Principal's Report

We are buzzing along:   Our start has been very smooth and the ‘cool’ weather has been helpful. I have enjoyed watching the students arrive with a big smile and calmly move into Mindfulness sessions at 9.00 am. Students have been completing their ‘start up program’ and this indicates they are really keen to take the learning challenges they know the year will bring.  New students have been settling in and appear to know their way around the school; their warm and welcoming demeanour and their inclusivity is encouraging. Our Prep’s are having a tremendous time and their smiles and eagerness to commence school is delightful. 

At Eltham North Primary we have a commitment to provide a safe, caring and supportive learning environment that focuses on the needs and emotional well being of all students. As part of our start up program our teachers are explicitly teaching our Bounce Back ‘Core Values’ – honesty, fairness, support, co-operation, acceptance of differences, respect and friendship as these universal values are linked to the development of resilience.  These values also help young people to be connected to their family, peers and teachers.  These values also help students to understand appropriate behaviour and how to relate effectively with others. 

To read about our Bounce Back program go to our school link: http://www.elthamnorthps.vic.edu.au/student-wellbeing/

Bushfire Preparedness:  Our school has a DISPLAN for Bushfire At-Risk. This is clearly significant and important information for all parents. At the moment we have not had a hot summer but we hope that we do not have repeated weather conditions in March that require the DISPLAN to be enacted. When an upcoming day or days are declared dangerous, we will make direct contact with families where possible. You will understand that this will depend a lot on the weather conditions and circumstances but relates directly to what is declared by the CFA and Department of Education (DET). We will give as much notice as possible. We will send an email to parents via Compass and we also use an SMS alert system via your mobile phones.  Clearly it is critical that we have up to date mobile numbers and email addresses so if these have changed recently please send a note or email to the school with the updated information.  (You may have already done this at your child's assessment so do not need to if you made these changes on that day). 

It is important that families are made aware that there may be circumstances where emergency services may direct facilities to shelter-in-place rather than evacuate.  Where facilities are required to shelter in place families need to understand that for their own safety they should not attend the facility to collect their children until they are advised to do so. This term we conduct a whole school ‘lockdown’. In this procedure students from outside buildings go into the refuge of the main building. Within three minutes, all staff, students and parents will be relocated to the main building and all external facilities are cleared and closed up.

There are a range of resources available to help you support your child if they are effected by an emergency or natural disaster.

Resource links:
Natural disaster    http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/health/pages/emergenciesparents.aspx

Bushfire resources http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/health/Pages/bushfire.aspx

Disasters and emergencies place children in a state of emotional turmoil in which moods and thoughts change rapidly. It is common for children to experience physical symptoms such as sleeping difficulties, tummy upsets and loss of energy.

These are normal reactions and the way our bodies naturally respond to significant levels of stress. The immediate effects of stress should not necessarily be treated as an illness, but as a normal part of the healing process, requiring time and the support of others.

More information and support services

Parentline or phone 13 22 89 - a state-wide telephone counselling service for parents and carers of children aged from birth to eighteen years
Kids Helpline or phone 1800 55 1800 - a free, confidential and anonymous, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25
Kids Life– information to empower and support parents
Lifeline or phone 131 114     This is a 24 hour telephone counselling service offering care in times of crisis
Early Childhood Australia - a childhood advocacy organisation acting in the interests of young children, their families and those in the early childhood field
Parent Link – a website that aims to increase parents' confidence and skills by supporting and linking them with a network of information, ideas and community services
Raising Children Network - information to help parents with the day-to-day decisions of raising children and also parents and carers look after their own needs
Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network – a network that aims to promote understanding of child and adolescent trauma, loss and grief

Communication with parents:  Here are 3 great ways to keep informed. Our school has its own web site and each week we update it with new information.  Go to http://www.elthamnorthps.vic.edu.au  Additionally, you have access to Compass, which is your secured personal access to an internal school based administration system. The Department has a comprehensive web site enabling parents to keep up to date with what is happening in the Victorian Education system. View the latest update of the Department’s site for parents go to http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/parents/Pages/default.aspx

Parent involvement in the life of our school: Our school believes that parents and the school are partners in their child's education and recognises that the best educational experiences for children will occur when there is close co-operation, mutual trust and respect between the school and the home.  There are many opportunities to:

·       become comfortable and familiar with the staff, educational practices and management style of the school, and to make your own contribution to it.

·       convey to children the importance you place on their education.

·       assist in achieving the additional funds needed for the school to broaden the opportunities and facilities available to children.

·       be a constructive member of a local community actively providing the opportunity to make new friends.

·       develop new skills or enhance existing ones.

It should be recognised that children whose parents participate in the school or are involved with their education at home, are more successful at school.  We welcome your participation in the following areas:

·       in the classroom as Classroom as a Class Representative or Classroom Helper

·       Specialist Programs including our new Library Centre

·       Project Teams of the School Council

·       Supporting the organisation of School Family events and Fundraisers through our Parent and Friends Association. (See the noticeboard in the Rest A While Shelter for contact information)

Class Reps (PFA) for classrooms:   Each year class teachers seek parents to be Class Reps. The role of class rep is important.  You support improved communication between class teacher and the parents and organise social events to enable parents to socialise and become part of a bigger school community. All parents are by default, members of our PFA and class reps share information at meetings and across the level teams. Thank you in anticipation of your continuous support.

School Uniform:   The school uniform shop is open each Wednesday morning between 8.30 –  9.30 am  All children must be wearing the Eltham North Sunsmart Hat during all play times during term one and four.

Walking School Bus Program:   Have you heard of a Walking School Bus? It is a bus not powered by an engine but by legs. It has an adult "driver" at the front and a "conductor" at the back. It is a safe, healthy and convenient way for children to travel to school and it is FREE. It aims to increase physical activity amongst primary school aged children and reduce traffic congestion around schools. Go to our school website to find the complete list of routes and detailsIf you are interested in becoming a 'volunteer' there are volunteer training sessions held every term. Any other queries please contact the office on 9439 9639.  Make 2016 your year for physical activity.

Student Attendance:  We have worked very hard at this school in recent times to promote positive attendance at school. This is mainly due to the overwhelming evidence that shows children who have good attendance patterns generally do better than those who do not.  We understand that some absences are unavoidable. Genuine illness, bereavement etc are examples of acceptable reasons for your child being absent.

Every time your child is late for school or absent from school, it disrupts their learning – what is taught and learned today is a foundation which enables children to understand and build on what is taught tomorrow. It is usually harder for a child to catch up on work missed than to understand it when it is being taught in class.

To maximize your child’s learning potential, parents can minimize absences by:

- arranging medical appointments out of school hours

- developing habits of being on time every day – no excuses

- ensuring that personal shopping trips occur outside school hours

- only allowing your child to stay at home for valid reasons (eg.  medical, bereavement)

- organising your home routines so that you child can be at school on time

Working with Children Checks:   Many parents will be aware that there are requirements for volunteers and other helpers who work with children.  The check requires that all volunteers comply with the requirements. 

The “Working with Children Check” (WWC) is free.  To apply, parents and other volunteers need to:

Obtain an Application Guide and Form from a participating Australia Post outlet. See http://auspost.com.au/index.html
Complete the application attached to the back of the guide.

3. Submit your application together with proof of identity documents and a passport sized photo to the participating Post Office outlet.  These applications for a “Working With Children Check” are free for volunteers but they cost $70 for paid workers. Once the application is lodged, an Application Receipt is issued (and needs to be retained).  The Act allows volunteer workers to start volunteer work as soon as the person has possession of the receipt.  Once application forms are assessed the volunteer will receive a WCC Check card in the mail.  This needs to be produced by the volunteer worker and a copy taken and filed by the office.

Children with Nut Product Allergies:   A most important issue for us is the growing number of children who suffer from a variety of allergies.  Most serious are those allergic to food products, often nuts and nut products, and their severe reaction known as anaphylaxis.  At Eltham North, we have a number of children who are in this category. 

The teaching staff has a number of procedures in place to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place.  Parents are requested to be very conscious of the danger that nuts and nut products (e.g. peanut butter, nutella chocolate spread) pose for these children.  We ask you to support the health of these children by not sending peanut products to school in your children’s lunches.  Peanut butter for breakfast and dinner but not for lunch.

If you are sending food for sharing, perhaps a birthday, we ask that we be informed prior to the time, so that the parents of these children are given the opportunity to provide a special treat for them on the day.

Medical Costs for Injuries at School:   The staff take special care to supervise students during school hours and we always seek to minimise risks to students and staff.  Parents are reminded that the Department does not provide personal accident insurance or ambulance cover for students. Parents and guardians of students, who do not have student accident insurance/ambulance cover, are responsible for paying the cost of medical treatment for injured students, including the cost of ambulance attendance / transport and any other transport costs. Parents/guardians can purchase insurance policies from commercial insurers

Personal property is often brought to school by students, staff and visitors. This can include mobile phones, calculators, toys, sporting equipment and cars parked on school premises. As the Department does not hold insurance for personal property brought to schools and has no capacity to pay for any loss or damage to such property students, parents and staff are discouraged from bringing any unnecessary or particularly valuable items to school. 

Students in the school grounds before 8.45 am or after 3.45 pm. We do not have any supervision for students at these times. Commencing next week, children found in grounds outside school time frames will be taken to the atrium area where their safety is better managed.  Children who are really early ( say before 8.30 am or after 4.00 pm will be taken to OSHC.  Parents will have to fund the payment associated with the OSHC program in this instance.

Have a wonderful week sharing the learning journey with your children.

David Foley

School Principal