High Notes, Vol 22 No 35, November 12 2021

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From the Principal

HSC Begins at Last

Our students sat their first round of HSC papers this week after a long postponement. Our COVID Safe Plan required that we split the large candidature examinations and use the Great Hall as well as the UTS Gymnasium. We have invested in securing alternative sites, should our school site need to be closed for deep cleaning. Our students have endured a great deal during two years of interrupted senior school learning. By and large they have been resilient and cooperative in the face of a common danger. Everyone at High hopes the boys have every opportunity to show what they know in the final examination period of high school.

Scholarships Offered at High

SBHS offers only two scholarships/bursaries – the Phillip Day Memorial Scholarship and the Sir Roden and Lady Cutler Foundation Scholarship. All enrolled or enrolling students are eligible to apply for the Phillip Day Memorial Scholarship. It is a one-year credit on the school account for $1,500. The Selection Criteria covers talented boys in an academic area or a co-curricular endeavour. Good all-rounders qualify as do students with special needs – financial or otherwise. There are many boys in the school who would make good candidates for this award. I urge them to take the trouble to download and complete the application form. The Sir Roden and Lady Cutler Foundation Inc Scholarship is a two-year award with a credit at the school account for $1,500 for each Year – 11 and 12. Only boys enrolled or enrolling in Year 11 are eligible to apply. The criteria for this scholarship are different. It has an emphasis on a prior record of service to others, to the school and / or the community. Boys with initiative, compassion, a record of school or community service and leadership skills, are invited to apply.

Look for the details on the website www.sydneyboyshigh.com/scholarships. Do not assume that you are not worthy or eligible. Applications close on Tuesday 30 November.

Quo Vadis, High 2022-25?

Ahead of the preparation of the Strategic Improvement Plan, I wrote a piece about planning which I think set a context around our movement into the next Sigmoid Curve in our institutional development. I was attempting to provide a rationale for our necessary change in practice and process. I believe our growth curve relying on brand continuity, a focus on quality, a fostering of pride in culture and our living museum has run its course. The balance between modernity and tradition is a hard one to strike.  We have a great tradition and a strong brand identification, but to build our second curve we need to move towards a focus on our product that is sharper than it has ever had to be before. Our product is our student outcomes. Every student’s needs have to be addressed.

Technology and the new knowledge economy have revolutionised our context in the two decades that I have been principal at High.  Blended learning is now integral to our pedagogy. The upskilling of staff in relation to technological applications has been truly remarkable. Students have access to unlimited information, much of which they used to rely on teachers to supply. Teachers now spend their time teaching frames of thinking, judgement and discernment and methods of applying information to the process of solving problems. The job has evolved from dissemination of knowledge to its manipulation and application.

Our mindset needs to move from the complacency of our reliance on brand to our evidence-based immersion in product, outcomes and growth for every student every year. We need to show that our product is high-quality, reliable and evolving. We must be agile, flexible and responsive to the needs of each individual in our care. Technology has made the dream of the personalised curriculum very close to a reality. It is a reality that we must challenge ourselves to reach towards. Technology has also enabled the Department to monitor and analyse our performance closely. We are being scrutinised in our work as never before. Our responsibility and our accountability have risen sharply. There is a worldwide trend for employers to want more from those on salary and less from those paid by the hour.

If we want to do more than reproduce ourselves in our traditional image, we need to keep challenging our comfortable culture.  How good is the quality of what we are producing in student outcomes? How well do all our systems, policies and processes work in supporting each student to reach his maximum potential?  Where could we improve? Are we identifying and meeting student learning needs? How do we know whether our consumers – students, parents, Old Boys – appreciate and respect our endeavours?

In the last two years, we have implemented a Learning Management System, changed our Student Information System, and modified our School Reports. We have improved blended learning and reduced our reliance on others to supply us data and information.  We will soon move our calendar, our Student Award Scheme, all our wellbeing data and our timetable onto Sentral.  Every teacher will have immediate access to all the information we hold on each student.  When you know your students better, you can meet their needs better. Your work with them will improve in its effectiveness; their knowledge and confidence will develop and their outcomes will improve.

The success of the second curve will be underpinned by rapid changes in technology and expanded sources of information available to teachers.  There will be disruption and anxiety as the old curve fades away and the new curve gains traction. The capacity to provide unprecedented attention to individual students will fuel the second curve’s momentum towards personalised pedagogy.
Dr K A Jaggar

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