Hello everyone,The start of a new term is always exciting as the school bursts into life with teachers and students all happy to be back working and learning together.We are currently working with the Embedding Excellence Program, an AIS initiative aimed at helping us to evaluate our performance and then make plans for improvement across the school. The first step in this process is to work with the Vision, Mission and Values of the school. Our teaching staff participated in a workshop on the first day of term and we are now inviting parents to join in the process of developing a Vision, Mission and Values statement which accurately reflects who we are now as a school and what we aspire to be. Please see the invitation attached in this bulletin. I encourage you to join us and be a part of this process.
As a further part of this program, we will be surveying teachers, support staff, some year levels of students, and the parent community. Emails will be sent out next Monday with the link to the survey, please do take the time to complete the survey and share your thoughts and ideas about our school.
Winter has arrived and, whilst we do not have the experience of “Winter’s snow”, we nevertheless feel the change of the cold, crisp air, the clear winter night skies and the shorter days and longer nights. We can also feel the change of the seasons within ourselves. This is a more reflective time, a time when we can sense the need to “come inside” and experience our own selves in the stillness. It is a lovely thing to take the time to quietly consider what it is that spiritually sustains each of us through all of the year.
Throughout the school, preparations are underway for our Winter Festival. When I walked through the school this week there were High School children working away at making lanterns, primary school students practising beautiful festival songs and fire twirlers making their magic in the (empty) car park.
The celebration of festivals is a very important aspect of Steiner education. It is a wonderful opportunity for parents to take time to experience with their child a connection to the natural world and to give acknowledgement to something beyond busy every day activity. As they move through the school the children of all ages become familiar with the rhythm and certainty of the seasons and calendar of festivals. It brings certainty and security in a world of so much uncertainty. The beauty and traditions provide enrichment and allow everyone who participates to feel connected to the world and to each other.
We appeal to you to find ways to acknowledge the festivals through making the time to attend or being involved in discussions with your child about the meaning of each festival or season as it arises. Lantern making is a world-wide Steiner activity and the deeper meaning of bringing light into darkness is something that will live beyond the actual festival evening. Perhaps now is the time for you to start working on your own lantern to join our lantern walk during the Winter Festival.
I am writing this as we make the long trip back from the Year 7 camp at Bingara. We have had a wonderful week…… Incredible watching the students working and living together and pushing themselves to take on new challenges. We had the extra challenge of some rainy weather (and a short but intense storm), however this didn’t stop us from having an amazing time.
The learning that happens on camp is so very important. Every child (and teacher) comes back from a camp knowing a little more about themselves and how they can stand in the world.
The daylight hours certainly seem to be noticeably shorter and suddenly our thoughts are moving from Autumn towards the coming Winter season and, of course, our Winter festival. The weather is certainly quite changeable at the moment – with the much colder mornings being counterbalanced by some quite warm and sunny afternoons. At this time of the year, we always seem to find our lost property bins overflowing as children shed their many layers during the day and forget to take them home. If your child’s wardrobe is suddenly looking very empty, please do check our lost property bins.
Today a team of students attended the Regional Cross Country finals. Our team represented our school beautifully, showed wonderful sportsmanship and maturity and achieved outstanding results. Our school placed fourth overall and several of our students placed highly in their events. Congratulations to all of the students who participated and thank you to Ric and Lizzie for putting so much effort into ensuring the day was a success. It is important that our students have the opportunity to mix with students from other schools in a range of cultural, educational and sporting events.
This week, parents of students in Class 5 and 6 had the opportunity to listen to a presentation on cybersafety, provided by the Police Community Liaison Officer. Technology is not something we should be afraid of, however it is very important that parents understand some of the risks and dangers inherent in the technology available today, particularly in relation to some of the social networking applications. I note with interest that the Police Officer strongly advised parents to think carefully before providing primary school aged children access to smart phones (which are in essence, just portable computers).
Next week I will be joining the Year 7 students on their horse-riding camp. I am so excited that I have the opportunity to spend this time with our newest High School students ……. time to polish up the riding boots and pull out my swag in preparation.
The autumn weather is well and truly upon us, with chilly nights with beautiful clear skies and sparkling stars, damp and misty mornings and then days of warm sunshine. I like to think of this as the Goldilocks time of the year – not too hot, not too cold…. but just right for learning and playing.
Yesterday morning I tiptoed down to Kindy, drawn by the smell of cooking and also the faint but delicate aroma of something special being made for Mothers’ Day. It is always such a privilege to spend some time watching the serious business of play happening in so many different ways: cubby houses, kings and queens and a serious construction site in the corner.
I was glad I had had some Kindy time in the morning, as my afternoon was taken up with dealing with the very unfortunate article printed in the Sydney Morning Herald which misrepresented our school as being linked with cheating in the HSC last year. I feel upset and angry for our wonderful teachers and students that such a link was made. I have responded by doing an interview with ABC radio and also Katie and I have written to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. The text of our letter is as follows:
To the Editor,
We are writing in relation to the article “The many ways to (attempt) to cheat in the HSC”, published on page 7 of todays Sydney Morning Herald. This article was based on information provided by BOSTES about cheating in HSC exams last year.
In the centre of the article was a graphic and text box with a list naming the schools with the “highest level of misadventure applications (% of HSC Cohort)”. Our school, Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School, was listed second with a figure of 25%. To place this list in the centre of this article incorrectly links misadventure applications with cheating. BOSTES require a high standard of documentation and evidence to accompany any misadventure applications, with provision for special consideration being made in genuine cases to ensure students who have suffered misadventure are not disadvantaged.
We are a small, single-stream Steiner school. Last year we had a class of 24 students sit their HSC. A small number of those students unfortunately suffered misadventure and made application to BOSTES, with appropriate evidence attached. It is very unfortunate that your newspaper has chosen to represent this in such a way that it could be linked with cheating or malpractice.
Our teachers are extremely dedicated, our processes are very thorough and we are very proud of our students and their genuine achievements. Of our small HSC class last year, one of our students ranked 1st in the state in drama, 3 of our students were chosen to perform at the Encore performances at the Sydney Opera House (chosen as among the best music students in the state) and a number of our students achieved scores above 90% in their subjects.
Your article has incorrectly linked our school with HSC cheating and has potentially damaged the reputation of the school, our wonderful teachers and our dedicated students. We ask that you print an apology and make it clear that Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School has not been linked with cheating in the HSC.
Nerrida Johnson and Katie Biggin
Principal Deputy Principal
I want to be very clear to our school community that there is absolutely no link between misadventure applications and cheating. The NSW Board of Studies have not linked our school to cheating, nor have they linked the process of making misadventure applications to cheating. Katie and I absolutely stand by our teachers and students. If you have any questions about this media article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Hello everyone and welcome back to a new term. I hope everyone had an enjoyable term break. As always, it was wonderful to see our students bringing the school back to life after their break.
This week we welcomed a group of our senior students back from their trip to Vietnam. They all look tired, but are filled to the brim with stories of adventures, experiences and encounters from their visit to a country with such a different culture to our own. We hope to make this valuable learning experience available to students every two years. I am grateful to Rachel Knight and Katie Biggin for putting so much effort into organising this camp and for giving up some of their holiday time to travel with our students. I look forward to seeing some of their stories in next week’s bulletin.
Over the last few weeks I have enjoyed watching some of our senior primary students running around the school as they practise for the upcoming cross country running event. This event, shared with the High School, is an important part of our sporting calendar and a great opportunity for students to train and participate in a fun physical activity together.
Lastly, my visit to the Goetheanum to participate in the ‘Transitions’ conference was a a wonderful experience. The workshops I presented were booked out with participants from all over the world. It was a wonderful experience to spend time with educators, researchers and medical practitioners from the global Steiner community. I will be giving a version of the workshops I presented, for both parents and teachers, later this term.
Back at home, Teera and Katie have been working hard in my absence and managing all of those wonderful activities that come with the last week of term. It has certainly been a busy term with many camps and excursions, new teachers and students settling in, work towards the adoption of a new constitution and a BOSTES inspection. I would like to thank all of our wonderful staff and the school community for helping to make the school such a wonderful, enriching and nurturing place for our students this term.
Have a safe and enjoyable Easter break and we look forward to seeing you again next term.
“When autumn mists gather
and leaves fall gently down.
New strength in me rises
to bear life’s waiting crown”
What a beautiful autumn festival we experienced this morning. With the mist rising in the valleys and the dew on the grass, there was a gentle hint of autumn in the warm air. With singing and playing, verses and dances and reverent contributions to the harvest table, we celebrated the changing season with our lovely school community. Autumn is the time when we move from the outward activities of the summer towards the more inward, reflective time of winter. On the way, through the autumn months, we ‘come back to ourselves’ and this can feel a little unsettling. This is the time we are called on to find the strength to work through the grumbles and inner instability to be our true ‘better selves.’ Our students showed a beautiful example of this with their participation in the festival today.
Our Year 9 students have been sailing the high seas (well the bay at least) on their camp. I have heard that they had a wonderful time and there are some very tired and happy students (and teachers) heading for home as I write this. Next week, our Year 8 students finally head out on their camp. They have been waiting patiently since the camp was postponed a couple of weeks ago due to bad weather.
Finally, I would like to apologise for the ‘absent student’ text messages which were mistakenly sent out today to many parents. We have a problem with our administration software system which is causing the text messages to be sent out. We are in contact with the software support team and are attempting to rectify the problem and ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are in the process of transferring to a new system and hopefully will have no further problems in the future.
One of the things that still amazes me about our climate is the way Autumn just seems to arrive overnight. Whilst we are still getting warm days (sometimes even quite hot days), the nights are cooler and there is often dew on the grass in the mornings. With the change of the seasons, comes a change in our own beings as we “come in” from the summer experience of being out in the cosmos (think of the bbqs, parties, camps, travel and social life of the summer months). As we start the movement back in towards the quieter, more reflective times of winter, we often can feel a little unsettled as we “meet ourselves” again and have to deal with our thoughts and feelings, and reflections about ourselves and others.
As teachers, we often find Autumn a time when there are playground disputes and flare-ups and when social relationships between children can be a bit tested. The teachers in the primary school work with this by sharing stories with the children which demonstrate courage and the finding of strength and integrity to do what is right and good (the story of St George and the Dragon is a good example of this). As adults we can lead by example, trying to find our own courage, integrity and strength to deal with the issues that confront and unsettle us. This is truly an interesting, sometimes challenging time of the year and one that offers great opportunities for growth and learning.
This week I hosted a morning tea for our Year 12 students. It was lovely to spend some time with our senior students, chatting about their studies and their experiences as they move towards their last months at the school. I am struck by their maturity and the way they hold the lovely balance between confidence in who they are and uncertainty, excitement and determination as they move towards the end of their days at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School.
After our unexpected long weekend, it was really lovely to get back to a full week of school with some sunshine to help. Whilst the rain on Friday was not quite as heavy as expected (thankfully) there were still a number of families and teachers who experienced flooding near their homes. We will always take the advice of the local SES and the AIS when it comes to predicted severe weather events and, in the case of last week, the advice was very clearly to close for the day.
In the last week I have been fortunate enough to attend two High School events where our students have had opportunities to show leadership. The Swimming Carnival provides many opportunities for students to demonstrate leadership, sportsmanship and camaraderie. Congratulations to those Year 12 students particularly, who came along to the carnival, participated fully and showed a fine example for the younger students. I know that several of the students had important assignments due, but still turned up and put in a great effort. The other event I attended was the High School Assembly. Our senior students usually host the assemblies and do so with wonderful poise and humour.
Finally, it is great to see so many parents attending class meetings across all levels of the school. These meetings are such an important avenue for communication between teachers and parents and help to keep the partnerships between school and home strong. Our teachers put quite a bit of work into preparing for the meetings and I know they are always pleased to see a good turn-out.
The newsletter is coming to you a bit early this week as we have had to make the decision to close the school tomorrow (Friday) due to a forecasted severe weather event with heavy rains and flash flooding predicted. It is not an easy decision to close the whole school down for a day, however we have been advised by both the SES and the AIS that this is what we should do. Safety will always be at the forefront of school decisions and, in this case, the safer decision is not to have our children out on the roads tomorrow. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause parents and hope you all stay safe and dry tomorrow.
We do have a Year 8 camp due to head out next week. Katie, Ric and I will talk tomorrow evening and make a decision about whether this will need to be postponed (depending on how the weather situation develops over the next 24 hours). Parents of Year 8 students will be notified of any changes over the weekend.
This morning I attended the Primary School assembly. As this regular event is something most parents do not get to experience, I thought I might provide you with a little glimpse into what happens. The children all line up in their classes outside the Performance Hall. They are very quiet and there is an air of expectation. When all is ready, the Class 6 ushers lead each class into the hall in silence. This morning Loani was playing a very beautiful and gentle song quietly on the piano as the children walked in. After a lovely song together, a candle is lit and each class provides an item for the centre table: flowers, a shell, a beautiful rock or a special little ornament – soon the table is a thing of beauty gracing the centre of the room. After this, two Class 6 students read the Acknowledgement of Country before introducing each class. Each class brings a small presentation as a gift to the assembled student – a song, a verse, a dance or some music. The assembly finishes with some announcements from teachers, introductions of new students (and teachers) to the school and a final song together with Loani. After this the special items from the centre table are returned to each class and they file out of the hall, quietly singing. During the whole assembly there is a beautiful air of reverence and respect. The Primary School teachers have worked hard to create this special feeling in the assemblies and it is truly a privilege to witness them.
As February rolls on and we are experiencing the lovely wet-season patterns of rain and warm sunshine, life in the school is now settling into our lovely school day and week patterns. Students are more settled in their classroom routines and we are all enjoying the gentle rhythms of work, activity, stillness and play (yes, even the teachers and support crew love to have some moments of play in our day).
I was fortunate to be able to attend the Kindergarten parent meeting last week. There were many familiar faces and a few new faces too. The parent meeting structure we have all across the school ensures that parents can come together at least twice a year (and sometimes more often) to be updated on what is happening at school, share with other parents and, often, listen to a short talk in relation to child development or our educational philosophy. The Class Meetings are also an opportunity to ask questions and, time and circumstance permitting, join in discussion around a range of topics. The class meetings really are an important part of the relationship between school and parents and I very strongly encourage parents to attend.
Finally, this year we are focusing on ‘Sustainability’ as a general theme. There are already some changes happening across the school as we seek to find more sustainable pathways on an individual and school level. Some of our teachers and support staff are choosing to car-pool to reduce their carbon emissions. I would like to encourage parents to consider either car-pooling or, preferably, utilising the bus service to transport children to school. If we can reduce the number of car trips to and from school, even by just a small amount, we can reduce our impact on the environment.
Week two is almost over and what a full and fulfilling week it has been at school. We have had a very smooth start to the school year and all of our teachers and students are quickly settling into the routine of the day and week.
I enjoyed a lovely visit down to kindergarten early in the week and was delighted to see some of our newest students playing, listening and exploring their new school surroundings. The kindergarten is such a gentle and joyful space where the experience of early childhood is really protected and nourished.
This morning it was wonderful to watch some of our Year 9 students playing running games with the Class 3 students during their recess break. Last year these High School students met and spent time with their Class 2 buddies and wrote and published story books for them. It was great to see that the relationships they built have continued and that they continue to want to spend time together.
I have been spending some time with the Year 7 class, during their maths lessons each week. I am so impressed with the way they have made the transition into the High School. We have been working hard to develop our transition program and the feedback this year is that the students are doing a great job in their new High School surroundings. Well done Year 7 students and thank you Brook and Joseph for supporting your Class so well.
Finally, some of our senior students will be heading over to Vietnam for a cultural study trip at the end of the term. They will be visiting a local school and an orphanage on their trip and are now fundraising and collecting items to give on their visit. Please see information from these students elsewhere in the bulletin and give support if you can. Learning how to gaze outwards and offer service to the wider world is a really important part of healthy adolescent growth and it would be great if we, as a community could support our students in this endeavour.
Welcome back to the new school year. It was wonderful to see our students arriving back to school with big smiles, stories of holiday adventures and excitement about the year ahead. For the teachers and support staff who have been working to prepare the school, the return of the students is such an exciting and happy time – our school comes to life when our students are here.
We finished last year on such a high note, with incredible HSC results and a graduating class who really made us proud. This year started on an equally positive note. The Class One students were so excited to walk up the hill and enter their new classroom one by one to present their new teacher, Teresa, with a rose and join the circle as Class One children. The ceremony was very moving, with accompanying music (thank you Loani, Robbie and Ian for the violin, cello and flute accompaniment) and beautifully reverent children. Teera and I may even have had to wipe away a tear or two.
We welcome our new teachers, Teresa in Class One, Mat in Class Six and Andy in the High School Maths Department. We also welcome Lucille into our Administration Team as our new receptionist.
This will be an exciting and busy term. There will be a introduction morning tea for new families next Monday. I look forward to meeting our new families, having a chat and answering any questions about the school. The morning tea will be held in the canteen area, please ask at reception if you don’t know where to go.
At the end of the term, I will be presenting a workshop at the International conference, “Transitions in Childhood - from Birth to 14 Years”, at the Goetheanum in Switzerland. (The Goetheanum is the world centre for Anthroposophically based activities, including Steiner Education.) The workshop I will be presenting will be about how to work with the changes which occur in the child between the ages of 8 and 10 years. It is an honour and an exciting opportunity to be asked to do this (and just a little bit terrifying for me). I hope to be able to present a version of the workshop for our own community in Term Two.
Finally, the College of Teachers has decided that this year our whole school initiative this year will be focused on Sustainability – for the individual, the school, the community and our planet. We will be working on ways to improve our sustainability on all of these levels, with our staff meeting to create some initial action plans next week. As one way of trying to act in a more personally sustainable way, we will be continuing our striving to create a more sustainable work-life balance for staff by asking that staff not send or reply to emails at night or on the weekends wherever possible. (Of course we are always willing to respond to absolute emergencies as they arise). I ask that parents also consider this and try not to send school based emails to staff members at night or on weekends (and please consider carefully whether an email needs to be sent at all). Ideally, all emails to teaching staff members should be sent through the reception email address reception@ http://capebyronsteiner.nsw.edu.au, rather than to teachers’ individual email addresses. Your support with this initiative will help to make our staff members’ lives a little more sustainable.
I look forward to catching up with as many parents as possible at upcoming Class Meetings, Friday markets and at the many school events which happen during the year. If you have any feedback, ideas or issues to discuss, I am happy to talk with you.
Holidays: 9.00 am - 3.30 pm
Fax: (02) 6684 7399
Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School
We are an independent, co-educational, non-sectarian school providing education from Kindergarten through Grade 12.