Parkhill Primary School Newsletter

Issue 34, Thursday October 25 2018

Principal's Message

Dear Parents/Carers,

I have dedicated the Newsletter this week to discussing the 2019 class structure, composite classes and teaching pedagogy. I am keen to have a conversation with any families who have things they would like to clarify, raise or chat through. I am very aware, and fully acknowledge, that for some of you the composite model is new. Any questions which seek understanding are always encouraged.

Department schools are funded based on the number of students they have. Next year our roll has dropped because we are losing a larger Y6 cohort and gaining a smaller intake of Foundation students. Many schools in our area are experienceing similar trends.

To accommodate this smaller 2019 student cohort, Parkhill will restructure our class model into 11 classes rather than the current 14 classes.

The new structure will be as follows:

3x Foundation/Y1 composite classes

3x Y2/3 composite classes

2x straight Y4 classes

3x Y5/6 composite classes

A few things came out of discussions with staff that I would again like to share with you. Please be aware that our curriculum structure won’t change. All core subjects are ‘standards’ driven by individual students’ needs, and are now levelled per year group under the Victorian Curriculum. The classes will be complied, as always, considering the balance of academic levels, behaviour and the social needs of the students within the year levels. Teachers meet childrens’ needs through a balance of explicit teaching, differentiation, individual conferencing, goal setting and feedback as they do currently. Composite classes have been a feature at Parkhill in the past, including a Foundation/Y1 mixed aged class.

I often reference John Hattie’s research on effect size and invite you read more about the composition of classes and impact that this has on student learning. Other educational research also supports Hattie’s evidence base. Anderson & Parvon (1993) analysed 64 research studies in the US and Canada and found that schools with composite classes were most likely to benefit children from all circumstances and all ability ranges.

A major review of international research into multi-age classes was undertaken by Veenman (1995 & 1996). He investigated 56 different studies from 12 countries (including Australia) and found that the academic performance of pupils in composite classes was no worse or no better than that of pupils in single-age classes.

Whilst research into academic aspects of composites shows it makes no difference to performance whether students are in a straight year group or in a multi-age class – it’s the teacher who makes the difference – there is evidence to suggest that composites enhance self-esteem, decrease behavioural problems, reduce the impact of labelling, encourage the formation of positive communities and lead to social growth.

It is hugely relevant to note that the teaching staff at Parkhill are excited about teaching in the mixed aged groups. We will be able to, under the new model, add Education Support staff into every class for portions of the week to support teachers and students. We will be able to extend the provision of our Garden Program to accommodate the Y2 cohort, and possibly further. We will restructure our Program of Inquiry and continue to develop the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) foci areas throughout the school.

If you have any requests or things that you feel you would like to share with me at this point please do email me your thoughts, or catch me on the playground. Any suggestions around your child’s class placement should be made with their learning needs in mind. The processes we have in place at Parkhill for grouping children is very thorough and includes input from all staff across the school – we value the knowledge our Education Support staff, Specialist and Classroom teachers have about the children and how they learn best. Social grouping often has a massive impact upon this. If you have any thoughts which you would like to share now is the time to do so.

Below are some questions which I have been asked over the past few days:

Previously the learning groups have been F, 1&2, 3&4, 5&6. How will this alter the curriculum structure for F, 1, 2, 3 under the proposed model for 2019?

Curriculum structure won’t change – all core subjects are standards driven by individual students’ needs, and are now levelled per year group. The Program of Inquiry will become a rolling program – so the F/1 grade will complete the Y1 units and the curriculum content will be amended as we go to ensure coverage. Similarly the Y2/3 will complete the Y3 units and the content reviewed to ensure coverage. This is the model used by most schools who run composite classes.

Would the classes be streamed?

Streaming has no evidence base for meeting childrens’ needs. The classes would be complied as always considering balance of academic levels, behaviour and social needs. Teachers meet the childrens’ needs through individual conferencing, goal setting and feedback as they do currently. Generally speaking there is little difference in how we manage composite classes or straight year levels.

Given Foundation to Y1 is such a big leap in learning and adjusting to school life, how are the teachers going to be supported to enable teaching to this (even greater than normal) skill and school readiness level?

We will have supported Foundation – in fact support throughout the school - with Education Support staff. Having taught a F/Y1 mixed age group myself and spoken to others who have experienced this combination, we find the growth in the Foundation students is really good – they have a buddy all day who already know the school routines and classroom expectations, etc.

There would be the potential for a very large age range in a F/Y1 class. Are the Foundation students going to feel confident to ask questions, etc. with the older, more capable children in the classroom?

This is about classroom culture and the teachers who work in these groups will be well considered.

Would there be any instances where siblings were in the same year level under the new model?

Yes – but not the same class, unless requested and discussed.

Will Science be returning as a specialist subject?

No – STEAM is a way of thinking about all learning – the Science content is covered in context through our Inquiry Program. This is the perfect opportunity for us to restructure our Program of Inquiry and continue to develop the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) foci areas throughout the school.

How would Y3/4 camp proceed under the new model?

There would be no change – obviously some logistic considerations for the Y2 during this week.

How will the teacher cater for Foundation students who are just learning how to be at school and learning literacy basics, i.e., alphabet, sounds etc., alongside the Y1 students who are ready to move on? Will the Y1 students have to go through the letter of the week, etc. again?

Teachers cater for every student at their point of need. We no longer look at learning and teaching in year levels or age. We are all aware that every child is different and although we see common developmental traits, their learning is different from child to child. Teachers teach at the point of need for each student regardless of class make up. Individual goal setting, conferencing, feedback, explicit teaching, etc. are just some of the strategies employed to do this. Education Support staff are in place to support the teacher in meeting the students’ needs – they are not teachers and will not teach children new content. Their role is to be a support to the teacher and the students.

Why can't there be one straight Foundation class, one straight Y1 and one Foundation/Y1 composite?

There are many reasons why the model for 2019 did not include a mixture of composite classes. Fairness and equity across the school, teacher collegiality and curriculum planning are some of the most prominent. There are also issues around how we ‘select’ which students are in which class. The 2019 model offers all children the same opportunity within their peer groupings.


Thank you again to everyone who has added ideas to our Vision Board. Judy McKinty has completed her play survey – the recommendations are really helpful for us as we engage with our landscape architect in coming weeks. We are keen to replace the lost play equipment and develop new exciting natural play zones when the old Y3/4 portables are removed.

Here are some of the interesting discussion points that came from Judy’s report:


Most of the play of the older students at Parkhill is sport-oriented. Boys outnumber girls in Y5 and Y6, and this is reflected in the way they spend their time at recess and lunch time. With the removal of the old adventure playground, particularly the flying fox, there is no focus for the activities of the senior students, both boys and girls. The new landscaped areas are flat and offer little in the way of physical play possibilities, except perhaps for Parkour-type activities – going from one place to another by running along the logs and seating, jumping over the rocks, etc.

The removal of the Y3/4 portable classrooms will open up more space for play. There is a wonderful opportunity here for multi-level play for the senior students, as the ground under the building is sloping and right next to the Y5/6 classrooms – a potential place for a long slide set into a slope with natural elements providing different levels.

Students in Y5 and Y6 respond positively to playful outdoor activities that are fun, challenging and have an element of perceived risk. Previous interviews with children in this age-group have shown that they enjoy climbing and being off-ground, and frequently use raised platforms, decks and terraces for play, or colonise them for gatherings of friendship groups.

In designing outdoor spaces for older children, it may be helpful to approach them in terms of 'playfulness' of the environment, rather than 'play and games'. A playful environment offers a lot of play possibilities for all ages.

Thoughtfully-designed play environments appeal to both boys and girls, help to build confidence and social skills and support a wide range of physical activities and abilities. If children are part of the planning and design process the result will have more relevance to their play requirements and have a better chance of being accepted and adopted by them.


At the moment, the new Prep area is waiting to be transformed into an interesting and fun place to play for the youngest children in the school. In the meantime, it may be fun for them to use the concrete slab as a place for chalk-drawing. Drawing is an enjoyable activity for young children – boys as well as girls. The chalk is inexpensive and washes off with the next rain or wears away as it is walked on, so the area is continually being transformed and refreshed. Chalk-drawing is an excellent means of self-expression, and the pictures often reflect what the children have been learning about inside the classroom. Chalk-drawing could be an ongoing activity in this space.

The old Prep adventure playground has disappeared, and there is no 'little play house' in the current adventure playground, so it might also be useful to consider constructing a simple wooden shelter somewhere in the new Prep area, large enough to be used by groups of children for imagination and role-playing games. Depending on the game, it could be transformed into a palace, a shop, a spaceship, a house, stables, a plane, a vet's waiting room, a jail and any other place that's possible, or even impossible. The simpler the design, the more scope there will be for the children to place the layers of their imagination upon it. If it is used in conjunction with natural materials, large and small and moveable, the creative possibilities are endless. These types of play structures are a stimulus for imagination games for both boys and girls, and allow young children to play out their understanding of life and the society around them, and try to make sense of the world.

Rocks and logs can be grouped nearby, to enable the creation of a second, but linked, imaginary place for the participants in the game.


Thinking about how the asphalt area is being used at the moment, it may be helpful to stimulate some new play there, particularly for girls. The provision of 'play boxes' of loose equipment would enrich the children's play immediately, and encourage more active participation outdoors. The play equipment could be based around traditional games like skipping, elastics and hopscotch, and could contain long and short ropes, coloured elastic loops, large pieces of pavement chalk for drawing hopscotch patterns and small objects to throw into the squares. There could also be some more challenging equipment like diabolos, which are particularly fascinating to boys. These are all relatively inexpensive play materials, but would involve girls in more active play, increase their play repertoire and enliven recess and lunch times.


At the moment the orchard is quite a large area of the schoolyard which is surrounded by a fence, so the children don't go there. In the orchard grow different kinds of fruit trees, which are covered with blossom and very beautiful at the moment. This is another natural environment in the school, different to the other bushy areas because the fruit trees go through a cycle of growth and are changing throughout the year. If the orchard is cleaned up and the fence removed, the children will have access to an area which offers nature play in a changing environment. Through their play, they will become familiar with the trees and their cycle of growth and rest. This informal learning will complement the gardening program which is already an enjoyable part of the school curriculum. This may be a good location for cubbies, provided there are enough loose materials for everyone so the trees are not damaged in the hunt for play resources.

Talking with the children and involving them in the development of the orchard as a play space will give them a sense of ownership, and will help in deciding the kind of play that is to happen there and how it will be managed.


Shrubs with bushy foliage can be planted to form natural screens between playing areas, creating informal spaces for role-play and imagination games, to be alone with a book or for sitting and chatting. Deciduous plants mark the passing of the year and their colourful leaves are a seasonal resource for play.

Careful selection and location of plants for aesthetic and practical purposes allows children to experience the natural environment through all their senses: cool shade beneath trees; the textures of bark and leaves; the vibrant colours of flowers; the scent of eucalypts on a hot day; whispery wind in casuarinas; the taste of fresh-picked tomato and basil on a student's pizza. It enables them to become familiar with the patterns of nature – seasonal changes, growth and rest, colours and textures, flowers, fruits and foliage.


A sufficient number of carefully-placed rocks, stumps and logs in the outdoor play environment will generate a wide range of games and play possibilities. A stump can be used for sitting, standing and stepping on, as a table for 'mud pies' or a platform for displaying a collection of stones or Pokemon cards. If the children can move the stump around it has even more potential. Rocks in a dry creek bed, combined with sticks and leaves, are tools for creative play and the manipulation of natural materials.

Large rocks and logs are fixed elements – they can be used for gross physical movement like jumping and climbing, for balancing or sitting on, or in role-play and imagination games. Apart from their use as seats, steps and retaining walls, the logs and rocks with the most play potential are not smooth and rounded, but are strangely-shaped, with hollows and holes, roots, whorls, knobs, 'handles' and 'secret' cavities. 'Potions' can be mixed in a rock hole, and a play tradition is born when a log becomes a 'space ship', with specific controls formed from the bumps and nodules in the log, to be used by generations of children in the same way.


Any change brings some level of worry and many questions – I really do encourage you to come to see myself or Michelle if you have anything you are unsure of. Often playground conversation is not based around correct information and gossip can build anxiety about issues that are not valid. Please do come and chat with me – I am readily available on the playground both before and after school most days, send an email or call the school.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Elaine Brady


Calendar of Curriculum Events

Friday 26 October - Y2 Sleepover

Thursday 1 November - PFA Colour Run & Bring It Breaky

Friday 2 November - Y3 Eureka Skydeck Excursion

Monday 5 November - Curriculum Day (students do not attend on this day)

Tuesday 6 November - Melbourne Cup Day (students do not attend on this day)

Wednesday 7 November - Friday 9 November - Y3/4 Camp

Wednesday 7 November - Foundation 2019 Transition Session 1 & Foundation Senses Incursion

Wednesday 14 November - Foundation 2019 Transition Session 2

Tuesday 20 November - Athletics Carnival

Wednesday 21 November - Foundation 2019 Transition Session 3

Wednesday 28 November - Foundation 2019 Transition Session 4

Thursday 29 November - Bring it Breaky

Thursday 6 December - Monday 10 December - Link Dental Van

Thursday 6 December - Fun, Food and Carols

Tuesday 11 December - Move Up Day

Wednesday 12 December - Awards Assembly at 9:15am

Tuesday 18 December - Winning House Lunch

Wednesday 19 December - Y6 Graduation

Thursday 20 December - Y6 Big Day Out

Friday 21 December - Term 4 ends at 1:30pm

Student of the Week

FS - Harley G

FT - Gemma S

1B - Kick R

1H - Alicia M

2C - Martin K

2N - Alexis R

3M - Ben F

3R - Ashlan T

4G - Sam B

4O - Liam H

5H - James W

6CM - Noah C

6L - Yaqoob S

Bring It Breaky

Our next “Bring it Breaky” is coming up and we’d love you to come enjoy breakfast with us.

When: Thur 1st Nov, 9:00-9:30am

Where: Staffroom

Who: All welcome

Please bring something you would enjoy for breakfast to share (or just bring yourselves).

Second Hand Uniform Stall and Polo Shirt Sale!

We will be holding a Second Hand Uniform Stall after school on Tuesday 30 October at 3.30pm. We will also be selling the “old” stock of polo shirts for $15 each! The new polo shirts are due to arrive in the Uniform Shop in the next few weeks. Remember that there is no time limit to change over to the new polo shirt so this is a good opportunity to pick up some spare polos! We will also be selling the polo shirts out of the office so there’s no need to worry if you can’t make it to the stall on Tuesday.

Being Brave Day

Tuesday was Being Brave Day and we celebrated in true style! There were lots of activities about being brave and showing resilience all day. In the morning we mixed it up and had some fun in other classes, and after recess we spent some time with our buddies. We had a whole school buddy lunch before play. At the end of the day we saw a Being Brave show with Rachel and Grady from Brainstorm Productions. We are all brave hearts!

Michelle Smith

Assistant Principal

Big picture

ICAS Mathematics & English

Last term 63 students from Y3-6 participated in the ICAS Mathematics Test, and 53 students from Y3-6 participated in the ICAS English Test. Parkhill was awarded 10 Distinctions and 16 Credits for Mathematics, and 1 High Distinction, 8 Distinctions and 10 Credits for English.

The certificates are awarded on the following basis:

High Distinction Certificate - the top 1% of participants

Distinction Certificate - the next 10% of participants

Credit Certificate - the next 25% of participants

Congratulations to the following students who received the following awards for Mathematics:

Distinction: Luke C (Y3), Cormac M (Y5), James M (Y5), Matari H (Y4), Yianni T (Y3), Edward T (Y3), Nathan T (Y3), Henry B (Y3), Jeffrey C (Y3) and Ava M (Y4).

Credit: Noah C (Y6), Samuel B (Y4), Olivia R (Y6), Max D (Y6), Fiona Y (Y5), Shannyn Y (Y5), Isabelle Y (Y5), Isa S (Y5), Wesley P (Y5), Zac C (Y5), Josh A (Y5), Minh T (Y4), Thomas H (Y4), Milan T (Y3), Isaac H (Y3) and Hannah D (Y3).

Congratulations to the following students who received the following awards for English:

High Distinction: Nathan T (Y3).

Distinction: Henry B (Y3), Gemma E (Y3), Ava M (Y4), Joseph E (Y4), James M (Y5), Jethro D (Y6), Jenny Z (Y6) and Thomas H (Y4).

Credit: Hannah D (Y3), Madison G (Y3), Akira H (Y3), Hayden M (Y3), Sam B (Y4), Matari H (Y4), Angus O (Y4), Matthew K (Y5), Cormac M (Y5) and Caleb T (Y5).

Dyon Hunt

ICAS Coordinator

The Sticky Tape Challenge

Boy, did we have fun sticking Mrs Brady to the wall last week! Last Friday the SRC and Parkhill Primary School raised $404.20 for the State School Relief Fund by taping Mrs Brady to the wall just outside Roger Beech Hall. It was fantastic as students from Foundation to Y6 purchased lengths of tape and joyfully taped the ever-enthusiastic Mrs Brady to the wall. A moment of tension ensued as we removed the box from under Mrs Brady’s feet - lucky we had sufficiently taped her to the wall and she did not fall! Many thanks to Mrs Brady for participating in the event, to Bunnings Warehouse for donating the tape, and to all staff and students who assisted and donated to this great cause.

Andrea Crane

SRC Coordinator

Solar Challenge Weekend 20-21 October

Last weekend was the weekend that solar challengers have been nervously anticipating all year! Saturday was a mini-washout as the morning rained with dreary rainclouds, only to brighten up during the day. The vehicles performed likewise – nothing in the morning, with a little more speed picking up during the day!

Sunday we had more brightness and got to see some vehicles take a tumble from the track in true race car fashion. All vehicles finished races, and some of the teams won races, too. It was great to see all of the vehicles taking that power from the sun and turning it into speed.

Thanks to the parents for their unwavering support and help, and well done to team members – you have worked so hard all year!

Until next year!

Michelle Smith

Solar Challenge Coordinator

Big picture

News from the Art Room

Y3 and Y4 students have been studying drawing this semester. They have used a variety of different mediums to explore various effects in their drawings. Have you seen their fantastic work displayed in the Y3/4 building? We definitely have some budding artists!

Cathy Bateman

Art Teacher

Big picture

Y1 Toys Over Time Incursion

On Monday afternoon the Y1 students had their Toys Over Time incursion. The children explored a variety of old and new games and toys. They discussed the similarities and differences between the old and new toys. The children discovered some toys have been around for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years, however the materials these toys are made from has often changed.

“I learned how people had to be careful with their toys because some were delicate” - Holly 1B

“I learned that the old spinning tops were made out of metal or wood. Some of the ones now are made of plastic” - Siam 1B

“I learned that some toys were made of metal like the plane or spinning top” - Kick 1B

“Olden day frisbees were made out of pie tins” - Charlotte 1H

“Olden day toys weren't made out of plastic” - Felix 1H

“Toys nowadays can have lights and music” - Alicia 1H

“If you can put a little car in a matchbox it is called a matchbox car” - Flynn 1H

Dyon Hunt

Y1 Teacher

PFA News

Committee Members:

President: Vanessa Cowley

Vice President: Katrina Battle

Treasurer: Sumi Sundram

Secretary: Kylie Touloupis

Communications: Eva Conley

General Members: Fiona Crellin, Jason Van Lint, Elle Delmee, Mark Havas, Lisa Jacobson, Anny Murray, Wendy Douglas, Janneke Storteboom, Leanne Knight

Big picture

Parkhill Fun Run – Thursday 1st November

We can’t believe it is almost here – next week is the SCHOOL COLOUR FUN RUN! If you haven’t signed up already, head over to now.

Here is some important information for you:

Details of our upcoming Colour Fun Run event are as follows:

Date: Thursday 1st November

Time: 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Where: Parkhill and adjoining Ashwood High School Ovals

Special Requirements:

Please bring a white/light coloured t-shirt for your child to wear during the fun run. Sunglasses and a non-school uniform sun hat will also be a good idea. Children will run through stations where we will be squirting water and throwing coloured powder at their t-shirts. When they finish the run they will be very colourful indeed.

Answers to questions you may have:

Is the coloured powder safe?

Yes, it is made of cornflour dyed with food dye. It is non-toxic and gluten free.

Can my child participate in the fun run and not get powder thrown at them?

Yes, the water/colour stations will have a bypass lane – if your child wishes to not have water or the powder thrown at them for any reason they can run around the station.

Will the powder stain their t-shirts/skin/hair?

Yes, the powder is coloured with food dye. Colour can stain skin and light coloured hair for a couple of days post-run. If you would like to fix the colour stains into their t-shirts to preserve the colour for future memories follow the instructions below:

1) Promptly change out of your coloured gear and do not shake off excess colour (bring a plastic bag to put it in);

2) At home, lay the t-shirt flat and spray to soak with white vinegar;

3) Keep the t-shirt flat to dry and then iron with high heat;

4) Wash and wear.

Can my child participate if they have not raised any sponsorship money?

Yes, all children will participate in the fun run. Don’t forget that if they raise just $10 they will be entitled to a prize. The more money they raise the better the reward they can claim. Log on to to start fundraising online or use the sponsorship form sent home last term (Spare forms are available at the office).

When is the sponsorship money due and when can my child order their prize?

Sponsorship money is due Thursday 8th November – one week after the Fun Run. Prizes can be ordered until the 15th November.

Can I volunteer on the day and join in the fun?

Yes! If you would like to squirt water, throw powder or help out with logistics go to:

Note: does not share your email address with anyone. If you would prefer to not use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.

Feel free to come and cheer on our amazing fun runners on the day too!

If you have any further questions please contact:

Vanessa Cowley

0439 356 931

Big picture

Volunteer to help out at the Colour Fun Run – Thursday 1st November

We need fun loving volunteers to help create colourful fun for the kids on our Colour Fun Run. Sign-up now to help, squirt water, throw colour, and hand out oranges post event.

Sign-up via:

PFA Events for the diary – TERM 4

Reminder: there are still more events to come this Term. Here are the dates for your diary:

Big picture

SAVE THE DATE – Fun, Food & Carols

It seems crazy to be thinking about Christmas already – but it is sneaking up fast (have you seen the decorations in the shops already?!) Please SAVE THE DATE for Fun, Food & Carols – the most fun event on the social calendar! Mark it in your diaries – Thursday 6th December 2018. It is going to be super festive and super fun!

Big picture

Join the Parkhill Community Facebook Group

Stay up-to-date on everything that is happening through the Parkhill PFA and beyond via our private Parkhill Primary School Community Facebook Group. Search the group and request to join – all information about upcoming events, dates to keep, and community news is posted on the Group. It is also a great place to chat and share with families and make friends within our Parkhill community.

Big picture

Have a great rest of the week!

Big picture