It has been wonderful having all our students back together this week. Our traffic adjustments have worked well, and we thank our community for their support in helping to make this so smooth.
It is expected that whole School gatherings are still some time away. However, we shall begin partial assemblies next week as we look to re-connect, celebrate our achievements and discuss the practices and values we are currently addressing.
Our Value in focus this term has been Truthfulness. In particular, since returning to school, we have been reviewing the consistency between thoughts, words, and actions.
Head of School
Next week will be a special one as we come back together as a whole school. Our confidence in bringing all students back is in no small part due to our parents’ willingness to follow ongoing precautions together with the messages of support our teachers continue to receive.
There is expected to be major traffic issues across Sydney next week during peak times. All schools are returning, few children will be taking buses and to make it more interesting the rain is predicted to continue.
Your patience at drop off and pick up times is appreciated. A reminder that parents without an infant’s student are requested to not join the pick-up line until after 3:05.
This week was like being reunited with long lost friends! It was great to see the broad smiles of students, teachers and of course…parents. With continued vigilance, patience and understanding this will hopefully be the first step towards a return to regular school life and community.
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our Registrar, Mrs Belinda James on the recent promotion of her husband Simon James and their planned relocation to Melbourne. Unfortunately, this will mean that she will be leaving us in mid-August.
Mrs James has been the welcoming hand that our families have first encountered, the supportive guide during enrolment and a central figure in many of our events and celebrations that occur throughout the year. I have personally found her to be a highly capable and dedicated professional that has a genuine love and passion for our school and students. She will be greatly missed, and we wish her and her family all the best for the future.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming our students back to our staggered return next week. It has been and continues to be a challenging time for many of our parents and students. A return to greater routine and face to face teaching will undoubtedly bring us closer towards a feeling of optimism and connection.
A reminder that while the current medical advice is that students do not need to social distance, we do need to ensure that we limit the number of adults coming on to the school grounds and ensure distancing measures are adhered to. At present, the best way to safeguard all parents and guarantee the lowest risk possible is that we use the kiss and drop system. During this period parents and carers are asked not to enter the school site. If there is a need for a parent to physically come into School, we ask that Reception is called first on 9451 8395.
If your child has not experienced being dropped off or picked up at the front of School, we do encourage you to speak with them beforehand so they are ready, and also that have all their materials easily at hand.
Thank you again for your ongoing support and understanding.
We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it. – Sir James Barrie (creator of Peter Pan)
As mentioned in a previous communication we are planning for a staggered return to school from 11 May, with the knowledge that we may wish to respond to any change in circumstances as it comes to hand. A message detailing this plan will be sent to all parents this coming Monday. We are closing submissions for the optional House Competitions that were held over the holiday break today. There were some wonderful examples of individual creativity and family teamwork. We look forward to sharing these with the students upon their return.
We hope all our families have had a safe and enjoyable break together. We continue to respond to information and advice coming from the NSW Government and how it can be applied to our particular school environment. As mentioned in a previous communication we are planning for a staggered return to school from the 11th of May, with the knowledge that we may wish to respond to any change in circumstances as it comes to hand. It has been positive to note the drop in infection rates for COVID-19, however, we have been working as a staff on continuing to enhance our online provision for continuing requirements or a possible repeat in the future. Our School Board will be convening again this weekend to consider our plans in view of any changes to the situation in the wider public sphere. In this meeting, we shall be looking at the program for our staggered approach to face to face teaching, along with how the school can respond to the financial needs of our community. I expect that we shall send a more detailed communication on Monday regarding these points. Thank you again to all our community for the continued offers of support, it is greatly appreciated.
This Term our School Value in focus has been Respect. Within each value we do have a number of practices, and for Respect these are:
Does this action unify?
Is this safe for myself and others?
Is it considerate of the happiness and comfort of others?
Is it honourable, respectful and dignified?
Does this action reflect well on my nation, school, family and myself?
These are great practical questions at the best of times. However, in times like these, the results of their application are so pertinent.
You would have recently received some optional holiday competitions and activities. These are not compulsory. As always during holidays, we simply ask our children to continue to follow the School Values and pick up a book. We look forward to welcoming back students, online, on Wednesday, 29th April.
In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.- Mortimer Adler
We hope you are now beginning to settle into the home learning routine. Please keep sharing those great experiences with teachers as the feedback and support is very much appreciated. Our School is now operating on a skeleton staff as we look to follow working from home protocols where possible. The online teaching environment does require a greater time commitment from our teachers, as communication and feedback to students as well as planning, takes more time. We have asked teachers to make sure they are closing off at the end of the day so they may have time to prepare for the next day and get some well-earned rest. The last day of school for Term 1 is Thursday 9th April. While our teachers and staff will be offline and taking a much-needed rest, we are aware that for many of our parents some direction on optional activities would be helpful. These are in development and we shall share more on this subject next week.
We trust our newsletter finds all our families well and in good spirits during these difficult times. It has been wonderful to see examples of the learning (and fun) that is going on in homes this week. The majority of our staff remain on campus to deliver the programs that have been established as well as explore ways that we can enhance the home experience further.
It is a good time to remind ourselves that many of our children may not have experienced as much screen time in the past, and have had little exposure to all the internet offers. While the online world offers many resources we do have to be mindful of the safety of our students at this time. The eSafety Commissioner is Australia’s national independent regulator for online safety. We encourage parents to visit their site listed below, as there is a wealth of resources that may be of use.
It is at times like these that you really do see the best of a school like ours. We appreciate that some families have made a personal decision to keep their children home, and while not present we thank them, and the families of those students attending, for their ongoing messages of support and understanding of the situation. We are very fortunate to have such a positive and resilient staff, board, parent community and most importantly, student body.
While the end of this situation may be a long time coming, it will pass. It is important to take all necessary precautions and stay abreast of the current situation, however it is important to take a break. With a few exceptions, we continue to maintain our regular routines and activities with our students, regularly pausing and focussing our attention to the present.
We all need to go out of our minds at least once a day. By going out of our minds we quickly come to our senses – Alan Watts, Author, 'The Way of Zen'
We couldn’t have had better weather for our re-scheduled Swimming Carnival this week, nor a better performance from our students. There were some wonderful examples of strong competition as well as individual perseverance throughout the races. The mood was competitive between the House groups, yet there was inter-group support across the field. Once again, the venue was left in a pristine state, which was a credit to our school and community.
Upon returning to school it was wonderful to hear of many Eagle Awards being given for students putting into practice our school values. The energy, comradeship and maturity of our students was a credit to all.
As we continue to explore our value of Respect this term, we are looking at how we can show respect for the many different beliefs that people hold, both within and outside our school. As a multi-faith school, we look to the common threads from many teachers such as Christ, Plato, Muhammad, Sri Shantananda Saraswati, Buddha, Kabir, Confucius and many more.
A good practical example is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated, often called the Golden Rule. It can be considered an ethic of reciprocity and empathy in most religions around the world. It is particularly a good thought to keep in mind as we look to ensure all are cared for and supported in our community
Thank you to those parents who were able to attend our Gathering on the Garigal on Friday evening. Apart from a few drops of rain, the night was lovely and a great opportunity for all to chat and make connections. The next social event is the P&F Trivia Night, on 4th April. I encourage you to organise a table soon, as it is sure to sell out.
Our interdependence within our community is what binds our school and makes it such a success. The following reading, which was given at assembly regarding our value of Respect this week, exemplifies this:
We say a person is a person through other persons. We don’t come fully formed into the world. We learn how to think, how to walk, how to speak, how to behave, indeed how to be human, from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. We are made for togetherness, we are made for family, for fellowship, to exist in a tender network of interdependence. -Desmond Tutu on Ubuntu – No Future Without Forgiveness.
This term we are exploring the value of Respect and in particular respect for one another. It is a particularly good time to study this area as we have many new students at play during our breaks, our school sport competitions have begun, and we also have our swimming carnival coming up soon. Respect is a particular value that brings us together through shared expectations and trust. It is the basis of our relationships at school and is evident in our actions as they unify our community.
At John Colet School we do look for the practical application of our Values both at school and at home. If you do witness a change of behaviour or a special action at home, do pass it on to your class teacher, it is wonderful to share and celebrate.
You may notice as you come through the entrance to school a display of our Development Application for a proposed building project. This exciting plan is for two new classrooms, Art room and a re-developed play space. The intention of these changes is not to increase student numbers, but to enhance our existing facilities. I do hope you can make it to our parent welcome event this year; The Gathering on the Garrigal. On Friday 21st February, directly after the class parent information sessions, this social event is a great way to mingle with parents across the different year levels as well as teachers and members of the School Board. Adults only I’m afraid, as we will have grown up drinks, food, and a jazz band!