Strange Beginnings

I have no doubt that the beginning of Term 3 has presented as many challenges for you at home as it has for us at School. It is undeniable that we live in strange and difficult times.

It is times such as this though that the strength of our community needs to flourish and be the driver of our success. The potential negative impact of lockdowns in various aspects of our lives – emotional, social, financial and spiritual – can only be counteracted with the positives we have around us; our health, our family being healthy and safe, and the extended community, such as our school community, that helps us regain our strength and our hope. Gratitude for the gifts we have in our lives can help us see the light at the end of what at times, may feel like an interminable dark tunnel.  

So, I encourage you to remain optimistic and hopeful, assured in the knowledge that we are all in this together; we have one another to support us, to support our children and to manage the current conditions in which we find ourselves.

Online Virtual Remote Learning – Parent and Student Feedback

Our delivery of learning in this mode is equal to none. The experience of many students across NSW seems to be limited to receiving a pack of handouts and worksheets, with teachers checking on their students during the day. At All Saints, our teachers, both Primary and Secondary, are fully present; they teach and check on their students’ progress following a regular school day timetable. Care for the students’ wellbeing is at the heart of our approach, in addition to ensuring the continuation of their academic progress.

Through the recent student and parent online learning surveys, we have identified areas where flexibility and refinements are needed. We are implementing changes to our operation in response to your feedback. We are working with our teachers to provide them with the support, professional autonomy and discretion to adapt their delivery in response to their interactions with students. Approaches may vary according to the students’ age group, but the intention is the same: to be attentive and respond to students’ needs.

Our Year Group meetings and Homeroom Mentor meetings also provided us with an opportunity to hear from parents. We thank you for joining us at those meetings. We are committed to strengthening our connections with our parent community through various means of communication.

We thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback. We appreciate the overwhelming expressions of praise for our teachers’ work and the expressions of gratitude for the professionalism and hard work they have demonstrated while working in ‘online mode.’ We will endeavour to continue to exceed our own high expectations in the interest of providing our students with a high standard of academic work, as well as care for their wellbeing.

The Pathway Forward

While there are significant levels of uncertainty about what is to come next during this period of COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to plan ahead in all aspects of the School’s operations.

Subject selection
Parents and students of Years 8 and 10 will receive information about the subject selection process for Stage 5 and Stage 6 2022 in the coming days. We will invite students and parents to an information session over the next few weeks to ensure that students make informed decisions in their choice of courses for the next stage of their education.

Year 12 cohort
Despite the NSW Government indicating that Year 12 should return to face-to-face lessons on 16 August, there is still uncertainty about whether this will be the case. As we have done over the last few weeks, we will keep families of our Year 12 cohort informed about government decisions and the conditions of return.

You may be aware that priority vaccination status has been given to Year 12 students in our LGA. We have complied with the NSW Government and NSW Health requests to disseminate the information they have made available to students and families regarding their vaccination rollout. The message from government authorities continues to be that vaccination is the best form of protection for the community, especially in light of the higher level of risk posed by the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Where possible, assessment tasks have been adapted and modified for all Year Groups, but particularly for our Year 12s. Trial examinations have been delayed as much as possible to allow for adequate preparation for all students. Trials are now scheduled to take place in Weeks 7 and 8 of this Term. Given that NESA is adamant that the HSC examinations will take place as scheduled, Trials are a vital form of preparation for students. Appropriate Risks Assessment, following NSW Health’s guidelines, will be implemented during the examination period.

Teachers are putting in place various forms of assessment across all Year Groups; formative and, where possible, summative assessments. Modifications are being made where necessary to ascertain students’ learning progress, while ensuring the equity and validity of the assessment processes.

We have received questions about Year 11 end of Preliminary Course Examinations. We are working toward a schedule, in response to health advice. This may require a reschedule until later in the Term, or even until the beginning of Term 4. We will wait until greater clarity is provided by the authorities to make this decision and we will keep you informed.

Head of School Return from Leave

I’m pleased to let our community know that, after a successful recovery from a medical procedure, our Head of School, Mrs Elfa Lillis, will return to work on Monday 9 August.

Finally, I would like to thank you for your continuous support during this time. I thank you all for your commitment to doing ‘the right thing’ by following the rules and restrictions imposed on us to safeguard our community. As I said at the beginning of this entry, it is in periods of high difficulty, that our strength as a community must prevail. I am grateful for your continuous consideration.

Please stay safe. God Bless
Mr Jaime Rodriguez