High Notes, Vol 18 No 9, March 31 2017

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From the Principal

Valé Evan Higgins

Last weekend our school community was shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of a much-admired teacher – Evan Higgins. Evan was appointed to the English Faculty in September, 2013. Prior to that he had been teaching in a casual and temporary capacity at High since 2012. This year he was serving as a Year Adviser, Coordinator of Public Speaking and mentor for boys involved in UN and Legal debating competitions. Evan was an accomplished English teacher. He taught the courses at all levels with success. His students were engaged by his pedagogy and responded to his personal warmth and candour. He related well to people generally and was perceived as insightful, compassionate and caring by everyone with whom he interacted. His smiling presence will be missed by us all.

High Talent

Congratulations to Ryan Chan (10T) and Terence Mui (10E) who have qualified to compete in the Australian U17 Badminton Championships to be contested in Launceston, Tasmania. Congratulations to our Combined GPS Swimming Representatives who qualified after the final GPS carnival last Friday. Jake Rowlands (12R) was elected Captain of the combined GPS team – a great honour for him and High. Other boys selected were: Kevin Guo (12E) – opens, Adam Feng (11S) – 17 years, David Goh (10R) – 16 years, Ike Matsuoka (8M) – 14 years, Patrick Yee (7F) – 13 years and Alexander Lee (7M) – 12 years.

Caught Doing the Right Thing!

I recently received this email. I want to congratulate the boys involved. Your behaviour can really create a big impression on commuters – in this case a very positive one. “On a train going to Penrith I had some lovely young men on the carriage on the train. Most got off at Parramatta, one got off at Blacktown. The one that got off at Blacktown had a cricket bag, which he put in a place where it was not in the way. The boys that got off at Parramatta, I think one was named Chris, kept seats free for older people and made it easy for others to get off and on…Thank you for having great young men at your school.”

Trusts for the benefit of High boys  

The Sydney High School Foundation holds trusts for the benefit of the school. Audited accounts for our trusts show that as of December, 2016 balances of: $119,206 (2015 -$108,858) for the Ethel Killip Memorial Trust; $107,552 (2015 -$100,709) for the Prizes Trust; $87,294 (2015- $83,884) for the Phil Day Memorial Scholarship Trust; $47,010);  $42,169 for the Student Support Trust  and $8,113 (2015- $7,853) for the Mitchell Seow Memorial Prize Trust. Usually, half of the interest earned on these Trusts is donated to the School for uses determined by the Trust Deeds. However, due to recent very low interest rates, interest has been retained 2014-16, in the interests of maintaining the real capital value of the trusts.

The Seow Trust funds a specific prize commemorating the sudden death from unknown causes of a much-loved student who had just completed his HSC. The Student Support Trust Fund supplements the DoE Student Equity Funds with direct financial help to students in necessitous circumstances. The Phil Day Memorial Trust funds an annual scholarship worth $1,500 in memory of an Old Boy and long serving teacher, Head Teacher and Swimming MIC. The Prizes Trust helps to pay for some of the $32,000 worth of prizes awarded each year to students. The Ethel Killip Memorial Trust pays for the replacement and upkeep of honour boards, memorabilia of Old Boys, photographs on walls and the school artworks collection. The Trust purchased >$25k.(2014-16) of indigenous artworks for our collection in McDonald Wing. We are always seeking donations for any of these Trusts, of which only the Scholarship Fund is tax deductible.

Cultural Diversity at High

Students at High speak a great many languages in their homes. A recent census found that Mandarin / Cantonese / or Chinese dialects were spoken by 630 students. Other major linguistic groups: were Vietnamese (102), Bengali / Tamil (94), Korean (44), Hindi (36) and Indonesian (26). In an interdependent world, it is encouraging to know that Australia will have educated people with additional skills in languages, to help us interact in the Asian region. Our future growth in trade, services and tourism will come with the countries whose languages are represented in our school.

Tell Them From Me Survey

The online survey of student opinions about school life has opened. I encourage parents to talk to their sons about the importance of using an opportunity to express their views and influence possible change. The survey gives students a voice in our development of policies and processes. It is very simple to access and easy to complete. This year there are several questions designed specifically for our school. The survey closes on the last day of term. We are now relying on data from this survey as part of our School Excellence Framework evaluations.  The survey closes on April 7!

The Technology Levy     

At High, the annual budget for technology in teaching and learning exceeds $500,000.  To support technology, the Department of Education used to make a direct annual grant to High of >$53K. This support has now been removed. We are not an eT4L school. Our specifications for ICT exceed DoE standards and we support these higher standards ourselves. In 2016, parents contributed $275, $219 by way of their contributions to the Technology Levy. The wages bill for our three staff members and teacher relief is $380,000. Consequently, the Technology Levy doesn’t cover the recurrent costs of the wages to support our network. In addition, recurring maintenance costs for data projectors, classroom desktops, printers, software and consumables is $52,000. We need to upgrade ageing equipment and replace data projectors at the end of their useful life (8 years). We have high priority projects to be implemented at a cost of $74,500. In order to support our BYOD policy and maximise learning opportunities for your sons, these works need to be done. This year, we will add ‘Clickview’ to stream video content to classrooms to enhance engagement possibilities for our boys. The budget shortfall has to be made up from General Service Contributions and Building Fund donations for refurbishment works.

In the second decade of the 21st century, there is nothing more important than acquiring sophisticated ICT skills for everybody wanting to find employment in the new economy. We make technology a major priority in our development plans each year. We have pushed for and received 100mb bandwidth from the DoE. Our enduring motto is ‘opportunity for excellence’ – we want to deliver that in all aspects of education. If every family paid their Technology Levy in 2017, it would raise >$350,000. It would be really beneficial for our learning improvement if as many parents as possible supported our technology in teaching and learning program by paying their levy.
Dr K A Jaggar

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