John Colet teacher to be an Art Gallery Advisor, again

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Mrs. Annette Gadsby from our wonderful Art Department has been invited a second time to be part of a Teachers’ Advisory Committee for the Art Gallery of NSW. Her last time on this Committee was eight years ago, and she found it very stimulating and rewarding.

This Committee advises the Art Gallery on how best to use their exhibitions and resources to develop programmes that support the New South Wales Art Curriculum in schools.  Another of our art teachers, Mrs. Juli Allcorn, has also served on this Committee in the past.  Mrs. Allcorn has been responsible for our wonderful submissions to the Gallipoli Memorial Club Art Award, in which John Colet has been consistently the only school to take part, and so far we have always been hung as finalists.

The Art Gallery finds the input of teaching experience and feedback from these teachers extremely valuable in developing and analysing  current and future programmes for schools.
Congratulations to Mrs. Gadsby.  This appointment is a reflection of the high standard of work done in the John Colet Art Department.

Judith Donald
Infants Mistress

Categories: Staff, John Colet


New staff member

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A warm welcome to Mrs Kate Bedwell.  Mrs. Bedwell will be joining the John Colet team on Thursdays as the regular replacement for Mrs. Sjogren with 4th Class. 

Mrs.  Bedwell has recently completed a conversion Bachelor Degree in Primary Education through the University of New England.  Prior to that, she was a High School English and Drama teacher and also taught for some time in Singapore as an E.S.L. teacher.  Her studies are not over as she is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Primary Education.  She is married with three daughters.  Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Bedwell.

Categories: Staff, John Colet


Library news

Mrs. Katie Caban has taken up the position of Librarian at John Colet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She says:
I have come from a high school teaching background in NSW Department of Education schools, having taught in a range of high schools from comprehensive and girls’ schools through to selective high schools. During this time, my  teaching focus areas have been English, History and Technology. As the temporary School Librarian, I am looking forward to working with the John Colet School Community to provide the best educational outcomes for your children when they visit the Library.

Categories: Staff, John Colet


Welcome to our newest teacher

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This week we introduce a new (but not really so new!!) member of staff, Ms Georgina Condos, who will be working with the Lower First children every Friday as a Class Teacher.  Georgina was a student at John Colet a decade ago and did all her Primary Schooling at the school.  She says:

“I am currently in my last year of a Bachelor Degree in Primary Education at the Australian Catholic University.      I am very excited to be taking one of the new Lower First classes on a Friday this year with Robyn Tefay. Having attended  John Colet myself, I feel very fortunate to be able to give back to the school.”

Georgina has also worked here in several other capacities:  a student helper on special projects, service at events, a teacher’s aide, and latterly, as an Assistant in the Library.  We are delighted to have her working here.

Categories: Staff


Weekly comment from our stage coordinators

A big finale for the wonderful Jump Rope for Heart initiative by Mrs. Cipollone and 5th Class was held on Thursday afternoon.  As many parents will be aware, there has been much skipping going on and children have sought sponsors to support their efforts.  The Primary children have so far raised in excess of $2,500 for the Heart Foundation, and in the process gained new levels of skill  ……. and hopefully become fitter! 

The Thursday “Jump Off” event was designed  to showcase the children’s new skills, fancy or otherwise!, and for everyone to have a healthy and very enjoyable afternoon.  Although the Infants children were not directly involved, they were invited to watch and, hopefully, will be inspired to participate next year.

The third in a series of “Morning Tea with Head of School” was held on Tuesday and well attended by 2nd Class parents, including three new or potential parents of children in that class. This gave those new parents the chance to find out firsthand how parents have found the School., and also to gain a taste, not only of Donna Moor’s delicious catering, but also a taste of the warmth and mutual support of the school parents.  Primary Class parents will be invited to a series of such morning teas next term.

About the Australian Early Development Census 2015
Mrs. McDermott had a day off class to do a large part of the work on the Government Survey on early childhood development.  This survey measures the development progress of children as they start their first year of full-time school, and looks at groups of children in the community rather than at individual students.  This census is used by early childhood educators and health services, local councils and community groups, schools and government to help plan and allocate the right types of services, resources and support for communities.  It seems to be a very useful tool, and John Colet, along with Lower First parents, has been happy to support this since its inception in 2009.

I hear a whisper that the holidays are coming up at the end of this week.  How does it happen so quickly!!

Judith Donald
Infants Mistress

Categories: Staff, Coordinators' Comments, John Colet


JCS teacher attends conference on music education and choirs

RIME 2015

During the recent school holiday break I travelled to the UK to present a paper titled “Consonant Agendas: Priorities of conductors and student members of school choirs amidst pressure to change” at the Research in Music Education (RIME) Conference 2015, hosted by the University of Exeter in Devon. Not only was this a fantastic opportunity for me as a music educator but presenting within the conference setting, in a way, both personally and professionally validated my research.

Papers were presented in themed groups allowing delegates to attend where it was most suited to their interests and area of expertise. Also presenting in the choir research theme was a PhD student from the Czech Republic who discussed his experiences as both a choir member in the Czechoslovakian Children’s Choir under Communism and as a conductor of a Children’s Choir in the time since Communism. A fascinating experience to hear the history of a country and the image, controlled by the communist leaders, that was portrayed to the world. The second presenter was a Swedish Conductor. She shared her ethnographic research, discussing the observations she had made of four of the most prominent Swedish children’s choir conductors. This too was an amazing paper to hear and relevant to any school choir conductors.

Other papers that were most relevant to my teaching had themes in composition and the use of iPads as an initial method for digital composition. A very thorough study has been carried out in a Norwegian school and documented by a professor at the University of Bergen. Also of great interest was a study, by an English conductor of community choirs. His research explored the feelings of performance anxiety amongst adult singers in choirs. His results shared similarities with the results of my school aged study. This suggests that there needs to be greater research into the area of performance anxiety amongst school aged choir members, providing them with skills to overcome performance anxiety and to develop into confident adults who will, hopefully, become members of adult community choirs.

The conference was truly a most inspiring experience and has left me with much enthusiasm for future research. I am hoping to explore a number of areas in the future including performance anxiety, more singing in schools and the choice of repertoire.

Michaela Miles
Choir Director
John Colet School

Categories: Staff, Shakespeare & Drama, John Colet


Introducing Tim Roslin

Plenty to celebrate


There was plenty to celebrate last weekend for sports teacher Tim Roslin…

“I’m ecstatic, I really am.   It’s the first time the Senior Boys have won the cricket ever! And the Senior Girls winning the softball again is fantastic!”

Mr Roslin is talking about the inter-school sports competition known as Pisa sport, (Peninsula Independent Sports Association) which JCS has been part of for the past eight years and which he currently convenes.

“We’ve come a long way since we joined Pisa. We are still the smallest school by a long way in the competition, so it’s really something when we are able to do well against these much bigger schools.      

“The kids are very considerate of each other [at sports]. They shake hands with the other team and generally show pretty good sportsmanship.”

Mr Roslin is in his 11th year of teaching at JCS and says when he started there were 80 students, few permanent buildings and no formal sport program.

“I love the teachers here, they are a fantastic bunch, and the kids are great too.”

He works at JCS three days a week on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

“We have seven sports staff at JCS on a Friday, plus Alex Ladomatos who works for JCS: Mr Cairn has been managing the Girls’ softball, I’ve been looking after the Senior Boys’ cricket, Miss Ellie has been managing the Junior Girls’ T Ball and Mr Burcham looked after the Boy’s T Ball. And Mrs Keating looks after the sports teams back at school.”

Next term, Pisa sport will be netball for the Girls and football (soccer) for the Boys.

Mr Roslin also runs our school fencing club which has around 20 members this term.

“I was a member of a fencing club in the UK, and I found that teaching fencing was a popular request by schools I worked with over there, so that was how I got into fencing coaching.”

He has been running his sports coaching business Sportextra for 25 years and through it coaches and teaches at five schools around Sydney: Masada, Lindfield East, Loquat Valley and Rudolf Steiner as well as JCS.

Mr Roslin was born in London and went to a private school, The King Alfred, in Hampstead, which he describes as an “arty, small school, co-ed, no uniform, and we called the teachers by their first name.”

“I didn’t particularly enjoy school, having dyslexia meant that academics were not my thing. I loved my sport though and I was captain of cricket and football so that was definitely the best part about school.”

“I’ve found over the years that there are links between things like dyspraxia and dyslexia and if you get kids catching and throwing and developing their ball skills, it does seem to help a lot of kids. It can help in improving their organisational skills, spatial awareness and audio processing and helps with the social side of life, and that’s very much what we work on at JCS with all the younger students especially.” Click here to review the NSW sports curriculum for Boys and Girls, as taught by Mr Roslin and Mrs Keating during Term 1 and Term 2 at JCS.

This is Mr Roslin’s 12th year in Australia. He’d visited Australia a few times before moving here, and he and his wife Andrea decided to settle in Sydney as it seemed to provide the most opportunities for Andrea’s work as a makeup artist in the film and fashion industry.

They live in Frenchs Forest and have two children. Luke, the eldest, just got married last weekend, (the other major reason for celebrating last weekend!) and Milly, who is at Oxford Falls in high school.

‘I don’t have a lot of spare time for hobbies, but I still love my cricket! I have done a lot of photography, in combination with travelling and taking photos of the kids while they were growing up. I went around the world before I got married and meeting so many people as I travelled, that was the best time of my life. I look back at those photos from 20-odd years ago taken on my old 35mm camera, and yes, I’d like to do more travel and photography!”

Thank you Mr Roslin.

Categories: Staff, John Colet


Introducing Mrs Dunn



It was on her way to a prac during the third year of her social work degree that Mrs Dunn had an epiphany…

“I had a conversion. I decided I wanted to be a teacher. But I finished my social work degree, and it all worked out for the best because if I had decided to be a teacher earlier - straight after school - I’d now be teaching maths at secondary school, and I really couldn’t imagine that!

“We (the teachers here) obviously feel that teaching at primary level is important, but apart from that, there’s much more scope, you get to teach everything, and besides you don’t teach Shakespeare as a high school maths teacher!”

Mrs Dunn jokes that she’d like to go to John Colet School herself as our range of subjects really appeals to her.

“I loved history at school and found maths very satisfying. I did maths at uni for fun. I’m not brilliant at it, but I like it. But I’m not a one-subject person. I would have liked to come to John Colet School!

“I think the board of studies has done a great job in setting curricula that help to enrich children’s understanding and develop concepts in the main subjects, like maths and writing.”

She says one noticeable change in the day-to-day teaching is that, while text types (such as narrative and persuasive writing) are still taught, the emphasis has gone off this and onto literature, giving teachers more scope for greater variety.

“It’s so exciting to be teaching from literature! When I started out in teaching, Phonics was on the way out. It’s come back and there’s been a focus on genres. And now, we’re back to literature. It brings books alive, encourages children to go off and read the same author in other books, and leads into more discussion.”

As an example, Mrs Dunn says that 3rd class had particularly enjoyed relating their narrative writing practise to an Egyptian story, “The Scarab’s Secret”.

Mrs Dunn says she loves teaching Shakespeare in part because it’s so inclusive of all students across all ability levels.

“Shakespeare is an amazing thing because it can extend people with its subtle effects and emotional depth. I have never known a child that couldn’t wait to get into their part.”

And Mrs Dunn’s enthusiasm for Sanskrit is very clear in one of our school videos on our website.

Before teaching at JCS, Mrs Dunn taught at Cranbrook, and then worked in the Department of Education for three years.

“There were no “Houses” when I came to John Colet in 1989. I was given the task of creating the Houses, and we had a little sports carnival that was the first one with Houses.”

And she has been managing the Houses and the House Competitions ever since.

Outside of school, Mrs Dunn is a longstanding member of the School of Philosophy, a keen yoga practitioner and a ‘serious’ walker. In August she will return to Delphi, Greece, for a short Plato study trip, having gone two years ago with the School of Philosophy.

She succinctly sums up the John Colet School ethos thus:

“The big thing is love. The teachers love the work. It is a loving environment.”

Thank you Mrs Dunn.

Categories: Staff, John Colet


Introducing Miss Jackson

This week's Staff Spot

In PDHPE and Philosophy, Miss Christianne Jackson’s students in 3J have been listing “10 things to know about me”, and so with pleasure we find out more about Miss Jackson in this week’s Staff Spot…

One thing that may not surprise you is that Miss Jackson has always wanted to be a teacher.

“Mum tells this story that when I was four, I asked her if I could volunteer to teach at the local pre-school. Fortunately for me I guess I had a little brother and sister and they were always being ‘taught things’ in my pretend classroom.”

Ms Jackson is a former John Colet student (she was Cook House captain in 2001) and after graduating here went to Mercy College in Chatswood and then later to ACU were she did a Bachelor or Education (Primary).

“I took a Gap year before uni and worked as a teacher’s aide in a remote indigenous community in Northern Territory called Ltyentye Apurte, pronounced ginger-porta. It was certainly challenging but I loved the term I was there for. I’ve been back since, and I would like to return one day.”

While at uni she did an exchange to a university in France, where she became ‘pretty good’ at conversational French, although she says she is sadly lacking in practice these days in Australia.

University also saw her do some drama subjects, and Miss Jackson says she loves the challenge of putting on Shakespeare.

“I still remember some of my favourite scenes… when I played Beatrice in Much Ado, I loved the slapstick of the scene where Beatrice is tricked into thinking Benedick is in love with her…”

After the pure comedy of last year’s class production, 3J will have a change of pace and tone this year with “Macbeth”.

3J have been writing one-pagers on themselves, and Miss Jackson will now answer some of the questions she asked them:

Two things I’m good at: “Well…I’m good at sport. I play netball (GA) for the Mosman Whales (which makes for very funny shouts of encouragement from the sidelines) each weekend, and I am good at cooking, I love to entertain.”

Two cool things I did this summer: “I drove to Byron Bay and lay on the beach (the summer before was also pretty cool, I went to Nepal and India) and the other cool thing I did this summer was snorkelling with turtles and manta rays.”

Something I want to learn this year: “How to play the ukulele properly. I can only play one song, so I think I would like to get some lessons!”

Thank you Miss Jackson.

Categories: Staff, John Colet


Introducing Mrs Michaela Miles

Introducing Mrs Michaela Miles, John Colet School Choir Director and recorder teacher for 3rd and 4th class students.

Mrs Miles has a Bachelor of Music Education from the Conservatorium in Sydney, an A. Mus. A in recorder performance and a Master of Education from the University of Western Sydney.

She is about to submit her thesis for her Master of Music, titled “Consonant Agendas: the priorities of conductors and student members of vocal ensembles in Sydney Anglican schools.” Put very simply, she researched what conductors and students want from their singing, and how well they communicate that to each other.

In this 4 year part time effort, Mrs Miles did in-depth interviews and research with 5 conductors and a core group of twenty students from a range of schools. Her main finding - which she has been invited to present at a Research in Music Education conference in the UK in April – she says will surprise many in music education.

“If conductors could spend the time to find out what students wanted to sing, they would be surprised, because it’s not what they assume.”

“My research findings show students do want to learn a more traditional, classical repertoire, and that teachers mistakenly think their students will be motivated by singing popular songs, say from ‘Frozen’.’’

“Now although classical choral music is not necessarily something students will have heard at home or on the radio, they do have an intelligence about it and an innate desire to sing it. Unfortunately, like many aspects of society, there is a trend toward juvenilising or ‘dumbing down’ of music. This has been partly caused by the influence of the media, but also as a result of the misconception of conductors to choose repertoire they think the students want to learn rather than listening to what the students really want.”

“Choral music is written specifically for voices, it requires a level of choral artistry that you won’t necessarily get from popular music. On the whole, popular music is not well arranged for young people’s voices.”

“I’m thinking of the absolute buzz that goes through the JCS choir when they’ve sung Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. It’s electric with excitement; you can see and feel the joy they get from it. Singing something that’s really well written, it just feels good to do it.”

“So if I choose something more popular, such as “Mambo Italiano”, the choice is based on the actual quality of the writing and arrangement. I do spend hours at the computer comparing scores and arrangements, deciding which will best suit our choirs.”

Mrs Miles is also passionate about the benefits of singing in parts. She says it’s unusual for a primary school choir to sing in parts and harmonies to the extent that we do, and it too brings a special quality through the combining frequencies and harmonies.

Although not part of her research ambit, Mrs Miles says the brain benefits of classical music and singing are well documented.

Mrs Miles is now selecting songs for the rest of the year’s choir performances. Mozart for Mr Mane’s farewell, something fun (but well arranged!) for Open Day, and of course the Ryde Eisteddfod and at least one other, and Speech Night in December.

Mrs Miles lives near Windsor, in the house she grew up in, with her husband and family of two boys and a girl, aged 7, 5 and 3. Her parents also live with them, as her grandparents lived with her when she grew up. She loves gardening with her daughter and mother who maintains a very big garden and vegie patch and likes to bake. Her next challenge will be her PhD - “It will be something to do with choirs, that’s my passion!”


Categories: Staff, John Colet


Introducing our librarian, Jenyne Hanson

A career rich in music, language and sport • Jenyne Hanson

Luck, both good and not so good, has played a hand in the remarkable career-to-date of our librarian Jenyne Hanson.

Ms Hanson has a BA from the University of New England, majoring in French with accompanying studies in Music, German and Theatre Studies. She is also a qualified Naturopath, Herbalist, Remedial Therapist and teacher of English as a Second Language.

Here at John Colet, Ms Hanson takes library lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She also runs our extra-curricular French classes, which now nearly ten percent of our students take.

During the rest of the week, she is the Audio-Visual Archivist at Opera Australia, where she also sometimes works as a copyist and surtitles operator, the latter of which involves following a music score, conductor, and singers whilst operating the translated computer slides during their performances.

She began working at John Colet School when she enrolled her son Wynford, 15 years ago. At that time Ms Hanson had her own Naturopathic practice, but as she was travelling to school each day from Balmain with young Wynford, she spent much of the week volunteering here. Mr Mane then offered her a librarian position two days a week.

So it’s a rich and varied portfolio career, and as she says, her story is about making the most of opportunities as they come along…

One thing you may not know about Ms Hanson is that she was an Australian National level competitor in Fencing.

She had her first lesson in her early 20s in Belgium at their National Salle and rose relatively quickly through the ranks back in Australia from Novice to National level - having a quick eye and excellent reflexes, she was then asked to score Finals’ events at World Championship level. She was studying Naturopathy, Botanic Medicine & Remedial Therapies while she was competing in Fencing competitions, so she then became the masseuse for some of the competitors in the Australian Fencing Team.

However, in 1980, while on the way to a national Fencing tournament, a serious car accident left Ms Hanson paralysed with a broken neck. As she describes that time, it was only through tenacity, hard work and good luck that she was able to walk again, although the accident has left her with some residual damage that she constantly works at repairing to maintain movement and good health.

It was while she was recovering that she completed her naturopathic studies and got back to work in the music industry, toggling between music and naturopathy to earn a living. She has written music for film, TV documentaries and advertising, composing on a Fairlight Music Computer (a digital sampling synthesizer designed and developed here in Sydney) which she eventually housed in a little studio of her own. (Her brother also had a sound recording studio in Ultimo, where she started out with this part of her career).

Later in the 80s, this work morphed into her being the Marketing Coordinator for Fairlight (Electric Sound and Picture) where she met many of the Fairlight owners of the time, including Peter Gabriel, artists of Duran Duran & Kate Bush.

Another great opportunity followed when she was invited to take her Fairlight to Sarm East (Trevor Horn) studio in London (now the London Recording Studio) and to Mountain Recording Studio in Montreux, Switzerland, owned by the rock band Queen. But that is another story…

Along the way, Mrs Hanson has played in a number of orchestras (pre-accident she was a competent pianist, French Horn player and ballet dancer). She was a founding member of the Sydney Chamber Choir while studying music at Sydney University. For some years during the nineties she was conductor of a Community Choir in Balmain known as ‘Stephen Vincent’ performing their concert repertoire and singing at charity & community events around Sydney. As an actor she has played with the Hunters Hill Dramatic Club as Dorine in Molière’s “Tartuffe”, and done some acting in films & television series.

And why did she choose John Colet School for Wynford 15 years ago?

“I’d watched the TV documentary series ‘7 Up’ and it seemed to make clear that the effort you put into the first years of a child’s life pay off significantly in their adult life. So I was prepared to travel for just the right primary school.”

Now Wynford is embarking on a life path that promises to be just as interesting and varied as his mother’s.



Categories: Staff, John Colet


This week's staff spot...

Introducing Kim Mann

Introducing Mrs Kim Mann who is running the infants readers programme while Mrs McKinley is on long service leave. You may recognise her as she was at JCS last year as an aide in Miss Cipollone’s 2nd class.

Mrs Mann is a wonderful and skilled teacher, but it’s her ability to ‘speak the language of compliance’, honed over 12 years in a government compliance and project management role, that has seen her also take on a tough project within JCS…

That project is overseeing the documentation in relation to compliance for the Registration process. All non-government schools are inspected by the Board of Studies, Teaching & Educational Standards (BOSTES). Every five years things like our curriculum and teaching programmes, policy documents and facilities are assessed by inspectors for evidence that all policies are being complied with. Massive changes to inspection in the past decade have placed huge emphasis on documentation and increased mandatory requirements for non-government schools.

Mrs Mann is working with Mr Mane, Mrs Condos, Mrs McKendrick and Mrs Layton, who is managing the project, to prepare for the day-long inspection process which takes place at JCS during July.

“We take the process of Registration seriously and each time we’ve been granted the maximum five year certification period. We use inspection as an opportunity to make good quality improvements, not skim by on minimal compliances, said Mrs McKendrick.

Mrs Mann has a Master’s in Education as well as post graduate qualifications in Education and Policy and Compliance.

One of her first teaching roles as a newly qualified teacher was as Assistant Boarding Mistress at a school in Devon, UK, for three years. This was followed by blocks of casual teaching at various private schools in Sydney’s inner west. During the 90s, she was the PDHPE coordinator of a K – 10 Armenian School, one of only two non-Armenian teachers on staff.

Then came a desire to ‘work within the system to improve it’, but initial attempts to gain a policy role in the education sector drew a blank. So Mrs Mann looked into other pathways into policy, this time in adult education government roles, always with a view to working in the education sector again. Her government role was in managing the training of frontline personnel, ensuring that the department’s staff training programmes were compliant and able to deliver on their outcomes.

“That was a huge period of skills building for me in terms of policy implementation, compliance and project management,” says Mrs Mann.

Now, the attraction of working at John Colet School part time is to be within a school again, but a school that is a “little bit different, not mainstream.” After reading about us on our website, she got in touch, and luckily for us, the role with Miss Cipollone became available.

“John Colet is a beautiful school, the children are lovely and the teachers are so dedicated. My friends laugh when I tell them I’m back at a school, after my exit from teaching 12 years ago. But I’m really enjoying my term here and working in this lovely environment, with its multi-layered approach to educating the whole child.”


Categories: Staff, John Colet


Introducing our new Latin teacher

A Passion for Latin!

Introducing our new Latin teacher Caroline Brehaut (pronounced Bre-oh) who will be taking our third and 4th class Latin students during lunchtime on Tuesdays and our 5th and 6th class Latin extension students three days a week .

Mrs Brehaut has been studying Latin for 15 years, first at Macqaurie University and at the University of New England and Oxford. She has a BA (Hons) and a Master of Philosophy in Greek and Roman History.

She is currently doing a Diploma In Language Studies at Sydney University, working on a program to trial the introduction of Latin as a co-curricular subject in primary schools, as at Haberfield Public last year.

She sees a real importance in teaching spoken Latin, along with the grammar, and engaging all the senses as part of the learning process.

Mrs Brehaut taught Ancient History and History at St Andrews Cathedral School for five years until 2009 and now works part time and studies, while looking after a family of three young primary aged children in Roseville.


Categories: Staff, John Colet