Mr Jeff Symms – Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School

Starting the new school year!

The first week of the school year had a tremendous ‘feel’ to it.  The boys appeared to be keen to be back at school, they were wearing their uniform with pride, their focus in class was good and our major events went very well.

It all points to a start of school year that has gone to plan for all involved:- boys, parents and teachers.   However, there may well be some hiccups as everyone gets used to the new school year and routines.  What days is the PE uniform worn on?  When does the homework book get handed in?  These questions can be most readily handled by the class teacher and more than likely will be included in the information that they provide at the Parent Information Sessions occurring over the evenings this week.

It has been great to see so many parents at these evenings, availing themselves of the opportunity to learn about the year ahead, and starting the process of building positive relationships with their son’s new teacher whilst also indicating to him their interest in his academic and social progress.

Our parenting expert Michael Grose has some handy hints for getting the school year off to a good start.  He reflects on the fact that the start of a new school year brings with it a range of emotions:- excitement, anticipation and maybe some nerves too.  Human beings are not generally good at ‘change’ and the new school year brings a range of changes – new classroom, new teacher, new routines, new sports and music activities and new expectations.  Some people make the transitions between years very easily while for others it takes a little longer.  If you son is struggling with sone ofthe changes – let his teacher know.  If you, as the parent are finding the changes taking some time to become accustomed to, then just give yourself some time.  Be patient with yourself and the teacher.  Just because things are different to what you experienced last year, that doesn’t make them not as good.  It is normal that as the boys move through the school, things will change – they will be expected to take on more responsibility, become more independent.  The teachers will establish new ways of developing these skills and while you may not feel ‘at home’ with some of the new ways, indicate to your son that change is part of life and that with a little time and patience, these new routines will seem like ‘old hat’.

Michael suggests that we:-

  1. Be positive about the year ahead. Children take their cues from the adults around them. If you are confident that your child will succeed, you have already increased the chance that they will.
  2. Tell him what to expect.  Talk about change and doing things differently as an opportunity for growth.
  3. Develop their independence skills.  As a new year arrives, take the opportunity to teach them new skills, let them do more for themselves.  This is good parenting.
  4. Explain what school expects from them. Let your son know that being at school requires certain behaviours from him.  Following rules, knowing the routines, taking turns and sharing.
  5. Teach social etiquette.  School is better when your child can make friends.
  6. Familiarise them with the school environment.  If your son is new to TSS he will likely have been on campus before he starts.  But maybe after a few weeks, drop by on a weekend morning and let him show you around and point out the new classrooms he uses and places he plays.
  7. Develop a good-bye routine.  Work out how and where you will drop off.  A quick, caring cuddle and kiss goodbye is better than a protracted farewell.
  8. Have a hello routine also.  Children – boys in particular, often are not keen to recount the day minute by minute to a questioning parent.  They need a bit of ‘brain downtime’ after a busy day.  ‘What did you do in school today?’, ‘Who did you play with’,  type questions are often met with a sigh and a brief ‘nothing’, or ‘my  mates’ type answers.  I’ve learnt with my own son  to wait for the right moment.  When they want to talk, let them.  Boys will open up when they feel they have the space to do so.

Please read Michael’s full article included here: insight-helping-children-make-a-bright-start-to-school

Safety Reminder

Please note that brothers cannot attend the training sessions for each other unless they are supervised by a parent.  Already this year we have had younger brothers on the oval waiting for their older brother’s training to finish and vice versa, older boys waiting on the oval until their younger brother has completed his session.

The staff on the oval are there to coach and supervise the boys enrolled in that particular sport or activity and cannot provide supervision to other boys.  Whilst we understand that parents may not wish to make two trips to school to collect their sons, brothers of boys who are at an after school activity need to attend after school care, where they can be supervised safely, enjoy an afternoon snack and engage in a range of activities or even do their homework.

Bookings for after school can be made online on the school website.  Go to Menu and select ‘out of hours school care’.

Car parking – Cribb

While I genuinely thank the majority of parents for their patience and care during the after school pick up busy period, I am concerned at the number of cars of mainly Cribb (Reception and Year 1) families who are parking on the footpath along Lupus St.  This significantly limits visibility for cars trying to exit the driveway and with the number of boys and parents using the footpath to access cars parked on the street or to walk home, there is the danger that someone will be hit by a reversing vehicle.

I say every year that I know how completely devastated anyone would be if they hit and injured (or worse), one of our boys.  For the sake of a saved 5 or 10 minutes it is simply not worth the risk.  I request that vehicles stay off the footpaths around the school.

Student Protection Officers

The Southport School takes the welfare of its students very seriously and has appointed a number of student protection officers across the school who can be the point of contact for any boy who feels he needs to talk to someone about something worrying him, make any disclosures about concerns he may have or simply seek emotional support.

On the Preparatory School campus the Student Protection Officers are Mr Mark Wyer, Mr Robert Baker, Mr Brian Rowe.  All  have been especially trained by the the Anglican Diocese in how to work with the boys.

Visiting the Campus

Parents are reminded that if they are visiting the classroom to help in any way, or coming on campus to assist with coaching for sport, they must sign in through the office or Mrs Stibbe’s room in the Cribb building.

Signing in is a part of our student protection program and permits us to know who is on campus at any given time.  I appreciate your co-operation with this process.

Literacy and Numeracy Parent Information Sessions

There are two upcoming parent information sessions that should prove valuable for parents to attend.  Details are on Prepbook and an email has been previously sent to all parents with a link to the online RSVP.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Literacy: 15th February (RSVP by 13th Feb)
Mathematics: 27th February (RSVP by 23th Feb)

Gifted and Talented department co-curricular offerings

The G and T department will conduct sessions in Philosophy and Reasoning for boys in years 5 and 6 and Clay/Lego animation for boys in years 3 and 4

Philosophy and Reasoning will be held on Monday afternoons.

Clay/Lego Animation will be held on Wednesdays in Terms 1, 2 and 3.

Part time Arrowsmith Program

Parents may not be aware that the Arrowsmith program is now available to boys who attend the Senior School as a part time, after school option.  The Arrowsmith Program is designed to assist those students who have a learning difficulty which is impacting on their capacity to achieve in regular classes through a process of building new neural pathways.

Opportunities are now open for boys to be assessed which will determine the suitability of the program to assist in their development.  The cost of this assessment is $1400, with $1000 being applied to the program’s fees if the boy enters the program.

Please contact the Arrowsmith Co-ordinator Mrs Lynda Darby at if you have any questions about the program or to organise an assessment for your son.

Dogs on Campus

Lately we have had noticed more and more that parents are bringing dogs onto the school campus.  Across most school systems there are policies or guidelines in place regarding dogs in school grounds and in general they are not permitted for health and safety reasons.

A dog visiting the classroom as part of show and tell is of course acceptable – new puppies are always a welcome addition to the day, but a number of dogs have been attending weekend sport fixtures or training sessions on the ovals and been in the school grounds of an afternoon at pick up time.  The issue of course is the health issues surrounding dog faeces and of course the danger of a bite to a child.

From someone who loves dogs and would have one in every classroom as a ‘class pet’ if I could, I ask that families leave dogs at home when visiting the school campus.

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