High Notes, Vol 20 No 9, March 29 2019

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From the Principal

High Talent

Congratulations to Hunar Verma (12T) on his selection in the NSW All-Schools cricket team. Our first XI qualified for the Davidson Shield Knockout cricket finals for the second successive year – well done, boys! High was represented strongly in the Combined GPS basketball teams – Julian Markworth-Scott (firsts) and Noah Casaclang, Eoin Fitz-Gerald, Kwabena Brefo and Kobe Shannon (seconds). Congratulations! Lachlan HO (11T) won a bronze medal in the Open Men’s Foil at the season opener competition. Well done to Klimenty Tsoutsmann (9S) who won a state competition in proficiency in the Russian language. His prize is two weeks in Russia in term 3.

Head of the River 2019

On a bright sunny morning on March 23, High boated seven crews at the Head of the River regatta – the most since 2010. Despite them conceding many kilos per man, all crews rowed gallantly, achieving PBs on the day. The best row of the regatta came from the first VIII, finishing 9.62% more than the winner’s time in 6.30.66. The rate of participation in the regatta was very pleasing. Our way forward now is to build on strength and fitness in the winter, in order to come off a higher base of strength and aerobic fitness to commence next season.

Caught Doing the Right Thing

A commuter, Jordan, wrote to me last week to praise the behaviour of one of our students. He says, “I just want to praise a student from your school who offered his seat up to me on my way home from work today. He did not hesitate to stand up and offer me his seat. I did decline as I found another seat. I would say he was in year 9-10, Asian descent and was wearing his sports uniform. As a teacher myself, this was very pleasing and happy to see! I wish I knew his name so you could personally praise him.” People on public transport take a close interest in the behaviour of school students.  The student referred to knows he did the right thing. Acting honourably is its own reward.

Literacy Development in Years 7-10 

As part of our ‘lighting up literacy’ objective in our School Plan, we intend all students to engage in literacy development. In a nutshell, we want our students to be more skilful, accurate, versatile and purposeful writers. We want them to read more widely, analyse more closely and listen more acutely. There is an ongoing whole school emphasis on writing with a key focus each term – audience – sentence construction – ideas generation and vocabulary. Staff are supported by DoE generated resources. All students in Years 7-9 will complete a series of diagnostic tests. If they do not reach a pre-set benchmark in their results, they will be mentored as they complete skill development tests in literacy over a period of time. A group of 59 students was selected on the basis of NAPLAN results to engage in a professionally designed program (‘WordFlyers’ / 3P learning) to build their writing capacity in various text types. Examples of text types – narrative, procedure, report, description, discussion, exposition, recount, poetry, text response and procedure. A team of mentors will be working with them to grow their skills and confidence as readers and writers. Also, we are asking for parental support to encourage wide reading using the Junior Library resources to assist in building student vocabulary. More sophisticated and confident  writers will deliver more band 6 outcomes at the HSC from the same base of ability, knowledge and understanding.

The Technology Levy    

At High, the 2018 expenditure for technology and communication in teaching and learning was $625,786. To support technology the Department of Education makes an annual grant of hardware. All of the current budget is paid for by parents. We are not an eT4L school. Our specifications for ICT exceed DoE standards and we support these higher standards ourselves. In 2018, parents contributed $344,000 by way of their contributions to the Technology Levy. The wages and bill for our three staff members and teacher relief was $420,000. 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 desktop computers, printers, software and consumables is $58,360.  We need to upgrade ageing equipment and cabling, as well as replacing up to 50 data projectors at the end of their useful life (c. 8 years for each). Our specific network project expenditure for 2018 was $82,785.39. In order to support our BYOD policy and maximise learning opportunities for your sons, these works needed to be done. We spent $35,375 on sound and lighting systems for the Great Hall. Our ongoing imaging cost to maintain copiers in the school was $5,146. We upgraded the school canteen to allow cashless trading using student smart cards ($7,637).

We expect to spend $725,000 on technology and communication support for learning this year. The plan equates to $>600 for each student on this area alone. Our technology levy is requested from parents to ensure that our school can continue to supply cutting-edge technology tools for teaching and learning. 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 developed and equipped a Maker Space at High ($15,000). We have 100mb bandwidth from the DOE. Our enduring goal is ‘opportunity for excellence’ – we want to deliver that in all aspects of education. If every family paid their Technology Levy in 2019, it would raise >$378,000. That would fund about 52% of our program. It would be very beneficial for our learning improvement if as many parents as possible supported our technology in teaching and learning program by paying their levy. Your ongoing support is appreciated very much.
Dr K A Jaggar

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