Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope everyone has well and truly settled into Term 1. As I have visited classrooms, it has been wonderful to see students engaged in their learning and welcoming new members of our community.
THE TEACHING OF READING
One of the most important skills our children need to learn during their time with us is the ability to read. Our brains don’t naturally learn to read in the same way we learn to walk, talk and listen. As babies, our children can hear our voices and begin to interpret what we are saying, regardless of language, and by about the age of 2 years old, begin to converse with us. The brain is not wired to do this with reading. Therefore, as educators, we need to explicitly and systematically, teach the foundational skills of reading to the students.
Throughout last year, our teachers spent a lot of time learning about ‘The Science of Learning’ and ‘The Science of Reading’. This year, we are now applying our learning to change the way we teach reading at St Benedict’s Primary. In Kindergarten – Year 2 we will be introducing InitiaLit, which is a whole class structured literacy program. It incorporates the essential elements of reading instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension) in a systematic, explicit and age appropriate manner as well as teaching spelling and writing.
In Years 3-6 our teaching pedagogy will also be based on ‘The Science of Reading’ and will incorporate the above mentioned elements. As part of our refined practice, our first modification will involve the introduction of a short 5-10 minute daily focus on phonological awareness. This short, sharp oral instruction focuses on the sound structures of language and includes skills such as rhyming and alliteration, sentence segmentation, syllables, and onsets (the initial phonological unit of a word) and rimes (the string of letters that follow). As our older students further strengthen their skills in this area, it is expected that the need for such targeted teaching in this area will reduce. After embedding this practice in Term 1, we will then turn our focus to the way we teach vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension over Terms 2-4.
In conjunction with these changes across K-6, we will continue to implement both the MiniLit and MacqLit programs that provide targeted, small group instruction to students requiring specific reading intervention. In 2021, which was our first year of their implementation, we saw significant growth in student reading ability through these programs and so we are excited to continue with their implementation.
Whilst teachers at St Benedict’s have always incorporated the essential elements of reading instruction, the use of both the InitiaLit program and our revised practice in Years 3-6 will ensure that our reading instruction is more consistent, systematic and explicit across the school. We know that we have great teachers here at St Benedict’s, but we are always striving to do even better and we are excited to be commencing this journey.
ANNUAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2022
Each year, the school looks at areas of improvement and sets improvement goals based on data and feedback. This year we continue our work on the goals from 2021 but introduce some new programs and initiatives in support of these goals.
- To improve the Literacy and Numeracy of all students.
We will implement InitiaLit K-2 and a reviewed approach to the teaching of reading in Yrs 3-6. We will also introduce some new assessment practices in Literacy. All teachers will further develop their use of high impact teaching strategies, especially within the areas of Literacy and Numeracy.
- Strengthen the use of inquiry and develop a culture of learning.
We will continue to embed our use of inquiry learning across K-6 for the teaching of Religious Education and aligned areas of other curricula.
- To enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of our students.
We will strengthen our Behaviour Management Policy and further align it with our ‘5 Ways of Being’ and strategies developed through our previous professional learning in the Berry Street Education Model and MAPA programs.
Note: Berry Street focuses on increasing student engagement, improving their self-regulation, relationships, wellbeing, growth and academic achievement. MAPA strategies are designed to prevent behaviour escalation through proactive, non-physical interventions.
MEET AND GREET SESSIONS
It was terrific to see parents of Years 3/4 students in our first ‘Meet and Greet’ MicroSoft Teams meeting yesterday. Thank you for taking the opportunity to meet teachers and find out some important information about the learning that will be taking place and classroom organisation. We really value a positive, collaborative relationship with parents and so we look forward to seeing many more parents online in our meetings for other stages. Links for these ‘Meet and Greet’ sessions will be sent out by classroom teachers through COMPASS.
Please continue to monitor for any symptoms of COVID and use RAT tests during the week they are provided.
You are reminded that staff and students cannot attend school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19. These include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell/taste, muscle/joint pains, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting, extreme tiredness, unexplained chest pain or conjunctivitis (eye infection).
If symptoms occur at any time, you should not attend school and should undertake a Rapid Antigen Test. If a Rapid Antigen Test is positive, you/your child should isolate as someone who has tested positive to COVID-19. If you cannot access a Rapid Antigen Test, you can attend a PCR (nose and throat swab) testing clinic.
Please remember to inform the Front Office or myself if there are any positive cases, and a reminder that further information can be obtained from the ACT Health website.
Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher/s directly if you have any concerns or questions.
We thank you for your continued support.
The children have arrived at school looking exceptional in their school uniform. Being part of St Benedict’s Primary School means adhering to correct uniform and showing pride in our school. To support this, it is essential that your child has a school hat. If students are without a school hat, they will be asked to play in a specific shaded area. Jewellery is not part of the uniform and, apart from watches and ear studs, should not be worn. Also note that any watches that have apps, games, cameras or internet connection are to be handed in to the Front Office if worn to school. These are not allowed in class or on the playground. Long hair must be tied back and be of the child’s natural colour. Thank you for your cooperation with this.
P&F ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Next Tuesday 15th February we will hold our Parents and Friends Annual General Meeting at 6:30pm (followed by a Committee Meeting at 7:00pm). We welcome any parents or carers who would like to join or even take on a specific role. The P&F makes a very valued contribution to our school by assisting with and/or coordinating some school events such as discos, fundraising, family social activities, grounds and maintenance, class Parent Representatives and contributing to the Tuckshop. It is not a big time commitment, but it is one way of meeting other school families and getting involved in our community. We would love to see you there! Please note our 2 meetings in Term 1 will be held online.
Clear communication between home and school is vital. To help with communication, please do the following:
- ensure you have the ‘Compass’ app on your phone. This is our predominant method of communication to all families and after Week 4, our newsletter will only be available through this portal.
- ensure your contact details and family information are correct. Make any changes to these details through the Compass Parent Portal;
- follow us on Facebook; and
- please read the newsletter.
CAN YOU LEND A HELPING HAND?
I invite any parents/families who have an hour or two to spare to ‘sign up’ to spread some mulch on our school gardens, at a time that suits them. In this way, we can gradually work away at the task, without having people gathered together.
We are also in search of someone to construct the metal shelving we purchased for the new garden shed.
If you are able to volunteer a little time, please contact the Front Office and let Mrs Hemphill know when (out of school hours) would suit you. Most of these areas have easy access from the oval. Thank you in advance for any assistance you are able to offer.
At the beginning of each school year, assessment data is analysed to identify students who are performing strongly in Mathematics. These students are invited to attend Numeracy Enrichment sessions with Mrs White each fortnight. Notes will be sent home today to those students invited to participate.
If your child has attended Numeracy Enrichment in previous years but has not been selected in this initial intake, their learning progress will be monitored by their class teacher and they may be invited to join at a later date. The groupings are quite flexible and students may enter throughout the year based on assessment data and teacher recommendation.
**Unfortunatley due to technical difficulties with Schoolzine in the last week of Term 4, we were unable to publish the following letter from P&F President Mr Tim Smith.
Well, we have made it to the end of the year and what a year it was. It is often easy for us as a school community to lose sight of the fact that our children’s time in this school is so short and that the contributions we all make today will affect the children of tomorrow. It is time to reflect upon the year and thank those who contributed so much to the school community.
Firstly, all the teachers and staff did an amazing job in the face of some enormous challenges. Their efforts to support the kids with their home learning and managing the changing COVID situation were incredible, and, despite the difficulties, everyone still maintained a smile. A big thank you to Rachel Smith and Alana Quirk for being valuable members of the P&F. Their insights into the tremendous work that all the staff put in throughout the year.
All members of the P&F were actively involved, and all made valuable contributions though out the year and I thank you all. A special thank you needs to go to Sonia Domitrak who throughout this year, not to mention the many years before, has worked tirelessly to guide and manage the all-important fund-raising efforts. I’d also like to thank the other members of the P&F for their valuable contributions - Sally Veikkanen, Erosha Bakmiwewa, Hannah Norgrove, Olga Morabito, Dave Noble and Andrew Jones.
It was a challenging year for the P&F with school events and fund raising put on hold many times. Let’s hope next year we can regain some of those important school community events.
I would like to encourage all parents to be involved in the P&F next year and support the school community. We all know life is very busy and everyone is different, but without an active school community the people who miss out the most are our kids. So please, if you can spare some time, I encourage you all to get involved in the P&F and/or show your support by attending events and participating in fundraising activities. St Benedict’s is a tremendous school largely because of the supportive staff and parent body. I encourage and welcome you to join us.
I’d like to finish by wishing farewell to all the Year 6 kids and their parents - all the best for the future.
Merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays and thank you for your support.
If you require uniform items please email the school:
with attention Mrs Hemphill or Mrs Cox with the list of items required. Please include either your telephone number or email address.
We will endeavour to fill your order and reply to you as soon as possilble.
St Benedict's Parish
Fr Rembert Fernando MGL
Fr Baiju Thomas MGL
Onela Iruthayaraj (Parish Secretary)
Masses have recommenced at the usual times. 170 people are able to attend each Mass in person. Please follow social distancing and sanitise before entry. Face masks are no longer mandatory, but encouraged for those 12 years and above. Parishioners are not required to produce evidence of vaccination. Upon entry please sign in using the CBR app, if you are unable to do so please use the sign in sheets that are available. If you are unwell due to immunity issues it is better to stay home.