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Annual School Report (2013)

St Oliver's Primary School, Harris Park

33 Wigram Street, Harris Park NSW 2150
Principal: Miss Barbara Young
Phone: 8633 8300


About the Annual School Report

St Oliver's Primary School is registered by the Board of Studies (New South Walesas a member of the Catholic system of schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.

The Annual School Report provides parents and the wider school community with fair, accurate and objective information about various aspects of school performance and development. The Report describes achievement of school development priorities in 2013 and gives information about 2014 priorities.

This Report is a legislative requirement under the Schools Assistance Act, 2008.

The information in this Report is complemented by the school website where other school publications and newsletters can be viewed or obtained from the school

Message from key school bodies


I am proud to present to you the 2013 Annual School Report for St Oliver's Primary School, Harris Park.

St Oliver's Primary School is a small, dynamic Catholic school with a rich history and culture. We are a multicultural school with students coming from many different cultural backgrounds, which adds to the richness of life at our school. Religious Education, prayer and faith development are major parts of the curriculum and the culture of the school. We are a celebrating faith community which has Christ as its foundation within the Catholic tradition. We truly live our motto: Unity in Diversity.

In all our dealings with others we focus on three guiding principles:
  • respect for yourself
  • respect for others
  • respect for the environment     

We believe it is the right of everyone to: experience learning; enjoy achievement; see learning as a lifelong process and develop a relationship with Christ.

We take pride in our endeavours and the Annual School Report reflects our achievements as a learning community. During 2013, we undertook many initiates that have contributed to the learning of our students. The formation goal allowed the teachers to focus on getting to know Jesus through the Gospel of Luke, the Sacraments and church. We also had a number of opportunities to connect with the Sisters of Mercy, the founding order of our school, which deepened the teachers and students' knowledge of Mercy tradition and charism. Our focus in numeracy on developing students' conceptual knowledge using reasoning strategies and the ability to articulate the language of Mathematics in the context of problem solving has contributed to solid learning gain in these areas.

I encourage you to read our Annual School Report and join with us as we celebrate the many wonderful experiences and events that have contributed to St Oliver's Primary School being a place of unity in diversity.

Parent body

Parents are the first educators of their children, particularly in matters of faith, and through co-operation between parents and teachers, the children have shown to be more proactive in their own development. As partners in education, the school wishes to work very closely with parents to ensure that each child receives the best possible learning opportunities available. The school and parents enjoy a healthy and open relationship based on quality communication that remains present throughout the year.

As parents we want our school community to provide a safe space for our children to learn and grow to see their potential; to celebrate their cultural identity and to encourage the celebration of cultures and bring to life the school motto, Unity in Diversity. 

At St Oliver's Primary School we are working to build a fair and just world by living our school motto of Unity in Diversity. As parents we celebrate with our children by providing support; participation at every level; input and discussion on the future of our children's school community; assistance with canteen; fundraising; donation of time and commitment to the children. Together we make a difference.  

Student body

At St Oliver's Primary School the students value:

  • open and flexible learning spaces where we can learn with and from our peers and teachers
  • learning opportunities that are enjoyable, challenging and meet the needs of each student
  • excursions and incursions that help with what we are learning about in the classroom
  • teachers that are caring, understanding and enthusiastic
  • easy access to technology to help with learning, presenting and communicating
  • regularly attending Mass and praying together as a school community
  • learning about our Catholic faith
  • the many different cultural backgrounds of the students
  • opportunities to help those less fortunate than ourselves by organising fundraisers that support Caritas, Mercy Works and St Vincent de Paul's.
  • having the chance to work with specialist music, sport and language teachers
  • being part of a small school, as we get to know all the teachers and children
  • representing the school at many sports gala days, community events, debating and public speaking
  • opportunities to express ourselves creatively, such as Captivate, talent quest and choir
  • being given roles of responsibility that develop leadership skills

Who we are

History of school

Blessed Oliver Plunkett parish celebrated its first mass on Christmas Day 1929. The school opened its doors in 1930 under the care of the Sisters of Mercy. The school was then known as Blessed Oliver Plunkett. At first the single storey building served as both church and school. Later in the 1930’s the second storey was built. 

When Oliver Plunkett was canonised in 1975 the name of the school and parish changed to St Oliver Plunkett. 

In 1977 the new wing was opened and the older building was upgraded. In 2000 the school was refurbished and the Library relocated to the middle floor. As part of the Building Education Revolution (BER) project in 2010/11 the school was  extended further to include additional learning space.

The distinctiveness of the Sisters of Mercy that is mercy, compassion and justice, was always a driving force in the school and remained so when the sisters ended their association with the school at the end of 1975. The first lay principal began at the school in 1976 and strong Catholic education continued with lay staff.

Location/drawing area

The school is located at 33 Wigram St, Harris Park and draws on students from the Harris Park, Rosehill, Granville and Parramatta localities. It serves the parish of St Oliver Plunket Harris Park. St Oliver’s Primary School has seven class groups from Kindergarten to Year 6. Ninety five per cent of the students have a language background other than English. Over 26 different cultures are represented in the school meaning that it is blessed with a rich variety of customs and cultures. 

Enrolment policy

St Oliver's Primary School follows the Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) document, Enrolment Procedures in Parramatta Catholic Systemic Schools, January 2002. This document can be obtained from the school office or is available on the CEDP website

Current and previous years' student enrolments

Year Boys Girls Total
2011 77 80 157
2012 90 72 162
2013 86 85 171

Characteristics of the student body

The table below shows the number of students in each of the categories listed.

Language Backgrounds other than English (LBOTE)* Student with Disabilities (SWD)* Indigenous
 162  12  1

School review and development

Annual school priorities

 Priority Reason for the priority  Steps taken to achieve the priority Status of the priority (Achieved, not yet achieved, Ongoing, no longer a priority)
Our first priority was to enhance student and staff relationships with Jesus by deepening their intellectual formation of Scripture, church and Sacraments by using the Religious Literacy Assessment. This priority was chosen as the Religious Literacy Assessment data indicated that the following areas of Jesus, church and Sacraments required further development.
  • made informed decisions about which prayer to explicitly teach so that they linked to one of the three focus areas: Scripture (Gospel of Luke), Sacraments or church with consideration to Sharing our Story units and the year of Luke
  • read prayer at a professional meeting for the Sunday gospel
  • learned about the Gospel writer of Luke, Sacraments and church with an inquiry focus using the knowledge building cycle to enhance teacher pedagogical content knowledge
  • worked with the deacon to develop the teachers' theological background knowledge related to the  Sharing Our Story units
  • teacher participation in professional learning that focused on our Mercy charism and making connections between the gospel of Luke and Catherine McAuley 
Ongoing priority
Our second priority was that all students would demonstrate measurable growth in conceptual knowledge using reasoning strategies and articulate the language of Mathematics in the context of problem solving. 

This priority was chosen as a result of the high percentage of English as a second Language/Dialect (EAL/D) students and best practice for EAL/D learners is paramount when teaching literacy and numeracy. Oral language strategies needed to be explicitly modelled and the students needed to be moved along the mode of continuum in the context of Mathematics. The moving of ‘in between’ growth points was stagnated by the students as they needed to be able discern the most effective strategy and be able to articulate why they had chosen those strategies.

  • encouraged students to explicitly articulate their thinking and reasoning strategies in Mathematics
  • modelled the language of Mathematics in the context of problem solving
  • engaged students in rich learning tasks that made connections across mathematical strands

Achieved and ongoing

Projected school priorities

 Priority Reason for the priority
Steps to be taken to achieve the priority
Our first priority will be to enable students to respond to, and compose texts with an emphasis on word consciousness through the use of the mode continuum.
This priority was chosen as a result of the analysis of student achievement data.
  • The students will be responding to a variety of stimulus material and composing more complex texts that feature increasingly sophisticated language related to audience and purpose. 
  • The teachers will be teaching at the point of need, using learning intentions and success criteria, providing specific and timely feedback, using the mode continuum, developing rubrics with children and using texts in shared reading that are models for writing.

Our second priority will be to enable students to demonstrate measurable growth in all domains with a particular focus on multiplication and division, fractions and decimals and place value in the context of open and rich tasks.
This priority was chosen as a result of the analysis of student achievement data.
  • The students will be engaging in open and rich learning tasks that make connections across mathematical domains, articulating their thinking and reasoning strategies using mathematical language and referring to teacher feedback for next step learning. 
  • The teachers will be using data to teach at the point of need, developing rich open-ended tasks for mathematical teaching and learning and assessment, using learning intentions and success criteria and providing meaningful feedback about next step learning for students.
Our third priority will be for students and staff to deepen their knowledge of Sacramentality to enhance their understandings of the key concepts.  This priority was chosen as a result of the patterns identified in the student achievement data.
  • The students will be deepening their understanding of Sacramentality in their lives through actioning their faith. 
  • The teachers will be using insights from professional readings to enhance classroom practice and analysing their Sharing our Story units to make visible connections to Sacramentality in all the key concepts. 

Catholic identity

Prayer, liturgical life and faith experiences

The whole school gathers to pray together daily. Class prayers comprise both traditional Catholic prayers as well as more informal prayer. There is a sacred space in all learning areas and public spaces throughout the school. Children from Years 3 to 6 participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The parish based Sacramental program was attended by primary children with First Holy Communion and Confirmation being celebrated on the first day of Advent in 2013.

The school community participates in masses and prayer liturgies that are rich, vibrant celebrations. Last year we had many special liturgical celebrations, such as our Opening School Mass/Ash Wednesday, Mothers Day, Our Lady Help of Christians Mass, Sacred Heart Mass, Feast of the Assumption and the Feast of the Annunciation, to name a few.

Special liturgies to celebrate the Easter and Christmas seasons were well attended by parents as well as other liturgies throughout the year. Primary classes also attended parish masses each Friday on a rostered basis.

Social justice

Staff continued to develop the children's understanding of their responsibility to live out the gospel values. Students responded enthusiastically to fundraising activities to raise money for Caritas, Project Compassion and St Vincent de Paul. In winter, the teachers made soup and collected money for Mercy works. In October, children participated in a Catholic Mission initiative as part of 'Soctober - sock it to homelessness in Mongolia'. At Christmas students collected food items for food hampers for St Vincent de Paul and the teachers personally delivered them to the families in our local community.

School, home and parish partnerships

The school has a close relationship with the parish priest and deacon and there is a regular liaison between school and parish. The school supports the parish-based Sacramental programs. Mass and liturgy times for major parish celebrations are listed in the school newsletter. 

Parents were invited to, and included in, special liturgies and school celebrations. They were also involved in the school as helpers in the classroom, on excursions and at sporting events and fundraising activities. Parent teacher meetings were held formally in February and July, and at other times when necessary.

Religious Education

Religious Education

At St Oliver's Primary School we teach the Religious Education curriculum of the Parramatta Diocese, Sharing Our Story. The Sharing Our Story syllabus provides a precise and comprehensive education concerning the faith and tradition of the Catholic Church, which is appropriate to the individual needs and abilities of our students. In 2013 the school continued to follow a yearly cycle of units of work as outlined in the scope and sequence document. The Angelus, which is a beautiful traditional prayer, was introduced in 2013. The Angelus punctuates the working day with a time to recall and reflect on the gift of God's Son.

Professional learning of staff in Religious Education

Professional learning of staff consisted of using the bishop's formation text, launched at the Education Mass, to discuss and respond to what this means for us at St Oliver's Primary School. Staff participated in a spirituality day on ‘Mercy Charism’ and reflected on Luke’s Gospel and St Oliver to make connections to the social justice activities within our school and teaching of Sacraments and the church. The staff liaised with the deacon to discuss the theological background of the Sharing Our Story units.

Learning and teaching

National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) 2013

Students in Year 3 and Year 5 across Australia participated in National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in May 2013. The purpose of this test is to provide information to parents and teachers about the achievements of students in aspects of Literacy and aspects of Numeracy. The test provides a measure of the students’ performance against established standards and against other students in Australia. Each year the results are analysed by the school to inform teaching with a view to improving student performance.

The Commonwealth Government sets minimum acceptable standards for literacy, numeracy, reading, writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling at particular ages. These are referred to as national minimum standards. Band 2 is the minimum standard for Year 3 and band 4 is the minimum standard for Year 5. Student performance in NAPLAN in our school is compared to these standards. The percentages of students achieving at or above these national minimum standards, and the percentages of students in the top three bands are reported in the table below.

 % of students at or above national minimum standard% of students in top three bands
Year 3:    
Literacy100.00 95.00 83.33 71.70
Numeracy95.80 95.80 58.33 62.00
Reading100.00 95.30 75.00 69.30
Writing100.00 95.00 87.50 75.40
Grammar and Punctuation100.00 95.30 75.00 73.40
Spelling91.70 93.90 83.33 67.40
Year 5:    
Literacy100.00 94.00 53.33 58.17
Numeracy86.70 93.40 26.67 51.70
Reading93.30 96.20 53.33 62.80
Writing93.30 91.70 33.33 51.90
Grammar and Punctuation93.30 94.80 66.67 61.50
Spelling93.30 93.10 66.67 58.30

Staff undertook extensive analysis of the NAPLAN data in term 4 2013, and then targeted implementation programs for students identified at risk in their learning. Staff members have also undertaken a program of raising expectations for those students who are capable of improved results.

The information gathered from our 2013 NAPLAN analysis has also been used to inform our 2014 school goal in the area of literacy, in particular building writing skills.

School curriculum

As all children are unique, with diverse needs and interests, it is imperative to cater for their individual needs with a sound pedagogy, exemplary practice and a curriculum that is responsive to the digital natives of the 21st century. At St Oliver's Primary School, the Board of Studies requirements are being met as the school implements a contemporary curriculum to meet the needs of all students. In addition to the Key Learning Areas (KLAs) prescribed by the Board of Studies, the students have been provided with courses of study in Religious Education in accordance with the Diocesan syllabus, Sharing Our Story

As part of the targeted support for students and professional learning for teachers, St Oliver's Primary School was part of the Diocesan Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) program and training to develop students' knowledge and understanding in the area of numeracy. In addition, a teacher was trained as a specialist reading recovery teacher. 

The learning team assists in the inclusion and integration of students with special needs in a range of activities and programs across the school. This includes assisting in planning and implementing a range of adjustments and curriculum differentiation, and providing individual, small group and in class support across all Key Learning Areas (KLAs).

The school has specialist music, physical education and language (Indonesian) teachers.  

There are opportunities for the children to trial for representative sporting events such as netball, basketball, cross country, soccer and athletics.

As part of our transition to school, preschool children are involved in a four week program. At the same time, the parents also attend sessions related to starting school, nutrition, and services and programs available through the school. As a result, specific testing can take place before the first day of school. The school is involved in a number of co-curricular activities. These include:

  • Voice of Youth speech competition
  • Delany Cup debating competition
  • swimming program
  • after-school sports activities
  • participation in the Captivate performances  
  • talent expo
  • cross-country representation
  • multiple opportunities to participate at sporting gala days
  • Premier's Reading Challenge
  • Apple education
  • choir

Initiatives to promote respect and responsibility

St Oliver's Primary School is a place of diversity, respect, belonging, celebration and quality learning and teaching. St Oliver's Primary School is based on the dignity of the whole person and provides witness to gospel values as a means to living out daily life. The principle initiative designed to promote respect and responsibility is the Positive Behaviour Support and Management policy. It is based on making choices about behaviour through the lens of respect and responsibility. Our three principle school rules are formulated around the notion of respect for self, others and the environment.

The Positive Behaviour Support and Management policy reflects our endeavour to create an environment which fosters dignity, justice and respect. We are committed to providing a safe and caring environment where any form of bullying is neither accepted nor tolerated. This is predicated upon the notion that at St Olivers Primary School we all have the right to be happy, safe and to learn.

Parent satisfaction with the school

During 2013, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta engaged insight SRC to conduct the Quality Catholic Schooling (QCS) survey to provide feedback from parents, students and staff about our school. This survey will be conducted annually.

The QCS data collected and reported to our parents, students and staff showed that the parents ranked the following elements of school life as positives at St Oliver's Primary School:

  • reporting
  • extra-curricular activities
  • student safety and wellbeing 
  • student motivation

Elements that the parents indicated as areas for development included:

  • learning focus
  • social skills

Student satisfaction with the school

The QCS data collected and reported to our parents, students and staff showed that when the students were surveyed they indicated the following areas to be strong elements of the school:

  • purposeful teaching
  • teacher empathy
  • simulating learning
  • connectedness to school
  • student motivation
  • learning confidence

All these elements are part of the 'Engagement' sub section of the survey and show the quality of teaching and learning present at St Oliver's Primary School.

Elements of school life that the students indicated as areas needing improvement were all within the subsection of the survey of 'Relationships'. They were:

  • connectedness to peers
  • classroom behaviour
Following this survey, programs have focused on improving the relationships of the student community by working on communication, behaviour and expectations.

Teacher satisfaction with the school

The QCS data collected and reported to our parents, students and staff showed that when the staff were surveyed about the staff climate the following were noted as being strengths within the school. 

  • supportive leadership
  • role clarity
  • ownership
  • professional learning
  • feedback and recognition
  • professional work demands
  • curriculum processes
  • quality teaching

These elements indicated a positive response within the sub sections of 'Staff Wellbeing', 'Empathy', 'Engagement' and 'Outcomes'.

Elements of staff climate that the survey indicated as areas of future work included:

  • teamwork
  • teacher confidence
  • student motivation

Workforce composition

Number of Staff
Number of teachers who hold teaching qualifications from a higher education institution within Australia or as recognised by AEI-NOOSR*.
Number of teachers who have a bachelor degree from a higher education institution within Australian or within AEI-NOOSR* guidelines but lacking formal teacher qualifications.
Number of teachers who do not have qualifications as above but have relevant successful teaching experience or appropriate knowledge relevant to their teaching context.
Number of teachers accredited to teach Religious Education
Number of teachers currently undertaking accreditation to teach Religious Education
Number of non-teaching staff (includes teachers aides)
Percentage of teacher who are Indigenous  0

*Australian Education International - National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition

Professional learning

Professional learning is an important and valued focus for staff and was undertaken in many areas in 2013. This was achieved through weekly afternoon professional development meetings, in school time release and professional development days. Focuses included: 

  • Reading Recovery
  • implementation of the new English syllabus
  • Extending Mathematical Understanding - Leaders Course
  • project based learning
  • voice care for teachers
  • emergency care
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • analysis of student data in Mathematics
  • developing open and rich learning tasks in Mathematics
  • Religious Education conference
  • principal's Master Class
  • Focus 160
  • Religious Education Assessment marking
  • Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA) conference

Teacher attendance and retention rates

Teacher attendance

The average teacher attendance for 2013 was 94.52%.

Teacher retention

Of the 2013 teaching staff, 94% were retained from 2012.

Student attendance rates

Percentage of student attendance by Year level and school average:

Kindergarten Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 School Average
 96 95 96 95 95 92 96 95

Managing non-attendance

Regular attendance at school is essential if students are to maximise their potential. Schools, in partnership with parents and guardians, are responsible for promoting the regular attendance of students. The compulsory schooling age is 6 to 17. Parents and guardians are legally responsible for the regular attendance of their children, explaining the absences of their children in writing within seven days to the school, and taking measures to resolve attendance issues involving their children. School staff, as part of their duty of care, monitor part or whole day absences. They maintain accurate records of student attendance, follow up unexplained absences through written and verbal communication, implement programs and practices to address attendance issues when they arise, and provide clear information to students and parents regarding attendance requirements and the consequences of unsatisfactory attendance. The principal or their delegate may grant permission for late arrival at school or early departure from school, leave, or exemption from attendance only in individual cases, on written request from parents and guardians. The principal/delegate will undertake all reasonable measures to contact parents promptly if an unexplained absence occurs. If truancy is suspected, the principal will contact the parents/guardians to ascertain the reason for the absence. If a satisfactory response is not received, the matter will be referred to Catholic Education Office staff for follow up.

Pastoral care of students

Student welfare, discipline and anti-bullying policies and pastoral care

The management of children is underpinned by a philosophy of respect for
  1. themselves
  2. others
  3. the environment  

These points are discussed at the age appropriate level in classrooms. The children understand that they have choices to make and they have the responsibility for their own actions

At the start of each school year, every class collaboratively creates a set of class rules and consequences.

Grooming expectations relating to hair, uniform and hygiene are found in the parent handbook which parents receive when their child is enrolled. Support of the family in matters of behaviour is also agreed upon at the time of enrolment. Individual programs (IPs) are put in place for students with particular learning needs.

Throughout 2013 the Positive Behaviour Support program was reviewed and updated to include the process for procedural fairnessStaff will continue to review this policy regularly to make any necessary amendments which are required to support the students and families at St Oliver's Primary School. In 2012 changes were made to the document to include the school's approach to dealing with bullying.

The full text of student management, welfare and discipline policies can be obtained through the school office.

Complaints and grievances policy

The school has formal written protocols in place to address complaints and grievances. These protocols are in line with the Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta Complaint Handling policy. A copy of the school policy is available from the school office or is available on the CEDP website There were no changes to the policy.

Financial statement

School recurrent and capital income

School recurrent and capital income

In 2013 St Oliver's Primary School received $12,935.00 as interest subsidy.

Our school community is appreciative of the support it received from the NSW State Government under the Interest Subsidy Scheme and looks forward to the implementation of the Building Grants Assistance Scheme as these are of vital importance to the ongoing wellbeing of this school.

Fees relate to diocesan and school based fees, excursions and other private income from fundraisers.

State relates to State Recurrent Grants including per capita funding, interest subsidy and special purpose grants.

Commonwealth relates to Commonwealth Recurrent Grants including per capita funding and special purpose grants.

Capital relates to Government Capital Grants including monies received under the Building Education Revolution.

Other refers to Other Capital Income including drawdowns from the Diocesan School Building Fund to fund Capital Expenditure.

School recurrent and capital expenditure

School recurrent and capital expenditure

Salary refers to the total of all Salaries, allowances and related expenses such as superannuation, workers compensation and leave.

Non-Salary refers to all other Non-Salary Recurrent Expenses.

Capital refers to Non-Recurrent Capital Expenditure including School Buildings, Furniture and Equipment.


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