Virginia Primary School Newsletter

Issue 13, 9/8 /2019

From the Principal


We would like to congratulate Thuy Tran on her appointment as acting Deputy Principal  for the next 5 weeks whilst Ilia undertakes the Education Director role. I am looking forward to working with Thuy and know she will be a great support. We would like to wish Ilia all the very best in his temporary new role and look forward to his return. I would also like to welcome back Mrs Bexis and thank Mrs Pauline Ferguson for her work in Room 8 over the past two weeks. We welcome Mrs Hayley Klose who will be working in a reading support role. Hayley has been back filling some short-term roles, and will now be with us in a longer term role.

Our Reading Priority

In past newsletters we have unpacked the skills of 'The Balanced Reader' - being able to decode (read the words on a page), read with fluency and phrasing (the ability to "break text into meaningful sentences and understand the conventions of text, including syntax and punctuation") and to be able to comprehend (understand what the text is about).

In this newsletter we have a section which focuses on reading levels. We unpacked why they are so important, some common mistakes parents and schools make and how they are used. 

Arriving to school on time

We often make references to the importance of arriving to school on time in our newsletters. Arriving to school late and signing in at the office should be an exception rather than the rule. It is crucial that students arrive to school on time. Being 15 minutes late a day on average a year adds up to over 9 days of learning. The morning routine is crucial for getting organised for the day and often the learning that takes place in the morning isn’t something that can be caught-up throughout the day. We have a teacher on duty from 8:30 am every morning and have breakfast available out the front of OSHC. Can you please make sure you are ready for learning in class by 8:55 am.

Levelled Readers

Some background

Levelled readers are organised into levels (referred to either by a number, colour or letter)  that developmentally scaffold in difficulty. They are an important tool educators use to support children in becoming balanced readers. Children begin on a levelled reader in Reception at some point, and continue to do so throughout their primary schooling. Once upon a time, children would transition from levelled readers in the lower middle primary, however, what we know from the literacy priority work we have done is that leveled readers were never designed to be used this way. As mentioned in previous newsletters, we now use a benchmark assessment system which is far more rigorous in terms of the expectations required to move up levels. We also resist moving children too quickly across levels to ensure they are reading a range of text types across the levels. We also teach children specific skills throughout the levels in both 'modelled - greater teacher control and  'guided reading sessions.   

Examples of how levels work

Levels 1, 2, 2/3 are an introduction and reinforcement of 25 - 30 high frequency words, made up of approximately 40 - 60 words in total. They establish concepts about print, there are one to three lines per page with simple sentence structure (one-verb clauses) and use repetition of sentence structure. Texts at these levels are almost always narrative stories with illustrations to provide high levels of support to help derive meaning from the text. A Reception child is expected to reach level 5 by the end of year.

**In Reception/ Year 1 we also make use of 'decode-able readers' which are designed to practise phonics skills in context (for those looking to make connections, in Reception/ Year 1 these readers support with the Speech, Sounds, Pics or SSP program we use).

In levels 17, 18, among a range of different features there is an increasing use of contractions (eg he's, she's, I'll) and the layout of texts become increasingly more difficult. There is repetition of approximately 450 high frequency words and texts are generally between 350 - 500 words in length.

Thank you for your support

Something that isn't a challenge at our school (thanks to you, our parents / caregivers and families) is a consistent push from home to get children moving as quickly as possible. Whilst we will never limit a child in terms of achievement, the danger of moving too quickly is that we don't have the opportunity to teach skills that will support in life-long reading.

A useful attachment - reading level equivalency table

Below is the link to the reading level equivalency table. Within the table you will be able to see how levelled readers (either by colour, number or letter) correspond to both reading age and year level targets.

Reading level equivalency table


Caitlyn wins 1st Place

Caitlyn represents VPS through our dressage club SADA (South Australian Dressage Association)

Last weekend Caitlyn was involved in a freestyle to music competition. This is when competitors create their own personalised test, using their own music which includes required movements for their level. Caitlyn chose the movie Madigascar as her theme, with her pony Marty being Marty the Zebra and she was Alex the lion. 

They took out 1st in their Category with a whopping 80% and also the Overall SADA Primary School Student Freestyle for 2019.

We are extremely proud of Caitlyn's achievement!


We will be holding our Annual Walkathon on Friday the 20th of September (week 9) after our whole school Assembly.

Walkathon notices will be sent home early in week 4. All information will be attached to the sponsor sheet. Please read carefully and hoping you can join us on the day.

Habits of Mind - Developing your child's habits of success

" Habits of Mind" are the characteristics of what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems, the resolutions of which are not immediately apparent." (Art Costa)

The Habits of Mind are an identified set of 16 problem solving and life related skills.

"We want our children to develop those habits that lead them to become lifelong learners, effective problem solvers and decision makers, able to communicate with a diverse population and to understand how to live successfully in a rapidly changing, high tech world." (Art Costa)

Habits of Mind provide a shared language and common approach of ways to behave intelligent, think effectively and foster success. At VPS we have been using Habits of Mind in supporting in continuing to develop our school culture and aspects of the curriculum.

Parents are the child's first teachers. We know that children learn best through imitating adults around them. Below are the 16 Habits of Mind we refer to at school with a small descriptive comment. These may help you when talking through learning opportunities (be it in life, an academic or sporting sense). 

Reminder: E-Newsletter trial (taken from our edition 11 newsletter)

E-Newsletter (Term 3 trial)

I have consistently had people provide feedback over the last year or so with respect to online newsletters as well as making online payments. Whilst there isn’t anything happening with online payments just yet, I can assure you with Governing Council support, we are exploring how we can do this in an efficient, easily accessible and safe way.


We are trialing online newsletters this term (Term 3). There have been several reasons as to why we will be trialing this, including;


  • High levels of engagement with reading newsletters through the links provided on Facebook and through Skoolbag
  • The ability for newsletters to be translated into other languages
  • Significant cost savings (both in paper and photocopying). Currently, each newsletter with 3 pages costs us approximately $103. This equates to over $2000 each year or approximately 30% of what we receive in profits from our major school fundraiser
  • Saving time – each newsletter takes time to print and send to classes
  • Its functionality (creating an e-newsletter is significantly easier than working with the formatting in a paper based form)


We recognise that this won’t be for everyone, and the only way to find a happy middle ground is to trial it.


How will you access the new school E-Newsletter?

When the newsletter gets sent out, it will be available in the Skoolbag app and through  the skoolbag portal on our website as well as a link on our Facebook page. Please make sure if you haven’t downloaded Skoolbag that you do so and ensure that notifications are ‘switched on’.  The termly calendar will be available in each E-newsletter as a downloadable PDF, as well as all dates being advertised in the ‘events’ section of our Skoolbag app. The new E-newsletter will automatically scale to size on PC, mobile or tablet.

Breakfast Program

A reminder to all that our school has a breakfast program available to ALL students. Each morning there is a table set up outside the staff room with a range of different nutritious options. Even if your child has had breakfast at home but still feels peckish they are able to take a piece of fruit, toast or yoghurt.

Term 3 Calendar

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