St Mary’s welcomes new preps

Parents Paula and Joseph Tarzia drop off new prep Natalie, right, as she begins school at St Mary's Parish Primary School, Whittlesea, alongside older sister Gabriella.

ABOUT 84,000 prep students started school last week, including St Mary’s Parish Primary School students in Whittlesea.

St Mary’s principal Phillip Smith said it was an exciting time at the school.

Mr Smith said the school welcomed back only preps for two days, which made for a quiet playground of 25 new faces adapting to a new challenge at ‘big school’.

“We only have preps here for the first two days and it was lovely having them by themselves. We have 25 new preps and 20 of them have siblings already here,” he said.

“We also had parents able to come onto the school grounds, they had to sign in using QR codes, but it will be nice to have parents walking their kids in for the next three weeks.

“We were able to have a morning tea, with appropriate social distancing, parents visited the classroom at the start, and it was good we could do everything we normally do if it was COVID-safe.

“They were very excited and looking gorgeous in their uniforms, we’re glad to be welcoming them this year.”

Mr Smith said preps would be focusing on settling into school and building a routine.

“Most of the focus in the first term is settling into a routine, they will be doing activities about learning the way of schooling and learning positive behaviours for learning,” he said.

“Being able to say, ‘This week I am ready and prepared to learn, I am in the right place at the right time’ and learning about respect and focus.

“There will be a lot of play-based learning and activities, and we will be encouraging them to talk. We have a speech pathologist working in the prep rooms listening to the language, helping the children develop their speech.

“We know these children aren’t as prepared because they missed a year of kinder, so there is a lot more work to get them settled and prepared to learn.

“They will still be doing lessons in numbers, reading, writing and art, with a new focus each week.”

As part of the State Government’s school building boom, 14 new schools have opened their doors to students across the state.

Each new Victorian primary school beginning this year will have a kindergarten on-site or next door to reduce stress for parents dropping children off at two locations.

The government is committed to opening 100 new schools by 2026, with 48 opening between 2019 and 2022.

“The first day of school is a big day every year – but particularly after the year we had in 2020. I thank every teacher, student and parent for their efforts last year and wish them well for the year ahead,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“We’re building new schools across the state, so every child has a great local school and a best start in life – wherever they live.”