Teacher and students using workbooks for a mathematics task

Galilee Catholic Primary School Bondi favours explicit teaching to help students thrive.

Galilee Catholic Primary School Bondi has achieved its strongest NAPLAN mathematics results in seven years.

Dedicated teachers, explicit teaching, and a balance between rich, challenging tasks and opportunities to practise and master learning are behind their success.

The school’s mean scores in year 3 and 5 numeracy were markedly higher than state average according to the most recent NAPLAN results.

Two-thirds of current year 6 students also showed above-expected growth in numeracy between Years 3 and 5.


Year 3 teacher Siobhan Carey is also the school’s instructional specialist. She works alongside teachers to improve their practice and help students achieve more in their learning.

Ms Carey said the school joined the Mathematical Expertise and Excellence (MEE) program in 2020, and students’ confidence in the subject has soared since then.

The program gives students challenges in maths lessons, known as launch tasks, and teaches strategies to solve them. This includes ‘spywalks’, where they are encouraged to observe their peers at work. The ‘fishbowl’ technique allows the teacher to highlight examples of good work and guide the class through solving the final stages of a problem together.

“Because the questions are open-ended and there is more than one solution, it draws upon creativity, problem-solving, and linguistics to come to a solution,” Ms Carey said.

 “By the time they came to me in Year 3 they were solving open-ended, real-life problems.

“It really puts the learning in the child’s hands” – Siobhan Carey

“They can see the steps needed to achieve success. It’s so different from doing a worksheet.

“We’re building their capacity so that when they finish Year 12 and enter out into the world, they have a variety of skills that they can draw upon. It’s about building the foundations so they are able to succeed later in life.”


Literacy programs at the school are also geared towards empowering students to become independent learners. This includes teaching children how to decode texts and allowing students writing on topics of interest to harness their creativity.

Principal Brian Anderson said the ‘care factor’ of teachers like Siobhan helped students to thrive at Galilee, improving academically, socially and emotionally.

He said the school’s academic success was built on the dedication of staff and their commitment to providing explicit teaching and learning for each student.

“As principal of the school I have high expectations of the staff and students,” he said

“The programs that are in place build the foundations that allow the teachers and children to achieve.”

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