18 May 2017
Issue Seven
Principal's Report
Assistant Principal's Report
College News
Information for Parents
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Report

Dear Parents and Carers,


The NSW Government has introduced minimum standards in literacy and numeracy for HSC from 2020. This will affect students enrolled in Year 9 and below. There has been some misleading reporting around the new minimum standards brought in for the HSC and NAPLAN results. I addressed this at the Year 9 Parent Night in Term 1 and have spoken to Year 9 last term and last week and have included a summary here.


What is the new minimum standard?

The minimum standard is based on Level 3 of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) which equates to functional literacy and numeracy. It is a nationally agreed standard of functional literacy and numeracy and at this standard can typically do tasks such as

  • People can read and interpret diagrams

  • Write clear instructions for everyday technology like a photocopier

  • Use email for routine workplace communication

  • Compare the cost of everyday items in different- sized containers to make cost effective purchases.


What areas will the new minimum standard cover?

There are three areas that students need to reach minimum standards

  • Reading

  • Writing

  • Numeracy


How will students meet the new minimum standards?

There will be multiple opportunities for students to reach the minimum standards. From 2018, online tests will be available (at least twice a year)

  • Year 10

  • Year 11

  • Year 12

  • Up to 5 years after sitting the HSC


What has this got to do with NAPLAN?

This is where the misleading reporting is having an effect. Year 9 NAPLAN is an early opportunity to meet the standard. It is NOT the ONLY opportunity to meet the standard. It is actually expected that only approximately 25% of students will meet this benchmark at this early opportunity. Students can meet the minimum standard by achieving a Band 8 or above in reading, writing and numeracy. If students achieve a Band 8 or above they will not need to sit the tests in Year 10, 11, 12. NO student will be ineligible to sit for the HSC on the basis of their Year 9 NAPLAN result


What if my daughter/son doesn’t reach the minimum standard by HSC exams?

Students will still be eligible to sit HSC exams and will still get their results and an ATAR (if they are eligible by the pattern of study). They will receive a ROSA (Record of Student Achievement) outlining their results. They can sit the online literacy and numeracy tests up to 5 years after the HSC to meet the minimum standards and be awarded the Higher School Certificate.


Where do I get more information?

The NESA website has lots of useful advice



The other item that has been in the news recently relates to Gonski 2.0 and the implications of this funding model for Catholic schools. I have included in the newsletter a media release from Chris Smyth, Director, Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Armidale. I draw you attention in particular to:

‘ … our current process for the setting of school fees will remain

unchanged and that any annual adjustments to school fees will be modest’

At O’Connor, we continue our focus on learning and this includes the use of resources to improve the learning environment at our school. We are innovative in this allocation of resources and will continue to be into the future. Evidence based practice to improve student learning growth has been and will continue to be our focus.




Thank you

 Regina Menz


Assistant Principal's Report

Welcome to Term 2

Classes based on Ability

There has been discussion in some circles around the concept of 'ability classes' or in the old terminology ‘streaming’.

At O’Connor ability aligning is used in certain subjects and mostly in Stage 5. Mathematics being the exception in Stage 4 where classes are ability aligned from semester 2 in Year 7.

The research tells us that in nearly all cases where schools use ability classes as a norm, they do so for behavioural reasons not academic.

There are many reasons not to sort students on ability from a young age. In secondary schools it is mainly the higher ability students who do better in aligned or streamed classes, which is what you would expect. However, it has been shown that students who would normally perform well in a mixed class could find themselves at the bottom of a streamed class based on results. These students then begin to perform worse as confidence is eroded.

When streaming does occur the students at the lower end develop a negative response to their learning as they see themselves as unable to improve and stigmatise themselves in this way. 


Professor Dylan Wiliam (Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the UCL Institute of Education) has emphasised the importance of peer learning.  He stressed that if a student is able to teach a concept, rule or theory to another student then this becomes a powerful form of consolidating their own learning. Students in a mixed setting have the benefit of a differentiated curriculum. All students can negotiate their learning with the teacher if they learn at a faster pace.

If you have any concerns over the concept of ability classes then I am happy to have a discussion with you.



Likewise there have been some discussions regarding homework particularly in Year 7. It continues to be a hotly debated topic, not just among those in the school community, but in the academic community too.

The debate about the effectiveness of homework as a tool of learning has continued for more than a century. There have been more than 130 studies published related to the subject and these have reached different and, at times, quite contradictory conclusions.

A recent survey in Victoria revealed, 'It is not possible from the available data to make unequivocal statements about the effectiveness of homework overall in assisting student learning.’

Supporters of homework argue it not only has academic benefits, but also helps youngsters develop important study and time management skills, and gives parents a chance to engage in their child’s learning. There is no evidence that homework impacts on time management skills. The real benefit for parents is becoming involved in student’s education.

On the other side of the debate: for those opposed to homework, many feel that it creates unnecessary pressure on students for limited or disputed academic benefit, robs children of time to develop other life skills, through recreational and artistic activities and social interaction, and places pressure on family life.  

Professor John Hattie (Laureate Professor and Director of the Melbourne Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne) said homework does make a bigger difference in secondary school, mainly because the tasks are often about reinforcing and giving students another chance to practice what they've learnt. 'The worst thing you can do with homework is to give kids projects, the best thing you can do is to reinforce something they've already learnt.’

Homework should have an intrinsic value that adds to the classroom experience. This could be following up areas of interest, preparing for the next set of lessons or practicing key skills in order to improve. The question of time is also frequently asked about. In general three to four hours for Year 7; no more than five hours a week for Years 8 and 9. For Years 10 to 12 this will vary according to individual learning needs.

You will find a copy of the O’Connor Homework policy on our web site.


Year 11 Reporting

Year 11 Reports are being compiled this week and will be posted on Friday. The Parent/Teacher interviews will be on the evening of the 30th May. Booking information will be included in the report.


Photo Day

This is on Monday 22nd May. All parents should have the Photo day information and envelopes that need to be brought in on the day. For further information please contact the front office.




Thank you

Simon Fleming



Farewell Father Gleeson

Father Gleeson has taken up a position of Parish Priest in Glen Innes. Father has been a great friend to O'Connor. His service and advice to the Leadership team, teachers and students in all matters have been really appreciated. Father Gleeson's sharing and explaining theology have enlightened staff and in particular the REC. As the Cathedral Parish Administrator, Father Gleeson had to oversee much of the new building work but equally important was his building of a Parish encouraging the O'Connor community to step up and see the bigger picture. Even though Glen Innes is just up the road, we will miss Father Gleeson terribly but wish him all the best in his new ministry. 


Welcome Father Francis.

O'Connor welcomes Father Francis to the position of Cathedral Parish Administrator. Father Francis' enthusiasm and positivity are well known to O'Connor Students and we wish him well in his new role.

A Decade a Day.

Religious Education classes have taken up the Bishops request to have a decade of the Rosary said each day in the month of Mary, May. Many thanks to the Legion of Mary from the Cathedral Parish who donated multiple sets of Rosary beads for our students.


Mary Help of Christians

May 24 is the Feast of Mary Help of Christians. There will be a whole school Mass at 9.20am in De La Salle Chapel to celebrate this feast day. Mary Help of Christians is the Patron Saint of the Church in Australia. Thank you in advance to Father Francis for presiding over this mass.


Australian Catholic Youth Festival (ACYF)

Exciting news! Year 11 will be attending the ACYF in December as part of their retreat to Sydney. Notes have been given out and the first deposit is due soon. Check out this out in more detail. Over 15000 young people will attend this festival and it will be an experience that our students will remember for the rest of their lives.



Damian Roff

R.E Coordinator

Youth Leaders

Earlier this term our very own Year 11 Lasallian Youth Leaders completed a training day with the Young Lasallian’s team from Sydney. The students then assisted in running some wonderful retreats for the Year 7s and 8s out at the Army Base. The days were filled with fun, and students built on skills for expressing their emotions, building community and much more. Father Francis and Father Sabu kindly offered reconciliation for the students and also shared some great stories. 


College News

Pastoral Academic Care Update


Wellbeing Focus for Week 4 - Ethical Living  and Living Ethically

(from Junior and Senior Diaries)


The Key Character Strength - Spirituality

To quote Howard Gardner from his book Five Minds, ‘I have nothing against excellence, but at the end of the day, the world doesn’t need more of the brightest and the best, but more of those of good character.’

The five minds he goes on to describe are the creative, the critical, the synthesising, the respectful and the ethical. It is fitting after completing a week of NAPLAN tests for Years 7 & 9 that we also should also look at the effect this has had on the social-emotional resilience, wellbeing and respectful and ethical growth mindsets of our students.

Teaching students about what living ethically looks like, sounds like and feels like will sow the seeds to strengthen their characters. These include acting in ways which they know will benefit their and others’ well being because they matter; making choices based on what their minds tell them is the right thing for them to do, not doing something for personal, material or prestige gain, using their signature and top supporting strengths in their every thought, word and action and being grateful for good things that happen.

“I’m a great believer in luck. I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”   

Woodrow Wilson


Spirituality falls under the virtue category of Transcendence. Transcendence describes strengths that provide a broad sense of connection to something higher in meaning and purpose than ourselves. Spirituality is believed to describe both the private, intimate relationship between humans and the divine, and the range of virtues that result from the relationships. Spirituality is universal. Although the specific content  of spiritual beliefs varies, all cultures have a concept of an ultimate, transcendent, sacred force. 



Friday 12th May was the final day of a week of NAPLAN Tests for Years 7 & 9. During this period approximately 850 tests were completed in 4 sittings for each year during Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with ‘catch up’ exams completed on Friday. Overall, O’Connor had a participation rate of approximately 96%, which is fantastic considering a number of students were overseas or had long term illness.

The big change this year was the Numeracy exam, which involved one 60 minute test. The students were permitted to use a calculator for the first 50 minutes and completed the last 10 minutes without a calculator. This replaced two, 40 minute exams (calculator & non-calculator) in previous years.


The NAPLAN results and student reports are expected to be available to schools from Monday 14 August.


A reminder to Year 9 parents from NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) which replaces BOSTES about minimum standards.


This week’s NAPLAN tests were the first of many opportunities Year 9 students will have to demonstrate the new HSC minimum standard for 2020. Our key message on this is while these students will need to demonstrate a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy to receive their HSC, they don’t need to get Band 8s in Year 9 NAPLAN. New, short online reading, writing and numeracy tests will be available for students to demonstrate the standard when they are ready in Year 10, 11 and 12, and even after sitting the HSC.  (NESA Bulletin 11th May 2017)


More information can be sourced from the NESA website



Jon Hawthorne

Pastoral Academic Care - Student Wellbeing Coordinator

Year 8 Maths Day

O'Connor sent eight of the top students in Mathematics to the annual Year 8 Maths Day last Friday.  This a day filled with great fun and competition.  The two teams of four were:

Team 1:  Claudia Best, Elian Cotter, Cyan McLauchlin and Emelia Rice.

Team 2:  Harry Wooster, Liam Stuart, Alex McMahon and Eliza Boland.

They competed against 62 other teams from all over the region in a variety of mathematical challenges.  Both teams had a great day.  Thanks to Miss Sampson and our parent volunteer Sabina Armstrong for assisting with the running of the day.



Mr Stephen Chapman


Leader of Learning - Mathematics


Sporting Dates

 Term Two 2017

  • 16th May NSW Netball Gala Day Armidale
  • 17th, 18th, 19th May NSWCCC Hockey Championships Newcastle
  • 18th May NSWCCC Rugby League Sydney
  • 19th May Mini Muddies Wauchope
  • 23rd, 24th May NSWCCC Touch Football Dubbo
  • 26th May Diocesan Cross Country, Golf & Tennis Gunnedah
  • 31st May North West 7's Rugby UNE Armidale
  • 7th June Diocesan Soccer Inverell
  • 9th June O'Connor Athletics Carnival Armidale
  • 15th, 16th June NSWCCC Cross Country Eastern Creek
  • 22nd June Cochrane Cup Armidale
  • 23rd June St Mary's Athletics Carnival O'Connor


For further information regarding NSWCCC Pathway sports please visit: https://www.csss.nsw.edu.au/nswccc-home.aspx the help section of this website is also useful for the registration process: https://www.csss.nsw.edu.au/help.aspx


Information for Parents

What's on !


Uniform Shop

Uniform Shop Trading Hours

Monday 8am - 12pm   

Wednesday 12pm - 4pm

 Friday 10am - 2pm

Lost Property

Please ensure all school clothes, books and personal property are clearly labelled with the student’s name. Many items are not returned to their rightful owners because they are not labelled correctly or clearly.

USBs should include a folder with the student’s name and form to assist in returning it to the correct person. If you have lost anything please check at the front office. 




 New Information from Careers Job Prospects and Facebook. In Australia over 9 million people use Facebook each day and employers often checkout a person on it before hiring them. They may be looking to verify resume details or to find out more about the person.

Five reasons employers may search a social media site:

1. What sort of image one’s online profile portrays 2. Clues about personal, social and work style preferences

3. How one interacts with others and shares views 4. What are one’s interests, passions and accomplishments

5. To verify resume details and qualifications

Employers often look to social media to see if there are any ‘red flags”.


For example:

1. provocative or inappropriate images

2. information about drinking or using drugs

3. bad mouthing of past employers

4. poor communication skills

5. a candidate who lied about qualifications


Employers want people who are professional and responsible so for students in Year 12 or who are intending to look for work, this may be a timely reminder to clean up their profiles .

Three essentials;

1. Lose any inappropriate email addresses

e.g. hot lips@yahoo

2. Make sure your phone message is not silly, humorous, or inappropriate to a responsible and professional image.

3. Edit your Facebook page. Go to Google and search your name, just as a future employer may do. If there is anything inappropriate, get rid of it.


Year 10 - 12 Parents

A reminder:

You can access two very useful & user friendly websites that may help with career options, including university courses & apprenticeship details.

www.jobjump.com.au  password: yaks


to both register & follow the instructions. They are helpful for both students & parents.

Year 12

Monday 29 May at 8.40am 2 presenters from UNE will come to the college to talk about career choices. The presentation will concern My Future Finder, a website that is freely open to the College, courtesy of UNE. It is a site that helps you match your personal style to career options, as well as university  courses. It includes a free resume builder also.

Even if you not after an ATAR, you may learn about a tool that helps you think about career options.

What to do: You need to complete the report for the UNE and bring a copy on the day.

Go to : http://www.une.edu.au/oconnor-catholic

and follow the instructions.

Please ensure you do this to gain maximum benefit from the free presentation.

RSVP glemon@oconnor.nsw.edu.au by Thursday 25/5/2017. I do need to know set numbers.





Glenda Lemon

Careers Adviser/Librarian


Stroke Recovery

Students Perform 

On Friday 5th May Year 10 Elective Music Class entertained members at Stroke Recovery. Students performed their own songs in small groups which they had been composing in class during term 1. For some students, this was their first time performing in front of an audience and all students did a wonderful job showing off their talents to the broader community. Students involved were Brooke McElroy, Alissa Moloney, Kaige McLachlan, Cruz Fernandez, Harris Thornton, Elsbeth Rathborne, Ollie Ryder, Adrian Dodds, Gabby Williams, Breanna Caldwell, Isabelle Stoessel and Taryn Ramage. A number of Year 11 students also performed their own pieces. Well done and Thank You!


Armidale Eisteddfod

Best wishes to all students competing in Dance, Speech & Drama and Music sections in the Eisteddfod. Keep posted for results in the coming weeks.



























Melita Roache


Copy of New Federal Funding Plan.pdf
Copy of New Federal Funding Plan.pdf
Succeeding in Exams.pdf
Succeeding in Exams 2017.pdf