Mathematics at St John’s

Extending Mathematical Understanding

At Mt St John’s, we teach Mathematics from the NSW Mathematics Curriculum. We use Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) to monitor student learning, to guide our teaching so we can ensure that students work on tasks that provide suitable challenges to drive their learning.

Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) is an evidence-based, whole school approach for the teaching and learning of Mathematics. It is an essential element of our school to continually improve mathematical outcomes for students through the development of conceptual understanding of Mathematics.

Read More


In the Diocese of Lismore Catholic schools, we believe that every student has the right to quality and equitable learning experiences that promote the communication of truth and abundance of life for all students. Our beliefs align closely with the core beliefs of the EMU whole school approach.


The core beliefs of the whole school approach are that:

  1. It is a fundamental right of every student to be numerate
  2. All students can achieve high standards given the right time, support and opportunity
  3. Early and on-going intervention are essential
  4. All teachers need to be able to articulate the instructional decisions based on their data and pedagogical content knowledge


The whole school approach emphasises quality classroom teaching and learning of Mathematics. The Mathematics Assessment Interview (MAI) is undertaken by every student in our diocesan primary schools at the beginning of each year. The MAI data provides valuable information for classroom teachers that allows their planned learning experiences to be targeted to the needs of their learners.

We recognise that for some students this may not be sufficient to enable them to thrive mathematically and may require more targeted support with their Mathematics learning at different points in their schooling. EMU Specialist Teachers are qualified specialists with a deep understanding of the learning process of Number and provide intervention for the most mathematically vulnerable students. The highly effective EMU intervention accelerates growth in conceptual understanding for the most mathematically vulnerable students to enable them to access the classroom curriculum.

Our Mathematics Block

The pedagogy (the way we teach) within our Mathematics Block follows a model based on research by Peter Sullivan. Students will participate in a warm up, which is usually an EMU task related to their level of learning. They will then progress to a rich task, which will encourage students to think deeply about the mathematics concept being studied. Throughout this task students will be encouraged to reflect on their learning. A reflection takes place at the end of each Mathematics Block to assist students in making connections to the concept, to share their misunderstandings to form future learning and to explore the mathematical language of the concept being studied.

Read More About our Mathematics Block