Thursday, 29 October 2015

1. Principal News Week 3, Term 4

External Review of Catholic Special Character and Development
Just before the end of Term 3, we had our review. All Catholic schools have an external review every three years along with the government education review. We are very proud to share this excerpt from the report with you. 

Summary Page:
St Joseph’s Oamaru is a highly successful Catholic school. It has constantly sought to refine and improve its systems and practices. It welcomes external review as a way of assuring its community of the work being done from self review.
It has sought to create a synthesis of faith and life by developing a strong and authentic partnership between the parish and the school and with the local Catholic College. The Parish Priest promotes and encourages the school in its work and welcomes students and parents to participate in various ministries and liturgies within the parish. Teachers are generally involved with the parish. All tagged staff have authentic roles in the church and open place staff are also known to be part of parish liturgy. Children see a community of Catholic practice that welcomes them and encourages them. Senior Parishioners readily stand aside from ministries to encourage the students to lead and share.
Leadership of the school is at a high level. The school has a strong Board who understand their role in keeping Special Character at the centre of the mission and who genuinely look to contribute to the school’s governance.
The Parish Priest plays a key role in sustaining the relationship with the staff and students. He welcomes students in their liturgies, he is visible in the school and he encourages parents to reconnect with their faith as they journey with their children.
The Principal models good practice and encourages and supports young staff to participate. Her focus on continuous improvement and enthusiasm for review and reflection is appreciated by her local community and in the wider Education community, where she has been recognized as a leader. She has ensured that the mission, charism and focus of the school are central to all activity.
Senior management and staff work as a unit. Support staff are enthusiastic about the mission of the school. Both teaching and support staff provide high quality pastoral care. The school is inclusive and welcoming. Staff, parents and students greet guests with respect. A feature of this school is the culture within. It has boundaries and expectations but these are not overtly enforced but rather referenced to the school codes of conduct and values. Students understand why they are asked to live the school values. It is quite common to hear and see students leading others and reminding them of what the community values.
Students are very well presented in the school. There are many opportunities for student leadership and student voice. The school has encouraged them to have a pride in their appearance.
Religious Education classes are well planned and led by the Director of Religious Studies and the Assistant Principal, Special Character. Together they ensure that what is taught is highly focused. St Joseph’s has led the Diocese in finding ways to track and record student progress, use data to help direct programme changes and use data to adapt content according to the needs of the students. It understands this is new work that will have several iterations but it leads other schools in this work.
A key feature of the success of the school and development of the school culture has been the focus on supporting staff in their formation. The Board and Principal support staff through the allocation of resources and a time allowance which helps make study achievable.
Recommendations in the body of the report relate to incremental growth in Special Character and continue to encourage the school retain its focus and mission. The Proprietor can be assured that Special Character is at the heart of the success of this school.

Blog of the Week
This week I would like to draw your attention to the Junior Hub 2 blog. You can access it here. There is a beautiful video of the Year 2 gospel presentation on the Beatitudes. 

There are stories and chants that caught my eye too. Obviously world cup rugby fever has made it into the junior hub !!

There are photos from Discovery time and a maths strategy video and much more. Take some time to explore this blog with your children and talk about the activities that help them to engage with their learning.

Student Feedback
Last week, I shared a link to the positive feedback shared by our parents. This week I have a link to our student feedback. You can access it here. Ensuring that we focus on having a positive attitude to all that we do, is important in relation to our learning. The feedback shows that our students are going deeper with their learning and moving beyond the simple acquisition of knowledge for knowledge's sake. Our students are beginning to articulate and understand the conditions that are supporting them to learn for success. This becomes more evident in the student responses as they progress from Year 4 to Year 8. 
We can feel motivated and inspired by all of our student responses.

Maths Blog
Special thanks to Mr Cartlidge and Miss Tangney who have set up and developed our St Joseph's school maths blog. It has videos the children and teachers have made to explain learning strategies. There are also many links to free maths resources. This excellent resource will continue to evolve and develop and be a rich resource for families and staff. You can access it here.

Multicultural Celebrations
Next Friday the 6th November, the children will be able to come dressed in clothes that reflect their own culture or other cultures. We will be following up on the success of our Multicultural Day from 2015 with another day to celebrate the diverse cultures we have in our St Joseph's family.

Australian Educational Assessments 
Congratulations to our students who received outstanding results in the 2015 English exams. They were rewarded with the following certificates: 1 Distinction, 10 Credits, 3 Merits and 10 Participation certificates.  Absent are Hana Davies, Vince Vidallon and Annalise Kilgour.
Well done to all of the children who have been sitting their speech exams this week.
All of you are showing us how to Reach for the Stars as Lifelong Learners in the Catholic Faith.

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