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From the Principal

08.12.20

Dear Families,

Reflections on 2020
Here we are, almost at the close of the 2020 school year. In a year of unmatched impact on the way we live and work, I thank you for the support that you have shown to each other and the school.

It is important to reflect on the challenges and successes that have occurred throughout this year. Before the school year is out, or maybe early in the school holidays, have a conversation with your child, asking about their: achievements; most enjoyable learning moments; for what there is to be grateful at this time; and to think about areas for growth as they approach 2021.

As you are no doubt aware, Preschool to Year 5 students finish school this Thursday 10 December at 3:00pm (Year 6s finish on Wednesday 9 December).

For those who graduate and leave our school you have been resilient and adaptable! Thank you for your contributions; you have triumphed in an extraordinary time. Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

Much appreciation to all our volunteers
We have many parents/carers, grandparents, and other members in the community who generously give of their time across many different areas including: coaching a sports team; listening to reading; attending excursions; assisting with school banking; making resources; being part of a committee; helping out at events; and more! We are very grateful to all our helpers and thank you for your generosity for the many hours volunteered at St Joseph’s.

Thank you, Mark Annese
Our School Board Chairperson, Mr Mark Annese, will be stepping down from the role at the end of this year, as Mark’s youngest child (James, Year 6) is about to graduate from St Joseph’s Payneham.

I know Mark has been very involved and has contributed in many different ways to the school community over a long period. I thank Mark for his time, dedication and support, not only as Board Chair, but as a strong advocate and committed volunteer at St Joseph’s Payneham.

End of Year School Mass
Our End of Year Mass will be occurring tomorrow, Wednesday 9 December at 10:15am. Unfortunately, due to restrictions, only students and staff will be attending.

Class Placements and Structures, 2021
As was stated in the previous two Parent Newsletters, next year’s class compositions will be as follows: 

  • four sessions across the week for Preschool;
  • four Reception classes;
  • three Year 1 classes;
  • two Year 2 classes;
  • two Year 3 classes;
  • two Year 4 classes;
  • two Year 5 classes; and
  • one Year 6 class.

We have now completed class placements, in preparation for the 2021 school year. This has been a lengthy and complex task involving all teachers and specialist staff, where we endeavour to place each child in a learning environment that supports them to be successful.

I know that often many families eagerly await their child’s classroom placement. Students may be hoping for a certain teacher or class; sometimes parents are too! Occasionally, there are requests for a specific teacher or a special kind of teacher. It's easy to stereotype teachers as ‘the strict one’ or ‘the fun one’. Meanwhile, some parents go with a more relaxed approach to school decisions, believing that fosters more independence and confidence for their child. 

What are the criteria that we use to make up class lists? Factors influencing class structure are:

  • the educational needs of the students;
  • the projected number of students in each year level;
  • the ratio of girls to boys;
  • projected enrolments during the year based on past trends;
  • the number of teachers employed at the school; and
  • resources and facilities.

Factors which are considered in the placement of students include:

  • academic performance (judgments over time);
  • work habits i.e., ability to work independently;
  • behaviour;
  • gender;
  • social network;
  • social maturity; and
  • special needs.

On the whole, it is the inclusive wellbeing of each child that influences the final decision regarding a student’s placement.

I personally don’t believe that students should always be placed in the same class group as their friend/friends/best friend. They need to practice the social skills of making new friends each year. If there is a falling out, or their friend is away for an extended period of time, sometimes, children don’t know how to approach a different social group because they have never had to do so previously. Our school community is small enough that children may be placed in different class groups, but they can catch up and interact at recess and lunch times.

Changing one student can have a major domino effect and so it will not be considered. The impact can affect more than just one other child in the endeavour. After all the time and effort, the eventual outcome will be balanced classes which focus on meeting each child’s overall needs. I ask that you trust our professional judgment in this important educational undertaking.

Orientation for 2021
Students will spend some time with their 2021 teacher and peers this Thursday 10 December. The intention is to reduce some of the anxiety that can exist for some students. Knowing who is in their class, who is teaching them and being excited about the year ahead generally helps our students to be ready for the challenges and opportunities of the new year. On the same afternoon, you will receive a letter indicating your child’s class teacher for next year. Your response when your child comes home and shares with you who their teacher and future class mates are for 2021 may determine your child’s attitude and mindset for next year. Thank you for your anticipated support.

Uniform update
The recent community uniform survey asked for feedback on various matters, including opinion on the wearing of coloured sneakers vs white sneakers, when children wear their sports uniform. The survey highlighted 45.45% in favour of any colour; 34.4% preferring white or predominantly white; and 20.20% unsure/not fussed. With this information in mind and discussion around the pros and cons of the various options, the Uniform Committee has endorsed that from 2021 children are able to wear the colour sneaker of their choice, only when wearing their sports uniform. As a committee, we will be looking at other aspects of the uniform survey in 2021. 

Congratulations
Just before Christmas, Year 1 teacher, Mr James Cummings, will be marrying his finance, Lia. We wish James and Lia a very special and happy day.

2021 School Commencement date and ‘Meet the Teacher and Family Day’
The first day of school for students will be Wednesday 27 January 2021, beginning at 8:45am. The ‘meet the teacher and family day’, whereby you, your child and the class teacher(s) have the opportunity to meet for a short period of time, will occur on Wednesday 20 January. In the coming days, information will be sent home providing details, including booking arrangements.

Best wishes

I take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and positive festive season and upcoming school holiday period. Ensure you spend time with those dearest to you, and be thankful for what we have in life.

For those who are not returning to St Joseph’s Payneham, thank you for your contributions to our school community and I wish you well for 2021. To everyone else, I look forward to seeing you in late January, in what will hopefully be a great start to 2021.

Simon Mechis