- End of Term Award Ceremony (Term 1, Week 9)
- Catholic Schools Week (Term 2, Week 3)
- Enrolment Period for 2022 (Term 2, Weeks 4-6)
- NAPLAN (Term 2, Week 5)
Please remember that the term dates are different across the ACT this year. Our first term is only 9 weeks long. The middle terms are 10 weeks long and the last term is 11 weeks long. The first day of Terms 2 and 3 (19 April and 12 July) are both pupil free days for professional learning for staff. Students do not attend school on these days. OSHClub will be available.
Please go to our school calendar on the website or SZapp for more details.
Last weekend I caught up on Grace Tame's recent speech at the National Press Club. For those of you not yet familiar with Grace Tame, she is the 2021 Australian of the Year. She was honoured in January this year for her hard fought work in overturning Tasmania's Evidence Act which prevented victims of sexual abuse from talking publicly about their experience, yet perpetrators were free to. This act contributed to a culture of shame and silence for victims. It was utterly disempowering; and because the perpetrators are almost always men, it continued to support a culture where there was a lack of appropriate accountability for men in relation to violence against women and in some cases children. The Evidence Act no longer exists in such a form.
At the same time the media has been swamped with discussion around various women's experiences of sexual violence, or at the very least gender bias, within the culture of federal politics in Canberra. Young women are also coming forward to tell their own story of sexual abuse as a teenage girl by teenage boys during high school or post school education.
So why am I writing about this as Principal of a primary school?
While Grace's speech was full of vulnerability and courage in telling her story, and it was gut wrenching and necessary to hear, there were two striking points for me as a Primary School Principal.
Firstly, was her comment in relation to men expressing empathy 'as a father of girls':
“It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience, and, actually, on top of that, having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience.”
At last! Someone finally said it.
I understand that 'as a father of girls' is an attempt by men to empathise with women about an experience that they have not shared and I don't wish to contribute to a culture where men should be scared to say anything to express their empathy, compassion and care for victims. In fact, Grace succinctly explained that the best response may sometimes be "I don't know what to say....but I'm here to support you".
Grace Tame's comment on this turn of phrase reminded me again of the language we use that unwittingly contributes to a culture where we have different expectations and accountabilities for boys and girls. Where we permit boys to behave in ways that can be aggressive and disrespectful to others and don't easily accept young girls showing strength and assertiveness. Phrases such as 'boys will be boys' is a perfect example of this. It provides permission for boys to express their frustration and anger in violent ways towards others. Often beginning with each other, this may then lead to hurting others in their life. Equally true phrases such as 'don't be a bossy girl' gives the message that girls should be passive, not voice dissent or share their opinion, knowledge or experience as equally valid; contributing to a culture of silence.
Which leads me to the second point Grace made that stayed with me. That prevention of sexual violence and abuse begins in the younger years and that education, primary school education, can make a difference.
Alongside ensuring that all adults who work with students in schools comply with Working With Vulnerable People regulations we also need to start now in preventing sexual abuse and violence in the future.
It isn't part of our primary school curriculum to talk directly about sexual abuse or violence. We won't be bringing it up in classes. What we can do is work alongside families to help children develop the values, attitudes, behaviours and skills where this just doesn't occur for them as either a victim or perpetrator in their future.
Grace spoke about making sure that we adults are educated about what grooming looks like and what behaviours we can expect in our own children should they be experiencing this. We also need to empower our children to help themselves not become a victim to the best of their capacity.
Our health curriculum teaches children generally about making safe choices and recognising when they are feeling unsafe. One way we do this is by including messages from the Protective Behaviours program such as:
- We all have the right to feel safe all of the time.
- There is nothing so awful, or too small, we can't talk about it with someone.
In the younger years we teach children to recognise their own early warning signs for when they feel unsafe (in general contexts), how their emotions and body show them they might be unsafe. We also help them identify people in their circle of support that they can talk to when they are feeling unsafe.
Supporting children to prevent them being victims is one approach. We also need to develop a culture, particularly with an awareness of gender biases, where the types of sexual abuse and violence Grace Tame and other women have experienced, does not occur.
Developing a culture of respect
At St John the Apostle our mission is 'to be on earth the heart of God'. Our school expectations are 'Respect Others, Respect Self and Respect the Environment'. I am, we are, committed to working with families to help our students learn and understand that:
- everyone deserves to receive the same level of respect as anyone else;
- everyone has the capacity and is expected to give the same level of respect to everyone else;
- violence is never, ever an appropriate expression of anger and frustration, and;
- one's capacity and achievements are not limited by one's (gender) identity, rather by the social structures and expectations that are placed on a person because of their (gender) identity.
On this last point I would encourage anyone interested in understanding the current neuroscience around this to read The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon about the myth of the male and female brain.
Our Positive Behaviour for Learning Policy reflects the understandings above. We
- name and teach what 'respect' looks and sounds like for every student from K-6;
- look for, acknowledge and celebrate positive examples of when students display respect;
- name, respond to and discourage disrespectful behaviour;
- develop classroom and outdoor physical environments that support and enable children to feel respected and have respectful behaviour;
- provide support for students with complex needs to understand and learn respectful ways of learning and playing with others.
Later this year we are working with a consultant to refine our practices in this area even further.
We can support the prevention of future sexual abuse and violence when students are with us. We are committed to supporting families in being part of the solution where we see that we can. We will do our best to help every boy and girl who leaves St John the Apostle to be strong and assured within themselves and to know how to seek support or be a support for others.
If you would like to hear Grace Tame's speech you can view this on ABC iview. If you would like to discuss anything I've raised please feel free to contact me.
Next weekend kitchen garden working bee!
We'd like to get the kitchen garden ready for winter planting and it needs a little tidy up that adults will do more effectively. Our Working Bee will be held on Sunday morning 21st March, 9.00am to 11.00 am. We'd love to have as many people as possible. If you can make it please register below. Children are welcome to come with parents or grandparents to either help or play nearby. Refreshments will be provided.
If you have a stack of old newspapers that can be used for the kitchen garden could you please drop them off to the Front Office. Thank you.
Kitchen Garden Working Bee 21st March 2021
Three Way Conferences
It has been so wonderful to have parents and carers back on school grounds during Three Way Conferences. From all accounts, they have been a successful opportunity for students to share their learning, growth and goals with their teacher and parents.
We have had 217 Three Way Conferences across the school. It is lovely to see so many parents and carers engaged in their child's learning. Research suggests that parental engagement in students learning can add an additional three months growth each year to a student's learning. So, thank you to everyone that made the time to engage in the Three Way Conferences.
Yesterday, we sent out a Schoolzine notification about Cross Country. The Cross Country Carnival is the only carnival each year that every year group across the school participates in.
It will be held on Thursday 25th March (Week 8). Kindergarten and Year 1 will start their races at approximately 11.40am and the carnival will run until lunch time (1.25pm). We are currently looking for parent helpers. Some of the jobs we need help for are:
- Finish line - to help give out place cards to students when they finish the race.
- Course Marshals - positioned at checkpoints along the course to help cheer on students and show them where to go.
- Recorders - complete results table for each age group in the order that they finish.
- Ribbons - write out ribbons for the first 3 girls and first 3 boys in each age group.
If you are able to help in anyway please click on the link below and complete your details. Please note that all those assisting are to have a Working With Vulnerable People card on them or present to the Front Office on the day to sign a Statutory Declaration for child safe purposes. Anyone adults presenting with signs and symptoms of flu or recently having travelled to an identified 'hot spot' should not come on school grounds.
11.25am Parent helpers to meet with myself
11.40am Year 1 (and 7 years in Year 2) start their race
(1x inner lap)
11.50am Kindergarten start their race
(1x inner lap)
12.00pm 12 and 13 years start racing
(3x outer loop 3km)
12.20pm 11 years start racing
(3x outer loop 3km)
12.35pm 10 years start racing
(2x outer loop 2km)
12.50pm 9 years start racing
(1x full lap – inner and outer loop 1.5km)
1.05pm 8 Years start racing
(1x outer loop 1km)
1.15pm Races finished
There will be a Cross Country Lunch available from the Canteen. Please click here for further details. Please note that orders close at 3pm, Wednesday 24 March.
Assistant Principal and Inclusion Coordinator
What are students learning about?
Father Michael visits every Thursday and yesterday he went into Year 4M to talk about Mt Sinai. Mt Sinai, in Egypt, is an important place in bible history. It is where Moses received the 10 commandments.
Father Michael spoke to the students about the landscape and how hard it would have been to survive there. They also looked at some other images of Israel and its different environments.
Toby P was inspired! He went home and drew his impression of what Moses looked like. He also drew a wonderful representation of Moses on Mt Sinai. He didn't quite know how to draw the camel. It’s a good point, what sound does a camel make?
You may like to watch this youtube clip that shows some pilgrims on their walk up Mt Sinai. The kids found it very interesting.
Catholic Life and Reflection
Each month I attend the Parish Pastoral Council meeting. We always begin with prayer, the time in silence and reflection is most welcome.
Last night the focus was “Living the fruit of the Spirit”. The readings were very familiar Isaiah 11:1-2 - the Jesse tree and 1Cor. 12:1-11 - Spiritual Gifts. The reflection began with these words...'when the Spirit controls our life, she will produce this kind of fruit in us…'
And then there were several prompts. Here are just a few to help you reflect…if you would like a copy of the full set, please email me and I will send it to you. firstname.lastname@example.org
This week have you trusted in God’s love and providence - dependent on God or have you lived with doubt, resistant to God’s love and trusting solely in your own abilities.
This week have you been careful with your language when speaking of others, recognising that every person is unique, special and irreplaceable or have you been weakened by pride carrying hurts and talking negatively about others.
This week have you lived with an awareness of God’s constant and continual blessing in your life, right down to each breath you take being a gift from God, or have you lived with an over awareness of things you don’t possess or circumstances that would be better.
May God continue to bless all of our students and families.
Religious Education Coordinator
Notices from the Parish
Happy birthday to Alek S, Isabella T, Sena H, Zakary S, Cooper P and Alexis B who all celebrated a birthday over the past week.
Please note that we ask students to not bring home made cupcakes to share with the class for their birthdays. This is a precautionary measure for health and hygiene. The Canteen offers a number of options to share with the class. Purchases can be made through the QKR app.
That’s leadership thinking!
My father used to tell me that to be a good footballer I needed to look like a footballer. He always made sure I played with my socks pulled up, boots clean and football jumper tucked in. His attitude was I should at least look the part.
Fast forward a few generations and Dad would probably tell me today that if I wanted to be a footballer I should think like a footballer. His thinking would be right because any significant skill development usually comes before a positive mindset, or at least, a mindset that captures the essence of what’s required.
This mindset concept is easily applied to many areas of parenting and family life, including leadership, which is required in school, at work, in the community and in family life. Thinking like a leader comes before leadership action so attending to a child or young person’s mindset lays the foundation to real leadership.
The following mindsets are good starting points for developing leadership mindsets in the next generation.
The mark of true leadership whether for adults or young people is the willingness to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions. Responsibility and accountability are features that great leaders share, so encourage children and young people to accept personal responsibility for their actions, learn from their mistakes and avoid making excuses when things go wrong. For this to happen parents and teachers need to forgive their mistakes and poor decisions so that they feel they can take responsibility without fear of harsh retribution.
Thinking about what needs to be done, planning ahead and managing time are skills that enable many young people to become effective leaders. The ability to think ahead, strategise and figure out a plan may sound like corporate-speak but it’s something that kids of all ages can accomplish. We can plant the planning seed by encouraging them to think ahead and set aside some time to plan before tackling any activity – whether it’s a homework project, resolving conflict with a sibling or asking for an increase on their allowance.
The ability to form, maintain and work in teams is a central leadership capacity. Teamwork refers to a range of skills, including problem solving, working with others, listening and following that enable a team to work towards one purpose. All children are capable of working together, although introverts and pubescent teens can struggle to work collaboratively. Sow the seeds of teamwork by encouraging kids to support their siblings and friends when they struggle and to accept everyone in games and activities.
Emotional intelligence is an essential set of skills that unfortunately many leaders lack. Emotional smarts allows leaders to communicate effectively, relate well and resolve problems when they arise. Develop your child’s emotional intelligence by encouraging them to tune in to and regulate their own emotions, and tune into the emotions of others. Help them see behind the behaviour of others and discover the emotions that may be driving behaviour. For instance, a sibling’s aggressive behaviour may be driven by anger, annoyance or even sadness.
Leadership thinking requires kids to be accountable for their actions, plan ahead rather than act rashly, be open to working with others, and to tune into their own emotions and the emotions of those around them. These are mindsets worth nurturing using the tools of modelling, overt teaching (particularly with secondary school students) and providing plenty of descriptive, encouraging feedback.
Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s an award-winning speaker and the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation, and the bestselling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. Michael is a former teacher with 15 years experience, and has 30 years experience in parenting education. He also holds a Master of Educational Studies from Monash University specialising in parenting education.