School Information - Frequent Questions


Question:  Who do I approach if I have a question, compliment or concern about something at school?
Answer:  As I do at the start of each year, I have attached a copy of our Grievance Policy.  As principal of Stella Maris Catholic Primary School I am committed to providing a safe environment for all members of our community. However, at times individuals may have a complaint about decisions, behaviours, actions or omissions. The purpose of this policy is to provide a procedure by which members of the community can have such complaints addressed in an appropriate and timely manner.
For your interest the guiding principles are:
  • Impartiality: If someone makes a complaint it will be investigated in an impartial manner. No judgements or assumptions will be made, and no action taken until the investigation is complete.
  • Fair Hearing: If a complaint is made against you, your right to a fair hearing will be protected. All parties to the complaint have the opportunity to be heard.
  • Confidentiality: If someone makes a complaint, it will remain confidential. The only people who will have access to information about the complaint are the persons directly involved.
  • Calm Manner: It is expected that all complainants will behave in an appropriate manner and work to resolve all problems in a calm and responsible manner.
  • Timeliness: Each complaint will be dealt with promptly and will be finalized within as short a period as possible. 
I have attached a full copy of our policy, including the processes to follow but have copied Step 1 below:
Adults, other than a teacher, must not under any circumstances approach children in the school.
Step 1:  
Adults must refer all matters to appropriate school staff. It may also be necessary to make an appointment to see a member of staff if time necessitates this. 
Suggested Reference Points
  • Issues regarding your child – begin with your child’s learning area teacher, then the Community Coach. Further to this make an appointment to meet the Deputy Principal or Principal
  • Family issues- class teacher, Well-being Coach, Community Coach, Principal or Deputy
  • Complaints of a serious nature-Principal or Deputy

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Question: Can you explain more about 'OUR POSITIVE APPROACH TO DISCIPLINE" That you spoke about at assembley
Answer: Following our School Review last year, you may remember our school closure day in term four and the staff focusing on developing a consistent approach to our Positive Approach to Discipline. It included clarifying the following:
We have a School Vision: 
  • Creating a learning community, nurturing and integrating faith and life, in a spirit of openness.
We have Gospel Values that guide us in our big picture alignment to our Catholic Identity:
  • Respect, Integrity, Independence, Creativity, Commitment, Cooperation, Empathy, Enthusiasm
As a whole staff team we have an overall student management plan with three elements:
  1. Rules that student will follow at all times
  2. Positive recognition that students will receive for following the rules
  3. Consequences that result when students CHOOSE not to follow the rules
In saying that I know we need to work together more to increase depth and clarity across the community, in particular, our consequences. 
We have six very simple rules from foundation to year 6:
  1. Follow instructions
  2. Keep your hands, feet and objects to yourself
  3. Speak appropriately
  4. Listen to the speaker
  5. Move safely
  6. Take care of all property 
Following the day and subsequent sessions we can now use exactly the same simple statements to unpack the behaviours associated with each. We are now need in the process of developing rich understandings about "The language of Choice" and practice our "Assertive statements".  It is an import time to increase your understandings as parents.
Question: I couldn’t make it but how did the parents session on the new Positive Approach to student management go?
Answer: We had about 25 parents attend. It appeared to be a useful and informative session. In response I have attached below the response from one of the parents who attended:
“Thanks Stephen for yesterday, I’ve put together some thoughts in response to our conversation!
 The first time I heard my 7 year old daughter tell me that her 10 year old sister wasn’t making “good choices” I thought, WOW isn’t my child amazing to use that type of language.  When my 8 year old then informed me a few days later that she was “making good choices and showing the Gospel Values” I thought, hang on, what’s going on here?  Around the same time, I’d started to also notice a subtle change in the way some of the teachers where interacting with the kids, there were no raised voices, in fact it was almost the opposite! They too were using the “choices” word and seemed to really focus and single out those kids that were “choosing” to do the right thing and praising them for it.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a session organised by the school on Positive Parenting and the pennies finally started to drop…  This was not just a co-incidence, there was clearly some hard work being done behind the scenes to create this change in our teachers and students. 
Times have changed since I was a child, in many ways I think my life was a whole lot more simple than it is for my children; my mum was a stay home “worker”, my dad was home in time to watch the 6pm news every night and then we sat as a family and ate dinner at the table without the TV on in the background, there were no distractions from mobile phones, laptops, iPads, iPods.  We were taught from a very early age to respect our elders, if we didn’t like what was served up for dinner, we ate it anyway and we didn’t have the millions of gadgets, toys and books that seem to fill up my kids playroom.  
What hasn’t changed over time is the fact that kids need and want clear direction and boundaries from their parents, grandparents, teachers or other important influences in their little lives.  They love reward and recognition for doing the right thing and they don’t like ultimatums or consequences when they haven’t done the right thing.  
The Positive Parenting or “A positive approach to discipline” session was that simple:
  • You as the parent are their biggest role model – your children can/will mimic your behaviour
  • Create Positive relationships with your children
  • Reduces the number of times you get overly angry – try and remain calm
  • Create a plan that includes RULES, REWARDS and CONSEQUENCES (that are realistic and reasonable)
  • Be assertive – not aggressive
  • Use statements in a calm, firm tone like – “Fred, you need to ….” And repeat this several times if needed even when the child is argumentative or answering back
  • Praise, praise, praise your child when they are doing the right thing and tell them specifically what they are doing
  • Be ready to back up your words with actions!
  • Remain consistent – if you did it yesterday, last week…do it again today!
Did I practise when I got home?  Absolutely, couldn’t wait to and guess what?  As promised, it worked!
Thanks to Patrice Wiseman, an assertive, amazing, wise woman with clearly a lot of experience under her belt and to you for opening up this opportunity to the parents.”
In addition to the above parent comments I again include our new rules. We have six very simple rules from Foundation to Year 6. You should see them around the learning areas.
  1. Follow instructions
  2. Keep your hands, feet and objects to yourself
  3. Speak appropriately
  4. Listen to the speaker
  5. Move safely
  6. Take care of all property 
We support children in understanding and engaging with these rules in many ways. This includes the language of choice, positive reinforcement, and when necessary logical consequences. I will update you further in coming newsletters.
Question: Do I need to come to the P&F AGM?
Answer: YES, THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING!! It’s important for the ‘Kids of Stella’. All parents are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Parents and Friends Group – Thursday 20th March 7:00pm – 8:00pm in the Foundation Learning Area.
The Parents and Friends Group exists to help the school raise funds for our children’s outdoor environment and to plan activities and events that will bring our school community together. We are very lucky to have built a great model for our P&F to use. We are having great success as a team by improving, not changing, our model. I deliberately say not changing because at our AGM we cover a number of topics but most importantly we elect our teams for 2014. Some people may lack confidence and feel the roles are too big to take on but we have streamlined many events and simply need capable and enthusiastic people to organize them each year. We already have some people wanting to stay on, so the know how is not lost! So, please take the risk, get here, get involved with a friend or alone and help us continue to build funds that create our outdoor environment for the kids of Stella.
The agenda for the meeting is: 
  1. Reports on the Group's activities in 2013.
  2. The 2013 annual financial statement,
  3. Calendar of events for planned activities for 2014
  4. Elections for all Parents and Friends Group Positions
Nomination forms are available from the office. If you would like further information regarding any of the available positions or about the Parents and Friends Group in general, please email
Apart from the AGM, the Parents and Friends Group meet once a month on a Tuesday night at 7:30pm in the schools café/staffroom to discuss the activities planned for that month.
Question:  What happens to children who have not been collected by 3:30pm? Why was my child taken to After School Care?
Answer: This is a complex scenario to manage. Our supervision times are 8:30am to 3:30pm. Teachers, including front office staff, are expected to attend meetings and complete duties outside of these times. There are rare times in every family when circumstances mean you can’t pick up your child/ren by 3:30pm. We need a phone call to the front desk by 3:30pm. If we have not received a phone call we will walk the child/ren to After School Care in the hall when our yard duty supervision finishes. As has been the practice for a number of years, the cost of supervision at After School Care will be the responsibility of the family. The child/ren can then be collected from After School Care.
Question: My child mentioned that there is a new yard set up for next term? Is that true?
Answer: Actually we are making a number of responses to what we believe has been an increase in kids being hit by soccer and footballs this term. There appears to be a crossover of games in areas, so we are allocating areas for clarity and hope to achieve a greater sense of safe play.
  • We will leave the trees that now separate the western lawn. We will eventually smooth out the area and grow grass.
  • Year 3-6 Kicking Ball Games are now to be played on the western lawn.
  • Year F-2 Kicking Ball Games are now to be played on the eastern lawn.
  • There will now be No kicking ball games on the basketball court, the artificial grass or the concrete areas.
  • We will plant grass outside the Junior Community area as a soft non ball game area.
  • The Senior Community students have been holding discussions about expectations in the areas, understanding the rules and developing a list of equipment we need, including football and soccer goals. They are visiting learning areas this week.
  • Lunch clubs, such as Bug Club and Basketball Club will continue for children to participate in if they are interested.
  • Dean Mackintosh, our Physical Education teacher is beginning to incorporate in to the PE sessions each week activities that build the capacity of the children to umpire, score and generally manage their games more effectively. Senior Community leaders and students have been participating in activities to learn how to run games for the younger children this semester. We plan to formalise these sessions next semester.

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Question:  I had a parent ask me, "Can you please advise whether the early pick up on wet days is going to be common practice during winter?"
Answer: As you know, and I hope you have seen plenty of evidence to support it, my priority is always to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment at Stella Maris, and subsequently minimise the risk of danger and disruptions. We had a particularly wet day about a fortnight ago and the weather, as we approached bell time, looked very threatening. In hindsight, the storm passed north of us and didn’t require the action we had prompted. With this in mind, I want to clarify that we will only evoke a wet weather call when we foresee extreme weather. This will not be a normal wet day practice, only on extreme occasions. The objective of an extreme weather call will continue to protect the children and attempt to create a safe pick up and transition time for the kids and parents.
Question: Is there a speed limit in the car park?
Answer: Yes all drivers must obey the 5km per hour speed limit for the safety of everyone in our community!
Question: Do children who are sick or have a sniffle go into lunch club?
Answer: Best practice is that if your child is unwell and would need to stay in at recess then they shouldn’t come to school on that day. Children who are sick or have a sniffle shouldn’t be at school. Staff and other children get infected when sick kids come to school. Our environment in particular needs us to be sensitive to this issue as we all share the space. We also have a number of children with on-going health issues that can attend school if we manage such issues appropriately. If a child was to become ill during the day, and we need to manage their situation until parents arrive then they are supervised in the sick-bay. 
Question: Do I get a School Improvement Survey to complete?
Answer: Thank you to the parent who asked for a survey to complete. You may have noticed Marcia and myself approaching people all week with envelopes and clip board. It’s that time of the year when we ask for feedback from Staff, Students and Families through the SRC INSIGHT School Improvement Surveys. 
The main aim of the survey is to identify strengths and areas for development of the school. It takes about 15 minutes online or can be done as a hard copy and returned to me by next Wednesday. We will randomly distribute approximately 100 surveys. The results benefit us all by providing valuable feedback about how Stella Maris can be improved. The results also help us plot our improvement based on the feedback from the past two years.
Question: Will there be an evening session for more information about GAFE?
Answer: Initially I had planned that we would do a combination of day and night sessions but I always try and minimize evening commitments for the staff. I also know from past experience that numbers are normally very low at evening sessions. Overall, I believe it’s a lot of personal time given up for very few to participate. We have a better idea! We will film one of the sessions and post it on our new Google Community giving access to parents. It’s a perfect moment to introduce you all as parents to our new approach to sharing learning, all from the comfort of your own home!! We will send instructions home next week so that you can access the footage.
Question: Steve, can you please explain to parents again about what time is best to meet with a teacher to discuss any issues?
Answer: Teachers are available from 8:30 – 8:47 am or after 3:15pm as a general rule. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights they need to be in meetings by 3:30pm. 8:50am is not a time to have an update. A number of teachers have asked me to remind parents to set up a meeting time for a chat and not be offended when a teacher CANNOT stand and talk during learning time. It is not that teachers don’t want to have the conversation; the issue is that as soon as the music starts at the beginning of the day teachers need to be completing the set up for the day. They have their head in what they will be teaching, organizing prayer, where kids need to be, noticing individuals who are late or “don’t look right” etc, etc. 
Question: Why don’t the seniors do kitchen garden?
Answer: The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program in its purest implementation happens in the middle community. This means that for the two years in the middle community the children will engage in the full process of propagating, growing, harvesting, cooking and eating our farm produce. This was a decision made to prioritise a quality learning experience for the middle community. Children in other communities participate in modified ways, usually in the propagating, growing and harvesting, but this will be dependent on timetabling. This strategy means that across the course of every child’s time at Stella they will have a two year intensive participation in the program.
Question: Is the school policy,” No hat, No play” this term?
Answer: Yes, during terms one and four the children are expected to wear a hat outside at all times. If a child doesn’t have their hat they will be required to sit out from the recess or activity in the shade outside the foundation learning areas.
Question: Was the term planner/calendar and term overviews sent out this term?
Answer: Yes they were all put on the school website but hard copies were not sent home. Normally the term planner/calendar is also attached to the first newsletter of the year. It appears it was not, apologies if this created any confusion. I have attached it to this newsletter but in future please check the website.
Question: I was emailed last week with a question about whether children are using their art smocks.
Answer: Thank you for the email. Thank you to those parents who have ensured their children has a smock. Emma (our new art teacher) has been doing painting. She has been prioritizing participation so that everyone can enjoy and learn through the creation of Arts projects. Unfortunately, not all children have been wearing their smock and there has been paint on uniforms. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. First week next term Emma is collecting all smocks and keeping them in tubs in the art room. We will practice, “No smock, no paint!” Some children have smocks, and some do not. If your child does not, please organize one over the holidays.
Question: Could you please publish the Grounds plan again for those who haven’t seen it?
Answer: The below picture gives you the concept overview. You will notice the development of the Farm area and the Amphitheatre area have been completed.  You will notice that the west of the school, which was outside the boundary, is now, following the re-fencing by the archdiocese, inside the boundary. It needs to be designed as a games based area in the future.  
The next steps in the plan are:
  •  heavy planting of the eastern and north eastern boundaries (not including the sensory garden),
  •  replanting some areas along the front of the school, and 
  •  additional planting along the western lawn area.
  •  installation of taps along the garden areas for easy watering of the gardens
This will leave additional funds that are accumulating during 2015 for use in the development of:
  • The parking area and entrance to the foyer of the hall. This has become a pressing issue for safety both before and after school, for children waiting to be picked up or walkin through the area on the way home.
  • The swale area. I am presently looking to engage someone to prepare construction drawings for the swale with a timeline for works to hopefully begin late in 2015 depending on funds available. 


Question: When is the parking area being upgraded?
Answer: Actually, with Parents and Friends funds raised recently being so successful the carpark structure and planting is being built up on this Monday, 4th May (and possibly Tuesday). It will prove to be another great achievement in our grounds development. Do not park or pick up in that area on the day. This will create some inconvenience on the day so please park safely and walk children in through the front of the school or the rear gates. I will have an extra teacher on yard duty at the entrance to the carpark overseeing pedestrians walking across the driveway.