Following the tradition of the Sisters of Charity, students graduating from St Vincent's College are highly confident, skilled and independent students of Mathematics, ready to use the knowledge and problem solving skills acquired through its study to serve their families and community in hope, justice and generosity.

Access for All Students to Experience Success

The Mathematics Department is focused upon the needs of each individual student. We understand that each girl is on her own journey in the learning of Mathematics. We provide learning opportunities tailored to suit the particular point in that journey that she has reached. These include: revision activities that consolidate learning already achieved; new learning goals set to allow success in the next step of the journey and access to challenges that provide points of interest and enrichment along the way.

The most important experiences students have with learning mathematics are with their mathematics teacher. Mathematics teachers at St Vincent’s College have as their primary goal, the care for each individual student. We are skilled and experienced in structuring lessons so that all students are engaged, experience success and are given opportunities to extend themselves. Our Maths teachers go the extra mile for their students: voluntarily helping outside normal class times, communicating with parents to keep them informed of progress and guiding the girls in how to become successful independent students of Mathematics.

Maths Help and Other Support

At some point in their learning in Mathematics, students will need some extra help. Whether it is merely a tricky question from homework or a need to catch up after being absent, “Maths Help” is the place to get the assistance needed. Every lunch time, one of the Mathematics teachers is in Room A22 to help whoever comes. On Thursdays, senior students are also present as part of the SRC Mentoring program.

Some students need more focused support and this is provided in conjunction with the Diverse Learning department. Support staff may assist students in class or some small groups may be withdrawn to provide a numeracy course targeting students’ needs.

The Thinking Club and Other Enrichment

Each week, The Thinking Club provides an opportunity for students interested in learning new ways to think and solve problems. Here, they discover that solving problems is a social activity, that with the support of their peers they can rise to the challenge presented by puzzles and logic problems. They learn that through persistence, systematic thinking and problem solving strategies, they can solve problems they at first thought were beyond them.

The Gifted and Talented Coordinator runs programs to identify and satisfy the needs of gifted students. In junior years, students with gifts and talents in several subject areas are offered withdrawal programs and opportunities for across-curriculum learning.

Extension and Acceleration

Extension is offered in all classes, where teachers offer extra learning to any student who are ready. These activities extend the student beyond the program set for the class but not in a way that takes them out of step with future lessons. The extension provides deeper understanding of a concept, or further and more complex applications. In Stage 5, this may involve some students in the 5.2 stream being given 5.3 content, and students in the 5.3 stream being given a taste of some concepts that prepares them for Stage 6 courses.

Acceleration is only offered to students who will benefit from moving ahead of their cohort in order to start a future stage a year earlier than normal. Currently, Year 9 students identified as suitable are grouped in a class that covers both years of the Stage 5.3 course in one year. Hence they will be ready to start the HSC Preliminary course when in Year 10 and can complete the HSC Mathematics course in Year 11. This allows them to focus on the rest of their HSC program when in Year 12, including on Mathematics Extension 1 and 2.

Independent Mathematics Students

Students have access to all levels of Mathematics as they complete their final years at St Vincent’s College, from Mathematics Life Skills to Mathematics Extension 2. More importantly, at whatever level, all students are taught how to be independent students of Mathematics. This is achieved in three ways:

  • development of positive attitudes through enjoyable activities, experience with challenge and achievement of success
  • development of general learning skills such as questioning, organisation, effective revision and exam techniques, and
  • development of self-reflection, allowing students to reflect on their achievement, set goals and become confident in their ability to learn any new mathematics they desire.

An example of how we achieve this is the Reflection tasks that students complete after each formal assessment task in junior years. Based on the Ignatian pedagogical technique of reflection on experience and action taking, these tasks teach junior students how to reflect on their achievements and how to identify areas of strength and areas that require improvement. More importantly, they then give students concrete options for what actions to take to work towards improvement.

As they develop these independent learning skills through the junior years, students become confident in their ability to overcome challenges as they are met. They leave the College confident in the knowledge that, even if faced with a problem that they haven’t seen before, they have the skills and persistence required to learn the desired mathematics and solve the problem successfully.

The Mathematics Department is comprised of:

  • Mr Nicholas Garben - Head of Department
  • Ms Jane Ashcroft
  • Mr Robert Bielinko
  • Ms Annemaree Butter
  • Ms Paula Chan
  • Ms Tali Melman
  • Ms Maryanne O'Donoghue - Boarding Coordinator
  • Ms Jo Tardo - Head of House


Contact the Mathematics Department:
Mr Nicholas Garben

HODMATH@stvincents.nsw.edu.au