‘Unprecedented’ is a word we have heard many times over recent weeks. It is certainly applicable to our school community as we reflect on Term 1 2020 and the incredible turn of events .have been part of the last 10 weeks of school. The end of Term 1 has been like no other for our school, and the wider community, as we respond to the evolving situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The last few weeks have been anything but normal for us all in many ways. It has been wonderful to see our school community respond quickly and in such a resilient manner to the issues that we all face and to work hard to find creative solutions to the new challenges of distance learning.

Amongst the many changes and cancelled events, we have been unable to hold the Term 1 Honour Award Assembly during which we usually celebrate the many achievements of students during the course of the Term. Despite this, we have allocated some of the major awards with the winners announced in this edition of the Newsletter. Whilst it is disappointment that we could not make these announcements as part of the normal Award Assembly, they are none the less well-deserved acknowledgments of these student’s achievements. Congratulations in particular to the Middle School Honour Award winners for Term 1; Abbey Palmer-Smith and Thomas Prowton. We hope to be in a position soon to formally present these awards, in person, when students return to School.  

Transition to Distance Learning

We have experienced a significant and rapid change to our learning environment over the last three weeks and the term ‘unprecedented’ certainly comes to mind again. The positive response from so many in our School community as we have transitioned to Distance Learning has been wonderful. It has been impressive to see how Middle School students, teachers and parents have adjusted so quickly to a very different approach to teaching and learning. Whilst there are sure to be some glitches and issues as things change, we have made significant progress in a very short period of time and I would like to congratulate our students, teachers and indeed parents, for how well they have managed the transition to a new and very different learning environment.

We have received some very useful feedback directly from students and parents in addition to the surveys sent last week. This has been helpful as we work to make further adjustments to programmes and respond to the common themes in the feedback. This will inform future planning to ensure we are prepared for any continuation of distance learning that may be required in Term 2.

Students and parents are reminded to follow the guidelines in the ‘Distance Learning Programme’ document to establish positive habits and routines to ensure an effective learning environment. As noted, it is crucially important students plan and organise each day and this includes time to check messages and communications from their teachers, to complete set work and to allocate time for breaks, physical activity and also to relax.

We are learning many new things in distance learning mode and are also reminded of the importance of social interactions, the need to stay connected to others and appreciation of the small things that we take for granted each day such as meeting friends, playing sport or going to the beach. Hopefully there will be many positive lessons that can be learnt from this experience which will lead to ongoing improvements as we return to normality.

Support for Parents in Distance Learning

The feedback we have received from our parents reflects the significant change they are also experience and some may argue, they have had the most significant changes to manage! As students move from learning primarily in classrooms, to learning in a home, the value of the ‘’parent – teacher – student partnership’’ has never been more important!

For parents of adolescents, it is worth noting that research indicates home-based aspects of parent engagement, including providing a general environment that supports and encourages learning, have more impact than parents having direct involvement in the content of what young people are learning at school. In short – creating the right environment and expectations is more important than trying to ‘teach’ your children. Some key principles, which can be applied for home-based learning, include:

  • Being sensitive to the increasing need for autonomy and independence of adolescents, while retaining a supportive structure
  • Demonstrating aspirations and expectations for learning – set the standards!
  • Aiming to provide a stimulating and supportive home learning environment
  • Engage in child to parent interactions and conversations which are relevant to learning
  • Keeping connections and communication open with school and teachers
  • Providing support for appropriate homework/study

There are lots of resources being made available to parents to support their children’s learning whilst in a distance learning context. Those parents who would like some additional support or guidance can find further information at the following websites:

NAPLAN Online 2020 Cancelled

The Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the authority responsible for the NAPLAN assessments, announced on Friday 20 March that education ministers had decided that NAPLAN would not proceed for 2020. The decision was made as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools and with the objective of assisting school leaders, teachers and support staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education.

ACARA have provided additional information for via their website and a ‘NAPLAN 2020 – FAQs for parents’ document available here:


Reflections from Middle School Students

To conclude, I would like to share some reflections written by some Middle School students about their personal experiences of attending school whilst Distance Learning. As you will know, the School remains open to accommodate those students whose parents are employed in essentials services. This small but dedicated group of students have enjoyed the entire school to themselves over the last 2 weeks. A truly unique experience which they are sure to remember!

‘’At the start when the school was transitioning into distance learning it was hard to not have your timetabled teachers that you would normally have. After a week or two it got easier with having a teacher in the room but not the normal teacher. We all went from one big classroom to the Library, after the first two weeks the number of students went down from 25 to 3 in the whole of Middle School and Senior School. It has been a weird change to not move around to different classrooms each day. Although it has been weird, we all have enjoyed this new experience with new teachers that we haven’t met before. Some positives things that we all experienced are getting to bond and know each other better, it has been a lot more relaxed then being stressed because we can take our own time and we don’t have to worry about keeping up with others. We got to Watch Finding Nemo, play some games in Tutorial and have some free time to play Basketball outside and even learned new moves in Yoga. After these few weeks most of us are looking forward to the Easter school holidays, were we can relax and eat as much chocolate as we can, until we explode.

Stay safe, wash your hands and STOP buying the toilet paper.”   

Written by Year 7 students Gemma Vine, Reagan Adametz and Michael Lysenko

‘My birthday during Covid-19’

“During this hard time in everyone’s life it is hard to have a birthday. My birthday was on the 8th of April and I had to cancel everything I was doing because of coronavirus. For my birthday I was going to have six or seven people to come and we would all go ice skating them come back to my house and have cake. Well, turns out that did not happen. It ended up that I did not get to have a party and  for my family dinner that I have every year for my birthday, it was only with my mum, dad and my two annoying older twin sisters. Because of this I could not see my nanna’s and grandad’s, aunt and uncle and cousins. It was sad to not be able to see them on your birthday but hopefully next year I can. In the end I got lots of happy birthday wishes from my friends and family over the phone. All of my friends that were still going to school knew that I was not able to have a birthday, so they all came together and made a card for my and they all signed it. I will now keep that card forever to remind me of this time!

Stay safe”

Written by Reagan Adametz  Year 7

We are sure to all remember Term 1 for some time into the future!

Best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable Easter holidays. Keep up the social distancing and hand washing, stay safe, take care and we look forward to Term 2, in what ever form that may be!

Richard Alchin
Associate Principal Middle School