In hindsight, if we thought what we all went through in 2020 was unpleasant and difficult, then by comparison 2021 has most certainly trumped it. Nonetheless, we have to shake off our understandable and often justifiable feelings (and sometimes despair) as positively as we can and look around us to see how we have been so richly blessed and be able to refocus our lives, our priorities, take pleasure in the small and insignificant pleasures we once took for granted.
Continue to stay safe good people, continue to do what is required in as much as you are able and please don't judge others harshly as no one really knows the other's true story; reach out to someone if you are feeling down and don't wait until you have reached breaking point. The best within people has certainly become very evident during these trying times and it's comforting to know that a kind word, a smile, a joke together, a helpful act can have such amazing effects on, and with our spirit.
Our students, whilst sometimes unhappy and often bored or dissatisfied with the remote learning mode and staying within their 5km permitted area with limited to no social interactions, have truly shone throughout this time - seriously! If anything, our observations and many of our student's results have shown that they have indeed and unexpectedly gone against their previous normal and have 'shifted' within their results placements. Our staff have also shone and have maintained their level of creativity and internal strength through extensive personal and professional time and effort spent focusing on their responsibilities and tasks even more. Our IT has been an enormous blessing during the 2021 academic year serving everyone's needs effectively and efficiently. The additional hardware and software and licenses purchased and introduced in 2020 for a possible 2021+ 'repeat' scenario has well paid off. For this, I thank our IT Manager for his analytical and problem solving skills; and to all parents for their prompt payments of the Levy Fees, from which most of these subscription-type services have been paid with early on this year.
Like all other Yr 12 cohorts, the Class of 2021 will indeed have much to reflect on as they complete their formal studies towards sitting their final HSC exams commencing November. First and foremost they are TO BE CONGRATULATED for their own sheer strength of character, resilience and determination.
As has been made very evident throughout recent weeks on news and media announcements, school events normally held to celebrate this chapter of Yr 12 scholastic journey are on hold or cancelled, according to the health advice and current restrictions in place. There is no point in us planning anything and advertising it now. To avoid disappointments, the school will inform Yr 12 students and parents directly, what and how events will take place and in which mode the latest Health NSW Advice and Public Health Orders permit.
Whatever we are able to do we will do, even though it may be well after normally scheduled events as we are determined that our HSC 2021 students are not forgotten, and enjoy the feelings that should be felt after completing 13 years of schooling and in a memorable manner.
Mr Joseph will be outlining in detail directly to students and parents the remainder of the year timetable for Year 12 including returning to school, subjects on campus, preparations for the HSC, practice papers sessions, STUVAC dates, and HSC requirements and procedures commencing 9 November
Kindergarten & Year 7 2022 - 2027 Enrolments
As has been the case since the end of February 2021, parents are reminded that there are NO vacancies for both 2022 Kindergarten or Year 7 along with many other year levels. Please note that both 2023 Kindergarten and Yr 7 are currently at 70% enrolled. Applications and Registrations are currently being taken for KINDERGARTEN & YEAR 7 - 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027.
For 2022, all Primary and most Secondary years are currently closed (limited positions will become vacant in Years 9, 10 and 11). Positions therefore will only occur once current students from respective years withdraw to create a vacancy. The Waiting List for all year groups is substantial so please know, or advise others asking you, that if they wish to enroll their child, they can certainly apply but to be prepared to wait an indefinite period and to ensure they continue to be comfortable with the school they are currently attending or secure an alternative as a temporary measure. 'Temporary' could range from a few months to a few years as vacancies will occur only if current students withdraw. With restrictions over the past two+ months, our Building site has effectively meant a further 6-8 month delay. We were initially advised that handover would be in the second half of this year so that from Feb 2022 it would actually be operable - this is now no longer possible as regulations do not permit a full compliment of trades on site at the same time and at best, the PCAPL is only permitted 50% capacity of trades. The most recent update is that there is such a shortage of approved individuals within trades at the moment that they are pushing only 25% workforce daily until more individuals reach required minimum requirements to be able to attend.
All SMC Year 6 students are automatically enrolled in Year 7 2022 at the school. However, if you are not considering continuing at SMC for Year 7, PLEASE advise the school at your earliest convenience in writing as available vacancies are limited for external applicants.
Enrolment & Withdrawal Procedures
Regrettably the procedure for families withdrawing from the College has not been followed and in some cases many are surprised they are still required to pay school fees even though their child will no longer attend next term. It is a requirement of a family's contract with the College that they enter into at Application/Enrolment, that one term's notice of withdrawal is to be given in writing to the Head of College if a student/s are to be withdrawn from the School, otherwise one full term’s fees are payable in lieu of such notice. Unfortunately this has become an issue with a few families withdrawing from the school this term and then surprised they are still required to pay school fees for term 4 etc dependent on their exit time.
I offer the following explanation and notification to all current and future families reading this Newsletter which may assist in your planning. The following is by no means unique to St Mark's Coptic Orthodox College and is standard practice in ALL Independent schools (not Catholic Systemic or Department schools that I'm aware of) around Australia.
Included in the withdrawal notification from parents to the Head, it is a NESA requirement that the new school to be attended is advised as this information is included on the Attendance Register which is linked to NESA and Government requirements (for funding purposes). Without receiving this written notice at least one full term PRIOR to the intended exit, families will be charged the term following their departure for each child as each Independent school relies on their current enrolment data at any point in time which affects their future funding and budgeting. As an example, to withdraw without penalty from commencement of Term 1 2022, parents must notify me by 4 pm THIS FRIDAY (17 Sep). To notify me from after this date will incur one term fee in lieu of notice.
So, to be informed within the term of exit (or the holiday period before the exit term) will mean that the student-position being actively listed will no longer receive the designated departmental funding as it will be transferred to the new school, hence why the following term is unfortunately billed to families notifying the College within the term of exit as these funds formed part of the current budgeting of the College.
The College does not force anyone who applies for enrolment to accept these requirements, nor does the College force anyone to remain in the College if circumstances require them to seek an alternate school. Of course you are permitted to leave when you wish or need, without judgement. All that is requested is that parents honour and follow the terms and conditions of the enrolment contract so that financial disputes and additional strains on families are avoided. Your assistance is requested in this matter so that if you are intending to withdraw your child/children at the end of this year, you MUST forward your written notification of intention to the College by the end of Term 3 (i.e. 4 pm Friday 17 Sep) at the latest. If in doubt with timing of notice to withdraw due to relocation/waiting list notification etc., then still please advise us that the intent exists and there is a strong possibility of withdrawing.
Levy Fee Credits/Refunds
Credits/refunds will be distributed to all qualifying families as of 1 November 2021. The latest requirements regarding possible rescheduling certain activities is just not possible with either the times not available suitable to our calendar, or venues unsure if they're going to be permitted to open so no bookings for the remainder of Term 4 given the return roadmap of students from Oct-Nov.
The roadmap allows us to know what can or can't occur and if it is possible, and of course which families will be affected and by what cost. Therefore a detailed and repeated analysis is being undertaken towards each family's Levy Fee account (as each differs according to Year group/child/ren costings) to accurately state what amounts or portions of these amounts and in which areas credits/refunds will be given towards 2022 family accounts.
The College issues family Invoices which include:
1. Tuition Fees (these amounts are unaffected in this instance as instruction has continued throughout the year) and
2. Levy Fees which is calculated according to year level as each levels requires variations of these. The camp element is but one part of this amount which can also include some sports/transportation and sport associations subscription fees have been taken and paid for the year prior to restrictions, annual IT subscriptions paid for licenses and software used across the school particularly for remote learning, swimming amongst other items.
3. Subject Levies (unaffected in this instance as practicals/consumables will be delivered by end of academic year)
At no point is the College going to charge for something that it has not delivered but the total credit towards 2022 will be determined correctly by the end of October when all $$facts have become known and advised.
Unlike in 2020, the College WILL NOT be refunding relevant amounts prior to the close of the year i.e. not before 1 November. Itemised lists for refund/credit will not be forwarded, we just don't have the time and personnel to do this for individual distribution.
In 2020, due to the College refunding as early as Aug/September the College had to refund as yet unexpected costs that crept up during terms 3 & 4 which we were obligated to pay for various events/activities decided last minute and we do not wish to be held in this position a second time.
Please do not compare SMCOC to what you hear from other schools procedures. Each operate according to what suits their System (Dpt or Catholic or Independent). The College will do what it does for all its families as each is varied from the other dependent on Year requirements and affected activity and number of children accordingly. The College is audited not only internally, but also responsible towards State and National Authorities with separate audits and we are accountable for all monies received that processes and procedures are followed towards all requirements accordingly.
Through the hard work and commitment of parents and staff, we continue building a system that is truly unique. Comparing our fees with other Catholic and Independent schools with extensive IT resources and personnel and budgets, and seeing what our staff and students are doing and achieving with our limited resources is just phenomenal.
We ask all parents to please continue to support our wonderful College and Staff and their effort in ensuring our students continue to receive top level instruction, teacher-student time, quality activities and within a rigorous program that tries to balance between academic, personal and emotional states during this trying time everyone is experiencing.
Office Hours During Spring Break
9 am - 3 pm. Limited staff will be on campus so please refrain from attending in person unless prior arrangements have been made.
Uniform Shop may be contacted for ordering items by telephone: 0476 411 241 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org