Newsletter - 26 August 2021

Issue 26


Principal's Report

Acknowledgement - Vale - Rita Makridis

Former staff colleagues, students and parents were very saddened to learn of the untimely death of Rita Makridis following a progressive illness. Rita showed courage and resilience as she managed her failing health over this past year. Rita was a loved teacher at FWPS from 1983, until her retirement in 2016. Rita had an optimistic approach, always finding time for her students, colleagues and parents.  FWPS was in her blood and over the last four years, following retirement, Rita regularly filled in as an engaged and supportive relief teacher for short and medium periods.

With the current COVID restrictions reducing funeral attendances to only 10, just a few of Rita’s closest FWPS friends will be able to attend the ceremony planned for next Monday.  Many former colleagues will also wish to view the ceremony online.  Should your child’s teacher not be available for all teaching sessions next Monday for this reason, this information will be posted tomorrow in your child’s Google Classroom.  For affected grades, all class teachers will run their first morning WebEx as usual and will post learning activities for the remainder of the remote learning day.

Some recollections of our colleague, Rita:

Rita was dedicated to providing students with more than just the curriculum, she loved celebrating all things cultural, holidays and special events! I was talking about this with her just last week, the last time I saw her I mentioned her love of Halloween and Christmas. Rita’s response was “children need to be inspired and engaged in what they’re doing. We as teachers need to keep the magic of all learning experiences, don’t give up on that Helena”. 


Rita loved the Arts. She worked on many of our school Wakakirri events, including the first one where we made the state finals.

Rita was always one to speak positively about all of the students that she worked with and helped them to find their strengths and talents)

Rita was my supervising teacher when I was on teaching rounds at FWPS in 1990. I can recall all of her students loving the computer activity ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’  where the class travelled the world, looking for clues and fostering a love of learning.
Rita loved to travel and the classroom reflected this - students set up an immigration office where passports were issued, an immunisation centre, trivial pursuit trials to learn about the countries they travelled to and also the dress up corner so that they could look their best on their way to the airport. Such an engaging learning environment that will be remembered by so many.


Rita was a big fan of the Footscray West Cup. She loved the idea of staff dressing up for the occasion and sharing a chicken and (non-alcoholic) ‘champagne’ lunch. Of having families involved and in the old days picnicking on the oval.
Rita loved reading serial stories to the kids and introduced many students to authors such as Roald Dahl and Judy Blume and encouraging students to respond to literature in creative ways.


There are some terrific appreciations on our school Facebook page:

FWPS Facebook page


Over the last fortnight my focus turned from school to the health of my elderly parents, who have lived in Colac in country Victoria for the last 68 years.  Due to the then COVID restrictions, my wife Janeane and I were unable to return to Melbourne and still be able to spend time at the aged care facility with my parents.  Consequently, I was very reliant on our Assistant Principal, Liz Beasley, supported by the office team of Sandra, Yvonne and Natalie and the wider leadership team, especially Anne.  Our school was in very good hands.  Thank you, Liz, and colleagues, for your wonderful collaboration and leadership over this period. 

Last week it was mentioned that my dear dad, Edmond died at the amazing age of 99 years and 9 months. As a family and with 50 mourners present, we celebrated his honesty, courage, and character.  His tolerance and strong sense of humanity and social justice were repeated messages.  Not one day after the funeral, my dear mum, Ursula also died.  This happened on the day of her 94th birthday.  We could never imagine them being apart and so no one was surprised with the proximity of their deaths. As my mum had experienced a fall that precipitated her death the coroner is required to investigate.  Therefore, we will hold my mum’s funeral in Colac on Friday week, now with a reduced number of 10 mourners present.  I will again be absent from duty on that day.

News … this week

Making the most of remote learning - Wellbeing Wednesday …

The introduction of Wellbeing Wednesday has been widely viewed as positive and yes, while we strongly encourage kids to engage with activities off screen and to participate in things that make them feel happy, there are also a range of structured activities set by the teaming teams.

These activities have more flexibility and choice, but for families who need a little more structure in their day, there are a range of activities which can ‘fill the day’ for students. This includes the five Specialist lessons (PE, Art, Music, Performing Art and Italian) all now posted each Wednesday, a wellbeing task, independent reading, independent writing, numeracy games and Mathletics. Our Year 3-6 students also have their Inquiry work to continue with, and of course, Wednesday is a great day for all our students to catch up on any unfinished tasks that are yet to be submitted to teachers. Don’t forget Gabby’s 30 minutes of exercise in the morning and Liz’s two books each day. For more information on any given Wednesday, please see the Google Classroom post which details the planned activities.

Thank you for all who responded to our latest remote learning survey last week.  Liz has provided a comprehensive response in today’s newsletter.

Cancellation of 3/4 Camp – On Monday we announced that sadly the grade 3/4 camp, due to be held the week after next, will be cancelled for 2021. 

This information can be accessed at:

grade_3_4_camp_cancellation.pdf (

This decision was made when it became starkly apparent that there was no likelihood that the date could be reset for term 4. This position is consistent with the Department of Education Operations Guide Monday, 23rd August (see below):

Camps and excursions
Camps for regional Victorian schools scheduled but that have not yet commenced should be cancelled. Camps
that commenced prior to 1pm on Saturday 21 August can continue but camp activities must be consistent with the restrictions in place for the wider community.

Camps are permitted to ‘shelter in place’ with appropriate staff supervision and care and no visitors to the camp site. Schools may choose to return from camps earlier than expected but are not required to do so. Once the camp has concluded, participants should travel directly to their residence and stay at home if this occurs while restrictions remain in place. Where possible, travel should be avoided during restrictions. If travel home from the camp facility is necessary during the restrictions, students and staff should travel directly home and once home, only leave for the permitted reasons.

Camps and excursions for metropolitan Melbourne schools cannot take place at this time.


Father’s Day Stall cancellation – Our Parents’ Association has also made the disappointing but necessary decision that there is no practical, currently safe, or acceptable way for the Father’s Day Stall to be held this year.  Should we return on Friday, 3rd September (the current earliest possible return date), it will not be possible to have parents onsite to run the stall.  Parents’ Association have prepared some Father’s Day ideas that have been included in today’s newsletter providing ample time for our students to celebrate the contributions their dad’s (and special people) make in their lives.




Families Survey Results – Term 3, Week 7

Last week in our Families Survey, we asked our community to share their insights into the success and challenges with the live (Webex) component of our remote learning program. This is what you said:


How successful are students at engaging with the online live sessions?

  • Of the families who stated that their child requires constant adult support, 93% were students in Years Prep to Two, with the remaining students in Year 3.
  • Of the families that stated that their child required some adult support, 77% of responses were students in Years P-2, 15% were in Year 3 and 8% were in Year 4.
  • All respondents indicated that their children fully engaged or mostly engaged with the live sessions.

What does this mean for our remote program?

The amount of support that junior students require is not surprising – this is certainly the same in the classroom and is the hardest part of learning for our staff to replicate remotely. Our staff are working on strengthening but simplifying their instructions and increasing the engagement strategies, so that the Webex sessions are as easy as possible for our students to participate in.

Which format of live sessions is preferred – small group, whole class or a mix of both?

Of the responses, the preferences were as follows:


Small group

Whole class

Mix of both





Year 1




Year 2




Year 3




Year 4




Year 5




Year 6




What does this mean for our remote program?

We were not surprised to find that the lower year levels find the smaller groups more effective, and simultaneously, the older year levels engage better with the whole class approach. We note the preference for a mix of both, and feel that we need to dig deeper with families about what this balance might look like. Inevitably, as we swap over whole-class sessions for smaller group sessions, the amount of live time each child receives with the teacher decreases and we are conscious of finding the right balance here. 

Is the balance of live sessions right for our families?

  • When we break it down further, of the families that said there was too many online live sessions, 50% were in Year Prep and 50% were Year 1.
  • Of the families who stated that there were not enough live sessions, 76% were students in Years Prep to Two.
  • Of the families who indicated that the amount of live time was suitable, these are evenly spread across the year levels.

What does this mean for our remote program?

The first two points are possibly indicative of both the varied needs of families and also the different challenges faced by our younger students. We know that the smaller groups are more effective, but this means less live time across the week. We also know that younger students find it more challenging to engage online, but that their families also require more support with live sessions as the students are less independent. We won’t have the perfect solution that suits everyone, but striking a balance that accommodates as many families as possible is our aim. Currently, our Year P-2 staff are exploring further ways to support students to engage more independently with their learning.

Questions/suggestions presented by families in the survey

1.     Can lessons extend beyond 1pm?

The DET sets guidelines about the minimum number of hours for literacy, numeracy, physical exercise and other learning areas for students during remote learning. It is important to note that after 1pm our teaching staff are responding online to student work, following up welfare issues, undertaking planning and preparation, in addition to the usual responsibilities of their jobs at this time. We are also conscious that as we increase the work of students, we potentially increase the work of families in supporting their children. This said, for our Year 3-6 students (who we know are more independent), teams have introduced some further Inquiry/Topic work for students to engage with in the afternoons at their own pace.

2.     Could whole school live online events take place?

Despite our best intentions, this is not feasible, which is why we pre-record our assemblies. There are several challenges with this. Firstly, the Webex application only allows for a maximum of 300 participants at once, which is less than half of our school population. Secondly, anyone who has seen a Prep whole-class session will know the challenges of 20 students online, let alone 700. 

3.     Can there be live Specialist classes?

Many of our families will not be aware that it is our Specialist and Education Support teams who are undertaking the onsite supervision of children of essential workers. This means that our classroom teachers have been able to focus solely on their classrooms and their students, rather than taking it in turns to supervise onsite (which would mean that there would be days that students do not have access to their own teacher). We have done this to prioritise the relationship between classroom teacher and student and the learning areas of literacy and numeracy. With this supervision happening, it is not possible for our Specialist teachers to run live sessions.

4.     Can students use the chat function or breakout rooms for socialising?

At times, teachers turn the chat feature off, particularly when students are being distracted from the content or task at hand. We are also unable to use breakout rooms when they are not supervised, as this is a child safety and supervision issue. The decisions teachers make when engaging with students during live lessons is about maximising learning, but we also know that during this time social connections are very important. Outside of the morning check-ins which have the social/wellbeing focus, we recommend that families facilitate their own opportunities for online social connections between friends. This can be done using video or audio calling. FWPS encourages families to refer to the eSafety Commissioner’s guide to social apps before allowing your children to use any of them.


This week we are asking families to provide their insight into the value placed on written feedback of submitted tasks. The survey can be accessed here:


Liz Beasley
Assistant Principal

Pupil of the Week






Apologies to Rory for the incorrect photo used in last week's assembly.



Using a growth mindset and applying your personal best effort during small reading groups. Superb effort! 



Your increased participation during whole class and small group meetings. Your contributions are thoughtful and appreciated by us all.



Engaging positively in our online meetings and confidently sounding out words in our reading groups. Keep up the wonderful effort.

Issy U


Your willingness to always share your ideas and to contribute to class discussions.



The amazing effort you are applying to your learning and for confidently contributing many ideas during class meetings. You are a super star!



Your effort when solving repeated addition number sentences. Well done! 



Effort you have put into sharing your online learning and explaining your thinking.



Enthusiastically sharing his ideas during our reading sessions. Keep up the great effort!



Her consistent enthusiasm and contributions to class Webex meetings. Aycan has been applying her personal best throughout learning tasks and should be proud of her continued efforts.



Working hard and applying his personal best effort to practise writing many different 'bold beginnings' for his story. Well done.



Your enthusiastic and positive attitude during class WebEx meetings.



Applying his personal best effort in his writing both in his presentation and his creative ideas for writing narratives. Superb Effort!



Starting her narrative in an engaging way and making sure all important parts of a narrative were included. Well done Hannah! 

Alexander R


Showing honesty - a fabulous personal trait. Well done. 



Continuing to complete remote learning tasks with enthusiasm and effort.



Always making sure she asks questions so she can participate in online learning to the fullest of her ability. Well done on your efforts, Nancy!



Applying effort to research and draft her information text about Tasmanian tigers. Your focus and questioning have been fantastic. Well done!



Showing care and concern towards others and showing great effort towards all tasks. Keep it up!



The fantastic effort you are putting into finishing your online learning tasks. Keep it up, Estelle!



Always participating actively during online sessions. You consider feedback and have made a great start to your information report. 



Showing a growth mindset in approaching your online learning. You have excelled in working on the distributive law. Well done.



Her excellent attitude to learning. You ask questions, seek feedback, and explain your feelings about our learning so well. Well done, Asher!



For insightful contribution to class discussions



Completing his work to a high standard. Excellent perseverance during remote learning!



An increase in your effort to join Webex meetings and complete online tasks. Keep it up, George!



The effort that you apply to your homework reading reflections.



His willingness to share his strategies during online learning, especially in maths!



Seeking feedback, attending every online class and working hard to complete the set-tasks.



Your dedicated effort to complete remote learning tasks.  A wonderful attitude Nilda!



Her kind and caring nature at TheirCare. Thank you for always sharing and being cooperative.

Premiers’ Reading Challenge 2021

Congratulations to those students who have completed the Premiers’ Reading Challenge so far this year.

Just a reminder to students taking part in the Challenge this year that is ends on Wednesday September 15th. Please make sure you have added all your books onto the website and marked them as finished by this date so I can verify them.

If you have any problems including lost username and passwords or problems adding books please let your class teacher know so they can contact me.


Father's / Special Person's Day

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, we regret that we will not be able to hold the Father’s Day stall for a second year running. Stall co-ordinators, Rebecca and Maggie have been busy preparing gifts, but unfortunately these will now have to wait until next year.

But we can all still make our dad’s/special person’s in our lives feel appreciated on Sunday the 5th of September.

How about getting your creative juices flowing and making one of these fantastic cards and a DIY nuts and bolts keychain.

For breakfast you could treat your dad/special person to some delicious blueberry pancakes from the recipe below. And for dinner you could try your hands at this dry rub recipe which is perfect for any type of meat or roast veggies.

However, you choose to spend the day, we wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Father’s Day.

Lots of love from the Parents Association


Dear parents, guardians, staff and friends!

We are very excited to announce that Luke and his wife Trúc (Zoe) are now the proud parents of the adorable Lara Nguyen-Blythman, born 15/08/2021 weighing 3.5kg


Isn’t she beautiful!

Bookings are now open for our upcoming Spring holidays! The theme this holidays will be Monster Mayhem. We are hopeful that we can get on top of this current outbreak and have everyone joining us these school holidays for loads of fun. We are really looking forward to the incursions and excursions, and we hope to see lots of new and old faces.

    Spring Holiday Program

This week’s TheirCare Star of the week is Beth Satzke in PAF, for her kind and caring nature at TheirCare. Thank you for always sharing and being cooperative.


Just a reminder to all parents and children to make sure when we are all back that you are checking the lost property at sign in and out! We still have quite a few items from the previous holidays that do not have names on them but have had to pack these away for the meantime as the pile was getting too big. So if you are missing anything in particular from last holidays please ask Nelly. Unfortunately if they are not collected by the upcoming holidays we will need to donate or dispose of them to make room.

For now we will be putting a hold on our Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Food Drive until after lockdown and will keep you posted about this.


As always, if you have any queries during lockdown please do not hesitate to email or give us a phone call 😊

We really hope we will be seeing you all again soon! Until then stay safe and look after one another.

TheirCare Team:
Luke, Nelly, Louise, Callum & Eleanor

Contact Details:
Service Phone: 0487004072
Service Email:
Head Office: 1300 072 410