High Notes, Vol 16 No 11, April 24 2015

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From the Principal 

High talent
Belated congratulations go to Leonard Mah (Year 12) who was elected as co-captain of the combined GPS swimming team. Thomas Shortridge (Year 11) was selected in the NSW Debating Union debating team, one of six debaters to represent NSW at the Australian National Schools Debating Championships. A great effort, Thomas! Thank you to Dora Shapiro (Louis’s mum) for her help in managing the Principal’s morning tea catering and clean up on the last day of term 1. Thank you so much for your commitment to High! 

Staff changes term 2
This term Joanna Chan, our new Head Teacher Welfare, joined our Executive team. Recent confirmed appointments were: Jessica Millar and Andrew Wang (Mathematics), Rosemary Tracey and Natalie Luu (History) and towards the middle of last term, Janette Leong (Social Science). Claire McConnell is relieving for Annalise Mack (English). On behalf of the High school community I extend a warm welcome to all our new colleagues.

Staff Development Day 20.4.15
Staff heard an historic joint presentation from the NSWTF representative, Rhiannon Davis and I, explaining the joint agreement between the Federation and the DEC on the new Performance and Development Framework driving the profession. It confirms that all teachers have a right to be supported in their professional learning, as well as a responsibility to be involved in performance and development processes (including two formal observations of their practice annually) that facilitate their professional growth and provision of quality teaching and learning. The Framework replaces the Teacher Assessment and Review Schedule (TARS) and will result in a change in the way we operate. A cycle – plan/implement/review –will apply to all teaching staff. There will be two formal review processes during the year – a mid-year Self-Assessment and an Annual Review.

I outlined the School Excellence Framework against which schools will be externally validated every 5 years. Each school will produce an annual Self Review assessed against its goals and milestones. The Framework describes 14 elements across the domains of learning, teaching and leading. It is a tripartite standards model: delivering, sustaining and growing, and excelling.  I outlined the excelling elements.  In cross faculty groups, we discussed what the various faculties were doing in relation to selected elements and the groups ‘audited’ the element they were given so the school can establish self-assessed benchmarks to inform our improvement planning.

A team presented their findings from a recent professional development experience and emphasised the importance of emotional states in teaching and learning situations. The groups also shared what their faculties were doing to develop PEWCC skills and PERMA qualities in their students. These acronyms are target areas for development in our strategic plan 2015-17. We want to focus on making our boys better learners and more self-confident individuals. The participants in groups listened respectfully and shared ideas willingly. I believe collective awareness of the similarities, differences and uniqueness of faculty contexts was raised. On behalf of all staff, I thank Rachel Powell (DP) for her impressive design and organisation of the day and her presenters for their input.

Valé Brian McDermott and ‘Uncle’ Dave McGrady
Sadly, the Sydney High Community has lost two people who have made a long term contribution to the programs and life of the school. Brian McDermott, casual teacher and actor, had an unmistakable, mellifluous voice which was called into service at various times throughout his time at High and lives on through our ‘on-hold’ telephone recorded message. He was a day-to-day from 1998 until December, 2014. He was the ‘go-to’ casual who could fill in for English, visual arts, mathematics or wherever else help was needed. He established calm, friendly relationships with staff and students and was unfailingly optimistic and cheerful. We will miss his presence as a reliable, effective temporary teacher and thoroughly nice person.

Uncle Dave McGrady was an original member of the Boggabilla exchange program back in 2004. He has been the mainstay in our relationship building trust with the Boggabilla community. A proud Kamilaroi man, Dave had a quiet authority about him that earned the respect of students and staff alike. He was a passionate supporter of the advancement of opportunity for Boggabilla kids by way of extending their horizons through visits to Sydney and by hosting return visits by our boys to show them too, a different way of life. He worked closely with Con Barris, both when accompanying the selected students to Sydney and by providing experiences for our boys when they travelled to Boggabilla.  He will be sadly missed.

SRC Project c2010 finalised
During the holidays the Anzac Parade frontage parking area was covered with asphalt between gates 9 and 10 and the retaining wall at the end of McDonald Wing was repaired. This long overdue project was originally put on the priority list as a result of a considered proposal submitted to me and discussed at length with the SRC. Some time ago, preparatory work was carried out with bordering and road base being laid. Problems in what to do about encroaching roots from the Moreton Bay figs established along the fence line, delayed the commencement of the project and then competing priorities pushed it down the list. Now, at last, the dust problem for boys when lining up for buses in the afternoon has been eradicated. The problem of erosion around the driveway entrances and along beside the wall, should also now be removed. DEC contractors did an effective and thorough job and kept to the budget of $87k which was allocated for the works.

Dead wooding, lifting and crowning trees
Our cyclical tree maintenance program was carried out by Starr Landscape over the holidays. A large number of trees were dead wooded and their crowns were lifted. Quite a few very tall palm trees also had their fronds cut back. We have had near misses from dead fronds falling into the grounds from very tall palms. Given the nature of our site, the task requires expensive machinery hire. Given the ferocity of our recent weather, taking the precaution to make our environment safer was justified, despite the expenditure of $20k that was required.
Dr K A Jaggar

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