Marie Wright – Principal
Every year we ask students, parents and staff to provide feedback across a variety of areas. This year there were 55 parent responses and 212 student responses to this year’s survey. The majority of comments were positive however, there were a number of suggestions for improvement that we will consider. I have put together a summary of the responses below.
What is one thing that we should keep doing at PNPS?
Parent responses focussed on the community spirit, quality of teaching staff and their practice, Class Dojo and the increased focus on sustainability.
Students wanted us to keep all of the PE and sporting opportunities, learning and extras such as Fun Run and assemblies. They also spoke about the care and sense of community here with one student writing “Getting kids involved with all the community stuff. It really brings us closer as a school and helps us to bond with our teachers, staff and other students. It is a great way to learn about working with other / new people, putting us out of our comfort zone and exploring new things and having a go”.
What is one thing that we should improve at PNPS?
Parents noted the changes in communication this year and the concerns that they miss important information and dates. We have discussed including a link to an electronic term planner on the blog which will assist families in the future. We will also be reinstating Term 3 interviews in 2020 as they were only targeted at specific students this year. This is one method of increasing the information shared about student learning however, it is not unreasonable for you to ask your child’s teacher for an update at other times.
The Junior Primary toilets are a particular concern for all of us. There is a practice of students, younger boys, competing to see who can wee the highest up the wall and there are those that find it funny to wee on the floor and surrounds. While our students persist in this behaviour it is challenging to maintain cleanliness despite them being mopped each day. I have arranged regular cleaning by an external company, added an automatic deodoriser, run an education program about toileting behaviours but to date we have had little success. I have purchased some target stickers to place in the bowl for the boys to aim at and we will need to save to re-tile and paint over the next 2 years.
Our behaviour procedures were noted as either being too harsh or too lax. We will be working on developing a whole site agreement that will enhance our existing policy and support the proactive approaches that we engage in across the site. We do not identify as a ‘Play is the Way’ school or a ‘Restorative Practice’ school but we do use aspects of these approaches. We have a diverse group of students and a ‘one program fits all’ approach does not work for us.Interestingly, students would like us to improve the littering across the school. I am not sure where they think the litter comes from but I will certainly be encouraging them to be a part of our litter solution. We want to move towards a waste free school and plan to implement regular Nude Food days in 2020.
What is one thing we should stop doing at PNPS?
5 of the 20 ‘stop’ comments were parents raising their concerns about the learning at our school including the use of Literacy Pro. There appears to be some misconceptions about Literacy Pro. It is simply a way of measuring students reading levels and skills and does not replace quality instruction in reading. This is achieved in a variety of ways across the school including Guided Reading. It is important to remember that Literacy Pro (Lexile) books are not the only reading materials that students can read. They are encouraged to read a range of books and genres, and can borrow from the library each morning and during their weekly library lessons.
Differentiation was also seen as an area that we need to improve by a couple of parents. We expect that one of our External Review findings / directions will be in regards to ‘stretching’ our kids and this is already part of our targeted professional learning in 2020. We are also undertaking whole staff training in Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia early in Term 1 next year.
As noted in the previous question, students wanted littering to stop and made some suggestions of what could be done to assist with this including no more plastic straws in the slushies, no more soft plastic in the canteen and using containers instead, etc.
One new thing we should do at this school is…
(Student only question)
We always get interesting responses to this including 4 or 5 students asking for a pool every year. Some suggestions were to learn a different language, get class pets, play whole school chasey more often, cooking, more excursions, robots, coding and become a waste free school.
Anything else you think Mrs Wright should know…
(Student only question)
This question is one where the students are incredibly honest, even brutal at times, but it is important that they can tell me exactly how they feel and what they need. They shared their thoughts on teacher and student behaviour, their perceptions on how fair some aspects of our school are and how we should spend fundraising money. Their sense of social justice and passion for equity stands out in this question. This year I was pleased that there were no comments about my age or appearance.
Any further comments…
Homework was raised in a couple of areas of the survey. It is one of those tricky areas at a school as some parents demand it, some don’t care and some refuse it. Personally, I believe that students should read every day and practice their sight words, practicing times tables can be tossed into the mix if needed. Homework is useful to practice skills learnt in class or to finish work that wasn’t completed in learning time. It is not meant to be ‘busy work’ or an opportunity to introduce new learning. Homework is certainly an area that we can review as a whole site next year.
Class sizes were seen as too big. We are actually under the funded class size for a school of our type, we are expected to have an average class size of 30 in years 3-7 and 26 in R-2. We have funded an extra class in the last 2 years to keep numbers and class complexity lower. We can’t afford to make our class sizes any smaller.
Our Reception classes are purposely small to ensure that our youngest students are getting the best possible start.
There were a couple of comments indicating that our school might not be meeting you and your child’s needs. As a parent with 3 sons who all attended different Secondary schools, I am a strong advocate for finding the best fit for your child. We work hard to meet the needs of all of our students and seem to be successful in this much of the time.
Our External School Review gave an alternative view of our school as one that has a great sense of community and some very pleasing learning growth.
I am grateful for the honesty of all who responded.