High Notes, Vol 22 No 26, August 27 2021

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From the Principal

High Talent

Congratulations to Archie Wolifson (11R) on his selection into the Combined GPS second grade debating team. Well done to our contestants in the UNSW Economics Competition – National winner - Harry Wu (12R); NSW winner - Justin Lum (12R). Likewise, in the UNSW Business Studies Competition congratulations to – national winner – Martin Lee (11E) and state winner – William Tang (12F). Very impressive, boys!

Staff Check-in Survey Results

83.8% of responding staff enjoyed or were relatively comfortable with working online, while 87.1% had no difficulty or just occasional lapses when completing their job requirements in online mode. 54.8% felt they had clear boundaries regarding their work v personal online environment or were usually quite good at making them. 61.3% maintained a good balance among work and personal time and sleep. 69.4% of staff respondents felt their online learning workload was significantly or a bit more than normal and 71% stated they were still connecting with others, however not to the normal level. 71% were communicating with colleagues well or very well. 96.7% of staff respondents have one or multiple people they can speak to for support and 91.9% have a comfortable or adequate workspace at home.  64.5% exercise 3 times per week for 30 minutes and 61.1% felt online teaching was doable but not as effective as normal teaching. The amount of modification of teaching resources required was significant /minor/none for 83% of staff respondents, with 75.5% spending more than 3 hours creating new resources per week. (The school policy is that synchronous teaching-learning needs only be undertaken for up to 45 minutes per one hour lesson; thereafter teachers only need to be available online to respond to students’ questions.) Thank you to Mr Kay for designing and administering the check in survey.

Wellbeing Day

The results of the check-in survey indicate to me that our staff are doing a highly commendable job with online learning. Plainly, their workload is heavy. Whilst they are coping, we have had numerous indications that a break in the relentless routine is necessary now, particularly if this online mode will be in operation again in Term 4. Our policy is that Faculties are best placed to make adjustments to the synchronous-asynchronous mix to suit their programming and internal levels of stress. Of necessity, Friday 3 September has been declared a no online lessons day, due to the fact that Telstra will be upgrading our internet on that day until at least noon. We will be badging it as a Wellbeing Day. The staff voted overwhelmingly to give staff and students a break from learning on that day.

Year 12 students will still have a References zoom meeting at 1430 on Friday 3 September.

A renewed focus on literacy

From DoE. “From 2022, a focus on five new priorities for improving literacy and numeracy will ensure all NSW public schools have access to the support they need to give students every opportunity to achieve their best.

The five priorities for improving literacy and numeracy which are based on strong evidence and research, identify the most important levers to improve student outcomes.

  • There is a whole school and system approach to literacy and numeracy achievement from preschool to Year 12.
  • School leadership is focussed on improving student literacy and numeracy.
  • All teachers use effective practices to improve student literacy and numeracy outcomes through curriculum.
  • Schools and systems use data to inform literacy and numeracy improvement.
  • Families are supported as partners in their children’s literacy and numeracy development.

We will be developing school-based interventions aligned with this strategy in our revised Strategic Improvement Plan 2022-25.

Year 10 to 11 Subject Selection Mentoring Interviews

This week many of our staff were kept busy with 10-minute mentoring and consultation sessions with Year 10 students online. We wanted to connect with the boys before they made their final selections, to ensure that they think through all the ramifications of their course choices for Years 11 & 12. Each student was asked to fill in a sheet prior to the chat with a member of staff. The sheet scaffolded reflection on the subjects in Year 10 that he was passionate about and those that he was good at. It asked if he had guidance from a Career Voyage experience and what research he had done on prerequisite ATARs for the tertiary courses that he might be thinking of qualifying for. It also probed some wellbeing and work/ life balance topics. The idea behind completing the sheet was to make sure considerable thought had gone onto the process prior to any interview with a member of staff. We trust that this advocacy exercise on behalf of our boys will improve the alignment of student interest and course selection in Year 11. We hope also that it leads to enhance student outcomes in stage 6 because students have chosen their courses more mindfully. Students should make realistic judgements about proposed courses and university enrolment intentions. I enjoyed the exercise which was both beneficial for students and informative for staff participants. It was also a great chance to catch up with students in lockdown.
Dr K A Jaggar

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