Principal’s Report April 2020

Dear students, staff and families

Thank you for your ongoing support and communication during these unprecedented times. I hope that, in general, you are traveling well, and enjoying time with each other, especially in this cold weather where working from home can provide warmth and comfort.

Remote Learning

As promised in the Compass post before the beginning of Term 2, after two weeks of remote learning, the school has reviewed how things are going with remote learning and adjusting how we manage a range of issues. We have begun with feedback from staff members, who have been regularly checking in with students. Based on this feedback, we are adjusting the content of the lessons, in recognition of how much extra time is required for both the teachers and the learners. We have provided a little more asynchronous time for students to work independently while maintaining the synchronous (live) contact that is so important for student engagement and learning. We have also continued to work through technical issues and provide assistance and devices to families who need them. We are in the process of tweaking our management and recording of attendance, in recognition of the fact that some students are struggling with remote learning or possibly having internet connection problems. The Year 7-9 and Year 9-10 Team Leaders will also be running a weekly Homework Club/Catch-up which will be open to students who require support in order to catch up work that they have missed or with which they are struggling. Anna P and Paul C will send communication about that via Compass.

Over the course of the past few weeks, we have been ensuring that our use of the G Suite (including Google classroom and Google Meet) meets the requirements for privacy and security according to the Department of Education guidelines and the ICT team has reviewed our Privacy Impact Assessment. We have also been learning as we go about best practice for teachers and students in order to avoid practices or behaviors that might impact negatively on classes or individuals. As a result, we have revised, and will continue to update, the Remote Learning Protocols (incorporating School Wide Positive Behaviors) to reflect what we have learned. We have recognized the desire for students to be able to use cameras within Google Meet, especially for one on one meetings between teachers and advisors, and to be able to show their work. Next week we are trialing this in Year 11 and 12 only. By no means is it obligatory for students to use cameras, as some are not comfortable doing so, but rather we are providing clear guidelines for students and teachers to do so should they wish. We will be collecting feedback the use of cameras in Years 11 and 12 next week with the intention of introducing the use of cameras in Years 7-10 soon afterwards.

Student and Parent Feedback and Support

So far the feedback from families and students has been very positive and encouraging. We would now like to gain a more holistic picture of how people are travelling and what suggestions people might have to improve our  understanding and practice. Therefore School Council representatives are assisting me in creating Student and Parent surveys which will be ready to send to families within the next week or so. This feedback will assist the school in reviewing the next two-week cycle and making any adjustments that are necessary. School Council has also created a post named “COVID-19: How can I help”. I have received several offers of assistance from parents with specific skills and expertise. This process invites the whole school community to consider whether there are things that they can offer, with School Council taking a lead in managing the process in order to support the school.

Wellbeing and Careers Support

Team and level leaders, as well as advisors, are working through any wellbeing concerns and I would like to remind you that referrals to the wellbeing team can be made through these leaders. As well as my Compass post about wellbeing on March 24, which contained some resources and contacts for support, I would like to draw your attention to some resources posted on the website and contained in this newsletter:

Wellbeing posted on website COVID-19: List of resources

Health – what teachers should look for (also good for parents)

Factsheet for parents: Sending nudes and sexting

If you have any wellbeing concerns please contact Linda Ekman, our Wellbeing Leader, directly on lindae@fitzroyhs.vic.edu.au

I would like to remind you that careers work still happening through conference calls and you are welcome to contact Tyson Day, our Careers Counsellor, directly on tysond@fitzroyhs.vic.edu.au

Activities and Opportunities

In order to keep our school community connected to each other and the rest of the world, I would like to draw your attention to some upcoming events.

Firstly, we have decided to have a Virtual House Cross Country from May 16-24, allowing students to participate and compete from home. Shannon G, our Sport Coordinator, will be sending more details and creating Compass events for consent. This consent will cover students being able to practice walking jogging or running outside the home without supervision. It is not compulsory but we hope that most of the school community will participate, including teachers and family members. We have included the weekends either side of the week to allow for more family participation.

I have also posted about two other events which families might like to get involved in, and which we will be following up as a school:

Hangout for the Homeless Saturday May 23

National Reconciliation Week May 27-June 3

Hands on Learning will be posting a range of weekly activities that can be done by anyone at home. This week there is the Owl Sculpture and the Environmental Art competition. Please contact Penny S if you are interested in the competition. We will be displaying the submitted work at school and sending photos to the community.

Last but not least, we are planning to have a Virtual Open Day for those families who want to learn more about the school, particularly for those making decisions about Year 7 2021. More information about this to follow in the next few weeks.

I would like to thank all of the staff for their wonderful work over the past few weeks and extend my best wishes to all students and families. As always, please feel free to contact me directly on lindam@fitzroyhs.vic.edu.au at any time.

Kind regards

Linda Mitchell (Principal)