Happy New Year to all at St Andrew’s.
At the start of each Year, the staff join together to begin the school year is prayer, giving thanks for the gifts we bring to our faith community and to give thanks for the children, our gifts from God, that the year ahead brings success and spiritual peace and growth.
This year we welcome Mr Matt Reitano 5R and Miss Caitlin Gaffney 6G & 4G to our team. I also extend our welcome to Mrs Nicole Fitz who has accepted a full time teaching position this year.
Our dear friends Mrs Krasinski and Mrs Sultana will also be returning from parental leave some time this year and we look forward to their return.
What’s new this year?
This we have a very focused learning agenda. Our school has been chosen to work along-side Mr Michael McDowell. Michael is an Educator from Canada who is renowned for his expertise in the area of Project- and Problem-Based Learning. This is a very popular method of instruction, and address surface, deep, and transfer learning outcomes. Michael McDowell describes three key shifts that need to happen in PBL design to reach students' learning goals, which are clarity, challenge and culture. When these shifts are implemented in PBL design, the result is learners who are both confident and competent. Confident learners have a growth mindset, are assessment capable, and collaborate. Competent learners have the right surface and deep knowledge, and can transfer it to new situations. We have been on this journey now for several years and this Professional Learning will consolidate our understanding to ensure we provide the best instruction for our children. Mr Haynes is the Pedagogical Leader this year and will be working along-side the teachers and children to embed this well into our teaching repertoire.
Additional Class Teacher
You also may have noticed that every grade has an additional classroom teacher. I have strategically used our resources to place a diversity teacher in each grade. This will enable explicit targeted teaching to occur throughout the day. The additional teacher is part of the teaching team and will be planning, teaching and assessing student achievement every day. This strategy will ensure that students who need additional assistance or have not grasped the concept during the first round of teaching are targeted and retaught. Our focus is to ensure that we are supporting those who need it and extending students who need to be challenged further. This is what we call point to need teaching.
Building specific skills to ensure all our children can learn
During last year, your child may have come home and talked about resilience or the need to be focused or to show empathy and influence to work as a team and to be able to communicate their learning using critical and creative thinking skills. Professional Learning in 2019 began the journey of developing the learner with specific skills to ensure that learning is optimised every day. Teachers teach but if the learner does not have the skills to be a learner, then the learning environment will not be as effective. Teachers will continue teaching these skills to the children this year. There are 9 in total and they focus on Cognitive, interpersonal and interpersonal skills development. These skills are necessary to build a self regulated learner. These skills are life long and will definitely assist your child on their life learning journey.
My sincere thanks to our community for your support during these very uncertain times. Our Catholic Education Office is constantly updating every school to ensure that the latest information is sent home to parents. Due to the nature of the virus, information from NSW Health and other Government bodies changes regularly. We will follow these directives to best manage the outbreak and to keep our families safe.
Some gentle reminders for parents
As you know safety is our first priority.
The school over many years has implemented policies and procedures that work for us. There are many variables and issues that we need to consider when policies and procedures are developed and unfortunately on occasions parents may view this as an inconvenience to them. I don't apologise for this as every parent sends their child to school to be safe and to learn.
Morning drop off and pick up
Parents are asked to park their car legally and walk their children into the school grounds. If you are just dropping your child at school, please ensure that your child leaves your car on the curb side of the street. This is the same if you are using the kiss and drop process from the Parish car park area. Parents are asked not to park in this car park in the morning or afternoon or the teacher's car park.
Children who travel home by bus are to wait in the designated area for the teacher on duty to assist them onto the bus.
I ask parents to please inform the school if there are changes to the arrangements noted on the student information update form. For example, if another responsible adult is collecting your child from school or they are walking home instead of traveling by car ring or write a letter, attention: class teacher.
Marian has been a part of our community for many years. Her role is a very significant one as Breakfast Road during peak pick up and drop off periods can be very chaotic and at times unsafe due to reckless drivers. I ask parents to please listen to Marian and follow her directions. We always need to model safe practices and positive relationships to our children. I ask that you also please share this information to all responsible adults who enter the school grounds.
Large amounts of money sent to school
We ask parents to please limit the amount of money children bring to school each day. This is a temptation for other students to ask for food to be purchased for them or for money to go missing.
We ask parents to please wait in the designated areas in the morning and not to wait around the classrooms, children are asked to place bags on hooks and then move immediately to the playground. This is for the safety of all.
If you wish to speak with a teacher please make an appointment. Teachers are on duty as soon as the school day begins. This is called duty of care. If they are speaking with you, their attention is not on the children and thus an incident may occur. I thank you for respecting this very important safety procedure in our school.
The last issue I would like to raise is the personal conduct of responsible adults while on school grounds.
We are a Catholic community, and it is important that we build positive, respectful relationships. If you have a concern or an issue that you would like to discuss, please speak with the person or people concerned. We are all human and we make mistakes. My door is always open to parents who would like to share a concern or a positive experience. If a parent presents on school grounds in a violent or threatening manner, they will be asked to leave and the authorities will be contacted. Please remember that there will always be little eyes watching.
Social media sites
There are many parents who enjoy sharing special events and happy moments on class social media sites. This is a great way to reach school families and share the great things happening at school.
On occasions, some parents have used this site to air their grievances and spread false information about staff or the school. Please consider that any information you post on these sites regarding staff will always find its way to that staff member. This act of posting hurtful information does not reflect the staff member in a bad light, but yourself . We always need to demonstrate respectful behaviours in our community. St Andrew’s is great, let’s continue to make it outstanding. We can do this together.
I sincerely wish our families a very successful year. God bless.