A Childish Plot!

Work in Progress

“Where children can delight in nature and discover a passion for plants…”


We have all heard about our plans for a Sensory Garden and asked what happened to our pavers! Well it’s been a long journey but our Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom is well under construction!

During the school holidays, works commenced on our visionary Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom. This is our enduring gift for our school from a school community who values our children’s learning experiences both within and outside the classroom.

The Garden came as a result of the School requesting the P & C for their support to celebrate the School’s 20th Anniversary in February 2016. The P & C recommended a Paver Fundraiser to sell pavers to the families of the School both past and present to be included in a Sensory Garden as a living gift to all students past, present and future.

With thanks to our school families and local businesses who have supported our many fundraising efforts, we have been able to provide further financial assistance to enable the hardscaping of the Garden to be undertaken. We are ever grateful to BNJ Landscaping who successfully tendered for the project and is currently undertaking hardscaping works.

So what is a Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom?

A Sensory Garden seeks to enliven sensory nerves through specific selection and careful arrangement of various garden elements. Sensory perceptions that range from sight and hearing, smell and touch, to even taste can be evoked by a sensory garden. A sensory garden can serve therapeutic and educational purposes for children.

The common focus of all sensory gardens is the creation of an immersive experience that appeals to one or more of the five senses that is beyond the scope and design of an average garden. To some degree, the experience for observers and participants is often described to be invigorating, relaxing and stimulating.

A sensory garden is a way of communicating with nature and stimulates children to the value of their five senses.

What the garden is not, is a playground! This is a “learnscape” – where children are taken outdoors to experience and learn in a natural environment. There is no playground equipment – only learning equipment that supports a child.


The TPPS Sensory Garden and Outdoor Classroom Project aims to meet the needs of our school for 21st Century Learning, to be a sustainable resource and to use the physical site and available resources to their fullest. It aims to offer a place that enriches the teaching efforts of our dedicated teachers with powerful hands-on experiences that make learning come alive – connecting students to nature, life-long skills, achievement and behaviours.


It is hoped that our garden will benefit our children in various ways including but not limited to:

  1. Positive impact on student achievement and behavior
  2. Improvement in the knowledge of science
  3. Improvement in social skills and behaviours
  4. Improvement in environmental attitudes and the instillation of respect for nature
  5. Improvement in attitudes towards and the consumption of fruits and vegetables

The Sensory garden is not just a place for plant science and ecology; they are also places for art, music, math, creative writing, sharing and teamwork within the interconnected web of life.

What will it look like?

Our photos show the basics of the design – the garden will include:

  • A sensory trail constructed from various materials such as stones, grass and wood that provide sensory experiences. The trail is part of the larger pathway system with no dead ends and wide enough to accommodate wheelchair access so that the garden is all inclusive. 
  • Two seating areas:-
    • Outdoor seating and 20th Anniversary Paved area for our Outdoor Classroom showcasing the pavers from the fundraiser. The area does not include tables as this would inhibit the creativity and flow of the garden. The seating is circular rather than set in traditional classroom type arrangements.
    • A “sit and think” seat placed around an existing tree – a place to reflect and share ideas. Again circular in shape. We have deliberately avoided harsh angles and square shapes to ensure the designs flows.
  • Outdoor musical instruments
  • Plants and elements that reflect, excite and develop the five senses – a row of fruit trees, hedging to lure the child to the garden and experience what is beyond, herbs and grasses. All of the chosen plantings have been selected in accordance with DOE guidelines and we have considered possible allergies etc.
  • Artwork and sculpture
  • Spiral raised garden beds so that children can experience plantings at varying heights.
  • A dry creek bed using natural drainage on-site.
  • Weather stations and magnifying elements to see micro environments not to mention a windsock, sundial, peepholes and insect hotels!

The garden encompasses the whole area between the Vegie patch and Kinder classrooms extending to the new COLA an area of approximately 200 m2!

The project is a tangible project that we can shape over time – we look forward to achieving our vision and the result will be a garden and learning resource that keeps giving over time.

The Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom Project has generated great support from local businesses recognising the value for outdoor learning opportunities. We greatly appreciate the support of Fast Plast Building Supplies and Tradelink Port Macquarie.


NB: Some of the photos in this article are examples only. The end result may look different.

Health Star Ratings & Portion Control


Picture via http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au

As you know we have been busy providing our school community with the many facets of the new Revised Healthy Canteen Strategy. Working with our Canteen Supervisors, Leanne and Sandy, we are trying to make our Canteen totally compliant with the new guidelines. In our final instalment, we look at the second and third elements of the new Strategy…

The Health Star Rating (HSR)

An integral part of the Strategy is the introduction of the HSR system that was introduced by the Australian, state and territory governments in collaboration with industry, public health and consumer groups. The HSR was introduced on a voluntary basis in June 2014.

The Health Star Rating (HSR) system is a quick and easy way to compare the nutrient content of packaged foods. It scores the overall nutritional content of packaged foods and rates them from ½ a star to 5 stars. The more stars, the healthier the choice.

If the canteen decides to use pre-packaged foods (and this can only apply to Occasional food and drinks representing 25% of the menu) than that food must have a HSR of 3.5 stars or more to be sold in school canteens in addition to Everyday food.


So until we can source meat pies, sausage rolls etc., these staples of the School Canteen lunch order will be removed (:() .

One problem that is facing all School Canteens is that the food industry itself is lagging behind in ensuring that manufacturers of prepackaged foods etc., are labelling their products with the HSR. This is a problem that is further compounded by the regional locality of schools.

To understand more about the HSR  visit http://healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/Content/About-health-stars



Portion Control

So not only does our School Canteen Menu need to have items categorised as Everyday and/or Occasional Foods and have all occasional foods rated with a HSR above 3.5 stars, it must also be portion controlled!

Anyone who has had to adhere to a diet will know and understand the importance of portion control for weight loss and so it applies here. Care needs to be taken to avoid serving large portions of all OCCASIONAL foods and some EVERYDAY foods (flavoured milk, juices and hot meals). All School Canteens have access to a Menu Ready Reckoner to check the maximum portion size limits for menu items and ingredients.

If we feel that a small serving wouldn’t satisfy the hunger of a student, then the foods should be combined with a salad, bread roll, fruit or milk. For example, if we were to serve a frittata which has a maximum portion size of 250 grams, we would also serve it with a salad to provide a balanced meal.


Our new Terms 2 & 3 Winter Meal will be released on 31 March 2017 and will commence from Term 2. There are some major changes to the menu and there has been some concessions but you will see a vastly different menu. The menu may change as we strive to meet the new requirements as we move towards being compliant with the Strategy.

We look forward to receiving your feedback on the new Menu and we hope you now have an understanding of the why and wherefores of the changes. Please do not hesitate to contact us to give feedback – complimentary or otherwise. We really only want the best for a healthy school community and we believe our Canteen can provide this to you.

Contact the P &C, our Canteen Supervisors or the School if you require any further clarification. Here’s to our Healthy School!





Everyday foods vs. Occasional foods …

Continuing on with our series on the new Revised Healthy Canteen Strategy, we thought it prudent to provide information on what sorts of foods are classified as “Everyday” and those that are “Occasional” foods.

The Strategy consists of four main elements:

  1. Everyday vs. Occasional Foods
  2. Health Star Rating
  3. Portion size limits – there are portion limits for just a few categories of EVERYDAY food and drinks and ALL OCCASIONAL food and drinks.
  4. Market and promote healthier choices – the goal is to make healthier EVERYDAY food and drinks stand out and sell well.

These two categories are the main elements of the Strategy and are our starting point for items to be included on our menu or for sale over-the-counter at the Canteen.

The following information has been extracted from the website of the Healthy Kids Association of which your P & C is a member. For further information, please go to www.healthy-kids.org.au.


P9020342.sm from Flickr via Wylio© 2013 Dana, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

EVERYDAY foods are the foods on the plate of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. They include foods from the five food groups including vegetables, fruit, dairy such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, bread, rice, pasta, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes. These foods form the basis of a healthy diet and should be eaten every day.

What are EVERYDAY food and drinks in the canteen?

  • Sandwiches and toasties with EVERYDAY fillings like cheese, tuna, lean chicken, lean meat, egg and salad.
  • Sushi with EVERYDAY fillings like tuna, salmon, avocado and other vegetables.
  • Salads.
  • Hot foods made from EVERYDAY ingredients such as lasagne, pasta bolognaise, rice and noodle dishes and burgers.
  • Fruit, yoghurts and custard, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, plain popcorn.
  • Plain and flavoured milk, smoothies, 99% fruit and vegetable juice.


OCCASIONAL foods and drinks will be selected carefully as they are mostly high in saturated fat, sugars and/or salt and often with little nutritional value. These foods aren’t on the plate of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. They should be eaten only sometimes and in small amounts.

Egg and Bacon Pie and Chips - Cloud 9, Falls Creek from Flickr via Wylio© 2007 Alpha, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

What are OCCASIONAL food and drinks in the canteen?

  • Sandwiches, wraps, toasties and sushi with OCCASIONAL fillings, such as OCCASIONAL meats: crumbed chicken schnitzel, salami, devon, chicken roll and sausages.
  • Hot foods such as crumbed or coated chicken, hot potato chips, hashbrowns, pies and sausage rolls, instant flavoured noodles.
  • Chips, pretzels, cakes, biscuits and desserts.
  • Smoothies made with ice cream/gelato/sorbet and all diet drinks such as diet soft drinks, diet iced tea and diet flavoured waters, etc.
  • Ice creams and frozen yoghurt.

Combining Everyday Foods with Occasional Foods

When a menu item includes any OCCASIONAL foods, it makes the menu item OCCASIONAL. However, you can encourage healthier choices by teaming up our OCCASIONAL foods with EVERYDAY foods. For example, team chicken tenders or nuggets with a side salad.


The Strategy isn’t simply about categorising foods as everyday and/or occasional. Once we have identified everyday and occasional items on the menu we must then balance the menu in each category (i.e. drinks, snacks, icy offering, cold lunch, hot lunch etc.,) to 75% Everyday Foods and 25% Occasional Foods.

This is no easy job as you must look at the ingredients of each item and ensuring that it adds up to 75% Everyday and 25% Occasional!

Phew! And this folks is only the first element of the new Strategy! Our next posting will look at the remaining elements of the strategy that is the Health Star Rating (HSR) and portion sizes!

If you would like further clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask our Canteen Supervisors or email us using the comments box below! We would love to hear from you!

School Safety – Our Responsibility

Protect our children.drive safely, park safely.png

As you may be aware, this week is Road Rule Awareness Week. Your P & C have been releasing snippets of information relating to Road Rules as they apply to our School Zone on our Facebook page and we have been receiving comments and messages from parents expressing their concerns. Thank you for your support!

The School and the P & C are becoming increasingly alarmed at the disregard for the safety of our children in peak drop-off and pick-up times.Council Rangers, police and School Staff are monitoring the behaviour of drivers during peak school zone times when really they shouldn’t have to. Everybody should be aware of the road rules particularly as they concern the safety of not just your child, but all children of our school.

Please, we can do better!

Our school doesn’t offer a lot of parking, it does not have great accessibility. What it does have is a 40k speed zone, flashing lights, dragons teeth, No parking zones, a designated Bus Zone. We can do better!

Therefore, the P & C on behalf of the School Community has requested Council, School Crossing Supervisors (RMS), and our local government representatives to consider and support a number of  initiatives to improve our school zone. These include:

  1. A Review of the request for School Crossing Controllers.
  1. That our Crossings be raised crossings to slow down the traffic approaching from the eastern AND western ends of Bangalay Road.
  1. The Dragons Teeth markings be extended in length – obviously, drivers seem not to notice the flashing lights or the 40-k sign on the road.
  1. That Flashing Lights be placed on both sides of Bangalay Drive on approach from both the eastern end and western end of the School Zone
  1. That all Road signs are replaced. They are fading and therefore may not be as legible to drivers. This also applies to line markings.
  1. The installation of “No Right Turn” signage and/or “No U-Turns” into Belgrave Place and Chatsworth Place off Bangalay Drive. This is one of our biggest concerns.
  1. Consider building a Bus Interchange at the front of the school realigning the width of the footpath and the width of the actual bus zone on Bangalay Drive itself thus ensuring the safety of our school children utilising bus services
  1. Painting “BUS ZONE” on the road. We are continually having to ask parents NOT to park in the Bus Zone due to very poor signage. The Bus Zone is not significantly long however the signs are placed at each end of the bus zone and our parents appear not to see it
  1. Consider whether the traffic environment outside the school would support the initiative of a School Drop-off and Pick-up initiative without disrupting traffic flow.
  1. Reconsider the Parking Zones around the School.
  1. We request that a “Disabled Parking Zone” be added within the school zone and suggest a possible location that is at the easterly end of the Bus Zone where accessibility to the school is via a flat path.

We can only hope that they heed our requests – maybe not all as other factors will come into play especially a financial factor. We ask that you also support us by writing of your concerns to Council.

What can I do now?

It’s simple:

  1. Obey  and RESPECT the Road Rules – if you don’t know them, learn them
  2. visit  www.safetytown.com.au/parents for information on how to keep your children safe
  3. Set an example for your children – use the crossings, continue your journeys after drop off/pick up or down Bangalay instead of performing u-turns illegally or obstructing traffic
  4. Cross the road with your children at the Crossings not between them
  5. Park in designated zones – not the bus zone, not “No Stopping Zones”, not within 5m of the School Crossings
  6. Walk to school if possible! Its good for you, your child and the environment
  7. Use the links below to learn more!
  8. Support your P & C with their initiative to improve our School Zone! Write to our local member, council the RMS!


Please drive carefully around our School and protect all CHILDREN!