Issue 284 -  19th October 2021

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Dear colleagues,

Recently we completed a system-wide analysis of system and school performance in NAPLAN 2021. The results continue to be very encouraging as they demonstrate ongoing growth in student performance. As our results begin to exceed National Minimum Standards it is important that all of our schools continue to strive to perform above State Averages (NSW performs comparatively strongly on the Australia wide data). Nevertheless—when compared to like schools—our results are now very competitive. However, given that the importance of reading, writing  for future learning and wellbeing is well documented in research, we must continue our improvement work on the effective teaching of literacy in order to maximise student learning outcomes .


For me as a system leader,  this circumstance raises the question of how we can continue to support growth and achievement so that we don't plateau in our performance. Our recent discussions associated with the NAPLAN analysis raised a lot of questions that we will be discussing with our school principals at our meeting in November. I publish them now in the hope it will prompt conversations in our schools in the lead up to the meeting. 


We clearly have good teachers and sound strategies in place or our results would not be improving. 


However, is further—and very specific—professional learning required in 2022 in order to support school staff to continue to bring about these encouraging improvements in student outcomes.? I believe that we have created a culture of continuous improvement, so leaders’ and teachers’ deep self reflection on good questions  is now second nature for us and I certainly value any and all feedback.


The two key questions for both primary and secondary school teachers/principals are:


Does your school have an effective whole-school approach to the teaching of reading?


Does your school have an effective whole-school approach to the teaching of writing?


The reflection required to answer these questions should also include your responses to the following questions and to the question that we must always ask when answering any similar questions: How do you know?



I look forward to our ongoing conversations regarding this topic, and encourage you to have conversations with your School Performance Leader and/or Claire Ryan, Elise Baird, Briony Martin, Trish Mitchell, Millie Woolaston and Vicki Hartley  who have all assisted me in the discussions and the finalisation of these questions.


Best wishes,
Chris Smyth

Director of Schools

It’s a Virtue
I like to think that on the whole I’m a rather patient bloke, both as far as being prepared to wait when I have to and in being prepared to make allowances for others. When I find myself behind a nervous, slow learner driver or find  a badged “Trainee” behind a counter, I tell myself that I was a starter once too.
      A few weeks ago, my wife Geraldine and I were in Sawtell. In the main street I was delighted to find a welcoming space where  I could reverse park. All I had to do was just come to a stop beside the car in front and reverse in. That is, I’d do that once the driver of the car in front who was standing beside his open door, his back towards us, leaning sideways into the car, closed the door and walked away. Meanwhile our car was sitting in the middle of the traffic lane. First Avenue, Sawtell, isn’t Australia’s busiest street but I didn’t like the idea of being the cause of traffic building up behind me.
      We waited and I watched the fellow in front. Then, I was tapping the steering wheel. Then, as seconds that seemed like minutes went by, I muttered, “Come on mate”. The street behind me was still empty but I was beginning to have unkind thoughts about this man who seemed to think he could take all the time in the world. “What’s this bloke think he’s up to?” I said, half to myself, half to Geraldine. She remained silent.
      At last! The time-taking driver closed the door and turned to check the street before walking across. Instantly it was clear that this was a person who suffered from some condition that meant one side of his body couldn’t function as well as the other. No doubt it took him a lot of effort to do whatever he had needed to do before moving away from his car.
      I must have made a little noise of embarrassment and self-accusation. Geraldine said, “Didn’t you see the ‘Disabled Driver’ sticker on his back window?” 
      I moved forward and then reverse parked. The street behind us remained empty. 

Gerard Hore (EO: Catholic Life)

View the CSO Calendar

Principals Meeting Term 4

Venue: Catholic Schools Office

Date: 25-26th November

Please register to attend the principals meeting here

(Carmel Heagney)

Working With Children Check Extended For Three Months

The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG)  has advised that working with children checks due to expire between 27 September 2021 and 26 January 2021 have been extended for three months, this extension does not apply to those previously extended in July 2021. 

Anyone granted an extension will be advised by email from the OCG.

(Leanne Woods)

School Social Media Accounts & Adobe Creative Cloud Access

If any school would like to set up any social media accounts including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc please email Fletch Davies This is to make sure we are streamlining any school accounts and making them secure. 

We do have subscriptions available for the Adobe Creative Suite, if you don’t already have access and would like access, please put a ticket in with the IT helpdesk. This package includes video software (Premier and Spark) it also includes design software such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.

Any general questions regarding these platforms and software please contact Tahnee Denton
(Tahnee Denton)

Curriculum Audits

Curriculum audits in Term 4 will be the following - 

Stage 6 CAPA - documentation to be submitted before the end of term.

Stage 6 Maths -  documentation to be submitted before the end of term.

Early Stage 1/Stage 1 Maths - documentation due Friday 12th November

Zoom audit - Friday 19th November.

Please register to attend the ES1/S1 Maths audit here.

(Kerrie Priddis)


2021 CSO Data Collection Schedule K-9

Important updates regarding Term 4 PAT Adaptive Assessments have been made to the 2021 CSO Data Collection Schedule K-9. Please refer to this link to see updates. If you have any further questions, please contact Claire Ryan via email at or phone at 0448 567 835.

(Claire Ryan)

Mission Month: Socktober

October is ”Mission Month”. Jacquie Toakley of Catholic Mission has, I think, contacted RECs directly about this. Some good resources and the chance to join in a great activity.

(Gerard Hore)


More Mission

Here is a message from Jacquie Toakley with keynote addresses etc. from the recent on line Mission: One Heart Many Voices Conference.

(Gerard Hore)


Vinnies’ Christmas Tree

As always, the Society ofSt Vincent de Paul seeks to share the peace and joy of Christmas with the poor of our communities. As with “Socktober” above, many  RECs may have already seen this from Cassie Croft about how your school  can be involved.

(Gerard Hore)


200 Years Commemorative Book

This book contains the story of every first Catholic school in each Australian diocese. That’s St Mary’s Armidale for us. Paperback and hardback editions are available and can be ordered now for delivery later in the year. Go here and scroll down to find the pre-order form.
(Gerard Hore)


Virtual Symposium: “Faith in the Future”

Another event associated with the Bicentenary of Catholic Education This online symposium has Dr Lyn Sharratt as guest presenter. Geraldine Doogue will chair a follow-up panel discussion.

Wednesday 27 October

3.00pm-4.15pm AEDT 

More information here

(Gerard Hore)


New Bibles? 

I wrote to RECs late last term about the soon to be published Holy Bible CEV Catholic Edition with Encyclopedia. I think it looks excellent, a wonderful resource. The publishers have let me know that there has been a glitch in having bulk copies arrive in Australia from the overseas printer. I will let you know when I know more.

(Gerard Hore)


Copy of “So You’re Working for the Catholic Church”.

When CSO personnel are permitted to visit schools again, one of them will drop off a copy of Fr Tony Doherty’s 2013 book, “So You’re Working for the Catholic School”. Many schools may have copies already.

(Gerard Hore)


Date-claimer for interested RE Staff

Looking  a long way forward,  but some RE staff may be interested in this course being offered in Semester 2, 2022

(Gerard Hore)

Health Care Plans Updated

Individual Health Care Plans for students with high risk  medical conditions have been updated for the 2022 new enrolments. See Policy Plus under Student Duty of Care/Student Health. Please ensure that copies are made of Google Docs.
(Geraldine Chapman)


Bushfire Preparation Plans

We’ve seen the devastating impact that bush fires can have – on people, properties and communities.

It’s important you take the time now to get ready for bushfires.

Principals please ensure that recent School/College Bushfire Plans shared with you  are reviewed and updated as needed.
For all Diocesan Staff living on property, How Fireproof is Your Plan ? It can take as little as five minutes to make your plan. Discuss it with your family so you know what you will do in the event of a fire. Stay safe!

(Geraldine Chapman)

Medication Administration

Please note as per your School/College’s Medication Administration Policy available on Policy Plus “staff do not administer minor analgesics such as paracetamol to students without written authorisation from the student's parent/guardian.”

(Geraldine Chapman)

Proficient Teacher and Maintenance of Accreditation Extension

NESA has given all teachers who are overdue or due to complete accreditation requirements in Term 3 or Term 4, 2021 an extension until the end of week 6 of Term 1, 2022 (4 March 2022)
(Millie Woolaston)

For Further Information See OUR VACANCIES

Classroom Teacher, St Joseph's Primary School Barraba

Permanent full-time commencing 28/01/2022

Closes 22/10/2021


Classroom Teacher, St Xavier's Primary School Gunnedah

Permanent full-time and temporary full-time positions available

Closes 24/10/2021


Library Assistant, St Xavier's Primary School Gunnedah

Permanent part-time

Closes 24/10/2021


Leader of Pedagogy (LoP), McCarthy Catholic College Tamworth

2 year LoP contract + permanent teaching role

Closes 20/10/2021


Secondary Teachers (7-10), St Philomena's School Moree

Permanent and temporary, full-time and part-time positions available

Closes 19/10/2021


Positions in other Diocese:
Catholic Education Wilcannia-Forbes
For a full list of positions vacant, please click here

Follow this link for the latest National Catholic Education Commission Newsletter:

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