Last week the Preparatory School was visited over two days by Mr Don DePalma, Principal of St Joseph’s Renmark, S.A.
In October last year I was invited to speak at a conference in Melbourne on school improvement strategy and Mr DePalma was in the audience for my presentation. Afterwards he contacted me to see if he could visit the school as a follow up and observe a number of areas of our operation, but specifically to look at the boys literacy improvement and the teachers’ teaching methodologies.
During his two days here last week Mr DePalma visited a number of classrooms to observe the work being undertaken, spent time with me running through the practical aspects of implementing school-wide change and spoke with Mrs Kathryn Barry (Preparatory School Deputy Head – Curriculum), on the processes of program planning and assessment. He found the visit to be highly beneficial and also very enjoyable.
Mr DePalma also commented on the outstanding level of knowledge that our teachers possess about English and the very clear and effective way they are communicating this to the boys. He has asked if he can send some of his teachers back for an observational/learning visit and perhaps he will invite some of our teachers to attend his school and coach his teachers on site.
I spoke with the boys on both assemblies last week and told them that while Mr DePalma was very impressed with their academic focus and output, he was just as impressed by their manners and work ethic. He was repeatedly taken by the boys’ capacity to remain focused for the full lesson time and during THRASS sessions, he was impressed with their capacity to analyse the words being studied and their concentration during the lessons was really strong, however, he was really touched by their courtesy and manners. He found working with them in the classrooms and also when he encountered them around the school to be really enjoyable and he commended them to me for the positivity they bring to their lessons.
It is always really good to have an ‘outsider’s view’ on the school and see our wonderful boys and teaches through fresh eyes.
I take the opportunity to remind parents of the importance of enrolling younger siblings early. Preschool and Reception vacancies for 2018 are already very low and last minute enrolments, particularly in Preschool, cannot always be accommodated.
Closing date for application for the Honours Program close on May 30. Late applications cannot be processed for this program and so any parents wishing their son to sit the Honours placement examinations must enroll as soon as possible.
The Arrowsmith program has a continuous intake capability, meaning that boys can join the program at any stage during the year, however, availability is limited to the total number of students we can include at any one time. Families considering Arrowsmith for their son should make contact with firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance and then with the admissions office.
The teachers of the Preparatory School have been engaging with the new Digital Literacies Curriculum for some time now and have, alongside our Lego program, created very interesting and challenging learning experiences for the boys. As parents are aware we have added Code Camp to the regular holiday program and many boys (and girls) from around the area have taken the opportunity to become exposed to computer coding.
From the commencement of Semester 2 this year, a new role has been created – ICT (information and communications Technology) Mentor Teacher and Lego Robotics Teacher. This is a role designed especially for someone with high level skill within the ICT sphere and who will work alongside our teachers in the development of a first class program in ICT. This teacher will teach collaboratively with the class teachers, assisting them to provide the boys with opportunities to explore this very important area of the curriculum. This ICT Mentor teacher will also teach the Lego Robotics program to the boys as part of their specialist teaching load.
I am pleased to introduce the school community to Mr Russell Ayres who will take up the position of Lego Robotics teacher and ICT Mentor Teacher.
Mr Ayres has a prior professional background as a journalist. He has experience across the Primary Year levels where he has developed an extensive knowledge of the Australian Curriculum and of how to authentically embed information technology and digital literacy across the primary years of schooling. One of his real teaching passions is the creation of design projects that extend student understanding. He is highly motivated by the role that Lego can play in educating the boys and enhancing their understandings in many subjects.
Outside of school hours Mr Ayres writes a weekly article for the Canberra Raiders website ‘From the Stands’ and has contributed articles to the Queanbeyan Age and for ABC radio and has participated himself in high level swimming, rugby union and league, basketball and tennis.
I look forward to Mr Ayres contribution to our boys’ education.
Work on the ovals, carpark and new Prep Hall is proceeding well. Due to a number of factors, including our decision to extend the sandstone block seating along one side of the oval, the carpark project and oval works will now be completed by the end of the next school holidays. We have fingers crossed to have all of this work including the new opening on to Brolga Avenue by the start of next term. However, as we have learnt with this project, delays crop up unexpectedly so while that is our expectation, there is no certainty that this will be the case.
We have also experienced a delay on the building of the Hall. Major services (power, water, sewerage) have all had to be moved more than originally thought and so this project is now running about 4/5 weeks behind schedule. This gives an expected hand-over date of December 4, which will be just after we finish for the year.
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