No Blanket Reduction of School Fees

I have had a small number of requests from parents requesting a blanket reduction in fees for all families during the period of remote learning. This won’t take place as there are unfortunately a number of our families whose financial circumstances have changed dramatically due to the restrictions instituted to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  In a number of situations this has meant a loss of jobs or a significant reduction in hours of employment which obviously places significant stress upon the finances of these families.  I am hoping that all will agree that we need to support these families and, as such, any savings incurred due to remote learning will be used to offset the loss of income for these families. One of the strengths of our Penola Catholic College community has always been the willingness of the community to support the marginalised and disadvantaged families seeking a Catholic education.

Request for Livestreaming of all classes

With regards to recent requests for every class to be streamed live there are essentially 3 reasons why we don’t:

  1. There are a number of families who have poor/slow wifi which means that they are not able to effectively stream classes because the buffering that they experience means that they miss significant parts of the lesson and instructions.
  2. There are a number of families where the laptop for the Penola student is being shared with younger siblings for them to be able to access their remote learning. When classes are not streamed live, this allows the family to spread their learning over the entire day so that each sibling is able to access their remote learning.
  3. Many of our staff have caring duties and supervising remote learning for their own children so livestreaming is not always possible.

We believe, backed by latest research from China, USA and United Kingdom that a blend of both live and static lessons provides the best possible scenario to maintain continuity of learning for all of our students.

Wellbeing Day – Friday 15 May (Student Free)

At our Executive meeting last week we decided to have a wellbeing day on Friday 15 May to give both staff and students a reprieve from screens! This will be a mid-term break to allow staff, students and families time to reflect on what they have achieved to date and prepare for what lies ahead. There will be no classes held on this day and it is my intention to shut the school so that all can take a well-earned break. In conversations that I have been having with a number of staff, they have commented on having sore eyes and headaches which they have attributed to the increase in screen time required of them with remote learning. Parents have also made comment about their concerns regarding the amount of time that their son or daughter is spending on their screens. We hope this time provides you with an opportunity to spend quality family time together and a time to relax.

2021 Year 7 Enrolments

As I hope you are all aware, 2021 Year 7 Enrolments closed on Friday August 17 of last year.  We have had an additional 91 enrolments since the closing date. If there are any current families with children in Grade Six who are intending to enrol them at Penola in 2021, I would ask that you make contact with Ms Jessica Alvarez at the College as soon as possible.  I would be saddened for one of our current families to miss out on a place due to the fact that they have not submitted an enrolment application.  I have asked Principals of our feeder Parish Primary schools to check that all of their families who indicated that they were applying for a position at Penola have indeed applied.  I ask our current families to do the same as a matter of priority.

Cancellation of Parent Teacher Student Partnership Meetings

We had originally planned to have the next of our Parent Teacher Student Partnership Meetings on Thursday 6 May.  Due to the transition to remote learning and the Stage Three restrictions introduced by the Victorian Government, it is not safe to conduct these meetings.  We are currently reviewing when these may occur but that will largely be determined by our return to school and the easing of social distancing requirements.

Changes to Reporting

Due to the transition to Remote Learning we have now finalised the nature of assessment and the ways that we report this assessment to parents.  We have made the decision to only report online through MyPenola rather than a summative report at the end of the Semester.

Letter to Year 12 Parents

On Monday I wrote to all Year 12 parents to provide them an update with regards to Year 12 for 2020. A summary of these changes is listed below:-

The VCAA has been asked to consider a compressed end-of year exam schedule in recognition of the disruption caused by the pandemic. The VCAA have informed us that this exam schedule will be provided to schools in late May.

The VCAA provided advice last week about which Unit 3 school-based assessments can be completed remotely, and those needing to be completed on site in recognition of their practical nature and the facilities required for an authentic assessment. On-site assessments will need to be prioritised with appropriate timetabling and arrangements to ensure adherence to social distancing measures. These can be found below.

Year 12 Practical Assessments (Students coming onsite)

Food Studies –   

Wednesday   10 June (9 students in each kitchen)

Studio Arts –         

Monday         11 May, 3.00p.m. – 5.00pm. (6 students)

Thursday       14 May, 3.00p.m. – 5.00pm. (7 students)

Monday         18 May, 3.00p.m. – 5.00pm. (5 students)

Thursday       21 May, 3.00p.m. – 5.00pm. (7 students)

Visual Communication & Design –   

Thursday       14 May, 11.00a.m. – 1.00p.m (7 students)

Thursday       21 May, 11.00a.m. – 1.00p.m (6 students)

VET Engineering –     

Tuesday         12 May, 1.00p.m. – 5.00p.m. (7 Students)

Wednesday    13 May, 1.00p.m. – 5.00p.m. (6 Students)

Tuesday         19 May, 1.00p.m. – 5.00p.m. (7 Students)

Wednesday    20 May 1.00p.m. – 5.00p.m. (6 Students)

As a result of changes to assessment, students will only initially receive an indication of their level of performance as High, Medium or Low until moderation has taken place.  Moderation allows for teachers to compare their marking with others but also check the authenticity of the work that has been presented.  This enables potential cases of plagiarism and cheating to be identified and investigated.  Once moderation has been completed numerical scores will be released to students regarding their school assessed coursework.

VCE Unit 4 – The VCAA have reviewed all VCE Study Designs, with a particular focus on Unit 4, to reduce, where possible, school-based assessment tasks to relieve some pressure on students as they transition to remote and flexible learning arrangements. This review will include a small number of studies where the assessment item is across both Unit 3 and Unit 4, as there may need to be adjustment to both Units to adequately account for the disruption. A review of, and reasonable adjustment in, content and assessment study by study ensures genuine relief for students while maintaining the integrity of the individual Study Design and the certificate. The broad aims and intentions of the studies are still achieved and can be assessed fairly and accurately, while recognising that to be fair to this year’s students, some reduction in workload is required. More information can be found by clicking this link.

Immunisations for Year 7 and Year 10 students

As a result of our school closure, Hume City Council has arranged for appointment only immunisation sessions for Year 7 and Year 10 students.  Session locations are in Sunbury, Craigieburn and Broadmeadows, from 12 – 29 May 2020.

Due to the school immunisation program changes all parents/guardians are requested to click on the link below and complete the required information, whether or not your child is to be immunised. An appointment can also be booked via this link.

Immunisation is the best way to protect yourself, your family and the community from preventable diseases. More details about the program are provided in the State Government’s Parent Fact Sheet

Some of the thoughts of Pope Francis on Covid-19

Next Door Saints

At a time when many people are on the front lines of this pandemic, the Pope recalls “the saints who live next door. “They are heroes: doctors, volunteers, religious sisters, priests, shop workers—all performing their duty so that society can continue functioning…If we become aware of this miracle of the next-door saints…if we can follow their tracks, the miracle will end well, for the good of all. God doesn’t leave things halfway. We are the ones who do that.”

For all who have contracted coronavirus,
We pray for care and healing.

For those who are particularly vulnerable,
We pray for safety and protection.

For all who experience fear or anxiety,
We pray for peace of mind and spirit.

For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety,
We pray for policies that recognize their plight.

For those who do not have adequate health insurance,
We pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.

For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status,
We pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.

For those in the front-line of response, in health and aged care,
We pray for shared solidarity.

For public officials and decision makers,
We pray for wisdom and guidance.

Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all.
Grant peace.
Grant comfort.
Grant healing.
Be with us, Lord.