From the Deputy Principal - David Hodges

Professional Learning Teams

As the new Deputy Principal at St Andrew’s School it has been a busy first six weeks! It has been an absolute pleasure meeting our wonderful students in the yard and in classrooms and getting to know them each as unique individuals.

Likewise, our dedicated staff, who are at different stages of their professional journey, have been open to new learning and ideas. Our year-level teams, and specialist teachers have been working in Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) with dedicated time provided for rich conversations, regarding planning, teaching, and assessing our students' learning.

The international research is irrefutable that when teachers work together, it leads to improved outcomes for students. As Sir Ken Robinson (international adviser on education) states, ‘Collaboration is the stuff of growth!’ We know that multiple teachers working together to ensure consistency and best practices as a team improves the educational experience and outcomes for our learners.

Junior Primary Literacy

Last week, Maddie Thompson and Rita O'Leary represented our Reception and Year 1 PLTs, and attended a professional learning regarding Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) testing. DIBELS is a set of short fluency measures we have used with all our Reception and Year 1 students at SAS this year.

These indicators provide outstanding information on the early literacy skills of our young learners, along with the areas for growth. Maddie and Rita shared their learning with all our Junior Primary teachers, including analysing the results and most importantly the next steps for learning.

The research into how students learn to read, outlines that two essential components of teaching early literacy skills include Phonological Awareness, the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words, and Phonics, understanding the letters and letter combinations used to make these sounds and the connection between both.

Our teachers explicitly teach these sounds and provide opportunities for students to manipulate these sounds by blending them to make words. Students are also provided with decodable readers, that use the sounds which have been taught, to put this learning into practice. Our language has some common words like ‘said’ and ‘they’ which cannot be sounded out and need to be learnt by sight. Our teachers incorporate the learning of these words into our weekly programs too.

If you would like to know more, or would ever like to catch up and chat, please send me an email at

David Hodges
Deputy Principal