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Principal’s Message – Issue Two


Principal’s Message – Issue Two

Ash Wednesday

Next Wednesday, 26 February, marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a special time in our Church and School Community where we think about the mystery of Jesus’ life and death. We also renew our commitment in the Lord and show this by our efforts to talk with Jesus in prayer, to turn away from sin and to care for those in need. This is the time for change; to turn our hearts back to God.

We are a community, we are the people of God, we are the Church. Ash Wednesday is a time to gather our thoughts as we prepare for our journey during the Lenten period. We come together next Wednesday, to celebrate Ash Wednesday, and all families are welcome to join us, in our parish church, commencing at 9.00am

The start of Lent also marks the start of Project Compassion. Project Compassion is an extraordinary, ongoing demonstration of the faith, love and generosity of caring supporters, all in the name of justice and peace. The theme for Project Compassion 2020 is ‘Go Further Together’.  Project Compassion Money Boxes will be sent home to each family next week.

Throughout Project Compassion 2020, inspiring stories from around the world will be shared, via the Caritas website, highlighting the importance of working hand in hand with communities around the world. You can view these stories at

Caritas Australia and Shrove Tuesday

On Tuesday 25 February, to raise money for Caritas Australia, all classes will be making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. Please read the attached information about the fundraisers that we will be holding at OLA during the Lenten season. Your support and generosity to assist those less fortunate is greatly appreciated.

2020 Project Compassion and Caritas at OLA

Creating a High-Performance School

Over the last couple of years, the Leadership Team and staff have worked tirelessly to create/establish a high performing school. Using the following characteristics as a guide, the Leadership and School Improvement Teams (SIT) meet regularly to review the Annual School Improvement Plan (ASIP), recent community survey data and implement strategies and procedures that will assist OLA to become a school of excellence. We have made huge strides in our endeavours to become a ‘great’ school, but we still have a way to go.

Below are the characteristics we often refer to when making decisions in the best interests of the students at OLA:

9 Characteristics of High Performing Schools

  1. Clear and whole school focus/approach to teaching and learning and analysing of data; a
  2. High standards and expectations for all students and staff; a
  3. Effective school leadership; a
  4. High levels of collaboration and communication; a
  5. Curriculum, instruction and assessments aligned with WA Curriculum standards; a
  6. Frequent monitoring of learning and teaching – AITSL Standards, Growth Plans and Instructional Walks; a
  7. Focused professional development; a
  8. Supportive learning environment; a
  9. High level of family and community involvement. a

Our Lady’s Assumption Values - Respect Integrity Compassion Excellence (RICE)

Each person is created in the image of and called to communion with God. One of the wonderful things at Our Lady’s Assumption is our strong awareness of our school values – RICE. I am always amazed at how our students use the RICE Values and can identify the values within themselves and others. This semester we will continue to embed our values through our weekly classroom activities, with the term’s focus being RESPECT. Term 2 – INTEGRITY, Term 3 – COMPASSION and Term 4 – EXCELLENCE.

The Value of RESPECT is very relevant to our Year 6 Students as they take on leadership roles within the school. This year we will have four Year 6 Ministries, including Events & Communication, Sport, Christian Service and Sustainability.

The OLA RICE Values are:

Respect: Accepting others for who they are, taking their feelings, wishes and rights into consideration;

Integrity: Being honest and truthful in our actions;

Compassion: Showing others we care by reaching out to those in need and sharing what we have;

Excellence: Striving to be the best that we can be and persisting when faced with challenges.

Code of Conduct (All members of the OLA Community & Visitors)

Over the last couple of years, the Leadership Team and staff have been working closely to develop a Code of Conduct for all members of our community. You would have noticed on the sign in/sign out iPad it asks you to acknowledge and accept the school’s Code of Conduct before proceeding with signing in/out. Below is the school’s Code of Conduct:


The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to describe minimum standards of conduct in all behaviour and decision making to ensure the safety and well-being of students.


The Code applies to staff, students, volunteers, parents, guardians and visitors as applicable.


  1. You act safely and competently;
  2. You give priority to students’ safety and well-being in all your behaviour and decision making;
  3. You act in accordance with the values of the Gospel as defined in the Code of Ethical Conduct;
  4. You conduct yourself in accordance with laws, agreements, policies and standards relevant to your relationship with the school community;
  5. You respect the dignity, culture, values and beliefs of each member of the school community;
  6. You treat personal information about members of the school community as private and confidential;
  7. You give impartial, honest and accurate information about the education, safety and well-being of students;
  8. You support all members of the school community in making informed decisions about students;
  9. You promote and preserve the trust and privilege inherent in your relationship with all members of the school community;
  10. You maintain and build on the community’s trust and confidence in Catholic schools and the Church;
  11. You act reflectively and ethically;
  12. You allow students to have a voice in their education, safety and well-being.

Family Fun Night

What a great night and turn out. Thank you to all the families who attended the event and socialised through the evening and a huge thank you to the staff for staying behind and helping out with selling sausage sizzles and assisting in the canteen. We believe we would have had many more families attend if it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, but this won’t be a problem next year.

For future reference, if we decide to sell sausages in a bun next year, it will be pre-paid prior to the event. We had so many families place orders but did not show up on the evening – we all learn from our experiences.

Induction Mass

Congratulations to our Year 6 Students, Board Members and P&F Executive Members who attended our Induction Mass last Wednesday and made a pledge to lead our community in 2020. The Year 6 students also received their Leaders and Ministry Badges and are all wearing them proudly.

Last Monday, for the first time, our Year 6 Communication Leaders made announcements, to the community, about the week’s events. This will be a regular weekly occurrence for our student leaders as they disseminate information about what’s happening within our school community.

Sacramental Letters

Thank you to the families who have returned the completed sacramental letters. If you haven’t returned the forms, please do so by Friday 6 March. The letters are attached for you.

Reporting to Parents

As we endeavour to increase communication between the school and families, about their children’s progress, we have included an Interim Report and Parent Meeting in Term 3. The parent meeting will be trialled in 2020 but the Interim Report will now be a yearly reporting item.

Bubs Play at OLA

Bubs Play at OLA has commenced for 2020, with families meeting every Friday, in the Kindergarten M room, from 9.00-10.30am. Feel free to attend these sessions and invite outside families as well, if you know of anyone who would be interested in attending.

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Enrolments – 2021

Request from families, within the community, to complete enrolments applications for siblings interested in Pre-Kindergarten in 2021 or who are commencing Kindergarten in 2021. We certainly wouldn’t want families to miss out on places.

FYI – All parents who will have children in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten are invited to a Parent Information Session, by the Leadership Team, on Friday 28 February, commencing at 9.30am, in the Fr O’Mara Centre. All welcome!

Public Holiday and Pupil Free Day

A reminder to all families Monday 2 March is a Public Holiday and Tuesday 3 March is a Pupil Free Day (Staff will be attending a Professional Development Day with Dr Nathan Leber). Students return to school on Wednesday 4 March.

Bushfire Appeal

Thank you to all the families who donated to our Bushfire Appeal last Friday. We raised $554.10 – thank you!

Pick Up and Drop Off Times

A reminder to all families drop off, at the earliest, is 8.00am and pick up is 3.30pm, at the latest. We have noticed students arriving as early as 7.30am and being collected as late as 4.00pm. Your support in ensuring students are dropped off and collected on time is appreciated. Our OSHC offers before and after school care options for all OLA families.

Collection of Old Uniforms

In Term 2, and as parents purchase new uniforms, we will be having an old uniform drive, which will be donated to children in third world countries. Families will be advised of the collection point and specific date later in the term.

Change of Day for Harmony Day

Due to the fete being schedule for Sunday 22 March, and to give the Fete committee members time on the Friday to set up the Sr Goretti Hall, Harmony Day has been changed to Wednesday 18 March. The change has been reflected on the interactive website calendar.

Calendar Updates

A reminder to all families to check the interactive website calendar for all updates and changes. The Term calendar distributed at the beginning of each term is current at the time of distribution only, with changes made to the website consistently. With changes made regularly, parents are asked to double check the interactive website calendar on a regular basis.

Uniform Stock Update

As mentioned in the text sent out to all families, Nell Gray has sold out of some of the summer uniforms hence we advise you to call Nell Gray to check stock availability prior to going into the store. They’re expecting a shipment to arrive in the next few weeks, including winter uniforms. We will advise all families when the new stock has arrived and is on the floor.

Uniform Policy

The updated Uniform Policy is attached. Please read the policy and support the school in ensuring the children abide by the policy.

OLA Uniform Policy 2020

Extreme and/or Severe Weather Policy

Attached to this newsletter is the ‘Extreme and/or Severe Weather Policy’. As you are all aware, we have always cared for the children and during extreme/severe weather, the children have been kept inside and supervised. The children’s welfare is always our priority!

Extreme or Severe Weather Policy

Swimming Carnival -2020

The Years 3-6 Swimming Carnival has been scheduled for Monday 24 February, at Terry Tyzack Aquatic Centre, commencing at 9.30am and concluding at approximately 2.30pm. The Year 3 students will be back at school by 12.00pm (option given, on the form, for parents to take their children home from the carnival).

As you can appreciate it is impossible to give approximate times for events hence we’re unable to provide this information. Information on the carnival will be distributed to families during the week as we support our new Physical Education Specialist, Ciaran Allsop, in coordinating the carnival. As a graduate, this is the first carnival Ciaran has organised hence it is taking a little more time to disseminate the information to families – please be patient!

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the carnival as I am required to attend the Executive Director’s Leaders’ Forum on Monday. Assistant Principals, Mr Michael Morris and Miss Rebecca Smith will be attending the carnival.


In the early 2000s, when completing my Masters Degree, I wrote a paper on ‘Looping Staff’, the positive and negative impact on teachers, students, parents and the community. Many schools are now implementing the above process with positive results.

As a leader I believe we’re obligated to support staff in the upskilling and mastering of their craft. I also believe with the Growth/Appraisal Programs we currently have in place, staff are being upskilled, in reference to the ATSIL standards. At OLA, we believe it’s about mastering the skills and knowledge across a number of year levels and not being pigeon holed in the one year level for many years

What is the definition of ‘Looping’?

  • Teachers follow their students up the following year;
  • Teachers then move back to their original year the following year;
  • It involves being with the same students for a minimum of 2 years;
  • At OLA, it would mean teachers follow the same cohort;

What are the pros and cons to ‘Looping Staff”? 

Pros of Looping

  • Relationships with Students – staff already know their students and don’t spend the 1st five weeks of Term 1 getting to know them;
  • Relationships with Parents and Families – staff already know their parents and families;
  • Understanding Students’ Needs – staff already know students’ levels, their capabilities and don’t spend the 1st five weeks of Term 1 completing endless tests;
  • Promotes Teacher Innovation & Energy Levels – staff are empowered to be upskilled and learn new techniques to teach these children. They also don’t become too comfortable in the same year level;
  • Classroom Management – teachers are already aware of these students;
  • Respite – Teachers have a year off from doing Sacramental Programs, Camps, graduation, etc. The responsibilities and loads are shared over a two-year period;
  • Pigeon Holed – Staff don’t get pigeon holed in the one area/year level;
  • NAPLAN Assessments – Staff loop and work with the same students in preparation for NAPLAN testing;
  • Knowledge of Curriculum and School Based Documents- Staff will become masters of the curriculum over a two year period (in relation to the WA Curriculum and the OLA Non-Negotiable School Based Scope and Sequences and documentation).

Cons of Looping

  • Teachers Can Get Too Comfortable – With the Leadership Team conducting Instructional Walks, and spending days in classrooms, this wouldn’t be the case at OLA;
  • Students Adapt Less to Change – I believe the majority of the students would adapt to anything. Resilience is the key to success;
  • Persistence of Negative Relationships – this is when we would need to make changes, especially if there are issues with staff/students/parents;
  • Less Exposure to Different Teaching/Learning Methods – We have been introducing a whole school approach to teaching and learning at OLA hence I don’t foresee the above being an issue;
  • Teachers Are Less Comfortable and Skilled at Every Level – it’s all about mastering our craft, in all year levels – the OLA staff are aware of the above. As Mick Malthouse stated in his book ‘The Ox is Slow But the Earth is Patient’ players need to learn how to play every position on the ground – it’s not about year levels, it’s about roles and we need to change the way we think about teaching;
  • Teachers’ Skill Levels – Some students may receive the same ‘not so highly skilled teachers’ two years in a row, but with time and support, these teachers will grow and become better at their craft.

As I reflect upon OLA and where we’re currently at, there is a strong possibility we will be introducing ‘Looping’ in 2021 (Already commenced with the current Years 5 & 6 Staff, Maree Musca in Year 4 and Julie Pilatti in Year 3). We will continue to explore the advantages and disadvantages of the above process.

The changes made in 2020 (see above) have already had a positive impact on the teaching and learning at OLA. If the school decides to proceed with ’Looping’, the Looping Year Level Schedule would consist of Years 1 & 2, Years 3 & 4 and Years 5 & 6.

As I won’t be at OLA in Term 4, the Leadership Team will be making the decision about looping for 2021 when staff placements are coordinated.

Request for Classes by Parents in 2021 and Beyond

Over the last couple of years, a number of parents (requests increasing each year) have submitted requests for certain teachers, for their children, or to be placed with certain children. Every year, staff allocate students to classes based on the children’s needs, including friendship groups. As you can appreciate it is extremely difficult for staff when parents make requests, with some being unrealistic and the different combinations staff are faced with. To be honest it is the first time I have experienced requests from parents and every year it is becoming more difficult and challenging.

I would like to share with you an example of what we experienced last year. A parent requested for their child to be with another child, in the same class, but the parent of the other child requested for their child not to be placed in the same class as this child. How do we support both parents and children when it is impossible to give both parents what they requested without disclosing their requests? Also, making assumptions about staff, based on playground gossip, is not fair on the teachers and parents should come to their own conclusions when they have experienced the teachers’ teaching capabilities, and not come to a conclusion based on what other parents have stated.

The staff at OLA are very committed and supportive of the children’s welfare and educational needs hence I have faith, in my staff, to make the right decisions, when allocating students to teachers and classes. Moving forward, parents can make reasonable requests to me (Michael Morris in 4th Term – 2020) and decisions will be made. Please do not request the following:

  • A certain teacher;
  • To be placed with certain children;
  • To be separated from certain children.

As stated previously, the staff know their students, their friendship groups and will allocate the most suited teachers to the children’s style of learning. Please don’t take offence when, in most cases, requests are declined. Thank you for your support with the above.

Medical Conditions

If your child has a medical condition, e.g. anaphylaxis or asthma, please complete the required paperwork that is available from the School Office. All medications need to be left at the School Office with your child’s completed paperwork. Students in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Pre-Primary will have medications stored in the classroom, however, the School Office will still need to be notified of your child’s medical condition.

Board and P&F Meetings Change of Date

Please be advised that the March Board and P&F Meetings will be held on Monday 16 March. The School Board Meeting will commence at 6pm and the P&F Meeting will commence at 7.30pm.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Greg Martin

RICE is Alive at OLA!

RICE is Alive at OLA!

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