The new learning environment we find ourselves in

There has been much discussion in the last decade about the importance of 21st century skills. This list is not exhaustive, but these skills include collaboration, critical thinking, reasoning, analytical skills, innovation, adaptability and initiative. The focus on these areas is an acknowledgement of the need for our students to enter a post-school world suitably skilled to handle the challenges of an ever-changing work environment. I don’t think, however, the foreseeable challenges ahead for our students included such a dramatic overnight shift in their learning environment, nor the parallel increase in responsibility for learning that has now moved to the student’s own shoulders.

How well our students respond to these current challenges will provide some insight into their own innate adaptability and this will serve as an interesting opportunity for reflection and growth when our school system returns to normal. For now, however, the online delivery of lessons is the new norm and the need to adapt to this new environment is essential.

We know this transition from school-based to home-based learning has been difficult for some students. Parents are also under increased stress as your role in your child’s education has become more direct and depending on the age of your child, time intensive. Both of you may have your wellbeing tested in these circumstances so be mindful of these heightened emotions. In this new learning environment, parents are also inadvertently required to take on an increased level of responsibility in the supervision of their child’s online behaviour. It’s important to have the conversation with your child about e-Safety that spells out the need for all online communication to mirror the etiquette of face to face communication. There are some excellent resources at both and

To assist with the teaching component, our staff at PMACS have been incredibly proactive, in such a short period of time, at developing their skills in some of the recently upgraded teaching platforms, enabling far greater connectivity with our online delivery. In a time when physical isolation is required, we need to ensure through these learning platforms that social isolation doesn’t become the by-product, and this will be a focus for the start of Term 2.

In these last few weeks, we have learnt a great deal about our online delivery. The recent student, parent and staff surveys have all reflected consistent feedback. As a result of these surveys, through conversations with staff, and with the leadership of our Heads of Department, we will be making some changes to our delivery and practices when we commence Term 2.

It is important for all parents to understand that we are not asking you to be teachers. Your most important role is to support and guide your child through the current environment. The area we would really appreciate parent/carer support in is the wellbeing, organisation and motivation of your child. Some of you will be comfortable that this may require the odd word here and there, with a little cajoling. Others may prefer the idea of being at work for 14 hours a day to avoid the possible confrontation this will cause – if that’s you, tread lightly and seek the support of staff at school. Due to the unpredictable length of this online delivery it is important that your child understands the importance of continuing with their studies and knows that any concerns about work will be happily addressed by teachers. The relationship between students, staff and parents is more critical than ever and it is important that there are open communication channels between home and school. It is also important to keep your sense of humour, and videos on Facebook are going a long way to helping us with this, just like the following

I suspect it is something of double-edged sword, but I hope you are all able to enjoy the time with your family in the current circumstances. Make sure your child switches off completely during the upcoming school holidays, this is an opportunity to recharge. My hope and prayer for the entire school community is that we remain healthy, both mentally and physically, and are all back together in a less virtual and more real face to face environment as soon as possible.

Roger McNamara
Deputy Principal