The talk of class sizes over the last fortnight has been a hot topic out in the school yard. Many parents are concerned regarding the increase in class sizes and would like to know why CNPS class sizes have increased for 2019. There are many reasons for this. The department guidelines on class sizes state that they should be planned on the minimum possible and planned on the following basis:
Therefore, based on our school numbers of 537 students, we are only entitled to 21 classroom teachers.
Current Student Numbers: 537 students
Average Class Size
F-6 an average of 26 (540 students)
F-2 an average of 21 (301 students)
3-6 students (236 students)
7 (= average of 34)
Due to large numbers of students in the Junior School, we have had to include an extra 3 teachers to reduce class sizes in the middle school. This is a cost to the school and ultimately affects the organisational structure (short term) until our numbers even out. This has led us to allow for:
It is important to note that the class sizes for 2019 are still relatively low compared to other primary schools in Victoria.
There are other factors that have been considered when workforce planning. Considering that schools are provided with enough funds to provide the above ratios, this process can be quite difficult. The extra factors that have come into play when workforce planning for CNPS include:
Schools are given a set amount of classrooms according to the ratio above. CNPS has a cap of 650 students which means that according to our projected numbers, we are only entitled to 25 classrooms. Based on this, we have already reached our quota. We no longer will have any portables or extra classrooms that are funded by the department, therefore any extra classrooms that the school would like, will need to be funded by the school. This will also include the school to fund the cleaning and electricity/maintainance costs to the building as it will not be not funded by DET. This is something that we can consider in the future once our new buildings are complete.
Middle Leadership/Extra Specialist/Extra Support
Leadership: A growing school requires extra leadership. It is typical for a school with a size of over 500 students to have 2 Assistant Principals. It is also a DET requirement for schools with over 18 classroom teachers to have 2 Learning Specialists. It is also typical for a school of this size to have a Leading Teacher. The school needs to factor these additional costs into the school staffing budget.
Specialist: Teachers are entitled to 2.5 hours of APT (time release), which means that primary schools are required to have, as a minimum, 2.5 specialists. CNPS has over this amount, employing another 1.5 teachers to have 4 specialist programs (PE, Art, Music and Italian). This enhances the curriculum and allows for students to have opportunities to shine in other areas outside of literacy and mathematics. This is an extra cost to the school.
Support Teachers: CNPS has extra support for students in terms of a part time Speech Pathologist and 3 part time teachers that provide support for intervention and extension, which supports all students in the school. In 2019 we are also self-funding a First Aid Officer to provide first aid support to students, as well as a full-time school technician to allow the school to run technology programs effectively. This will be needed for the introduction of a 1-1 iPad program as well as the introduction of the STEAM learning space in 2020. Both of these additional supports are a cost to the school.
Loss in Equity Funding: Over the past 5 years, CNPS’s SFO (Student Family Occupation), has dropped significantly (currently at 0.2864), which means a loss of funding. The SFO is based upon the type of occupations our families have. DET bases equity funding on this with the belief that students who have educated parents don’t need extra support. With new families coming into Coburg North, we have seen a massive decrease in this funding. This has impacted the school’s budget.
With all these factors in mind, small class sizes of 20 students in each class are no longer sustainable. In saying this, CNPS has provided more than what the department has recommended in terms of extra teachers (x3), extra specialists (x 1.5) and extra support (x5). We have developed an excellent staff profile that is committed to providing the best educational experience for the students of CNPS.
If anyone would like to discuss the class sizes further, or would like some clarification on any of the things mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to come up and speak to me before and after school.
Another hot topic to fill the school yard, is the placement of students. As the end of year approaches many parents and students become anxious about where they will be placed the following year. I remember myself wondering what teacher I would have or if I would be separated from my friends. My sad story was that I was separated from my friends every year (except for one year) and I still remember the pain. But, I got over it. I still got to see my friends at lunch time and I also built some resilience skills. This is one of the hard parts of parenting, when we want to prevent our kids experiencing some disappointment or pain. However it can be helpful to see changes like this as an opportunity to build those resilience skills that are needed for their future social emotional development. I do understand that parents are active in wanting the best for their child, so in order to be as fair and just as possible, we have developed a process that ensures that the class lists are prepared as best as possible. The Class List Process is the same for every year level across the school.
Class List Process
Taking into consideration the work, time and effort for all of these steps, it is easy to understand why changes cannot be made at the last minute. We ask that parents understand this process and ensure that all requests are made at the beginning of the process when the Principal sends out Parent Requests, as stated in the newsletter at the beginning of term 4.
We would like to welcome six new teachers to CNPS. Ben Smith, Tamara Gray, Surbhi Raj Kumari, Geordie Corbet and Nicholas Baker will be the new members of our dynamic CNPS team.
Surbhi Raj Kumari
The talk of the school’s Facebook pages to be closed at the end of the year has joined the hot topic list at CNPS. This has been a hard decision as there are both pros and cons to having Facebook as a communication tool. Unfortunately there have been several incidents on both Facebook pages where comments were made that were not positive towards staff members and other members of our community. Although these messages were taken down as soon as possible, the messages did get out to the community and screen shots were taken. As a Principal, I can not allow any communication vehicle where my staff, students or community are put at risk. Language is powerful and can have damaging affects on not only a person’s emotional wellbeing, but also on their reputation. I take my role of protecting my staff, students and community very seriously, and it is for this reason that I have decided to shut down the school’s Facebook pages.
Communication between the school and parents will not be affected as we have moved all communication to Compass. We anticipate that shutting down Facebook will move more people over to the platform which will increase parent’s awareness of what is happening in the school.
I have spoken to many parents and school council members about why Facebook is necessary for the school and the main reason was for keeping our school community strong. I acknowledge this, and have added a significant project to our planning, placing a focus on community. The group will be lead by a staff member and a group of community members who will work at creating initiatives that will keep our community involvement strong. Members from the ‘People Power’ working party will join this group.
Reports will be released this Monday. We would like to ask parents for feedback on their child’s reports in regards to:
We will send more communication out next year to work on improving our student reports.
The building of Block L is running along its expected timeline. The building is anticipated to be open on the 15th of March, 2019. We will then have 1 week to move into the building before the hall area is blocked off from the school to commence Stage 2. Currently the completion date has moved to the end of September 2019.
Lisa Rochester has picked up a position closer to home at Carisbrook Primary School. We are very sad to see Lisa go but understand that a 10 minute drive to work beats the 1.5 hour drive Lisa takes to get to CNPS. During her time with us, she has made a valuable contribution to our community. Her work as the Literacy and Mathematics Coordinator and Team Leader has been significant to improving the programs at our school. We wish Lisa the very best of luck for 2019 and beyond.
This week we held our Parent Helpers’ Morning Tea. We do this each year to acknowledge and thank the many parents and families who contribute so much to the daily activities of our school. We are extremely fortunate at Coburg North to have such a wonderful, hardworking group of parents who give so freely of their time to help the kids.
I would like to wish all of our CNPS parents, students and friends a safe, happy Christmas and holiday season. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of staff, parents and students. Walt Disney once said ‘You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful ideas in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality’. I am very proud to be a member of such a fantastic team that will continue to dream, create, design and build the most wonderful ideas in the world.
Merry Christmas to all and have a safe and happy holiday season.