O'Connor Newsletter

28 July 2017
Issue Eleven
Principal's Report
Assistant Principal's Report
College News
College Events
Information for Parents
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Report

Dear Parents & Carers

Welcome back to Term 3. A special welcome to our new staff members, Miss Amanda Bell and Mr Steve Kirkaldy and to the new students who have joined our O’Connor Community. We look forward to working collaboratively with you on your learning journey.


This week across our Diocese is Marriage and Family Week. A time to give thanks to God for our families and the support and love they provide us. To celebrate this week, there will be a Family Mass at 10am on Sunday 30th July at St Mary and Joseph Cathedral. Everyone is invited and welcome to attend. Morning Tea will follow the Mass provided by St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.


This week our Pastoral Academic Care focus has been on social connectedness. A sense of belonging to a school community has shown a strong correlation in educational research with student motivation, academic achievement and effort, self-efficacy and positive student behaviour (Moallem I,  2013, A Meta-Analysis of School Belonging and Academic Success and Persistence). At O’Connor, our Pastoral Academic Care (PAC) Program works to build students’ sense of belonging and, in turn, enhance students’ learning outcomes. Every week in PAC time, there is an opportunity to work on different character strengths to ensure that students are building their sense of self and to give them the skills to flourish in our world.


In order for students to reap the full benefits of our PAC Program and to ensure that every student shows growth in their learning, they must be at school, on time, every day. Some student’s attendance is well below expectation. Also some students are late consistently and this means that they miss out on much of the Pastoral Academic focus. PAC time runs from 8.50- 9.10 every morning. Attendance matters, unless a student is sick or involved in an approved activity, they need to be at school. A day here or there does make a difference to their learning. I draw you attention to the document you received earlier this year which included the following information


Good attendance at school is vital for a student’s development:

  • Students who attend school regularly are more likely to finish Year 12 and have a greater number of options after finishing school.

  • School only gets harder when you miss too much school.

  • Improvements in learning won’t occur unless students are actually in class.

I seek your support in ensuring that students are here every day, on time and in class.


Term 3 is a significant one for our Year 12 Students. It is a time for finishing courses, completing final assessments and consolidating their learning in preparation for the Trial exams (Week 6 and 7 of this term) and for their HSC examinations in Term 4. Many of our students will be completing major works for submission as part of their HSC courses. This includes Design and Technology, Music, Textiles and Design and Visual Arts. Some students will also complete their HSC Performance Examinations in Dance and Music. We wish all these students the very best and know that their focus on learning will result in them performing to their best. I’d like to thank their teachers for all their work in preparing students for these exams and the written exams in Term 4.



God Bless

Regina Menz

Assistant Principal's Report

ASSESSMENT from 2018

Which Stage 6 syllabuses have changed?
New syllabuses for Stage 6 (Years 11–12) English, Mathematics, Science and History have been
developed using the established NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) syllabus development process. These syllabuses include Australian curriculum content and reflect the new directions of the Stronger HSC Standards reforms.

The Stronger HSC Standards reforms include:

  • supporting the achievement of high minimum standards for all students
  • ensuring the flexibility and versatility of the Higher School Certificate (HSC) to cater for the full range of students
  •  encouraging every student to achieve at their highest possible level
  • a focus on the acquisition of deep knowledge, understanding and skills for students.

What are the features of the new syllabuses?
Many features of current syllabuses have been retained. Some new features include:

  • Australian curriculum content identified by codes
  • opportunities for depth over breadth of learning, including new technologies and contemporary approaches to learning
  • Learning across the curriculum content, including cross-curriculum priorities and general capabilities
  • publication in an interactive online format
  • an interactive glossary.

How do Stage 6 syllabuses cater for all students?

NSW Stage 6 syllabuses are inclusive of the learning needs of all students. The syllabuses
accommodate teaching approaches that support student diversity, including students with special
education needs, gifted and talented students and students learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D).

What are the changes to assessment?
The Stronger HSC Standards reforms provide new directions for assessment practices in all
Stage 6 courses to:

  • rebalance the emphasis on assessment to allow more time for teaching and learning
  • maintain rigorous standards
  • provide opportunities to assess students’ depth of knowledge and their conceptual, analytical and problem solving skills.

School-based assessment requirements for all Board Developed Courses (excluding VET, Life Skills and Content Endorsed Courses) will change from 2018.

These changes include:

  • mandated components and weightings for Year 11 and Year 12
  • capping the number of school-based assessment tasks to three in Year 11 and four in Year 12 specified minimum and maximum weightings for formal tasks
  • a variety of tasks to assess student knowledge, understanding and skills.

Students will continue to undertake:

  • course-specific formal school-based assessment programs
  • a range of assessment task types such as tests, written assignments, oral presentations, digital
  • submissions, practical activities, fieldwork and projects
  • course-specific external assessment, such as the HSC examinations or submitted works.

What is informal assessment?

Informal assessment includes activities undertaken and anecdotal evidence gathered

throughout the teaching and learning process in a less prescribed manner than formal

assessment. Informal assessment can provide evidence for teachers and inform feedback to
students in relation to improving their learning. Informal assessment may include a range of
strategies such as questioning, class discussion, observations and student self-evaluation.

What is formal assessment?
Formal assessment tasks are those which students undertake as part of the school-based
assessment program, reflecting specific course requirements, components and weightings. School-based assessment provides opportunities to gather evidence about student achievement of syllabus outcomes in different ways to HSC examinations. Evidence gathered through formal assessment assists teachers to report on student achievement at a point in time, and is often used for grading or ranking purposes.
It is important that students are familiar with the course requirements and school policies and procedures for formal assessment.

How does the formal assessment program contribute to the Record of School Achievement (RoSA)?
For each student who completes a Stage 5 and Stage 6 course (except Life Skills and VET courses), the school awards a grade representing each student’s achievement against statewide standards. The grade is submitted to NESA and recorded on the RoSA. The RoSA is a cumulative credential received by students who leave before the completion of HSC examinations.
Students are able to access an eRecord of their grades at any time through their Students Online account.

How does the formal assessment program contribute to the HSC credential?
At the conclusion of the Year 12 course, the school will submit an assessment mark to NESA for each student’s performance in a course. This mark is based on the formal school-based assessment program.
The mark is adjusted (moderated) by NESA to produce the assessment mark that appears on HSC results. For each course, the final HSC mark is a 50:50 combination of the HSC examination and school-based assessment mark.

How are students undertaking Life Skills courses assessed?
Students undertaking Life Skills courses will study selected outcomes and content informed by a  collaborative curriculum planning process. Assessment should provide opportunities for
students to apply their knowledge, understanding and skills to a range of situations or environments. Students undertaking Life Skills courses are not required to complete formal assessment tasks. Teachers are best able to determine the progress of the student.

Students may demonstrate achievement in relation to Life Skills outcomes independently,
with adjustments or with support. The type of adjustments and support will vary according
to the particular needs of the student and the requirements of the activity.

What credential will your child receive on completion of Stage 6?
If your child completes the Year 12 program, including course and assessment requirements,
they will receive the Higher School Certificate. Typically, each course report contains:

  • an assessment mark derived from the mark submitted by the school and produced
  • in accordance with NESA requirements for the school-based assessment program
  • an examination mark derived from the HSC external examination
  • an HSC mark, which is the average of the assessment mark and the examination mark
  • a performance band, determined by the HSC mark.

If your child satisfactorily completes a Life Skills course, the course is listed on the Record of  Achievement (RoA) with the annotation Refer to Profile of Student Achievement.
The Profile of Student Achievement provides details of the specific Life Skills syllabus outcomes

How can I access the Stage 6 syllabuses and
assessment information?

Stage 6 syllabuses and assessment information for all courses are available on the NESA website.

How can you support your child in Stage 6?

At times your child may find the demands of Stage 6 challenging, and your support to keep them on  track is important. As parents, you can support and encourage your child to maintain a healthy balanced life, build resilience and manage time effectively. Resilience is an 
important personal attribute and skill that your child will need, and further develop, throughout
Stage 6 and future endeavours.




You can provide support by encouraging your child to:

  • plan ahead and work through assessments progressively
  • complete all tasks on time, or communicate with teachers about what to do if they cannot
  • meet a deadline due to circumstances
  • and how they could improve their performance
  • maintain printed and electronic copies of tasks, including backing up work in progress understand and value ethical practices when locating and using information as part of
  • their studies and the importance of the HSC: All My Own Work program
  • read the HSC: Rules and Procedures, published annually by NESA
  •  seek assistance and advice from teachers and other support people when needed.




University Dangers

A recent article in the SMH is relevant to our school leavers. The article written by Tracie Winch commented on the drop out rates of first year university students. The journalist went on to critique the role schools played.


‘In a similar way, schools do very little to explain university or help year 12s better transition to it. …Small wonder so many first-years flounder, disengage or drop out, regardless of the school system that plonked them on the conveyor belt.’


There is no doubt that in some cases this is true and there are many reasons why this happens. From our own students experiences there are many reasons for leaving university before completing a course.  Many students find that what they were anticipating in the course did not meet their expectations or students changed their career aspirations mid course to pursue an alternate pathway. In contrast to this we have evidence from past students who have excelled beyond even our expectations at University.


It is the case that the majority of our HSC graduates go on to University. Across Australia there has been over the past five years a massive 40 per cent drop-off in students undertaking government-subsidised apprenticeships and traineeships.


What parents need to be aware of is their own children’s abilities academically, there work ethic and being informed about the requirements for particular courses. For example if 3rd Year physics is a requirement of a course yet a student has not completed any study of physics than this would necessitate a conversation around how they can achieve success.


Many universities offer early-access schemes and discounted ATAR score entries, with some courses enrolling students with ATARs in the 30s. This is a trap that some students and parents will fall into as some universities encourage students to enrol in courses regardless of their prospects of finishing.


Overall, one in five will drop out, but in some universities the figure is much higher. Often it's the lower socioeconomic students who are the victims, but by no means is this just a class problem.


I believe we do set our students up for success at University.  We have information nights explaining UAC and ATAR and a dedicated Careers advisor who is only too willing to support our students. Students have experience at on line learning and we have placed a greater emphasis on a collaborative approach to learning as well as peer assessment. We actively encourage independent learning and for students to monitor their own learning. Above all resilience and well- being is the key. Students need to be able to adapt to the learning styles away from the confines of the school. Our Pastoral Academic Care and well-being program supports our students self-efficacy and strengthens resolve.




Thank you

Simon Fleming


Marriage and Family Week

All across the Armidale Diocese Marriage and Family Week is being celebrated. This week will culminate in a family Mass at the Cathedral at 10.00am on Sunday the 30th of July. Year 11 students are involved in the Explore Program initiated by Bishop Kennedy. This program involves married couples coming to O'Connor to answer questions about marriage and family. Many thanks to the Hanrahan's, the Brown's and the Tindale's for their support of this program.

Core Catholic Principles and Values.

The Sacredness of the Family

The Catholic tradition proclaims that the human person is not only sacred but also social. How we organise our society– in economics and politics, in law and policy– directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. For the proper formation of a just society each person must have a personal faithful relationship with Christ. This relationship will help form the foundation of all other human relationships particularly the relationships within the family. The family is the original cell of social life (CCC 2207) that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. In particular the Catholic value of faithfulness in relationships must be preserved and actively promoted. Catholics believe all human persons have a right and a duty to participate in society, working together for the common good and well­being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Prayer To The Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, 

in you we contemplate the splendour of true love,

to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again

experience violence, rejection and division:

may all who have been hurt or scandalised

find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth, make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer.


Upcoming Events

NAIDOC Week Prayer Service August 4 10.00am. 

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. August 15. This is a holy day of obligation. All students will attend Mass at 9.15am. This mass will also be an opportunity to celebrate 100 years of the Marian apparition at Fatima. The Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be in the Cathedral for veneration during the day but will be at O'Connor for the morning. Mass will be followed by a talk by Father Gerard Ryan  on the pilgrimage and the events of Fatima.


God Bless


Damian Roff

R.E Coordinator

College News

Lasallian Youth

During the school holidays 15 O’Connor students; Phoebe Biddle, Hunter Blake, Olivia Conyngham, Brydie Hawthorne, Madalyn King, Nichola Mitchell, Madeleine Murtagh, Chris Ramazani, Amica Riley, Patrick Ryan, Micah Scholes-Robertson, Morgane Sercombe, Liam Skinner, Sophie Warner and Honey Zahoor all attended the Lasallian Youth Gathering 2017 (LYG 2017) in Sydney with Mr Roff. LYG 2017 brought together 254 young Lasallian’s from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and New Zealand!

The event was themed ‘One Call: Many Voices’ and this was emulated through acts of Faith, Service and Community. Our Lasallian Youth Minister, Olivia Moore helped facilitate the event and was extremely proud of how enthusiastic, kind and involved the O’Connor students were throughout the gathering.

The days were filled with so much fun, dancing and singing becoming the favourite pass time, plus so many interesting workshops and plenary’s with special guests from around the district, our O’Connor students spent a morning helping plant over 500 plants in a nature reserve.

Mr Roff, Olivia, and the students had an awesome experience and are keen to integrate some ideas from LYG into the O’Connor Catholic College community.'


PAC News

PAC (Pastoral Academic Care) 


This term in PAC (Pastoral Academic Care) we have been discussing the topics of  ‘connectedness’ & ‘positive feedback’ and focusing on the character strengths of Perseverance, Forgiveness and Zest. All these topics are vital in facilitating a good learning environment at school.

The single biggest influence on people being happy is to have a strong feeling of social connectedness. In other words, they feel they belong. While these connections should start with the family and then extend to school and the community, in the 21st century this is not always the case. Building wellbeing, through frequent little positive actions is the key to looking hopefully to the future.

It is all about broadening one’s attention with the now and oneself. This is essentially about instilling in members of the school community a belief that they and others matter and that we should all be ‘striving, thriving and flourishing’.

“Fortune favours the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur

Learning how to give and receive feedback is an essential lifelong skill for students to develop. Students ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ so developmental feedback enables them to consider other perspectives. Quality feedback builds social- connectedness due to others feeling other people matter. It also broadens and builds students’ engagement with others and themselves. Feedback, whether giving or receiving, forces them to slow down their thinking, to be ‘in the moment’ and think hard.

Positive learning and teaching communities rely on feedback to build open, trusting and transparent communication lines, which in turn strengthens the wellbeing of everyone. The purposes of feedback include: listening to ideas and concerns to improve a situation, suggesting alternative approaches and strategies, monitoring attitudes, behaviours and performance, giving frank feedback, both positive and negative and sometimes advice that we do not want to hear.

Empathetic and attentive listening needs to be role modelled and taught, as relationship building relies on this.

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe





Jon Hawthorne

Pastoral Academic Care Coordinator   

College Events

Bell Shakespeare


Congratulations to Maria Alkhouri!

She has been selected as one of twelve students from around Australia to join the Bell Shakespeare Company for an incredible week of work experience.


The Bell Shakespeare Work Experience programme is designed to offer students an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience of a working theatre company. Students will meet Bell Shakespeare staff throughout all aspects of the organisation, and learn how all departments have a vital role to play in Bell Shakespeare productions and education programmes.

The week will take place in November when the 2017 national touring production of The Merchant Of Venice, directed by Bell Shakespeare Artistic Director, Peter Evans, is playing at Sydney Opera House. Students will undertake various group tasks during the week focused on The Merchant Of Venice production, and present their ideas to Bell Shakespeare staff.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we wish Maria the very best as she undertakes this incredible experience!




Spiller Cup

Merici were announced as winners of the Spiller Cup. They accrued the most points on Founders Day from the head shave, concert, capture the flag and king/queen of the track entrants. Merici captains Caitlin Slick and Sam Brazier were extremely proud recipients.




Congratulations to Year 10 student Savannah Roberts who was involved in a professional production of "Grease'' as a dancer. This was held at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.



Laura Di Luzio took out the prestigious Yr 10 Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) CO2 Dragster final, beating her brother Simon in a controversial race. Simon's dragster crashed and didn't make the finish line leaving Laura's dragster to pass it and win...sounds like a golden Steven Bradbury moment.



CONGRATULATIONS to Year 7 students Tyler McCann and Hayden Schumacher who have both been selected in the Under 13 Boys Field Hockey State Squad!



All students in Year 7 to Year 10 have commence the dance unit. Year 7 are practicing bush dance, while Year 7 are folk dancing and Year 9 have some great social dance skills. Year 10 have been doing pilobolus and acrobalances. Some wonderful performances have been displayed. They also had the opportunity to learn some circus skills with Talulah.


Information for Parents

College Uniform

Wearing the correct uniform demonstrates pride in oneself and the college. I ask that parents support this by ensuring students wear the correct uniform to school each day.

In this term, students are expected to wear the winter uniform. All students are expected to wear O’Connor's College blazer to and from school. 

Correct sport uniform must also be worn when it is required for PE and only worn to school on days nominated for this. College track pants are available at the Uniform Shop. Track pants with other logo's are unacceptable.


Thank you for your support.

Simon Fleming- Assistant Principal


Uniform Shop 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.

Canteen Menu


What's on

Week 3

31 July - NAIDOC week begins, Netball NSW All schools Cup regional finals - Tamworth, HSC Music Performance Night

1 August - AP Appraisal

2 August - Year 9 MASS, General Staff Meeting

3 August - CAPA Senior Student Showcase & 

Diocesan  Basketball in Tamworth

4 August -  Last Day Year 12 Assessment, Stroke Recovery & Census Day

Week 4

7 August - Year 7 One on One Learning evening 

9 August - Year 7 MASS

11 August  -  Diocesan Athletics Carnival at OCCC



Southern Cross University

SCU Open Days

Southern Cross University invites O'Connor Catholic College students and their parents to our Open Days to sample campus life, and explore study options and career opportunities.

Join us on campus for workshops and presentations, campus tours, food options, live music and entertainment.


Gold Coast campus: Sunday 13 August 

Lismore campus: Sunday 20 August 

Coffs Harbour campus and National Marine         Science Centre: Sunday 27 August    


For more information, registration and details on the event programs, please visitscu.edu.au/opendays   

SCU STAR Early Entry enables Year 12 students to gain early admission to Southern Cross University on the basis of their school Principal's recommendation. STAR Early Entry matches an individual student to a particular Southern Cross University course based on their likelihood of success in their chosen discipline. Applications for current Year 12 students are now open for study in 2018. For more information, please contact your Career Adviser or refer to scu.edu.au/STAR

 Keep up to date with our events by following us at SCU Future Student Facebook page

Uni Open Days

Open Day Reminders from some Universities: Look to their websites for details


Newcastle Uni: www.newcastle.edu.au

Callaghan Campus -19/8/17  10am-4pm

Central Coast- 12/8/17  10am -2pm

Port Macquarie Thursday 3/8/17  4pm-7pm


Macquarie Uni: www.openday.mq.edu.au

19/8/17  10am-4pm


Wollongong Uni: www.openday.uow.edu.au

19/8/17  10am-4pm


UTS: www.openday.uts.edu.au

26/8/17  9am-4pm


ANU: www.anu.edu.au

26/8/17 9am-4pm


Sydney Uni: www.sydney.edu.au/open-day

26/8/17  9am-4pm


ADFA Academy/UNSW: unsw.adfa.edu.au

Canberra campus    26/8/17   9am-4pm


UNSW: www.futurestudents.unsw.edu.au

Kensington campus  2/9/17  9am-4pm


Western Sydney Uni: www.westernsydney.edu.au

Parramatta campus  Sunday 27/8/17  10am-3pm



Newcastle University - Future students - New Website

Newcastle Uni: www.newcastle.edu.au/study

O'Connor Newsletter
school_newsletter_info_July2017 (1) (1).pdf
Canteen Winter.pdf