A warm welcome back to parents and students. This term promises to be very full, particularly for Primary students who will be preparing for the Shakespeare Festival. We will have Book Week and Science Week as well as our camps for Primary classes; 3rd and 4th class will go to Milson Island, and 5th and 6th class will be going to Canberra. Towards the end of the term we will have our Annual Sports Carnival. I hope that the long break has given everyone the opportunity to recharge themselves so that they are ready to meet the challenges of the coming term.
We have arrived at the end of what has been a very dynamic term. We started with Open Day and followed on with the Sanskrit Recitation Competition. We also had our Instrumental Evening with a record number of items and finished with the Infants Shakespeare performances which were outstanding. Interwoven amongst these major events, we had our Debating and Chess Competitions our annual John Colet Day Assembly, National Simultaneous Story Time and the PISA interschool sports competition. This is underpinned by our varied curriculum which ranges from the Maths Challenge to Ceramics. It is this wide tapestry across all the learning areas combined with the skill, energy and dedication of our teachers that offers our students a full and enriching education. I would like to wish the whole John Colet community a happy, safe and peaceful holiday.
We are nearly at the end of Term 2 which seems to have gone by in record time. It has been a very full term for the children and teachers alike. Next week we look forward to the infants’ performances for which they have been rehearsing with enthusiasm and focus. It is hard to overestimate the value that the children derive from engaging with the words of Shakespeare. Apart from the obvious benefits of developing confidence, learning to speak with clarity and being exposed to the best of our Western literary tradition, performing Shakespeare gives every child the opportunity to connect with their emotional intelligence.
This coming week our teachers will be meeting to discuss their individual goals relating to the teaching standards outlined by NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority). These goals may include for example, the development of critical thinking skills, visual learning and formative assessment. In addition to these individual goals, the school has an overall goal related to differentiation within the classroom. The aim of differentiation is to help meet the many levels of learning and learning styles in any one classroom. Working on these goals helps to maintain a high standard of teaching practice and to continue to develop new skills. It is inspiring to see the work on these teaching goals manifest in each classroom in so many different ways.
On Thursday of this week, we held our yearly Sanskrit Recitation Competition. This competition represents an enormous amount of work on the part of both the children and our Sanskrit teachers. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that each year group without exception delivered an outstanding performance. The children were steady, dignified and respectful and articulated their given recitations beautifully. As pointed out by Mrs Dunn, the recitation of these prayers gives rise to consideration and conversation about their deeper meaning and significance. Because Sanskrit has the most comprehensive grammar system its study provides an excellent foundation for the study of any language.
Next Monday we celebrate John Colet Day. Some of our 6th class leaders will address the Assembly on Monday morning to talk about John Colet and the reason that our School was named after him. John Colet was a renaissance man and also a pioneer in education. Five hundred or more years later we seek to follow the same principles of a sound education that embodies excellence. This was certainly reflected in the standard of work so beautifully displayed in all of our classrooms last Sunday and in the children’s presentations of music and Shakespeare.
would like to devote this weekly note to the praise of our teaching staff. In the last four weeks of this term, as a group, they have written reports, prepared for an annual Shakespeare Festival, prepared work and classrooms for Open Day, administered NAPLAN and continued to teach the children with total commitment and devotion. One of the Bahai writings says the following: Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by men and women, is the training and education of children. The hard work of the teachers and the children will be on view this coming Sunday. I hope you will all be able to join our school community to celebrate the fruits of their devoted efforts.
I would like to start this week by commending the children for rising to the challenge of owning up. There have been a number of examples this week where children have shown the courage to be honest when called upon to do so. Not always an easy thing to do. Our teacher on duty at PISA received some wonderful feedback from the umpire of the senior girls Netball team who was struck by their kindness and good sportsmanship. They have moved into a new round of competition this term and these qualities will stand them in good stead. Finally it was great to watch the year 6 Debating Team in action this afternoon. They spoke with clarity, confidence and intelligence. It was a very good start to a new round of debating which sees us facing different schools than we have in the past.
The term has started on a strong and steady note. This term we will be considering the value of Truthfulness and the many facets that this quality entails. In the famous words of the Bard:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
At the beginning of the week the teachers spent a day studying the value of attention in education. We looked at the words of William James a 19th century American philosopher and Simone Weil a 20th century French philosopher who said,
“The development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies”.
This lies at the heart of our teaching practice. We all look forward to an industrious and stimulating second term.
I would like to join Mr Wilcock in commending the children on their outstanding behaviour at our Anzac Assembly. It was underpinned by the work of all the teachers who have taken time to discuss the history of ANZAC Day in detail over the last week or so. I would also like to acknowledge the beautiful singing from the John Colet Choir and the very moving trumpet playing of the Last Post from guest player Mr Helmers. The event marked a fitting end to a term of hard work and effort.
I would like to take the opportunity to wish everybody a safe and happy holiday period and look forward to seeing everyone return refreshed and ready for Term 2.
We started this week with the annual Easter Assembly. The children spoke beautifully about the Easter Story and its significance; it was very uplifting to hear the many ways Easter is celebrated in different families. In a school that crosses many cultures it was excellent to engage in such an inclusive conversation. This week has brought many delights. The best part of the job is to have children come and show me with pride the work that they are doing, from 6th class presentations about different cities and regions of France to Lower 1st Science experiments on what plants need to survive. The single thread that runs through all this is their love and enthusiasm for learning. All classes have also had the opportunity to visit the Life Education Van this week and participate in an excellent program on different aspects of caring for their physical well-being. I would like to extend best wishes to all for a safe and happy Easter break.
This week we have been practicing excellence. Excellence applies to anything that we may undertake in any area whether it be academic, sporting, artistic or individual endeavour. Excellence allows each child to set his or her own standard, and to strive towards achieving his or her personal best. This means that excellence includes everybody, without the need to compete. It has been a great pleasure to have children approach me to tell me with pride about something that they have achieved whether it be receiving a pen licence, getting ticks on a behaviour award chart or getting a place in their chosen high school. What stands out is that excellence applies to anything no matter how great or small. It is wonderful to see this underlying attitude manifesting in the actions of the children.
Since the beginning of the term the school as a whole has been practicing the value of Respect. We take time to do this because, for all of us, it takes a long time to develop this quality in such a way that it works in all aspects of daily life. Recently in order to support the development of all the school values more fully, we have introduced the Eagle Awards in recognition of a suggestion made by the Head Boy of 2016 Callum Hoye. These awards recognise of the demonstration of any one of the values and allow opportunity for children to be acknowledged for their efforts to develop strong character. So far two awards have been given out, one for Respect and one for Courage. Hopefully this will grow to be an award that teachers have the pleasure of handing out regularly.
As the term is settling into its rhythm more time is available to go and visit the classrooms. This week I have spent a lot of time with the infants children and it has been wonderful to see how happy and engaged they are in their learning. Upper 1st have written some excellent reports on The Spiny Devil. I am particularly impressed with their use of vocabulary and the neatness of their presentations.
6th class hosted an excellent Market Day in support of the Pink Ribbon Foundation and on Monday morning they will be travelling into Darling Harbour to participate in the National Leaders Day. I continue to be impressed by the way in which they step up to their responsibilities.
A number of 5th class children started Meditation this week and I had the very good fortune to meditate with them on Wednesday morning. It was wonderful to see their sincere approach to this discipline.
The big event this week was the Primary Swimming Carnival. I would like to add my congratulations to Mrs Mackenzie on doing such a wonderful job and also to the children for their enthusiasm, good sportsmanship and good behaviour. The House captains all did a marvelous job both in helping to organise their House and also in the way in which they conducted the pre-Carnival meetings with House members at the beginning of the week. I met with 6th class this morning just to take stock, as it were, of how the term is progressing for them and I was very impressed by the conversation. The effect and value of service, both for themselves and others, was a focal point of the conversation. I found this very encouraging. On Wednesday we will have Cook Market Day and we look forward to raising funds for the Pink Ribbon Foundation. Also on Wednesday, we look forward to meeting up with parents from 3rd and 4th classes for Morning Tea in the Library.