Helsinki, Disco, Swimming and Great NAPLAN results

Learning from Helsinki

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.40.21 amOne of the breakout sessions I attended at the ICP Conference in Helsinki was entitled, ‘Finnish school assessment practices challenge leadership’. Professor Jouni Välijärvi from the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä presented his research on this topic focussing on five areas – Specific features of the education system; Resources; Trends in results; Autonomy of schools & teachers and Governance, assessment & accountability. Of particular interest to me, given our current use of data to inform our teaching and learning, was the data presented around how schools in Finland use their Student Assessment Data. As you can see in this slide almost 98% of the surveyed Finnish schools use data to inform parents, approximately 92% use the data for retention (repeating) / promotion (going up a year level) purposes and 60% of schools use the data to improve instructional practices (almost 80% OECD average).

School Disco

The children who attended the disco on Friday night had an absolute ball. An amazing number of 157 prep-2 children attended the junior disco and a whopping 208 grade 3-6 kids danced/moved/ chased the night away. I’d like to thank the HFC for their wonderful efforts organising this great night for the Hillsmeade children and to our wonderful teachers, pre-service teachers and parent volunteers for supervising on the night. We believe the HFC raised over $1400 for this 4 hour event. Well done to all involved.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.41.22 am Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 10.41.33 am

Swimming Programme

Children in prep and grade 1 are involved in the swimming program this week. Mrs Bray went down to the pool to visit them and was impressed with the number of parents present. We heard that the kids were more excited about the bus trip to and from the pool, until they realised it was just a 5 minute drive down the road.

Great NAPLAN Results

At our staff meeting on Monday night we celebrated what we believe to be a fantastic achievement for our students who sat NAPLAN this year. As you know, I have been writing items in the Link around our collaborative planning, use of assessment and data to inform our teaching practices and last year, we had a focus on our teaching of reading. This year with our VCOP writing framework and ongoing pre/post testing on numeracy concepts, we continue to reflect and refine classroom instructional practice.

Using this year’s data, we looked at the learning growth rate (low, medium, high) for children who sat NAPLAN in year 3 in 2013 and again this year in year 5. We have been able to significantly improve in the areas of student growth for reading and numeracy. Additionally, our trend data has improved across all five areas (Reading, Writing, Grammar & Punctuation, Spelling and Numeracy) for the grade 5 children and for Reading, Grammar & Punctuation and Numeracy for the grade 3 children. Certainly cause for celebration.


Back from Helsinki!

deborah_in_helsinkiI’d like to thank Shiona Watson for acting as the principal of Hillsmeade PS whilst I took some long service leave and attended the International Confederation of Principals’ Conference in Helsinki, Finland, where I met the Mayor of Helsinki. It was reassuring knowing that Shiona was well supported by members of the leadership team, administration staff and all teachers and support staff at the school and ELC.

deborah_in_helsinki_2Catching up on all the events and news of the past 5 weeks is taking some time, but from what I have heard so far, some exciting things have been happening. Well done to the students and teachers who supported the Casey Cluster State of the Arts Festival last Wednesday night. Also, congratulations to the HFC for hosting a very successful Bogan Bingo fundraiser (over $8,000 raised). Planning is well underway for the Disco on Friday night too. I can’t help myself for sharing, but whilst the community was enjoying a very 80’s Bogan Bingo, I was hanging out with some 70’s icons in Stockholm, Sweden.

This week also sees our Science Expo tonight, 6pm—7.30pm. Please come along and see teachers in action with science and share what your children are learning. Our assembly on Friday starts at 2.45pm. All families are welcome to attend.

NAPLAN assessments have arrived. Parents can collect their child’s report from the classroom teacher on Thursday afternoon. The school has been able to access data which will be analysed in relation to trends and student growth (from grade 3 to grade 5). We use this to support the strategic direction of our teaching and learning programs. Other data sets used by the school for planning are in process (Student, Staff and Parent opinion surveys).

Kind regards,


Talk, Talk, Talk!

An article from The Age quotes Associate Professor John Munroe (University of Melbourne) on the importance of developing good oral language skills in young children. He makes the point that “Good language skills and the ability to communicate effectively are key

foundations to students’ capacity to learn”. Parents often focus on the development of reading, writing and spelling whilst underestimating the importance of equally developing children’s oral language. He offers these tips for parents to more effectively support their children’s language skill development.

Talking Tips

  • Help children to learn new words and build a richer vocabulary. Encourage them to name items, actions and use descriptive words.
  • Encourage them to talk in sentences about experiences and events, expressing what they think and feel.
  • Show them how to use a broader range of sentences when they are playing with toys, listening to a story or talking with others.
  • Build their listening capacity. Share stories and play games in which they need to listen, respond to information and follow instructions.
  • Help them listen for and use sound patterns in words. Encourage them to rhyme words, sing and read stories that have rhyming words.
  • Teach them to ask different types of questions and to use questions to learn new ideas.
  • Ask them to predict what could happen next when sharing an experience such as shopping or playing, reading them a story or playing with toys.
  • Ask them to retell experiences. Show them photos of experiences you have shared or videos they have seen and ask them to say what happened.

Extract from The Age – August 29th 2011

You can access the article at The Age if you would like to read the whole article.

Our Prep enrolments for 2016 are well underway and we are planning the transition program for term four. If you have siblings or know of friends and neighbours that will be enrolling for 2016 please encourage them to enrol now so we can plan effectively for the number of Prep teachers needed next year and provide appropriate spaces for our transition program. We also have limited space in our Long Day Care program for 3-5year old children at the Early Learning Centre.

Just drop in for a tour and obtain a position for this year, or future years by enrolling on our waiting list. Sessional Kindergarten enrolments must go through Casey of Casey Council. You may need to fill in a change of preference form for 2017 and beyond to ensure your family does not miss out on the opportunity of attending the Hillsmeade 4year old funded Kindergarten program.

Road Safety

I want to remind and encourage families that we have approximately 850 students arriving and leaving the school every day. Walking to school is encouraged for healthy bodies and supports optimal learning after active movement. We need your support to drive safely and obey road laws when you are dropping off students for school.

A reminder to not park in the ELC & School staff car park, or obstruct the driveway, as children exit the school via this driveway.
We have a mini working bee this Friday from 4:00 to 5:00p.m., we look forward to your support in weeding garden beds, moving mulch and cleaning up areas to improve the appearance of our school. Thank you to the families who came to our last mini working bee. Many hands make light work!

Ms Harry returns from her holidays next week, so I would like take the opportunity to thank the school community, as I have enjoyed the role of Acting Principal in her absence.

Shiona Watson

Acting Principal