My Education Patch

A principal reflecting on life at St Brigid's Primary School

End of the 2016 School Year

It has been a truly wonderful end to the 2016 school year and a pleasure to see so many celebrate with us at our recent carols night and at Mass followed by morning tea last Thursday.

It is such a blessing to all of us when we see the growth and change that has occurred in our students over the year.  As a Catholic school our education is faithful to the tradition and teachings of the Church and follows the ideals of St. Brigid of Knowledge, Strength, Faith, and Hospitality. We, students and their families, friends and staff, have all worked to make the Kingdom of God present to our community and through God’s grace and guidance we have been enriched not just in our spirit and intellect but in our hearts.

This year has been one of tremendous growth both in the students and in our school. We have introduced more rigorous data collection to enable teachers to have more assessment tools in order to continue to differentiate their teaching according to students needs.

Our student data shows much development in student learning and data collection from parents obtained through external means has shown fabulous parent support for our school.

The Catholic Education Office has been supportive of our school and together with schools across the diocese they introduced collectives which are designed to focus on a particular area of the curriculum. At St. Brigid’s we had an emphasis on mathematics this year and met regularly with our cluster schools from Narre Warren, Berwick and Officer, to engage in learning initiatives with the premise of schools improving schools. Learning and Teaching collegial networks were introduced by the Catholic Education Office to assist with unpacking the new Victoria Curriculum for implementation next year.

As I mentioned in my address at the Thanksgiving/Gratitude Mass we embarked on a journey this year with a new Parish Priest, we prayed, reflected and supported social justice through our action in Mini Vinnies, Project Compassion and St. Vincent de Paul Appeals. Through the Harmony Project we extended friendship and have dialogue with our neighbouring schools, government, private and of different faiths.  The Year 6 students have an opportunity to engage in different activities with these schools and build good relationships within our local community.

During the year we inspired each other, thought creatively as a team and expressed ourselves in many ways through sporting activities, our school concert, general school yard play and celebrations but most of all we have supported, comforted and encouraged each other. It is through the grace of God and the genuine, respectful and honest way we work with each other, the students, parents, grandparents, teachers and friends, that has brought us to the end of this year.

Although some of our students, in particular, our Year 6 Graduates and staff are moving on this year we feel blessed that each one of them have been on this journey with us here and contributed to the life of our school. I hope they will remember us fondly and set their goals that lead to a happy future that God has gifted them with.

We await the beginning of the 2017 school year with anticipation and look forward to continuing our educational journey next year and beyond and we thank you all for your wonderful support this year.

Until then may the love of God bring you all peace, joy, hope and love this Christmas.




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Self Confidence

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.”

Helen Keller

We have come to the end of the first semester of the year and will commence Term 3 next week. Having read through all our student mid year reports I am extremely pleased with the progress each student has made.

Not only have they grown in their academic ability but many have also grown in their self confidence. Self Confidence comes from having a good sense of self awareness and knowing who you are and what your positive qualities are.

We all have things we don’t necessarily like about ourselves. It could be something about how we look, our height, our weight, our hair or lack of, not being as good at sport or an activity as we would like. Accepting that we are all different and unique and concentrating on all our positive qualities can lead to self acceptance and in turn self confidence. 

Fear is the most common emotion that holds us back from being confident. Everyone has strengths, talents and weaknesses but everyone is valuable. Start with your strongest talents. Recognise what you are good at and try to build on those things. Finding something you are passionate about can be a useful way of building confidence in your abilities and reaffirming your self worth.

Let us be resolute in our approach for next Term and the second semester. Build our confidence and each others confidence by:

  • Having a strong connectedness to school
  • Using positive talk with each other
  • Affirming others for their strengths and talents
  • Surrounding yourself with people who are positive and uplifting
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Looking for the good that can come from every situation as opposed to the negative
  • Reading inspirational books
  • Listening to uplifting music
  • Taking positive action and embracing challenges
  • Being creative. When doubt creeps in be creative and take your mind of things
  • Taking up a hobby and committing to giving it a go
  • Being a volunteer, helping others as this gives us purpose and is empowering by knowing you can have an impact on those around you.
  • Taking action

Shoulders back and walk a little taller!




In December 2015, during the Orientation process for Foundation Year 2016 the young children were given a pot with a sunflower seedling planted in it and they were asked to look after it over the Christmas holidays. We were hoping that each plant would flourish and grow tall and strong so the children could see just how much they had grown and were ready to begin their primary schooling.

Seeing photos of one of our foundation students with her strong, tall sunflower in full bloom made me think of a connection between home and school that we do not often think about.

When we plant a seed or seedling we have great hope that it will grow and flourish into an excellent plant, flower or vegetable. We ensure that we provide the right conditions for it to grow. The correct soil type and right texture for the plant’s drainage. We place it in a suitable position, we water it and make sure it is protected from damaging winds or too much sun or rain. 

It is the same when we bring a precious child into the world. We make sure that everything is perfect for them and provide an environment where they will develop and grow into the wonderful children we hope they will be.

They begin their life journey in a beautifully appointed nursery and as they grow and start to walk they have the freedom of the home in which they live, inside and out. To ensure their safety, boundaries are set. We do not shut them away in just one room for hours but provide open spaces for them to move freely about and discover the things that are around them. When they venture off to day care and kindergarten it is the same open space they explore, interacting with others and learning to share and play together.

Our homes are more open and habitable than ever before. They are light and airy with open kitchens and living rooms. There are endless television shows describing the ‘modern’ way of living and showing us how to knock down walls in older homes to open up the living spaces for a more favourable way to live.

When it is time to commence their formal education in their primary years why then is it desirable to place our children in one room and tell them to stay put in their seat at their table? Why do we tend to put up barriers? This is quashing their natural spirit to feel ‘free’ and not hemmed in.

Like home and kindergarten St. Brigid’s has established flexible spaces with indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance their development – to give them a feeling of freedom with the necessary guidelines, rules and expectations to ensure their safety and continued growth and learning.  It is an extension of what they are used to at home. In a more relaxed environment children are nurtured and given opportunities to develop in a natural setting.

We encourage our students to explore and be curious about what is around them. We want them to learn more about their world and how to live in it. We give them some freedom to sit where they are comfortable for the particular tasks they are working on and direct our teaching to their specific needs. In this way they respond by being more engaged and actively participate. Students take more responsibility for their own learning. They are more readily able to adapt and accept change.

Tending to its needs, watering, giving it the right environment, makes the plant take root and flourish producing a wonderful bloom. Just like the sunflower, it is hoped that caring and nurturing the child at school, they too, will take comfort in their surroundings and be open to producing wonderful expressions of their learning and blossoming into active participants in our society.

Thanks again to one of our Foundation students for providing us with the lovely photos of her and the beautiful sunflower. I would also like to acknowledge our very active and capable Social and Fundraising Committee for their fantastic idea and bringing it to fruition. I am sure our new Foundation students have enjoyed seeing their little seedling grow into magnificent sunflowers.


Celebrating St. Brigid

On Thursday, February 4th we celebrated Mass for the Opening of the School Year and remembered St. Brigid (Feast Day February 1st) with our school community.

Following Mass we gathered in our School House Colours, which are Tullow, Delany, Leinster and Kildare for activities that related to the life of St. Brigid and students were involved in Irish Dancing and Sporting activities. We all shared a special lunch together. Thank you to our Social and Fundraising Committee for preparing our lunch, one of our parents, Fiona who facilitated the Irish dancing and staff for their involvement in the day.

St. Brigid was born in a quiet village named Faughart in Ireland in 454 AD. As a child Brigid demonstrated a strong will but also a charitable nature. She was a compassionate woman. St. Brigid was strong in spirit and expressed clear opinions on what was right and wrong. St. Brigid wanted to help those in need and often handed out bread, butter, eggs and chickens from her father’s dairy farm. She could not bear to see anyone hungry or cold.

St. Brigid’s life gives us many examples of her willingness to free people from oppression and poverty. St. Brigid was a woman of great faith and was devoted to God’s service. St. Brigid had special love of the poor. She is renowned for her hospitality. At an early age St. Brigid became a Catholic nun. After establishing her first convent with seven nuns in 468 Brigid established convents all over Ireland. St. Brigid also founded a school of art at Kildare.

St. Brigid died at Kildare on February 1st in the year 525 and she was buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick. Her spirit lives on in the hospitality that is afforded by the nuns of Kildare.

St. Brigid is our example who displayed the virtues of Knowledge|Strength|Faith|Hospitality. St. Brigid’s life and work inspires the use of hospitality as part of our school’s motto and her strength of spirit and firm convictions inspire the use of strength and knowledge. St. Brigid’s father loved her dearly but often struggled to understand her acts of kindness and practical compassion. As members of St. Brigid’s School community we are called to display kindness and hospitality to those around us.   The virtues in our School Logo are the pillars that we build our school upon and are reflected in all we say and do as a community.

Welcome to the 2016 School Year


A warm welcome is extended to all our St. Brigid’s School community who are with us again this year. I also give an enthusiastic welcome to those who are joining us for the first time. I hope that you all have a wonderful experience learning and growing together and building friendships throughout the course of the year.


Once again Miles will join me in visiting our learning communities and special events that occur during the year and together we will share these times with you.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

x free nativity-scene-


May the peace and blessings

of Christmas be yours;

And may the coming year

be filled with happiness.


Merry Christmas

End of the 2015 School Year

On Thursday, December 10th we celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass with Fr. Jeff and our school community. This Mass was a celebration of the school year and we gave praise and thanks to God for the growth and development each of us have experienced over the year, the friendships that were formed and the spiritual guidance and comfort we have received.

At the conclusion of Mass we held a ’Passing On’ ceremony, which involved our Year 6 students passing student leadership on to our Year 5 students. The learning journey and welfare of Year 6 students was handed over to our feeder school, St. Francis Xavier College, representing their move to secondary school. Representatives from the College were present to welcome these young students.

Tuesday night our Year 6 students formerly graduated from primary school and began a new journey of engagement, discovery and development in to young adults. We must be very mindful that these students are moving on from their primary years onto a new challenging world where they will draw upon lessons learned in the past when making choices and decisions that will affect their futures.

 The celebrations they encounter at a basic primary level should not in any way detract from the celebrations they will encounter graduating from secondary school, other educational institutions such as TAFE or university. Last week I saw a class of Foundation Year students at a Melbourne primary school go through a graduation ceremony wearing paper graduation caps and receiving a Certificate of Graduation from their Foundation class. This was then followed by a celebration. I fully understand the cute factor here but is it really necessary?

It reminded me of how we are so quick to make sure our very young grow up quickly and leave behind the fundamentals of their primary years to achieve something that is normally reserved for graduation at a higher level. Are we trying to give them experiences that will take away from those they will encounter as young adults after many years of schooling that have been more challenging and exhaustive than Foundation Year and treat our young people so grown up, that we do not leave special celebrations for the occasions that really deserve them?

There is a feeling of accomplishment at the conclusion of each year as the students move through their primary years. All of our Learning Communities celebrated the end of the school year in a way that celebrated their journey together as friends and classmates. Every student in every year level is precious and important to us and they are praised for what they have achieved and the lessons they take with them on to their next year level.

We have now reached the end of the school year for students and I thank every student for the way in which they have approached their learning and the growth that has taken place throughout the year. With the support of their parents and the dedication of their teachers we have all had a successful year together.



Flexible Spaces

I refer to an article written by Henrietta Cook in the The Age (Victoria) on November 23rd 2015.

Henrietta Cook reports that: “Open-plan classrooms have caused nothing but trouble for many schools, which are putting up partitions and walls to counter the deafening noise created in the barn-like spaces.”

It is a pity that Ms Cook and researcher Ms Kiri Mealings from the Macquarie University did not visit St. Brigid’s and many other Catholic and State Government schools that have been recently built with contemporary flexible spaces to see how these schools are successful in improving student engagement and learning by catering for specific needs of the each student. They would also see that these flexible spaces are not barn-like structures at all.

I would not advocate placing 300 P-12 students in one room that was reported to be happening at Laverton College. I could see how this arrangement would not be successful and the noise would be somewhat deafening with the range of age groups within the space.

Flexible open spaces are engaging environments. Students have the freedom of choosing an area to work on their own or together in collaboration with other students. Conventional classrooms are often limited in their space to provide options for different styles of learning. They can be regimented and uniform.   At St. Brigid’s we have the option to close walls, specifically designed for creating smaller spaces. This is seldom ever done.

Being able to work in a team is a skill that is so necessary for today’s world. In business, education, medicine etc. you have people working successfully together in collaboration to achieve the best outcomes in their field. They desire to find best practice and the most thorough research – I could go on. Teamwork in conventional classrooms is not as practical as those in flexible spaces where teachers have designed areas appropriate for the needs of their students.

It is the knowledge and understanding of the teaching staff and their commitment to change age old out dated teaching practices to cater for a generation of students who are curious, creative and who are bursting with the desire to learn that makes open flexible spaces a success or not.

As the principal of a new school designed with flexible spaces for contemporary teaching I have taken many people, parents and teaching staff from other schools, on a tour of our school. The most common comment made is how quiet the learning communities are. The main reason for this is that teachers have prepared and planned together. They co teach with their teaching partners in their level and have shared their ideas and expertise to provide the best outcomes for their students learning.




Studying a Language other than English – Japanese

The benefits of students learning a second language are vast. It is widely recognized that learning another language improves cognitive skills and provides understanding of cultural differences for positive cross-cultural relationships in our increasing globalized world. It assists students in understanding what it means to be literate and improves their knowledge of their own language and how languages work.

Together with our Japanese Specialist teacher and our Leader of Teaching and Learning and Innovation I took part in the Leading Languages Program along with other school across Victoria with the aim to enhancing our school based LOTE program.

We had the opportunity to visit other schools who had undertaken the program in previous years and saw ways they had implemented their LOTE programs to gain different perspectives and gather ideas.

Throughout the course we listened to keynote speakers and shared best practice in LOTE that was happening in our schools. I feel this process has enabled us to develop a three year plan to enhance our LOTE program from Foundation to Year 6.

Each year we celebrate our learning in LOTE with a Japanese Day. This is a celebration of the Japanese culture, their traditions and some of the learning that has taken place in lessons.

As usual we have a fashion parade for all those who came in Japanese costume or dressed up reflecting something about Japan or their culture. It was fabulous to see the traditional Japanese dress, the Japanese Flag, Sumo Wrestlers, representation of other martial arts and many other interpretations of the Japanese culture.

We were entertained by a performance from the Taiko Drummers from St. Francis Xavier College. The young students were amazing and some of St. Brigid’s students were invited to join them.

There was an opportunity to for students and staff to have a Japanese lunch and sample sushi. In the afternoon each Year level had the opportunity to present some of their learning. It was very pleasing to see our parents and friends come along to experience the day with us.


Term 4

We have had a extremely warm start to Term 4 with temperatures in the mid 30°C.

As we move ahead through the next 10 weeks of the final term for 2015 it is important that we continue learning and building upon and consolidating learning that has occurred throughout the year.

As teachers we must remain focused and ensure the students are engaged as quite easily their attention can turn to graduating to secondary school, moving on to their next year level or thinking about the exciting time of Christmas and summer holidays. With shops and media commentary filled with count downs to Christmas and an array of decorations it is not hard to become distracted.

We are blessed with a highly motivated and diligent staff. who have been planning and preparing in their own time during the recent holiday break to ensure our students are engaged and enthusiastic about their learning.

We must grasp every opportunity up to the end of the year and as we approach the final weeks it is then we begin to turn our thoughts to the anticipation of Advent and prepare ourselves for the wonderful birth of Jesus, our Prince of Peace.


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