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Learning & Teaching

Curriculum Reform

As you are aware this year teachers in K-2 have been implementing the ‘new NSW Curriculum’ in English and Mathematics. These years are essential to establish foundations for future learning success, particularly the development of oral language, reading and writing skills, and mathematical knowledge and skills. ‘Back to basics’ is a term that has been used when referring to building strong foundations and the focus on the new curriculum. Teachers and students across K-2 have been working extremely hard with this new curriculum and as a leader it makes me extremely proud to see a consistent approach being implemented across the school and the level of understanding our students are demonstrating based on the new approaches to learning and teaching. 

In 2024, students and teachers in Yrs 3-10 will also be working from the new English and Mathematics curriculum. The positive change coming from this reform will be to provide every student with challenging learning material appropriate to their current level of knowledge and skills. This means that students who need more time to master curriculum content will have it; students who are ready to move on more quickly can do so. The new curriculum will set clear standards for achievement in mandated subjects by the completion of schooling. It will provide a better way of monitoring students’ long-term progress, which will make it easier for parents/carers to know if their child is on track.

If you have any questions around Curriculum Reform visit the NSW Curriculum Website:

Semester Two Reports

Semester Two Reports will be available on Compass after 4pm on Friday Week 9. To better align our school reports with state, system and school priorities there have been some changes to components of the Semester Reports. 

One of the key changes you will notice is that Effort has been replaced with Engagement in Learning this has been a diocesan based decision to ensure a consistent language and meaning across the diocese. Engagement in Learning indicates the degree of dedication, attentiveness, interaction, responsiveness and curiosity that students show when they are learning.The three consistent standards used across the Diocese on the Student Report for ‘Engagement in Learning’ are;

  • Commendable, Consistent and Needs Support

Each of these standards is unpacked further within the information for parents/caregivers page of the Student Report.

Another change you will notice is to the comments. This change has been made to better support reporting of your child's understanding with the Key Learning Areas.  English and Mathematics will have comments attached with dot points articulating your child's areas of achievement and growth within these KLA's along with their learning goals. There will be an additional section where teachers will make comments on your childs strengths across other Key Learning Areas and their areas for development. The general comment will reflect how your child demonstrates the St Finbarr's vision statement (Loving like Jesus, Growing as Friends and Learning for Life ) in their day to day words, deeds and actions. 

Digital Devices and your child's sleep

Many parents struggle with navigating tech use for their children - often there are so many confusing messages and the nagging power from children just wears exhausted parents down. Sleep is VITAL for learning and well being. Tired children can't learn effectively and they struggle to be resilient and manage their emotions. Below are simple but effective tips for helping children have a good night's sleep which we know will dramatically improve cognitive function when they're at school.

Yours in Partnership, 
Lauren Magnus
Assistant Principal - Learning and Teaching 

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Parent Connect

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Sports News

Stage 2 & Surfsafe
Stage 2 & 3 students completed their final Surfsafe session last week. The program’s aim is to ensure our children have a sound knowledge of how to be safe when in or around our beaches as well as improving skills in surf swimming and board riding, personal safety and basic rescue techniques. 

Surf Safe Fun

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Diocesan Tennis Trials
Congratulations to Rocky U for being the only St Finbarr’s student selected for Diocesan Summer Sports Trials this year. Well done!

Lisa Clark
Sports Coordinator

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Principal's Message

Staffing News
Courtney Hunnibell informed me last week that she has accepted a position in the Preschool Class at Byron Community School and will commence this role at the beginning of Term One 2024. Courtney has been at St Finbarr’s since 2017. She will be a wonderful asset to her new school and will be greatly missed from our St Finbarr’s community. Abbey Tancred,who has worked with us this term, has accepted a teaching position with us next year and we look forward to Abbey being part of our team.

Christmas Picnic Singalong
I can’t think of a better way to finish up the year than an informal outdoor singalong on the school oval. Classes will be presenting on the outdoor stage as well as some Dancers and live music from our resident muso, Kristan Burnnard from Burning Hands. Please join us next Wednesday at 6pm and settle in with a rug and a picnic hamper.

ICT survey
Thank you to those who responded to our Digital Technology Survey recently. It is greatly appreciated that families have gone to the effort of sharing their thoughts. On top of our recent After School Care Survey it shows that the community is active and engaged in our children’s education. Please be aware that your responses are valued and respected and that we listen and also make decisions based on latest research, professional judgement, classroom experience and an ongoing commitment to improving learning outcomes for students.  The Digital Technology Survey, whilst far from perfect, reinforced what many had previously predicted, that there is a wide range of opinions around the best use of technology and its value in a primary school setting. Some parents responded that they found some of the questions vague or confusing, however the general comment at the end was a vehicle for further explanation of their thinking. The survey questions came from suggestions from our parent group as well as questions from another primary school survey. The leadership team will be meeting with our parent group next Monday to analyse and respond to the data.

The safety of our students, families and staff is our highest priority. In order to best ensure this, the school leadership and staff, supported by the Catholic Schools Office, plan for a number of possible incidents, emergencies or natural disasters that could take place at school or during the school term. The events of recent years have reinforced how important this planning is and we all have a role to play when it comes to emergency management, including families.

Our students participate in various safety drills and staff participate through training and safety drills. We’d like to share with you the role of parents and families in emergency management.

School Lockdown
A number of the situations we plan for include a school lockdown as one of the immediate safety actions to ensure the safety of our students and staff. We understand that some may understand the word ‘lockdown’ to mean there is an immediate safety risk to all students. It is important to understand that when a school initiates a lockdown this may not be the case.

Depending on the situation, the purpose of a school lockdown will differ. A school lockdown may be a preparation step for an evacuation, or a school lockdown may allow emergency services access to an area of the school without having to navigate past students. Regardless of the purpose of a school lockdown, no one can be admitted to the school grounds other than emergency services.

Should we initiate a school lockdown, parents and families will be informed via text message and Compass notification. We will also inform parents and families as soon as the school lockdown has been lifted or if there are any actions required of parents and families. It is important that you do not attempt to attend the school during a school lockdown. We understand that you may be concerned however attending the school may also add risk to a possible emergency situation, block emergency services or impede an evacuation.

Natural Disaster
In the event of a natural disaster, such as flood or bushfire, the school leadership, supported by the Catholic Schools Office, will determine if it is safe for the school to open. If there is a probability the school may have to close part way through the day, the school will not open for that day as it is extremely difficult to evacuate a school site and ensure all students are able to go directly home safely.

In a bush fire or flood event it is important that parents and families have a plan to get your child/ren home from school, or into your care, at short notice. Please be aware that school buses may not be running and the school can not allow your child/ren to go home to an empty house or home with another parent without your permission.

Family Preparedness
How can you help us prepare for emergency situations? Please ensure that:

  • You have downloaded [Compass APP] and have allowed notifications.
  • Any changes to your contact details or custodial arrangements have been updated with the school.
  • [for schools in bush fire or flood prone regions] You have a bush fire/flood plan in place that all members of your family understand.
  • In the event of a school lockdown or evacuation, directions in the parent notifications are followed.

It is always our hope that these measures will never be needed but it is also our responsibility to ensure our school community is prepared and informed should the need arise. We thank you in advance for your support and cooperation.

Tim Bleakley.
Nigel McIntyre, 
Work Health and Safety Manager, Catholic Schools Office

2023 Fun Run wrap up
We are very proud to announce that our school community raised $43,477 for our Ninja playground, what an amazing effort! This end result was a combined effort of; raisley fundraising, generous sponsors,  class canteen days, cake stalls, icepole sales, snow cones, raffles, lucky birds sales and a lot of parent support. We are so thankful to you all for your generous support.

Term 4 School Fees
Term 4 school fees are due for completion, please ensure all 2023 fees are settled by the end of the year. If you need assistance with your fees please contact Alison in the front office.

School Assembly
Please join us this Friday 2:10pm for our school assembly in the hall. All welcome.

Congratulations Mrs McEvilly-Butler and Mr Keane
This year two of our wonderful teachers were involved in a STEM (Science Technology and Mathematics) Teacher Enrichment Academy Primary Program

The program provided teachers with knowledge, skills, resources and support to make real change in their classroom teaching. It inspired teachers to pursue their interests in mathematics, science and technology, and to pass on that inspiration to their students. In particular, the Academy project at St Finbarr’s has:

  • introduced and supported exciting and effective approaches to learning as well as enhanced teachers’ knowledge of content and approaches to teaching integrated mathematics, science and technology in Years 3-6 of the Australian Curriculum for NSW;
  • developed a community of practice for participating teachers, with ongoing support and engagement through mentoring, online forums, newsletters, seminars and events; and
  • developed teachers’ awareness of relevant STEM-related applications to society and career pathways.

12 primary schools from the Lismore region were selected to participate in the

NESA-accredited program and we are very proud of the work Mary and Joe have completed this year.

Yours in Partnership,

Tim Bleakley

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Advent 2023

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STEM-Teacher Enrichment Academy

Mrs McEvilly Butler and Mr Keane have been part of the STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy this year. It is a year-long professional development program from the University of Sydney.

Five schools from the Diocese of Lismore have taken part, along with many other schools from the Northern Rivers. The purpose of the program is to ignite a passion for teaching and learning about STEM and develop skills to engage in STEM education effectively.

We have compiled a book documenting our journey with STEM this year at St Finbarr's. The students have been fantastic in their engagement in learning within Science and Technology and in their efforts to complete STEM challenges.

The artwork was created by Luna K-B, Emi S and Ayla M from Year 4 Wategos, and Bonnie M in Year 6. The front cover illustration was created by Luna also. Fabulous work! 

The book is available as a free ebook on the Apple Book Store (The Apple Book Store is accessible to those with an iPhone or iPad.) Screenshot 2023-11-27 at 12.36.28 pm.png

It will be also accessible via the school website and as a flipbook pdf (The videos cannot be played due to this format.)
flipbook QR Code
The book is designed for teachers at other schools to give them ideas and guidelines on how to build a culture of STEM, but also as a showcase of the wonderful work our students have created.  

Mrs Mary McEvilly-Butler

Science & Technology Teacher

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Year 5 Camp

Last week, a number of teachers had the opportunity to take our Year 5 students overnight to Camp Goodenough. This was a wonderful experience for all involved. Our students participated in many activities that tested their skills. They all had to work both individually and in teams while supporting one another to complete various challenges which included the crate stack, team pursuit, high ropes and building a go cart and racing it. 

Students were required to particpate in a kitchen roster where they were in charge of a duty which included announcing and serving the food, being a part of the clean up, along with taking care of their own plates, cups and cutlery.

It is always such a privilledge to take our students away on a camp, to see them develop in their independence, navigate a context that is not familiar to them and to challenge themselves in activities that push them outside of their comfort zones.

While the weather was a little wet and cold, this did not dampen their spirits as they continued having lots of fun with plenty of laughs along the way. Our Year 5 students were a credit to St Finbarr's with all teachers being proud of how well they particpated in the activites, were respectful to the instructors, their teachers and one another.

Your is partnership,

Mrs Sonya Piccoli

Assistant Principal Mission & Additional Needs

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Vinnies 2023 Christmas Appeal

This year, to support the Vinnies Christmas Appeal, we are asking each year group to support this very worthwhile appeal by contributing a small gift that would be appropriate for a child of a particular age. 

We ask that based on the age group assigned to your child’s class, each gift is wrapped and includes a label of who the gift would suit, such as, age and gender. Please see the flyer attached to help with ideas. Gifts can be brought in by your children and handed to their classroom teacher/s over the next two weeks. 

These gifts will then be distributed to our local St Vincent's conference who will distribute these in our local area. 

 As a school community, we will also be contributing $1000 in gift cards  ( 20, $50 gift cards) with each card being delivered with a jar of homemade cookies that will be baked  by some of our students at school. 

If you would like to be involved in assisting with the baking of cookies with our students, please email to assist with this.

Kindergarten-Babies and Toddlers

Year 1 & 2-Young children 4-8 years

Year 3 & 4 -Older Children 9-12 years

Year 5 & 6-Teenagers and Adults

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Last Friday, our K-2 students celebrated the Liturgy of the Word at school. This was a beautiful celebration that the teachers had prepared alongside the students with the theme of God's creation 

All students participated throughout the celebration joinging in singing, reading, liturgical movement, setting up the sacred space and/or being a part of the Gospel procession. Our Students also created  a beautiful sacred space filling it with  gifts from God's creation. 

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Sports News

State Athletics

Congratulations to Milla P, Kaia L and Roley C on their achievements at the State Athletics Carnival in Sydney, you should all be very proud of your achievements. Thank you to the parents for travelling with your children and supporting them in their preparation for the event.

Lisa Clark
Sports Coordinator

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Principal's Message

Fun Run Wash-up

What a brilliant day with parents, extended families, teachers and students having a ball! Days like these showcase the wonderful school spirit at St Finbarr’s and that a sense of fun is always high on the agenda. Thank you to our wonderful parent helpers who creatively constructed exciting challenges for the children to test their skills and courage. Thank you to our sponsors who's generosity helped make this event possible. To the teachers who joined in the spirit of the occasion and allowed themselves to be ‘slimed’ to the delights of the spectators at the end of the day. Finally, to the students who helped raise funds for new playground play equipment and supported the initiative with joy and enthusiasm. 

We had:

  • Over 60 parents helping on the day - set up/pack down, squirting, wetting, sliming and foaming our kids
  • 7 canteen days with over 35 parents helping raising in excess of $6000
  • The Halloween Disco with over 20 parents helping and raising over $1000
  • The overall fundraising tally is still happening, however, we smashed it as a school community with our fundraising!
  • We are very close to our fundraising goal and a final full report of the project will be published in our next newsletter.

Please enjoy this video of the fun run created by Mr Joe Keane, it really captures the spirit of the day.

Staff Development Day

Last Friday staff worked together to improve the learning, wellbeing and safety outcomes for all student by:

  • A session led by Mrs Piccoli and Mr Bleakley highlighting effective teaching strategies.
  • Unpacking the new 10 Child Safe Standards which are legislated by the Australian Government and
  • Updating First Aid and CPR qualifications for all staff.

Parent Meeting- Next Wednesday @ 3.30 pm

All parents are invited to a meeting next Wednesday 22nd November at 3.30 pm in the staffroom. We will commence planning for 2024 and are seeking nominations for Class Parents and ideas and suggestions for social and fundraising activities. Please join us if you can or let us know if you are interested, however, you are unable to attend at this time.

After School Care

Thank you for the feedback from our recent survey regarding the need for After School Care at St Finbarr’s. We had 90 responses (excellent in regard to survey completion) with 72% answering Yes to seeking to use after School Care and 77% seeking Vacation Care. The written responses also provided valuable information as well as seeking more information. A flyer will be sent home with each family shortly which will provide more details. We have been told that the process for successfully completing all compliance requirements can be time consuming, however, we are keen to begin the process as soon as possible with a view to commence the service mid to late Term One 2024.

Music Parents
We are currently looking for enthusiastic musical parents who would like to join staff on stage singing or playing an instrument at the end of the year. The group will lead the students and community at the Christmas Carols Family Picnic on Wednesday December 6th.

Please contact the school if you would like to be involved and we will aim to find a suitable time to begin our practice. It should be loads of fun.

Thank you

A big thank you to Dvine Electrical for their support and great work with the new school bubblers.

Term 4 School Fees
Term 4 school fees were issued to families last week and are due for completion by the end of the month. Your invoices have been uploaded to your Compass APP. Please ensure any outstanding Term 3 school fees are finalised as soon as possible.

Statements are issued by email at the end of each month, please note that if the final balance on your statement is a negative number that means that you are in credit and there is nothing to pay on your account. Statements are automatically generated monthly and go to all account holders, even if nothing is owing. 

If you require further clarification please contact Alison Mason in the front office.

Yours in Partnership,

Tim Bleakley 

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Amy MacGregor

School Counsellor

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Remembrance Day

Last Saturday, November 11th, was Remembrance Day, which marked the end of World War 1 over 100 years ago. We remember all those who died in that war and all those who have died in wars and conflicts since then and we thank them in our hearts for all they have sacrificed.

On Monday morning,  we held a prayer assembly in the hall, to acknowledge this very special day while recognising in places in our world today, there is still conflict, and praying that we value the freedoms we enjoy, committing ourselves to creating peace in our world.

Our students displayed reverence as eleven candles were set alight as we prayed for justice, peace, love , loyalty, compassion, mercy, hope, friendship,  gererosity, freedom and sacrifice.

God of love, mercy and compassion,

 through your Son Jesus, you show us how to be peacemakers.

We are grateful to those who have given their lives in times of war,

and we ask that you help us to live in harmony, peace and unity.

We make our prayer in Jesus’ name,


Save the Date

Our Infants Mass- Kindergarten, Year One & Year 2 will be celebrated next Friday the 24th of November. All St Finbarr's families and friends are warmly invited to join us at St Finbarr's Church, Byron Bay, 9:30am.

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Principal's Message

Parent Participation- Important Meeting for 2024

The Halloween Disco and the upcoming Fun Run on Friday have highlighted the importance and value of parent involvement at St Finbarr’s. This year was the first year of our Parent Community Group and it is going from strength to strength. We have a group of enthusiastic parents with ideas and energy. What we have learnt this year is the importance of planning ahead and effective communication to ensure all stakeholders have the opportunity to participate. To help us in our planning for next year we are holding a meeting for ALL interested parties after school (3.20pm) on Wednesday 22nd November. We will be seeking nominations for Class Parents as well as social and fundraising events for 2024. We’d love to see you there. We appreciate that this timeframe does not always suit working families however our feedback is that it is still more viable than a night meeting. If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to have input or nominate for a role in 2024 please contact the school.

Building Plans

Last week I attended a meeting with the architects and project manager from the Catholic Schools Office in regard to our proposed building plans at St Finbarr’s. We are excited to announce that we will be continuing with our vision of creating additional space for 2024. Immediate works planned for the Christmas break involve renovations to the two classrooms underneath the school hall which will ensure the rooms are flood proof and ventilation and natural lighting is greatly improved. As soon as possible we will install three new classrooms which would also allow us to have our library return. The Lismore flood crisis of 2022 and the unexpected increase in building materials post Covid have been the driving force behind the stalling of our plans. I greatly appreciate the patience and understanding of families and the adaptability of staff and students in coping with the situation. More information will be shared when official correspondence is received from the Diocese of Lismore Catholic Schools office.

After School Care

We are aware of several families' needs for After School Care at St Finbarr’s. Previously, having little space available at school has limited our options. With our current new building plans we are excited to be in a position to be seeking providers who may be able to reintroduce After School and Vacation Care. To ensure the service is viable a  survey will be sent to families this week and can be found following this link. Please take the time to complete this short survey which will help us with our planning for 2024.

Canteen Coordinator

It has been wonderful to see the Canteen being utilised this term with such a variety of items on sale and great teamwork and camaraderie amongst the parent community. We are currently seeking expressions of interest from parents / community members who may be interested in taking on a paid position as Canteen Coordinator for 2-3 days each week in 2024. For all enquiries please contact the Principal.

Sweet Treats at School

We are well aware of the negative impacts of overdoing the intake of sugar on children. Post Halloween we often see a downtown in concentration levels and an increase in unsettled behaviour among many children. The Fun Run and Halloween Disco has seen an increase in fundraising activities including bake sales, ice blocks, lolly bags and lollipop lucky dips. As a school, we are now focusing on and promoting a healthier approach to eating at school. This will be on the agenda at our next school assembly next Monday. Year Six parents will be selling ice blocks as a fundraiser for the Year Six Graduation from next week on specified days. There is no obligation for students to purchase these treats and I recommend having a conversation with your child regarding their choices and spending capabilities. We will also be asking students not to bring candy canes as presents or treats as we approach the festive season.


For consistency across the school we have begun the process of phasing out white socks worn on sports days. From the commencement of 2024 all students will wear blue socks each day at school even on sports days. We thank you for your support ensuring your children are wearing the correct school uniform.

Parking in Bus Lane

Blanches bus company has contacted the school and has asked us to remind parents to not park in the bus lane when they are collecting students from school. Please use the parent pick up line and keep this lane free at all times for buses.

No Assembly this week
Due to the colour fun run this Friday, there will be no afternoon assembly. The Assembly will be held on Monday morning in the hall, 9am.

Staffing News

We welcome Mr Matt Bermingham to the teaching team next year. Matt has been working as Learning Support this year and we look forward to him leading his own class in 2024. We also welcome Jessie Burfield to the teaching team in 2024. Jessie has been a regular at St Finbarr’s this year and we look forward to her leading the new Kinders next year. Another new staff member is Danni Tully. Danni joins us from the Brisbane Catholic Diocese and will bring great energy and enthusiasm to the school. In other staffing news, Mr Nick Houghton has resigned from his position at St Finbarr’s. Nick was seconded to the Catholic Schools Office this year and has accepted a new contract in his role as Education Officer. We wish Nick all the best with his continuing career in education.

Intentions for 2024

We have a large number of families on the waiting list for St Finbarr's and understand there are some families not returning next year. Please notify the office if your child/ren are not returning to St Finbarr's in 2024 as this will support our class size planning and organisation. 

Well Done Marley

Marley Holman (Yr 5) has been selected to travel to London in September next year to take part in the West Ham United Training Academy. He has worked so hard to achieve this goal through team training, private coaching sessions, early mornings every day for the trials and even travelling to Queensland regularly. Well done Marley and we’re all looking forward to hearing more about your exciting adventure.

School Fees 2024

For 2024 there will be a 5% increase to the tuition fees to match the CPI increase, all other school fee levies will remain unchanged.

2024 fees will be billed at the beginning of each term. Term 1 fees will be issued in week 2, Term 1 fees will comprise of all the levies for 2024, except the building levy which will be billed each term.  Below is a breakdown of the 2024 fees.

Yours in Partnership, 
Mr Tim Bleakley

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