22 Feb 2019

A Message from the Head of Lindfield

Developing Resilience

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been fortunate enough to witness our boys in different environments; camps, sporting events, classrooms and in the playground.

I am writing and reading for this article whilst attending the Stage 3 camp in Canberra. There are boys here who have, at different times, been excited to be away from home and their routines, homesick and wanting to speak to Mum, and curious about all the different places and experiences that have been part of this trip. Each boy has responded in their own unique way to the activities and new environments experienced over the last two days. Each boy has shown resilience in certain instances – and at times for each boy, this resilience may have faltered. It started me thinking about the idea of resilience and our boys.

In an interesting New Yorker article on this concept Maria Konnikova wrote “Resilience presents a challenge for psychologists, whether you can be said to have it or not largely depends not on any particular psychological test but on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?”

Conversations about developing resilience often focus on protective factors – the elements that allow a person to thrive in spite of negative circumstances. Protective factors fall into two categories – internal/psychological and external/environmental. In a study in Hawaii, developmental psychologist Emmy Werner followed 698 children from before birth into adulthood. By gathering data on the lives of the children identified as resilient, Werner was able to pinpoint influential factors. The most important external factor was a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher or other mentor figure. At Lindfield, we work hard to try to connect with our students and make them feel valued and very much an important member of our school community. 

 The study also found which internal psychological factors were significant.

The children identified as being resilient:

–   were autonomous and independent

–   sought out new experiences

–   had a positive social orientation

–   though not especially gifted, they used whatever skills they had effectively

–   had an internal locus of control – they believed that they, not fate, or the wider world, affected their achievements, that they were the masters of their own destinies.

Resilience wasn’t a fixed entity, Werner found. This is what I observed over the last couple of days. The boys have shown different levels of resilience in different contexts and at different times during the camp.  The research also pointed to the idea that resilience can be learned or can develop over time.  

How can we teach our boys (and ourselves) to be more resilient?

In her article, Konnikova, talks about George Bonanno, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University, who has researched this question.

Perception of an event is seen as a key determinant of your resilience – Do you see an event as traumatic or as an opportunity to learn and grow? “Events are not traumatic until we experience them as traumatic,” says Bonanno. Rather than calling an event traumatic, he believes it’s more accurate to call it a potentially traumatic event. Losing one’s job could be seen as calamitous or it might be seen as an opportunity to re-evaluate what one wants to do with their career. Going on camp for the first time might be seen as terrible because you became homesick, or it could be seen as an important step in becoming independent and moving towards adulthood.

In other words, the long-term impact of traumatic events is not in the events themselves but in how people process them. Resilience is a set of skills that can be taught. People can be taught the cognitive skills of regulating their emotional response, and the new mindset lasts over time. It’s also possible for a person to move in the opposite direction. “We can become less resilient, or less likely to be resilient,” says Bonanno. “We can create or exaggerate stressors very easily in our own minds. That’s the danger of the human condition.” We can worry and ruminate, blow up a minor event into an obsession, and drive ourselves crazy. It’s all in how we frame things.

This is the key point for parents. It is vital that we consistently reframe the catastrophising that happens from time to time, especially with adolescents, as opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes as parents, in our bid to be sympathetic and to smooth things out when things don’t turn out how our kids were hoping, we inadvertently validate and reinforce a lack of resilience.  If we join our children in describing difficult situations as traumatic, unfair, someone else’s fault (the world is happening to them and they have no control) then we are not encouraging them to see challenges as opportunities for growth.

I recently used this strategy with one of my own children who was desperate to make a particular division in his sport. He had his heart set on it and felt he trialed very well. The teams were announced and he was not where he had hoped.  Rather than dwelling on his disappointment about how things worked out we had a discussion about the great players that were in his team, what he could work on to improve his skills and how he could continue to get better at the game.  After our chat, he felt positive and has since been attending extra training sessions of his own accord.  He enjoys his team mates and has actually moved to a higher division as a result of his hard work.

Resilience is a learnable trait and with practice and good modelling our boys can develop into more resilient and resolute young men.         

“How People Learn to Become Resilient” by Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker, February 11, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/the-secret-formula-for-resilience


Ben Barrington-Higgs


Pastoral Care

Pastoral care is not merely a complementary practice; it is policy and practices fully integrated throughout the teaching and learning and structural organisation of a school to effectively meet the personal, social (well-being) and academic needs of students and staff.

To this end we have a robust and consistent approach to student behaviour management that values the rights of every member of the school community and highlights the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

The School’s Philosophy of Pastoral Care

The overall aim of Newington College is to provide a well-balanced liberal education, nurturing the physical, emotional, social, moral, academic and spiritual needs of the students and assisting them to grow towards the full stature of responsible citizenship. As a central component of this aim, the school seeks to provide a supportive environment for boys, where individual needs are recognised and the pursuit of excellence is valued. This is done with the recognition that we have a sound understanding of the needs of boys and what works best for them.

Pastoral care at Newington focuses on the total development of each student and enhancement of the dignity of each person. It nurtures success and has a commitment to forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation. As teachers, we seek to motivate young people to be socially responsible and committed to building a better world through a partnership of the school community, teachers and parents.

To assist in facilitating a supportive, positive and affirming environment, it is important that expectations, both academic and behavioural are clear, and rules and limits are set. Every member of the community has responsibility to contribute to achieving such an environment, therefore, an effective Behavioural Management Policy is viewed as an essential component of a genuine approach to Pastoral Care. This works in conjunction with the School’s overarching Anti-bullying Policy.

Valuing Individuals

At Lindfield, we acknowledge that people respond to genuine praise and positive recognition. We also recognise that learning best takes place in an environment that is supportive and caring, is encouraging of risk taking and where all are valued and individual needs are met. This positive approach greatly contributes to the enhancement of each child’s self-esteem. Children who have a positive self-concept and sense of self-esteem feel worthy, valued and resilient and are ready to succeed.

All children should be actively encouraged to participate in the many opportunities that are provided both within the classroom and through the rich co-curricular program. The talents and capacities of each child should be nurtured and their efforts and achievements recognised. As students develop and mature, they should be guided towards becoming self-motivated and life-long learners. From this perspective, pastoral care can assist students to develop positive self-esteem, healthy risk taking, goal setting and negotiation, thus enhancing their strengths and other protective factors contributing to their resiliency as well as developing a sense of social cohesion that together can improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Students are encouraged to understand and value others (Mark 12:30-31), work cooperatively and be guided towards stable and satisfying interpersonal relationships. As all children are unique they should be encouraged to be individuals and their uniqueness should be viewed as an asset.

Valuing Each Other

As a teaching community at Lindfield, we feel it is important to build positive relationships with our students based upon mutual respect and trust. We endeavour to provide students with a stimulating, challenging, enjoyable and supportive learning environment. As teachers, we believe that all students can learn and as such we have appropriately high expectations of students. We aim to support each individual within the classroom, academically and behaviourally, and encourage each student to take responsibility for his actions. The relationship between each teacher and each student is of great importance in achieving this aim. This is supported by recent research that suggests that one of the most significant aspects influencing students’ learning is this relationship. The health and wellbeing of students is increasingly being attributed to school conditions, school relationships, means of fulfilment, and health status.


To encourage mutual respect, we believe it is essential to treat all members of our community with integrity. This includes talking to others in an appropriate manner, listening to their concerns and dealing with them appropriately, be they students, staff or parents. At Lindfield K-6, there is a strong understanding that parents know their children best and have the right to be involved in their child’s education. The development of a strong partnership between parents and teachers is an important aspect of the educational and pastoral process at Lindfield.

We feel it is essential that staff and parents work together to foster each child’s development so that he may grow towards an appreciation both of himself and of his place amongst his peers.

Our Pastoral Care Policy for Lindfield together with the school’s overarching Anti-Bullying Policy can be found on the Policies Page on our Lindfield SPACES site.


Mr Pascal Czerwenka – Deputy Head of Campus

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) Overview

It was a great pleasure to see so many new and old faces in our initial learning session for the PYP (Primary Years Programme) recently. Below is an overview of the presentation from that evening providing you with some basic information about the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organisation) and the PYP which will be expanded and developed in future issues of Prep Talk.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged 3 – 12 years nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning. Through its inquiry focus, the PYP challenges students to think for themselves, to take ownership and responsibility for their learning as they explore local and global issues and opportunities in real-life contexts.

Brief History

The IB PYP was introduced in 1997. It followed the introduction of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) established respectively in 1994 and 1968. As of 1 November 2018, there are 1,652 schools offering the PYP, in 109 different countries worldwide. Newington College offers the PYP at the Lindfield campus and the DP at the Stanmore campus in Years 11 and 12 as an alternative to the Higher School Certificate (HSC).


The Learner Profile & IB Mission

At the centre of the framework is the Learner Profile. These are the ten attributes that are the focus of the PYP as a holistic programme that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.


The Curriculum

The PYP curriculum is adaptable to state standards, therefore, the curriculums of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) are used as the basis for learning and teaching from Kindergarten to Year 6. The disciplines/subjects, e.g. English, Mathematics, Music etc, are incorporated into units of inquiry and students participate in mini-lessons for explicit learning in all disciplines/subjects.

The PYP is guided by six transdisciplinary themes, i.e. where many disciplines/subjects are covered to create a holistic approach, helping students to deepen their learning by developing their understandings of big ideas of significant global issues facing the world. This approach enables them to strengthen their knowledge and skills across and beyond subject areas. The entire school community, including parents, are viewed as partners in learning, and actively contribute to this holistic educational experience.

The PYP provides the knowledge, concepts, skills, personal attributes and the capacity to take action, all of which students need to equip them for successful lives, both now and in the future. Learning through inquiry, learning investigations across and beyond subject areas will strengthen their knowledge and understanding as they explore global, topical and relevant ‘big picture’ questions, or transdisciplinary themes.


Student-centred learning

The PYP provides a foundation for children to become successful, lifelong learners by developing their:

  • social and emotional well-being;
  • independence, as they take responsibility for their own learning;
  • international mindedness;
  • understanding of the world and their ability to function effectively within it;
  • ability to take mindful, appropriate and sustainable student-initiated action, and
  • language skills; all students study an additional language from at least 7 years of age.


By choosing to implement the PYP at Newington College Lindfield, we will work together to develop students’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing, focusing on international mindedness and strong personal values. We will nurture independent learning skills, encouraging every student to take responsibility for their learning.

Sue Gough – PYP Co-ordinator




Supporting the Boys in the Year Ahead

Supporting the Boys in the Year Ahead

In my naivety, I don’t think that I truly understood the term ‘work-life balance’ until my daughter was born almost seven years ago, which at that point, was only a couple of years in my teaching career. Managing the stress of a new born child with the responsibility of educating a class of thirty, six-year old children could prove overwhelming at times, but over the years I learnt to adapt and find ways of maintaining that balance.

Children, particularly in late primary and throughout high school, are now beginning to experience levels of pressure and expectation that I myself did not encounter at school twenty years ago. Research indicates that a sense of vulnerability amongst adolescence typically starts at around 8-9 years of age, and often extends throughout the teens and into the early twenties. Year 6 is a significant year in the boys’ school life, as the culmination of their primary school experience comes to a close and they prepare for the transition to high school.

As a staff we want to address that pressure and continue to develop our approach to student well-being. A recent talk from Stan Comino, the Stanmore School Counsellor recommended that as a school we:

  • Enhance student connectedness
  • Create supportive environments
  • Develop personal skills curriculums
  • Enhance pastoral care
  • Strengthen the sense of community.

The school also endeavors to support our students by working with families to:

  • Develop life skills
  • Teach boys to problem solve
  • Recognise thoughts and feelings
  • Aid with decision making by exploring consequences
  • Nurture a sense of connectedness to the school community, peers and adults
  • Make sure students have positive regard from adults and role models
  • Develop a culture of structure and success.


This year, in Year 6, will be a journey for all of us and no doubt as the year progresses the boys will experience different pressures at different stages – be it on camp, during the Exhibition or as they begin their high school transition. One of the main requests from the initial parent teacher meetings at the start of the year was that we help boys manage their anxiety this year. We are here to help and support the boys throughout, and we are looking forward to the challenge of the year ahead!

Sam Watson – Year 6 Teacher


Camp – Stage 2

Stage 2 Camp to Galston

What a way to kick off the year! Stage 2 boys had the wonderful opportunity to attend a Crusaders Camp in Galston during Week 2 from 6-8 February 2019.

Incredible blue skies and very friendly camp leaders were there to greet us all when we arrived at camp. Fun and active games on the oval created a hearty appetite for the delicious lunch that was served in the dining room. In the afternoon, the boys were soon settled into their cabins and most excited about experiencing the fun and challenges that camp would bring them.

Activities such as BMX bike riding, vertical pole climb, initiative games in the hall and rock climbing were all on the fun agenda for the next three days. The boys also played outside games such as basketball, soccer and Ga-Ga Ball. There was an opportunity for the boys to have some free time in the afternoon following their swim in the beautiful pool, which went down like a treat on such hot, sunny days!

Here are some of the Year 3 & 4 boys’ reflections from the camp:-

Yuan Hao Chen – “I never thought I would make it to the blue strip on the vertical climbing pole, but I did!

Oliver Cooper – “My camp was absolutely epic as the activities were really fun.”

Ivan Zhao – “I found rock climbing challenging but I had a go.” 

Zak Nachabe – “I found the camp epic and awesome because I loved the leaders. I found the BMX tricky.”

Anthony Fernandez – “The activities were utterly and completely awesome! I loved them! 

Aidan Lilley – “I loved seeing the camp leaders again. The rock climbing and the vertical pole climb were the best.” 

James Lu – “I loved the food and the BMX bikes.” 

Aaryn Jata – “The vertical pole climb was fantastic. I made it all the way to the top!”

A wonderful time was had by everyone!

Leonie Russell – Year 3 Teacher




‘You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way’. Dr Seuss

Kindergarten are off and racing and have had a wonderful start to their school learning journey. They are settling into class routines and expectations and have been approaching learning tasks with great excitement and gusto!

When asked about starting Kindy this is what some of the boys said:

“My favourite thing has been playing on the equipment”. Beau

“I’ve liked drawing”. Elliot

“I like playing in the bush kitchen”. Riley

“I like learning and making friends”. Joshua

“I liked meeting Miss Smallhorn for the first time”.  Benson Z

“I like shooting basketballs”. Austin

“I like playing with my friends”. Leon


Kindergarten have enjoyed playing fun ‘get to know you’ games and have worked on developing friendships through developmental play opportunities. These learning experiences have formed part of their first unit of inquiry into ‘Who We Are’.

As part of this unit there has been a strong focus on developing the learner profile attributes of being caring (being a good friend) and being principled (making good choices).  Kindergarten are learning that it is okay to make mistakes and that making mistakes actually helps us to learn and improve. They have also been learning about the power of ‘yet’ e.g. I cannot read ‘yet’! It has been lovely hearing the boys start to use these words when talking about their learning and new experiences.

Kindergarten have been busy little bees learning how to work collaboratively and independently in literacy and numeracy activities. They particularly loved our shared reading text, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.  We had fun re-enacting the story, going through the long wavy grass, through the thick oozy mud and finally running away from the bear! We then used binoculars and went on a bear hunt into the school bush. We found lots of bears that were hiding!

We have also been learning how to read books independently, focusing on the reading strategy ‘Eagle Eye’ (looking at the pictures). In independent reading sessions, the boys have loved sitting in the Kindergarten ‘Book Boats’ and ‘scoop chairs’.

There has been a strong focus on developing the boys’ phonological awareness skills. Research has shown that these skills are extremely important in order to develop good reading skills. Having good phonological awareness skills means that a child is able to manipulate sounds and words, or ‘play’ with sounds and words. By engaging in word play, children learn to recognise patterns among words and use this knowledge to read and build words. 

Kindergarten have been practising the phonological skills of: rhyming, breaking words into syllables, thinking about onset (e.g. ‘c’- cat) and rime (e.g. ‘at’ – cat), identifying initial and end sounds, segmenting words in sentences, and blending and segmenting sounds. 

Every morning we engage with the THRASS (Teaching Handwriting Reading and Spelling Skills) picture chart. English words are produced using a combination of 44 individual speech sounds called ‘phonemes’. These phonemes can be represented in writing using the 26 letters of the alphabet, either individually or combined with other letters. This approach to teaching phonics helps the boys understand that there are lots of different spelling choices (letters) that can make certain sounds.

In numeracy lessons the boys have had great fun making patterns and developing their counting skills using a variety of counting strategies, such as ‘line up and count’ and ‘move and count’.

We are looking forward to seeing the Kindergarten boys take off in great leaps and bounds and develop a love of learning. They are certainly on their way!

Miss Smallhorn – Kindergarten Teacher







Mathematical Support from Parents

Supporting your son’s mathematical development

During the mathematics parent information session at Lindfield held on the evening of Friday 1 February this year, I recommended three books which provide guidance for parents in ways they can support their son’s mathematical development.  Below I have reviewed these books.

Maths for Mums and Dads. Take the Pain out of Maths Homework by Rob Eastaway & Mike Askew

This is an easy to read guide which explains current practices in mathematics and helps parents understand some of the current strategies and terminology students use. It is aimed at helping parents re-engage with maths, to see the subject in a new light and to help parents understand why maths is taught differently these days.  The book includes some great ideas to help both parents and their children enjoy mathematics.

What’s Math Got To Do With It?  How parents and teachers can help children learn to love their least favorite subject by Jo Boaler

This book provides an interesting look at current issues around mathematics education.  The topics include a look at assessment, gender difference, key strategies and advice on how to give children the best mathematical start.  The book offers a range of practical advice for parents and teachers.

Woo’s Wonderful World Of Maths by Eddie Woo

Eddie Woo has written this book which contains a collection of short essays which reveal how mathematics lies beneath the surface in practically every aspect of our lives.  A great read to help parents find ways to weave mathematical discourse into everyday events with your son.


Colleen Chan (Learning and Teaching Leader, Mathematics)

Music – Instrumental

Instrumental Learning at the start of the year.

This is always an exciting time of the year – new instruments and great enthusiasm about playing them. They are always out and being played – sometimes even waking up the whole household!!

Then reality sets in and the boys realise that this has to happen everyday and sometimes they don’t feel like they are getting better so then they stop playing regularly. This is when you need to step in to encourage them, explaining that they should set little goals – “What are you working on at the moment?”, “What do you want to get better at?”, “What are you going to play for me at the end of this practice?” These are all good questions to ask.

Following is a practice guide of how to help your sons to practice. It is a guide so please adapt it to your life.

String Instruments


Wind Instruments

Warm up – at least 5 minutes

Long bows – 4 on each string making sure that it is the best sound, the bow is straight and the bow hold is correct

Scales – putting fingers down on each string going up and going down – Left wrist away from the neck of the (violin and viola), elbow at the correct angle for cellos and basses. Making sure fingertips are being used.


Warm up – at least 5 minutes

Buzzing on mouthpieces for brass instruments

Long sustained notes

Create a beautiful round sound that plays a note that doesn’t change (or wobble)

Scales – playing as many notes as you know going up and down making a beautiful sound.

Improvisation (playing anything) – 2 minutes

Before reading music, playing anything they like but with a good sound, varying rhythm.


Improvisation (playing anything) – 2 minutes

Before reading music, playing anything they like but with a good sound, varying rhythm.

Pieces – about 10 minutes

Practice the harder sections first.

Play these sections at least 5 times correctly.

Say rhythms first. Changing strings is a little tricky so practice these passages

Play the harder section in context of the piece (not necessarily the whole piece)

Depending on time it might be only one hard section done a practice.


Pieces – about 10 minutes

Practice the harder sections first.

Play these sections at least 5 times correctly.

Say rhythms first.

Changing pitch for brass players and keeping the same valves or slides can be tricky. Get to know how much air, what tension lips need to be to do this.

Changing notes can be challenging for the woodwind players. Playing the note is easy, moving between the notes is tricky. Practice the harder changes within the pieces.

Performance Practice – 2 minutes

Play through pieces that you know well and try and perform them


Performance Practice – 2 minutes

Play through pieces that you know well and try and perform them

Vanessa South – Music Teacher


Language Learning and Learner Profile

This year, instead of outlining the topics we will be learning throughout the year, I started the lesson by asking the boys: WHY do we learn another language?

The boys from Year 2 and above shared their thoughts in their class. While some very ambitious boys mentioned how learning new languages can help them to “have a multinational company” and “do trade with other countries”, there are boys who suggested: to communicate with others who do not speak English, to make more friends, to speaker to waiters in a Chinese restaurant or to read menus. One of the Year 5 boys must have a great knowledge of the IB system! – he told the class the reason why we learn another language is because all IB school students are required to learn another language. He is right! But why?

Here are 10 reasons why IB learners should learn another new language based on the attributes of the Learner Profile

  1. To become a better communicator. The more languages you learn, the more people we can reach and better connect with. Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. “
  2. To become a better inquirer. For example, if you need to research on “couplet”. Google returns 17,000,000 result when searched in English, while Google has 5,200,000 + 32,800,000 results in both simplified (春联) and traditional Chinese (春聯). For someone who uses all three, it’s a massive total of 550,000,000 results. But the most importantly, it fosters one’s curiosity towards the world.
  3. To become more knowledgeable. Knowledge is power!!!
  4. To become a better thinker. Language shapes the way we think. Some even suggested that using a second language can lead to better decision making.
  5. To become more principled. Showing respect is one of the examples of being principled. As a responsible global citizen, the language learner show respect to others, including the languages and cultures.
  6. To become more open-minded. Learning a language can help to broaden one’s mind. One of my favourite quotes is from Ludwig Wittgenstein.: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
  7. To become more caring. Because we understand the frustration when learning a new language, we can relate to the pain and frustration the English learners must have gone through. We learn to be more compassionate. If we find it difficult to learn another language, they do too. How would you like to be treated when you are learning a language?
  8. To become a risk-taker. There will be countless challenges in front of us during our lifetime. People who succeed in learning another language tend to take risks while learning. The “give it a go” mindset allows one to develop resilience!
  9. To become balanced. Bilingual/multilingual people constantly practice code switching in finding balance between languages.
  10. To become reflective. While learning another language we get to know another culture and we constantly compare and contrast against our own culture and reflect upon it.


During the Lunar New Year, all boys received a red pocket with three objects linking to the Learner Profile. The Learner profile is not something we assess, rather, it’s the quality we should all embrace as a lifelong learner and as a decent human being in this modern society.

Eva Angel – Mandarin Teacher