Enhanced understandings of learning at Holy Family in 2021

Teaching the teachers…Numeracy Coach Nick De Palma in action at last night’s Staff Meeting


In 2021 at Holy Family we are fortunate to have Beth Hawkes our Leader of Learning and Literacy Coach and Nicholas De Palma as Numeracy Coach. Our coaches are imparting their wisdom in literacy and numeracy to our teachers together with their insights into how children learn.

Nicholas was explains that when we teach mathematics it is ideal to use a Growth Mindset approach. That is, to allow enough space in the task to allow the learner to grow and move in their learning. Nick has taught us to have a low floor and a high ceiling in the tasks set. That means the tasks are easy to get into but the ceiling of what can be learnt is high as the sky. Nick suggests that we avoid pigeon-holing children regarding the level they can attain in their learning before the lesson starts. We should always aim as high as possible. We group children heterogeneously meaning we have all sorts of learners working together to garner a range of inputs.

Learning literacy through Information and Communication Technology

I wanted to share with you a lovely image of our R/1 students sharing the brand new set of laptops in use of our 8 Reception/Year 1 Classes. We were in the situation in which all students in Years 2-6 had been provided with their own laptop. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any left for the Year 1 and Reception students. The teachers and students were begging for some laptops as the older students have. So I reached out to our friends at @AusSchoolsPlus and asked for support from their #CrisisAppeal and requested a grant of $10,000. They generously responded by granting us this money. Accordingly, each of the classes will share these laptops on one or two days each week. If you look closely at these photos you can see the engagement in the faces of the children and that each child is completing a different task. As a school we are absolutely committed to promote literacy. However, we do not throw out the baby with the bath water. We favour a proper balance between screen time and books

My colleague Professor of Education Pasi Sahlberg (University of NSW) sent me the link to his latest research into the use of technology. Interestingly, Pasi found that there are growing inequities in access to technology in terms of computers and internet access. We wish our students to have the best of both worlds.

Signs of the times…

Today we are installing the LED Video screen on the footpath at the front of the school to share the wonderful learning occurring within the school and our Early Learning Centre.

After a year of planning which included horizontal underground boring for services from the school to the new sign, it’s all happening now. This will be a great means of communication between the school and the local community.

Watch this space!






What a great start to the school year at Holy Family

It has so exciting to welcome a new cohort of students into the school. Interestingly, we have been welcoming new students at all Year Levels across the school this year. In addition, it has been exciting to have children from the Early Learning Centre in and around the school. At School Assembly the ELC children and their teachers are usually in the front row. I have witnessed marvellous interactions between children in our school and children in the Early Learning Centre. I have noticed children sharing their learning through the boundary fence including their creations on lap-tops. We have explained to the children that there are guidelines for sharing food. There is a great rapport between our Play Group, the Early Learning Centre and the school. The beauty of the ELC is influencing the development of our other learning spaces in the school.

Speaking of learning spaces, we are very busy creating a plethora of intriguing and exciting new facilities to delight our wonderful students:

  1. 4 new music suites for instrumental music tuition
  2. Courts in Grevillia Park
  3. Consolidating the multi-disciplinary learning area (MUDLA) facilitating our Fish Farm and Gardens
  4. Designing planning Library and Learning Studios


It is amazing to work through the process with the architects as they take into account the relationship of the proposed buildings to

  • the established patterns of movement of people within the school
  • welcoming access
  • tracking of the sun
  • collecting solar energy
  • harvesting rainwater
  • maximising flexibility to meet the needs of teachers and learners
  • shading from the summer sun


Announcement and visit by Dr Neil McGoran to Holy Family School

When I read the Director of Catholic Education, Dr Neil McGoran’s announcement that the ELC at Parafield Gardens would be under construction shortly, my Professional Assistant asked me if I was in tears or in a state of exhilaration or both? Kelly was right! The news was slightly surreal after waging a four-year campaign on behalf of the community to provide an Early Years Learning and Care service for our families

A feature of the campaign was the fundraising program over two years in which we hosted two memorable dinners for 600 people at a time. We an enormous vote of thanks to the local Vietnamese community who provided the sumptuous food for these events.

Indeed, the whole community rallied to the cause. We are now within reach of our goal!


Scope of my work as Principal in 2017 and beyond..


As Holy Family positions itself to move into the next phase of our development. I have attached a “popplet” view of the extent of my work. Please click on the link eFolder-28mc5ej

Three Pillars:

  • Catholic Identity
  • Ecological Conversion
  • Evolving Pedagogy

Core Values:

  • Positive Relationships
  • Sharing (Trust)
  • Support

Drivers of Pedagogical Change:

  • Negotiating the curriculum with the learners
  • Teachers reflecting on their practice
  • Learners producing their own authentic knowledge
  • Leaders designing for change
  • Involving parents and carers in their children’s learning

Key Professional Learning:

  • Catholic Identity Project
  • Positive Education
  • Berry Street
  • Cognitive Coaching
  • Re-imagining Childhood (Reggio Emilia)

Key Partnerships:

  • CESA
  • Salisbury Catholic Parish
  • Salisbury Pastoral Team
  • Salisbury Cluster schools: Thomas More College and St Augustine’s
  • Loreto Vietnam, St Vincent de Paul Society, Catherine House
  • Prof Paul Clarke and Naturally Smart
  • Tom Brunzell and Berry Street
  • Ruth Deakin-Crick (Bristol University and UTS)
  • Apple Distinguished Schools
  • Michael Fullan

Key School Committees

  • School Board
  • Parents and Friends Association
  • Health and Safety Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Effective and Safe School Committee (ESSC)
  • Spring Fair Committee

Community Projects:

  • Holy Family Annual Spring Fair
  • Salisbury Multicultural Festival
  • Moon Lantern Festival
  • Diwali Indian Festival

Three R-7 Vertical Houses of Learning

  • St Vincent de Paul House
  • Mary MacKillop House
  • Pope John Paul ll House

Cognitive Coaching (States of Mind)

  • Interdependence
  • Craftmanship
  • Efficacy
  • Consciousness
  • Flexibilty


Completed Building Projects

  • Stage 1: Pope John Paul ll Hall, OHSC (2006)
  • Stage 2: Hall Stage and Uniform Shop (2007)
  • Stage 3: 14 General Purpose Learning Areas (2009)
  • Stage 4: 8 General Purpose Learning Areas (2010)
  • Internal Staff Car Park and External (2011)
  • Stage 5: Administration Building  (2014)
  • New Library and Decking (2015)
  • Stage 6: New Canteen (2016)

Building Projects in Planning:

  • Early Learning Centre
  • STEaM Centre
  • Expressive Arts and Languages Centre
  • Library and Parent Cafe



Getting down to the details of our PLCs

Professional Learning Communities

#1    100 Languages

This fascinating group is exploring at the outset what the children in their classes understand by the phrase “100 Languages”. What a great start, pedagogically, in going to the children first!

As a sidelight discussion, Ms Battifuoco was telling us how in their double class with Mr De Palma they had minimised their “mat time” in favour of brief instructions to the class, the use of “flipping” content upfront and also breaking the class into multiple groups to enhance the opportunities for hearing different student voices. Moreover, because the teachers cannot be present in each group, strategic placement of students is being made. That is, some children are empowered to be lead learners

Watch this space as I will keep you up to date on how their investigation unfolds.

#2     iBooks

This group is collaborating on the project of creating one Whole-School iBook.

In contributing to the production of this group, the participants are gaining skills which will enable them to author their own iBooks in the future

#3     Ecological Conversion/Recycling

This group is considering how we can re-start our efforts to recycle materials and to integrate this with our STEAM program as we design, construct and appraise our work

#4     Documentation and Learning Design

This group is building on our understanding of the significance of prior learning informing future learning Documentation is a reflective process, a pedagogical practice that provides multiple insights into children’s thinking and engagement, as well as the teachers’ thinking.

“The motivation to document children’s learning should be about wanting to know more and to engage in critical reflection and debate to comprehend and unravel the wonders of children’s thinking and the complexity and inter connectedness that is the fabric of early childhood and education.”

This is a very exciting group and we are hoping to follow through from our recent professional learning with Kirsty Liljegren and Fiona Zinn. We are anxious to share this learning across the school and as we look forward to the Conference in November we want to build our capabilities in these Potential roles of Documentation

  • Documentation as Professional Development • Documentation as Progettazione• Documentation as Communication

#5     Fitness and Well-being

One direction being taken by this group is adopting the notion of “Language of the Fortnight” currently used in our school and applying it to a concept of “Multi-Cultural Games of the Fortnight”. In this way we will diversify the play options available to children in the play area of the school:

  • The oval
  • The hard surface playground
  • The fixed play equipment
  • The Centre (The multi-purpose space housing a prayerful space, Spanish and a Reception Class
  • The Library
  • The Hall

#6    The STEAM Group

This group is getting down to the nitty gritty of how we pitch STEAM to the children R-7. Some classes use whole class activities and some like to offer a range of activities

Professional Learning Communities at Holy Family 2017




Rationale: Commensurate with our image of ourselves as educators we are excited to undertake professional learning at Holy Family utilising the five drivers of educational change and embracing our image of child as intelligent citizens from birth and possessing 100 languages. These PLCs are one highly effective strategy which we deploy at our school.

No way. The Hundred is there

The child is made of one hundred. The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking.

A hundred. Always a hundred ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys

for singing and understanding a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds

to invent
a hundred worlds to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.

They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play reality and fantasy science and imagination sky and earth

reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there. The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi, (translated by Lella Gandini