Thursday, 7 June 2018

Term 2 Week 6 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

Throughout this term it has been an absolute pleasure to interview the new families enrolling their children into St Mary’s School. I always ask parents the question of why they want to enrol their children into a Catholic school and in particular St Mary’s School. Answers vary of course, but a common theme is present in all their responses which is usually around the importance of teaching the Catholic values and celebrating the Liturgy as a community. For our leaders and teachers in the school it is about proclaiming the story and passing on the story to our children. We are the storytellers.

Historically St Mary’s School has experienced the four charisms of the Marists, the Josephites, the Mercy Sisters and the Jesuits and our students learn about the unique qualities of these religious orders. Have you noticed the beautiful artwork at the front entrance to the school? This new work of the Madonna and Child looks very much at home in the entrance area. It bridges the design elements and materials of the new buildings with its laser cut and computer engraved stainless steel elements, while also being sensitive to the history of the old buildings represented by the traditional cast bronze. Please stop and look when you are passing through.

Congratulations to Tayissa O in Year 6 and Bianca R in Year 4 who have made it through to Mackillop level in Cross Country.  This is the third representative level and a very big achievement. 

 Today I met with principals and their parent representatives from Trent Zimmerman’s electorate for a briefing with the Minister, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham on education issues resulting from the Gonski review. The opportunity also allowed for Sydney Catholic School principals to raise our concerns over the school funding debate and the current SES model which disadvantages so many of our Catholic schools in the Sydney Archdiocese because of their capital city location. Our brief to the Minister was to keep the high quality low fee system of Sydney Catholic Schools and remind him of the great work we do in all 152 schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney. I sincerely thank our St Mary’s School parent representative, Mr Sam Duggan for his expertise and generous support in this process.

 The staff are very busy at present preparing the Semester 1 reports for the children. We aim to provide detailed information to parents so that a very clear picture of each student’s achievements is accurately recorded. At this reporting period we are also concerned with giving directions for areas of improvement and growth in the second semester. Following the dissemination of the reports, parent/ teacher interviews have been arranged for the last week of the term to discuss the areas of improvement and growth. Please view the meetings as an important part of the communication in the learning process.

 It is with great delight that I congratulate the Year 6 class parents, and in particular Lisa Porter and Katie Delaney for their outstanding efforts in the recent Lapathon raising $26,000 for our new library. Well done to all!

Best wishes,
Beverly Coffey

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Term 2, Week 2 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

A very warm welcome to Term 2!

I trust that the holiday break was a time of fun, relaxation and family time for all and that you have a renewed energy and motivation for the busy weeks ahead. The St Mary’s Staff look forward to working closely with you in the education of your child.

It certainly was wonderful to see our students return to school with huge smiles on their faces, ready to embark on another exciting term of curiosity, creativity, challenge, critical thinking and deep learning. I wish our students a very successful and fulfilling time ahead.

This term promises to be an action packed 10 weeks. Here are just a few of the events timetabled.
  •         Mothers Day Liturgy and Morning Tea
  •          Lapathon
  •         NAPLAN Testing
  •          Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion
  •         Athletics Carnival
  •          Parent/Teacher Interviews and school reports

Gonski 2.0 Report

During the break, I participated in a study tour of the Singapore Education System and its schools. As a constant high performing system of schools according to the International PISA results, it was interesting to note they are also rebalancing their system towards a more holistic education, beyond narrowly defined academic success. Their focus, like in Australian education following the recent Gonski 2.0 report, will be to develop 21st Century competencies to achieve greater diversity and flexibility in the education landscape. Teachers will be at the core of the Education System and there will be a strong emphasis on developing solid foundations for the early years of education. It was encouraging to note how similar the two systems were in their strategic planning and thinking around providing support to bring out the best in every child whatever the starting point and improving lifelong learning through appropriate skill development. The plan to cater for different aptitudes and strengths is already in place at St Mary’s as we continue our strong focus on the differentiated curriculum to meet individual student needs.

For your interest I have included a link to the Media Release from the National Catholic Education Commission about the recommendations from the Gonski 2.0 report:

NAPLAN testing

The students in Years 3 and 5 will undertake the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy to assess the literacy and numeracy learning of students in all Australian schools. The results of the tests will provide information to the School about what each student can do, and will be used to support teaching and learning programs. Parents will receive a report indicating their child’s level of achievement at the end of Term 3. Each student’s level of achievement will be reported against the national minimum standard.

The tests will be conducted on the following days:
  •         Tuesday 15 May: Language conventions (including spelling, grammar and punctuation) and writing tests.
  •         Wednesday 16 May: Reading test
  •          Thursday 17 May: Numeracy test (including number, algebra, function and pattern, measurement, chance and data and space)

Time has been given in Year 3, and 5 classes to ensure that the students are well prepared for the style and content of these tests. Therefore it is our recommendation that the best preparation for the students is a good night’s sleep and a healthy and sustaining breakfast on the mornings of the tests.

Year 6 Leadership

I was very proud of the following Year 6 leaders who very responsibly directed the many visiting parents around the school at the Open Day last Wednesday. Parents commented on their articulate, knowledgeable and hospitable manner. Congratulations to the following students. Hamish, Abigail, Sienna, Harriet, Macey, Zoe and Georgie.

Best wishes and God bless,
Beverly Coffey

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Term 1 Week 11 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

This very busy, full and successful term concludes today and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the support you have brought to St Mary’s School. Staff and parents, together, have ensured that the students have been well engaged with the learning process and that the outcomes achieved have been most positive.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the students better this term through the many events and activities that have occurred and by experiencing the classes in action in our wonderful new learning spaces. I have come to admire the students’ delight in engagement, determination to learn and positive disposition.

We are grateful for the tremendous support we have enjoyed this term from the school community of parents. There are so many invaluable ways in which parents have stepped up to assist from the organisation of the Meet and Greet, providing hospitality on Grandparents Day, assisting with the Cross Country and the Opening School Masses. We look forward to working with you next term.

Staffing Update
I would like to announce to the parents and students that Mrs Julie Hunt will be taking Study and Long Service Leave for the entirety of Term 2. This opportunity will allow Julie time for professional reading and reflection and time to travel as a family. It is with great confidence and knowledge of capacity that I announce that Mr Sean White will take on Julie’s role as Assistant Principal during her absence and Mrs Jilly Vandeventer to teach her Year 3 class on Thursdays and Fridays. We wish Julie every success for a wonderful term ahead.

Letter from the Executive Director
Dr Dan White has an update for the community on the proposed North Sydney Pre K - 12 co-educational Precinct.  Please find this information in the newsletter.

NAPLAN testing
The students in Years 3 and 5 will undertake the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy to assess the literacy and numeracy learning of students in all Australian schools. The results of the tests will provide information to the School about what each student can do, and will be used to support teaching and learning programs. Parents will receive a report indicating their child’s level of achievement at the end of Term 3. Each student’s level of achievement will be reported against the national minimum standard.

The tests will be conducted on the following days:
Tuesday 15 May: Language conventions (including spelling, grammar and punctuation) and writing tests.
Wednesday 16 May: Reading test
Thursday 17 May: Numeracy test (including number, algebra, function and pattern, measurement, chance and data and space)

Time has been given in Year 3, and 5 classes to ensure that the students are well prepared for the style and content of these tests. Therefore it is our recommendation that the best preparation for the students is a good night’s sleep and a healthy and sustaining breakfast on the mornings of the tests.

May I wish all families a happy and safe holiday with quality time for rest and relaxation.

Best wishes and God bless,

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Week 7 Term 1 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

Throughout the Season of Lent we ask all families to show their children the special importance of prayer in their daily lives. Prayer is a core value of religion. Particularly when things are difficult we call upon God for help. But, what is prayer? What do I hope to achieve when I pray?

Prayer has been described as “Keeping company with our God.” Through prayer, we acknowledge, contemplate, listen to, thank and communicate with God. Prayer, whether done in adoration, as an appeal to God for mercy, or for a change in circumstance, fosters internal formation. Prayer for mercy forms mercy within us; prayer for strength forms strength within us. When we call these virtues to mind and make them a central focus of our being, we begin to live that virtue. It is born within us and is God’s internal work.

As parents there are many ways that you can help to deepen this relationship with God through prayer for your children. I will share some of these suggestions with you:

Remember the power of example: Children’s first lessons in formal prayer occur when they see their parents pray.

In simple ways, and from the earliest age, draw the children’s attention to the presence of God in the lives of all of us.

In the beauty of nature, in the closeness we feel for each other, and in the many acts of kindness we see and experience, we see God.

Share a prayer at the family mealtime.

Introduce the children to scripture. Take turns in reading a parable or some event in the life of Jesus from the Bible.

The great prayer of course is the Mass. Do everything you can to help the children see themselves as part of a family and a community which gather together to listen to God’s word.

“In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could lead to a hardness of heart, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience his tenderness.” 
Pope Francis

It has been a very exciting week for all staff and students as we finally moved into our wonderful new learning spaces. I hope that you have all had the chance to tour through the beautiful classrooms. We are very thankful to have this opportunity to teach in such contemporary spaces and offer our students a learning culture that is collaborative and creative. There will be an opportunity to celebrate the completion of our building project later in the year with a Blessing and Opening Ceremony. In the meantime, if you have not walked through the spaces we will offer some opportunities for parents to visit next week.
Wednesday March 21 at 8.15am.
Friday March 23 at 8.15am.

Please look on the school blogsite to see the fly through of the school classrooms as photographed by Markus Powling.  Direct link:

Best wishes for a happy St Patrick’s Day.
God bless

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Week 4 Term 1 2018

Dear Parents and Friends,

It has been encouraging to see our new Kindergarten children settling into their school routines so happily over the past two weeks. Congratulations to all parents for your wonderful support in this task. We also thank our students for making our new Kindergarten children feel so welcome at St Mary’s School.

Our new playground facilities have certainly been a delightful addition to the school and our students are enjoying the space and freedom which has been created. The transition to the new learning spaces is currently in place with all classes hopefully in their new rooms by the end of next week. The builders are finalising some minor defects on the first and second floors of the building before we are issued with the occupation certificate. There will be much to celebrate when we finally have all students working in their new learning spaces.

Our academic year has started smoothly with initial assessments and ongoing testing providing additional valuable information to ensure that strong and appropriate learning programs are in place. Our focus is equally directed to ensuring a schooling environment that supports social and emotional wellbeing. For us as adults, both as educators and parents, we want our students to be strong, courageous individuals with the capacity to stand true to their beliefs, to stand up against victimisation and to stand tall with integrity and honesty. Such courage is not innate, but comes with practice and when opportunities present for such actions to be taken.

The ability to persevere, delay gratification and find an inner strength to show grit when experiencing challenges and adversity is essential to our students’ wellbeing. We seek parent support in modelling a positive mindset and an enabling view so that this is the reality for each and every student at St Mary’s.

This year we will have the support of a School Counsellor, Mrs Tamara Murrell as part of the staffing allocation from Sydney Catholic Schools. Tamara will work closely with teachers and parents in the support of students with their wellbeing who need professional help to enrich their learning opportunities while at school. Tamara will work at St Mary’s on Wednesdays and Thursdays and referrals are to be made through my principal’s office. Our focus on student wellbeing links closely with the Sydney Catholic Schools theme for 2018 which is taken from Luke’s Gospel (1:30) “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God”
This message is taken from The Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The action statement we are working with at St Mary’s as our school theme is: Do not be afraid – Be courageous – Be adventurous – God loves you!

St Mary’s is a wonderful Faith community and I look forward to our first class Mass for Kindergarten and Year 6 students and their families this Sunday in St Mary’s Church at 9.00 am.

Next Friday March 2 at 6.30pm we welcome all families to the annual Meet and Greet celebration that will be a wonderful way to catch up with friends and welcome new members to the school community. A special thanks goes to our Parents and Friends Committee, particularly Susan Vaz for organising this lovely celebration.  I would also like to thank our Year 5 parents for the delicious morning tea they generously arranged after the Opening Mass held earlier this month.

May the week ahead be a peaceful one for all families.

Beverly Coffey


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Term 4 - Week 4 2017

Dear Parents and Friends,

The P&F AGM is on this Wednesday 7th November at 7pm.  I invite all parents and friends to come along.  I would like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge the work of Hamish Hutton (President), Tony Woods (Treasurer) and Ben Farmer (Secretary) who will be stepping down.  Hamish will be leaving the school at the end of the year, for a few years at least, until his youngest child starts school.  We looked through our photos to find a picture of Hamish, who was in so many - helping out at school events or working tirelessly behind the scenes of school events.  This photo of Hamish at a recent swimming carnival sums up his support for the school.  Thank you Hamish, you will be missed by all.  Tony and Ben will be around for a few more years and I would like to thank them both for their encouragement and obvious love of the school.  

It was wonderful to see Nellie B in Year 6 receive the Fred Hollows Award for Humanity at Parliament House from Gabi Hollows and Education Minister Rob Stokes.  Nellie was recognised for her efforts in fundraising and raising awareness of Refugees during Refugee Week. Nellie’s teacher Mr Andrew King, recognised her potential and encouraged her to take part in the campaign. Photos of Nellie receiving her award are on the School Blog.  Well done Nellie, we are proud of you!

Our children continue to inspire us with their sporting achievements. Hamish S and Charlie D in Year 5 are representing the school at a high level in cricket and basketball respectively next week. We wish them every success!

I warmly invite all parents and friends to our upcoming Celebration of Learning on Tuesday 14 November between 9-10am.  This is a wonderful opportunity to see our classes in action and be part of our community of learners. Every parent knows the difference an outstanding teacher makes. We see it in a child who begins to ask good questions about how the world works. Large-scale research clearly shows that in any given school year, the single biggest factor that affects how much a student will learn is his or her individual teacher. It is no wonder that when we think of schools that meet students’ changing needs, the first thing many think of is great educators.

The best teachers are active researchers, in two important ways. Firstly they are researchers of their students: they carefully observe their pupils, and from knowing them deeply, are able to engage them in learning that is both meaningful to their own lives and academically enriching. Secondly, they are researchers in the practice of teaching, actively seeking out strategies as educational data on the field evolves and children’s needs change.
We look forward to seeing you at our Learning Celebrations.

In the busy lead up to the Season of Advent it is easy for us all to forget to take time out and reflect on who we are as people of faith. In the words of Pope Francis we can take great joy. “From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us.” Go forth and enjoy the busy weeks ahead.

Enjoy a relaxing weekend.

Peace and God bless,

Principal's News Term 4 - Week 3

Dear Parents and Friends,

A warm welcome back to the final school term for 2017!

 The following weeks will bring great excitement as we prepare for our new learning spaces following the building project.  Our new school will ensure that the teachers have the resources, space and inspiration they need to realize the full potential of every student.

The estimated date for completion of the building project will be January 29th which will allow the St Mary’s staff the necessary time to move in before school commences on Wednesday January 31st. Once all classes are settled we will be inviting all families to be part of a special tour to see the classrooms in action.  As you can imagine all staff members and students are looking forward with great anticipation to working within the new spaces.

During the Spring vacation I had the opportunity to visit a number of progressive schools in Toronto, Canada. These schools have been established to provide an education where young people can be successful as individuals through magnificent teaching and leading where there is a focus on high-quality relationships, pedagogy and belief in children’s competence. These schools are deeply rooted in their communities and foster innovators, nimble problem-solvers and engaged citizens, boosting math comprehension, cultivating creativity and using technology to broaden the parameters of learning. They are exploring why the role of schools is expanding to nurture students’ social-emotional skills and growth mindsets, and how vital this broader definition of education is to children’s long-term health, happiness and success. I could see strong links between the Australian schools and of those in the province of Ontario in the realisation of this vision and how we as parents and teachers work closely together.

It was a delightful experience to participate in Mrs Kate Crisp’s Year 2 class liturgy this morning. The children spoke about the significance of the values of love and compassion in our world today and how as children they respond to each other in the class and in their own families. These opportunities where children can focus on their faith through the scripture stories and relate it to everyday living where they themselves can make a difference is a powerful means of learning. It was very encouraging to see our beautiful children reflecting in this positive way.

Enjoy a relaxing weekend.

Beverly Coffey