High Notes, Vol 22 No 19, June 25 2021

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From the Principal

End of Term Two

Thank you to staff, students, parents and Old Boys for their contributions to the depth and breadth of outcomes achieved by our boys in Term 2. As usual, setting, assessing, marking, reporting, distributing and discussing reports occupied a great deal of our collective attention during the term. The introduction of the ‘Attendance’  module from Sentral  was well handled by staff, coming as it did on top of all the other changes in the last 18 months.

High Talent

Congratulations to Harry Wu (12R) who has been selected to attend the Professor Harry Messel International Science School, hosted by the University of Sydney. Well done to Billy Nguyen (12M) who was a member of the CHS volleyball team which won the Tri-Series against CIS and CCC. Billy was selected in the All Star 7 Honour Team. Congratulations to Joshua Li (7S) who won the VEX Robotics World Championship. There were over 10,000 competitors from 30 countries. Joshua’s team, Theorycraft, won the Live Remote Skills tournament. Well done to our 187-strong team who travelled to Armidale to take on TAS in a range of sports last weekend. High regained the Harris-Hannon Trophy winning 9 contests to 6. On a bitterly cold and wet weekend, our thanks go to our touring staff: Steve Marcos, Matt Cotton, Sam Higgins, Kurt Rich, Daniel Comben, Steve Comninos, Jack Bowditch, Thomas Nimac, Jia Sheng, Darren Huang and Dinan Pingamage.

Interpreting Year 10 Reports - Semester 1

Boys in Year 10 have had their reports handed out after consultation with the Principal. Parents should be aware that there are changes to the way the rank order is calculated in Year 10. HDs (6 points) and credits (3 points) etc…are no longer added together to form the scores on which the rank order is based. We use individual marks supplied by teachers. We calculate ATAR equivalent scores for those marks based on 12.3 units (six subjects). PE is included in the calculations as 30% of two units (a course) because it has only four periods and is a practical course only in Year 10. PASS elective scores are calculated in the usual way. Rank order variations can be large between Years 9 and 10 for these and other reasons. For example, boys take on additional electives which do not have to include history or geography. More than fifty boys (in most years) are attempting stage 6 courses as accelerating students and they are assessed on stage 6 criteria which are more rigorous than those in stage 5. Sometimes, they spend more time than they should on their accelerated course and get their time management out of balance.

Some stage 5 electives, like commerce, robotics and filmmaking, are infused with stage 6 concepts and content. The online elective can only be calculated as the average of the rest of the students’ scores because it is a mastery-based elective. That calculation may lower a student’s rank or advantage him because he would have done worse in any other elective. Science is delivered in a series of modules – chemistry, biology and physics. Some boys are much more engaged with one science module rather than another. Regrettably, some boys switch off in subjects they are not planning to pursue in Year 11. These subjects can be electives that they just picked for enjoyment because they had already decided on their Year 11 courses or ones that they chose but with which they have not become engaged .

Please bear in mind the possible impacts on ranking in the cohort of these changed contexts when discussing the report with your son. Quiz him about his three electives and how he is engaging with them.

NAIDOC Week Assembly

My speech to the assembly is reprinted below:

"Special guest, Aboriginal Community Cultural Leader Dean Kelly, staff and students, welcome to our assembly, held on Gadigal land. Our purpose today is to celebrate in advance NAIDOC week, which will occur during the holidays (July 4 to 11). NAIDOC week gets its name from the group responsible for organising the celebration – the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.  It has organised the week of events since 2005.  It is set aside in the calendar as a national time to reflect upon and celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Nation Peoples and to recognise them as the traditional custodians of the land we share.

"NAIDOC Week arose out of the civil rights movement of indigenous people in the 1930s, culminating in the Day of Mourning held at the Australian Hall in Sydney on January 26, 1938, marking 150 years of white occupation of aboriginal land. Aboriginal people in Australia have struggled for a long time to be recognised and to have their grievances heard respectfully. Their key concerns relate to the absence of closure to the invasion of 1788 by way of a treaty and to the shameful historical treatment of indigenous people in our national story.  Full citizenship and equality of treatment were the pillars of their long campaign. The Day of Mourning was held on January 26 from 1938 to 1955. It was then moved to the first Sunday in July and recast as a day of celebration. The second Sunday in July was nominated as a day of remembrance for Aboriginal people and their heritage. In 1975 it was decided that the celebrations should continue for the entire week.

"Aboriginal people have had the right to vote in Federal elections since a 1962 Amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Apart from being counted as citizens for the first time, the main achievement of the 1967 referendum for aboriginal people was to raise  their expectations regarding civil rights and welfare. Bringing Them Home: The Stolen children Report was tabled in Parliament in May, 1997. It made 54 recommendations, many of which are still awaiting implementation. The Uluru Statement From The Heart (2017) had three objectives: a constitutional change establishing a first nations voice in parliament; a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement making with the Australian Government and Makarrata commission to oversee the process of truth-telling about Australia’s history and colonisation. Progress since 2017 has been slow, despite the efforts of the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt and his counterpart in the Opposition, Linda Burney. Having a voice is proving to be a constant challenge for indigenous people.

"The theme for this year’s NAIDOC week is Heal Country! It calls for us to seek greater protection of aboriginal lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration and destruction. In a time when climate change is front and centre in the minds of many young Australians, the indigenous example of environmental custodianship for 60,000 years stands in stark contrast to the few hundred years of western cultural dominance.  International consensus is gathering about the urgency of climate change as an existential threat to the planet’s habitability. In NAIDOC Week, we need to remember to show respect to the land, and by extension, to the traditional custodians of it. Destruction of sacred sites by mining companies, vandalism of sacred sites and memorial places such as Myall Creek, seriously undermine aboriginal faith in the sincerity of non-indigenous Australians in their reconciliation statements. We have to address our underlying racism by education, by assemblies such as these, by recurring conversations with aboriginal people. but more tangibly, by finalising the long invasion with a treaty and by public truth-telling about the massacres, the stolen generations and aboriginal deaths in custody.

"At High, we have a policy to engage with indigenous culture through the curriculum, our Na Ngara art collection, our 17-year cultural exchange with Boggabilla Central School and our annual assemblies celebrating Sorry Day or NAIDOC Week. We cannot make a serious claim to being a fair and just society until we have addressed the issues raised so often around voice, treaty and the need to tell the truth about our past. We have to shed our historically paternalistic, if not overtly racist, approach, and adopt a genuine spirit of collaboration, to work together to address the historical recognition and wellbeing issues and legitimate claims of our indigenous citizens. Please take some time during NAIDOC week to think about these issues and talk about them with your friends and family."
Dr K A Jaggar

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