Edmund Rice Education Australia Touchstone
We open hearts and minds, through quality teaching and learning experiences, so that through critical reflection and engagement each person is hope-filled and free to build a better world for all.
As we begin to prepare for the return of our boys to full time face-to-face learning, I would like to share with you some of my own reflections and learnings in response to the challenges that we have faced in response to COVID-19. The staff of St Edward’s pride ourselves on the commitment we maintain to providing a liberating education which challenges our boys to be the best they can be. As a learning community, we aspire to provide teaching and learning experiences that inspire students to be compassionate, curious, respectful and autonomous learners, who demonstrate resilience, discipline and perseverance on their learning journey. The forced transition to Home-Based Learning, provided us with great challenges as a teaching body, as we were required to rapidly transition and learn new and different ways to engage our boys in a mode of learning which was very different to what we are used to. As teachers, we understand the importance of developing positive relationships and connections with our students and are acutely aware that this is best done face-to-face rather than through the wonders of technology. Home based learning prevented us from being able to lock eyes with our students, removing the capacity to see the smile on their faces when learning suddenly happened or the puzzled look when they still did not understand. We needed to reinvent how we were able to maintain that connection each lesson, so that we could challenge and engage each boy in their learning. We were also very conscious that this mode of learning was not easy for many students and we have endeavoured to provide support and feedback as best we could.
Despite these challenges, many of our teachers have shared with me how pleased they are in how the boys have responded. The move to using Microsoft Teams, combined with a range of learning applications, provided teachers with an opportunity to engage with each student during lessons communicating, clarifying and supporting boys when difficulties arose. Where it is certainly not the ideal mode of learning, I have great admiration for the way our teaching staff responded to the challenges that we have been faced with. Their dedication, professionalism and care for their students, during a time where we are all faced with great uncertainty, is something to be celebrated.
Our students must also be commended on the resilience that they have demonstrated. Many boys have stepped up to the challenge of being independent in their learning, taking responsibility to engage in lessons, maintaining a commitment to do the best they can. We can never underestimate how challenging this has been for them as a learning experience, yet many have excelled in their application and commitment to do well. As they have commenced the transition back to school, it has been a joy to talk with them about their experience. Their honesty, their appreciation of their teachers and, for the majority, their eagerness to return to school, highlights for me their understanding of the importance that school and education plays in their lives. Watching them reconnect with their friends has also highlighted the importance they place in the social connection that coming to school each day provides.
We are certainly looking forward to Monday June 1 when all students return. Even though there will be differences to the normal routines forced upon us by COVID-19, due to the introduction of a range of protocols and measures designed to promote a safe and healthy environment, we will be able to reconnect with them in class, on the playground and share our stories of how we have managed over the last few months. In many ways, I believe that how we responded to the challenges we have and will continue to face, will strengthen our relationships with our students and our ongoing commitment to challenging them to be the best they can be.
Year 12 HSC
Teachers are currently preparing the HSC Mid-Course reports, and these will be made available on the Parent Portal in the coming weeks. The information provided on this report includes an accumulative assessment mark and rank to date in each course. Further feedback provided includes student level of achievement of outcomes and importantly a comment by each teacher on progress made at this stage of the HSC year. This report provides the most accurate indication of how each student is performing in relation to the requirements of each course to date.
This report will need to be read in the context of the challenges that we have faced over the last few months. It is important that all students take the time to read this report carefully and reflect on their effort to date. They are encouraged to seek further feedback from their teachers on how best to continue to improve their understanding of the content and skills developed. Students must make a true commitment to the establishment of a sustained program of revision and their teachers are the best source of advice.
Importantly all students must realise that in most of their courses, the majority of their assessment marks are still to be determined. Their performance in the remaining assessment tasks and the Trial HSC Examinations will greatly influence their final results.
The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) continue to provide updates on decisions being made regarding the HSC in response to COVID-19. Their latest advice including the publishing of the HSC Examination timetable is available on NESA HSC Advice. Teachers will work with students clarifying any questions or concerns they have regarding the changes to the HSC. Parents wishing to seek further clarification of any of the information on the NESA Website are encouraged to contact either Mrs Carolina Murdoch, Director of Teaching and Learning firstname.lastname@example.org or Mr Gerry Summerhayes, Director of Curriculum, email@example.com.
The Year 12 Retreat that would normally be planned for Week 3 of this term has been rescheduled to Week 7 of Term 3 (August 31 – September 4) in anticipation that the restrictions placed on such events will have been lifted by this stage. This thought-provoking experience, in some ways, is the culmination of the formation opportunities offered to the young men of St Edward’s. Students spend three days at the Edmund Rice Retreat Centre at Mulgoa and are provided with time to reflect on their values in relation to themselves, their relationships with others and on their sense of spirituality and relationship with God. Students are at the stage of their education where they are beginning to think and plan for their life beyond school. The workshops presented challenge the boys to think deeply about their time at St Edward’s and the type of young man that they hope to be beyond school. The retreat also provides students with time to relax and recharge their batteries as they enter the final stages of the school life and the pressures of the HSC. A highlight of the retreat is the healing ceremony on the last night, in which students are asked to reflect on the theme ‘forgiveness is the virtue of the brave”, which is followed by a wonderful liturgy which is prepared by students. These meaningful celebrations bring together the themes of the retreat. We look forward to working with our young men during this experience.
Winter Uniform Donations
Thank you to the many parents who have donated quality, clean used winter uniforms. These have continued to be brought into school since students have commenced their return and your support of this initiative is greatly appreciated. Parents who would like to express an interest in being provided with item(s) of the uniform can email firstname.lastname@example.org. All request will be kept confidential and our Support Staff will organise the collection and distribution.