The Mirror News

Back to school in 2011


A TOTAL of 106 students began the school year at Fish Creek last Friday, including 16 prep students enjoying their first day of school.

“The Preps had a very happy start and all other students settled happily back into learning,” said principal Robin Smith. “For English and Mathematics we have six classrooms with quite small classes. For other subjects we will have five classes with an average of 21 students per class. We will be working to maintain our long-term very high levels of academic achievement and repeat our excellent results from last year.”

Mr Smith continued: “A successful 2010 saw some terrific achievements by our students. As well as excellent academic results, we were thrilled that our students competed at the regional level in cricket and football, and students also competed at state and regional levels in swimming, cross country and athletics. Our social and emotional skilling programs continue to develop and we are very happy to be offering our students the soundest of foundations in classes averaging fewer than 21 students.”

This year the Fish Creek school will be focussing on further improvement to writing and spelling programs as well as further integration of the Thinking program and ICT across the curriculum.

New teachers Sarah Jones and Eleanor Fox come with excellent reputations from Kew and Paynesville Primary schools respectively.

“The school is fortunate to have specialists offering Art, Music/Drama and PE,” added Mr Smith. “The marvellous Helen Harrington will again be coordinating English and working in a literacy support role in addition to specialising with the Grade 1 students. Our excellent facilities are looking great after refurbishment last year and we eagerly await our promised new building which has just started. The new building will comprise three classrooms, a large project space and an outdoor learning area.”


THE number of students at Foster Primary School has been increasing steadily in recent years and this year there are more than 200 for the first time for a long time. Many of the 205 students are the product of new families who have moved to the district. There are no new staff at the school, although several of the existing staff have changed classrooms.

“We cater for a variety of learning styles at our school,” said principal Fiona Bull. “We have composite grades right through the school, as well as a straight prep grade, and we have specialist teachers provide schooling in music, art and PE. We are maintaining our kitchen garden project, but on a reduced timetable. We welcome volunteers in the kitchen and the garden and as helpers in other programs.”

Now that the new building is in place, work will begin on landscaping the grounds and developing the space left once the old buildings have been removed.

“We have 29 prep students this year, which is very pleasing. They are in two classes – a straight prep with Miss Wanklyn and a prep/1 with Miss Trajanovska. They have settled in very well,” said Mrs Bull.

She attributes this to a successful transition program. This involves regular visits by the grade five students – once a week through the second semester – to the local kindergarten, and several visits by the kindergarten children to Foster Primary. By the time the children arrive at school to begin prep the following year they are familiar with many of the grade six (as they are by now) students, and settle happily into school. They are further eased into the school year by a four-day week through February, with Wednesdays off.


TOORA currently has 58 students enrolled, which is a similar figure to previous years. Principal is Barbara Purvis, and her staff members include business manager Di Walker, 2/3/4 classroom teacher Kerry Corcoran, education support and pastoral care worker Dinah Brownfield, education support worker Debbie Clavarino and two new teachers – Mr Philip Vaudrey and Miss Alison Slater. Mr Vaudrey has come to Toora from Fish Creek Primary to teach in the 5/6 classroom and take a lead role in the school’s music program. Miss Slater is a graduate teacher who is returning to teach at the school she attended as a student from prep to grade six! There are five prep students, as well as a handful of other new students.

With the Foster & District Show only a few weeks ago, it will be straight back into a visual arts focus in order to prepare show entries. Students and teachers will also be busy preparing for the interschool swimming sports to be held later this term.

The multipurpose hall funded with Building the Education Revolution (BER) funding will be completed this term, while further work will be carried out on the sensory garden at the front of the school.

Principal Barb Purvis said she wishes to say a big thank you to everyone who cared for the garden over the break. “The kitchen garden is looking lush with ripe tomatoes, beans and delicious herbs. A new addition to our school this year will be a brood of hens, so that we can effectively use our food scraps and have a constant supply of eggs ready to use in our ongoing kitchen garden program.”

Transfield Services, owner of the wind farm at Toora, is continuing its generous support of the school, particularly in IT and music. Last year it funded net books for students and this year will fund some more net books as well as the music program, which this year is lucky enough to have a great leader in new teacher Phil Vaudrey.


AT EIGHT students, Welshpool has one of its biggest enrolments of prep students in recent years. There are a total of 41 students at the school, including three students starting at the school at higher levels.

The new teacher at Prep/1 level is Mrs Joanna Healy, while Mrs Jeanette Swann is taking the grades 2/3/4 students. Gabbi Boyd and school principal Geoff Cooling are in charge of the grade 5/6 room. Neil Trezise returns as the specialist ICT teacher. He will also continue to take a lead role in the school’s kitchen garden project, which is coming along nicely after some hard work was put in by Mr Trezise and helpers over the summer break. There are several new raised garden beds, and shortly a mosaic path will be put in through the garden. The mosaics were made by students last year under the guidance of local artist Fiona Kennedy. The garden has also had lots of help from parents and the ‘gardening grandmas.’

Inside, as well, the school is looking good. The students have moved into the light and spacious new ‘Mod 5’ building. It has a classroom for grades 2/3/4 and another for grades 5/6, with the option of removing the wall between the two to create one big space, together with office space for teachers. The prep/1/2 students are in the other main building, along with the library/computer room. The old 5/6 classroom next to the main office is now the school’s art room, for all the students to share.


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