Recently we completed a system-wide analysis of system and school performance in NAPLAN 2021. The results continue to be very encouraging as they demonstrate ongoing growth in student performance. As our results begin to exceed National Minimum Standards it is important that all of our schools continue to strive to perform above State Averages (NSW performs comparatively strongly on the Australia wide data). Nevertheless—when compared to like schools—our results are now very competitive. However, given that the importance of reading, writing for future learning and wellbeing is well documented in research, we must continue our improvement work on the effective teaching of literacy in order to maximise student learning outcomes .
For me as a system leader, this circumstance raises the question of how we can continue to support growth and achievement so that we don't plateau in our performance. Our recent discussions associated with the NAPLAN analysis raised a lot of questions that we will be discussing with our school principals at our meeting in November. I publish them now in the hope it will prompt conversations in our schools in the lead up to the meeting.
We clearly have good teachers and sound strategies in place or our results would not be improving.
However, is further—and very specific—professional learning required in 2022 in order to support school staff to continue to bring about these encouraging improvements in student outcomes.? I believe that we have created a culture of continuous improvement, so leaders’ and teachers’ deep self reflection on good questions is now second nature for us and I certainly value any and all feedback.
The two key questions for both primary and secondary school teachers/principals are:
Does your school have an effective whole-school approach to the teaching of reading?
Does your school have an effective whole-school approach to the teaching of writing?
The reflection required to answer these questions should also include your responses to the following questions and to the question that we must always ask when answering any similar questions: How do you know?
Can all of your teachers teach reading as experts?
It is often said that students move from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’. However, it is important to note that, as texts become more and more complex, students never actually stop ‘learning to read’. As students progress through the year levels—and the texts they encounter become more complex— are your teachers continuing to teach students to read? And also in the higher year levels?
The research suggests that underachievement of students after Year 4 is often related to their reading abilities; can teachers assist the students in learning to read beyond foundational /functional levels ie. year 3 and beyond?
Do your teachers make visible for students the vital links between being a good reader and being a good writer?
Why are high performing readers not always high performing writers? Can your teachers explicitly teach students to construct a range of effective texts?
Does Big Write/VCOP help the already-good writers in Years 5–10 become more sophisticated writers? What is the capacity of your teachers to teach the students how to improve their writing?
How are you relating the improved understanding of PM Benchmarking processes to build the capacity of teachers to be explicit teachers of reading and writing?
How can we ensure that our LoPs/secondary Literacy Coaches have the capacity to teach teachers the necessary skills to explicitly teach reading and writing?
What type of reading and writing culture do we have in secondary schools regarding owning all of our students in all of our KLAs? What are the foundations of a whole secondary school reading and writing culture? How is it nurtured and grown? Are all secondary teachers equipped to teach the literacy of their subject/s?
How do the LoPs/secondary Literacy Coaches effectively differentiate the necessary professional learning for the school staff?
What culture do we create around the NAPLAN tests? Do we know how to use the NAPLAN test to inform classroom teaching? (see the research of Dr Frank Malloy)
Could we ask the same questions around PAT Reading and PAT Maths assessments?
I look forward to our ongoing conversations regarding this topic, and encourage you to have conversations with your School Performance Leader and/or Claire Ryan, Elise Baird, Briony Martin, Trish Mitchell, Millie Woolaston and Vicki Hartley who have all assisted me in the discussions and the finalisation of these questions.
Best wishes, Chris Smyth
Director of Schools
It’s a Virtue
I like to think that on the whole I’m a rather patient bloke, both as far as being prepared to wait when I have to and in being prepared to make allowances for others. When I find myself behind a nervous, slow learner driver or find a badged “Trainee” behind a counter, I tell myself that I was a starter once too.
A few weeks ago, my wife Geraldine and I were in Sawtell. In the main street I was delighted to find a welcoming space where I could reverse park. All I had to do was just come to a stop beside the car in front and reverse in. That is, I’d do that once the driver of the car in front who was standing beside his open door, his back towards us, leaning sideways into the car, closed the door and walked away. Meanwhile our car was sitting in the middle of the traffic lane. First Avenue, Sawtell, isn’t Australia’s busiest street but I didn’t like the idea of being the cause of traffic building up behind me.
We waited and I watched the fellow in front. Then, I was tapping the steering wheel. Then, as seconds that seemed like minutes went by, I muttered, “Come on mate”. The street behind me was still empty but I was beginning to have unkind thoughts about this man who seemed to think he could take all the time in the world. “What’s this bloke think he’s up to?” I said, half to myself, half to Geraldine. She remained silent.
At last! The time-taking driver closed the door and turned to check the street before walking across. Instantly it was clear that this was a person who suffered from some condition that meant one side of his body couldn’t function as well as the other. No doubt it took him a lot of effort to do whatever he had needed to do before moving away from his car.
I must have made a little noise of embarrassment and self-accusation. Geraldine said, “Didn’t you see the ‘Disabled Driver’ sticker on his back window?”
I moved forward and then reverse parked. The street behind us remained empty. Gerard Hore (EO: Catholic Life)
Please register to attend the principals meetinghere
Working With Children Check Extended For Three Months
The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) has advised that working with children checks due to expire between 27 September 2021 and 26 January 2021 have been extended for three months, this extension does not apply to those previously extended in July 2021.
Anyone granted an extension will be advised by email from the OCG.
School Social Media Accounts & Adobe Creative Cloud Access
If any school would like to set up any social media accounts including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc please email Fletch Davies firstname.lastname@example.orgThis is to make sure we are streamlining any school accounts and making them secure.
We do have subscriptions available for the Adobe Creative Suite, if you don’t already have access and would like access, please put a ticket in with the IT helpdesk. This package includes video software (Premier and Spark) it also includes design software such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.
Curriculum audits in Term 4 will be the following -
Stage 6 CAPA - documentation to be submitted before the end of term.
Stage 6 Maths - documentation to be submitted before the end of term.
Early Stage 1/Stage 1 Maths - documentation due Friday 12th November
Zoom audit - Friday 19th November.
Please register to attend the ES1/S1 Maths audithere.
2021 CSO Data Collection Schedule K-9
Important updates regarding Term 4 PAT Adaptive Assessments have been made to the 2021 CSO Data Collection Schedule K-9. Please refer to this link to see updates. If you have any further questions, please contact Claire Ryan via email at email@example.com or phone at 0448 567 835.
Mission Month: Socktober
October is ”Mission Month”. Jacquie Toakley of Catholic Mission has, I think, contacted RECs directly about this. Some good resources and the chance to join in a great activity.
Here is a message from Jacquie Toakley with keynote addresses etc. from the recent on line Mission: One Heart Many Voices Conference.
Vinnies’ Christmas Tree
As always, the Society ofSt Vincent de Paul seeks to share the peace and joy of Christmas with the poor of our communities. As with “Socktober” above, many RECs may have already seenthis from Cassie Croft about how your school can be involved.
200 Years Commemorative Book
This book contains the story of every first Catholic school in each Australian diocese. That’s St Mary’s Armidale for us. Paperback and hardback editions are available and can be ordered now for delivery later in the year. Go here and scroll down to find the pre-order form.
Virtual Symposium: “Faith in the Future”
Another event associated with the Bicentenary of Catholic Education This online symposium has Dr Lyn Sharratt as guest presenter. Geraldine Doogue will chair a follow-up panel discussion.
I wrote to RECs late last term about the soon to be published Holy Bible CEV Catholic Edition with Encyclopedia. I think it looks excellent, a wonderful resource. The publishers have let me know that there has been a glitch in having bulk copies arrive in Australia from the overseas printer. I will let you know when I know more.
Copy of “So You’re Working for the Catholic Church”.
When CSO personnel are permitted to visit schools again, one of them will drop off a copy of Fr Tony Doherty’s 2013 book, “So You’re Working for the Catholic School”. Many schools may have copies already.
Date-claimer for interested RE Staff
Looking a long way forward, but some RE staff may be interested inthis coursebeing offered in Semester 2, 2022
Health Care Plans Updated
Individual Health Care Plans for students with high risk medical conditions have been updated for the 2022 new enrolments. See Policy Plus under Student Duty of Care/Student Health. Please ensure that copies are made of Google Docs.
Bushfire Preparation Plans
We’ve seen the devastating impact that bush fires can have – on people, properties and communities.
It’s important you take the time now to get ready for bushfires.
Principals please ensure that recent School/College Bushfire Plans shared with you are reviewed and updated as needed. For all Diocesan Staff living on property, How Fireproof is Your Plan ? It can take as little as five minutes to make your plan. Discuss it with your family so you know what you will do in the event of a fire. Stay safe!
Please note as per your School/College’s Medication Administration Policy available on Policy Plus “staff do not administer minor analgesics such as paracetamol to students without written authorisation from the student's parent/guardian.”
Proficient Teacher and Maintenance of Accreditation Extension
NESA has given all teachers who are overdue or due to complete accreditation requirements in Term 3 or Term 4, 2021 an extension until the end of week 6 of Term 1, 2022 (4 March 2022)