The Tartan Newsletter

Edition 1

Tartan Newsletter Cover
Principal’s Welcome

The Right to Disconnect

School Canteen and Café – Review

 
Early Learning News

Learning to Read

 
Primary School News

Why Behaviour Management Matters in Pastoral Care

 
Middle School News

Committing

 
Senior School News

Maximising Achievement

 
Teaching and Learning

The Power of Pen and Paper

Welcome to the Tartan Newsletter

I am delighted to introduce the rebranded version of our school newsletter, known as ‘The Tartan’. This conversion marks an exciting new chapter in our communication efforts, one that emphasises a deeper focus on the educational, pastoral, and behavioural aspects of each sub-school within our community.

 

The Tartan will be authored by a team of dedicated staff members, including the Associate Principals, Business Manager, Directors, Counselling Team and Heads of Department from across all levels of our school community—Early Childhood, Primary School, Middle School, and Senior School. Drawing upon their collective knowledge and experience, our staff will provide insights and updates tailored to the going’s on and focus of each sub-school. The Tartan will be issued in Week 1 and Week 7 of each Term.

 

We trust that you dive into the articles written by our educational leaders as they share valuable insights, strategies, and best practices aimed at enhancing teaching and learning experiences within their respective sub-schools. From innovative teaching approaches to curriculum updates and academic achievements, The Tartan will serve as an inspired resource for all of our staff and parents.

 

Our Associate Principals, Counselling Team and Pastoral Care teams will also contribute articles focusing on student well-being, social-emotional learning, and the development of positive school culture and values. We trust that each parent may discover practical knowledge of the initiatives implemented at our school that are designed to support the holistic growth and development of our students across all age groups.

 

While The Tartan will primarily be authored by our designated team of staff members, we encourage feedback from all members of our community. Whether you have a topic you’d like to see covered or feedback on a previous edition, we welcome your input as we strive to make The Tartan a valuable communication resource for our entire school community.

 

I trust you enjoy reading this edition of The Tartan. Together, let us embrace this revamped communication platform as we continue to work collaboratively to support the growth, development, and success of every member of our community.

The Right to Disconnect

As we navigate through another busy term filled with opportunities for growth and learning, I want to take a moment to address the principle behind the context of each individual’s right to disconnect after work hours.  This concept has been featured in the media more recently.  In today’s digital age, where technology has seamlessly integrated into every aspect of our lives, it is becoming increasingly challenging to find moments of respite and rejuvenation away from work.

 

The concept of the right to disconnect is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It is about recognising that our staff members are not only educators; but individuals with lives outside of the school and classroom walls. They deserve time to recharge, spend time with loved ones and pursue personal interests without the constant pull of work-related obligations.

 

However, amidst discussions of disconnecting, it is essential to acknowledge the unique nature of the teaching profession. As educators, we find ourselves constantly thinking about our students’ well-being, their progress, and how we can best support them on their educational journey.

 

During each school day; teachers operate “in loco parentis,” Latin for, “in the place of parents”. This responsibility is not taken lightly by any member of our staff. It is a testament to the dedication and compassion that each of our educators brings to their work every single day, however, with this dedication comes a challenge. Our staff members often find it difficult to disconnect because they are constantly thinking about the needs of the children in their care. Whether it’s providing guidance on a challenging assignment, offering a listening ear to a student in need, or simply being a source of stability in their lives, our staff members go above and beyond to ensure that every student feels supported and valued.

 

So, how do we reconcile the right to disconnect with our unwavering commitment to our students? It’s about finding a balance—a balance that allows our staff members to prioritise their well-being while still being there for their students when they need them most or being responsive to parents’ queries. It’s about fostering a culture of mutual respect and understanding between staff, students and parents, where staff members feel empowered to set boundaries without feeling guilty and students and parents understand and respect these boundaries.

 

Let us remember the importance of honouring the staff’s right to disconnect, noting that, as it is for parents, teachers never really disconnect from their students as they are constantly thinking about how to engage them, support them and do their very best for them, even when they are spending time with their own families and friends, outside of school hours.

Read More
School Canteen and Cafe' Review

I am excited to share with you an important initiative that we are undertaking to further enhance the well-being and inclusivity of our school community. As part of our ongoing commitment to promoting healthy eating habits and accommodating the diverse dietary needs of our students and staff, we have decided to engage Mrs Jessie Kapitola, from ‘Itchin Kitchen’ to conduct a comprehensive review of the food offerings in our school canteen and café.

This review will focus on two primary objectives:

  • Increasing the nutritional value of the menu options available.
  • Ensuring that our offerings cater to the diverse dietary needs arising from cultural, religious, and personal beliefs within our community.

One of our top priorities is to provide students and staff with access to nutritious and balanced meal options that support their overall health and well-being. The consultant will work closely with our food service providers to evaluate the nutritional content of the current menu offerings and make recommendations for incorporating more wholesome ingredients, reducing added sugars and unhealthy fats, and increasing the availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

We recognise that our school community is comprised of individuals with a wide range of dietary needs and preferences, including food allergies, intolerances, cultural practices, and religious beliefs. It is essential that our food services reflect this diversity and provide options that are inclusive and accommodating for all. Jessie will collaborate with our Manager of Hospitality and Catering and Chef to identify ways to expand the menu offerings to include more vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and allergen-friendly options, as well as dishes inspired by different cultural cuisines.

We believe that the success of this initiative relies on open communication and collaboration with our school community. As such, students, parents, and staff will be provided with an opportunity to actively participate in the review process by sharing their feedback, suggestions, and preferences regarding the canteen and café food offerings. Your input will be invaluable in shaping the future direction of our Canteen and Cafe menus and ensuring that they meet the needs and expectations of our diverse community.

I am confident that this review will result in tangible improvements to the nutritional quality and diversity of the food available in our school canteen and café. By prioritising health and inclusivity, we are not only fostering a positive eating environment but also empowering our students and staff to make informed food choices that support their overall well-being.

Read More

Thank you for your continued support as we strive to create a healthier and more inclusive school community together.

Every Blessing

Jason Bartell

JSRACS Principal

Early Learning News

Learning to Read

You may have read in the media recently a report from the Grattan Institute indicating that one third of Australian children cannot read proficiently and the need for a “systematic, evidence-based curriculum”.  Rather than relying on a whole language approach popular in the 70’s or a balanced literacy approach, the research says instead we should be teaching a curriculum that focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, and comprehension.  A structured and systematic approach to teaching the skill of reading is a more effective approach than looking at the first letter of a word and guessing or looking at the picture.  

A child that knows how the sounds of speech are represented by letters, can read any word.  As adults, we can’t remember learning how to read, we just do it, however that’s not the case with unknown words – you have to sound them out!

 

So, what does this look like at JSR? 

A structured and systematic approach to the learning of phonemic awareness, phonics and comprehension takes place from Kindy to Year 6.  By using an evidence-based scope and sequence, students are first taught the single letter phoneme/grapheme connections, then digraphs before progressing to the introduction of alternative spellings.

 

The English language is made up of 44 phonemes – the smallest unit of sound, like a, b, c, but also ff, ll and ss.  Graphemes are how we write phonemes, but these might be 1, 2, 3 or 4 letters, like ed, itch or ough.  No wonder it’s tricky to learn to read and spell.  Have a go at reading this poem out loud and you too might wonder why reading and writing in English isn’t as easy as you think.

 

I take it you already know      (Richard Krogh 1981)

I take it you already know of tough and bough and cough and dough?

Others may stumble, but not you, on hiccough, thorough, lough and through?

Well done!  And now you wish, perhaps, to learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word that looks like beard and sounds like bird,

And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead – for goodness sake don’t call it deed!

Watch out for meat and great and threat (They rhyme with suite and straight and debt). A moth is not a moth in mother, nor both in bother, broth in brother,

And here is not a match for there, nor dear and fear for bear and pear,

And then there’s dose and rose and lose – just look them up – and goose and choose,

And cork and work and card and ward, and font and front and word and sword,

And do and go and thwart and cart – come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive! I’d mastered it when I was five!

Read More

Click here to read more about the ages and stages of literacy development. 

Georga Gratteri

Associate Principal Early Learning (Pre Kindy - Year 1)

Primary School News

Why Behaviour Management Matters in Pastoral Care

Pastoral care is addressing the physical and emotional welfare and wellbeing of self and others. In a school setting it is the essential foundation upon which learning can best take place. As a school, the focus is the holistic development of students, including their emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing. It is the approach a school adopts when seeking to create a safe and supportive environment where students can learn, grow and thrive.

In its simplest form, pastoral care is about relationships, developing sound relationships between students, teachers, support staff, caregivers, and with other students.

Our school’s core business is pastoral care and the development of young people to be their best. Every child commencing at our school has a focus on their total wellbeing and their individual developmental needs. We incorporate intentional learning experiences that support them as they progressively develop their skills to form significant, caring and respectful relationships with others – they are learning to build connections outside of their home environment, within a bigger world and between larger audiences. Respectful, courteous and kind behaviour is at the core of building relationships with others, and these are the expectations that align with our classrooms and school practices. In Primary, students are involved in the process of revisiting age-appropriate discussions on what ‘expected behaviour’ looks like and work through a process of agreeing on what constitutes positive and acceptable behaviour within their classroom and at school, which will allow everyone to learn, grow and develop in a safe and supportive environment. 

 

Throughout their education at JSRACS students are exposed to the core values considered to be positive attributes for successful learning; Through the Health curriculum, the You Can Do It Programme and in conjunction with our religious and values based education experiences, as well as day to day classroom practices, students are exposed to societal and school expected values that constitute positive behaviours.  As students move through the primary years, they gain an understanding of what expected behaviour looks like; they become capable and confident to make choices and recognise that the choices they do make affect not only themselves but others.

 

As part of the ongoing and continued development of our pastoral practices at JSR, a redefined Primary Behaviour Management structure was implemented for Years 2-6 in 2024. A review of practice was undertaken to complement the combining of campuses into one school in 2023; processes were refined to put a focus on the majority of students who demonstrate expected behaviour norms, the majority of the time. Our focus is enhancing the positive through acknowledgement of good choices and exemplary engagement towards others. The values of kindness, empathy, generosity, helpfulness, resourcefulness, creative thinking, innovation, organisation, persistence and collaboration are acknowledged and rewarded through the Good Standing Award system. This system encourages students to engage positively with their learning and to receive recognition for this. Every student in Years 2-6 starts the year with good standing and students are rewarded each term for maintaining their good standing. They are encouraged and motivated to earn additional good standing points that contribute to milestone achievement certificates along the way. Students are not competing against each other but are intrinsically motivated to demonstrate sound behaviours that demonstrate they are making good choices that correlate with their individual abilities and capacity to do so. Every child is unique, and every child’s ability, capability and needs are factored in when awarding good standing points.

 

The purpose of our pastoral care plan is to encourage positive behaviours and engagement with others; however, there will be occasions when children do not comply with expected behaviours or will make poor choices that necessitate consequences. When a child makes a poor choice or engages in inappropriate behaviour, any consequence applied is made taking into consideration each student’s individual abilities or capacity; the diverse or additional needs of a student are factored into decisions made regarding behaviour and consequence.

 

The Primary Behaviour Management Flow Chart outlines the steps of applied consequences for students in Years 2-6. Expectations increase as students move up through their primary years and are applied equivalent to a child’s age, abilities and capacity. The revised 2024 Flow Chart is very similar to the previous plan, with the first 3 steps in the process the same as in past years.  The new introduction of ‘Detention’ as a fourth step is a change from the old system of issuing a Tracking Card and is a deliberate measure to align more with middle school terminology to create a smoother process as students transition through our school.  The word ‘detention’ has created concern for some parents, but the actual process is no different to a child receiving a tracking card in the past whereby they had ‘time out’ over a break time. In the current model, if they reach this fourth step, they report to a Senior Staff Member to complete a reflective practice session during their ‘time out,’ now referred to as ‘Detention.’  An additional step has been added whereby cumulative detentions result in an after school detention and loss of good standing for the semester. Only an extremely small percentage of our primary students may ever reach this stage whereby they will need to complete an after school detention or lose their Good Standing and the privileges that go with this. Significant parent engagement with the School will have taken place prior to such measures being enacted. This new system is not designed to increase students receiving detention but rather to reward positive behaviour in the first instance, to provide clear steps to students and as a measure to address unacceptable behaviour.

 

A recent media article outlined a teacher’s reflection on the current state of student behaviour from her experiences and the impact this has on teachers and other students. The article mentions reports of violence towards staff or other students, including throwing desks, walking out of classrooms, creating a hostile and unsafe working and learning environment for teachers and students alike. The defining comment stated, ‘We are being held hostage by students at school who have no consequences……….’ (full article attached). The author references having worked in private and public schools in secondary education; however, behaviour and standards do not just start in the secondary phase of schooling, standards and expectations must be introduced and set from a young age and developed as a child moves through primary years and into secondary education and their adolescent phase of development. 

 

We feel confident at JSRACS that our students and staff do not operate in this type of environment. In appreciating the supportive and collaborative relationships we have between staff, students and parents at our school, we continue to examine our practices to ensure we maintain the standards and expectations that continue to support and guide our students through childhood, into adolescence and beyond; standards that will stand them in good stead to become upstanding and model citizens. Encouraging positive student engagement and behaviour, as they are supported and guided along the way, is the key to developing sound relationships and interactions with others. Developing relationships, setting and understanding boundaries, and acknowledging positive engagements we believe is the key to continuing to maintain a respectful and safe working and learning environment for everyone at our school. Consequences are a part of this process and are implemented as a learning and guiding tool, whereby students can reflect on their choices and move forward to make better choices in the future.

 

At JSRACS we acknowledge and celebrate student achievement; whether this be through awards for academic excellence, sporting achievements, musical abilities or creative pursuits; we wish to similarly acknowledge that demonstrating positive learning behaviours and attributes is a cause for celebration. It is these attributes that support our children to grow to become kind and caring adults, and empathetic human beings. Intrinsically motivated to be the best they can be is the ultimate goal, and this includes being the best human being they can be, through their actions towards others.

 

Building relationships and developing self-reflective practices, including self-control are all learned behaviours that require patience and support; when children stumble, we acknowledge this and the reality in some instances, as in life, is that a consequence may apply to the choices made.  When applying a consequence, we support and guide students to reflect and learn from this experience and make better choices in the future. 

 

We are thankful for and appreciate the links we have with parents and acknowledge their support and guidance through this process is crucial.  We invite all parents to join us in celebrating our students as they grow and develop over their primary years; celebrate with us their achievements, their awards and their rewards, and support and work with us when additional guidance or understanding may be required.

Read More

Paula Martin

Associate Principal Primary School (Years 2-6)

Middle School News

Committing

The beginning of the new year is always characterised by several commitments and resolutions to do the things we have always known we should, and yet have somehow never followed through on. If you are anything like me you may have aspired to a fitter healthier lifestyle, or to finally learn to play the guitar that gathers dust on the stand in my lounge room.

 

I expect that 2024 will pass without me breaking through into the charts with a guitar solo but being the year that I turned 50, I have so far maintained my commitment to regular (achievable) exercise. I suspect that Winter mornings will be the true test of this newfound commitment, but I am quietly optimistic.

How does this relate to school, my child, and their education? Well, I’m glad you asked.

You and your child/children have the best of intentions for their learning and growth. As a parent, you know that good study habits, hard work and commitment will stand them in good stead, both now and in the future. Your son or daughter knows this too. They do understand that hard work is what is required to achieve the personal best, like our New Year’s resolutions, the follow-through on these good intentions can be variable and, in some cases, lose momentum. You know it’s good for them, they know its good for them yet sometimes that is not quite enough. What are the things that get in the way and how do we address them.


Below are a few thoughts that may prove useful.

  • Articulating our commitment helps us remain accountable. Talk about what you are hoping to see from your child in relation to their schooling and allow them to express what they will commit to. The goal should be a basis for mature discussion as opposed to a catalyst for conflict.
    An important caveat for parent and child is that the child should commit to a realistic goal and the parent should focus on a realistic expectation that is directly related to effort rather than result.
  • Break down the goal into smaller achievable tasks. According to their level of independence, support them in creating a robust study structure at home. Consider a routine that allows for time to participate in the regular activities, such as their clubs/sport or hobbies; down time; friend and family commitments and chores; and part time job if applicable.
    Keep it sufficiently challenging to meet their study requirements but not so stringent that it becomes unachievable.
  • “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Expect a level of failure and don’t allow that failure to be an excuse not to persevere.

 

  • Intrinsic motivation is the ultimate goal. Outlandish rewards and promises can get in the way of this. Praise, while always encouraged should relate to genuine effort and perseverance as opposed to achievement or innate characteristics.
    Try to avoid phrase like ‘You’re so smart” and instead try, “You should be proud of your consistent effort and discipline”
  • Be comfortable with struggle. Very little that is worthwhile comes without hard work and effort. Support your child and help them develop the skills, try to avoid the temptation to rescue them from struggle.
Read More

Justin Krause

Associate Principal Middle School (Years 7-9)

Teaching and Learning

The Power of Pen and Paper

In today’s fast-paced digital world, the significance of handwriting and reading has significantly diminished, overshadowed by keyboards, visual media and touchscreens. However, the art of handwriting remains a fundamental skill especially in the realm of education and literacy. At John Septimus Roe, we recognise the crucial role that handwriting plays in fostering literacy and language development, and we are committed to promoting its practice amongst our students.

 

The convenience of a computer has meant that in many classrooms across Australia, workbooks and pens have become almost redundant. For many, handwriting notes in class now seems outdated and not conducive with preparing students for the ‘real world’ that lies in front of them.

 

But handwriting is more than simply putting pen to paper. Research has shown that the physical act of writing and taking notes the ‘traditional or old-fashioned way’ is still the ‘best way to learn, especially for young children’.  

 

In 2023, a group of dedicated John Septimus Roe teachers from far-flung departments, like Mathematics and Physical Education formed a dedicated alliance to combat issues that they were seeing with declining written communication and reading skills amongst the student cohort. Their first-hand experience in seeing students experiencing difficulties with their communication has recently been supported with a sensationalist piece aptly titled ‘One-third of Australian children can’t read properly…’ (ABC News: Connor Duffy) that goes on to claim that ‘Australia is failing  children’. Whilst the figures stated in this article are most certainly concerning and equate to around eight students in a typical classroom not being able to read at set benchmarks, there are some simple steps that can be employed to ensure that each student achieves their personal best.

This understanding and desire to both combat nation-wide trends and equip teachers with practical ways to engage students in literacy saw the School’s Whole School Approach to Literacy being rolled out this year. Part of Stage One includes a move away from note-taking on computers and a return to writing class notes in exercise books.

 

The ‘All The Time Toolkit’ posters (a visual reminder of the non-negotiables of written communication) are now displayed in every classroom, and teachers are beginning to encourage students to follow the steps to proofread their own work and ‘re-acquaint’ themselves with punctuation that is considered ‘outdated’ and even ‘aggressive’ when communicating online.

 

Mathematics teacher, Audrey Jean-Louis, a passionate Literacy Champion has completed hours of research in her own time and used her findings to compose a targeted structured handwriting programme which will be utilised in Pastoral Care time throughout the year.

 

So…..why write when you can type?

Handwriting engages multiple senses and cognitive processes, which contribute significantly to literacy acquisition. Writing by hand activates areas of the brain associated with language processing and comprehension. When students write by hand, they not only practise forming letters, but also engage in spatial planning and fine-motor skills development, enhancing their overall cognitive abilities. A recent study in Frontiers in Psychology supports these assertions and claims that when students take notes by hand, they have ‘higher levels of electrical activity across a wide range of interconnected brain regions responsible for movement, vision, sensory processing and memory.’

 

The Norweigian University of Science and Technology states that when students take notes on a computer, they do so ‘without thinking’, meaning that they don’t process the incoming information. Professor of Neuropsychology at NTNU Audrey van Der Meer likens it to going ‘in through your ears and com[ing] out through your fingertips, but you don’t actually process the incoming information.’

 

When taking notes by hand, though, students must actively pay attention to the incoming information and process it – prioritise it, consolidate it and try to relate it to things they have learned before. This not only helps them to build onto existing knowledge but to also stay engaged – a key component of the ‘Learn the JSR Way.’

 

The moving (back!) towards traditional note-taking and writing is just one way that John Septimus Roe is tackling literacy issues and the Languages department plays a crucial role in sharpening language skills and cognitive flexibility.

 

The learning and active use of two or more languages provides literacy benefits, as well as multilingualism.  Additionally, studying a second language promotes benefits such as improved memory, problem-solving skills and multi-tasking abilities.

 

So, whilst learning another language expands one’s cultural horizons, by providing students with unique opportunities to immerse themselves in a rich linguistic and cultural tapestry, the process of mastering a second language also involves learning vocabulary and grammar, and developing proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

 

The proof of this lies in the data. In NAPLAN, 25 points equates to roughly one year of progress. When analysing 2021 figures, it is immediately apparent that those students who students learning another language are as much as two years ahead of their peers who do not learn a second language. So, to get better at communicating in English, it’s vitally important to learn another language.


2021 NAPLAN Results

 

What else can be done?

As parents, you play a crucial role in supporting the school’s literacy initiatives by actively engaging in your child’s learning journey at home. One practical way that you can assist is by helping with homework assignments, providing guidance, and offering encouragement. If possible, parents or older siblings proofreading work, can not only correct errors but also provide valuable feedback that reinforces proper writing techniques.

 

Additionally, establishing a nightly reading routine where you read with or to your child fosters a love for literature and reinforces essential literacy skills. Through these collaborative efforts between home and school, we can create a supportive environment that nurtures a lifelong passion for learning and addressing the communication skills that we are currently facing.

 

Handwriting remains a cornerstone of literacy development, fostering skills that are integral to academic success and lifetime learning. By emphasising the importance of handwriting, actively reading and promoting the study of a second language, we are equipping our students with the tools they need to thrive in a diverse and interconnected world.

Read More

Candice Brown

Director of Teaching and Learning - Middle School (Years 7-9)

Senior School News

Maximising levels of achievement throughout the Senior School Journey

During the important three-year Senior School Journey of ‘Explore, Commit and Thrive’ at JSRACS it is essential for our students to practice and further enhance their current level of executive functioning, if we want them to achieve personal excellence and unleash their potential.

 

Successful students are those who:

  • are organised,
  • develop and stick to their own routines,
  • diarise tasks in their calendars,
  • plan a weekly home study schedule which suits their commitments both at school and outside of school,
  • break down large assignments into smaller manageable chunks,
  • plan their workload (rather than start tasks the night before they are due),
  • focus on the task they are currently working on and filter distractions,
  • reflect on their own progress and make decisions about next steps to get the task finished or to improve their work,
  • self-regulate to manage any interruptions,
  • self-regulate their emotions.

The executive functioning skills listed above, like any skill, can be practised and improved.  A study routine that includes ‘spaced practice’ coupled with students gaining an understanding of ‘the forgetting curve’ and ‘active recall’ can lead to significant improvements in the level of progress in student achievement.

 

Parents and guardians and strongly encouraged to discuss the documents at the links below to assist students with planning and managing their home study, and practicing their executive functioning skills, including spaced practice and active recall.  These documents also provide a guide to the recommended amount of time required for home study in Years 10, 11 and 12.

 

‘My Learning – Exploring Executive Study in Year 10’

‘My Learning – Committing to and Thriving with Executive Study in Year 11 and 12’

 

Please click on the link below for further elaboration on the benefits of assisting your child with executive functioning and using spaced practice.  This also includes links to a short video and other useful resources available online from Harvard University.

Enhancing Executive Functioning and Implementing ‘Spaced Practice.

Read More

Christina Wallis

Associate Principal Senior School (Years 10-12)

MORE FROM THE TARTAN BLOG

Latest News