Good afternoon everyone, welcome to term four and welcome back to school. It has been so delightful to see our school filled with students and teachers again.
The Term 3 remote and flexible learning arrangements were put in place to significantly reduce the movement of more than one million students and their families across Victoria, to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Thank you to you and your family for contributing to this on behalf of our school community.
As on-site schooling resumes, we will continue to have in place strong measures to protect the health and safety of students, staff, families and the community. This includes utilising all of our entry points on the school site at pick-up and drop-off times, restricting access to school grounds to essential people and continued emphasis on hand hygiene and physical distancing where possible.
Please continue to support us to reduce the risks associated with congregation at school gates, this was a concern last term and I would like everyone to remain vigilant and support us by doing the right thing. We would really like to remain onsite for as long as possible.
Our focus for term four will be on three key priorities:
Mental health and wellbeing
Our highest priority will be the wellbeing, particularly the mental health, of every student and member of staff. This means effectively mobilising all available resources to support our most vulnerable students and enabling staff to access the relevant support services.
Learning and excellence
Some of our students have thrived in the remote and flexible learning environment, others have maintained their learning progress, and some have fallen behind, despite their best efforts and those of their families and teachers. Our priority will be supporting both those who need it to catch up and those who have progressed to continue to extend their learning.
We will make every effort to ensure successful transitions for children moving from kindergarten into Prep, the Grade 6s moving into Year 7, and those students moving between years within the school.
We will be making contact with families of our 2021 prep students shortly to let them know the transition plan for this year. It may look slightly different to previous years but supporting the effective and smooth transition to our school remains a core priority for us.
We know some families are worried that their child may have to repeat a year due to the disruptions of coronavirus (COVID-19). There is little evidence to support the benefits of repeating a year to catch up. Instead, we will use teaching strategies that draw on the best evidence available to help students meet their learning needs.
Parents, families and carers can be confident that the best option for almost every child is to stay with their peer group, whether that is moving from kindergarten into Prep, moving from Grade 6 into Year 7 at secondary school, or students moving up any year level in between.
Our school, working with you, has shown it can be flexible and adaptable in responding to the challenges of coronavirus (COVID-19) and will continue to meet student needs as we look towards the end of the 2020 school year and ahead to 2021.
Camps and Excursion
In term four we will not be running school camps. We have considered the recent guidelines for school camps, and although there have been announcements that allow these to go ahead, the guidelines clearly state that no parent volunteers can attend schools at this stage. Given the planning time required for camps and the student to adult support ratios required to run the camps in a safe manner, we have decided that these cannot be run under these conditions.
I understand that this will come as a disappointment to many students and their families. We intend to run an in-school activities week in the week of 30 November to 4 December. We will include many Macedon PS style activities such as local orienteering, activities in Middle Gully, bike riding opportunities, bush craft and initiative activities.
For those parents who have paid for the year one and two camps, we will email you about the money you have paid us. All funds are accounted for against your family account with us.
Four Year School Review Process
Every four years, schools undergo a review process led by the Department of Education. In this process schools take part in a thorough evaluation of the previous four years and the review panel ascertains the extent to which the school has achieved the goals set out in the previous strategic plan. We are due to have our school review in term 1 2021. A review panel is assembled to carry out this work including myself, the School Council president, Nina Moncrief, my line manager and Senior Education Improvement Leader, Chris Eeles, an independent reviewer contracted by the Department and two challenge partners who are typically principals who act as a critical friend for the process.
As a part of this review we have to complete a thorough self-evaluation which is presented in the review panel meetings. We are beginning work on this pre-review self-evaluation in term four of this year. To inform this self-evaluation we will be interviewing groups of students in student forum meetings and unpacking the relevant data sets with our teachers. Parents are also invited to attend a parent session on Tuesday 10 November, that will delve into the data and aim to invite you to share your ideas about our current strengths and possible areas for improvement as we move into the future. It is likely that this event will need to be hosted online and a WebEx invite will be sent to all parents and carers for this evening.
The school review is an exciting opportunity for us to check how we are going and develop a new and ambitious plan that will support student learning, wellbeing, and engagement as we move into the future.