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John Colet School Reviews


Student speech to Ms Emanuel concluding Shakespeare Festival

Ms. Emanuel,

 We, 6th class, would like to thank you for your tremendous effort to structure our play performance and all your efforts to brighten up the play and make our scenes more lively.

You have worked extremely hard to help all 7 primary classes in our school to perfect their performances.  They’re all so different and it’s amazing you can come up with great imaginative points and advice for all of them. We love your ideas and creativity, which brings out the best in us. I particularly love the finale at the end of scene 13.

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


Student speech to Mr Mane concluding Shakespeare Festival

Mr Mane

On behalf of John Colet students and staff, we would like to thank you for your inspirational support of Shakespeare at John Colet School for the last 25 years.

The first play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, had six children from 5th and 6th class and lasted half an hour. From that, you could see the benefit of performing Shakespeare and created the opportunity for all students in the school to present a play annually.

25 years later, we have a school that is renowned for exposing young children to the brilliance of Shakespeare. We have developed so many skills: voice projection, confidence, courage, perseverance, understanding of language and physical movement.

Every year we build on our experience and the plays get better and better.

So this is not just “tennis balls my liege”, we would like to express our enduring gratitude for the life lessons we take into the world “All The World’s a Stage”.

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


On the 450th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare

John Colet School students write about their love of Shakespeare.

Dear Mr Shakespeare,
I would like to wish you a very happy 450th birthday.  The main purpose of me writing is to inform you about what an impact you’ve made in the modern world. 
Your work has spread to every country in the world.  I imagine they are so popular because of their complicated stories, like in Julius Caesar where you never really know who the bad guy is.  Many of them are very humorous also, but they are even more fun to act out.   It’s magical seeing a dull old script turn into an amazing play, as I do with my class every year.
They’re also educational as you learn new words, such as thou, thee and thy.  It also helped me get over stage fright.  I remember walking out for my first play.  I was so nervous!  But by the end I was having so much fun that I didn’t even notice any more.
You have also taught me many moral lessons.  In Julius Caesar, it’s “what goes around, comes around”.  Cassius takes part in murdering Caesar and then gets killed.  In Macbeth, it’s “not all that glitters is gold”, because Lady Macbeth looks so lovely and then drives Macbeth to kill King Duncan.
Again, I wish you a very happy birthday and acknowledge your amazing work.

Sincerely and with best wishes,
Luke C

Dear Mr Shakespeare
My name is Trinity and I go to John Colet School.  Your work inspires me with all of the big words.  I like the Merchant of Venice because it has a lot of funny words in it.  My favourite line in the play is “a portrait of a blinking idiot.”

Love Trinity
Upper First M


Dear Mr William Shakespeare,
I am writing to wish you a very happy birthday and to thank you for your extraordinary plays which have made a huge contribution to the English language.  You are a fabulous writer whose literature has gone down in history.  The words you write explode from the page and inspire young and old to act.  Thank you!
Personally I love your writing because it is so strong and allows you to really connect with the characters.  For example, Mark Antony’s line in Julius Caesar “I shall not find myself so apt to die, as here by Caesar and by you cut off.”  It is so obvious that he is distraught about Caesar’s death.  I enjoy acting Shakespeare because not only do you get to verbalise the words but also get to act them out, it leaves you feeling like you have done something special and inspiring.
From acting in these plays I have learnt to ‘just go for it’ and not worry about what other people might think, because otherwise it looks like you’re holding back and gives you a reason to feel embarrassed.  This happened in my first Shakespeare play, Henry V.  I watched a replay of the production and realised what I was doing.  From then on, I have taught myself not to get so nervous. 
Once becoming familiar with the plays you can see that there is often a moral lesson to think about.   Lady Macbeth is at first a fairly good natured woman but is turned mad by greed.  Macbeth’s moral lesson is be aware of what you are doing before you do it.
I cannot thank you enough for your beautiful works.  Our society and language have both benefited enormously from them.

Kind regards,
Lone F


Categories: John Colet School Reviews


Q and A session with John Bell

John Bell of the Bell Shakespeare company visited John Colet School this week and watched each class perform a snippet from their Shakespeare play, ready for our Shakespeare Festival at Glen St Theatre on 28th, 29th and 30th October. 

Then he kindly answered questions from students.  Here is a selection:

How can I  struggle with someone on stage, as if you are fighting with them?
"Work it out slowly, each move, with a teacher watching.  Practice where you will put your hands, your feet.  Each rehearsal, practice the scene slowly, then at half speed, then at normal acting speed.  Don’t just make up a struggle scene on the spot or someone could get hurt."

What are you going to do when you retire?
"I’m not retiring! [Laughs]  I’m just stepping down from running Bell Shakespeare.  I’m going to work with the opera and lots of other things.  Mr Mane and I are both too young to ‘retire’".

How do you create fear or anger without using words?
"Music is a great way to create atmosphere.  And without words you can use activity.  For example, to show anger you could pick up something and handle it roughly, or slam a chair back.  To show fear without words you could be very jumpy, listening for sounds, imagine you were home alone late at night and all the sounds you hear seem scary."

How can you train yourself to not smile when you should be serious? 
"What makes you smile?" 
“I’m embarrassed.”   
"Then take the attention away from yourself by thinking and focusing on the other actor you are on stage with.  That will help you to not feel embarrassed."

What have you learnt from Shakespeare?
"You learn a lot about history because you need to imagine you are living in the time and the places of the plays.  You learn about the metaphysical world, of ghosts and fairies.   You learn about extreme emotions and it opens your imagination to all these things."

What attracted you to being an actor?
"I was a show off.  I also wanted to do something I was good at.  I was good at drama and through doing that I got better at my other school subjects and at sport, because it was the one thing I could do.  Also I enjoy working with other people, interacting with them and trying things out, it takes you outside yourself." 

What do you do if you can’t get into a character?
"Find someone who you think is like the character and imitate them.  Try out various costumes, makeup and/or wigs, use different props, something that makes your imagination respond to the character.  Quietly think about the character, what makes them the way they are, where have they come from, what do they want?"

What three words would you use to describe Titania to help me get into the character?
"Well she is a Queen, remember, so I would say she is imperious, commanding, self-confident, also possessive, emotional and open to love."

Do you quote from Shakespeare every day?
"I think we all do!  There are so many lines that just spring from us, like 'All’s well that ends well', 'the milk of human kindness', the 'green eyed monster'.  Lots of phrases he has given us.

Which character would you most like to be in real life?
"I think Bottom, because he’s a natural actor who wants to be noticed!"

What do you look for in a good actor?
"Are you interesting to watch and listen to? Do I believe in what you’re doing?  Do you speak well, can I hear you?  Are you good at working with other people, do you listen and work as a team, are you aware of what your acting partner needs.  I often get actors to audition in pairs so I can get a feel for these things."

Who was your childhood hero?
"My first one was Brer Rabbit.  Then a new hero every couple of years and throughout life.  I think it’s good to change them frequently." 

How do you cry convincingly?
"That’s one of the hardest things to do!  Some actors can cry naturally, I can’t.  I just pretend, you know, sob, pause, sob again.  Real tears don’t have to come out for it to still be convincing."

Who are your favourite characters to play?
"Hamlet, Richard III, he is such a villain, but funny! And Falstaff too is a likable villain." 

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


The true camp story

Future Novelist Jack H in 4th N wrote a marvelous diary of camp life

Milson Island Camp  - 10 to 12 September, 2014

We just got onto the bus and it’s just like an aeroplane. Parents are waving goodbye, having chats and taking photos. There is a little kid climbing a tree. This is taking forever. The engines are running but we aren’t moving. We’re moving! Yay! We are out of school. The bus is very comfortable. I’ll write again when we are at Kangaroo Point.

We are here and we found a very woolly stray dog. The ferry is late! We have a very cranky skipper shooting commands. It is a very old bus. I hope the trip won’t take too long. The boat is called the Bayrunner. There is lots of year threes with us. I am sitting on my own. I hope the ferry will start moving soon. It is like chaos here. Everyone is so excited. People are chatting and the intercom is booming the normal stuff. We are moving. The view is spectacular as we start the 15 minute cruise. There is bush everywhere. I will write when we get to the Milson Island dock.

We’re at our cabins and one of the boys has a food bar. We are joking around and having fun. We’re about to have lunch. The people in 4A cabin are throwing a party with a singing toothbrush. I can’t really find anything.  Our cabin has lots of very rude words on the walls. We are about to go to fishing and survival skills. We’re in Kookaburra lodge and it is very comfortable. The instructors are very nice. I hope we have lots of fun.

We just made a huge fire and its flames reached a total height of 1.4 metres. We used nothing but natural stuff, except the lighter. It has such a good atmosphere here at camp. We are starting the steep hill journey. We did a really good job putting out the big fires we made. We are about to go fishing. The views are wonderful here. We are all singing a fishing song. Everyone is so excited. I hope the fishing calms them down. The adults are taking pictures of us and smiling.

We are playing tackle before we go fishing. Now I know what it feels like to be in good company! We are almost at the bottom of the hill. This looks like fun. This looks like a good spot to fish at the wharf. The man is getting the lines.

It is the end of fishing and no one caught anything. ); It was a most wonderful experience because I saw fish but I didn’t catch them. We’re waiting to go to our own rooms. In the meantime we are playing on the really bad playground. I’d just like to be on my own and write.

I love it here, everyone is smiling.

We found some metal cans and are having a competition for exercise. I have been climbing on the playground; no one else could do it.

We have some very rude people next to us in the cabin. We have two idiots in the huge room next to us. My friend and I are looking at the world fly past us. I wonder when or if we will get any sleep at all?

“It doesn’t get much better than this” I thought.

We have had fun tackling each other, we are on cleaning duty for Thursday lunch. People are having so much fun here, it is wonderful. We are about to go to dinner.

We just had dinner and it was pizza! I love the meals here – they are so filling. There is this system here, if you have an armband, you get food first. I have an armband. We just got lollies. I don’t know if that will help us sleep. We are calming down. Two boys talked about their ideal girl! We have had lots of fun, we are all laughing, we are all contributing to this cool conversation. I will write again soon.

It is morning and I didn’t get any sleep last night because the people next door to us screamed like girls. The people here are making very rude jokes. They are singing awfully. We are getting ready to go outside. There is still ten minutes to go before we go outside. Annoyingly on boy in my cabin snored all night. We are still making stupid jokes. Breakfast is in 45 minutes. I am writing this looking at the lovely view of the river unspoiled by time. I’ve been playing soccer with the one soccer ball on this island. It was really deflated so I headed it and it really hurt.  I hope it’s pancakes for brekkie today. I love it here all the time apart from the nights in which everyone talks and snores. We just had eggs on toast for breakfast, it was very lucky because I got seconds of eggs. I just tripped over a bench because I was writing. I hope this will be a good walk through the bush.

This afternoon we are raft building and cook out. I think I will be one of the best cooks. I think this will be a boring walk. This man is talking about the walk, apparently the Aborigines lived on this island. I just learned it used to be a mental hospital for 50 years. It used to be a low security prison. There used to a cricket team for the prison. We just did some cave climbing. We just went through a hole in the caves )-: I really feel like I am at one with the earth. I am learning a lot about trees! I have just learned that you can use it for anything. 

We just went through a really tight cave which ended up at top rock where there are awesome views and it is really sunny here. We are looking at the huge angophora with a dead branch. We just got to the bottom of a climb that was very hard. Next we are going to see the building that never changed in a hundred years, it has an old rusty roof and peeling paint and old boards. We just saw all the appliances that are still here. It is amazing.

We just learnt that this is nurses' quarters, it has a hidden trap door. It is 90 years old. We just found a cool stick. We are at the sacred aboriginal initiative site. I am amazed, this island means so much to the people who were here originally. I love it here. I don’t know if I will be able to cook.

We just had the cook out and I am totally full from Aaron’s amazing sauce for pasta. One of the girls is feeling sad and I don’t know why. We are cleaning up now. The next activity is raft building and I think it will be a great way to finish the afternoon. There is a huge fat kookaburra next to me while I am writing. We are having a little masterchef competition about our food. The fat kookaburra is eating worms very close to me. Eew. 

We just had a burning raft building session in which we had a failed raft. My friend and I are having a real chess game with the giant pieces. I finished that game short because two other boys made us leave because they were so annoying. I know that out lodge Kookaburra are on duty tonight because we haven’t done it yet. We just had dinner and we were on clean up which sucked because I got almost no dinner cause I had to clean the whole time. And when I would have been eating I was waiting in the queue. I think we are going to surprise attack the disco.

We are at the disco and the DJ has the worst fashion taste ever. But otherwise it is hard to be negative here in a cool night with cool songs. It is almost time to have supper and I am so tired.

 We have had so much fun tonight. We are having supper of milo and biscuits now and there is heaps of commotion here. It was been a great night with only 6 people sitting out like idiots. One of the girls is making stupid jokes. We seem to be waiting around for a long time. I am going to pack now so I don’t have to get caught in the wave of packing tomorrow.

Someone just sprayed a mosquito spray and my eyes sting like hell because it got into my eyes and I think he is a total idiot. We are going to sleep in 3 minutes and we are all calming down.

It is morning and I only got 6.5 hours sleep last night. We are all packing to be efficient so we don’t get caught in the wave.

We are making rude jokes. WE got our souvenirs yesterday and I got a hackey sack, boomerang and green novelty pen which I am writing with now. We expect to be having trouble packing. We are leaving our bags at the platypus lodge which is comfortable. The tractor is coming to get the bags from there.  I am glad I prepacked last night because it made it so much easier in the morning. We woke this morning at 10 to 6 and it was beautiful. We had delicious pancakes for breakfast, we are doing the giant swing next as it is our last activity. I hope it will be lots of fun, I’m going to go on the highest spot.

We just went on the wonderful great swing. You pull the rope and you fall really fast . You feel like you’re in a washing machine, you fall. I think it was the best of all the activities. We are just about to start the long journey home which will suck.

We are just waiting for a few people. My favourite part of the swing was when you pull the rope and you fall. We have counted and all together we have seen 7 pythons here. 

I have loved this camp from the start. I even love the huge hill. The instructors here are so caring about safety.

We are in the boat and this one is much more comfortable and it has 300 horsepower. I am so sad to be leaving Milson Island because I have had such a good time with good meals, service and I have such good memories from this cool island. I felt so at home here. I am already missing James and the other instructors. There is so much to do. I love getting up in the mornings and playing giant chess. I got almost no sleep last night because someone sang a horrible song all night. I love the environment here, I am so glad I got a green armband because I am allergic to peanuts. I loved the desserts here and I absolutely loved the giant swing. I also loved the temperature here because it is not too much of anything. I almost forgot to tell you we are on the fast ferry.

We are now out of the Ruse point dock and we have a great driver. We are on the travel land bus and I just figured out one of the girls likes on of the boys. I am sitting on my own so I can write in peace. I am exhausted. I can’t wait to go home and rest. Two boys were nightmares last night. I am going to write again when something interesting happens. We have started now and the bus is moving up the steep hills. I love the scenery here. I want to go home where everything isn’t so fast moving. I am so glad I bought my hackey sack. I’ll write when something happens.

We have officially started our long journey on the highway. I am going to have a rest from writing now. We are driving through the amazing ridges. All in all I love Milson Island. I hope the bus trip won’t take too long. We saw an unbelievable amount of pythons. They ranged from one metre to eleven metres long and so many of them too.

We seem to be getting back to civilisation. It has been great at camp. There is a train line next to us and it looks pretty rusty. I am so tired, this buses air conditioning is making it worse. We are driving east through big buildings. We are officially off the freeway now. I feel sad to be going back into the normal routine. We had a good disco last night.

I am so happy that I wrote all this down. I am so sad. I remember it all. We are going so fast. We are going through a very boring part of Sydney. We are almost back to school. We are driving past Charlie’s place now. We are going at the speed of a bullet now. I know how to be happy now. Someone just threw a cloth at me. We are so close to the school. I feel at home now. We are back in Belrose. I just saw a flock of birds. WE ARE BACK AT SCHOOL NOW!! The end of the true camp story.

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


My Fine Feathered Friends at John Colet

John Colet School Infants classes were treated to a wonderful performance incursion this week with a visit from Bronwyn Vaughan and her puppets.

Bronwyn Vaughan has worked as a performer, writer, musician, and storyteller in Theatre-in-Education and Children’s Theatre for the past 35 years, touring extensively throughout Australia to schools, community venues, libraries and art galleries.

Her performance is simply mesmerising. Her unique style of storytelling is highly theatrical, characterised by drama, action, humour, wit, intelligent engagement and involvement. She uses a wide array of theatrical tools – movement, music, song, dance, puppetry, traditional and contemporary musical instruments, and compelling characterisations – to create a rich and rewarding theatrical experience for young audiences.

Bronwyn’s performance is enriched by exquisitely designed and crafted props, puppets, sets and costumes. The design of My Fine Feathered Friends is entirely based around the use of recycled, found objects which are used to create the puppets, props, costumes, wigs, and many of the instruments used in the show.


Categories: John Colet School Reviews


Monty Pryor visits John Colet School

Dreamtime stories and dance

This week we were lucky enough to have the author, Monty Pryor, come in to visit all of Primary. Monty Pryor is a multi-talented performer who has worked in numerous industries including film, television, modelling, sport, music and theatre-in-education. He is also known as an articulate public speaker on Aboriginal issues.

We had a lot of fun listening to Dreamtime and personal stories from Monty’s life. These stories we not just told by Monty Pryor, but created through dance. To the children’s delight they were able to dance to the stories while accompanied by the Didgeridoo. All in all, this was a wonderful incursion and the children were truly captivated and enjoyed their time listening to this fabulous author.



Categories: John Colet School Reviews


An inspiring excursion

It was time. We’d been waiting for Monday ever since 5th class was informed that we’d be going to see Macbeth at the Sydney Opera House, and now it had finally come!

As we sat in our designated seats in the famous Sydney Opera House, the lights started to dim and the chatter died down. For the full 90 minutes we were on the edge of our seats and were intrigued from the moment the lights went out.

We loved the interpretation of Lady Macbeth, as we are playing this role in our own class production of Macbeth. We were amazed by the way they modernised the story and twisted the character into their own.

We had pictured the witches as cloaked figures with long, black hats, but what we saw was completely different. They each wore a sparkly black dress accompanied by an animal mask; a pig, a wolf and a mouse.

There were fewer actors than we had envisioned. They kept switching roles and we were impressed with their speed.

This excursion has inspired us to think out of the box and has given us lots of ideas. We can now visualise our characters and it has given us a good idea of our own play's potential.
By Eugenia and Carys

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


How to keep safe at the beach

On Friday afternoon 3J and 3T had a fascinating visitor. It was one of our mums who is a volunteer lifesaver! She told us all about how to keep safe at the beach, and what lifesavers can do to help us if we are in trouble. She even brought in some of her equipment including a REAL red and yellow flag! After the talk we went outside to play some awesome nippers games. We had so much fun!

lifesaver  lifesaver2

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


From a Junior Blogger: On Lunch at John Colet School

After Spelling Mastery or Maths, we have lunch.  Recently, for lunch we had squiggly noodles, pasta, pizza, rice, pizza puffs and 'sausage' rolls.

We have table points and at the end of the each term the table with the most amount of points gets a cake.

In the photo we are having a picnic with salad rolls because Shakespeare is on in our hall.

Anna W
Upper 1st I



Categories: John Colet School Reviews


On Mindfulness in Education

As the Headmaster of a primary school that teaches Mindfulness to children, I firmly believe that all children can be taught mindfulness, and that they benefit greatly from the daily practice of it. Our teachers teach mindfulness to children and they practice it every day, at the start and end of each lesson.

With perseverance, the children (and we as teachers) improve. The ability to focus our attention, to remain calm when all around us is a roiling sea of confusion, to take a stand against our inner fears and insecurities and pettiness and act courageously, all increase with guided practice.

How young should these lessons start? As early as possible. All parents begin the process of educating their child from virtually day one, principally, and unconsciously, by modelling their own behaviour. If the parents have taken up some techniques of Mindfulness then, by osmosis the child will absorb the lessons quite naturally . If, on the other hand, the parents have cultivated distraction, reactive explosive behaviour and a lack of consciousness of their own susceptibility to passing fancies, this, again will be the lesson the child learns.

Later the choice of school becomes a factor. Does the child’s school emphasise a disciplined, focused approach to learning? Are the children asked to give their attention to what they are doing? Even better is Mindfulness itself part of the curriculum? Are the teachers, themselves, working on their own Mindfulness?

At our school we have sought to embed simple Mindfulness techniques into the daily timetable. The first of our school’s Core Vales is Stillness. The children, between each lesson are asked to sit quietly and become present and connect inwardly and outwardly with their sense experiences. When they turn ten they can, if they wish, take up a formal system of meditation which they then practice at school each morning and each afternoon for five minutes. And the teachers are selected because they are on board with all of this and are happy to model Mindfulness and encourage it in the children.

The result? On the whole, children with a sense of presence, self-awareness and an awareness of others. Children who can, when required, focus their attention on the task in hand. Children who can think, can ask startling questions and come up with creative answers. Children who are inwardly strong and resilient.

Gilbert Mane

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


Teaching effectively the John Colet way


One of the aspects of the School which we value highly is academic excellence.  One of the key Visions for the School when it was founded was that it would deliver a syllabus which included the best content available – Shakespeare, Mozart, and so on.  

And that the teachers would teach in the most effective way possible based on best practice, and also empirical experience.  In other words we would try out new methods, but trust our own instincts and experience when it came to teaching children.  We used whatever we found really worked.

So over the years we have developed a stimulating mix of, for example, phonics with whole language instruction; boys and girls together for most of the week, but sometimes apart for, say, sport; open ended discussion and discovery learning, blended with rote learning and memorisation of the basics – times tables, spelling, Shakespeare play parts.

For nearly all educational controversies – single-sex or co-ed; phonics or whole language; discovery based learning or learn by heart – the answer is almost always the same.  Do both.

The consistent result has been girls and boys who head off to high school ready to learn and take on everything the grown up world has to offer.


Gilbert Mane│ Headmaster│ John Colet School
02 9451 8395   6 Wyatt Ave Belrose NSW 2085

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


John Colet School Year 5 Scholarship

John Colet School Year 5 Scholarship
“Elliot came to John Colet School in 5th class, after four years of trying different schools and different settings in search of a school that was right for him.  By the end of the first week he whispered in my ear that he’d hit the jackpot: he’d finally found a place he really belonged.  The only bad part, he said, was that it had taken so long to find it…”

This paragraph is from Elliot’s parents who joined John Colet last year through our Year 5 Scholarship program. Their testimonial is on our website. Could what is true for Elliot be true for your son or daughter? Is your child the ‘best, happiest version’ of themselves?

Categories: John Colet School Reviews


Super singing at our Open Day

All our students had the opportunity to take part in our Open Day concert on the weekend.  We squeezed in 16 quality items in the hour-long performance, and showcased all our choirs.

We opened with the Combined School Choirs (that's everyone from Lower First (kindy) to 6th class) singing 'Alleluia', followed by our Infants Choir (that's Lower First, Upper First and Second Class), then performances by our 3rd and 4th class Choir, our 5th and 6th class Choir, our Primary Choir (that's everyone in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes) and our John Colet Choir (membership by audition only).

As you can imagine there was a lot rehearsing in the days beforehand to ensure the students all knew how to move on and off the stage smoothly, and take their positions without holding up proceedings.

6th class also did a wonderul recitation of Banjo Patterson's 'A Bush Christening' dressed the part.


Categories: John Colet School Reviews


What some students said when we asked them about learning a classical language…

“Learning an ancient language is different and an opportunity that not many people get.  I like training my memory when learning the script and the vocab.” – Scout H, 5th class

“I was worried about staring Sanskrit, but it hasn’t been too hard to get started.

Categories: John Colet School Reviews

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