High Notes, Vol 21 No 10, April 03 2020

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From the Principal

High Talent

The Combined GPS Swimming Team was selected and included the following High students. Ike Matsuoka (17+ 800m freestyle, 400 metres individual medley & 100 and 200 metres butterfly), Benjamin Marcellino (12-14 years 100 and 200 metres butterfly), Derek Sae-Jong (17+200 metres breaststroke), Brian Ahn (12-14 years 200 metres breaststroke) and the 12-14 years medley relay team of Jasun Xu,  Brian Ahn, Justin Yi and Peter Zhao. Congratulations to you all!  This year the AAGPS selected a ‘Merit Team’ of representative players. Eoin Fitz-gerald, Kwabena Brefo and Adam Gordon were selected in the firsts team. Well done, lads!


NESA advises that students should keep learning and doing major works. Maintain your online social contacts and look after your health.  Be sure to reach out to family, friends and teachers if you need to. Check out UAC COVID 19 updates for information about entering university in 2021. The Board has given Principals or system authorities the power to make decisions about school-based assessment for the 2020 HSC in relation to the type of tasks used and the number and weightings of formal assessment tasks. The Department of Education is considering the implications of this decision and conceptualising scenarios for assessment tasks in stage 2, 3 or 4 social restrictions. It is unlikely that any decisions or recommendations will be made until sometime in Term 2. (See educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/nesa). 

The principles for assessment remain the same, despite the necessity for online delivery. They need to be based on a wide range of syllabus outcomes and on multiple measures throughout the HSC course. (If the COVID-19 pandemic persists in intensity for six months, we may have trouble with both the number of tasks in some courses and the spread of those tasks over time during 2020 only). The tasks need to be informed by the components identified in the assessment and reporting documents for each of the syllabuses. (This will still happen but the weightings for components may alter). Accuracy and equity are our foremost concerns in designing this process in response to the extended physical absence of students from school. (In any event, at High we will conduct as many valid and reliable tasks as are possible, given the constraints of social distancing). Illness/ misadventure provisions and substitute task arrangements can still apply. Appropriate notice must still be given for changed assessment arrangements. (We have done this for Year 12 for weeks 10 and 11).

From the Secretary of Education (as at 25.3)

All staff are thanked warmly for their great efforts this term so far. Student attendance in public schools has collapsed from 59% at the beginning of last week to 12% by the end of the week. (This week appears to be <9%. At High it has been <1% since the middle of last week). As it appears that schools will remain open for the rest of the term, schools can plan with more confidence. The common denominator objective is for schools to provide for learning under the supervision of the teacher – at school or at home. Teacher professionalism is to be both respected and expected. Work must be distributed equitably so that the load for some does not become unbearable. Principals are urged to hire casuals to replace absent staff members. (We will find this difficult except in exceptional cases, given our CANVAS mode of operation and given that it is acceptable to set student tasks online and monitor their completion.) ‘Technology gaps’ need to be filled. If staff or students are not equipped with the necessary technology to participate in online learning, then they should be allocated it. (At High we have had two requests for technical support, one each from a student and a teacher. These have been met rapidly and effectively.)

Nobody knows what is going to happen. Schools should plan for the current scenario to continue into term two. There may be questions as to the sustainability of the model. ‘Pace yourself for the long race’. (Don’t commit to too many full synchronous lesson deliveries on any given day. We have only set the baseline at one online interactive lesson per class per week. It is easier to have at least 5 – 10 minutes in that mode and move into other modes for many lessons.) Stage 3 restrictions, if imposed, would mean a lockdown of schools. How does teaching and learning happen if there is a lockdown of schools and no one is there? (Could we keep going if we had no one at school? I guess we could if everybody kept getting paid.)

Staff and Student Welfare

Our first plan was to get to the end of term one. That looks like it is going to happen as planned. We managed to retrieve a portion of assessment schedule for Year 12 tasks, but we made them online where possible. Students in the mathematics and science courses need to be diligent in completing their work. We will need to be two weeks ahead of schedule in term two to allow for an at-school assessment block to be arranged. The longer the pandemic lasts the more weighting will be given to the tasks that will follow as soon as we can return closer to normal operation. The race will be to get enough meaningful tasks completed (as in valid and reliable) before the HSC assessment marks are due in mid-September. Teachers are working on ways to make some smaller tasks online to add to our assessment data. Our second plan will be to decide how we will operate in May – Curriculum Delivery, Assessments – setting, conducting, marking recording, Meetings – a Faculty and School level, and student and staff wellbeing considerations. Our aim is to keep functioning as per the timetable in term 2. All students will be expected to log on punctually when their scheduled lesson is due to begin.

Students in Years 7-10 should not be stressed about assessment and reporting. 2020 will be a one-off year in that regard. We will redesign our mid-year reports to reflect the realities of the way we are operating. That is, there is lots of teaching and learning going on but our assessment capabilities for whole cohorts of students are limited at this stage. We will have to innovate. How that might look will vary from faculty to faculty and will evolve during the term. Patience and resilience are character traits we need to all develop in these challenging times.
Dr K A Jaggar

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