Dear St John the Apostle families,
Thank you all for joining our teachers online or over the phone for Parent-Teacher Interviews. There were very few technical hitches and a lot of really productive and positive conversations. Whatever the future looks like post COVID-19, we will certainly consider this as an option for Parent Teacher Interviews again. It's likely this will sit alongside a face to face option as well. Thanks for your partnership.
At last night's Community Council meeting it was agreed to not continue on with planning for a beginning of year Fete in 2021. It's clear that there can be no certainty about what restrictions may still be in place at that time and fetes take a long time to get organised. It was crunch time to make that decision.
The great news is that we can now switch our planning to more creatively thinking about how else to have the same opportunities to come together as a community, undertake some fundraising and share our school story with the wider Belconnen community.
Belinda Duke (mum of Elizabeth and Emma) is leading the process of putting together an 18 month plan of activities and events that we can all be part of, regardless of restrictions. So watch this space to see what will be happening in the lead up to Christmas!
Community Council Update
Our very active Community Council is working hard in a number of areas at the moment, helping to shape future opportunities for students and families at St John the Apostle. We have subcommittees looking at the following:
- Healthy Food Choices: We are learning more about the food options available at the canteen (there are some fantastic options there), the ways we can highlight teaching about healthy food choices in the existing curriculum and opportunities in the wider community that can help generate children's interest and enthusiasm (e.g. excursions, visiting shows).
- IT that supports teaching & learning: Remote learning changed the ways that many schools use technology. Both teachers and students across our school discovered many new ways to undertake and express their learning. Well-designed use of IT can transform tasks into learning opportunities that can't be completed nearly as well with paper and pencil. We don't want to lose what we have learnt. Working closely with Bree Dess, this group are looking at ways to sustainably increase access to technology from Years 4 to 6 from 2021.
- School Uniform: The uniform at St John the Apostle has been the same for a long, long time and as we move into the future we want to look at any ways we might modernise the school uniform for our students. We're not seeking to make grand changes and the focus is only on the sports uniform. We want to keep it affordable, sustainable (good for hand me downs) and just change only what is needed. It's a conversation at the moment and this group will communicate something when it is needed with plenty of planning and notice for everyone!
- Out of Hours School Care: One of the roles that the Community Council plays is one of governance. While any outside provider we partner with enters into an agreement with Catholic Education, we have a responsibility locally to make sure that the service offered to our families always remains what is needed and the best possible.
Our Community Council undertakes very valuable work in our school. They help to provide a parent's voice and perspective in shaping what is offered and developed. They always think of the families that most need our support and assistance and help ensure that the school is remaining true to it's vision and mission.
I always feel very blessed to be working with such dedicated people, committed to serving our community.
Census Facts! Did you know.....?
Every February and August schools undertake a census. The census data is collected by Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government.
At St John's this August we have:
|Year level||# of students||Girls||Boys|
Our student population is almost the exact same size as it was 5 years ago (367 students in May 2015)!
- Percentage of students identifying with a disability: 28%
- Percentage of students identifying with English as an Additional Language/Dialect: 18%
- Percentage of students identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander: 1%
- Percentage of students identifying as Catholic: 57%
- Total number of staff: 36 (22 Teaching, 14 Support)
Our students reside in 36 different suburbs or regional locations. The majority coming from:
- Macgregor: 18%
- Florey: 16%
- Latham: 10%
- Holt: 7%
- Higgins: 7%
- Scullin: 7%
I love sharing these facts with everyone because it reminds us all that we each come to St John's with a unique set of experiences and background and together we make up a diverse community of learners. There's no such thing as a norm that we all differ slightly from. Diversity is the norm!
I'm glad to be sharing this community with you! Thank you for your contribution and collaboration.
Matthew Garton, Principal
Annual Survey for Parents, Students and Staff
An annual satisfaction survey of parents, students and staff will be conducted on behalf of all Catholic schools in the Diocese this term. The surveys are designed to gather feedback from parents, staff and students about our school and will be used to inform school improvement. Responses are confidential and individuals can not be identified.
The surveys will be launched via email on Friday 7 August 2020 using the email addresses supplied to the school. If you do not receive an email with a link to the survey, you can access and complete the survey at the following link.
What are Students Learning About?
Year 5 are learning about Aboriginal Spirituality. Here are some of their ideas.
What is Aboriginal spirituality?
Aboriginal spirituality to us is all different so we wrote our own versions of what we think.
Michaela - to me it is the respect we should give to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to keep the community thriving with culture and caring people who don't discriminate against people for the way they look or act.
Jasmine - I think Aboriginal spirituality is that we need to respect them more and respect that they were here first and we don't need to treat them differently because their culture is different from ours.
Emma - My thoughts of their spirituality is that we need to help sustain it and provide more care and help for them to thrive and survive and we should close the gap between us and them and respect that they were here first. Most of all I respect their connection to the land because they respect it so much they use it for everything: sleeping, food, water etc.
I can see deep and reflective thinking happening in Year 5. I wonder what they will think at the end of the unit?
What are staff learning about?
Each week I take part in a group zoom meeting with other REC’s across the archdiocese. This week our focus was assessment. It is an interesting topic because it can be so subjective. We were discussing different ways to assess the same task, giving students opportunities to express themselves differently.
The conceptual inquiry process we use asks students to think and present their work in a variety of ways. Our challenge is to develop assessment in Religious Education and other learning areas to truly capture our students understanding, not just their knowledge. If I a find a magic bullet, I will let you know! With all aspects of teaching, we are on a learning journey too.
Things are trying at the moment for so many of us. When I am struggling to manage I listen to this song, a lot. “It is well with my soul” my favourite version is sung by Mandy Harvey a deaf singer. You can listen to it here.
It is comforting to remember that everything is, or will be alright because we have faith. Year 6 have had their class masses in the last fortnight and their gospel was John 14:1-7, it contains our I am statement, I am the way the truth and the life. The first line is “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” How fitting.
God bless you all and may you find some peace and rest this weekend.
Religious Education Coordinator
Notices from the Parish
Maintaining strong family traditions
Rituals can be as simple as a parent saying to a child ‘I love you’ each day as they go to school, a weekly game of cricket or another sport, or the bedtime-story routine that so many children love. The permanence and uniqueness of rituals give them their significance.
My own family, for example, has developed a very strong food culture that is shown through the traditions and rituals that we maintain. A meal takes time and effort to prepare and there’s an expectation that everyone contributes in some way. When the children were young the contribution was in preparation, table-setting or post meal clean up. The tradition of contribution continues as a new generation of children visit and do their bit to assist. Like most traditions this mealtime ritual was nurtured as a result of past parental experiences and gradually became refined over time to reflect our own family’s unique identity.
Develop traditions early
Family traditions are best developed when children are pre-school or primary school aged. Parent approval is important so kids will generally comply when enjoyable family traditions engender a relaxed, calm atmosphere. Adolescents are likely to challenge many of their family’s traditions and rituals, which is often difficult for parents to encounter. It helps to establish the traditions that are negotiable and those that are non-negotiable so you can approach adolescent challenges with some flexibility.
Defend them fiercely
When a child tells you that ‘everyone at school is allowed to do….” you can reply by saying, “In our we family we do it this way.” Leaning against family tradition in this way gives you a strength to resist children’s pester power. Family traditions and rituals need to be fiercely defended by parents.
Make family meals non-negotiable
This writer recommends that shared mealtimes should be non-negotiable in families. It’s no coincidence that countries with strong food cultures are also known for their strong family cultures. Shared mealtimes build connection, are great tools for developing children’s manners and respectful actions. They’ve also been linked to the maintenance of good mental health in children and young people, presumably due to the opportunity it provides parents to stay in touch with their children.
Healthy families are built around traditions and rituals. It’s useful to approach the concept of family traditions with a mix of firmness to insist that children adhere to family rituals but also flexibility to accommodate growing independence as children move into the next stage of development.
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.
Reading for pleasure unlocks the power of information and imagination and helps children discover who they are. Here’s what you can do to help children develop stronger reading skills and a love for reading:
- Set the example. Let children see you read.
- Have a collection of books in your home. Update this collection routinely to keep up with changing tastes and reading skills.
- Support our school’s Book Fair.
The theme of our Scholastic Book Fair is Arctic Adventure, where we hope you will find snow much to read! It’s a fun reading event that brings the books kids want to read right into our school, with a wonderful selection of engaging and affordable books for every reading level.
There will also be a great selection of posters and stationery available for purchase.
Book Fair dates: 10-21 August 2020 (students only)
Shopping hours: Monday – Wednesday: 830 – 8.50am, lunch time and 3.00-3.20
Thursday/Friday: Lunch time only.
Students have visited the Fair this week and you will see their Wish Lists coming home.
Online payments can now be made and the Wish Lists will have a receipt on the back that needs to be brought back to the Library or the front office. The students will then be given their books from the fair (or we will reorder if not enough stock).
We recommend taking a picture of your receipt in the event it gets lost in transit. You may wish to email the receipt to the library at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively, students can bring in Cash during weeks 4 and 5.
Thank you for supporting reading in our school.
An important update for SZapp has been released to accomodate for iPhones which have been intermittently receiving push notifications.
SZapp version 3.6.0 is available from the App Store now and we advise all iPhone users to install this version to ensure notifications are received correctly.
Users with automatic updates enabled on their device will receive this update automatically.