From the Head of the Preparatory Schooldeveloper
It has been great to welcome the boys back to school this week! Having spent a couple of weeks onsite working with teachers to get things ready, it has been so refreshing to have the boys’ energy filling the place again. Whilst their absence allows us to work efficiently, it is simply not the same without the boys. The boys have hit the ground running, throwing themselves back into their learning with great enthusiasm, focus and engagement. I trust this is just the beginning as we embark on a year of significant learning and growth for all of our learners.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about our ability to welcome parents back onsite as we would have liked. Nonetheless, it has been lovely to reconnect with parents as we have been able to at the front gate and through other interactions. We look forward to the day when we can return to ‘normal’ with parents being able to engage more naturally with teachers about the boys’ learning.
Llandilo Development Official Opening
Last Friday was a significant occasion for the Prep School as we officially opened the Llandilo Development and the new covered Basketball Court. After a year of disruption and significant building works, our vision for these spaces has now become a reality.
The Years 5 and 6 Learning Centres and the new STEAM Lab came online in Term 4, however, we are excited to continue to grow into these learning spaces in 2022. Whilst it is always nice to have new buildings, these spaces have been purposefully designed to support student learning in an enhanced way. This link will take you to the brochure that was produced for the opening which provides the thinking behind the building design and our new pedagogical approach which is being used in Year 5 and 6 called, ‘Flexible Personalised Learning’.
The response to the new learning spaces has been very positive. However, I have to acknowledge that the boys’ reaction to the new Basketball Court surpassed this. To be honest, I am ok with this! Primary schools should be places where young people have the chance to play, and play hard. The variety of play opportunities that exist in our playgrounds now is outstanding. Most break times there are all manner of games taking place ranging from dodgeball in the Gym, football on the Milverton Court, basketball on the new Basketball Court (at any of the six basketball hoops), old-school chasings on the old Basketball Court, Gaga Ball, handball, table tennis (at one of the two new outdoor tables donated by Year 6 2021), climbing on the play equipment, enjoying the nature playground, or finding a quiet place to read or relax. The possibilities are endless and there is something for everyone!
We are also looking forward to the completion of our new Pre-K playground in the near future. This area will include an expanded nature playground and mini-football field for the Pre-K students.
The Head Master has written in some depth about the effect of COVID this week. Suffice to say, we are very pleased that the impact on student attendance and learning has been minimal. Across the Prep School there have been only a handful of positive cases and a few more students identified as household contacts. This is a very encouraging situation, however, I encourage parents to continue diligently monitoring for symptoms, following the advice of NSW Health and conducting surveillance testing with the Rapid Antigen Home Test kits on Mondays and Thursdays. These practices, along with the additional risk mitigation strategies that we have in place, are critical in limiting the spread of the virus within our school community.
Please ensure that you notify both NSW Health and the School if your son tests positive. The Trinity app has a category for COVID-positive cases.
Chinese New Year and Lion Dance Performance
Chinese New Year is a significant time for many members of our school and local community, as it represents the start of the new year. It also corresponds helpfully with the beginning of the school year.
Today we held our own school celebration with the support of a visiting Lion Dance Performance group. This is becoming a tradition at the Prep School and is a massive highlight for the students. The students always love the high energy dancing and provocative engagement with the audience. This year, a number of students were invited to participate and to have a go inside the lion.
Parent Information Evenings – Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 February
Next week you are warmly invited to join us for the relevant Parent Information Evenings. These sessions are a great chance for teachers and me to be able to provide information about the year ahead, ranging from whole school matters through to the day-to-day running of each class. Given the current COVID restrictions, these sessions will now take place online through Microsoft Teams meetings. Whilst we acknowledge virtual meetings lose a little of the personal element, we hope the virtual meeting will allow more parents to participate without having to navigate childcare arrangements for siblings.
All of the relevant links to access these sessions, including my address, will be able to be accessed via this link. This will be updated next week in preparation for the meetings.
The class-based Teams meetings will take place at the following times:
Tuesday 8 February – Pre-K to Year 2 Parent Information Evening
6:00pm – Pre-K and Year 1
6:45pm – Kindergarten and Year 2 (please note the change in time for the Kindy session)
Wednesday 9 February – Year 3 to Year 6 Parent Information Evening
6:00pm – Year 3 and Year 4
6:45pm – Year 5 and Year 6
Yesterday we began the process of selecting our IPSHA inter-school teams for Term 1, with this process set to conclude after next week’s sessions. We will have an additional training session on Monday morning to assist in the selection process. We aim to publish teams in Week 2 along with the relevant draws so parents can plan for the first week of Sport on Saturday 12 February.
Year 3 boys began the year with a swim assessment with their Sport training set to begin next week before the first Friday afternoon session on Friday 18 February. Throughout the year, the Year 3 boys will have the opportunity to participate in each of the main winter and summer sports across the year; Football (Term 1), Basketball (Term 2), Cricket (Term 3) and Rugby (Term 4). This programme provides a balance of skill development and ‘game-time’ experience to adequately prepare them for participation in the IPSHA Saturday Sport competition beginning in Year 4.
Kiss and Ride
The daily dropping off and picking up of boys is an important time of the day to ensure the safety of everyone. It is also a little more challenging at present given the ongoing COVID restrictions and the fact that co-curricular activities haven’t started yet. We are working hard to make these adjustments to ensure pick-up is as efficient as possible. As such, I would value your ongoing support with the following points:
- We strongly encourage parents to use the Kiss and Ride service rather picking up on foot as this helps to avoid unnecessary gathering.
- Parents are reminded to clearly display your son’s name card on approach, whether viaKiss and Ride or on foot.
- If parents arrive early, they will be encouraged to do another lap around the block to allow the Kiss and Ride line to continue to operate without interruption or waiting.
- Please drive to the top of the Kiss and Ride area, or behind the car in front, rather than trying to pick your son up outside the Kiss and Ride. Staff will be encouraging students to wait at different points in the Kiss and Ride area to meet parents as they pull up.
- Wherever possible, boys should put their bag in the front or back seat of the car (whichever door they enter) rather than the boot. This is a safe practice.
- Parents are requested to stay in their car rather than getting out to help their son, and to move away from the Kiss and Ride area as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Students who arrive before the specified arrival time or are not picked up by the completion of Kiss and Ride will be taken to OSHClub.
- Parents choosing to pick their son up on foot are requested to line up on the eastern side of the Llandilo Gate (heading down towards The Boulevarde). Parents are requested to line up in single file and to maintain social distancing. A teacher will move along the line announcing the boys’ names by reading the name signs.
- In the case of wet weather, please do not adjust your practice from the points above.
- We request that parents don’t attempt to complete a three-point turn in Llandilo Avenue as this can be dangerous and causes congestion.
- Pre-K students should be dropped off and picked up on foot.
On Wednesday, the Co-curricular programme for Term 1 was shared with parents, along with instructions on how to express interest in these activities. These expressions of interest should be completed by 10:00am on Monday morning. Places for these activities will be finalised by the end of the week. Confirmation will appear through the same website that was used for expressions of interest.
Co-curricular activities will begin in Week 3.
Before expressing interest in an afternoon activity please make sure the student is registered for OSHClub as this is part of the selection criteria. Registration is free and can be done online at https://www.oshclub.com.au. Prep School boys who attend after-school activities at Summer Hill will also need to be registered for OSHClub at the Summer Hill campus.
One of the age-old traditions in schools is the celebration of student birthdays at school. Unfortunately, the past couple of years have meant that doing this with cakes or small treats has not been possible due to COVID restrictions. Whilst we continue to put in place risk mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID, it appears that risks associated with food are not as great as they previously were. As a result, I am pleased to let parents know that we will once again be making it possible to send birthday treats in to celebrate birthdays. I encourage parents to only send in a small, single-serve treat, being conscious of the fact that we are a nut-aware school. Please don’t try to make up for lost time or missed birthday celebrations!
Chris Wyatt | Head of the Preparatory School
‘You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.’ Psalm 86:5