News  » Principal's Message - August Newsletter

Last updated 10:13 AM on 22 August 2017

As Principal of JJ Cahill Memorial High School, it is my strongest desire for ALL students to have every opportunity to succeed. I am committed to building a strong learning culture within the school where students challenge themselves to set aspirational goals and back that up with hard work and diligence.

Year 12 have finished their trial and are quickly approaching their Higher School Certificate examination. It is a time when students can feel a lot of stress; it is also a time when students need to attend every day and remain focused upon learning. The HSC is a world-recognised credential and provides a pathway to university and further study. Teachers at JJ Cahill Memorial High School are committed to providing every support needed for students to achieve. I encourage students to embrace every opportunity to learn.

It is important to note that Year 11 is coming to the end of the Preliminary course and will start their Higher School Certificate course in Term 4. It is a challenging and important time in their learning at school, one that needs focus and determination.

To complete the Preliminary, (Year 11) and HSC course, (Year 12) students need to meet the following criteria.

A student will be considered to have satisfactorily completed a course if, in the principal's view, there is sufficient evidence that the student has:

  1. Followed the course developed or endorsed by the Board; and
  2. Applied themselves with diligence and sustained effort to the set tasks and experiences provided in the course by the school; and
  3. Achieved some or all of the course outcomes.

This information is from the NSW Education Standards Authority, (NESA). NESA has the responsibility of monitoring teaching, learning and assessment public, Catholic and independent schools across NSW. They establish the rules and processes that I have to follow as a principal.

If parents wish to discuss their child's progress, please contact the school on 9669 5118.



Principal commitment to meet with all parents

Since taking up the principal position at JJ Cahill MHS, I have made a commitment to meet with ALL parents to gain feedback about the school. It is taking longer than I thought and while I will continue to meet with parents over the course of the year, I wanted to find a way to get feedback to find out what parents think we are doing well and what we need to improve.


Focus groups will run involving parents to support planning school direction

The school is currently planning its strategic direction for 2018 to 2020 and as principal; I want to make sure that I have consulted with the whole school community. To achieve this the school we will be running focus groups over Term 3 and into Term 4 this year. You will receive an email invite requesting your participation. The survey is confidential. I encourage you to take up this opportunity.


Survey tools to inform the school about areas to improve

The Tell Them From Me,(TTFM) survey will be sent out to all parents in the next few weeks. It will allow parents to rate the school on areas such as,

  • Parents feel welcome and are informed
  • Parents engage with the school by attending meetings, parent teacher nights, are involved in the schools P&C…
  • Parents support learning at home by encouraging student to complete homework and establishing expectations and routines.
  • Perception of whether the school supports and promotes positive behaviour
  • Whether the school is a safe school with behaviours being dealt with in a timely manner, that the school works to prevent bullying, whether students feel safe going to and from school
  • Is the school an inclusive school

The 360-degree tool is a survey that focuses on the school as a business. It asks for feedback about,

  • The schools effectiveness at communicating
  • The schools commitment to customer service
  • The school commitment to work with its community
  • The school vision and direction

As Principal, I value feedback from the school community and encourage ALL parents to participate in providing feedback so that J J Cahill MHS can continue to improve.



It is clear that regular attendance at school for every student is essential if students are to achieve their potential, and increase their career and life options.

It is important that parents work in partnership with the school to support attendance. Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children who are enrolled at school attend every day that the school is open for instruction.

The core rules that ALL schools have in regard to attendance is the students must attend every school day unless they are legally excused and that students also need to arrive at school on time and be prepared to learn.

The school is currently reviewing its strategies to promote and support regular student attendance. One outcome of this review is that the school is now sending out SMS messages every day to inform you about your child's attendance at school.

It is important that parents provide an explanation when a child is absent. This explanation should be provided within 7 days from the first day of any period of absence. Parents can inform the school via email, written note, telephone call or text message. Principals can request a medical certificate if they have concerns with the explanation provided or where there is a history of poor attendance. The medical certificate would need to state that the child is "unfit for school".


Positive behaviour for learning (PBL) update

I have written about and spoken about PBL a number of times this year. For community members that do not understand what PBL is yet I will briefly explain. PBL is a framework that engages the school community in collaboratively developing school values. The values are clearly defined by students and staff and the behaviours that we would see that align to the values are described. PBL ensures that expectations are clearly defined, explicitly taught and is managed in a positive and consistent manner.

I know that we all desire for schools to be a safe respectful place where students can focus upon learning. The PBL framework has been around for a long time and is a proven model that results in a school where there are positive respectful relationships that provide conditions that support and promote learning.

As a school we have recently renegotiated the values and and worked with all students to describe what these values look like in the classroom.


The school's values are:

Honour - Honour is the way we show respect and care for others to share positive educational experiences. Do what is right, because it is right.

Key words that help us reflect upon honour are, Relationships, Respect, Making Good Choices

Excellence - Excellence is the journey to find your personal best and setting high expectations for achievement. We show excellence when we are persistent and offer our best effort at all times.

Key words that help us reflect upon excellence are Persistence, Resilience, and Habits of Mind, (getting along, organisation, persistence and confidence). I will write more about this in later newsletters.

Responsibility - Responsibility represents our ability to act in a way that is safe, consistent and accountable. We are being responsible when our behaviour ensures we are dependable and empathetic in our interactions with others. 

Key words that help us reflect upon responsibility are Safe, Accountability, and Responsible Conduct

Opportunity - Opportunity is actively seeking and creating experiences to achieve our goals. When we accept opportunities to develop our learning and contribute to shared learning experiences, we grow and succeed.

Key words that help us reflect upon opportunity are Setting Goals, Making the most of opportunities provided and the Recognition of Opportunity


I will continue to write about PBL because it is a very important school strategy for improving student learning.R David


Thank you.

Ralph David