From the Head of the Junior School

From the Head of the Junior School

An important area of development that we are targeting at the start of this year is our boys paying attention. The decision to pay attention and skills associated to then do so, are always important growth points for children, but potentially more so now given the disruptions to learning experienced over the last two years. The terminology ‘pay attention’ can be helpful because it picks up both the idea of choice (we can choose or choose not to pay) and that there is a transaction of sorts…in response to giving my attention, I receive something in return. The reward for paying attention usually includes receiving information being communicated that may be of assistance to me (as well as the appreciation of the speaker passing on the information). For example, paying attention to teachers, coaches and peers often helps me to develop skills that mean I and my team will experience success. Of course, paying attention is not just limited to words being spoken, as visual cues and awareness of others’ behaviour and our environment can be very useful in navigating each moment safely and successfully. Like most things, attention is a skill that can be learnt and improved with practice. All of which is to say that we think it is in the interest of our boys to get better at paying attention. The behaviours we are expecting that demonstrate a boy is paying attention include being still, being quiet, giving any speaker attention with our eyes, and then showing an understanding of what is being communicated in the actions that follow. As another example, often a boy who is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or doing the wrong thing is not being wilfully disobedient…his mistake has come from missing an instruction or the cues of his peers because he was not paying attention to communication at a critical point of time. We are already seeing improvement in individual boys and in paying attention when in groups at school, and hope that your son’s development in this area will be something that you notice and can reinforce at home and other settings as well.

For Years 3-6, the week began with an assembly presentation from former Trinity student, Weh Yoh, about the importance of doing all we can to support others’ needs. The Junior School has been partnering with the charity founded by Weh, OIC Cambodia, for the last six years, building our own students’ awareness of the communication challenges faced by many students and financially supporting the provision of speech therapists for underprivileged Cambodian children. In a few weeks, the boys will undertake ‘A Day without Speech’ when they will go without speaking in support of OIC Cambodia. It is always a very quiet, creative and rewarding morning in the Junior School! We will distribute information in coming days (via class Canvas and Seesaw pages) about how to donate or provide sponsorship for your son’s silence so that we can continue to make a difference (all donations are tax-deductible). In the current climate, support of lesser-known but equally-worthy charities is vital to their ability to provide continued assistance. Please support generously and even challenge your son to go beyond what we will do at school…a weekend without speech?

Next Wednesday, Years 5 embarks on camp at the Crusader campsite on beautiful Lake Macquarie. It is the first overnight camp undertaken by the Junior School since the corresponding camp last year and for most of the Year 5 boys it will be their first experience of school camp. Camps serve as an opportunity to develop and extend relationships as well as participate in a wide variety of adventurous activities, including individual and team challenges. Camps assist in the boys’ development of independence, collaboration, responsibility and life skills as well as providing wonderful social experiences beyond the confines of the classroom. Camps can also be the first step for parents in allowing boys greater responsibility and freedom as they stay away from home, possibly for the first time. Please ensure that packing lists, arrangements for departure and pick-up are carefully noted. Any medication should be given to the class teacher with completed permission to administer instructions prior to departure. On this occasion, we particularly ask that parents heed the special arrangements communicated today around COVID-19 safety. I have no doubt that our boys will rise to the challenges ahead of them. Please note that teachers will only be using Seesaw very sparingly from camp, allowing them to focus on their main responsibility of caring for the boys, and also allowing the boys the chance to tell you their camp stories for themselves when they get home!

With some staff and boys away on Year 5 Camp, a small number of clubs are impacted. Studio T is cancelled for Thursday afternoon. STEAM – Lego for Years 3 and 4 will be on next Wednesday but will be supervised by Mr Cha in Mrs Beke’s absence.

Many students have gone through with parents, co-signed and returned the 2022 Information and Communication Technology Agreement already. This agreement is renewed annually and the conversations around it are important in our ongoing support and guidance of the boys. If you have not yet discussed, co-signed and returned it to the class teacher, please do so over the weekend. We have asked that all agreements be returned by Tuesday.

Last week I flagged that Year 5 students would be commencing their eSmart Digital Licence as a way to equip the boys to make responsible choices with devices and in the digital realm. Mr Karagiannis and the Year 5 teachers have scheduled these learning experiences for school and home across the remainder of this term and have determined that it is best to delay commencement until after camp.  They will communicate with boys and parents about the different tasks to be accomplished as the boys work through the four modules with their and your assistance.

Thank you to all parents who are patiently and safely using the carpark and observing the traffic regulations. As predicted, the flow of traffic has certainly improved in recent weeks between 3pm and 3.30pm, although we particularly require the cooperation of parents now doing a later pick-up from co-curricular activities. At this later time with many occasional users of the carpark, with boys finishing from all sections of the School, and coaches providing supervision, the familiar ‘flow’ facilitated by the Junior School teachers is not always in operation. Therefore, please follow closely the instructions from Mr Hassall issued earlier this week about the location and timing of co-curricular pick-ups to assist with traffic flow.

We are a growing school and places in the Junior School are increasingly in demand. Our Enrolments Team have asked me to communicate to current parents with younger sons the importance of submitting enrolment applications as early as possible. Entry for younger brothers is prioritised, as long as there is availability, but in some year groups, available places for 2023 and 2024 commencement are already unavailable or very limited.

Well done also to our swimmers who competed at Scots last week. The team was at Newington this afternoon as preparation for the IPSHA Carnival next Tuesday. Parents of swimmers are reminded that IPSHA and SOPAC capacity limits mean that only one parent can attend the IPSHA Carnival, at the time of your son’s event/s, and that students and parents will be seated in different spectator areas. We wish the Swim Team great success in all their carnivals.

All the best to our cricketers, basketballers, tennis players, intra-sport and touch football players in their games across Sydney tomorrow morning – fingers crossed that the weather allows some games to proceed. At the time of writing we have considerable doubt for games at outdoor venues. We also wish our ISDA Debating team all the best for their second debate this evening against PLC after a great first-up win against Loreto.

Mark Dunn | Head of the Junior School


Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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