Stay in the loop with key information from our Deputy Principal Geraldine Paynter to help prepare your family for a productive and positive school term.
Welcome to the 2023 school year! I am excited for what this new year will bring to us as a community, and I look forward to continuing to work with our staff, families and students to grow this wonderful community so it reflects all that God has called us to be! As with previous term communications, our commitment is to provide you with the information you will need to prepare well for the year and term ahead.
Our key communication tool with parents is the School e-newsletter, e-PhoCuS. This is emailed each Monday to PCS families and staff during school terms, with special editions throughout the year (e.g. beginning of term updates and the annual yearbook). If you have not received e-PhoCuS, please let us know. Class teachers, Year Advisors and other staff will continue to use direct email for communications of a smaller scale, as well as ClassDojo in Primary School.
In 2022 our School Leadership undertook a review of our timetable structures, with a view to enhance the operations of our day to best meet the learning, wellbeing and social needs of students across the school. We previously followed a traditional model (for example a 20 minute recess and 40 minute lunch break), and feedback from our Primary teachers has allowed us to be more responsive to the needs of students in the younger years. As of 2023, the School is moving to two, 30 minute breaks for all students, enabling sufficient time for active participation in play at each break. Pastoral Care times will be timetabled each day for K-12 (see PCS Pastoral Care structures).
All K-12 parents and 7-12 students will be able to log in to Daymap to find 2023 timetables and class allocations.
For Primary students: once you have logged in, go to ‘This Week’ in the left menu, then adjust the date to Week starting on 29/01/2022. Check your child’s class name against the teacher list below:
Class Teachers in the Primary Years are as follows:
Secondary students can log into Daymap for their timetables. Adjustments can be made when students attend their first day if needed, for example, changes to elective subjects.
We begin Term 1 with our compulsory summer uniform. PCS is blessed with a stylish and functional school uniform, and it is pleasing to see our students wearing it with pride. It is the responsibility of each family to ensure that high standards of uniform and personal presentation are maintained. Unfortunately, where staff need to address uniform issues, it affects our sense of community connection. Please help us to keep a positive tone in the school—where these kinds of conversations are not needed—by assuming this responsibility at home.
Our collective adherence and respect for these requirements are gifts of fairness to one another – teachers, other parents and students in our community. Students who return to school without meeting these requirements will be withdrawn from the playground until compliance is met; non-uniform breeds non-uniform, and we are committed to setting and maintaining high standards. Of course, where unavoidable issues arise or there are matters we need to consider (for example, where uniform sizes are unavailable), please contact your K-6 Class Teacher or Y7-11 Connect Mentor so we can accommodate any temporary needs and make allowances for unforeseen circumstances.
A new style and fit for our Sports Uniform is available in the Uniform Shop. This new uniform features an improved, more breathable and comfortable fabric for students.
PCS offers the opportunity for families to receive a credit on their school fees in exchange for assisting within the School in areas such as reading groups, iCentre/library admin, excursion supervision, and now our school canteen. Families who participate will receive a $15 per hour credit to their school fees account once a term, to a maximum of $120 credit per family in any one school year. This equates to just eight hours of your time a year—of course, you are welcome to assist for more hours than this!
To receive a PIP credit, all volunteer hours must be recorded in the PIP register at our Front Reception desk. Excess hours do not carry forward to the next year, and cannot be credited to other families. Please note that families who are in receipt of a scholarship or reduction on their fees are not eligible to receive financial credit for PIP hours. Mums, Dads, Grandparents and adult family members are all welcome to participate; each person requires a valid Working with Children Check (minimum Volunteer) available through Service NSW, and must have also attended one of our Volunteer Information Sessions since 2021.
Our Canteen Manager, Kitty Belle, is on the lookout for families who have time available to help in the canteen. This is a great way to earn PIP hours and be involved in the School community. If you are interested in this opportunity, please email Kitty.
It has been wonderful to visit the PCS OSHC Vacation care over the break. Our students have had a wonderful time together in planned activities by our OSHC Team. This facility operates onsite for K-6 PCS students, and provides a mix of structured and unstructured games, activities and quiet time for our students. Healthy snacks are provided at set times.
Our School is a very busy place, particularly at peak drop-off and pick-up times. Please adhere to the following protocols at all times, to ensure the safety of all students and parents in our carpark:
Foundational to our approach to wellbeing at PCS is the understanding that students learn best when they feel safe, valued and well. To further foster this culture amongst our students in 2023, we will introduce a new space at the beginning of each school day, called Pastoral Care Connect. This will be an intentional space, with students commencing their school day with their Mentor in their ‘Home Room’, where they will spend time developing supportive relationships within, and across, Year groups—discussing daily issues and being grounded in the truth and knowledge of God.
The Class Teacher will be the Mentor for K-6 students, leading students in a time of prayer and devotion following Assembly at the beginning of the day. Students will have opportunities to share news, sing songs of praise, and grow in their understanding of who God is and the love He has for them. Class Teachers will remain the first point of contact for parent communication, including PCS Awards, minor changes to routines, daily updates, etc.
Connect Groups in the Secondary Years will be carried out in groups of 14-17 students in the same grade – in Years 7-10, these groups will be single sex, while in Years 11 and 12, they will be mixed.
Each group will meet with a Mentor each morning, who will get to know each student well and foster that sense of value. Mentors will lead students through a structured time of devotion, discussion and prayer, relationship building activities and a Peer Mentoring program. Mentors will also be the point of contact for minor pieces of parent communication, including late arrivals, uniform issues, etc.
Year Advisors will remain the main point of contact for parent communication regarding any patterns of behaviour, wellbeing matters, school events and so on. They will be working with the Mentors to oversee the facilitation of several exciting new initiatives that will run during our Connect time. These initiatives are designed to complement our Biblical Studies programs.
Years 5-12 will use the Student Pulse app for a fun, easy 60-second weekly check-in, encouraging students to reflect on their mental, social and physical wellbeing by answering evidence-based questions. Key staff can then analyse data sets and target wellbeing interventions appropriately. We will also run the PeaceWise Youth program to equip our young people to deal with challenging relationships and conflict in healthy, constructive and life-changing ways. The Invictus Wellbeing program will run across several Year groups, encouraging students to live with an empowered sense of purpose and kindness in the way they interact with themselves, their world, and others. Programs such as Building Character and Resilience, Study Without Stress, Resilient Adolescent Program will also run for targeted Year groups.
We are looking forward to creating this new space for our students and truly believe it will have a significant impact on the way they approach their school day and live lives of purpose.
In late 2022, we launched The PCS Way, a new Positive Recognition program in our Primary Years. The program is now ready for whole-school implementation, recognising and rewarding student achievement, engagement, improvement, effort and initiative across three main areas:
Goals for achieving a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Principal’s Platinum Award are set at each award level, appropriate to the age and capacity to engage for students across the School. This is an exciting time for us as a School, and we look forward to greater recognition of our students for all the wonderful ways they contribute to PCS.
In Primary Years, class teachers will administer the program recognition through merit awards, while Secondary Year students will engage with The PCS Way with the support of their Pastoral Care Connect Mentors. Participation and initiative are key aspects of the program, and students will plan for their progression through the award levels, again, at an age-appropriate level. Examples include participation in school carnival events, student leadership, co-curricular participation, academic improvement and/or achievement, or school representation at an external event.
Primary families will receive a flyer of the program goals for each award level, while Secondary families can monitor progress in the 2023 Student Planners.
As part of our academic improvement strategy, all K-10 students will now participate in Progressive Achievement Tests (PAT) throughout the year. PAT Tests are diagnostic tools designed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to measure skill and knowledge progression in a range of domains in literacy and numeracy. These are low-stakes tests that do not contribute to a student’s school results and do not require students to prepare for. The results of these tests will be used by teachers to track student achievement over time to identify students who may benefit from extension opportunities and alert teachers to students who may need additional support with their learning, as part of an early intervention mechanism. Teachers will notify students when these tests will be taking place throughout the year. Students who miss a test will participate in catch-up sessions to help maintain our student learning data.
Year 12 students will participate in Mock Exams in Term 1, Week 5.
Mock Exams are non-weighted examinations which do not contribute to a student’s HSC in-school assessment, but simulate an HSC examination experience for students to reflect on their knowledge and understanding of the course, along with their capacity to recall this under timed conditions. This is a new initiative at PCS in 2023 to help students better prepare for the HSC. Students who fully embrace this opportunity will be able to reflect on their preparation for the HSC exams, identify learning strengths and pinpoint areas for intensive improvement. Further information will be communicated to students and parents in the lead up to these exams.
Formal exams will return to the assessment schedule for some courses in Stage 5 (Year 9 and Year 10) in Term 3 this year. These exams will help students refine their study skills and exam technique, and better prepare them for Year 11 and Year 12 where exam skills are essential. Students participating in exams will be notified by class teachers.
In the Secondary Years, classes are labelled as ‘P’, ‘C’ and ‘S’, and these classes have traditionally been mixed-ability classes. However, in response to PCS community feedback, qualifying students in Years 8-10 will now participate in an achievement class structure across some of their courses.
These achievement classes are differentiated from our mixed-ability classes to give high-potential students—those who have demonstrated a consistently committed and aspirational approach to their learning—the opportunity to learn in a more robust and rigorous environment. Teachers have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the students eligible for these classes, and a range of criteria have been used to determine the class lists. Students in these achievement classes will engage in the same assessment tasks as their peers in the grade, and all students will participate in the same learning content and skill development in their courses of study; however, the learning activities, classroom discussion and learning expectations will be differentiated to equip students to excel in their learning at a pace that is appropriate for them. The student lists for these classes may be flexible throughout the year to ensure that students in these classes are making the most of the learning opportunities available. Further communication will be distributed to those involved in this new initiative.
We are committed to growing life-long learners at PCS, and this includes our teaching staff. In 2023, teachers will have the opportunity to select from a number of courses being run by our Learning and Teaching and Senior Leadership teams to facilitate learning exchange between teachers. All teachers will focus on one aspect of their teaching, or will participate in a school improvement project over a minimum of 6 months. By engaging in professional readings, collegial discussion and individual reflections, teachers will be equipped with new pedagogies to embed in their teaching practice. We are excited to see what our teachers will achieve this year as we start this new program. Planning is already underway for 2024!
K-6 Chapel services will be held on Friday mornings at 8:30am in the Auditorium. Students will attend their classes as usual at 8:25am to place their bags at their rooms and for daily roll marking, then make their way to the Auditorium with their teachers. Parents attending Chapel are asked to enter via the Main Reception only; this will help us move our students into Chapel quickly.
Class teachers will let parents know when their class will be hosting Chapel, or for any special occasion involving their child. All parents are welcome to attend our weekly K-6 Chapel.
Parents are welcome onsite to drop-off or pick-up their children. Gates open at 7:55am each day; you might even like to stay for our short morning assembly time—Mondays all K-6 in the Lower COLA; Tuesday to Thursdays in the K-2 COLA and 3-6 Quad, respectively. Please assist us by arriving no later than 8.20am to allow time to walk your child to drop off their bag and return to the COLA or quadrangle if you choose to stay for assembly; students need to be at their class lines at 8:25am.
Morning assembly finishes at approximately 8:30am, and you can enter / exit through the main gates adjacent to the Kiss and Go. Please avoid using the Main Reception unless you are volunteering in our classrooms and need to sign in/out.
In the afternoons, gates open at 2:45pm and students will be dismissed at 2:55pm to the care of parents, or escorted to Kiss and Go or bus lines.
It is important that the School is aware of your child’s afternoon collection routines. Please provide your Afternoon Collection information here; this will be passed onto your child/ren's class teacher(s).
All K-2 students are to wear their Sports uniform on Mondays and Wednesdays, while Years 3-6 students are required to wear Sports uniform on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Tuesday afternoon sport and interest electives for Years 7-10 will return in 2023. Previously, these were incorporated within the timetable at different times for each Year group, however, these will now occur at the same time in Learning Session 5 (the final session of the day). Offerings include competitive representative sport options, House sport, creative arts, leisure sports and hobbies, and service opportunities, each led by teaching staff. Students will be able to elect their preferences in Week 1.
This program will enhance the wellbeing protective factors that we know help our young people grow and develop, by providing opportunities to learn something new, or even lead it! We are also looking for members of our community who have skills they could share; if you think you might be able to contribute for a term or more on Tuesday afternoons throughout the year (approximately one hour each week), contact PCS Sports. All skills and hobbies are welcome, including gardening, sewing, needlecrafts, and so much more!
All Year 7-10 students are to wear Sports uniform each Tuesday, for the entire day. Students must bring their PDHPE uniforms to change for PDHPE practical lessons; PDHPE teachers will advise of these lessons. Senior students must retain their Sports uniform for use at school carnivals and on representative occasions.
PCS is privileged to be the lead school in the Key Alliance, providing excellence in vocational education through our Trade Training Centre to our own students, as well other students from neighbouring schools, including St Paul’s Grammar, Wycliffe CS, Penrith Anglican College, Nepean CS and The Lakes CS. We are pleased to announce that Mr Martin Bishop will be leading the school’s VET programs and coordinating the Key Alliance program of studies. This year we have added the Allied Health /Nursing course, after much hard work to have this course available for students. Additionally, courses are available in Automotive, Child Care, Electrotechnology, Construction, Hospitality and Information & Digital Technology. These courses are available for students in Years 11 and 12 to study as part of their HSC pattern of study. If you would like more information about VET studies in the senior years, please email Mr Bishop.
To enable the School to meet its compliance requirements in the senior years, it has become necessary to hold some classes after school hours. This is a very common practice amongst independent schools, in particular where shorter term times place time pressures on meeting hours. For some schools, classes are held during school holidays to comply with hours needed, and while this option was considered, it was not pursued due to the possible impact this might have on family holidays and other responsibilities students may have at these times. We have gone with the more common practice of holding classes after-hours; students will see these represented on their timetables if this applies to them.
This model was also presented at Subject Selection evening and in the relevant student handbook. Again, please check timetables (available from 20 January on Daymap) to see if this applies to your child. Classes will begin at 3:00pm and conclude at 4:00pm. To assist with family logistics, students are able to remain at school until 5:00pm in the iCentre to engage in study until they can be collected.
Our Centre has reopened for onsite drop off and pick-up by parents and carers. Please enter the Centre through our Toddler Room, and help your child settle in for the morning. Staff will be available to help with unpacking of bags, finding your child’s hat, and sunscreen application where required. It will help us tremendously if you can ensure sunscreen has been applied to your child before arriving at ELC.
iPads are in the foyer to sign your child/ren in and out; please ensure you have completed this process before leaving the premises. If you have forgotten your PIN code, please find a staff member who can help you with this.
Our ELC provides a helpful K-6 sibling collection service at school pick-up time, walking them to the Centre so you can do the one pick-up for both your ELC and Primary school children. Look out for an upcoming Storypark post for further details and to opt-in your family if you would like this service. You will also need to inform your Primary child's teacher via the Afternoon Collection Form.
Pick-up occurs under the COLA near the Kindergarten classrooms at 2:55pm. If your circumstances change and older siblings do not need collection, please inform Katrina as early as possible on the day, so we can ensure an accurate pick-up list for each day. Any Primary children that are not at the pick-up zone in a timely manner, will be assumed absent from school and the remaining children will be brought to ELC for collection.