High Notes, Vol 17 No 2, February 12 2016

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From the Principal

High Talent
At the National Schools Volleyball Championships held last December, involving 485 school teams, High’s 16s team played in Division 1 and lost 1-2 in the gold medal round to Burnside High from Queensland. This was a really big achievement for our boys at an elite national level.  The 14s team played in Division 2 and made it to the bronze medal playoff, losing to Etham High from Victoria. This team has shown great improvement this year. Congratulations to all the boys and to super coach Mr Kay and his team. Congratulations again to Fayad Morshedi (Year 11) who won the ICAS gold medal in the English test with the highest score in NSW and ACT. In 2012 he had the highest score in Australia in this competition. Congratulations to Julian Tu (Year 12) who attended the National Computer Science School and won a prize of $1000 to be spent on the Grok Learning NCSS challenge. Great work!

Principal’s Report to the P & C
At the P & C meeting this week, I outlined directions for the school for 2016. As a high priority, we intend to commence disruptive assessment for Year 7. This means we will attempt to change teaching by backward mapping from reporting on dispositions – problem-solving, evaluating, working in teams, communicating with others and creating and innovating (PEWCC) – to devising appropriate assessment strategies and then to modifying our practice to explicitly teach the dimensions of dispositions – cognitive, metacognitive, motivational and behavioural. We see a big opportunity in the High Junior School to free up curriculum and carve out some time to help our boys become better learners. Our focus in the Junior School is on the discourse of personal development. Year 7 will have an assessment of their progress in the five dispositions included on their semester reports this year. We have programmed for reporting on dispositions to roll out to Years 8 and 9 in 2017 and 18.

A second priority for us is to raise greater awareness of our attempts to build a PERMA culture – to facilitate flourishing. Culture in schools can be modified by applying some of the lessons from positive psychology. We need to embed dispositional teaching into the total curriculum – academic, sports, co-curricular, community service. P - We need to take every opportunity to engender positive emotions in each other about our school and its daily operations. We need a better Losada Ratio or positive: negative statements. Let’s concentrate on what we can do and try to do it better. Look for the positives in what we are all doing. E – Engage our boys. We want our boys to enjoy as many of the opportunities on offer at High as they can. We need to find better ways to get student buy-in in all curriculum areas. R – Building respectful relationships is very important to us. We need to model them first among each other as teachers. We need to help boys build relationships with peers, teachers, SAS staff, cleaners, coaches and visitors. M – Our staff and our boys need to see what we are doing together as meaningful to them as individuals.  We need to inspire them through our passion about the core concepts of our disciplines or the skills of our activities. A – Every boy must be made to experience a sense of accomplishment. All boys need to see how they have achieved. We need to recognise and reward them as often as we can.

Dropping Off Students Inside the Cleveland Street Gates
Quite a number of parents drive boys to school. There is a drop off zone next to the tennis courts on Cleveland Street. Our policy is that parents should enter via gate 1, drop off their sons alongside the tennis court fence, then exit via gate 2, which allows both left and right hand turns. Driving in gate 2 directly involves negotiating the car park and having to turn around in an area busy with boys making their way to early morning lessons or down to The Flat to play before school starts. This practice is quite dangerous as drivers can’t always see the boys moving in front or behind them. Please make an effort to comply with our policy and drive in via gate 1 and exit directly at gate 2 turning left or right.

Early Bird Discount
Reminder to parents that there are just two weeks to go to take advantage of the early bird discount by paying the school invoices in full. As well as receiving a substantial saving you will also be really helping out the school in a stressful financial environment. Having 50% of all our families pay all their invoices in full to receive the discount helps us to purchase the resources and services near the beginning of the year to maximise the benefit gained by all students.

The Student Research and Resources Fund
Our students make very heavy usage of research and resourcing facilities at High. Whether they are accessing school-supplied PCs for private research, or using electronic or hard copy reference material, or privately studying, reading books, newspapers or magazines, or working collaboratively with friends, or asking research or study advice, students enjoy the dedicated spaces for these purposes. High is fortunate to have two libraries, catering for 220 students simultaneously. Each library is headed up by a Teacher-Librarian. Both spaces have extended opening hours to cater for students arriving early for various commitments or because travelling is easier early. Both spaces have Support Staff to administer the resources and help students who borrow books or want to access resources.

One of these spaces (Killip Library) is resourced entirely by DEC – staff and support staff. The other (McDonald Library) is financed by the school for 80% of its staff costs. The standard DEC cost for a teacher is $104,000 per annum.  The school pays $83,200 to employ a second Librarian. Support staff and extended hours cost around $50,000.  Each library has a materials / fiction / subscriptions budget of $17,500. The school invests $168,200 of community raised funds to provide this range of educational opportunities.  Our school community sees the value in supporting these facilities for our boys and decides to make tax deductible donations to the Student Research and Resources Fund. I hope that you see the value in making a similar investment in your son’s growth as a learner.
Dr K A Jaggar

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