Learning Differences

Learning Differences at St Brigid’s College

Our community consists of people, including students, with diverse learning abilities and needs.  People with learning differences may not necessarily have an intellectually disability that can affect their ability to learn, and students with special educational needs may display difficulties or conditions that are a barrier to learning.    It is important to remember that people with learning differences may also be gifted.  Our Learning Differences Programme aims to ensure that students within our community are empowered to be responsible, life-long learners, by providing them with the opportunity to acquire the necessary literacy skills to successfully learn and communicate.


The Learning Differences Programme

All learners need a supportive environment with quality teaching that builds on their strengths.  The Learning Differences Program focuses in particular on the literacy and numeracy needs of students, as well as providing enrichment opportunities for those more able. Education for students with diverse learning needs at St Brigid's College focuses on the whole student, respecting the individual and valuing differences.  As part of our community, students with diverse learning needs have the right to learn with their age peers and be engaged in learning that is appropriate to their skills and needs.

The Learning Differences Programme adheres to the values of the College where the teaching and learning of literacy:

  • Enables every student to seek and develop the best in themselves and others.

  • Allows learners to give witness to Christ’s teaching, whilst meeting the needs of all learners and catering to the range of learning styles and abilities of our students, providing opportunities, which empower them and allow them to access information effectively.

  • Promotes a sense of belonging and cooperation, which values the contributions of all members of the community. 

  • Honours the uniqueness of the individual and promote respect for others and the earth.

  • Empowers learners to search for the truth and have the courage to act with integrity.

  • Enables all learners to be resilient and to enjoy life-long learning.

  • Enables students to have a richer appreciation of the gift of learning.


The Learning Differences Programme aims to:

  • Enhance the confidence and self-esteem of all students

  • Facilitate students’ effective participation in the curriculum

  • Nurture a culture of valuing differences

  • Support students in their learning experiences

  • Enhance learning by offering extension and enrichment programmes


Identification of Learning Differences

A variety of methods are employed for identification of learning differences amongst students.

  • PIPS assessment is undertaken early in the Pre-Primary year, to ascertain the Literacy and Numeracy skills of children entering the formal school setting.

  • INCas testing is conducted with all Year One, Year Two and Year Three students at the start of the school year.

  • PAT-R Comprehension testing is conducted online for all Year Four, Year Five and Year Six Students.

  • PAT-Maths testing is conducted online for all Year Four, Year Five and Year Six Students.

  • Words Their Way spelling test is conducted in years 1 to 9.

  • NAPLAN assessments in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are analysed to provide further data in identifying children with learning differences.

  • Incoming primary schools are sent Student Profile forms to complete and return to the College with the aim of gathering further data on the learning needs of our students.

  • Orientation Days testing is conducted for incoming Year 7 and all new Year 8 students: ACER General Ability Test (AGAT), PAT - Maths.

  • Further literacy testing is carried out for those students identified with specific learning needs through standardised testing and teacher feedback.

  • Referral to psychologist or external consultants as required for detailed ability testing (for example WISC IV).

Interventions for Learning Differences

Intervention programmes at the College are based on student needs and occur primarily within the classroom. Some students with higher literacy and/or numeracy needs may be withdrawn to work individually or in small groups with specific learning support teachers. In addition, the Reading Recovery programme is run for students in Years One, Two and Three to offer further reading opportunities for children, while giving secondary students opportunities for community service through volunteering their time to the programme.

Specialist trained Educational Assistants work with students who have special needs, such as autism, within and outside the classroom.

Examples of Learning Differences Enrichment Programmes at the College

  • Altiora programme for senior school students

  • Da Vinci Decathlon for junior and middle years

  • Optiminds for junior, middle and senior years

  • Robotics, within the classroom, club and competitions entries.