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

Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Preparatory School - Edition 9 - 2019

Nova fun

Recently we were very fortunate to be able to host the Nova 919 breakfast crew as they did Friday Live from our Forder Centre. Reuben Swaffer-Schapel (Year 2 Charter) entered a competition and obviously was very persuasive in his submission. It was a fantastic morning – albeit a very early one for some of our families. I heard on more than one occasion that it was much easier to get children out of bed on that particular morning than is usually the case. As well as playing host to broadcasters Dylan, Hayley and Jarrod, we also enjoyed meeting a number of celebrities who came along for cameos during the morning. Eddie Betts, Tony Modra, Peter Combe, Channel 7 personalities Gertie Spurling (weather reporter) and Lisa and Andy (House Rules contestants) among them. Nova and their sponsors Tony & Marks, Fleurieu Milk and PuraTap also generously supplied flavoured milk, yoghurt and fruit for the assembled masses to enjoy. Thank you to the many parents who came along to enjoy the morning with the children – and special thanks to Reuben.

Giving back to the community

At Westminster we have many different initiatives that are in place to facilitate students, staff and families giving back to the community in all manner of ways. In addition to school based activities, we have students from time to time that go out of their way to help others. One such example came to my attention recently when I received a letter of appreciation from the Past Council Chair of SPELD (Specific Learning Difficulties Association of SA). Ms Cathy Wilson wrote to make me aware that Zara Papst (Year 7 Wesley) had attended the 50th Birthday Family Fun Evening for SPELD and presented an amazing speech about her dyslexia. Zara did herself proud with the manner in which she conducted herself and delivered a very impressive speech about overcoming the difficulties that can be caused by dyslexia.

Spelling at Westminster

At Westminster, we are focussed on preparing students for their future. We recognise that although spelling is included in both the national curriculum and national testing, it is also considered important in our society, particularly in a society where the written word is becoming a common way to communicate through blogging, email, SMS, social pages and even through gaming. It was once thought that the way to teach spelling was to have children memorise the spelling of individual words, however;

“Given that the average person can spell 48,000 words, then to memorise these s/he would have to learn 10 words per day for 13 years approximately. If no learning was done on the weekends it would take 18 years assuming that none are forgotten and there is no need to relearn. Even if the words are grouped in ‘families’ the task is considerable.” (Bouffler, 1984)

Education is an evolving profession, where research on cognitive development is constantly updated, requiring teachers to continually reflect and adapt their process to ensure that children are being taught using pedagogies that are relevant for their current and future development.

Westminster teachers take their role as educators seriously and last year started working with educational consultant Chris Killey who has now visited us twice to model effective pedagogy to enhance students’ literacy in the areas of spelling and grammar.

In her multisensory approach, Chris uses explicit teaching and analytical thinking to promote understanding of the phonograms and strategies that assist students to make sense of the English language. Teachers have embraced the learning opportunity, and have begun to explicitly teach the strategies as a part of their daily practice of reading and constructing texts in all areas of study.

Below are two of the strategies that both teachers and students have been learning. I recommend that you ask your child the actions that go with these strategies;

  • The letters i, u, v and j are never used at the end of the English word. This is a great conversation point because children have been asking questions about words like spaghetti where we have then begun conversations around word origins (spaghetti is Italian). Children have also asked questions about flu (short for influenza). By learning these strategies students are being inquirers and are interested in why things are the way they are. If students know this strategy they will be able to spell thousands of words. It is also useful to know that y is used at the end of words instead of i.
  • 111 strategy. If a word has one syllable, one vowel and one consonant following the vowel, and does not end in w, x, or y, we double the final consonant, before adding an ending beginning with a vowel. This helps spell over 5,000 words, e.g. run= running (111 strategy), jump = jumping (not the 111 strategy because the vowel is followed by 2 consonants).

This 111 strategy applies when adding the 21 vowel endings - ing, ible, ant, ice, est, y, ous, ance, able, er, al, ancy, ish, en, ency, ed, ence, ably, age, ent, ist.

These are just two of the many strategies students are learning and using to help them encode and decode words. We hope that our students share their learning with you at home. They may even teach you some strategies.

Sharyn Darrell
Deputy of Middle Primary

Lunch Time Environmental Club

During this term the Environmental Club, which is a part of our co-curricular offerings, has expanded by offering lunch time gardening sessions for our Junior Primary and ELC students. The students worked on various projects. They planted herb, vegetable and flower seeds. They weeded and maintained garden beds and vegetable patches and created succulent gardens. The students enjoyed working with nature in the beautiful sunshine.

We will care for our gardens across the year and we look forward to watching our plants grow and change.

I would like to thank the Year 6 and Year 2 students who have assisted with this project across the term.

Meg Fitzgerald
Preparatory School Teacher


Jumping With Joy

Recently we had two students who travelled to Melbourne to compete at the National Trampoline Championships.

Ruby Insanally (Year 5 Abbey) did extremely well and is now the Australian Champion in Level 5 Synchronised Trampoline with her partner Laela. Ruby also did very well in the individual event making the finals, being the only SA female athlete to do so, and finished in 9th in Australia. As one of the youngest competitors this makes a very successful competition all round.


Jack Green (Year 5 Charter) was also competing at Level 5 and after winning the state title went on to compete at the National Championships where he did extremely well and won the bronze medal. Outstanding performances by both Jack and Ruby.


Dance Success

Congratulations to Estelle Kouzapa (Reception Mace) who earlier this term competed in the ‘Get The Beat’ Dance Competition at the Golden Grove Arts Centre. She received a 1st place for her Lyrical and 3rd place for her Improvised Dance. Estelle has now qualified for the ‘Get The Beat’ National Finals on the Sunshine Coast in September. Congratulations Estelle!

Haslam Library Update

Week 5 of next term sees 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 Reception - Year 2, or the Picture Book for students in Years 3 to 7. Next term, once all six books have been read, students will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite.

During Book Week, at some stage (more details next term) we will have a Casuals day 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

Influenza A

Just a reminder following on from our previous communication regarding Influenza A.

The flu virus is still present in the community and is spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes small droplets that contain the virus into the air where they may be breathed in by people nearby. Infection may also be spread by contact with hands, tissues and other infected articles. Influenza A is highly infectious.

Most people recover within a week, although the cough and fatigue may last longer. Flu is much more serious than the common cold.

The incubation period is one to four days. The time during which an infected person can infect others is usually from one day before onset of symptoms until seven days after the onset of symptoms. After five days, the level of infectiousness is probably very low, however some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for a longer time.

If you require any further information, please visit the following website: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au

Anyone for Skiing?

Last year a number of Westminster families headed to the snow in the mid-year break, and some students got together and competed at a fun competition on the slopes. The SASKI week at Falls Creek runs again this year during the last week of the July school holidays, Sunday 14 to Friday 19 July. Last year 52 schools were represented. It is a fun week, open to all school-age students, and no previous snow experience is necessary. Students generally have several days of ski lessons or training prior to race day. Students can race as individuals or part of a team in their own year level (snowboarding teams are made up of two to three people, skiing teams are made up of three to four people). Details are yet to be finalised as the ownership of Falls Creek changed last year. Please note as this is not a school trip, families will need to make their own travel and accommodation plans. Highlights include:

  • Half price resort gate entry;
  • Fabulous souvenir item (maybe cap or t-shirt);
  • Awesome VIP specials, on the mountain for entrants;
  • Super cheap night skiing;
  • Special SA Interschools merchandise available for purchase (get the SA Interschools hoodie look - order in advance);
  • Suitably qualifying racers will get to compete at the National Interschools in Mt Buller (Wednesday 4 to Sunday 8 September 2019).

More details can be found at SAInterschools.com.au

Code Camp

These Winter holidays Code Camp are returning to Westminster to teach your child to code, or to help them continue on their coding adventure!

Code Camp has already taught more than 50,000 students in Australia and is a great way to spend time over the holidays as kids have lots of fun with friends while learning important new skills, including logic, creativity, problem-solving, app development and game building. It is fun and engaging, and gets them prepared to take on the digital world of the future.

From Monday 15 to Wednesday 17 July Westminster will be hosting Spark, 2D Game Makers and Web Hackers.

Book now to take advantage of the $20 Early Bird discount (automatically applied at checkout when booking before Monday 27 May)! Bookings can be made via www.codecamp.com.au/westminster

Diary Dates

  • Year 1 Parent Expo - Friday 21 June
  • Year 2 Parent Expo - Wednesday 26 June
  • End of Term 2 - Friday 28 June, 1.00 pm dismissal
  • Code Camp - Monday 15 to Wednesday 17 July
  • Term 3 commences - Tuesday 23 July

Grant Bock
Head of Preparatory School