A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Adelaide,
South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Preparatory School - Edition 8 - 2020

Some Staffing Changes

At the start of this term, given the unpredictable nature of everything globally, the decision was made to have Julie Mugford (’80) return to her Year 3 class and Sharyn Darrell switch from her Teaching and Learning role to the Deputy of Years 3 to 6 classes. The intention was for this arrangement to last for Term 2 after which Stuart Burns would return to us from his secondment at the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). At the time we were unsure of how many students would be able to come to school, how curriculum would be delivered, or even if teachers would be on site or working from home.

We have now learned that Stuart has been offered an extension to his secondment in order to continue his contribution to the upcoming review of the Australian Curriculum (AC), which means that Sharyn will continue to cover the Deputy position until the end of 2020.

In the first half of this year Stuart’s role has been as the Primary and Health and Physical Education specialist in which he has provided guidance and advice to individual schools and education sectors across Australia. Stuart has contributed to several working parties and meetings of professional associations while undertaking research into curriculum design and providing advice from this research about future directions for the AC. In the second half of the year he will still be contributing to the review of the AC in both the Health/PE and Primary (F-6) areas. Stuart will be moving into contributing to the review of the General Capabilities, making them more ‘teacher friendly’ and looking to incorporate them in a clearer way into the F-6 curriculum.

Another change in staffing will take place at the beginning of Term 3 when Chris Haines will take some well-earned long service leave. Deb Cope will to return to us to guide 6H through the third term. Deb has taught a variety of year levels over the past two years, and I am confident that the students in her care will lose no momentum during her time with us.

Two New Classes

In the coming weeks we will be hosting visits for our two new classes. These children are either moving from the Early Learning Centre (ELC) or joining the School for the first time in one of our Transition classes. This program is designed specifically to extend the children beyond what is achievable in the ELC or preschool environment. It also allows children to settle into the routines of school life without the pressure that comes with having to reach certain benchmarks via the Australian Curriculum. I describe it as allowing the children to get a head start on their schooling as they will be a part of the Reception cohort from the beginning of next year. As they will be used to the teachers, the rooms and the routines of school, they also become the natural leaders of the cohort. We are delighted to have Susan Morisset and Georgie Papst as the class teachers for the Transition group. These children will also have specialist lessons in Music, Physical Education, Art, Library, Wellbeing and will also join our pastoral activities such as House meetings, Chapel and Assembly, when we are able to resume these.

Grandparent/Special Friends' Day

While we have been fortunate in South Australia to be spared the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had in some parts of the globe, even now that we are back at School there are many restrictions that we have to follow to keep our families safe. As an example, we have been unable to hold the usual large gatherings of students and staff at Assemblies, Chapel services and House meetings. This has also meant that our annual gathering of grandparents and special friends will be unable to proceed. Even though restrictions are lifting each week it is hard to imagine us getting the all clear to have 500 grandparents and family friends in one hall by late August. As a result, the Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day scheduled for Friday 28 September will not be held this year. Similarly, the annual series of breakfasts in the lead-up to Father’s Day, scheduled for Monday 31 August and Tuesday 1 September, will not be held. Hopefully, this doesn’t have a negative impact on the enjoyment of Father’s Day for all of our Prep dads and that your children can still look after you on your special day.

I apologise to all of you who look forward to attending these events and to the parent volunteers from our Friends of Westminster committee who usually give up their time to wait on tables and feed the masses at these community events.

Dream Playgrounds

The Year 4 classrooms have been a hive of activity this term. They were set a task in Design and Technology to plan a playground and use annotations to explain their various features. From there they used materials gathered from home to create a model. Their playground needed to cater for the many needs of the community, and they were asked to elaborate on this in their reflection.

In Week 5, the Year 3 students and their teachers were invited to come and see the models. The playgrounds were outstanding! As one of the Year 3 students said… “WOW!”. Mr Bock also joined in the fun and explored the designs with the students.

Targeted Spam Emails

Currently we are seeing a rise in so-called ‘Phishing’ (fishing) / scam emails. These can appear from other users at the School or from companies and possibly families connected to the school.

It may have a message such as “Take action before Tuesday” and a link to view an article. The link could take you to a login page with a Westminster logo. We believe this to be a targeted phishing attempt to gain access to usernames and passwords.

We have updated our firewall but this may not be as effective if you are looking at emails from home or through your phones. DO NOT enter a username or password into one of these emails no matter how genuine it may appear.

If you are any doubt at all with an email sent to you, the safest action is to just delete it.

Does your child want to learn coding in a fun way these coming holidays?

As many would be aware, in recent years we have hosted Code Camp at Westminster in each of the school holidays. While school is almost back to normal, the organisers of Code Camp are seeking an indication of how many families may want to access this program in the coming break. We were planning on running the three day ‘camp’ from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 July. Code Camp is run at schools across the nation and not all states or schools are rebounding as quickly as we have been able to.

With restrictions starting to lift, they would like to start planning the return of camps at ​Westminster School​ in the upcoming Winter Holidays.

In order to help them gauge interest in running Code Camp at Westminster School, please click on the following link to add your child to our waiting list:

https://codecamp.com.au/eoi/westminster-school

Please note completing this form is NOT a booking and no payment will be taken at this time. If they get enough interest, they will send a team!

If you would like to know more about Code Camp, visit ​http://www.codecamp.com.au ​ or contact them at hello@codecamp.com.au.

Diary Dates

  • Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday - Monday 8 June
  • End of Term 2 - Friday 26 June, dismissal at 1.00 pm
  • Code Camp - Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 July (TBC - depending on interest)
  • Term 3 commences – Tuesday 21 July

Grant Bock
Head of Preparatory School