From the Head of the Junior School

From the Head of the Junior School

Dear Parents and Friends of the Junior School,

I want to pay tribute to our youngest learners and the manner in which they have returned to school in recent weeks. No one was quite sure what the impact would be of such an extended interruption for students in their first year of formal schooling. Yet the twenty Kindergarten students have been extraordinarily enthusiastic and settled, and have clearly grown-up so much since the start of the year! This week in class each boy has been imagining a ‘journey’ and reflecting on his growth as a learner. Indeed, as a group they have had a remarkable journey in 2021, starting school, handling the interruptions of COVID19, undertaking remote learning, and changing teacher. Yet, they stand on the cusp of Year 1 and are clearly ready. We are very proud of each Kindergarten boy. Their readiness is also a testimony to the expertise and affection for the boys shown by Mrs Weston, Mrs Bowden, Mrs McManus and Ms De Nobrega, as well as the engagement and support provided by parents, especially during Term 3. Well done, Kindergarten! (And, no news yet of the newest Weston!)

On Thursday morning, we paused as a K-6 community to observe Remembrance Day. Like many people in communities around the world, we stopped to remember the sacrifice of those who served their nations. We gave thanks for them, for the freedoms we enjoy, and for the relative peace that we live in. We prayed for the men and women who now serve in military postings around the world and we prayed that our children will never be called upon to serve in times of war. The observance of remembrance is an important custom that we pass onto our children and the message to the boys is that stopping amidst the busy-ness of life to be quiet, still and remember is one way in which we value and show respect for others.

This week has seen positive steps forward with the return of instrumental music lessons and some specialist support services (Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy) permitted to recommence face-face. We have continued to prioritise cohort-ing (keeping grade levels separate) throughout the day and ensured that movement around the school is monitored and controlled. As we move forward, we are continuing to be guided by the advice of NSW Health and the Association of Independent Schools. I remind parents that all boys will be returning to a longer school day from next Monday, restoring valuable classroom hours for the final weeks of the year. From Monday, Junior School times will be:

  • Kindergarten and Year 1 – 8:45am – 3:00pm
  • Years 2 to 4 – 8:30am – 3:00pm (Years 3 & 4 please note the earlier finish time)
  • Years 5 to 6 – 8:30am – 3:15pm       

Parents using the carpark should still adhere to the procedures established in recent weeks and are asked to adjust their timings accordingly. Punctual drop-off and pick-up remain important and boys should still be dropped and collected in the same zones as has been the case since the return to school. Boys in Years 5 & 6 with younger brothers will still be dismissed at the earlier time of 3:00pm to facilitate one pick-up. The carpark remains the most likely point of contact for Junior School boys with students from other cohorts across the school, especially in the mornings. Accordingly, parents may wish to consider their son/s wearing a mask as an additional layer of protection for the brief period between exiting the car and arriving in the morning play space designated for his cohort.

The young men of Year 6 and their teachers have been increasingly consumed this week, finalising their individual presentations for the Year 6 PYP Exhibition. Next week, their attention will switch to preparing the small-group ‘live’ presentations that the boys will make to guests. There is nothing else like Exhibition in our calendar! It is a unique opportunity for each boy to share the culmination of his specific inquiries and exhibit his own growth as a learner. This year’s Junior School on-line PYP Exhibition will go live on the School’s Expo site at the end of next week at which time Year 6 families will be able to interact with the presentations. Then, the following Monday, 22nd November, Year 6 families will be able to video-chat with the boys and interrogate their understanding of the issues and actions they are championing. Interactivity and feedback are an important part of the PYP, so the boys and their teachers thank you in advance for setting aside the time to engage with them and their presentations. After the family presentations, we will make the site accessible to all in the community and I encourage other students, especially those in Year 5 who will undertake Exhibition next year, to have a look.

At Monday’s Assembly, we will be presenting the first round of Medallions of Excellence to Year 6 students. Some of the boys have been waiting a long time since submitting the required number of certificates back in Term 1. Parents of recipients have been emailed – unfortunately you are unable to join us on this occasion but we will capture the moment and make it available to you later that day. There will be a further presentation Assembly in a fortnight for boys who have recently submitted the required certificates. There is still time for boys to achieve and/or submit their certificates…but not much! We will accept awards right up until the last possible moment. We are aware that boys have missed some certificate opportunities and are allowing for this with boys who get close but have not yet quite got the required total.

Year 5 students are reminded to submit their leadership application forms and letters by next Friday.

Netfit continues with Session 4 tomorrow morning on Zoom at 10am. The session runs for 50 minutes, is free to join and you do not need to have participated previously to join in tomorrow. The Netfit flyer is available here. Simply join the Zoom meeting (ID – 831 6946 7134; Passcode – 570047).

One of our annual practices is to gather data about our students’ wellbeing. The purpose of doing so is to assist in the process of reviewing and evaluating our wellbeing programs and initiatives. Next week, our students in Years 2, 4 and 6 will complete the ACER Wellbeing Survey which helps us to track general trends in our student body as compared with schools across Australia. Our Year 5 students will also complete the Motivation and Engagement survey. This is a research-based self-assessment instrument that provides valuable information that can support goal setting with students and parents for next year. I look forward to sharing the data from these surveys with the appropriate audience once we receive it.

Next week will see the first orientation visit of 2022’s Kindergarten students. We are looking forward to meeting them, seeing them meet each other and providing some helpful guidance to new parents as their sons get ready for big school. We will welcome boys commencing in Years 3-5 on December 3rd. Our current Year 6 students will also attend their own Year 7 Orientation to Middle School next Friday. In these final weeks, the boys will also undertake a number of orientation experiences including forums with Middle School staff and House Master interviews. Whilst the boys are ready for the step up to high school, it is also very natural to be excited, nervous and uncertain. Orientation experiences are designed to help boys approach the upcoming change with a positive attitude, answer their many questions and ease any fears.

Mark Dunn | Head of the Junior School

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:3-5

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