Home' Aurora : Aurora March 2012 Contents 8
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
By TRISH GLEESON
YOU MAY HAVE heard that children
beginning Kindergarten in Catholic
schools this term were 'tested'
before they even embarked on Day One.
Aurora invited Education Officer (Primary
Curriculum) Trish Gleeson to explain what
Were 'kinders' required to do a test
before beginning school?
For the first time in our diocese,
all children entering Kindergarten
participated in the Best Start
Kindergarten Assessment which
was developed by the Department
of Education and Community. This
Assessment tool gives teachers
information about what children already
know and can already do, in terms of
literacy and numeracy, prior to starting
school. The information the teacher
gathers during the assessment enables
the teacher to plan a program which
meets the individual needs of each child
in the class.
What is the rationale behind
Children enter Kindergarten between
the ages of four and a half and almost
six, so there is a broad range of ages
and stages of development. As the name
suggests, we want to give the children
the 'best start' at school by knowing each
child's starting point in both literacy and
What does Best Start involve? How
long does it take?
Simple activities such as counting,
recognising numbers, and listening to a
story are used. It takes about 40 minutes.
How are the results of the individual
assessments used by teachers?
Teachers use the information to plan their
literacy and numeracy program to meet
the different needs of the children.
What information will parents/carers
receive after the assessment?
Parents will receive information on how
they can help their child at home in very
simple ways, such as using shopping
lists, counting objects, playing games,
What about a shy or anxious child?
Will their result be adversely affected?
Many children show signs of trepidation
when the time comes to attend 'big
school'. Teachers administering the
assessment are very skilled at helping
children to feel as relaxed as possible
and they use a positive and supportive
approach during the assessment.
As a teacher with many years
experience in the Kindergarten
classroom, what is the best way for
parents to help their children?
Reading to children from a very early age
gives them a wonderful start. Nursery
rhymes provide the children with the
rhythm and rhyme of language. Good
literature provides the children with
a window to the world and promotes
language and vocabulary. Involving
children in day to day activities such as
shopping and cooking is also beneficial.
Above all else have fun with your children,
and provide opportunities for inside and
Are there any other advantages to
Kindergarten teachers have always
been very good at getting to know their
students, however the opportunity to have
this time 'one on one' with the children
so early has some wonderful benefits.
Each child has the teacher's undivided
attention. Parents have the opportunity
to meet the teacher and so a three way
To learn more, please visit
Students and schools alike are abuz
zz this year with the
surrounding ASPIRE. Launched late
High School, Mayfield, the dance, drama, vocal and iin
program is the first of its kind in tthe Maitland-Newca
Now, the exciting initiative has a
another reason to ce
elebrate with tthe
appointment of Artistic Director, Anna Kerrigan.
ORIGINALLY FROM WALES, Anna,
31, has worked as a professional
in the entertainment industry for
more than ten years as an actor, singer
Anna completed her training at The
University of Leeds' Bretton Hall, gaining a
Bachelor of Theatre Acting (Honours) and
specialising in theatre and education.
She has since worked with theatre
companies both in Australia and the
UK, including Wigan Pier Theatre
Company, Whiplash Theatre Company and
Powerhouse Theatre. Anna has also held
key positions with Barking Gecko Theatre
Company and Tantrum Theatre Company.
Most recently, she was the workshop
manager for Australian Theatre for Young
People in Sydney.
Now based in Berkeley Vale on the Central
Coast with husband Nick and four month
old son, Bobby, Anna is ready to take on her
new role leading the ASPIRE team. Drawn
to the program because of its innovation,
Anna says that as an artist, it's like having
a blank canvas to work from. "There's no
script to work with, everything is going to
come from the kids that are involved. So
that really excited me!"
To help her students aspire to reach their
potential, Anna plans to push students out
of their comfort zones: "While they may
specialise in one area, they're actually
going to have to step up and experience all
areas of performance." For the first ASPIRE
workshop, however, Anna admits her plans
are to keep it simple: "I don't like to go
into a room of young people with too many
preconceived ideas of my own, because I'm
always keen for them to lead the subject
matter for a show. I want it to be their
words on stage so they have ownership
Such passion for working with young people,
together with extensive experience in the
youth arts sector, combine to make Anna
the perfect person for the daunting task of
creatively managing a cast of over 100 Year
5-12 students. "I just have a really good
rapport with young people," she says, "I
really enjoy them and the fact that they
will say things and you'll think, 'Oh, I would
never have thought of that.'
"They've just got a freshness that as adults
we don't have anymore."
As Artistic Director, Anna's duties will
also involve overseeing all elements of
production and working collaboratively
with ASPIRE'S four talented ensemble
directors: Steve Matthews (Drama), Marika
Aubrey (Vocal), Lauren Wheatley (Dance),
and Michael McCarthy (Instrumental). "It's
exciting that I get to work with four other
professionals," Anna says enthusiastically,
"I always enjoy that collaborative approach."
She is quick to realise, however, that
as artists in their own right, creative
differences may arise. "I guess my role is to
make the call when people don't agree and
that can sometimes be a bit difficult but
that's the way it is.
"The buck stops with me." And in what is an
all too often pretentious industry, such a
no-nonsense approach is refreshing.
By CLARE HARRIS
Kindergarten teacher Jane Redman
gives Sanitina Puliuvea the best
start at St Columban s Mayfield.
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