Teaching and Learning


McCarthy Catholic College has a broad and diverse curriculum designed to meet the needs of all students and to develop their individual talents. The curriculum offered at the college has the scope and breadth to cater for students at all stages of the learning journey, offering both challenges and support.

Key Learning Areas

Religious Education and Mission Goal

To demonstrate an increased understanding of our core values of Integrity, Justice and Peace expressed through prayer and service in order to build positive relationships in the image of Jesus Christ.

McCarthy Catholic College serves Our Lady of the Way Parish and the surrounding schools through the Catechist program. We celebrate the faith of our students, the liturgical year, Opening Mass, Graduation and holy days of obligation with Fr Mick O’Callaghan, our Parish Priest.

Staff and students reach out to our modern world through non-profit organisations such as Caritas, St Vincent de Paul and Jesuit Social Services. Each providing experiences that enrich the life of students, staff and those whom we serve. Specific social justice actions include Project Compassion, Pancake Day, Vinnies Van, Vinnies Winter Sleep Out, Jesuits Social Services Store at Emerton, RUOK? Day and Vinnies Christmas Appeal.

Religious Literacy

The Religious Literacy Assessment instrument examines the ability of a Year 8  and 10 student to express his/her understanding of religious language and concepts up until and including Stages 4 and 5. The Online Assessment consists of 40 multiple choice questions - 5 questions from each of the eight strands of Sharing Our Story:

  • God

  • Jesus

  • Church

  • Prayer

  • Sacraments

  • Scripture

  • Christian Life

  • Religion and Society

Curriculum Overview

Stage 4 (Years 7 and 8) - Engagement Strategies

Sharing Our Story explores aspects of Initiation and Belonging to Catholic beliefs and practices that enable students to engage in a Catholic worldview. An exploration of the story throughout the first two years enable students to understand the Old Testament as the preparation of Jesus in our world and that Jesus is the passion we experience at Easter.

Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) - Empowerment Strategies

Catholic Studies investigates the application of Jesus’ teachings to social justice principles illuminated by Mary and the Saints. Creative assessment allows interaction with Stage 4 learning, parents and the community.

Stage 6 (Years 11 and 12) - Enterprise Skills

Catholic Studies examines Jesus’ teachings to inform our Christian vision of the world be become people ready to embark in this world as ethical risk takers, communicating with others and resilient to change but steeped in the tradition of the Church.

Studies of Religion investigates the nature and significance of religion in Australia, the influence of belief systems and religious traditions on individuals and within society, Religion and peace as integral to human capacity and a worldview from a non-religious perspective. It is designed for students to increase their expertise in Religious Education in order to enhance their personal, social and faith life as they come to understand the rich Australian religious context. Students interested in the development of World Religions and their impact on society and the specific influence in the Australian cultural context and capable of both independent, online and group learning, are likely to engage with the subject.

The English Department at McCarthy Catholic College aims to create dynamic and meaningful learning experiences for students across all grades and to cater to the various strengths of all students. English Help is available for all students every Tuesday after school until 4pm.

We have a focus on the new textual concept framework and all of our teaching units are based around specific textual concepts that will help to build student capacity in critical thinking and allow for individual success in both the HSC and beyond. In our stage 4 and 5 classes we are passionate about providing students choice in what they do to engage them in the learning. To achieve this we offer students a choice of the novels that they will read in class so that they can choose something that is more suitable to both their own interests and their ability level.

The English faculty are committed to offering students opportunities to improve their communication skills such as writing competitions, debating and public speaking. In recent years, we have had many successes in all of these pursuits.

English is a compulsory subject throughout schooling. In stage 6 we are able to offer students 5 strands of English to allow them the best opportunity for challenge and success. These strands are: English Studies, English (Standard), English (Advanced), Extension I and Extension II English.

At McCarthy Catholic College we aim to enhance the numeracy skills of all our students with a range of activities. We provide regular homework, extension work, and acceleration for appropriate students. Maths Help is offered every Monday after school until 4pm.


With our involvement in the EM4 initiative, we are more able to meet the needs of a wider range of student abilities. This is achieved through open-ended tasks, meaningful games, puzzles and real life representations. The EMU program provides intervention for our more vulnerable students in Year 7.


The work to enhance our students numerate literacy is of great importance to the school and is ongoing. This is crucial as all students in Year 9 need to achieve a Band 8 or higher to receive their HSC credential.


We offer the full range of Mathematics courses for senior study, including Mathematics Standard, Mathematics, Mathematics Extension I and Mathematics Extension II. Stage 5 students are placed in the three NESA approved pathways of study, Stage 5.1, Stage 5.2 and Stage 5.3, allowing all students to access the curriculum at an appropriate level.

The Science faculty of McCarthy Catholic College delivers Science in six state of the art Laboratories with vibrant and experienced staff. All stage 6 Science courses are offered at the completion of the stage four /five course.


The aim of the faculty is to prepare students to face and thrive in the ever changing landscape of the world of Science. It is imperative that students are capable and confident independent ‘thinkers’ to face the challenges that await them in the Sciences.


STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) in an interdisciplinary approach that is core to the national curriculum and has been embedded into the delivery and assessment of the faculty and the College for the past two years and will continue to challenge students in the future.

The Creative and Performing Arts Department offers a broad range of creative experiences in the fields of Drama, Music, Photographic and Digital Media, and Visual Arts. Our aim is to increasingly broaden the students’ exposure to expressive forms across each stage of the curriculum.


In the performance-based subjects, Drama and Music, the aim is for our students to become independent, confident performers with the capacity to engage in collaborative and composition experiences. These experiences are supplemented by CAPTIVATE programs not only in Drama and Music, but also in Dance. McCarthy has been the Dance HUB in 2017, giving students the opportunity to work with students from other schools in collaborating on Dance performances and improving technique.


In the creative-based subjects of Photographic and Digital Media, and Visual Arts, students are exposed to a range of material experiences as they respond to their world, their beliefs, raise issues and make observations. Our collaboration with internationally exhibited street-artist Johnny Romeo has allowed students to improve the quality of their work through a mentoring program designed to assist students who aspire to succeed in the HSC and beyond.

Dance, Drama and Music

Students in Year 7 and Year 8 Music learn to play the guitar, keyboard and the drums whilst studying Musical Identity and Popular Music. Students also learn to compose and explore their creative side using the program, GarageBand.


Years 9 and 10 Music students engage in composition, aural, musicology and performance under a variety of genres including Australian Music, Rock, Popular, Classical, Jazz, Music and Technology, Music of a Culture, Music for Large and Small Ensembles and Music for Radio, Film, Television and Multimedia. Year 9 and 10 Drama students learn the elements of safe dance, appreciation, theatre, composition and performance in a variety of contexts, styles and genres.


Year 11 and 12 Music caters for individual student needs by exploring the major components of aural, performance, composition and musicology within genres that appeal to each student’s interests. Years 11 and 12 Dance and Drama continue the exploration of theatre, appreciation, performance and composition both individually and within an ensemble. Senior students are given a number of opportunities to showcase their works at performance evenings throughout the year.


All music subjects are complimented by a peripatetic music program, which allows students to have group or private lessons on their chosen instrument within the school.

Visual Arts and Photography

Students in Years 7 and 8 Visual Arts are exposed to a range of materials in drawing, painting and ceramic media. In Year 7, students focus on their ‘identity’ through self-portraiture, they then move onto forging a connection with their local area through landscape drawing and painting.


In Years 9 and 10, students work in drawing and painting again, but with a focus on extending and refining their techniques and material usage. Students gain an exposure to photography, ceramics, jewellery, printmaking and sculpture. Students lean on a range of subject matter to master their materials. Landscape, Architecture and the Human Body become the inspiration for their Artmaking and their Critical and Historical Studies.


Our senior students continue the Visual Arts Course with increasing levels of expertise in their material usage and independence in their Artmaking concepts. By the HSC year each student is able to manage the decision making and skill entailed in producing a Body of Artworks. Senior students are also mentored by Johnny Romeo in order to get the most out of their major work.


Photographic and Digital Media students work across various forms of photography in Stage 5. The programs allow for students to work with film, the darkroom, digital photography and potentially videography. Subject matter is broad and crosses into areas of design and the visual arts in order for students to gain an exposure to the range of uses of photography in visual industries.


The Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) Department oversees a range of mandatory and elective subjects from Years 7 to 12.  Members of the HSIE staff are dedicated and experienced educators whose aim is to create interested students, deepen their learning experience and encourage independent thinking.


Students in Years 7-10 will complete one semester of History and one semester of Geography each year.  They will learn History and Geography skills in Year 7 that will be built upon in subsequent years.  Stage 4 History covers Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Medieval Europe and Colonisation.  In Geography students will explore Landscapes and Landforms, Interconnectedness, Water in the World, and Place and Liveability.  Students activities include making an Egyptian artefact and participating in a Medieval Day, and a Geography field work excursion.


In Stage 5, students will study the topics Making a Better World: Movement of Peoples, Australians at War: World Wars I and II, Rights and Freedoms (1945-Present), and Popular Culture. In Geography, they will study Sustainable Biomes and Changing Places as well as Environmental change and Management, and Human Wellbeing.  Student activities include planning a new housing development, and visiting Penrith Lakes for fieldwork experience.

Students are also able to choose electives from the beginning of Year 9.  Currently we offer Elective History, World Studies and Commerce.

In Stage 6, students can select from the following subjects:

  • Ancient History

  • Business Studies

  • Geography

  • Legal Studies

  • Modern History

  • Society and Culture


Teachers on these subjects are specialists in their fields, with many years experience.  Where appropriate, seminars, site studies and lecture days are included during term time, and students are given opportunities to attend holiday revision sessions at school with their teachers prior to major exams, and help sessions one afternoon a week at the school. 

Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education

The Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education curriculum at McCarthy Catholic College engages students in a number of key learning concepts developed from the interrelationship between physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual health. The focus is a holistic approach that aims to develop well rounded and balanced students.

Stage 4 Years 7 and 8 PDHPE

Some of these key learning concepts our Year 7 to 8 students learn to develop understanding and skills in include: well being, drugs, changes during adolescence; spirituality, relationships, driving, life problem solving and decision making skills, health promotion, psychological health, first aid and lifesaving, nutrition, disease and illness, goal setting, diversity, adversity, happiness, swim and survive, dance, gymnastics, Olympic sports, fitness, and team sports.

Stage 5 Years 9 and 10 Elective (PASS) and PDHPE

Our Years 9 and 10 Physical Activity and Sports Studies students and PDHPE students have a range of additional opportunities including: creating, planning, delivering and evaluating modified games and a variety of physical education lessons to their peers; anatomy and physiology; sports medicine and sports injuries; improving movement and sports performance; careers; sexual health; group fitness activities; martial arts; yoga; tai chi; qigong; and ethical issues in sport.  Physical Activity and Sports Studies apply what skills they have learnt at the pool when helping the teacher’s guide Year Seven through First Aid, Swimming and Lifesaving Activities.

Stage 6 Years 11 and 12 Electives

McCarthy Catholic College offers four PDHPE courses in Years 11 and 12 including: Personal Development, Health and Physical Education; Community and Family Studies; Exploring Early Childhood; and Sport Lifestyle and Recreation. These senior stage six students develop community research projects, design training programs for elite athletes, experience parenthood with baby simulators, deliver coaching sessions, and create health promotion initiatives to improve Australia’s Health.

Extracurricular PDHPE Incursions  and Excursions

PDHPE students are exposed to a variety of engaging and challenging extracurricular opportunities which further develop their knowledge and skills including • Year 7 Swimming and Lifesaving; • Year 9 PASS Surf Safety at Long Reef Beach; • Year 10 Road Safety; • Year 11 First Aid Accreditation; • Year 12 Periodisation Planning incursion by Erin McCleave from the Institute of Sport and Rowing Australia.

PDHPE Pedagogy

We use a range of pedagogical processes and a variety of activities that allow for an engaging and purposeful learning environment. These processes include directional learning, learning through enquiry, and project based learning. We also have a structure in place and resources that provide students with flipped learning experiences. Other focal points include:


I. A focus on a strengths based approach > we affirm that all students and their communities have particular strengths and resources that can be nurtured to improve their own and others’ health, wellbeing, movement competence and participation in physical activity.

II. A focus on educative purposes > every lesson has explicit learning intentions and success criteria that prioritise progression and development alongside meaning making and application in contemporary health and movement contexts.

III. A focus on developing health literacy > we provide building blocks for developing the knowledge, understanding and skills to research, apply and access health information and services.

IV. A focus on valuing movement > we provide a variety of movement challenges and opportunities for students to enhance a range of personal and social skills and behaviours that contribute to health and wellbeing.

V. A focus on a critical inquiry and critical evaluative approaches > we develop in students the ability to deeply analyse and evaluate the contextual factors that influence the ways people live, including health and movement behaviours.

The aim of the TAS Department here at McCarthy Catholic College is to develop students’ ability to design, produce and evaluate quality solutions that respond to identified opportunities and needs. We aim to enable students to responsibly, safely and creatively use and select materials, tools and techniques to produce quality goods and solutions to identified problems and opportunities.


Within Mandatory Technology (Years 7 and 8) our students produce goods for specific design needs. Our aim is to teach skills that can be developed through their life. They work collaboratively with others to achieve individual and collective goals in the design and production of products in the areas of food, mixed materials, media, textiles, timber, ICT, plant and animal production.


Students in Stage 5 can choose from a wide variety of electives such as Agriculture, Food, Textiles and Design, Metal, Timber, and Information and Software Technology. Students will learn to meet the requirements of an identified need through a design brief and work through the design process where they are able to express themselves creatively in the design, portfolio and product development. These technologies seek to raise students’ awareness of the interaction between technology, industry, society and the environment.


Students entering Stage 6 can continue with their Stage 5 Technology elective or chose another technology offered here at McCarthy ranging from Agriculture, Design and Technology, Food Technology, Industrial Timber, Textiles and Design, Software Design and Development, and Information Processes and Technology. They offer students the opportunity to study the interrelationships of technologies, equipment and materials used by industry and develop skills through the process of design, planning and production in the readiness for the workplace.


Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses are offered as part of the Higher School Certificate.  They enable students to study courses that are relevant to industry needs and have clear links to post-school destinations.


These courses provide school and TAFE delivered, approved training along with the opportunity to sit for an HSC exam in the subjects and have them count towards an ATAR.


At McCarthy Catholic College, access to the following VET courses can be offered:

  • Business Services

  • Construction

  • Entertainment

  • Hospitality

  • Information and Digital Technology

  • Primary Industries

  • Retail Services

Such VET courses provide students the advantage of achieving dual accreditation while at high school. Firstly they achieve the HSC and then also an Australian Qualifications Framework Certificate II or III credential in their selected VET course (eg. Certificate II Hospitality).

These credentials and their experiences during work placement sessions often lead to part-time employment, apprenticeships and a pathway into further study for these trade and service industries post high school.

For further information, please contact Mr Geoff Sullivan, Leader of Learning, VET.


LOTE Rationale

At McCarthy we believe that the study of Japanese gives access to the language and culture of one of Asia’s most important societies. We believe it opens the door and provides pathways for students to engage with not only Australia’s place in Asia but also her neighbours. Through the study of the Japanese language, history and cultural aspects, students gain valuable perspectives on art, music, customs, beliefs and the ways of thinking of Japanese people. Not only that, but they also gain insight into their own personal world and that of Australia.

Stage 4 Years 7 and 8 LOTE

Currently only our Year 8 students study the 100 hour Mandatory Japanese course.  However, in 2018 McCarthy is transitioning our Stage 4 100 hour Mandatory Japanese from Year 8 into Year 7.  This means that in 2018 both Year 7 and Year 8 will be studying the 100 hour course.

Stage 6 Year 12 LOTE

Currently McCarthy has a 200 hour Beginners Japanese course. The Beginners course is aimed at students who are beginning their studies of Japanese in Stage 6.  Students who study this course should have little to no prior knowledge apart from the study of 100 hours or less throughout Stage 4 or 5.

LOTE Teachers

McCarthy Catholic College has an experienced, dedicated, passionate, energetic and spirited LOTE faculty:

  • Mrs. H Mahboub

  • Mr. L Sullivan

Click here to find out more what P-Tech and iStem can offer our students.

Learning In Each Stage

In Years 7 and 8 students study:

  • Religious Education
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Design & Technology
  • Visual Arts
  • Music
  • History
  • Geography
  • Japanese

In Years 9 and 10 students choose a subject combination that satisfies the requirements for the award of the Record Of School Achievement (ROSA).

Courses that are studied by all students are:

  • Religious Education
  • Science
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Australian History
  • Geography.

Students also choose two courses from a range of electives:

  • Agriculture 
  • Commerce
  • Design and Technology
  • Drama
  • Food Technology     
  • Industrial Technology – Timber
  • Information and Digital Media Technology
  • iSTEM
  • Japanese
  • Music
  • Photographic & Digital Media
  • Physical Activity & Sports Studies
  • Primary Industrues
  • Textiles Technology
  • Visual Arts
Learning areas Examples of courses offered
Religion Studies of Religion I and II, Sharing Our Story
English Advanced, Standard and Extension
Mathematics Extension, Mathematics and General
Science Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Science, Physics
HSIE Ancient History, Business Studies, Economics, Geography
Legal studies, Modern History, Society and Culture
Technology and Applied Studies  Food Technology, Hospitality, Industrial Technology,
Information Process & Technology, Metal & Engineering,
Software Design & Development, Textiles & Design.
PDHPE PDHPE, Community & Family Studies, Exploring Early Childhood,
Sport, Lifestyle and Recreation
Creative and Performing Arts Dance, Drama, Music Course 1, Photography, Visual Arts
LOTE   Japanese Continuers


2019 HSC Assessment Schedules

The McCarthy Catholic Trade Training Centre (TTC) offers a specialised pathway for students providing them with the ability to combine their HSC studies with specific Trade Training in a variety of vocational areas.
Unlike other TTCs, the pathway offered at McCarthy is supported by a flexible timetable allowing students to be employed as School Based Apprentices/Trainees (SBAT) without missing learning opportunities at school. To achieve this students attend McCarthy four days a week and complete a minimum of two weeks Industry Placement per term.
To compliment the flexible timetable, students complete subjects from a tailored HSC subject package that has been developed to ensure success post the HSC. Essential Business and Financial Services training is provided through the inclusion of additional VET courses and a typical student enrolled in the TTC HSC Pathway does not sit any external examinations.
The following trade/vocational areas are available for students to access onsite:
- Automotive
- Bricklaying
- Carpentry
- Early Childhood Education and Care
- Electrical
- Engineering (Metal Fabrication)
- Hairdressing
- Hospitality (Commercial Cookery)
Students have the ability to access the following trades offsite with Expressions of Interest (EOI) considered for other trade/vocational areas:
- Plumbing
- Shopfitting 
Please visit our website for more information or contact us directly on 4728 8129.

Other Programs

The education of students with particular learning needs has always been an important focus for educators within the Diocese of Parramatta. The Learning Support Team at McCarthy Catholic College is committed to providing quality education for our students by developing goals and strategies which

  • address the diverse needs of students
  • promote inclusive practices
  • provide effective teaching and learning support for all students

The Learning Support Team help teachers to address the identified needs of students with learning difficulties, as well as provide opportunities to empower academically gifted students to perform at their highest level.

The following initiatives are undertaken by the Learning Support Team to improve the learning, and give individual support, to students at McCarthy Catholic College:

Year 7 – Numeracy Program

To support the Mathematics Department in the implementation and running of EMU (Enhancing Mathematical Understanding), a program for students who have not achieved the required growth points for Year 7 Mathematics.

Years 7 & 8 – Reading Support Program

To provide students in Years 7 & 8 with the literacy skills required for secondary education.

Years 8 & 9 –Travel Training Program

To help students in Years 8 and 9 to undertake successful independent travel trips, to plan for these through a variety of transport modes, to develop communication skills, to read and comprehend general community information, and to acquire functional money skills.

Years 7 to 10 – Gifted & Talented Program

To enhance, or 'enrich', the learning of students identified as 'gifted', offering broader education activities and personalised learning through,

  • a differentiated curriculum
  • providing opportunities for ability grouping e.g. acceleration
  • providing opportunities beyond the classroom such as subject competitions, mentor-ships etc

Included in this is the Space to Grow, Enrichment Program, run at McCarthy to provide the appropriate level of academic challenge which caters for the intellectual and affective needs of the students whose interests and strengths lie in the areas of astronomy, physics, mathematics and computing.

Years 7 to 10 – Organisational Skills Work Booklet

To assist students in taking responsibility for their own learning and help them to find structure at school and in other areas of their lives.

Years 7 to 12

The Learning Support Team ensures that all students with learning needs have options and choices through Individual Planning Meetings and Mentoring Programs. Students in Years 9 and 10 with identified learning needs are also encouraged to participate in a range of Transition Courses which include:

  • Effective Communication
  • Work Orientation Day
  • 2Work
  • Pathways
  • Taster Courses (Automotive, Building and Construction, Retail etc)
  • Fast Track
  • Work Experience
  • WHS
  • First Aid

Years 9 to 12

Most students with learning needs at McCarthy participate fully in learning experiences and assessment activities provided by the regular syllabus outcomes and content. However, for a small percentage of students, the Life Skills program of study offered at McCarthy provides a more relevant, accessible and meaningful curriculum option. Through this program the student’s interests, strengths, goals and learning needs are of prime importance as well as the student’s transition needs from school to adult life.

Years 7 to 12 – Literacy and Numeracy Support Programs

(Includes individual tutorials if and when needed)
To assist students with needs to unlock the complexities, of language and numeracy. The program is intended to be a support and revision of what is already happening in classrooms across curricula.

Years 7 to 12 –Drop In and Learn (DIAL)

This program encourages students with learning education needs to make use of the Learning Support Room at lunchtimes for assistance with homework, assignments and one-on-one discussion of key concepts covered in class.

Information & Resources

Special Needs Brochure
Gifted & Talented Brochure
Special Needs Websites
Gifted & Talented Websites

Through programs such as these, the Learning Support Team at McCarthy Catholic College provides a framework to encourage and develop a collaborative ‘whole school’ approach to learning support involving teachers, parents and students with learning needs.

Literacy Tips:

Read the novel your child is reading for their English class - this is best done by reading aloud sections each as a shared experience, then talking about the pages read - this can be done while waiting for sport, preparing dinner, as your child goes to bed etc.

If time does not allow for shared reading, read the novel individually and find time (car, dinner, etc) to have a general discussion about the novel, which will support them in class tasks.

McCarthy Catholic College offers a vast range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. Some examples of these activities are:

  • Dance, drama and music
  • Debating and public speaking
  • History, Geography, Mathematics and Science competitions
  • McCarthy Idol
  • Mock trials
  • Sport to state and national levels
  • Students’ mock united nations
  • Tournament of the Minds
  • Variety night/talent quests.

These activities provide students with the opportunity to develop leadership and organisation skills. 

McCarthy Catholic College encourages students to become fully involved in the life of the college and we believe strongly in the need for students to be balanced and to see education as a process that involves the whole person both in and out of the classroom.

At McCarthy we have a very strong sporting tradition and we offer a variety of sporting choices, including representative sport through the Parramatta Diocese Secondary Schools Sports Council program (PDSSSC).

This program provides students with the opportunity to represent at state and national level.

We encourage all students to discover their sporting passions and talents, and sports on offer. For those students who prefer non-competitive pursuits, we also offer a range of activities to meet these students’ needs.

Competition Sports

  • AFL
  • Athletics
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cricket
  • Cross Country
  • Futsal
  • Netball
  • Oz Tag
  • Rugby League
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Touch Football
  • Volleyball

Non-competitive Activities

  • Agriculture
  • Art
  • Chess
  • Games
  • Walking
  • Golf
  • Gym
  • Ice Skating
  • Tenpin Bowling
  • Indoor Rock Climbing
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
  • European Handball

The following links are useful sites to support parents in preparing their children for NAPLAN. Please use the strategies over the following week at home; and at school your child will be involved in various NAPLAN preparations by their teachers. Together we can support your child so they feel confident as they approach NAPLAN. We would recommend  examining the Preparing for NAPLAN website for online resources and strategies. 

NAPLAN Online Test Window: 14 - 24 May 2019