Welcome back to the 2021 school year, one where we hope your children will experience lots of learning, lots of fun and lots of caring. We look forward to a year where we can, hopefully, engage in face-to-face teaching the whole year round. We welcome all our new families in Kindergarten and across various classes throughout the school as well as Mrs Olivia Moss, our Creative Arts teacher, and Mr Jeremy Watt, our Year 6 Gold teacher. We are all excited about what this year will bring and we hope that it is a rewarding one for us all.
Thank you for the way that you have prepared your children for their return to school. Each morning they are walking through the school gates with pride in wearing their uniform. Many are especially proud of their shiny new shoes and their colourful backpacks and lunchboxes. Your children are well prepared with the equipment they need for learning and the drop-offs of a morning have been seamless. Thank you all very much.
We have been so amazed at how smoothly our Kinder children and their parents have transitioned to school. Considering how Covid regulations last year reduced the opportunities for familiarisation with the school and the forming of relationships with one another, both parents and children have handled this big step with ease and positivity. We are so very proud of you all! The Kinder children walk in with a spring in their step each morning, having fun engaging in not only the play aspects of learning but some of the more formal ones that are being introduced and they are showing great independence skills. We are also very proud of our Year 6 buddies. The glowing comments I have received about them are numerous and the Kinder parents are so very grateful for their supportive presence. A big thank you goes to them for their help with this transition. These Year 6 students are definitely showing that they are really stepping up and being the leaders of our school this year.
Parent Teacher Information Night
As Covid regulations are gradually easing we are able to return to doing some things that we have not been able to do for some time. This means that we are able to hold our annual parent teacher information night. This will take place on Wednesday 17th February. As in the past, each teacher will have two sessions and we invite you to come along to the session that is most suitable for you. The first session will begin at 5:30pm, followed by a whole school meeting in the hall at 6:00pm and a final teacher session at 6:30pm. All teachers’ presentations will be held in your children’s classrooms.
School Improvement Plan (SIP)
As a whole school our SIP will focus, this year, on the following areas:
Catholic Formation and Mission
With the staff we will be continuing our focus on more deeply understanding the Josephite charism in order for us to deepen, and live out, our own faith through understanding Mary MacKillop’s teachings and actions as well as then helping to share these with our students and parents.
We would also like to establish a series of student retreats and parent workshops/retreats to enable both students and parents to further deepen their Catholic formation and commitment to mission.
The leadership team will engage in jointly constructing our 2021- 2023 Strategic Plan. Our leadership team also aims to encourage the development of our staff’s leadership skills through connecting with other educators around the diocese, involving them in our school based Learning Walks and Talks alongside the leadership team, establishing teams to work on school initiatives and focusing on colleague to colleague feedback.
Whilst we will continue with our work in writing, a major focus in the Learning domain will be in Mathematics with a particular focus on the Number and Working Mathematically strands. We aim to review our Maths Scope and Sequence, which outlines what we teach, in what order and when; we also aim to develop and implement a consistent Numeracy Block practice across the school as well as use data to evaluate and inform our Maths teaching and planning.
In the Learning domain we also will be focusing on Vocabulary development, Learning Dispositions and Teacher, Self and Peer feedback.
Wellbeing and Partnerships
We feel that this domain is a particularly important one to address this year, following 2020, a year where we had limited contact with our parents and the wider community. We aim to review our current practice of parent/teacher conferences and introduce 3-way conferences with students being included, we hope to offer parent workshops in key areas, connect with you on our school wide Positive Behaviour for Learning approach and seek your input in restructuring our award system, as well as consult with you in regards to home/school communication and implement new practices or modify existing ones.
As you read this outline of our SIP I hope you will feel assured that as a staff we have set our goals high and we will do our best for you and your children to achieve them. Just as we have high expectations of our learners so to do we have them of ourselves.
Parents and Friends Association
As we were not able to hold our P&F annual general meeting at the end of last year this will be our first meeting this year. We are now able to have on-site P&F meetings after school hours so our plan is to hold this in the week beginning Monday 22nd March. We will confirm the date next week. Due to an oversight at the end of last year, Tony Peterson‘s 2020 wrap up as president of the P&F was not included in the last newsletter. I apologise for this oversight and have included it here in this week‘s newsletter..
2020 P&F Wrap Up
The recent Covid-19 summer holiday cases in NSW demonstrate the need for continued vigilance as new or localised clusters may emerge. We have received updated Covid-19 advice from Catholic Schools NSW that all our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle must comply with until further notice. It is important to note that the local context of each school must be considered. The number of students, parents, staff and the physical school site differ between schools and this impacts the implementation of these protocols.
All students should be in attendance unless they are unwell or have a medical certificate to support their absence.
To ensure the health and safety of our community it is essential that we:
- Continue to exclude students and staff with even mild symptoms of Covid-19 and encourage them to seek testing immediately. Parents of symptomatic children should provide evidence of a negative result prior to returning to school.
- Have COVID-19 Safety Plans and record keeping procedures in place.
- Implement physical distancing for staff and adults within the school, at school events and at drop off/ pick up. Parents need to drop their children at the gates. Pick up for us will remain as it was for last year – in the school grounds but each family socially distanced and exiting through the church car park.
- Continue to schedule regular handwashing and cleaning of educational resources and sporting equipment.
- Restrict activities to Year or Stage groups where possible.
- Review plans to support the ongoing delivery of education for students in the event there is a period of time students and staff are unable to attend school.
Visitors to St Joseph’s
Only visitors essential to the delivery of the curriculum are permitted onto the school site.
Parents, carers and other visitors can enter the school for the following reasons only:
- Picking up uniforms from the office.
- Meeting with school staff for an essential appointment (must be arranged prior)
- Fulfilling canteen duties.
- Fulfilling uniform shop duties.
- Attending P&F meetings.
- Attending ‘Meet the Teacher’ evenings or school community events provided they follow the current social distancing regulations at the time.
Bubblers are able to be turned back on now. Please continue to send a full water bottle to school with your child each day. These can be refilled at our water bottle refill stations in the quad.
Singing, in primary schools, is now permitted outdoors and indoors provided it is a large, well ventilated space.
There is no requirement to wear face masks at schools, but staff and students may do so if they wish.
Physical distancing of children in schools is not required.
It is anticipated that we will continue to receive updates from Catholic Schools NSW as the need arises and we look forward to the time when restrictions can be further relaxed.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of these restrictions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your ongoing support in keeping the St Joseph’s community safe and healthy. I look forward to working with you and our staff this year to provide the best possible environment for the learning and wellbeing of your children and of us all.
Last week we welcomed a new OOSH supervisor, Lisa McCarthy. Lisa has met with myself and the teachers and we are all very excited to be working together. Lisa and her team will become familiar with, and support, our PBL approach here at St Joseph’s (see the Assistant Principal’s section). If you have any questions about the OOSH please do not hesitate to contact Lisa on 0429 261 660. We know she has great things planned for our school based OOSH.
If you currently use OOSH could you please make sure that when you drop off and pick up each day that the gate is locked behind you each time. This is imperative for the safety of both the children and staff.
International Year of Peace & Trust
The United Nations has declared his year the International Year of Peace and Trust. Let this year be a year of shared dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation, where together we create a Catholic community of peace, solidarity and harmony.
Greetings for 2021
Welcome back to what promises to be a very busy and exciting year. A special welcome to our new families, you now belong to our St Joseph’s school community and we’re very pleased that you’re here journeying with us. Our children are exceptionally fortunate to be part of such a special environment.
In our newsletters throughout the year we will endeavour to share some of the learning our students are partaking in with you. This is a wonderful avenue to ensure you are included in your child’s development and education and provide you with an insight into what goes on in the learning spaces.
Safeguarding in all schools in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has an absolute and abiding commitment to promote the safeguarding of children. In 2019, as a part of that commitment, our bishop, Bill Wright, articulated his expectations of all those who work for the Diocese, “I expect you to place the safety, welfare and wellbeing of every child and vulnerable adult at the centre of everything you do in the name of our church.”
Bishop Wright established the Office of Safeguarding, whose director answers to the Bishop’s Office and is charged to oversee the whole of the Diocese’s safeguarding of children, including the students in our system of schools.
As a parent sending your child to a Diocesan school, you are expected to be an active participant in safeguarding your child’s wellbeing. To do so, it’s important that you have the best information available to you. The Office of Safeguarding website offers comprehensive details of the Diocese’s approach to safeguarding children. You are also encouraged to be an active participant in the life of your school.
As a parent of a diocesan school student, if you are concerned for:
- the safety, welfare or wellbeing of one or more children in the school
- the conduct of a member of staff, a volunteer, contractor or other adult associated with the school
you are able to:
- discuss your concerns with a teacher, Assistant Principal or Principal
- talk to an investigator at the Office if Safeguarding (Ph. 4979 1390, during office hours)
- report your concerns to the Department of Communities and Justice’s (DCJ) Child Protection Helpline (Ph. 132 111, 24 hrs/7 days) if your concerns constitute a risk of significant harm
- report to NSW Police if you believe a crime has been committed.
In consultation with the Diocese’s Office of Safeguarding, St Joseph’s is in the process of implementing a school-based Safeguarding Plan. This plan will incorporate the 10 National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. These standards are designed to keep children and vulnerable adults safe from institutional abuse of any form and to develop habits of safety across all levels of the community. Below is a child friendly version of the standards.
As we are implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards the school has been granted an additional pupil free day. All staff, in Term 2, will be engaging in professional learning titled, Advanced Safeguarding for Educational Purposes, with personnel from the diocesan Office of Safeguarding.
Semester One Student Council
In Week 3, Students in Years 2-6 will have the opportunity to nominate themselves for the Semester One Student Council. Student Council members represent the peers in their class and bring suggestions forward on how together we can make St Joseph’s an even better place. The council meets each fortnight with Ms Powell. Students who were part of the Student Council in 2020 are illegible to put themselves forward for the council in 2021. This is one way we try to ensure that students across each of the classes have as much possibility to develop their leadership skills as possible. We look forward to sharing with you in the next newsletter who are our successful representatives,
At St Joseph’s we value recognising and celebrating children’s birthdays. Turning a year older is significant and acknowledging this as a school and/or class is important. The ways we do this are at Monday morning assemblies where students receive a card at the beginning of their birthday week. Classes may also have different routines such as singing ‘Happy Birthday’ at the beginning of the day or the child wearing a special birthday badge. A gentle reminder to parents that we do not celebrate birthdays at school with food. Please save these scrumptious delights for the special events you may have planned for at home.
We also request that students do not bring in glass water bottles to school. Plastic drink bottles are a much safer option as we know that drops can accidently happen and shattered glass on the playground is very dangerous. Another point we ask parents to consider is not sending in tinned food which have ring pulls. Often opening these cans is very difficult for students and once opened, the metal edge is sharp and unsafe. Opening these food items at home and packing them in a small plastic container is a better option. Thank you for your understanding.
Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL)
St Joseph’s has been on a journey of becoming a Positive Behaviour for Learning school for a couple of years now. Unfortunately due to the events of 2020 our implementation plan was impacted greatly. This year however, we have fervently recommitted to continuing with PBL at St Joseph’s.
Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) is a comprehensive, integrated whole school approach to student wellbeing and behaviour. PBL is a process that supports school leadership teams to create positive learning environments that enable student learning and wellbeing.
Successful implementation of PBL is underpinned by the support and commitment of the whole school community.
PBL is based on a three-tiered continuum of prevention and intervention:
- Tier 1 - Universal prevention: school-wide and classroom systems for all students, staff and settings.
- Tier 2 - Targeted interventions: small group systems for students at-risk behaviourally and academically.
- Tier 3 - Intensive interventions: systems for students with high-risk behaviour and/or learning needs.
From extensive consultation with students and staff, four expectations for positive behaviour were identified. They are
- Act Safely
- Be Respectful
- Care for All
- Do your Best
Dash the Dolphin is our specific school PBL mascot and in the weeks to come we’ll be organising special Dash signage. This signage around the school is to promote positive behaviours, but also to prompt conversations if a student isn’t keeping to the expectations.
Each fortnight specific positive behaviour lessons will be taught in class. The focus area for the fortnight will be shared with parents via the newsletter. We ask that parents reaffirm the message at home with their children. The current focus area is Act Safely: Using safe hands and feet.
This term you will also hear of your child receiving a ‘Dash token’. These tokens will be given out by staff as they see students doing the right thing. Fortnightly tally updates will be given out at our Monday morning assembly. Twice a term, as the tokens are gathered in sporting houses, we’ll be rewarding the colour house which has the most. These rewards might be as simple as a picnic lunch on the field, extra playtime or an ice block. We’re hoping that this creates some excitement amongst the students as it is another opportunity for students to be recognised for following our four school expectations. Later in the year we also have the plan to reimagine our school merit award system so it aligns with our PBL structures.
Being a PBL school, staff and a previous Student Council reflected on and formulated a flowchart to follow if students do not keep to one of our expectations. This flowchart asks staff to define ‘minor’ and ‘major’ behaviourss and details a consistent procedure for all to follow. Please take the time to read over the flowchart.
If a student happens to break one of the expectations, we take that opportunity to reinforce the positive behaviour. As mentioned in the flowchart, this may take the form of reminding, redirecting or reteaching. The flowchart details how minor and major misbehaviours are recorded on the student’s file in Compass. The purpose of this is to have a consistent way of keeping track of student behaviour and identifying ways we can support students in developing positive behaviour. For minor misbehaviours, teachers use their professional judgement in deciding if parents need to be informed or not. Be assured that teachers will communicate with parents about their child’s behaviour if required.
It takes time to implement such a school wide initiative and having the support of all members of our school community is crucial to its success. On Friday students assembled and were re-introduced to Dash and the four expectations at a school level. They were very excited to hear about the tokens and the different types of rewards on offer! Below is a copy of the PowerPoint for you to have a look at
We also recognise that PBL is something new for the community and there may be implementation challenges. Together, through the partnership between staff, students and parents, we have this great opportunity to focus on the positive behaviours children display. This is something we really wish to celebrate as a community.
Earlier this week all students received a Cybersafety User Agreement. These forms need to be updated annually. We ask that parents take the time to read and discuss the cybersafety guidelines with their children. These discussions are also complimented with lessons that students receive in class. We ask that all agreements are returned by the end of Week 3 (12/2/2021). Students who do not return the form by this day will not be able to use ICT devices until they do.
Safer Internet Day - Tuesday 9 February 2021
Start the Chat
To mark Safer Internet Day, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner is releasing new research, Digital Lives of Aussie Teens. They are also launching two new resources for young children, the Swoosh, Glide and Rule Number 5 picture book and My Family Rules song by Lah-Lah.
The eSafety Commissioner is also kicking off new Virtual Classroom webinar for primary schools, Be an eSafe kid: Fake news, real harms and their new Webinar for parents and carers. Students in Years 4-6 will be taking part in the webinar at school. Click here to find resources, activities and tips to help you start the chat about online safety with your children at home.
A Student's Prayer at the Beginning of the School Year
We give you praise, O God, for everything that is new and beautiful,
for everything which holds promise and brings us joy.
Bless us as we start this new year with our friends and teachers.
Help us to make the most of every chance we have to start afresh.
May we show love to one another and to all.
May the new beginning of this school year remind us that
you give us chances to start over again and again.
Help us to forgive others as we receive your forgiveness.
Help us to learn and to work together.
Help us to listen when we should and to know the
best words when we speak and when it is better not to speak.
We thank you for our friends and help us to be good friends this year.
Help us to be patient with ourselves and with others.
Bless our school and keep us safe.
Be with us as we travel each day.
Help us to be aware of your love shown to us in the people around us.
Bless all those who care for us in school and at home.
Help us show our care for them and to say sorry when we need to.
May the Blessed Mother Mary protect us and help us to live as well as we can,
Giving thanks and glory to God as she did.
Beginning of Year Liturgy
As a school community we will gather for our Beginning of Year School Liturgy on Thursday 11th February at 10:00am in the school Hall. The school leadership team and sports captains will be presented with their badges during this celebration. Due to our COVID restrictions, only a small number of external visitors (i.e. parents) can attend. Therefore, we have personally invited the parents of the school leadership team and sports captains, who will be receiving their badges. We appreciate your understanding in complying with the diocesan COVID regulations.
Season of Lent
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent which continues until the Holy Thursday for a period of 40 days. This liturgical season is coloured with violet. We will drape violet (purple) cloth in our sacred spaces during Lent. Lent is a time of penance observed with fasting, prayer and abstinence. A common devotion for Lent is praying the Stations of the Cross. It is also a time of preparation for and renewal of baptism.
Ash Wednesday Liturgy
St Joseph’s will mark the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday Liturgy this year. It will be a time for classes to gather as a whole school to prepare for the journey leading up to Easter. The Liturgy will begin in the Hall at 11:30am on Wednesday 17th February. If parents and community wish to attend an Ash Wednesday Mass, they are invited to the parish Mass at St Joseph’s Church at 9:30am.
Here are some ideas for those people who would like to do more rather than less this Lenten season.
1. Pray– Making a vow to pray throughout Lent can help you connect with your faith.
2. Compliment Others– Most people like being complimented and giving out one compliment a day can help make someone’s day a little brighter.
3. Smile– It’s hard to be upset when smiling. Even if it’s a gloomy day, finding a reason to smile can help make the day more bearable.
4. Listen– It sounds easy, but in an age where everyone is glued to technology, listening is harder than some might think. Making time for conversation can be relaxing and lending an ear, without interruption, can help someone who needs to talk.
5. Attend church– This one goes along with praying. While most make sure to attend church on major holidays, make a promise to wake up early enough on Sunday to go to church. It could be a good way to follow through with penance.
6. Volunteer– For those with a little extra time, lending a helping hand at a local shelter, nursing home or hospital will benefit those in need. Not a people person? Most communities have animal shelters that could probably use a volunteer.
7. Eat Healthier – Most people might give up ice cream and fast food. Making a promise to eat more vegetables could improve health overall.
St Joseph’s Day– Our school feast day will be celebrated on Friday 19th March beginning with a liturgy under the COLA at 10:30am. Fun class activities and tabloids will follow after lunch. More information to come at a later date.
Harmony Day 21st March – will be celebrated at school on Wednesday 24th March where the students will be invited to wear orange, rainbow colours or personal traditional cultural dress. More information to come at a later date.
Catholic Schools Week – for 2021 has changed to Term 2: May 3rd - 7th
Due to current circumstances with COVID-19 restrictions, all schools to are still to refrain from attending Parish Masses or Church services. We do continue to greatly value our school-parish relationship, prayer and worship, and the liturgical celebrations of our faith. As a school community, we can celebrate special liturgical events as a whole school in the Hall or under the COLA with limited/restricted parent involvement. Fr Peter Street and Helene O’Neill (Parish-Family Liaison Officer) will continue to visit the school and classes during the year to support teachers and to continue the nurturing our faith community and the school-parish relationship.
Please see the Parish Bulletin for more details and registration for Masses in our area - https://www.newcastlecatholic.org.au/weekly-bulletins/
Regional Swimming Carnival
The Regional Swimming Carnival will be held tomorrow, Wednesday 10th February, at Lambton Pool. Congratulations to the following students who have made our Regional Squad and will represent our school at this event:
St. Joseph’s Regional Swimming Carnival Squad 2021
|Ivy Jones||Harrison Coppola||Rosa Leonard||Jacob Flynn|
|Lucia Minto||Domenic Papichio||Coco Wasley||Elliot Mole|
|Gizelle Griffiths||Luke Craft||Mabel Hainsworth||Lucas Vickery|
|Amelia Coppola||Vincent Maxwell||Abigail Taber||Kalani Pinto|
|Ava Kent||Archie Doyle||Daisy Owens||Isaac Leonard|
|Lily Graham||Evan Beacher||Bonnie Petersen||Issac Moran|
|Adelaide Morton||Jack Jones||Eden Buxton||Byron Schmidt|
|Audrey Owens||Sidney Maxwell||Chloe Webber||Shiloh Flynn|
|Hannah Webber||Lucy Webber|
Mrs Mantach will be the team manager for this event. She has met with the Regional team this week to outline pertinent information and event expectations.
We wish all our Regional Swimmers the very best of luck for this event!
PSSA Winter Sports Trials
Winter Pathway Sports Trials will take place in Term 1 on Friday 19th February. The sports on offer are Netball, Rugby League, AFL, Touch Football, Rugby Union, Hockey and Soccer.
These trials will be open to children in the current (2021) Year 4, 5 & 6 classes who are currently competitive level players or have previous competitive level experience. They are held to select children who display outstanding talent in a particular sport and therefore differ from a gala day.
Sports with significant body contact including AFL, Rugby League and Rugby Union are restricted to students 11 years and older.
The running of each of these will be subject to Covid plans and restrictions.
Where we have large numbers of nominations, school trials may be required. The number of children from each school that can attend the trials varies for each sport, generally though, each school may only send up to 4-6 talented and experienced children to trial. Therefore, any children sent must be actively playing and at a competitive level. Where selection is close, preference tends to be given to older children. In addition, children selected must be available to attend all future selection trials which will take place throughout Term 2 at other venues, such as Tamworth or Bathurst.
If your child plays one of the winter sports on offer at the appropriate level and you would like them to be considered for selection, please complete the PSSA Nomination form (found on Compass or from collection at the office) and return it ASAP to the school office or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org Nominations will not be accepted after Wednesday 10th February.
Regional Cricket Trials: Friday 12th February
PSSA Winter Sport Trials: Friday 19th February
Diocesan Swimming Carnival: Thursday 25th February
Cross Country: Wednesday 3rd March
Regional Touch Trials: Friday 5th March
NSW PSSA Swimming: Monday 28th & Tuesday 29th March
Unless otherwise stated, the advertisements placed in this newsletter are placed by independent third parties who have no legal relationship with the Diocese. The activities or services of the advertisers are not supervised or controlled in any way by the Diocese. The Diocese is not in a position to endorse the advertisers or the services provided and makes no representation about those matters. Accordingly, the Diocese cannot accept any responsibility for the advertisers or the activities or services that are the subject of these advertisements