A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Director of Learning - Edition 6 - 2019

It was great to see so many of you at the recent Parent/Teacher interviews and to hear that you are enjoying the use of SEQTA to complement our more traditional communication routes. If you do not know how to access SEQTA, please make contact with myself or our ICT Learning Integrator, Michelle Payne and we will quickly remedy that. Our recent analysis of the Year 8 to 12 parents accessing SEQTA shows that some 90% of Senior School parents have access, which is fantastic.

Please note that some courses within SEQTA such as Careers and Wellbeing@West are not assessable courses and will not have grades, marks or comments attached to them. To avoid confusion, Wellbeing@West has been removed. Careers is staying so that you can view the materials alongside your children.

Parents are reminded that end of semester reports will be accessible via SEQTA in Term 2 and so it will be essential that parents know their access details to review the reports. Effort ratings will be released in Week 3 as usual, celebrated in Assembly and communicated to parents.

Term 1 flew by and was very full. Term 2 will no doubt rush by equally as fast and so I offer a few forthcoming dates.

NAPLAN Testing – Week 4

This year NAPLAN tests will be held from Tuesday 14 to Thursday 16 May for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. Any necessary catch up tests will be held on Friday 17 May. The timetable of tests is below.

Families of students who sit for the NAPLAN tests will receive a written report of their child's achievement in approximately September 2019. Students in each year cohort complete the same tests at the same time and are measured against nationally agreed benchmarks. Information about the NAPLAN tests has already been distributed, however further details can be found at www.naplan.edu.au. If you have any questions regarding these assessments, please contact Mrs Andrea Sherwood in the Senior School or Mr Stuart Burns in the Preparatory School.

As I have previously commented, students at Westminster are individuals who take every opportunity to learn and extend themselves. Results of the NAPLAN tests are just one piece of information which helps us as educators to understand each child’s progress and learning. They can be useful to inform us where students sit within the cohort and in comparison to the other learning and assessment which happens in School. The tests are designed to be ‘low stress’ and the test results represent, like any form of assessment, a snapshot of learning on a particular day. Unlike the internal assessments we challenge our students with, they allow for a comparison to be made with state and national data. The data we have received will be analysed and combined with our on-going internal assessment as we continue to monitor individual student progress as part of our everyday program of teaching and learning.

Students who benefit from modified programs are usually able to gain additional time in the tests and the School has applied for this time to be granted in advance of the tests. The extra time available to students equates to five minutes per half hour. These provisions are part of the normal procedures when catering for children with special learning needs. Parents are at liberty to withdraw their children from the tests and should contact the School to discuss this. Communication routes regarding NAPLAN tests in the first instances are through the Head of House in the Senior School, and the classroom teacher in the Preparatory School.

You may wish to visit the NAPLAN website at www.naplan.edu.au for more information. If you have any questions about the NAPLAN testing and the contents of this letter then please contact me on T: 08 8276 0205 or via Email or Farley Briggs via Email.

NAPLAN Timetable

Year 12 and work load

Our children might seem to be keeping cool about Year 12 but we can always offer assistance! Many of you will have attended Michael Carr-Gregg’s session when he visited us last year, and told us that anxiety affects almost half of Year 12 students, while one-third are depressed during their final year of school. Michael recently wrote “it is a high-risk group with 30 per cent at risk from depression, and anxiety affecting 41 per cent”.

In his book, Surviving Year 12 - A sanity kit for students and their parents (Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Finch Publishing 2004), there is a section at the back that is very relevant to you all at this time. After 12 Chapters dedicated to supporting students retain their sanity, Chapter 13 (“the sealed section!”) has this advice for you in how to specifically create the feature of a harmonious home during Year 12. I realise to most of you it will seem very obvious, but there may be some gems in there.

  • Help your child strive for balance – have routines at home which support scheduled socialising time with family, school mates and friends from out of school.
  • Be patient – and find the right balance between encouragement, support and guidance. Try not to ‘nag’
  • Resist the temptation to tell your child they will fail if they don’t work harder
  • Take their efforts seriously
  • Encourage healthy eating, regular exercise and plenty of sleep
  • Create an effective work space in the house, not necessarily their own room – it’s never too late to change things about
  • Take a whole family approach to support – younger siblings can be reminded that their time will come
  • Don’t overload with domestic chores
  • Let them know you are there when they need you
  • Encourage them to believe in themselves
  • Give them positive feedback whenever possible – the final year is about them
  • Encourage study breaks
  • Help them to keep the year in perspective
  • Keep an eye on their emotional health and look for changes in habits

In order to ensure that our young people are able to be resilient, it is essential to have opportunities to fail, to build “post traumatic growth”. What better opportunity to teach young people the skills of preparation and feedback than in mid-year exams! High stress times are part of life and sometimes part and parcel of what is necessary to experience a greater sense of achievement. Mid-year exams offer students the perfect opportunity to practise, not only the examination itself, but the lead-in time, with its revision and rearrangement of usual activities, and the crucial performance feedback at the other end. Sometimes parents have to deal with their own disappointment at this time. I hope that you will be able to support your son’s and daughter’s through this formative process, always keeping in mind the words of the famous Principal, whose letter to his parental school community went viral a couple of year ago:

“If your child does get top marks, that’s great! But if he or she doesn’t… don’t take away their self-confidence and dignity from them. Tell them it’s OK, it’s just an exam! They are cut out for much bigger things in life. Tell them, no matter what they score…you love them and will not judge them. Please do this, and when you do… watch your children conquer the world”

Mid-year examinations

You will soon receive an email from me with the details of the mid-year examination week, along with your child’s personalised timetable. Copies will be available from Rachel Beerworth in the Senior School Office after you receive this email. The generic information is as follows:

Mid-Year examinations begin Tuesday 11 June and classes resume on Monday 17 June.

A Reminder of the Advice and Instructions to Students

  1. Most examinations will be held in the Michael Murray Centre. Where alternative rooms are used, details are shown on your personal examination timetable. Examination starting times are 9.00 am and 1.15 pm, and lengths of examinations are specified on your examination timetable. Please arrive at 8.45 am and 1.00 pm for each exam. Some examinations go beyond the end of the regular school day. It is your responsibility to make your own arrangements to travel home. Please note your timetable carefully. Students with special provisions (extra time - 10 min per hour) are in alternate rooms and these can be found on individualised timetables.
  2. Examination rooms will be opened ten minutes before reading time commences and students are advised to be ready to enter the rooms ten minutes before the published time. Students should wait outside the western doors of the Michael Murray Centre until instructed to enter the building. Students are able to bring bottled water but no other drinks into the Exam Room. Food and chewing gum is not allowed.
  3. Students must provide their own pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and calculators - these can be kept in a transparent container. The School will provide all examination booklets, graph paper, blank maps etc. No pencil cases may be brought in to the examination room.
  4. For most exams there will be 10 minutes reading time during which students should read through the whole exam paper. Answers may be planned on the scribble paper provided but students must not start writing in their exam answer booklets during the 10 minute reading time. Scripts, examination papers or scribble paper must not be taken out of the examination room.
  5. Mobile phones and digital technology such as smart watches are strictly forbidden in all examinations
  6. Students must remain in the examination room for the full time of the examinations for which they are sitting. No students will be permitted to leave early.
  7. In the event of illness of a student the School should be notified at once. If possible, arrangements will be made for an examination missed to be taken at a later time.
  8. Full school uniform must be worn by all students to all examinations.
  9. Students not taking exams but coming to School to consult with teachers about work must wear school uniform at all times.
  10. Students are asked to enter and leave the School premises quietly. The Library will be available for quiet study between morning and afternoon examinations. Full school uniform is required.

Attendance at lessons during exam week

Generally, students will not be expected to attend School if they have an exam during the day. However, some courses do not have examinations and subject teachers of these subjects will liaise with their classes individually if they wish students to attend.

Many students choose to attend School and the Library can experience large numbers of students attending to study at this time. Please may I take this opportunity to request that you assist us by reminding students that they should be in full school uniform if they come to school and that the library will be a quiet space and is not appropriate for group work or active revision. Year 12 students are welcome to continue to use the Fricker Centre.

Research Project Sessions for Year 11 students

Voluntary sessions to finalise the ’10 pages’ of the Research Project and Outcomes will be offered to Year 11 students during Exam week and in Week 8. The timings of these will be published to students in the near future.

Co-curricular commitments

As it is important to keep a balance during the examination period, students are expected to attend co-curricular music rehearsals. The Music Faculty request that students let them know if they cannot attend rehearsals during Week 7. In the case where students have a rehearsal on the same morning as an exam, students often attend part of a rehearsal. They have been responsible in negotiating that in the past and are encouraged to continue to do so. All other co-curricular commitments should stand and students are strongly encouraged to attend. Students should approach their coach or team manager if they have conflicting arrangements.

Subject and elective changes

We are now accepting Subject Change Request forms in the Senior School Office to make potential changes to elective choices for Semester 2. Please note that the submission of a subject change form does not guarantee that the change is possible. All students will be notified by email about the success of their application.

Information taken from Surviving Year 12 - A sanity kit for students and their parents is published with kind permission by the publisher (Finch Publishing).

Curriculum Information Events

At Westminster, one of our primary goals is that all students undertake study which they find suitably challenging, and in which they are able to be successful and find personal satisfaction. I am pleased to confirm the following Term 3 dates and look forward to seeing as many families as possibly before the 2020 curriculum planning begins.



Monday 22 July 2019

2020 Year 11 and Year 12 Curriculum Information Night - 6.45 pm in the MMC, for current Year 10 and 11 student and parents

Thursday 1 August 2019

2020 Year 10 Curriculum Information Night - 7.00 pm in the MMC, for current Year 9 students and parents

Monday 19 August 2019

2020 Year 8 Curriculum Information Night - 7.00 pm in the MMC, for current Year 7 students)

Andrea Sherwood
Director of Learning