10. Next meeting - Annual Report 2009
10. Next meeting
Before 30 April 2010
11. Formal meeting Closed 2030 hours
1. Members open forum
1. Brian introduced new Chairman Bill
2. Q: What are the plans for the middle
primary classes 2010?
3. Q: What are the plans to replace the
4. Janet - Much work has been done for the
application to Kevin Rudd’s Education
Revolution grants. Please review the
proposals on the board after the meeting.
Bill introduced himself and said a few
words about the future. Bill thanked
Brian for his contribution as Chairman
over the past 2 years.
A: (Janet/Brian) A class of 20 children
have more independence emotionally
and socially. The single class is giving
us time to prepare educational staff.
Children numbers are appropriate 2010.
Each class will be at least 15. Staff
cover is one Teacher at 15 and 20 have
an additional assistant 0.5 FTE. BGMS
has a limit of 27 children in one class for
Middle and Upper and 25 for Junior.
A: (Janet) Sally will be taking up to full
time in Melaleuca
We will advertise for an assistant
looking to recruit a young teacher with a
view to succession planning.
BGMS has teaching practice to provide
student teacher an opportunity to
experience Montessori education
2. Meeting closed
4 April 2009
5 April 2009
Confidential minute attachments: Yes No
2009 Chairman’s Report
Blue Gum Montessori School has continued to evolve throughout 2009. Student numbers are up due
to the expansion into four Junior Primary classes, we have increased staff numbers and, courtesy of
the Federal Government, Stage Three of our development has come about sooner than projected.
The new building will house a new library and multi-purpose room that will accommodate our play
group as well as providing a facility for meetings and information evenings.
Although this building is funded by a federal grant the process requires extensive planning, both
logistically and financially. The parent council acknowledges the contribution of Robyn Whittaker
(Special Projects and Planning Officer), Linda Knox (Business Manager), Janet Laing (Principal), the
Finance Committee and our staff with the smooth acquisition of the third stage of development. The
school has also been able to upgrade security cameras, security screens, a covered area between
administration and middle primary, through a $75, 000 National Schools Pride Grant and will shortly
have $50,000 worth of solar panels installed which is funded through the National Schools Solar
Grant. Thank you to all parties who have helped make this happen.
As expected when faced with change and growth there have been several challenges that Council,
the Principal, Staff and parents had to deal with. Whilst we all endeavour to minimise the impact on
families it is impossible to keep all community members happy all of the time. Input and help from our
families is always welcomed to help face these challenges.
To quote Andy Warhol,
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”.
The sense of community is one of the major factors which influences our preference for a Montessori
Method of education and thus chose Blue Gum as the school for our children. It is important that we
don’t lose sight of this as our school grows larger and we all have an obligation to become involved in
the school community through term jobs, busy bees, morning teas, school functions and information
evenings. I encourage all parents to be familiar with the material covered on your expectations to
contribute to our community in the Parent’s Handbook and with our School Philosophy.
“The Blue Gum Montessori School philosophy is to acknowledge the uniqueness of each child and
support the natural phases of their development.
We are an independent school that values
community life and that actively fosters the partnership between children, parents/ carers and
Communication at BGMS is extremely important and occurs on many levels – the class notice
boards, communication books outside classrooms, teacher/parent meetings, pigeon holes,
newsletters, notes home and through our website. Whilst not all of these suit every family it is
extremely important that we as parents stay on top of this. I encourage all people to visit our website
in order to access information on the school, Montessori
Education, the Handbook, newsletters and upcoming school activities.
School fees are always a topic that is widely discussed and, whilst our fees have continued to rise
over the past couple of years, Council uses a model which objectively sets any rise in order to cover
the educational costs of the school. It should be noted that our fees have risen significantly less than
many of our independent counterparts, both Montessori and other non-government schools.
One area that has an impact on costs to the school is Council’s plan to and the implementation of an
increase in staff salaries to a level that is competitive with that of the Education Department and other
independent schools. However, I liken this process to the Montessori spiral Curriculum – an increase
in staff salaries leads to an increase in costs (in turn fees) which leads to greater accountability and
responsibilities for the staff which leads to better conditions/salaries and the cycle begins again.
Through my time on Council and more specifically in the last 12 months as Chairperson I have learnt
more and more about the Montessori Method of Teaching which is applied at BGMS. With this
knowledge I have a great appreciation for and value the work of our Teaching Staff, Educational
Assistance and Specialised Teachers in their delivery of the Montessori Curriculum. So, on behalf of
Council and the wider parent body, can I thank all staff for their professionalism and enthusiasm in
educating our children. I take this opportunity to thank staff leaving our community Jenny Moyles and
Sally Wimbridge for their contribution to our school over many years. Thank you also to Caroline
D’Argent for her time spent teaching French (including those snail adoptions) at BGMS.
Whilst on the topic of the Montessori Method of education I encourage all parents to continue to learn
and understand how our staff implement the method in a 21
Century school. At times certain views
have been expressed to Council for clarification but have been in conflict with the workings of the
Montessori Method. With a greater understanding of the philosophy, methodology and our schools
vision many of these issues would resolve themselves.
As an example many people, both existing parents and those who attend open days, often express
concerns of the impact of larger class sizes as they fear their child won’t get enough attention from
their teacher. However for quality Montessori teaching to occur having smaller classes is detrimental
to the class dynamics and the quality of the education. Our staff are well trained and resourced to
accommodate multi aged classes of around 24 to 26 and this allows for the learning to happen on
many different levels – individual, same age group, multi age groups and teacher directed lessons.
To quote Maria Montessori
“The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural
phenomena. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity
must lie in the phenomenon”.
Roe 8 continued to be an issue that Council took under consideration in 2009. Council confirmed its
stance of opposing any destruction of the nearby wetlands due to environmental and cultural
sensitivity of the area. I am aware that some people believe we should be taking a harder stance on
this issue; however Council has the view that we purchased the land on which our school is built
knowing the highway could possibly eventuate and therefore we won’t publicly oppose the highway
due to our proximity to it.
The latest update is that the Government has allocated $30 million on the consultation process but
has not yet committed money to the building of Roe 8. The school has submitted a list of questions to
the Government in order to clarify their plans and have been asked to put together a submission on a
series of issues such as traffic conditions for Hope Road, walkways to access Lakeside and the
Wetlands, sound barriers and use of land on the eastern and western boundaries of the school.
These developments have come about from a meeting on the 6
of May and will be an issue for the
new Council to act on. I would encourage people to voice their concerns to the incoming Parent
Representatives and Council Chair.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Janet Laing our Principal for her dedication and the
quality of her leadership at BGMS. No one person has had more thrust upon them than Janet through
this period of rapid change at our school. Her ability to combine a myriad of jobs, often over and
above those of which are in her job description, is a testament to her professionalism and value to the
school. She is always available and visible in the school which is rare in many schools as the
Principal’s role has become increasingly administrative.
Janet has worked hard and is continuing to attend to the criteria for our school to attain re-registration
later this year. This includes putting in place processes and policies, school plans, meeting
educational standards, showing the financial viability of the school and meeting student numbers are
some of the tasks along with Council and Finance that she has overseen. It is a long and arduous set
of tasks that has consumed much of Janet’s time without her losing touch with the day to day life at
been a keen topic of debate throughout the community. It is important that parents keep the use of
both in perspective as neither should be used alone to judge the merit of a particular school or
student. Whilst BGMS results appear to be favourable at this point in time I am confident that parents,
current and prospective, will continue to choose our school for the provision of quality educational
regardless of subjective rankings.
Linda Knox, our Business Manager, has left after two years of service at BGMS which has included
overseeing the transition of our financial operations from a fundamental accounting system to a point
where the school is in a position to plan and map its financial future. We wish Linda all the best in the
next phase of her life.
Paul Williamson (Treasurer) and Finance Committee members Stefan Mischke, Rod Jarman and
Johan Weisner have worked extremely hard in organising our finances and putting in place forward
estimates, budgets and processes that will hold the school in good stead for our future. Paul and the
committee have often gone over and above the call of duty in order for this to happen and I can not
thank them enough for that contribution.
On behalf of the whole school can I thank Sally Mischke for her contribution to Council, both as
Parent Coordinator and this year as Secretary, her presence will be sorely missed. Outgoing
members Amber Janowicz (Parent Coordinator), Ian Wilcox (Parent Representative) and Vanessa
August (Parent Coordinator) are also stepping down from Council and their contribution has been
When reading this please keep in mind that we always need people to engage with our Blue Gum
community and that we rely on many volunteer positions at our school. These include Class Liaison,
Council member or assisting at school functions, open days and information evenings. Your
assistance and input is encouraged and more importantly will always be welcomed. It is crucial that
you continue to voice opinions and concerns but even more important is that we have people who will
roll up their sleeves and give up their time for the benefit of our children and the school.
In 2010 and beyond our school will face many challenges throughout this period of continued growth
and evolution of the school. We will need to work hard as changes to the 3 – 5 year old education
system are implemented throughout the country which is in direct competition to our market
potentially impacting on our ability to attract and retain students. Maintaining our Montessori Values
and Methodology in a far different environment than we were just a few years ago will continue to
challenge both Council and Staff. Can I reinforce that it isn’t the “school” or the “council” but it is us,
the parent body, that are charged with making and continuing to make this a wonderful school for our
children to attend, learn and grow within.
Principal’s Report 2009
2009 was an exciting year with many developments in various areas. Blue Gum continued to grow,
with enrolments increasing and student and staff retention rates high. Plans for more infrastructure
were brought to fruition as a result of the Economic Stimulus Package.
Sincere thanks must go to the Council chaired by Bill Monaghan for the regular volunteering of their
time and expertise in the best interest and promotion of the school through their governance roles.
Many parents have given time and their skills in a variety of areas from clearing to gardening and
carpentry. On behalf of the children and staff - thank you for your support, commitment and trust.
Due to the strong demand for places a decision was made in 2008 to open a fourth junior primary at
the beginning of 2009 followed by the recommissioning of a middle primary at the beginning of 2010.
The Economic Stimulus Programme allowed the school to realise dreams that had been tabled for
the distant future. The package enabled the school to build a decent sized resource room (library)
and multipurpose room with a large outdoor area that will serve as an assembly area and play area
The teachers continued to openly demonstrate and impart knowledge and understanding of the
quality Montessori education the school offers, working tirelessly to ensure that all the children have
the chance to develop their individual potential. The consistent, strong and clear values of the school
continue to be pursued in all areas of the curriculum and management of the school.
The administration staff, Kathie and Melanie provided much appreciated strong support , building up
the procedures and systems and front of office contact
I echo the gratitude of Bill Monaghan to Jenny Moyles and Sally Wimbridge who devoted many years
of service to Blue Gum. I also thank Linda Knox as Business Manager who helped to steer the
school through the next stage of development.
Neisha Mills, Junior Primary teacher has taken parental leave and will be re joining the school later in
The school has been privileged to have the services of Deborah Dwyer and Gurmayll Kaur, both
highly qualified Montessori teachers, to take the places of the retired teachers. Maren Speckels and
Vinita Desa have joined the team as the Middle Primary teachers. Both ladies are WACOT registered
and currently undertaking Montessori training.
Lauder Coomber has taken the position of Business Manager and with the Finance Committee, is
continuing to consolidate the business affairs of the school. Lauder has come to the school with many
years of experience in banking and local government.
Significant events and milestones
Term 1the School celebrated the diversity of the cultures of Australian citizens on Harmony Day
with a whole school breakfast on the north verandas followed by the children sharing some of their
classroom activities with their parents.
began with a moving Anzac ceremony. This was followed in Week 2 with a Mums’ High Tea
in Week 2. The children prepared gifts for their mums and with great anticipation, sent out the
invitations. With barely contained excitement the children shared their class room activities with their
mums before serving them high tea made by themselves, on the school lawns. World Environment
Day on June 5 was a double celebration of planting the new school gardens around the front of Boab
classroom and a muffin morning to raise funds for the Orangu - tang programme run by the Roots
and Shoots organisation to which Boab class belong. The children were able to raise a tidy sum
towards the saving of the orangu - tangs.
was packed with activities that ranged from a whole school incursion of Team Beat with the
children drumming out rhythms in unison to a camp for Boab and a Dads’ Big Night Out run on the
same lines as the mums’ night. The term finished with the opening of the building housing Boab and
administration by Mr Mark Brown of the Department of Education.
The Remembrance Day commemoration in
Term 4was a poignant ceremony with the children
keeping the minute silence. The children of Junior Primary ran as fast as they could in their sports
morning in egg and spoon races and relay races. The Middle and Upper primary sports day was a
wonderful example of team work. The oldest children in the school were the team leaders of groups
of children ranging from six years old to eleven years old. They managed their groups, who did not all
have the same understanding or commitment to the race, with patience and humour.
The year ended with a celebration assembly when the community marked the graduation of four boys
who had completed three cycles at the school.