We hope you had an enjoyable long weekend last week, there were certainly plenty of student stories on Tuesday of camping, outdoor adventures and travelling to visit friends and relatives. I think everyone was out and about given that we missed being able to do so over the Easter break, and we are lucky to live in such a beautiful place where we can appreciate and enjoy our surroundings.
This week our students have been easing back to more face-to-face learning but I note that most teachers are still utilising more time on devices for students to ensure the habits of independent learning gained over the enforced home learning time are not lost. We are very lucky to have been able to build up a bank of enough devices so that every student in the school can be online at once if needed. At this stage, as recommended by the CSO and in line with the Board of Studies requirements, teachers are not covering all of the outcomes from the seven key learning areas as they normally would be at this time of the year. Instead, the emphasis is currently focussed on English and Mathematics as well as a daily Religious Education lesson. Other subjects are covered later in the day through a more integrated and inquiry approach. This will remain in place until the end of the term at least and will be reflected in the modified report format for this semester. I can vouch for the fact that this has resulted in greater enjoyment for students and teachers as they have not had to tick so many accountability boxes as required by the Board of Studies. As I’m sure this will also be the case in schools across the nation, let’s hope that the decision makers further up the chain realise the value of fun in learning and make some changes for the future to free up the curriculum. An example of these types of activities happening at school can be seen later in the newsletter. Look at the faces of the Year 6 students in the video as they explain their Little Bit circuit creations with Mrs Hayward this week.
As previously stated, all parents/guardians/visitors entering the school must go directly to the office. As of this week, everyone not employed at the school will need to sign in as well, even if just dropping a child off or collecting one early. This is so, should there be an emergency closure due to Covid-19, we will be able to track and contact everyone who has entered the school. To avoid delays due to signing in/out, parents may phone the office if they need to pick a child up early and the student will be sent for and escorted to the pick up zone at the front gates. This way parents can stay in their vehicle and not enter the school at all.
The early pick up arrangement for infants children is working well at the moment and will continue a little longer, or until parent access to school grounds is relaxed. Any changes to these temporary routines will be made via the newsletter. We have noticed some vehicles travelling through the school at an unsafe speed, especially after pick up on the way out. Please drive slowly at all times within the school boundaries.
All parents should have received an email this week for the Voices from the Field survey. If you have not already completed the survey I strongly encourage you to do so. This is one way of having a voice in what happens in the future for the education of your child.
This Sunday is the Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Body and Blood of Christ. Traditionally, students at St Joseph’s, and many others around the world, make their First Communion on this day. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, all sacraments are on hold this year and will be postponed until next year unless otherwise announced by the church. On a brighter note, families are now able to attend weekend Masses again, although there are some restrictions in place still. There is an extra parish mass at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoons to help accommodate more people being able to attend whilst still maintaining safe distancing. Weekend Mass times and Covid requirements can be found later in the newsletter.
Also on a bright note, it looks like we will be having a bumper crop of kinders next year, with considerably more enrolments received so far than in recent years. With 19 siblings on the list, and quite a few new families, we might be packing them in if all go ahead with the process. When we do get a large class in the school, we make sure we have ample staff in the room to cater for the needs of all children, so at this stage we might be looking at a team approach for next year. One thing that has come from the interview process so far is that our school’s reputation within our local community is certainly high at the moment and most of the new enrolments are keen to come and join us based on what they heard about our school from others, which is very pleasing from a principal’s perspective. We are blessed with the great staff team at our school who work very hard to make this the best place for our students. Thank you to the many parents who have also recommended us to others - this was noted by several new parents when discussing why they would like their child to come to St Joseph’s. Your support is very much appreciated and helps to sustain the school’s future.
Best wishes and stay safe, and keep waving even if it is from your car as you drive past - even a small connection keeps us going!