Who would have thought that at the start of the school year on January 31st that our learning environment would have changed so dramatically by Maundy Thursday?

New words have been added to our lexicon that previously were alien to our lifestyle; social distancing and the blended styles of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Altogether, it has been a surreal end to Term 1, with Distance Learning (DL), or what has been described as ‘agile learning from a distance’, being launched full-time in Week 9, with our classrooms empty and our students working at home and on-line .

It is an understatement to say that Coronavirus has turned our world upside down. Not just here in Mindarie, but the whole world has been affected. Education International has stated that over 165 countries have announced school closures or instigated DL for their students. The spread of the disease has impacted over 1.5 billion students (UNESCO, March 2020). With friends and relatives self-isolating or being placed in forced isolation, School events and traditions cancelled or postponed, our emotions are heightened with anxiety never too far from the surface of our daily lives.

To manage difficult times, one strategy that is helpful is to find the ‘silver lining’ in this dark COVID-19 cloud. I have heard from many of our teachers in the Senior School relating how their classes are operating successfully in the DL space. Many students are relishing the opportunity to plan their week, once they have the ‘packages’ of work sent through on Canvas by their teachers. There are tasks to complete, readings to understand, key terms to highlight; notes to make, last week’s work to revise, past questions to write in timed conditions, for example. This brings a stability and normalcy to the schooling with which our students are familiar. It is important to maintain a continuity when everything else is in flux.

What DL impels our students to be is organised each day and for each subject: to maintain an orderly file and note-taking system; list the tasks to complete and prioritise them. It also encourages our students to look more deeply into a question that needs to be understood, doing the thinking and have a go at figuring it out for themselves, rather than putting a hand up in class (or relying on a peer to do so!) and having the answer given to them.

If the question is still not coming to the fore, then obviously, students should contact their teacher. They can do this via email, or better yet, the class MS Team meeting set up for them. This is one of the DL platforms that our teachers are using to maintain vital contact and interaction with their students.

If used appropriately, MS Teams is a great way for our class groups to connect in this ‘new normal’, forced upon us by COVID-19.  In studies on what makes a team successful, it was found that achieving the most from a team does not come from the personalities or the attitudes of its members. Rather, the right enabling conditions must exist – a compelling direction, a strong structure, a supportive context and a shared mindset.

COVID-19 has inadvertently given our self-isolating, social distancing, community a clear online direction to continue with an agile learning from a distance. Our students have a guideline with which to complete their goals, either following their School timetable or fitting in around their own learning and family needs. They have dedicated and explicit support from their teachers, as well as a shared growth mindset that our current situation is not going to last forever. We will get through this. We continue to work and prepare to get to ‘the other side’ of COVID-19.

Students should trust themselves to do what they can do. It is a challenge to learn in the midst of a major health, societal and economic crisis. Our students should realise all their self-discipline and executive functioning skills required for continued growth and development.

Best wishes for the forthcoming break, stay healthy and enjoy the autumnal sunshine.

TAFE online

If your child is completing Workplace Learning, the pause in face-to-face TAFE studies for the remainder of the term should have been communicated to you.  This is to allow lecturing staff the opportunity to review training delivery and where possible, make alternative arrangements, including blended or online delivery.  This may not be practicable for trade areas; however, staff are working tirelessly to review each program and student cohort.  With tens of thousands of students at TAFE this is no easy feat. Please encourage your child to stay connected with their Lecturer and online updates.

School Curriculum and Standards Authority
Year 11 and Year 12 students Important update from SCSA

The School Curriculum and Standards Authority (the Authority) has launched a website to provide curriculum and assessment advice in relation to COVID-19 - https://www.scsa.wa.edu.au/curriculum-assessment-covid-19/overview

The Authority continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) and will be providing ongoing advice for students, schools, parents and the community as the situation evolves.

The website will support teachers and school leaders to respond to curriculum and assessment challenges experienced in a modified learning environment, because of the COVID-19 situation.

In particular, the Years 11 and 12 section of the website provides information and accommodations to assist teachers to ensure continuity of learning, teaching and assessment for students during 2020.

Early in April, SCSA has provided a further update to that which I shared earlier last month. These have been shared with Year 12 students and their parents. There were some reassuring messages from SCSA, which include:

  • The reduction in the number of Y12 assessment types for the year from two to one of each type of assessment.
  • Externally Set Tasks have been postponed, with the date to be advised.
  • OLNA is likely to have an ‘on demand’ test at the end of the year. More details to be advised.
  • Workplace Learning students will not be disadvantaged if they cannot complete the full course. In this situation, the School will apply Special Provisions.
  • School-Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships students will not be disadvantaged if they cannot complete the full course. In this situation, the School will apply Special Provisions. The School will liaise with the auspicing RTOs for updates and delivery modifications.
  • SCSA are currently working towards the published WACE examination dates in November.

However, for our teaching staff what has been most reassuring is that our students will not be disadvantaged with their assessments. Equity, validity and authenticity of marks uppermost. An integral part of all our assessments is that each one should be fair, educative, specific to its purpose and that the students have covered the content. Practical courses bring their own challenges and we wait on more information from SCSA regarding these.  

Our staff remain committed to the delivery of course content in its entirety.

Honour Award Assembly
It was very difficult not to end the term without the good news stories that come with the last Assembly of the Term, the Honour Award Assembly.

Term 1 Honour Award Recipients

Congratulations are extended to Christelle Robbetze and Adrian van den Berg, both in Year 12. Both students are friendly, approachable, highly regarded and who are involved in all aspects of School life.

School Values Award

Congratulations also are extended to three most deserving students in the Senior School

Year 10 Erynn Morrissey

Year 11 Casey Garces

Year 12 Chantay Brondsema

While we are unable to give our appreciation as we would in the Auditorium, in front of all their peers, all five students are noted as being worthy recipients and outstanding representatives of Peter Moyes Anglican Community School.

Natalie Shaw
Associate Principal Senior School