It has been a long haul for all of us as we looked forward to finally welcoming our students back to on-site learning in Term 4. That took place over Monday and Tuesday of this week and no mask could hide how pleased our teachers and students were to return to some normality at school.
With two steps forward, however, our school and the Greater Shepparton community had a very unsettling step back over the last few days. Some of our staff had visited the sites listed as possibly contaminated, which means they are being tested and must remain at home until they are advised of a negative result. The demands of Covid-19 testing on our staff numbers meant a temporary return to remote learning.
This unfortunately has meant that we asked some student year levels to remain at home on Thursday 15th and Friday 16th October. As the situation becomes clearer across Shepparton, we will put the latest information out to families on Compass. Please carefully read Compass notifications as arrangements may change rapidly.
Our teachers who had to leave the classroom to be tested, then await their results, were as frustrated and disappointed as the students and parents we serve.
Working with young people and seeing them grow, learn new skills and find their way in education and their future career paths is what we all signed up for. As for our own careers, teaching and working in a school is a very social occupation, it’s all about the development of young people and so often the rewards come with one-to-one engagement in the classroom.
While months of remote learning have been challenging for our staff, I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve. GSSC teachers have been innovative and engaging with their presentation of lessons and this has helped students keep up with their studies, ask questions and ensure they are on track with their education.
The application of online learning hasn’t suited everyone, however, and part of our professional challenge in Term 4 is to ensure all students are properly assessed to determine shortfalls in their education as we near the end of the year.
We will be diligent with this assessment and I was thrilled with the Victorian Government announcement yesterday to hire more than 4000 tutors to help us bring students up to speed in their learning, as we enter the next year of education. Recruitment of retired or former teachers is starting now and GSSC (and our students, of course!) expect to benefit greatly from this major investment in ensuring students can progress their learning to where it should be, if we were not impacted by a pandemic.
Student laptops were loaned to all students needing one for remote learning. This means that every student should now have a laptop. We are expecting students to bring these to school each day in Term 4 as a start to introducing 1:1 e-Learning.
The GAT, held on Wednesday 7th October for VCE Unit 3&4 students, was well attended and went well for students. The GAT will be used to support students who have experienced difficulty with remote learning this year.
The Department of Education has also introduced a process, called Consideration of Educational Disadvantage, which will be done for each student doing VCE Units 3&4. This will take the form of a written submission stating the nature of the disadvantage experienced by the child. These circumstances will be taken into account with their results. Many thanks to Tarsh Boyko and Ian Goldrick for their organization of it all.
This year VCE exams will be conducted on-site at both McGuire and Wanganui so we can ensure social distancing.
Year 12 Graduation will also have to be different this year due to Covid-19. We had hoped to have a ceremony in person, but unfortunately we won’t be able to.
Therefore, we plan to record a video of the speeches and the students receiving their certificates and launch the video for families to watch, on Friday 27th November. We are encouraging families to make it a special occasion so that each student and family has good memories of the graduation.
The new school buildings are going up very quickly as you can see if you drive down Hawdon St. The builders are ahead of schedule, so we are well on track to move in 2022. Site tours will begin soon for the School Council members and small groups of students. Learning Mentors are regularly sharing drone photos of progress at the site with their students so we can all watch our new school take shape.
My final message is to parents. May I thank you for your own hard work and patience during this long period of remote learning. Together, we have done the very best that we can by your children and our students.
Importantly, the impact on our young people from the pandemic is not over. Once again, thank you for your support and understanding.
Please remind your children and our students of the importance of hand hygiene, social distancing, the wearing or masks and all other health measures at their respective campus.
We have enhanced cleaning in place and our region is being closely monitored by health authorities with respect to the recent outbreak.
To end on a high note, we are thrilled to have your children back on campus. While we may not be able to see their smiles, we know they are there.
The Executive Team
Greater Shepparton Secondary College