High Notes, Vol 17 No 17, June 10 2016
At the School Championships in fencing, William Zeng (10T) won
gold in the U15 epée, with Matthew Pellen (8R) winning bronze. In the U15 sabre, Varun
Sharma (8S) won bronze. Well done, boys! Congratulations to our Year 10 debating team (Guy
Suttner, Symeon Ziegler, Lincoln Hui & Alexander De Araujo) who won the grand final against
SGHS at the UNSW Debating Competition. Commiserations to our Year 12 debaters who lost both
finals last Friday, PDC Hume Barbour regional and Eastside, to their nemesis – SGHS. Our
Year 11 boys also lost the Eastside final against SGHS in a split decision.
Annual Tax Time Appeal
More and more Australians are thinking about
philanthropy, about giving something back to society to help others. Universities and schools are
benefitting more than ever before from this growing social conscience. High is a state school
trying to provide all the opportunities of an independent school. We succeed because of the
goodwill and financial support of our staff, our parents and our alumni. This year at tax time
please make a donation to a SBHS project – preferably to the Sydney High School
Building Fund. Our priority project this year is The Governors
Centre. Alternatively, you could support our solar initiative by donating to
the Building Fund but adding a note that you want the money directed towards the solar power
If you would like to donate directly into sports, go to www.sydneyboyshigh.com click on ‘Sports
Donations’, then scroll through the projects until you find the one you want. Simply click
on ‘Donate to…’ in blue for the sport of your choice.
To fast track a donation go to www.asf.org.au/make-donation/sydney-boys-sailing/ but substitute
‘sailing’ with your preferred sport.
The School Excellence Framework -Part 2
In April I summarised the
school’s self-assessment on Learning as one part of the framework.
At Executive meetings this term we are working on our self-assessment of Learning and
Teaching. Next term High will be the subject of an external validation review aimed at
establishing an agreed assessment of where our school sits in the School Excellence
Framework. Teaching is the focus of Part 2. “In schools that
excel all teachers are committed to identifying, understanding and implementing
the most effective teaching methods, with a higher priority given to evidence-based teaching
strategies.” Every teacher would say they were trying to do these things but evidence
is necessary to prove that we are walking the talk. We have rated ourselves as
‘sustaining and growing’ on the element of ‘effective classroom
practice’. The school leadership team does demonstrate instructional leadership,
promoting and modelling effective, evidence-based practice. As yet we do not have
sufficient evidence to show that teachers regularly review learning with each
student, ensuring all students have a clear understanding of how to improve their learning.
We would need a teacher feedback log to record up to three feedback occasions per term before we
could claim feedback as a ‘regular’. Added to that there are two personal
feedback appointments with the Principal scheduled for each student.
On the element ‘data skills and use’, in schools that excel “student
assessment data are regularly used school wide to identify student achievements and progress in
order to inform future school directions”. We rated ourselves as ‘sustaining
and growing’. We couldn’t yet claim that teachers demonstrate a
‘sophisticated’ understanding and use of assessment and data literacy concepts.
We have informal, but not hard evidence that teachers take responsibility for changes in practice
required to achieve improved school performance and are using data on a regular basis to monitor
the effectiveness of their own efforts. We work well in most faculties with RAP analysis and the
data but the diagnostic power of the NAPLAN assessment tool has not been fully utilised. We
could have more evidence of pre and post testing and student evaluations. We might reframe
some of our data against for/as/of assessment criteria. In element 3, ‘collaborative
practice’, in schools that excel, “there are explicit systems for collaboration
and feedback”. We certainly have structure in our Professional Development Plans, lesson
observations, PLEs (professional learning exchanges), quality teaching, cyber management and
wellbeing teams. Teachers collaborate within and across stages but we need to make our
modelling, mentoring and feedback loops more visible. We have not gathered evidence of
consistency of curriculum delivery in respect of differentiation or teacher judgement. We
need to tie together and make more coherent our strategies to drive school improvement.
In element 4, ‘learning and development’, in schools that excel,
“learning is aligned with the school plan, and its impact on the quality of teaching and
student learning outcomes is evaluated”. We could not claim that our school is recognised
as expert in the provision of support to beginning and early career
teachers. We are unclear as to the recognising agent. We need to make more explicit
the forms of support we provide for beginning and early career teachers.
In element 5, ‘professional standards’, in schools that excel, “all
staff demonstrate personal responsibility for maintaining and developing their professional
standards.” We have evidence that teaching staff demonstrate and share expertise but
have not gathered evidence about the levels of contemporary content knowledge and teaching
practices. We cannot reliably determine how many teachers rely on evidence-based teaching
strategies. We need to gather more evidence about our own teaching practices.
Strategies derived from ‘dispositional teaching’ and ‘making thinking
visible’, along with explicit teaching of PEWCC skills, are evidence based.
MIC New Title
The School Executive recently decided that it would be more
appropriate for our leaders in sport and co-curricular activities to be called ‘manager in
charge’ rather than ‘master in charge’. The abbreviation MIC keeps faith with
the terminology used by GPS schools. Our new title reflects a gender neutral attitude to roles at
a time when many MICs are female.
Year 7 Reports
Year 7 parents should be asking to see their sons’
reports, as they were discussed with boys this week. In addition to the academic assessments of
progress, this year’s reports have an added feature, an assessment of individual
boys’ progress in developing ‘future-focussed earning skills’: problem solving,
evaluation, working in teams, communicating ideas, creating and innovating. We are experimenting
with a paradigm shift in our pedagogy towards incorporating more dispositional teaching into our
practice. Our idea is to present a profile of skill development over the three years of learning
growth in the Junior School. Mr Dowdell has provided a full explanation of the report format as
well as a table of the rubrics used by each Faculty to assess their allocated skill. He included
a column indicating the frequency for each level of development of each skill. To access this
information, go online and just type sbhs.co/reports.
Dr K A Jaggar