"The playgroup is a space where every child can thrive and explore, regardless of their background or affiliation. 
“At St Finbarr’s we believe in the power of inclusive learning environments, where diversity is celebrated, and every family is embraced with open arms." 
At Good Samaritan Catholic College Bli Bli, the commitment to building strong connections and seamless transitions also begins early. 
Good Samaritan Catholic College Bli Bli Principal Greg Myers said the College is dedicated to fostering community ties with its onsite Kindergarten. 
“At Good Samaritan Catholic College we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have an onsite kindergarten as part of our educational community,” he said. 
“This unique asset allows us to strengthen our ties with the youngest members of our community from the very beginning, facilitating seamless transitions to school, and fostering a sense of belonging that extends throughout their educational journey with us. 
"Our Kindergarten students eagerly dive into the world of literature through vibrant library lessons led by our enthusiastic teacher librarian. 
“They eagerly select books from our extensive school library, igniting their imaginations and fostering a lifelong love for reading. 
"Our kindergarten students are also invited to participate in our cross-country and Book Week events every year, as well as our Term 4 assemblies.  
“In Term 4, we also host a transition to Prep morning. These opportunities aim to familiarise our future students and parents with our College and staff before they embark on their journey to Prep.” 
BCE Senior Manager Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Belinda Connolly said BCE recognises the pivotal role that the early years, specifically those under eight, play in shaping educational journeys. 
“By focusing on Pre-Prep to Year 2 literacy and numeracy core work, BCE recognises the critical role of these formative years have on a child’s brain development, and how these learning experiences shape students' educational trajectories,” she said. 
Good learning and teaching practices and strategies such as the explicit teaching of problem solving in Maths and the explicit teaching of phonics, in addition to monitoring student progress for early intervention and targeted support, ensures that every child can reach their full potential and thrive in learning and wellbeing. 
St Finbarr’s School along with 26 other Brisbane Catholic Education schools are also working with the University of Melbourne to enhance teacher knowledge, skill, and understanding of current evidence-based early years literacy practices. 
About Under Eights Week: 
Under Eights Week (15 to 21 May) was initiated by Early Childhood Australia Queensland, creating a day dedicated to children under eight years old, highlighting the importance of the early years of a child’s life. 
The theme of Under Eights Week this year is ‘Connecting to Culture through Play,’ the theme aims to promote the universal right of every child to play and to celebrate diverse play traditions and experiences. 

Good Samaritan Catholic College student reading to a Pre-Prep student. ©Brisbane Catholic Education, Good Samaritan Catholic College, Bli Bli (2024).

​St Finbarr's School Pre-Prep program. ©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Finbarr's School, Ashgrove (2024).
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​St Finbarr's School Pre-prep program. ©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Finbarr's School, Ashgrove (2024).
St Finbarr's School baby sensory group. ©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Finbarr's School, Ashgrove (2024).

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