Just as people talk about their memories of when significant world or national events occurred such as Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, the Newcastle earthquake, Princess Diana’s death or the change to decimal currency, I am sure you will talk about the day your children returned to school!
Many of you, no doubt, let out a great sigh of relief as you waved your children off at the gate on Monday morning. To all of you who became teachers overnight – thank you for your efforts during remote learning. Thank you also for following the changed drop off and pick up procedures. Thank you for reading the continuous stream of information that we needed to share with you. The team work occurring between home and school is making this transition back to school, for your children, quite seamless.
There is a wonderful vibe about the place this week as the children reacquaint themselves with their friends and connect with their class teacher each day. For our students who have been here for much of the past 5 weeks, they are particularly happy to have their full circle of classmates back on site, in the flesh!
As you are now aware, a modified report will be written for all students for Semester 1. These will be shared with parents early next term. Our focus at the moment, however, is to reconnect with the children and establish where they are at with their learning before we even begin to write reports.
We intend to engage the children in their learning, incorporating both the ‘old’ (pre-Covid) and the ‘new’ (post-Covid) teaching practices and to further deepen their learning. We intend to do this by continuing to ensure that the six global competencies of deep learning are present across all grades Kinder-Year 6:
1.Character: Demonstrates grit, perseverance and resilience; shows empathy, compassion and integrity in action
2.Citizenship: Demonstrates a commitment to the wellbeing of others; solves complex problems to benefit others
3.Collaboration: Works collaboratively within a team; demonstrates social, emotional and interpersonal skills
4.Communication: Communicates ideas clearly and confidently for varying purposes; listens thoughtfully to what others communicate to us
5.Creativity: Asks inquiring questions; applies creativity to solve problems and explore solutions
6.Critical thinking: Is curious and makes connections through exploration; constructs meaningful knowledge by evaluating information and arguments; experiments, reflects and takes actions on their ideas
Listening to the personal feedback our staff give your children shows the focus they give to building character – encouraging them to be their best selves. Our faith teachings, prayer celebrations and community activities help to develop citizenship. Our open learning spaces and teaching styles make collaboration and communication integral factors in all classroom learning. Through planned play, music, drama and the arts we foster creativity, whilst critical thinking is implicit in all effective learning tasks, for without it, there is no real learning. An authentic Catholic School with a focus on deep learning is a great place to gain an effective education which is both engaging and relevant. Hopefully, this is part of the reason our students are so pleased to be back
Now that we have returned to full-time face-to-face learning, as of June 1, the following attendance advice, from the Catholic Schools Office, is in practice.
- The expectation is that students are either:
- at school;
- at home because they are currently unwell;
- at home because they have a medical certificate, which states they have a condition, which means it is not safe for them to return to school, for example they have a suppressed immune system or they are undergoing treatment like chemotherapy; and
- at home as they are residing with a family member in one of the categories identified as being at increased risk and are directed by a medical practitioner to remain at home. The parent or carer should provide written confirmation from the treating health professional that the student is unable to attend school. Students in this instance should engage in remote learning.
- If parents/carers are making the determination to keep students at home and none of the above applies, they must provide a reason and indicate the duration of the absence. As with normal practice, the reason will be either accepted or denied. There is no need to complete the Leave Form, unless it is for travel, but an explanation as with normal practice is required.
- If a student is absent for more than three days without a medical certificate, this will be recorded as an unauthorised absence and followed up by the school in line with normal practice.
We have noticed many children are arriving late each morning and as we are not having morning assemblies the classes have already gone in and commenced their learning when the late arrivals enter the classroom. This is disruptive for the children and teachers who are there and is often unsettling and makes those arriving late feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Please assist your children to get to school on time.
Please see the link below for some tips on supporting your children on their return to school.
We are so glad to be back together once again as a full community. We hope you feel this way too.
Identifying our ‘Silver Lining’
During our staff Professional Development Meeting last week, teachers took the time to reflect on the last two-and-a-half months. As for many people during this time, regardless of their type of work, most aspects of our profession changed. At the beginning of the pandemic, at times it was difficult to balance concerns of our own health and safety, that of our families and also that of our wider community. So much was unknown, and it was difficult to predict how long the changes that were being put into place would last. For all of us here at school, we chose to be part of the education profession as we wanted to work with children, to see them blossom and grow, and suddenly this was taken away. Changes had to be implemented in a very short amount of time.
Taking the time to reflect and identify the many positives, that came from the experience was worthwhile. As a community we are very proud of the efforts of all during this time. Staff identified positives that included:
· It was great to learn new technology
· There was even greater collaboration across grades and stages
· Class Zoom meetings were very special, it was great to see our classes
· Working at home allowed more time for thoughtful planning as there were fewer disruptions
· Staff Collaboration was evident as we shared new resources with each other - people supported one another
· There were opportunities for many positive parent communication
· Viewing quality student work – it was great to see how tasks were interpreted differently and how children and families were learning together
· How our older student used their collaboration spaces effectively – feeding back to each other
· The time strengthened the independence in our students
· Parents understanding of how their children learn and what they’re learning
· How we tried our best to maintain quality relationships with students and parents,
Conversations in our meeting then turned to identifying and committing to not forgetting our new practices. Life has changed for everyone and embedding our new practices into our regular teaching and learning is important because we want to move forward rather than just "go back" to what is known and familiar.
Year 6 Excursion to Canberra
Year 6 were planning to participate in their excursion to Canberra in Week 10 of this term. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this has had to be cancelled. The school is in conversation with providers to see how we could possibly accommodate this excursion later in the year. The Year 6 excursion to Canberra is always enjoyed by the students and we’re committed to doing what we can within strict health and safety guidelines. More information will be shared with parents of students in Year 6 as it arises.
Prayer – Scripture Reading
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 20:19-23
The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy. After Jesus had greeted them again, he said,
"I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me."
Then he breathed on them and said,
"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don't forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven."
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
On Monday, each class celebrated the Feast of Pentecost with their own classroom liturgy. The theme for the liturgy focused on the "gifts” we receive from the Holy Spirit - wisdom, understanding, knowledge, right judgement, reverence, courage and spirit of wonder.
Quiet reflection opportunity for families: Holy Spirit by Francesca Battistelli (lyrical video) https://safeYouTube.net/w/ZsaI
What is Pentecost?
Pentecost takes place 50 days after Easter Sunday (the resurrection of Jesus). The events of Pentecost are recorded in the book of Acts (of the Apostles) and referred to in John’s gospel. The feast of Pentecost celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples and energising them to set about their mission of continuing the ministry of Jesus. Pentecost teaches people about living in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps people to pray, serve God and guides people into helping others and living like Jesus did. It marks the beginning of the Christian church, when the apostles began to spread Jesus’ message. It is also known as the birthday of the Church.
Symbols of Pentecost:
World Environment Day – Friday 5th June
Today is World Environment Day and we are asked to focus on the theme “Time for Nature”. We are reminded to think about what we love about nature, God’s creation, and think about active ways we can care for our local environment and how we can make this world a better place to live for all.
The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.
Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:
To care for ourselves we must care for nature.
It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices.
It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.
This World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature.
(Retrieved from https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/)
Mini Vinnies: St Vincent de Paul COVID-19 Winter Appeal
Now, more than ever, is the time for us to come together to support those experiencing hardship. This year St Vincent de Paul (SVdP) launched the special COVID-19 Winter Appeal. Mini Vinnies will help our school organise events this term to support SVdP to continue making a difference for people whose lives have been turned upside down by the recent COVID-19 Pandemic. SVdP have seen a tremendous increase for assistance in our community, many of whom have never had to approach the Society before. This winter SVdP will endeavour to provide support for all in need in our community. Over the next few weeks, you will be notified about the Mini Vinnies initiatives planned for our school to support the SVdP COVID-19 Winter Appeal. Stay tuned!
What fantastic timing! On one of the first days the whole school was back, we had National Simultaneous Storytime and what a terrific book, Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas! Teachers moved to different classes to read the story and complete an activity. There were also a lot of feather boas around the school. I’m still getting feathers out of my car.
Borrowing will resume in Week 7. To help keep the students safe we have split library borrowing into two days Blue classes and Kinder Gold will now borrow on Mondays, while Gold classes will now borrow on Fridays. This will allow more time between classes to wipe down high use areas. Additionally, returned books will be held for 24 hours before being put back on the shelf.
Premier’s Reading Challenge
Keep reading those books and logging them on the Premier’s Reading Challenge website. Mrs Collins has been checking and we have a number of new reading “stars” on the wall.
Congratulations to the following students who took advantage of the extra time at home to complete their challenge reading list. Erica Lane, Akshya Silampathy Sankaran, Darcy Williams, Emma Shrewsbury, Eve Dagwell, Samuel Graham, Millicent Kearney, Henry Leonard, Matisse Sellis, Marcus Yau, Ava Kent, Thomas Porter, Lily Graham, Lucas Kelly, Joshua Hillard, Cooper Hosking, James Shrewsbury, Isabella Yau, Liam Clydesdale, Luke Craft, Ashley Heron, Hannah Hickey-Attwell, Addison Lardner, Jacob Urube, Olivia Halverson, Jack Simpson, Emily Simpson, Charisse Watters-Cowan, Juliette Seysener, Alexander Seysener and Harry Hillard.
Well done everyone!
Students have until 28th August to complete their list. If anyone needs passwords or help with entering books come to the library before school on any day.
Keep on reading!
Wow! We got a wonderful response to our last newsletter note about outstanding loans. We only have about 25 overdue loans. Great work, everyone.
Parent Information – children and young people who are worried about returning to school
A certain degree of worry and fear about returning to school, especially following this time away from face-to-face teaching and in the current pandemic, is normal for children and young people. We are currently in uncertain times. However, most students find that these worrying feelings decrease over time once back at school and following the school routine. It will be most helpful for children and young people to return to school at the same time as their peers and as outlined by their school.
For children and young people who have experienced anxiety symptoms, returning to school may feel scary. For those who experience excessive anxiety (approximately 1 in 14 children and young people) they may feel more anxious than peers of similar age; consistent and intense anxiety which persists after a stressful event has passed, and the distress interferes with a child or young person’s ability to do every day things. If you are concerned that your child or young person’s fears and worries are becoming problematic, here are some common presentations to look out for:
What to look for
You may notice your child
|seek reassurance often||clings to you|
|avoid situations they feel worried or scared about||asks for help with things they can do for themselves|
|try to get others to do the things they are worried about||doesn’t want to get ready for school|
|tell you they have physical pains||won’t go to sleep without a parent or other adult|
|dislike taking risks or trying new things||asks, “will you do it for me?” or “will you tell them for me?” a lot|
|have lots of fears||often complains of stomach pains or headaches|
|get upset easily||worries a lot about doing things right|
|have lots of worries||prefers to watch others rather than have a go|
|is scared of the dark, dogs, injections, being alone, germs, tests|
|often cries over small things|
|complains about being picked on a lot|
|always sees the dangerous or negative side of things|
Parents can help their child or young person who feels worried about returning to school by:
- Helping your child or young person to identify their emotions
- Talking about returning to school and helping them prepare for the transition
- Developing a calm morning routine (organise and pack the night before) for predictability and reducing anxiety
- Developing and following a goodbye routine (for children)
- Encouraging them to meet up with friends before going into school (for young people)
- Building confidence in them “I know it feels hard, but you can do it”
- Reassuring them that feeling anxious to new situations is normal and they can do things to help manage these feelings such as consistent sleep and wake times, mindful breathing, relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, positive self-talk, talking to friend
- Helping them understand that delaying the return to school is likely to make things harder in the future
- Helping them develop coping statements to use at school: “As the day goes on, I will feel less worried”
- Contacting the school and/or GP if your child or young person’s anxious feelings persist and remain consistently intense.
What to do if your child or young person is having persistent difficulty with returning to school
School avoidance occurs in about one to two percent of school children and young people. Those who experience excessive anxiety resulting in refusal to attend school often complain of headache, stomach-ache or other physical illness. This can include difficulty leaving home for school, getting to school or avoiding going to school altogether
School avoidance causes much distress to the child, young person and their family. It can also interfere with social and educational development. The more time away from school, the more difficult it is for them to return to school life.
School avoidance is different from truancy in that the child or young person is staying at home with the knowledge of the family and despite their best efforts to enforce attendance.
School avoidance can be a result of many factors. The child or young person may be having learning difficulties, difficulties with peers, or struggling with anxiety or depression. It is important that the underlying causes are identified, and the return to school plan is tailored to individual circumstances.
If your child or young person is struggling to attend school or if you have any concerns related to their wellbeing, please contact the school. For further information, please refer to:
Parents of children: Raising Children Network (https://raisingchildren.net.au/)
Parents of Young People – Reachout Parents (https://parents.au.reachout.com/)
- Smiling Mind (all ages)
- Breathe (all ages)
- WorryTime (adolescents)
WriteOn is an annual writing competition for NSW students in Years 1 to 6. The competition is designed to encourage students to develop their writing skills. All students in Year 1-6 are encouraged to enter a piece of writing. The stimulus for the writing competition can be found at https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/about/events/writeon-competition and has been shared with students at school. If students would like to participate they can email their writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or hand it in to their class teachers.
The Maitland Newcastle Catholic Schools Office are inviting students to participate in an Virtual Art Gallery. They are looking for artwork that has a positive and uplifting message. Students can use any medium to create their artwork. Artwork can be submitted to class teachers or emailed to email@example.com
As the canteen in now back to being open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for lunch orders we ask the following:
- Please check your child’s class name on Qkr when ordering. A number of parents still have last year’s details and your children then have difficulty locating their lunch order as it has been placed in the basket according to the Qkr label. You need to include their grade as well as their class colour – Blue or Gold. If you or your child do not know these details check Compass and you will see it there.
- If your child does not have a reusable lunch bag and requires their lunch to be placed in a paper bag, please remember to order the paper bag for 10c on Qkr at the time of placing the order.
- Alternatively, why not purchase a reusable bag next time you place a lunch order? These are available to purchase on Qkr for $6.50.
- If your child has a reusable lunch bag please ensure that the bag comes to school with all the old labels removed and no empty packaging or left over food stuff inside the bag. Remember, encourage independence in your children and make this one of their responsibilities.