Term 3 Welcome

The term has begun and both the VCE, VET and VCAL students and staff appear to be happy to be back at school. I hope that the holiday period was relaxing and that you were able to spend some quality time together as a family. In particular, I would like to welcome a number of new students and their families: Harmonie Bradaric Year 9, Luca Seago Year 9 and Danny Tran Year 9.  We hope that your time with us is both productive and rewarding.

The College will also lead students in Years 8, 9 & 10 through the process of subject selection and important information evenings will be conducted on Monday 27 July, Tuesday 28 July, Wednesday 29 July and Thursday 30 July. The schedule for the Virtual careers Expo can be found later in this article and we will create a vodcast showing how to join these sessions. Later in the term we will go through the process of electing student leaders for the 2021 school year, another important aspect of third term.

Herald Sun article

In last Fridays Herald Sun (July 17) there was an article about Coronavirus which mentioned Penola Catholic College in a way that was both misleading and incorrect. In the section titled SCHOOLS AT RISK ORDER KIDS TO RETURN it stated ”Schools are refusing to cater for kids in lockdown areas who want to learn from home, despite escalating fears among some parents about the safety of campuses.

Schools such as Penola Catholic College, which has had a student with the virus, told parents in a letter “all students are required to attend”.

As most are aware, these instructions are no different to any other school within Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.  The journalist, Ian Royall, stated that the school has been contacted for comment. To date, I have not received any direct contact from Ian Royall. Had he made contact I would have had the opportunity to point out that we have a number of students who have not returned to school due to their own health concerns or those of others within their household.  I would also have outlined the fact that these students have been catered for by our staff and are keeping up to date despite the fact that they are working remotely.

Face Coverings

In line with advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, the Victorian Government has announced that those in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must wear a face covering when they leave home from 11.59pm on Wednesday 22 July 2020.

Face coverings will be mandatory for people aged 12 and over. These measures will slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and help protect the community. In schools, this means that school-based staff and secondary school students in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will be required to wear a face covering. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that any face covering will be acceptable – it does not need to be a surgical mask.

Teachers and education support staff will not be required to wear face coverings while teaching, but those who wish to do so, can. Teachers should wear face coverings in other areas of the school when not teaching (for example, in the staffroom, on yard duty and when providing first aid or taking temperatures), and when travelling to and from school unless in a car on their own or with another member of their household.

All secondary school students who are attending on-site for Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) or on-site supervision will need to wear a face covering, including when travelling to and from school. Students or staff who have a medical condition – including problems with their breathing, a serious skin condition on the face, a disability or a mental health condition – are not required to wear a face covering. This includes students who attend specialist schools.

Parents/carers will be required to wear face coverings whenever they leave the house, including for school drop off and pick up.

I am hopeful that both staff and students will provide their own masks/face coverings as we have a limited stock of masks. In the event that a student has forgotten their mask, one will be provided.  In the event that a student chooses not to wear a mask they will be sent home as this is creating a risk to others within our community and contrary to Victorian Government directives.

Welcome back to Ms. Donna Mihos from maternity leave.  Thanks to Ms. Nola Francis for taking on the role as Head of Leaning – Religious Education on the Glenroy campus whilst Donna has been away.

Virtual Careers Expo (Monday 27 July – Thursday 30 July)

Given the restrictions on large gatherings and wanting our community to remain safe and in trying to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19, we have decided to conduct our annual Careers Expo online for this year.  I have listed below the schedule for the week:

Clicking on this link will take you through to our Curriculum Overview page on MyPenola which has links to the relevant vodcasts for VCE, VET/Careers, VCAL and each of the Key Learning Areas as well.  There are also pages for particular year levels as well.  In considering subject selections for next year, I strongly encourage you to look at this information.

The term ahead

  • As ever we have our ongoing teaching and learning- our core business. Term 3 means planning for 2021: subject selection, information evenings, Year 8-10 subject selection interviews, determining staff intentions for 2021 and staff reviews. I thank you in anticipation for your support of these ventures so that once again, we may be off to a smooth start for 2021.

Term Three within secondary schools is an essential time of preparation. For Year 12 students, it is their last full school term in their lives – which can sometimes be a scary thought! It is undoubtedly a time for Year 12 students to consolidate their knowledge, continue to revise and prepare for the end of year exams. For all other students the focus of Term Three is upon subject selections for 2021 and, with this, a focus upon future career choices.

Term 3 is traditionally a very busy time of year for students, staff and parents as planning for the next year begins in earnest. As a school we are attempting to provide as much information as we can to ensure that all of our students are making informed choices with regards to their subject selections. I understand the anxieties experienced by both parents and students in trying to determine which subjects to do in the subsequent years. At 14, 15 or 16 years of age it is difficult to determine a future career path or even direction. Many students are in exactly the same position of not knowing what it is that they may do in the future.

There are some broad principles in terms of subject selections that apply to all students:

Choose subjects that you enjoy.

This makes sense to me, as students will put more effort into subjects that they enjoy and where there is an increased chance of receiving good grades.

Choose subjects that are required for your future career path

Provided you know your future career path, you should choose any prerequisite subjects that may be required. Generally this means choosing the highest level of mathematics that you are capable of, continuing with a language if possible or investigating/researching the subjects that are required for tertiary study. Where a future career path is unknown, it is best to keep your options open by choosing a broad course or researching the consequences of not choosing a subject.

Choose subjects that you are good at.

Students may not necessarily like a particular subject but they are very talented in the area, or have always found the subject easier than most.

I ask all families to allocate time to discuss subject selections over the next few weeks. Take advantage of the information sessions available here at the school, organise interviews with relevant staff members and complete your own research regarding what is best for your child.  As long as the decisions that are made are informed decisions, then we are all doing the best that we possibly can!

Ten Tips for Remote Learning

As our Years 7-10 students return to remote learning this week, I have included 10 tips for parents for remote learning.

This week, almost 700,000 Victorian students learned that they will again be learning from home as of 20 July. Under the arrangements, announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, public school students from Prep to Year 10 who live in Melbourne and Mitchell shire will undergo remote and flexible learning until 19 August.

This has put the spotlight back on parents who, until three weeks ago, were breathing a collective sigh of relief as their children began to return to face-to-face teaching at school.

In May, a report found that one third of parents dedicate their entire day to their child’s remote learning and 85% of primary parents spend at least a couple of hours per day supporting their child’s at-home learning.

Dr Matthew Zbaracki, Australian Catholic University, Head of School of Education, Victoria, and Jane Plunkett, an ACU-qualified teacher turned education consultant, have two school-aged children. They say teachers did not expect parents to run their home like a classroom.

“It’s a very stressful time for everyone. But there is a misunderstanding about teaching at home,” Dr Zbaracki said. “To home school in the ‘purest’ sense means the parent takes on the role of being the educator, (teacher) and provides the actual curriculum and assignments and activities”. Dr Zbaracki said what most Victorian parents are doing now is ‘home learning’. “The tasks are provided by the school, and the parent may assist as a guide with accomplishing them,” he said. “Home learning provides more guidance and structure for families than true home schooling”.

Dr Zbaracki said the main goal of home learning was to keep children connected with their schoolwork and engaged in age-appropriate learning activities.  “These are unprecedented times for all of us, and Victoria is trying to cope with dramatic changes to its day-to-day existence,” he said.   “It’s important that we recognise that parents will facilitate learning in very different ways and that’s OK. When teaching children at home, parents must take the pressure off themselves.”

Below, Dr Zbaracki and Plunkett share ten ways parents can ‘home learn’ with their children:

  1. Set up a negotiated learning space and routine/structure.

“One of the key things that children need in these uncertain times is structure, by setting this up in the beginning, children will be better able to focus and learn and everyone involved will know the expectations,” Dr Zbaracki said.

“Make sure the children take regular breaks depending on their age.”

Plunkett added, “During the school holidays parents can use this time to become familiar with the various learning platforms that schools may require.”

  1. Understand the required learning tasks.

Speak to the school and identify priority tasks. Print out the learning tasks, highlight key words, and add the due dates to your calendar.

  1. Check in with your child to see how they’re doing and what they may need help with.   

Parents know their child, so a common-sense approach is best. Give both yourself and your child a break from lessons when the child is showing signs of being off-task, tired or irritable.

  1. Integrate movement/active time in the day (working from home parents will need this for themselves too)   

“We all need to learn how to work from home and take frequent breaks,” Dr Zbaracki said. “When you take a break, get up and move around with your child, do 50 star jumps or run in place for a minute.  Just like your child has a need to move and let out some energy, adults do as well.”

  1. Older children also need to take ownership of their learning.   

Upper primary and secondary children, who have specific projects/assignments, should know the due dates and the expectations of their teachers,” Plunkett said. “Older children need to be aware of when and how to meet these deadlines. Parents can ask prompting questions to check the child understands what is required of them.”

  1. Read every day! Read with them, to them, and have them read to you!
  2. Think creatively 

Cooking or baking together (or with grandma or grandpa via Facetime). Make an iMovie together for an assignment for school.

  1. Maintain connections with others (family, friends, classmates) by sharing books, recommending books, sharing writing.   

Do this through Zoom or FaceTime so they are still able to ‘see’ their friends and family and have social interaction.

  1. Never teach under a mood of frustration (yours or theirs) wait for calm and then work together.

“When the child is calm, ‘share the pen’ or ‘share the reading’ which means work collaboratively,” Plunkett said.

  1. Be flexible

With the many distractions at home, parents need to be flexible with their expectations of their child’s behaviour. Children are not working with their regular classroom teacher or with their classmates, how they work will be different at home. Assignment outcomes will look different as well, but the goal is to keep children connected and engaged through learning.

Plunkett added, “Being flexible with your children at home is very important. Home learning can be a fun way to be more involved in what your child is learning.”