A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Marion, South Australia
Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Preparatory School - Edition 10 - 2019

A Flying Start

One of the implications of the rapidly approaching relocation of Year 7 under the umbrella of the Senior School at Westminster, has been the need to ensure that our current Year 6 cohort are not denied the opportunities usually afforded to our Year 7 students. One such opportunity is the annual trip to Canberra. Our three Year 6 classes started the term by flying to our national capital for four days of exploration. They visited centres of national significance such as the Australian War Memorial, the Australian Institute of Sport, the Royal Australian Mint and of course Parliament House, to gain a better understanding of our political system. They had a wonderful time and as is always the case, I am very appreciative of the staff who give up their own family lives to provide opportunities such as this for the children.

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Welcome to our new families

At the start of each term we are fortunate to welcome new families in to the Westminster community. Our new starters this term in the Prep School are:

Amit Bhat (Year 3 Charter), Christina Zhang (Year 4 Wyvern), Grace Welch (Year 4 Crown), Lincoln Jarrad (Year 1 Crown), Rosa Lau (Reception Crown), Mitchell Taylor (Year 7 Charter) and Eden Taylor (Year 7 Charter).

We also have many new ELC new starters: Enzo Agostino, Seb Bankes, Anvita Bhat, Claire Borgese, Quinn Bristow, James Buchiw, Shanaya Chavan, Hugo Eastgate, Sid Ghosh, Ethan Han, Monique Jacobs, Bailey Jarrad, Sravani Kristipani, Crispin Macrow, Harvie McCarthy, Addie Mignone, Axel Nitschke, Edward Patritti, Peyton Schneider, Gurbaaz Sidhu, Violet Swalling, Elisabetta Tassone, Isabella Tassone, Ashna Venugopal, Sophie Wong, Mckinley Wuttke and Kerrison Yu.

We hope that the students and, by extension, their families have enjoyed becoming a part of our Westminster community.

Two Whole New Classes

As well as welcoming the above students into existing classes, the beginning of the term has brought a whole new level of excitement as we have two whole classes commencing. A group of students have graduated from our Early Learning Centre and moved in to full time school which is a momentous time in their lives. The Transition classes are being very capably nurtured by Mrs Papst and Mrs Pett (nee Pladson). Both ladies report that the children are incredibly settled and will thrive in the Transition setting as they become fully immersed in all that school life has to offer. This is due in no small part to the excellent preparation that they have had during their time in the Early Learning Centre and the Orientation process conducted by staff at the end of last term.

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The students in Transition GP are:

Back row: Daniel Wang (Abbey), Darcy Wilson (Wesley), Oliver Roberts (Wyvern), Jessica Bowler (Charter), Saoirse Aherne (Wyvern); Isabella Lam (Crown)

Front row: Riley Buckley (Mace), Amelie Martinez-Jessen (Mace), Ayman Dhillian (Abbey), Magnus Hummel-Smith (Wesley), Oscar Shrestha (Charter), Adam Alqaraghuli (Abbey), Jeevan Ubhey (Crown), Leona Wang (Wesley)

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The Transition AP students are:

Back row: Aria Welfare (Charter), Oliver Fisher (Wyvern), Beatrix Furness (Wyvern), Luis Perez (Crown), Emily Shipway (Mace), Hannah Russo (Wyvern), Parker Roberts (Mace)

Front row: Leo McKee (Wesley), Isobel Broadbridge (Crown), Taksh Singh (Abbey), Stefan Fischer (Crown), Ashwin Kalro (Charter), Charlize Cooper (Wyvern)-absent, Vincent Di Lernia (Mace)-absent

Congratulations Joel

It is with great pleasure that after a period of uncertainty in regard to the leadership structure at our wonderful OSHC service, I am able to confirm that Joel Steer has been successful in winning the position of OSHC Director. Joel commenced in that role during the recent school holidays.

Families that utilise the Out of Hours Care Service are no doubt already very familiar with Joel as he has been a member of the team for a number of years now. Joel is also an Old Scholar so he is very familiar with the Westminster Way! I am sure that families will individually and collectively support Joel in his quest to make the Westminster OSHC service something we can all be proud of.

Report Grading Error

As parents would be aware, this year Westminster School has started utilising SEQTA, a new Learning Management System to assist us in communicating with families about student learning. At the end of Semester One, reports across the school were sent out via this system. Prior to this occurring a letter was sent out to remind parents of how the word equivalent grading corresponded to the more traditional letter grades;

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Unfortunately due to a system error, SEQTA published incorrect word equivalents as follows;

A = Well above standards
B= Above standard
C= At Standard
D = Below Standard
E = Well below standard

This has meant that students who received a Below Standard should have received a Working Towards Standard and students who received a Well Below Standard should in fact have received a Below Standard.

We understand that this has caused confusion and angst for some parents and we apologise for this. We are looking into how we can correct the reports so that the word equivalent matches the letter that we sent out so that student records are accurate. Any students who have received a Below Standard or a Well Below Standard will have their reports corrected as soon as possible.

We thank you for your understanding in regards to this error and we will update those who have been affected as soon as the corrections have been made.

Cross Country

Due in no small part to the high performance running schedule that Mr Thompson and Mr Dyer have created at Westminster, we have three students heading to Kembla Grange NSW from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August to represent the state in Cross Country. This is more than any other school in the state. Congratulations for their hard work and dedication to Adelle Parkinson-Need (Year 5 Abbey), Sam McClarron (Year 6 Mace) and Zachary Tucker (Year 6 Wyvern).

Piano Skills on Show

Congratulations to our very talented pianists who recently competed in an American International Piano Competition. They are through to the final round and will perform at Carnegie Hall, New York in November. They competed against students from five continents of the world in this competition. They are all students of our talented piano tutor Ms Ursula Gruszewski. A wonderful achievement.

Congratulations Barad Abdollahpour (Year 4 Wesley), Adam Lee (Year 5 Abbey), Marissa Lee (Year 2 Abbey), Katherine Ma (Year 2 Mace), Yilan Chi (Year 7 Wyvern), Cassidy Wilson (Year 4 Crown) and Ashleigh Wilson (Year 2 Crown).

Maths Success

Recently at the presentation night of the School Mathematics Competition, there were several students from Westminster School who won prizes. Jeffery Wang (Year 6 Mace) achieved a credit, Jenny Xu (Year 8 Fricker) achieved a High Distinction and Sebastian Ireland (Year 7 Crown) won first place in the Primary division. Congratulations to these very capable mathematicians.

In addition, Jeffery sat AMEB of Voice and Communication (Fifth Grade) recently and got A+. Maths is not his only strength!

School Sport SA - Swimming

Congratulations to Axel Tucker (Year 5 Wyvern) who was selected to represent Westminster in the 12 and under Swimming Team Championships, held in Melbourne from Wednesday 31 July to Friday 2 August.

While the Cat is away?

As a part of my role as National President of the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA), I have the privilege of representing the schools of our nation at some upcoming conferences of affiliated associations overseas. At no expense to Westminster School, I am able to visit conferences and schools in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA over a few weeks later this term. In order to prevent disruption to the fine work going on in and out of the classroom at Westminster, with the support of Mr Shepherd, I have elected to take some leave rather than be in and out of the school. As a result, I will be on leave from Monday 19 August, and my role will be filled by Mr Page. Mr Page is a very experienced educator well known to the families who have come through the Junior Primary part of our School. So that the Junior Primary doesn’t lose momentum as Mr Page looks at the bigger picture, Mrs Moody initially and then Ms Fitzgerald will step into the role of Deputy of the Junior Primary. Thankfully we have Ms Millard willing to return to us to teach 1KM and Ms Bachmatiuk to teach 2F while the ladies look after the Deputy role. We are truly blessed to have a depth of experienced educators willing and able to take on alternate duties at times like this.

Bigger Better Brains

Recently, Mrs Hunter and I attended a very powerful two-day course titled ‘Bigger Better Brains’ with Dr Anita Collins. Dr Anita Collins is an award-winning educator, researcher and writer in the field of brain development and music learning. Over the two days, we learnt in great detail the impact that music education has on the brain. Over the past twenty years, there has been an incredible amount of research in this area to prove that being involved in music and learning an instrument has many benefits.

Put very simply, music is a subject that fires up all areas of the brain. It strengthens neural pathways and fires up connections, which then benefits all other areas of a child’s education.

Studies have proven that it directly improves listening skills, language skills and phonological skills.

Other areas it has been proven to be strongly associated with, or consistently associated with, include:

  • Literacy
  • Reading
  • Aural memory
  • Spatial skills
  • Self-regulation
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Health
  • Comprehension
  • Intelligence and Executive Function or ‘grown up skills’ – working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility (adapting to change)
  • Personality
  • Re-engaging learners
  • Social cohesion and inclusion
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy

A lot of these skills are developed through ensemble playing or playing as a group.

The following video gives some more information about the impact of music on the brain:

How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0JKCYZ8hng

Westminster students are incredibly fortunate to receive a comprehensive music program. We look forward to continuing to evolve our program to provide the best music education for your children and we thank you for your support. If you would like to talk with us in more detail or have any questions about this, please contact Mrs Hunter or myself.

Ms Wandel
Music Teacher

Haslam Library Update

Week 5 of this term will see us celebrating The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book Week. This year’s theme is ‘Reading is my Secret Power’. Students have listened to stories with ‘secret’ as a theme and have now also started to listen and respond to the CBCA six shortlisted books for their particular category, either the Early Childhood Picture books for Years R-2 or the Picture Book of the Year for Years 3-7. Next term, once all six books have been read, students will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite.

During Book Week, we will have a Casuals Day on Friday 23 August when students will be invited to dress to suit the theme. In order to get us all thinking of the word ‘secret’ and not ‘super’ I have attached ’10 ways reading is a secret power’ as suggested in a teacher resource book ‘CBCA Book Week 2019: Reading is my Secret Power’ produced by the IDTL Network. This highlights that ‘for adults and children alike, reading can be a powerful secret in improving the quality of your life’.

10 Ways Reading is a Secret Power

1. Reading is mindful.

When engaged in reading you aren’t distracted by devices, chatting or problem solving – it creates quiet space in the brain and focuses your attention.

2. Reading reduces stress.

When in the flow of a good book, perhaps with a cup of tea, there are few better ways to momentarily halt the stresses of life. Hold on tight to this feeling.

3. Reading improves your ability to wield words!

Reading increases vocabulary and understanding of the way words work in both written and spoken forms.

4. Reading is free.

How powerful is the word ‘free’? Books can be accessed online and in print for free from libraries. Reading can be as entertaining as a night out at the movies and some states even have free community reading events.

5. Reading improves writing.

The more you read, the better grasp of the written word you have.

6. Reading increases empathy and social awareness.

Reading allows us all to walk in the shoes of others and experience historical and current world events from the safety of your bedroom.

7. Reading is knowledge.

Readers are lifelong learners who gain new knowledge from each new book they read.

8. Reading improves your problem solving.

Seeing characters make sense of their problems and seeing patterns in the ways issues are dealt with in written form improves your analytical thinking and your flexibility in problem solving.

9. Reading offers an escape from the daily grind.

It offers a place to retreat and experience another reality.

10. Reading exercises the imagination.

It provides the mind with the opportunity to create visuals that are unique to the reader.

Julia Baldwin
Teacher Librarian

Diary Dates

  • Debating Excursion to Adelaide Town Hall – Monday 5 August
  • Year 2 Excursion to Adelaide Zoo – Friday 9 August
  • Visiting Author - Deborah Abela – (Years 3 to 6) Monday 12 August
  • Nic Newling (Guest Presenter on Mental Health) Free Parent Seminar – Monday 12 August 7.00 pm
  • ABODA Band Festival, Westminster School - Wednesday 14 to Friday16 August
  • Prep School Parent/Teacher Interviews - Monday 19 to Friday 23 August
  • Book Week – Monday 19 to Friday 23 August
  • Prep School Photographs – Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 August
  • Grandparents’/Special Friends’ Day – Friday 30 August
  • Show Day Student Free Day – Monday 2 September
  • ICAS Science Competition – Wednesday 4 to Friday 6 September
  • Whole School Open Day – Friday 6 September
  • 2019 Music Night – Friday 13 September
  • Year 5 Camp, Ballarat – Monday 16 to Thursday 19 September
  • KIDZ Biz Education session (Year 4 and Year 6) – Monday 16 September
  • Prep Music Tour, Port Vincent - Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 September
  • Prep Japan Tour Departs – Monday 23 September
  • Year 3 Camp, Victor Harbor – Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 September
  • Term 3 concludes, 1.00 pm - Friday 27 September
  • Code Camp – Monday 30 September to Wednesday 2 October
  • Term 4 commences – Tuesday 15 October

Grant Bock
Head of Preparatory School