Mercedes College has a strong commitment to giving students equal access to learning opportunities.

The College aims to:

  • Develop the whole person within a supportive Catholic environment.
  • Promote the achievement of excellence.
  • Develop life skills to enable all students to contribute and take their place as worthwhile members of our society.
  • Prepare students to make informed and realistic decisions regarding their future vocations.

It is recognised that some students have special learning needs and may benefit from opportunities for differentiated support in addition to that provided by their classroom teachers.

Academic Challenge and Extension

In all areas of teaching and learning, we aim for excellence and the highest educational outcomes within a collaborative, nurturing learning environment. Taking responsible risks is encouraged, success is rewarded, and disappointment acknowledged. The College encourages students to be self-directed, collaborative, critical thinkers who will take ownership of their educational journey and persevere to achieve their personal best. The focus is on continuous learning that will provide the spiritual, social, physical and emotional development needed to achieve personal fulfilment.

The Academic Challenge and Extension (ACE) program has been designed to further develop highly capable students from Years 7 to 10 in the learning areas of English, Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences. ACE classes are typically smaller than most other mainstream classes and comprise approximately 25 students.

Student selection is initially based on Year 7 results and achievement.  Furthermore, a student may be selected for one or a number of these extension classes.  It is important to note that from year to year the composition of ACE classes may change in accordance with student performance.

Curriculum in all ACE classes follows the mainstream curriculum with deeper and broader focus. Through both enrichment and extension, these students are provided with opportunities to engage in a range of academic competitions and extension activities, as well as participating in incursion, excursions and guest-presentations.

Inclusive Education

Students in Inclusive Education receive specialised programs in Literacy, Numeracy and Life Skills, in addition to accessing a wide range of mainstream classes and activities.

Lower School students focus on both the Functional Literacy and Numeracy skills they use in their everyday lives. Students participate in Independent Living classes in the Coolock Centre where they practise the everyday skills they need in order to live independently. In addition, students participate in the Business and Enterprise Program where they experience running a business.

In the Upper School, students complete Preliminary Courses in Religious Education, English, Health/Physical Education and Mathematics, in addition to the Endorsed Programs based on the ASDAN Program (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network). Students study components of the ASDAN units: Towards Independence and Workright. This program gives educational opportunities to young people, helping learners to develop their personal and social attributes through its award programs and qualifications. The programs and qualifications aim to develop the skills of young people who have struggled in academic subjects but are also taken by other students. They accredit skills for learning, employment and life, focusing on personal skills development, work-related learning, foundation learning, volunteering and special educational needs. Independent Living Skills are a continued focus for these years.

Upper School students attend Work Experience in a variety of retail settings including the Reject Shop, Sweetlips, MercyCare, The Smith Family and Red Cross providing exposure to everyday life skills. Students are supported by a Teacher Assistant, and on an individual basis, this support is sometimes reduced.

The Inclusive Education team ensure that students are challenged and supported in achieving their personal best and are encouraged in their individual endeavours and progress.

Three students at work

Targeted Programs

FLIP (Functional Literacy Intervention Program)

FLIP is an intervention program for Year 7 to Year 9 students, designed to improve the functional literacy of students who are struggling with basic literacy skills. Often, these literacy deficits adversely impact on all learning areas and individuals find it difficult to keep abreast with secondary school content and the increasing demands on their written skills and abilities. FLIP complements the current Learning Support Program and Enrichment Class structure and is offered to a select number of Year 7, 8 and 9 students who have been identified by the College as having significant literacy deficits.

FLIP is an intensive, remedial, intervention program designed to assist these students with the acquisition of basic and essential phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, reading, comprehension and written expression. It is a systematic, cognitive and multi-sensory approach that is evidence-based on Australian, British and New Zealand research and follows models of current and effective practice.

  • Phase I of the program addresses difficulties in the areas of phonemic and phonological awareness, phonics and spelling.
  • Phase II concentrates on improving reading fluency, rate and accuracy as well as more advanced spelling skills.
  • Phase III aims to improve comprehension of the various text types that students encounter across their subjects, in addition to explicit grammar instruction and written expression skills.

Regular feedback and reporting takes place and each student’s progress is closely monitored and reported. For all students FLIP will be timetabled in place of a second language, and therefore occurs twice a week.

Learning Support

The Learning Support program caters for students who have been identified as having learning difficulties. These students may have been diagnosed with learning disabilities or may be experiencing learning difficulties for a variety of reasons, whether physical, intellectual, social or emotional. The primary aim of the program is to assist students in achieving to the best of their ability across the key learning areas. It also aims to prove each student’s self-efficacy and self-esteem.

Students receive intensive individual or small group assistance from Inclusive Education teachers that is specifically designed to cater for individual needs.  General aspects of the program address elements such as, effective time-management, organisational skills, homework, study and research techniques, deconstructing and scaffolding of tasks, comprehension and composition of written material. A variety of other processes and strategies are employed to cater to students’ specific requirements.

The sessions are permanent, weekly timetabled sessions in place of an elective and cause minimal disruption to the student’s timetable.

The after-school Homework Club from Monday to Thursday also provides another opportunity for all students who require additional assistance with homework. Teachers from a variety of subject areas are available to provide specialised assistance at each session. Students are encouraged to attend on a regular basis, however it is not compulsory.