The ascent…it sounds like a film about a strange cult or an episode of Buffy, but I promise it isn’t. Today I attended our regional principal network meeting, and we were fortunate to have Kristen Douglas from Headspace talk to us about mental health in post COVID times.
Kristen spoke about the importance of ascending slowly into our return to the world, as though we are coming up from a deep dive. If we try and rise to the surface too quickly, we will only encounter further complications. Returning to school is not about returning to business as usual. A school community is made up of unique humans managing big feelings and reacting in ways that are new and unexpected. We need to give ourselves and our young people permission and time to experience all the emotions as they arrive in a safe and supportive space.
For a long time, educators have known that wellbeing and learning cannot be separated and the silver lining of this extended disruption to schooling is that it has forced the system to formally recognise this connection. For the first time, the Department is placing wellbeing alongside learning as the core of our work in schools. Our educators are dealing with huge change, and an increase in anxiety in themselves, their colleagues, their students and families. They are taking it all in their stride and facilitating extraordinary success daily with individual students. For some students, the success will take longer and that is ok. We will get there.
We know that some of you have worries about your children and we wanted to assure you that there are number of behaviours we are seeing in patterns. There has been an increase in social challenges with many of our older students experiencing friendship issues that may have been present in their early years of schooling. We have increased instances of school refusal, absence and work refusal. Stamina, focus and attention have reduced and many children are finding it hard to readjust to school expectations and routines in the classroom and outside. Conversely, we have seen an increase in resilience and independence, an appreciation for the small things, highly developed empathy for others, and a mature understanding of the world and global issues. We are seeing children form new friendships and mix with peers of different ages. We notice children break into impromptu bouts of dancing and singing, and we see them playing creative games, climbing and running with renewed energy.
The home-school partnership has never been more important than it is now. We have clear, shared goals to ensure every child experiences safety and success. If you have concerns about your child specifically, please chat to them about how they are feeling and reach out to their teacher as a partner. Please also know that you are doing your best and so are we, and our young people are doing an incredible job of handling grown up issues with grown up feelings that they haven’t yet developed strategies to manage effectively.
Let’s give ourselves permission to ascend slowly and get it right.
Our profession is currently experiencing a significant shortage in Casual Relief Teachers. We have escalated our specific concerns via DET contacts and we are working closely with staff and CRT agencies to manage our absences as effectively as possible. This shortage is resulting in more frequent class splits and we wanted to let you know that this is certainly not an issue of budgets or school preference. I thank all of our staff, as always, who have stepped up whenever needed to take an extra class, lose an hour of planning, or cover additional yard supervision. Our preference for all staff absence is full CRT coverage and we will endeavour to reduce split classes wherever this is an option. Thank you for your understanding as we manage this challenge.
Many of you will remember Kathy Winton from previous years at FPS. Kathy has been on leave working with Ed Partnerships to build teacher and leader capacity through a range of department initiatives across the state. Kathy will take on the role of Learning Specialist next year at FPS, leading the PYP and strengthening learning partnerships within and beyond the classroom. We look forward to welcoming Kathy back to the FPS family!
In 2022, Julia Woods will be taking on the role of school tutor at Footscray PS as Betty and Virginia take leave. Julia has been at FPS for a number of years and is one of our most experienced teachers and leaders. Julia will build on the current strengths of the tutoring program and work closely with DET to develop an inclusive approach to tutoring that simultaneously builds teacher capacity across the school to design and enact small group targeted teaching in every classroom.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator (MHWC)
We have successfully appointed our Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinator and she is fabulous! Jenny Campbell comes to us with a vast range of professional experience including a number of years working in the Royal Children's Hospital School, Blackburn English Language School, and The Smith Family. We look are really looking forward to the opportunities this pilot program will provide for us, our families, and our students and how Jenny will lead our whole school approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing.
2022 Teacher Recruitment
Teacher recruitment is time consuming and emotionally challenging, particularly for contract staff who often need to re-apply for positions on an annual basis until they can secure ongoing employment status. Recruitment panels and workforce planning is a major focus for leadership across the entirety of Term Four and into Term One.
I am pleased to share that both Luke Jones and Emily Roberts have successfully translated across to ongoing employment at FPS. I am sure you will all join with me in congratulating them on this achievement. Additionally, we congratulate Steph Bragaglia who has been appointed to a further contract position with us in 2022.
We will welcome Rachel Wilson to our teaching team in 2022 who has entered the teaching profession after working as nurse for many years. Rachel brings a range of personal and professional skills with her and is currently working at an IB school as a Foundation teacher. We have one further graduate vacancy advertised on Recruitment Online.
Music Program in 2022
Unfortunately, Cam has withdrawn from her appointment as our Vietnamese music teacher in 2022 due to her other work commitments. We will be implementing a team-teaching model with our Italian music teacher, Sarah Mildner, and a Vietnamese language teacher with a process underway to finalise the teacher appointment to the Vietnamese role. There will be dedicated time for weekly collaborative planning for Sarah and the Vietnamese teacher to focus on building each other’s capacity in both the content and language learning outcomes. Sarah will be increasing her time fraction to work 3 days a week and each Year 3-6 class will have one Vietnamese Music class with both Sarah and the Vietnamese music teacher each fortnight, and one class with the Vietnamese music teacher in the alternate week. This allows for the teachers to work together across all the classes each fortnight to deliver a high quality, consistent program for every class in both music and Vietnamese language.
Our Breakfast Club is up and running! For the remainder of the year, students in the yard before 8.45am on a Friday will need to attend Breakfast Club under the COLA. This will allow students to grab a snack, chat and grab some hang time before the school day starts!
We are seeking donations of bowls and spoons to help our program. Please feel free to drop any donations at the office. As a parent, if you would like to volunteer, please email us via the school. Thank you in advance!
Save the Date for our Whole School Picnic after school on Tuesday, November 30. More details to come.
Our Year 5 physicists have been exploring our central idea, 'Energy can be transferred, transformed, and used to support human progress' since returning to onsite learning. They have been given lots of opportunities to research the different forms of energy while noticing how they are transferred or transformed into other energy forms.
Last week they explored potential gravitational energy and kinetic energy when they tested hypotheses by making and dropping parachutes that had different sized canopies. This meant they also needed to learn about air resistance and gravity.
This week our scientists have been exploring electrical energy. They inquired, questioned, reflected, planned and created electrical circuits. Many 'aha' moments were enjoyed as they transformed electrical energy into light, kinetic and sound energy. There is more to come! We will continue to inquire into light, sound and kinetic energy through hands on collaborative group work. They are thoroughly engaged and enjoying this chance to work and learn together!
The Year 5 team