COVID-19: how can I help?

Over the past few weeks, we have seen the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our school and the wider school community.  Teachers and school leadership are working harder than ever to respond to rapidly changing challenges and requirements.  Parents and carers are being stretched and challenged as they try to juggle the needs of their children and manage their own rapidly changing circumstances. Students are being thrust into a totally new learning environment with varying levels of support and access to technology.

To respond effectively to all these challenges requires time and specialist knowledge and skills. While the school has made great strides in a short period of time, there is an opportunity for us to leverage the skills, expertise and experience of the wider school community to support the teachers and school leadership in meeting the many challenges.

To that end, we are seeking to establish a list of parents, carers and community members with specialist skills and knowledge and willingness to help out at this time. Some of what we learn from this time will no doubt also be of benefit into the future. Skills and expertise may include:

  • technology skills
  • online learning and teaching expertise
  • knowledge of local government and other resources
  • strategic planning
  • health and wellbeing expertise
  • fundraising expertise 
  •  community building expertise

The aim of this list is to provide teachers and school leadership with a source of advice and support and help build capacity in the school to identify, address and respond to challenges and changing needs.  Community members willing and able to help would identify their skills and expertise and the school would call on those people to help as and when required.  

If you feel you have a skill that may contribute and would like to help, please contact me or the convener of the Fitzroy High School Council Community Subcommittee Clare Kermond at

Ralph Saubern
Fitzroy High School Council 

Hands on Learning Activity: Owl Sculpture

We have supplied some ideas for activities at home to help you keep learning and practicing your skills. Please keep in mind that in HoL we encourage initiative, but normally you are supervised by staff with skills and this may or may not be available at home. Please ask your parent/guardian first before starting this activity. Be safe, have fun, take photos/notes to complete your HoL@home Folio and share with your HoL team. Reminder: as part of your planning use the HoL@home JSA to identify risks to keep this activity safe, and email Penny with your completed work:

Please click here for the HOL@home Safety Analysis template

Create a unique owl sculpture using recycled materials.

This project is a great way to recycle old utensils from around the house. They make a lovely addition to your
garden. How about creating a family of owls to brighten up a wall or fence around your place?


• assorted household utensils e.g. cheese graters, cupcake trays, cutlery, baking tins, etc.
• lids
• bottle tops
• metal plates or saucers
• tins
• buttons
• tree branch for perch (if required)
• wire/string for hanging
• liquid nails or another strong adhesive
• caulking gun (if using liquid nails)


• creative imagination
• patience
• familiarity with caulking gun


• Gluing fingers to materials. Ensure you read the instructions on your adhesive and follow the safety
guidelines and cleanup instructions.


• Minimum 2 hours from sourcing materials, depending on complexity of design.


Step 1: Gather materials from around the house you will use to create your owl. Consider the weight of the
materials relative to what adhesive you have to use.
Step 2: Find an appropriate workspace that will allow time for your work to dry completely before moving.
Step 3: Place you pieces together to design your owl. Ensure you have all materials required before you begin.
Step 4: Begin gluing pieces together. Ensure your pieces are set in place before adding more and moving your
owl around. You will need patience here.

Step 5: Once completed, allow to dry completely.
Step 6: Attach your owl to a perch if required. Potentially wire this on.
Step 7: Find a special place for your owl and hang as required.

Hands on Learning activity: Environmental art

We have supplied some ideas for activities at home to help you keep learning and practicing your skills. Please keep in mind that in HoL we encourage initiative, but normally you are supervised by staff with skills and this may or may not be available at home. Please ask your parent/guardian first before starting this activity. Reminder: To keep this activity safe don’t forget to practice social distancing when you are walking to your local park. Please click here for the HOL@home Safety Analysis template

Create an artwork in or around your garden with what you can find and email it to Penny @

With the different tones in the Australian forest, and changing autumn season, it’s great to be able to find
different colour pallets and materials to create a masterpiece. Or work with stones and rock or mud. This
simply takes time, patience and creativity and you’ll be amazed by what you can do and how you will feel.


• Whatever materials you can find in your own garden or neighbourhood. As a principle try to only use things that have already fallen and detached, rather than picking things from living plants.

• Think of a good space or background for your finished work – is that simply a cleared piece of earth, or another plant, or even a tree or its bark.


• creativity
• resourcefulness
• patience
• camera (or phone) to take pictures


• Dependent on the area you live in and the materials you use, a thin pair of gloves to protect from soil bacteria is recommended.


• From sourcing resources to full creation this could take anywhere from one hour to half a day.

Step 1
First of all start with some image searches to get your creativity flowing with the endless possibilities before you. Simply Google search ‘environmental art’ or for amazing artists such as Andy Goldsworthy. Try YouTube as well.

Step 2
Start planning what kind of design you’d like to work on and maybe do some sketches. Or you could simply go outside and see where you’d like to do create your work and the materials you have to work with. Here you need patience as sometimes your original ideas may not work so you need to be adaptable and resilient.

Step 3
Clear the space you want to work in. Think of how you want your background to work, and what will compare and contrast to the materials you’re using. Patiently start creating and adapt to your materials and the conditions.

Step 4
The beauty of this work is that you have to be willing to let it go – it’s not a permanent structure. Take a picture of your completed work and think of how you want to frame this too – big background or not. Then share it with others and walk away. You may want to see or record how it changes over time.

Mental Health – what teachers should look for

Andrew Fuller

Some young people have been living an online lifestyle for years. This means that while some kids are thriving without the pressures of attending school, others are unravelling & facing mental health concerns during challenging times.

Teachers have been asking about the signs that might indicate they should be more concerned about a young person’s mental health. While I have written about this in my books, here is a brief guide.

Teachers should keep a look out for young people (and one another) at this time &

consider getting help from a mental health professional if available. Being sensitive to possible warning signs is especially important when most contact happens online or remotely.

If you feel concerned about someone, it is always better to be proactive. Saying something along the lines of, ‘You seem a bit (insert what you’ve observed) & I’ve been feeling a bit worried about you. Do you think I should be worried about you?” usually starts the conversation.


What’s fairly normal

Some worries are common in times of uncertainty. Everyone is on heightened alert.

People often feel exhausted. This is why lessening the emphasis on assessment for school students is recommended.

Signs that might give you more concern

In each of these areas it is important to compare the signs with the person’s usual level of functioning.

– Looping worries that don’t get anywhere towards an action or solution.

– Increased restlessness & agitation such as

  pacing, trembling, shaking, rapid speech, tics

  or hair pulling or twisting.

  • Feelings of being completely overwhelmed, dread & disempowered.

Sadness and Depression

What’s fairly normal

Some glum & sad times are expected. Missing friends & missing freedoms is a process of partial grieving for them and for a lifestyle.

 Signs that might give you more concern

– Not doing some things they would usually  


– Changes in appetite or weight

– Feeling that life is pointless

– More sullen and morose

– Talking about themselves in denigrating ways

– Crying

– Talking about death or loss more readily.


What’s fairly normal

Some disturbance of sleep is usual at these times. Some may have more vivid dreams & may feel disturbed by them (talking to them about their dreams will help).

Signs that might give you more concern

– Alterations in their usual pattern

– Waking up after brief sleeps & not being able

  to get back to sleep

– Over-sleeping & avoidance

– Not being able to relax or sleep at the end of

  the day.

– Children coming into parent’s beds in the middle of the night more often.


What’s fairly normal

People are hearing a lot more than usual about

threats, infections and illness so some wariness as well as a focus on physical health is expected.

Signs that might give you more concern

– Repetitive activities that seem not to make sense.

– Excessive handwashing or disinfecting that seems excessive or obsessive.

– Fears of contamination or a sense of impending illness or death that seems out of order with their current level of risk.

– Unrealistic fears that they may contaminate others.

– A sense that they are either ‘immune’ from viruses or that they are responsible for them.


What’s fairly normal

Covid-19 takes ‘stranger-danger’ to an entirely different level. At these times small events can trigger major responses.

Signs that might give you more concern

  • -Dramatically increased startle response

-Total avoidance of interactions with family members despite low or no risk.

-Feeling terrified or overwhelmed by circumstances

– Having an unshakable & unrealistic dread of the future.


What’s fairly normal

Grumpiness & some snappiness is usual.

Young people often express their fears & stresses behaviourally & tend to do so towards those they know and love best of all.

Signs that might give you more concern

-Self–directed anger or self- harm.

– Temper outbursts that occur erratically and persist for long periods of time.

– Violent acts.

– Smouldering resentments, vendettas or

   stand-over tactics aimed at controlling others

– No remorse or insight into others’ feelings after they have had an outburst.

– Outbursts where they lash out, hit or hurt

   others or damage valuable items.

– Anger is escalating or they seem unable to

  control or contain their level of anger.


What’s fairly normal

Being cooped up together for extended periods can heighten tensions in the best of families & relationships. Flare-ups & heated exchanges could occur. Some households may be on edge & yelling & stressful inter-changes may intensify.

Signs that might give you more concern

-Fearfulness or trepidation about specific people

– Appearing more guarded or unwilling to speak in case they could be overheard.

– You feel worried or uncomfortable on their behalf.

-You feel they are keeping a secret.

-Increased rate of pacifying behaviours- rubbing of neck, biting nails, playing with hair,

rubbing temples or covering their mouth.

– Art works or writings that contain uncharacteristically aggressive or death- focused imagery (be especially alert to drawings that show armless figures, disproportionate sizes of people in drawings, jagged teeth or distorted mouths)

– Signs of injuries.

– Bruising especially on the inner sides of arms/

– Unusual use of sexual terms or imagery.

Assessment Summary

Any assessment needs to occur in the context of a baseline. I use three general rules of thumb in making an assessment of risk:

1.Is the person substantially different from how they usually present to me?

2.Is there change apparent in different settings or contexts? For example a child who glum at home but cheers up when with friends is usually less concerning than none who is sad across both settings.

3.How worried do I feel? While we need to careful not to project our fears onto others, you are attuned to people. If you are worried on someone’s behalf it is almost always wise to assume that there is something to worry about.

Andrew is the author of ‘Tricky Teens’, ‘Your Best life at Any Age’ and ‘Tricky Kids’.

COVID-19: List of resources



Family Wellbeing


PRIMARY SCHOOL – General & Wellbeing

Stress & Anxiety

Social Stories

SECONDARY SCHOOL – General & Wellbeing

Apps & online programs to support mental health & wellbeing


Primary – Special Needs Specific

Social Stories and/or Visuals

Secondary – Special Needs Specific

Sue Larkey – Schedules: The Number One Strategy for Students with Autism in these Uncertain Times

Reordering and landscaping of FHS garden beds

The school’s staff, students, school council, City of Yarra and members of the local community have been involved for a number of years in an ongoing project to improve the school’s garden beds.

What are the objectives of this reordering and landscaping program?

To create much improved: amenity, biodiversity, representation of indigenous plants, teaching spaces and generally peaceful and welcoming precincts for staff and students to enjoy.

One of the specific objectives of the program is to provide the school with four, of the nine, Ecological Vegetation Communities (EVC) within the City of Yarra.

A further specific objective is to provide additional habitat for local fauna thereby further increasing the biodiversity of the school grounds.

What are the educational advantages from this garden beds program?

To support, expand and enhance the overall Education for Sustainability (EfS) objectives of the school, including involvement of: all teachers and students, particularly the VCAL teachers and students, with formal and informal links to the curriculum, the local community (they have already been involved with the tangential Community Compost Bins Project), parents and School Council. For a number of years the school has taken part in the ‘Resource Smart Schools – Sustainability Victoria’ Program and this reordering of the school’s garden beds adds to the school’s sustainability credentials via this program.

It is apposite to look at the ‘…three focus areas’ of the school’s ‘EfS policy’ outlined in that school document. It states that they are:

• curriculum;

• management of school resources;

• management of school grounds.

To achieve the objectives of EfS, Fitzroy High School will address all three focus areas in ways that are meaningful to the students, teachers, school council and the whole school community.”

It is also interesting to note that in a major report titled ‘Ecological Education at Fitzroy High School: a Report of Research Conclusions and Recommendations’ compiled by Alicia Flynn in November 2018, she outlines three things that are essential for ecological education. They are: ‘Learning with other species’, ‘Learning with materials’ and ‘Learning with other places’.

From Alicia’s report it is possible to conclude that enhanced FHS gardens would provide an opportunity for students who participated in any inquiry using garden spaces to relish the opportunity to learn in such a diverse multispecies community and precinct. The teachers and other adults who participate would also benefit by experiencing a sense of space, calm, fun and ‘a different relationship with students and learning’. 

Therefore it is possible to say that in addition to the direct educational advantages outlined above, an enhancement of the general health and well being of staff and students flows from the improved ambience of the school’s surrounds.      

What has already been achieved?

The earliest stage of the garden bed program took place a few years ago when the garden area facing Falconer Street – the gateway to the school’s main entrance, was reordered with garden beds of indigenous plants and the provision of timber surrounds and seating areas. The beauty, sustainability and utility of this first step of the program was recognised with the school gaining an environment award from the City of Yarra.

Some work on a new and revamped program took place in 2018. The first stage of this program, ‘The Escarpment Shrubland’, involved the complete reordering of the area in the south-east corner of the school, adjacent to the Michael Street driveway. Many of the unsuitable existing trees, shrubs and grasses in this area were removed, the ground was tilled and suitably mulched, and many new plants were established in the landscaped garden.

In 2019 it was hoped that another stage, and a more ambitious part of the program would be reached. The gardens on both sides of the ‘Corridor Area’, running north-south between the main building and science block, was to be reordered in a similar way to that of the first stage outlined above. Unfortunately the maintenance and painting work on the timber windows on the western side of the main building took precedence. It was not possible to guarantee that the newly established gardens, adjacent to the main building, would not be impacted by the machinery or scaffolding that was required to complete this work.

What is planned for future years?

The garden and landscaping of this ‘Corridor Area’ will now take place in 2020.

Further stages of the whole program are planned for coming years and in particular the creation of a ‘sensory garden’ which is likely to be located on the eastern side of the school; existing garden areas would be suitable for this part of the program. In 2018, the outline of possible approaches that could be used in creating a sensory garden was provided to the School’s Council by an interested parent, Ms Tonya Slee, who was a member, at that stage, of the ‘Master Plan Subcommittee’ of FHS Council

The stages of garden reordering outlined above have been under the oversight of the school principal, Linda Mitchell and member of the Buildings and Environments Subcommittee of FHS Council using the plans, principles and guidelines provided to the school by Ms Jenny Harrington of the Victorian Indigenous Nursery Corporation.

The School Council endorses this program and does so in the knowledge that it has already provided many aesthetic and educational benefits for staff, students, the school’s neighbours and members of the school community, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

It has always been a major aim of this program to create model gardens that will create additional resources for teachers and students and the local community to enjoy. 

How can you help?

The school has already raised over $1000 to support the purchasing of plants, mulch and general landscaping.

In the future, when we can all assemble again, we will have at least one school ‘Maintenance Day’ where we will work on the school’s garden beds.

Roger Smith

Community Representative and Convenor of Buildings and Environments Subcommittee of FHS Council  



Setting Career Foundations

Term 2 is in full swing with all students experiencing a remote classroom setting through virtual engagement. As a career educator, as tough as this may be to adjust for some students, I feel that it is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate what remote working looks and feels like to which many if not all will experience through their career at some stage. 

The impact of remote learning on career conversations: 

With all students working through their studies using virtual and online communication tools, the career department has also been communicating with students over the telephone and Google Meet. Sessions are completed via telephone unless a parent is present, in which case Google Meet with video can be used. The school will continually monitor this as the situation progresses. 

Year 9 

My Career Insights program testing has been pulled back due to the impact of COVID-19. The program will still go ahead; however, the careers team are working closely with Year 9 coordinators to make sure that students are in the right learning space to complete the assessment. The CEAV who complete the profile interviews are equipped to complete virtual sessions to which parent consent forms will be circulated in the next week. Students are still predicted to unpack the profile starting in June. For further information for parents on My Careers Insights, click here.    

Year 10

Students are encouraged to revisit their Morrisby Report, as a part of their My Career Insights program they completed in Year 9 as well as their career action plan. Students can log back in and review this at, if they are having difficulty accessing their profile, send an email to 

Year 11

All students are still able to organise a virtual session both online through the career session booking app. You can access it here. 

Year 12

With the current impact of COVID-19 playing, it’s course across the nation on all Year 12 students, the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admissions Centres (ACTAC) (which is the national body that oversees VTAC) has issued a statement on the 27th of April regarding the impact on tertiary entries for 2021. You can find the full statement here. Essentially they have listed that the effect of COVID-19 will be accommodated in this year’s ATAR. We will still work individually with students through the VTAC period to ensure that each student who feels they need to apply for a SEAS application in light of another circumstance impacted by COVID-19 can do so. 

Higher Education providers are holding virtual open days and experiences for students to gain as much of an insight as they can before the application process. They are also working to make all admissions requirements live on their websites by August in correlation with the VTAC opening.   

Virtual Open Day & Pathway Information 

There are several virtual open days that both students and parents can register for to understand the courses available better and experience campus in the lead up to VTAC preferences. Many Victorian and National providers will be involved. 

 Here are a list of virtual open days that are being held in May: 

TIS Virtual Careers Expo – Powered By Torrens University (7th & 8th of May)   

VCE & Beyond – Powered by InspirEd (10th of June – 14th of June) 

Education USA Australia – Virtual Fair (May 7th) – For students looking to gain access to American Colleges. You can also find more information out about sitting a SAT with the impact of COVID-19 here. 

Year 13 Expo – Powered by Youthsense – (May 18th – 22nd)

1. Click this link:

2. Fill out your details

3. Click Attending Expo

4. Complete your skills forecast and career plan