Dear Families, Students and Community Members,
It is unfortunate that the State Government road map for transitioning back to onsite learning in Term 4 as advised by the Chief Health Officer is not what we were hoping for – but it is out of our control, so all we can do as a school community is continue to be as positive as we can going into Term 4, and continue to provide the best education possible for all of our students given the circumstances. The health and safety of all within our community has to remain the number one priority. I had anticipated the first week back continuing as remote learning for all students, given the importance of ensuring the General Achievement Test (GAT) for all students studying a Unit 3 & 4 sequence can go ahead, with schools being less at risk of closing due to a reported COVID case if students aren’t onsite in the lead up to this. Thus, on Wednesday 7 October 10am-1.15pm, the GAT will be held onsite and is compulsory for all Year 11 and 12 students., studying a Unit 3 & 4 sequence. Further information around the processes to follow on arrival to school on this day and locations being utilised will be communicated to students soon.
From Week 2, 12 October, we will be welcoming back all Year 11 and 12 students to on-site learning full time, and any Year 10 students enrolled in a VCE or VCAL program will also attend on-site for these classes. Remote and flexible learning will continue for all students in Years 7 to 10, other than for children of permitted workers and vulnerable students who will be able to attend onsite, if supervision is required. A date for the return of our Year 7-10 students to face-to-face learning will be subject to further health advice.
Thinking positively, hopefully over the next 4-6 weeks case numbers reduce significantly, and all students can return onsite at some stage during Term 4. Given that this period of remote learning has been extended for our Year 7-10 students, it is really important that students continue to stay connected with their respective teachers and classmates through active participation when a Google Meet is running for their class. We will continue to do our best to support all of our families to navigate through this uncertainty together. Please don’t hesitate to call or email a member of the College leadership team, IT or wellbeing team if you need our assistance in any way.
Our updated transition back to onsite learning guide will be issued to all families during the first week of Term 4, when we hopefully have further information about a possible return date for Years 7-10 students.
Year 12 Practice Exams and Final exams
Congratulations to all our Year 12 teachers who have completed the course work for Unit 3 and 4 and are now preparing students for their practice exams next week. Even though students are off site we are still planning on running these exams remotely. Thanks to the office staff for their work on Friday 28 August in photocopying and collating all the practice exams into student packages that could be posted home. This was a huge task but has allowed us to continue on as planned for Year 12.
As Ms Greenhalgh and Mr Moffat communicated to Year 12 students and parents earlier this week, we are asking students to demonstrate our school values by following the instructions provided to them about this week. Thus, students should not look at their exam papers until the time of their scheduled exam. They will be required to log in to a Google Meet with their teacher 5 minutes prior to the exam start time and remain in the Meet until the end of the exam period. Students will not be permitted to ‘leave’ the exam if they have finished as we wish to mirror the realism of the exam timings and encourage students to use the time effectively. As in a real exam, toilet breaks are permitted but food should not be eaten, and phones should not be accessible. We encourage parents to please support your child by ensuring that they are creating an environment as suitable as possible for sitting an exam.
We have a staggered timetable for students to return their completed exam pack to the College on Friday 18 September to ensure we don’t have too many students onsite at any one time. Teachers will collect these papers and mark them over the holidays to have feedback ready for students in the first week back of Term 4. After the GAT on Wednesday 7 October, our teachers will be able to focus on some solid revision work with students in all classes up until 30 October, which will be their final day before SWOTVAC commences in the lead up to the final exams. Our teachers will continue to be available to support students up until their actual exam and I encourage students to utilise this support. The first exam is English on Tuesday 12 November and the exams will run until 01 December. The final exams will be held onsite and details about locations will be provided to students closer to the date, once the Department and the VCAA have provided schools with the guidelines.
Student Numbers 2021
An update on our student numbers for 2021 – we had initially decided to have a maximum of 200 Year 7s next year, and thus eight form groups. However, with some late in zone applications, we will now be going to nine form groups in Year 7 next year. (Note: This year we have 10 form groups.) Our total student population will now be approximately 1152 students (including our international students).
Whole School Review
As previously reported, our school was recommended as being able to complete a modified review all conducted online.
On 01 September we held the Validation Day from 8.30am – 5pm, all online. This involved our reviewer, Steve Daly, going over the self-evaluation and level of achievement for each of the goals and targets, including summarising the key enablers and barriers for each, given our self-evaluation was so detailed. The reviewer praised our school for having such ambitious targets to strive for and he was very impressed with our VCE data and NAPLAN data in particular over the previous three years. We went into the review knowing that our key improvement areas would most likely come from the student attitudes to school survey results where we have seen a decline in some variables as the school has rapidly grown. Therefore, these are the areas we will be focusing on for our field work days this week involving focus groups with students on Tuesday 8 and teachers on Wednesday 9. Again, all of these discussions will be conducted online with our reviewer Steve, and my boss Senior Education Improvement Leader, Leanne Marshall. Usually classroom visits feature on the Validation Day and Fieldwork days, but obviously they are not possible in our current climate.
Our three terms of reference for further inquiry during the fieldwork are:
- How can we better utilise student voice, and agency to improve student outcomes?
- How do we better connect all students to school and their learning?
- To what extent does the school ensure all students achieve and experience success?
Even though we conducted a parent forum and follow up survey in Term 1 for our self-evaluation, we still would like parent involvement in the fieldwork. We decided the most effective way of involving as many parents as possible was to issue another survey focused on the second question around school and student connectedness. Given we were preparing a survey for parents on remote parent teacher interviews and reporting, it was an opportune time to also include questions about connectedness. This survey was sent out last Friday on Compass and closes on Thursday 10 September. Please click on this link if you haven’t had the opportunity to respond to date: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8BYTYT3
On the final day, next Tuesday, the reviewer will present the findings from the fieldwork and we will spend the rest of the day identifying the key goals and key improvement strategies for our next four year strategic plan. The reviewer will also prepare a report for the Department and school council. During Term 4, I will work with my leadership team, staff, students and school council to fully develop the Strategic Plan with key actions over each of the next four years. We then work on our 2021 Annual Implementation Plan once the new Strategic Plan is approved by region.
Part of our self-evaluation was to identify our top four significant achievements over the last three years. These have been strongly endorsed by our reviewer and Senior Education Improvement Leader:
- “Influence” School rating in September 2018: – Based on the new differentiated approach to school improvement, in September 2018 Mordialloc College achieved the highest performance rating a school can achieve on the school performance report. Less than 10% of the state achieve this “Influence” rating and thus we see it as a significant accomplishment. This was predominantly due to our consistently strong and improved results in reading and numeracy, in relation to the percentage of students in the top two bands and bottom two bands in Year 9 and the percentage of students with high or medium relative learning gain from Year 7-9.
On the Panorama report we also scored consistently higher than similar schools across all measures recorded in this report. In 2018, we were also the lead school in a school improvement partnership with Kooweerup SC.
The Department of Education were impressed with our NAPLAN results in recent years and last year, we were one of eight schools in Victoria asked to participate in a case study to be published on the DET website to showcase our school and support other schools’ professional learning. The focus of the case study was around our Literacy Intervention program and teacher practice focused peer coaching which is supporting literacy improvement at the College. A video was made showcasing our Year 9 Intervention elective.
- Best VCE Results in school’s history in December 2018: – We achieved our goal median study score of 30 (first time in school’s history) and 16% of ATARs over 90, with 9.8% of study scores in the 40s – a truly outstanding set of results and a credit to all staff and students who all worked so hard to achieve so much over this cohort of students’ six-year journey at Mordialloc College. We had two students in the top 1% of the state with ATARs of 99.3 and 99.03. Another student who achieved 98.95 scored two perfect scores of 50 for English and Health and was presented with a Premiers Award for English. A number of subjects performed exceptionally well – English achieved a mean of 32.66, Literature 33, PE 34.08, Health 34.82, Studio Arts 34.25, Drama 32.75, Physics 32.5, and Chemistry 31.5.
- Improved reputation in community: – From a typical Year 7 enrolment of 85-100 students, this increased to 150 by 2015 and 2016, another increase to 190 in 2017-2019 and 250 in 2020. We have become a school of choice in the community with a change in perceptions over time and strong relationships developed with our key feeder primary schools, with our comprehensive transition program. This includes visits to all of our main feeder primary schools in Term One with Year 7 and senior student representatives, hosting Grade 5 taster visits in Term Four, hosting our “It’s Academic” PS challenge for Grade 5 students, offering science classes to some of our PSs and providing extra transition days to students identified at risk. We are seen as a leading school by the region and department. The Principal was the Network Chair of the Kingston Network of Schools from 2016-2019 and has been asked to present at the region performance review in front of the State Education Board a number of times about the school’s achievements. In 2019, the Principal was the winner of the Most Outstanding Secondary School Principal award and the prestigious Lindsay Thompson Award for Excellence in Education, in the Victorian Education Excellence Awards. This was a wonderful recognition for the whole school.
- Improvements in Facilities: – There has been State Government funding invested in the College for Significant Capital Works projects after a strong campaign in the lead up to the last three state elections. Recent new facilities include a new Performing Arts Centre with canteen attached which opened in Term 1, 2017 and a new PE/Sports Stadium with physiology lab attached which opened in October 2017. The College has an $8.5 million State Government commitment for the development of a new Year 8 Learning Centre and a Senior School learning hub including a senior study centre. We received 10% of this funding in the 2019 May Budget and after revising our masterplan to cater for our increased student numbers, we were approved to develop the plans for a two-storey building. This will house the Year 7 & 8 Learning Centres and will allow us to convert the current Year 7 Learning Centre into a Senior School Hub. This is reliant upon receiving the rest of the funding in the May 2020 budget. (Which we now know we have and are ready to put our project out to tender once we are out of stage 4 lockdown restrictions). The College also prides itself on providing the best facilities we can for our current cohort of students. As such, the following have undergone significant refurbishments over the past few years: Year 7 & 8 learning centres, two refurbished classrooms for Year 12 study spaces, and improvements made to the Arts/Technology classrooms.
Middle School Awards
Each term we hold a Middle School Assembly led by our middle school captains to highlight the achievements of our middle school students (Years 7 – 9) throughout the term. Students are nominated for awards for achievement and endeavour by their teachers and these are collated by my Director of Middle School, Daniel Williams. Given we haven’t been able to hold a Middle School Assembly this term, students were recognised in Year Level Assemblies last week online, and certificates posted home. Please see Daniel’s article in this newsletter, listing all students.
How not to get PTSD
This is an article written by well-known Psychologist Andrew Fuller, for staff about wellbeing but also applies to parents, that you may find interesting. Please click the link here to access:
Continue to take care everyone and stay strong.
Ms. Michelle Roberts