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

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 1 - 2022

When I was younger, some time ago, I used to look forward to the Christmas break and count down the days until school would be over so I could leave boarding to be with my family. By the end of the Christmas break, I would be counting down the days until school started again! I would look forward to returning to school, excited about seeing my pals and even some of my teachers, particularly in Year 12 where relationships with teachers often evolve with a developing emotional maturity. By the end of the holidays, I was a bit sick of my parents and siblings, and I suspect that feeling was mutual. We looked forward to a return to routine and shifting back to the natural rhythm that we live most of the year by.

This year, in a Statewide response to COVID-19, only a few cohorts have been able to return to school and start in a ‘normal’ manner. At Westminster, most students have been unable to return to school, staying at home and engaging in online learning. While our teachers are doing an amazing job facilitating online learning, it is not the same as being in a class at School. You’re not surrounded by your peers so class discussions and spontaneous social interactions during the breaks are genuinely missed.

Children enjoy interaction with each other at school - in itself, an important learning experience. Their emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, leadership and teamwork all develop just by being at School - sometimes openly, other times subliminally. The staggered start we have had to the year has made the beginning of 2022 complicated and challenging for all. Most parents are out of leave and most students don’t want to be taught by their parents. At times like this, empathy and patience are essential qualities. At Westminster, we can add gratitude to that list. We are grateful for the support that families have expressed at home and grateful that our staff were ready to teach students at School or at home from the very start of the year.

As we move to all students returning to School, we must be prepared for the roadblocks and hurdles ahead. The challenges will continue and if the current guidelines around isolation and testing remain in place, families will feel the impact at home and work. As a school, we are striving to ensure that we are ready for the ramifications of all students attending school and the inevitable spread of COVID-19 through their interactions. Even with all students being welcomed to School, not all programs or events can fire up immediately as there are still health restrictions to manage, and traffic/parking continues to be affected by our campus developments. I ask that you look through this eNews as there will be information important to families for a full return of students to School. There is also a new COVID-response flow chart to assist families’ understanding of what to do when advised of a positive case.

In a year where our theme is to ‘be brave’, we have to be brave now as we continue to move forward, looking for and making the most of every opportunity. Thank you for your ongoing support. I hope that we can soon hold the Commencement Assembly, induct our School Leaders and earnestly direct the 2022 school year back onto a smoother track.

Speaking for all staff at Westminster, we sincerely look forward to seeing all our students back at School.

Simon Shepherd