Term 4 Week 10 Newsletter 2023
I feel blessed to be the Principal of such a wonderful school. I thank you for the friendships, conversations, honest feedback and great support I receive every day in my role. We have achieved so much this year and we are all very excited for what 2024 has in store for St Finbarr’s. May you all have a safe, happy and holy Christmas break.
Thank you to Emma Bowes and Tonya Unsworth who joined me yesterday to meet with the Director of Catholic Schools, Mr Adam Spencer. We were provided with background information regarding the proposed school building plans, related funding issues and a draft timeline for new school buildings including the school library and two new classrooms. Emma and Tonya will be providing feedback for the school community.
Feedback from the Digital Technology Parent survey
Thank you to those 136 responses to our Digital Technology Survey in the past week. It is greatly appreciated that families have gone to the effort of sharing their thoughts. On top of our recent, 'After School Care Survey', it shows that the community is active and engaged in your child’s education. Please be aware that your responses are valued and respected and that we listen and also make decisions based on latest research, professional judgement, classroom experience and an ongoing commitment to improving learning outcomes for students.
The Digital Technology Survey, whilst far from perfect, reinforced what many had previously predicted, that there is a wide range of opinions around the best use of technology and its value in a primary school setting. As proof of this, I have included several responses from the comments section of the survey. Some parents responded that they found some of the questions vague or confusing, however, the general comment at the end was a vehicle for further explanation of their thinking. The questions came from suggestions from our parent group as well as questions from another primary school.
As a result of the survey and our inquiry into best practice of digital technology as well as having three years experience of increased ipad usage at St Finbarr’s we have now amended our Digital Technology plans for 2024.
- Reducing Ipad usage across the school
- Amending current Ipad leasing arrangements
- Limiting device usage in K-2 to minimal device time.
- Providing more access to Parent Professional Development in 2024
- Replacing Ipad use with Chromebooks in Year 3-6 allowing for more effective keyboard usage.
- Ensuring devices are not used as rewards or ‘free time’ in class.
- Reinforcing with staff and students the importance of safety regarding wi-fi.
I would like to thank the parent group of Emma Bowes, Santosha Schuler, Stephanie and Jyothi Jaffray for their passion, commitment and willingness to work in partnership with the school. The team gave their time freely to attend meetings, organise surveys and gather feedback from parents and other schools.
We are excited to announce our staff for 2024. Our goal is to have your children with teachers who are relational, innovative, inspiring, creative, passionate and committed to improving learning outcomes for each student. There will be an opportunity early in Term One next year to meet your child’s teacher and build a positive relationship with clear communication lines. Below are the teachers for 2024:
- We welcome Sam Powell who will be working two days per week as School Wellbeing Officer.
- We welcome Nick Lock who will be teaching Year Three in 2024 after a number of years at St Ambrose Pottsville.
- Kathryn Nulley will continue with us for two days per week in a Coaching & Mentoring role.
- Sherryl Hurley and Sherida Hill have indicated that they will be taking leave from their respective roles for 2024.
House Captains 2024
Congratulations to our Sports House Captains for 2024.
We welcome Eva Matheson to the new role as Librarian for 2024. We are excited to be moving forward with a designated space for the Library with exciting plans ahead.
Why the Library in Australian schools in 2024?
- Opportunities to read for pleasure are associated with a wealth of literacy benefits.
- Reading for pleasure = academic success!
- Providing children with opportunities to read for pleasure can be associated with a wealth of literacy benefits. These include improved syntactic knowledge, word recognition, vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, and oral language skills.
- The school library is part of St Finbarr’s long-term strategy for literacy, education, information provision and economic, social and cultural development.
- Our library will be a place for both research and leisure that will aim to equip our students with the skills for research and enquiry; help them develop and sustain love and enjoyment of reading and learning; and teach them to evaluate and use information in all forms, formats, and mediums.
- The purpose of the library will be to contribute to the development of our student’s information literacy skills, needed to locate relevant and reliable information to support effective problem solvers and high functioning creators.
- Our goal is to work towards making the library a tool that contributes to student learning and teacher success, as well as providing a space that members of the school community can use for enjoyment.
- Students will have the opportunity to encounter diverse ideas and cultures all in one place.
2024 NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge
The NSW Premier's Reading Challenge (PRC) is an initiative of the NSW State government. It aims to encourage in students a love of reading for leisure and pleasure and to enable them to experience quality literature. It is not a competition but a challenge to each student - to read, to read more and to read more widely.
Reading over the Holidays
A reminder that SORA is available for students over the holidays.
What is Sora?
Sora is an award-winning digital reading app for students.
Using Sora, students can discover a huge range of eBooks and eAudiobooks and more, for free.
How does it work?
Students can borrow from the Sora collection using the app on their phone or tablet, or through a web browser on their laptop or PC.
How to access SORA at home:
- Go to soraapp.com/library/cenetau
- In the ‘Search for your school’ option enter: ACEN ( Not St Finbarr’s)
- Enter your child’s username and password
Introducing Kylie White, our new Canteen Coordinator. Kylie is a local mother of three (Opal 3, Asher 5 and Louis 8) who has lived in Byron Bay with her husband Nathaniel for the past six years. Originally from the Central Coast, Kylie has also lived in Sydney, London, Ireland and Canada. Kylie’s professional background has been in administrative roles in corporate finance and more recently she has been working in inventory and wholesale for local Byron Bay fashion labels. She has been volunteering frequently at the Byron Bay Public School canteen where she has reignited her love for service and community and also garnered lots of helpful experience working in a canteen environment.
Kylie loves to travel locally and abroad with her family and spend time with friends and when she has the time, she loves to sew! With a passion for community and service, Kylie is excited to combine her love for good quality food and canteen operation to create a fresh, affordable, and delicious menu for our St Finbarr’s community from 2024.
We are so happy to have Kylie on board, and we can't wait to see the positive impact she will make in our canteen. Canteen days will be Monday and Fridays in 2024. Please contact us now if you are available to help in the canteen on particular Mondays and Fridays in Term One and we will begin to create a roster.
A Message from the Parent Committee
Thank you to everyone for your fundraising efforts in Term 4. We had the Colour Fun run, Canteen Days, Bake Sales, Lucky Birds and the Halloween Disco. Across all of these events we raised $43,577. A huge effort and a massive thanks goes to all of the parents who gave up their time to help out.
We are raising money for updated play equipment, and this fundraising is a parent-led initiative. In previous years, these Fun Run fundraising drives successfully sent a robotics team to America in 2019, and installed Tiny Towns in 2020. We look forward to finalising plans for updated play equipment in 2024.
The Parent Committee will be seeking tenders over the summer holidays and we will discuss these quotes at our first Committee meeting in Term 1, scheduled for Wednesday 7th February. All are welcome to attend the meeting.
The cost of outdoor play equipment is expensive – potentially in excess of $90,000, so we will wait for the quotes to come back before we make a final decision as a committee how to best spend the funds raised. Once a decision has been made, the realistic timeline to install new play equipment would be in the June/July holidays.
Thank you again for the incredible support of our wider school community to raise such a huge sum of money. We will keep you updated with how this is progressing once school resumes in 2024.
Have a wonderful and safe holiday.
St Finbarr’s Parents in Partnership
Resilient Kids Program - Free Counselling Service
Families at St. Finbarr's Primary can access free services for their children through the Resilient Kids Program. The Resilient Kids Program will implement mental health and trauma-informed support for primary and secondary school-aged children impacted by the March 2022 Northern Rivers flood events. It is funded through a $10 million grant from the National Emergency Management Agency and is being delivered by Healthy North Coast.
Social Futures are delivering counselling services for children, young people and their families that can be accessed through a wellbeing hub situated at Social Futures
32 Swift Street Ballina (Monday-Friday) or Byron Youth Service 34 Gordon Street Mullumbimby
(Monday and Thursday)
Complete the Resilient Kids Enquiry Form and a team member will be in contact with you regarding a referral for your child.
Congratulations to our EMU students
After a year of working hard on their EMU learning program, our EMU students got to enjoy a morning tea with Mr Bleakley. Well done everyone.
Year 6 Artwork
Wishing everyone a safe and relaxing holiday and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2024.
First day back for Year 1 -6 is Monday 5 Feb
First day back for Kindergarten is Wednesday 7 Feb
Yours In Partnership,
Tim Bleakley - Principal
It is that time of year where so many of us are connecting socially at the many different events that we tend to gather at, to mark the end of the year. The conversations that flow usually have the theme of how fast the year has gone, how we have not had a chance to catch up, how tired we all are and what everyone is doing for Christmas, such is life!
During the haste, please see below a beautiful reminder of the little things we can be mindful of and appreciated during this very special time of year.
One of these many events we gather for at this time of year is to celebrate our outgoing Year 6 students. On Tuesday, we celebrated a beautiful Mass to mark the conclusion of Primary school for Year 6. Father David spoke beautifully during his homily reminding our Year 6 students that as they complete this part of their journey, and move through their new adventures, to keep on being a light in the world.
We wish all our graduating students the very best for their future and wish all our Finnie's Families and Friends a safe and Holy Christmas.
St Vincent de Paul Christmas Appeal
I would like to thank our families for so generously donating so many gifts for the many vulnerable children in our community.
Mr Bleakley handed over all the wonderful gifts along with twenty, $50 Woolworths gift cards totalling $1000 that have been so generously donated by our Finnies families to Mrs Anne McCabe who is a long standing member of the Finnie's family, a parishioner and a part of our local St Vincent de Paul conference.
These wonderful gifts and gift cards will now be distributed to our local families in need.
Thank you so much for all of your love and generosity.
Wishing everyone a safe and Holy Christmas,
Mrs Sonya Piccoli
AP Mission & Additional Needs
Learning & Teaching
2024 New English and Maths Curriculum K-6
This year teachers in K-2 implemented the new English and Maths curriculum and units of work, including InitiaLit. Over the past few weeks teachers in Yrs 3-6 in 2024 have been engaging in professional learning on the new curriculum and are excited to be implementing the new units of work in their classrooms next year. We have seen a number of benefits to the new consistent approach and are very excited for 2024.
Mathematics Assessment Interviews
All students met their 2024 teachers on Monday as part of our Step up morning and students brought home a 2024 information pack. With regards to the online Mathematical Assessment Interviews and Best Start (Kindergarten only), they are now open on Compass for you to book your child in for their interview with their 2024 teacher/s.
When booking the interview, your child's 2024 classroom teacher will appear. If two teachers appear, this means both teachers will be taking your child’s class as part of a job share. For example, one teacher might work Monday-Wednesday and the other Thursday-Friday. Regardless of the teacher, choose the booking date and time that works best for you.
The most effective way to conduct the Mathematics Assessment Interviews and Best Start (Kindergarten only) is during the first week of the new school year. The interview will be conducted by your child’s teacher/s for 2024 and is deliberately timed after the holidays as it measures their conceptual understanding and the learning your child has acquired.
The interview for Years One-Six (2024) will take place from Wednesday, 31st January - Friday, 2nd February. Therefore, the first day of Term One for Years One to Six will be Monday, 5th February. The interviews will take 30 minutes to complete for Years 1 – 6. The interviews for Kindergarten (2024) will take place from Wednesday, 31st January- Tuesday, 6th February. Therefore, the first day of Term One for Kindergarten will be Wednesday, 7th February. The interviews will take 60 minutes to complete for Kindergarten.
Parents are not required to remain with their child during the interview. Therefore, you can take your child to their new classroom and return after the interview is complete. We ask that all students bring along their "About Me" Survey to share with their teachers.
Please go online to Compass and book an interview time for your child.
Semester Two Reports
Semester Two reports are now available on Compass. On the dashboard they are accessible via 'View academic reports'. If using the app, they are viewable by clicking on your child's photo and then selecting the reports tab.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and partnership over the 2023 school year. I get so much joy from connecting with the students and parents and watching them learn, grow and flourish over the school year. I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe holidays.