Principal's blog 30 March 2020
My first item is to congratulate all of our year 12 families and our year 12 students – last Friday all except 5 of our year 12 students were present in their exam block – and those 5 were all legitimately absent. I expect the same on Monday 30 March with the next exam block day – why is this so crucial? With the still relatively new ATAR system, students are judged on 3 x what are called Internal assessments [the acronym is IA1, 2, 3]. Towards the end of year 12, students then have a 17 day exam block where they sit external exams. I will write to you more about this to start term 2. Last week our governing curriculum body in Queensland, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority [QCAA], advised that, in light of the disruption to learning caused by Covid19, one of the 3 Internal assessments would ‘drop off’. This is a very good concession for all year 12s in Queensland as, without the assurance of the very best instruction ie face to face learning with the teachers who know them best, the pressure on young people would be enormous. Our year 12s, as of tomorrow, will have now completed 2 of those 3 Internal assessments and ‘banked’ those results. This is such a good position for them. It takes significant pressure from students. So well done to our students and families – we know through the Chief Medical Officer that it is safe to be at school and you have responded so very well.
Before the Prime Minister’s address on Sunday 22 March, our school attendance was exceptional – we routinely enjoy an average daily attendance of 93%. This is one of the ‘secrets’ of our sustained success at CHSHS – massive emphasis and expectation is placed on students attending every day to best learn. Even with Covid19, our attendance for the week 16-20 March was 85%. From 23-27 March attendance declined significantly - 76%, 62%, 33%, Show holiday then 27%. This means, in times of ongoing Covid19, as our families make the choice to self-isolate their children the responsibility for education falls to them. To that end, we are making every attempt to assist families to ensure their children are not only accessing their learning but equipping families with the knowledge to monitor such learning.
Our staff this week, having just come out of a huge week of marking and reporting on assessment, will focus over this round of student free days on ensuring their connection with our students and families in the delivery of online learning is the very best it can be. Our teachers, as a matter of course, virus or no virus, post their lessons online for our students to access. They do this because we, as a very successful vocational and academic school, have students who are away in their school based traineeships one or two days a week and/or at TAFE one day a week, and students are required to access those lesson notes to ensure they are not behind when they are next in class. This week will be about further enhancing that access so that you, as parents/carers, are able to monitor your child’s learning very closely. As per my most recent email to our families, I confirm that we will keep our platform for online delivery consistent and simple – our students know that their lesson notes will be on their teachers’ Class One Note. Students know how to access this – I encourage you to familiarise yourselves as families with this – instructions are on our website under Curriculum/Accessing One Note. Again, I emphasise the importance of structure in your child’s weeks of learning – diary, timetable, assessment planner, regular breaks to maximise productivity, your process of checking that work has been completed. Just recently I was listening to a podcast of a parent who, for 11 years, had home schooled her children given their family property was so far from a town and hence too difficult for the children to physically attend school – her process was amazing.
Now to chat about topics that are not Covid19:
Our school is soon to benefit from the Queensland Government’s Cooler Cleaner Schools program which means all of our remaining classrooms will be fitted with reverse cycle air conditioning. Over the years we have saved to air condition a number of our classrooms beginning with all classrooms providing learning to our students with a disability. Our P and C has been so supportive in, last year, committing $44000 to air condition our Library. This made a massive difference for our students and staff. We will be so grateful for all classrooms being brought into line. At the same time we will also benefit from the Queensland government’s solar panel focus – so much is to be gained with clean energy and, with the addition to comfort in classrooms, our power bill will be contained
Are you aware of the App Tik Tok? It is immensely popular with children aged in the junior secondary years and younger. You will see on our website under ‘Parent Resources’ some reading that serves to inform you. I strongly suggest you familiarise yourselves with this and monitor with your child.
I will no doubt be back in touch following this week.
Principal's blog 3 March 2020
As at end Week 5 2020 our student numbers are very large – we are at a total of 1734 across both of our campuses Flexi School and mainstream. Add 252 staff to the mix and we have a mini-city! Our diversity is a daily joy and strength – 60 nationalities, 44 spoken languages, 346 students in need of learning support, 146 students with verified disability, 296 students for whom English is a second language. What is inspirational is the ability of our teachers and non-teaching staff to know the child and know the learner and, in doing so, eke out the very best of students’ effort and engagement. The end of 2019 saw the most amazing results from our Year 12s both academically and vocationally to again position CHSHS in the top 5% of Queensland secondary schools, across independent, state and catholic sectors. A mighty performance.
My sincere thanks to our families in your response to our Lockdown on 14 February. Your response was one of calm and trust which is exactly what is needed in such situations. Our staff were exceptional in following practised processes and the compliance of our students, simply wonderful. In the case of a lockdown where I receive notice from our Police, understandably they have no time to give specific information nor do I distract them from their work by asking. Quite rightly I just follow their instruction – and to the letter. In the lockdown process, staff are away from their devices and so our contact with families is limited to that first text message advising that we are safe and in lockdown. As you saw, once we have the all clear from police, you are the first we contact to advise the lockdown is over. My strong advice is to be wary of what people post on social media – it is invariably untrue or wildly exaggerated and very unhelpful. My sincere thanks to the many families who have conveyed their appreciation of the care and calm evident in our approach to the process on 14 February – very appreciated. Some of this affirmation was passed on at our recent P and C meeting which leads me nicely into commentary about our P and C.
My sincere appreciation to our recently elected 2020 P and C Executive team - P and C President Wayne Heading, Vice Presidents Graeme McBryde and Blair Sullivan, Secretary Amanda Hunt and Treasurer Charles Corbett. Within their busy lives they find time to support our students and staff and support and guide me in service to our school. To our regular meeting attendees, my sincere thanks to you also – you very much value-add to the discussions and decisions made. I am genuinely thankful for your sage advice. I acknowledge here outgoing Vice President Adrian Hallewell – such a wonderful contribution to our group and collegiality and wisdom so very appreciated.
QParents – absolutely wonderful to see so many of our parents already joined to our communication system QParents. By now all new families who have not already registered a QParents account will have received an email inclusive of your invitation code, inviting you to sign up. It is a ‘one-stop shop’ for everything – your child’s report cards, attendance record, semester Assessment Planner, school fee status and more – such a great site for our families and the consistent feedback is how much they love it! QParents is the manner in which we communicate with our families so, if you need any assistance, our office staff are very keen to assist – phone 4636 7500. In approximately 4 weeks’ time you will receive an email advising you that your child’s first report card for the year has been uploaded to QParents and ready for you to download so if you are not already registered, please action as soon as possible. You will already have received email advice confirming your child’s semester 1 Assessment Planner has been uploaded to QParents – if not already, please download a copy and I always suggest you placing that somewhere central such as on the fridge – that way you are able to see when assignments/exams are due.
Out of hours Tutoring available – a number of our former students, who also work wonderfully with us as Teacher Aides assisting students in classes while they study in their university degrees, have put their names forward as potential Tutors should your child have need for extra coaching. Hourly charge is in the vicinity of $30-$35. I cannot recommend these good young people highly enough. Our office staff have contact details.
Acknowledgment of the goodwill of the HumeRidge community – once again in January, just before we resumed school for the year, HumeRidge community, led by the wonderful Jenny and Ross Savill, came out in droves to work on school grounds on a Saturday morning and assist our Grounds staff to prepare following a long holiday – painting picnic tables, re-oiling balustrading, concreting, whipper snipping, pruning, mowing, drain clearing and the list goes on. Each year I am talking in excess of 150 people, some of whom are current parents and students, former parents and students or people who do not know us but wish to make a difference. Our Grounds staff have 19 hectares of land to tend and this work allows them to not only maintain the area as the year goes but enhance as well. This exercise, each year, is one of the finest examples of community goodwill I have ever seen and I am filled with gratitude.
Facilities work over the last holidays and imminent – major as always – work is nearly finished on the full refurbishment of one of our science labs - $250,000 sees this lab now positioned to deliver lessons in all science strands; upgraded line-marking throughout our entire school to support workplace health and safety and the beginning of a strategy to widen corridors in classroom blocks to allow for less congested pedestrian traffic – all of these things are crucial as we continue to grow in numbers. Easter holidays will see the earthworks and erection of a new Grounds shed – thank you so much to our P and C for the funding of $60,000 with our school adding to that with the upgrade of a $45,500 tractor to better maintain the excellent condition of our ovals and surrounds. Additionally over the Easter break our Pool amenities floors will be refurbished.
Our staff professional learning agenda – again this year, and into our eighth year, we train all new teachers and a further component of our Teacher Aides in Literacy ie the literacy required in specific subject disciplines. This will again bring us to 100% of teaching staff trained and approaching 100% of Teacher Aides who work so closely with our students in classrooms. This investment in our pedagogy has translated into every teacher taking responsibility for the ability of students in their classrooms understanding how to write, how to interpret information, how to gauge what a question is asking and respond accordingly. We know our strategy works because the distance travelled by our students, measured in annual outstanding NAPLAN results and through our own tracking processes, is major. I stress that success is not measured in a published figure at a certain point in time rather we seek to value add to students’ capacity over time and that is what we track. We embark this year, as the first of many, in our Reading Training. The same benefits, we believe, will unfold over time for both for students and staff. In 2018 and 2019 every one of our staff, teaching and non-teaching – at the time 247, participated alongside each other in the face to face delivery of Trauma Informed Practice [TIP]. TIP was the most wonderful collegial exercise. This was delivered by staff from the superb Berry Street Centre in Melbourne. The purpose was a clear understanding of how to respond in and outside the classroom when we experience behaviours of children affected by trauma. Like all schools, we have young people who have been affected by grief, violence, poverty, mental ill-health and the like. We do not lower our collective expectation of seeking their best each day as a person and as a learner however we understand well that our support and communication across staff in our school is pivotal to the step by step process that will underpin success for affected children.
Big events to start the year – Swimming Carnivals and Year 7 Camp – Carnival organisers Frank Dowling and Chrissie Bartlett yet again provided the most brilliant 2 days – so highly organised in their pre-detail and superb to see our students thoroughly enjoying the occasions. Year 7 Camp organisers Dave McMillan [the Runaway Bay camp] and Steph Waite [the At School camp] created such memorable experiences for our youngest cohort. Sincere thanks to our teaching and non-teaching staff who, allocated to the Runaway Bay camp, gave up so much of their own time and away from their own families to provide the most positive of experiences for our students. Strong acknowledgment also to our student leaders at both camps who relished and shone with the opportunity to truly mentor.
Tuckshop volunteers – there is such a delightful team atmosphere within our volunteers. Their humour and camaraderie provides true meaning for them and has a direct flow to our students and staff. The quality of product is also second to none. We are seeking people to join this team – do you know of, or in fact is it you – who would enjoy committing whatever amount of time to such a worthy role? Please do contact our Tuckshop directly on 4636 7550 and speak with either of our Tuckshop Convenors Annie or Helen.
Seeking parent co-operation with road rules – if you are driving to school to collect your child in the afternoons, please adhere strictly to the parking signs. On South Street we have a 5 minute pick up/drop off zone. It is imperative that parents stay within the signed area as opposed to parking in the area beyond that signage. I stress often to our student drivers the importance of adhering to road rules and require the support of our parent community in modelling such. I note also that drivers, wishing to move easily through a congested traffic area such as ours after school, are naturally not pleased when a driver parked inappropriately in that pick up/drop off zone has the rear of the car partly out onto the lane of traffic. A reminder also to avoid waiting for your child in the carpark of Southtown Shops. We have an excellent working relationship with our shop owners and ask that our families respect their need to have car spaces for customers as opposed to convenience for our families. My advice always to our families is to avoid the area after school by encouraging your child to meet you in an outlying street
Great reading for our families:
Principal's blog 13 December 2019
We are a BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] school and have been for a number of years across both our main and Flexi School campuses. In readiness for 2020 please ensure that your child has a laptop to bring to school, fully charged each day. Much learning occurs with digital technology and your child will need that access. Having said that, rest assured that the laptop does not replace the need for writing – that art is alive and well in all classrooms. If you are purchasing a laptop for the first time, take with you the CHSHS BYOD specifications list [available on our website] and show the vendor what you require. Our Network Administrator says families should not spend more than $700 for a quality machine with enough memory for the schoolwork required and that will last 3 years. Remember, when families pay the required $50 fee each year to on-board all of the necessary software, that means you do not need to buy any Microsoft extras when you purchase your laptop – so you just need the laptop, no ‘deals’. You will see on your specifications list the size of the laptop – be clear with the vendor about that so your child is able to fit it into his/her locker
At our main campus, school resumes for:
Years 7,8 and 12 on Tuesday 28 January
Years 9,10 and 11 on Wednesday 29 January
At our Flexi School campus, school resumes for:
Year 10 – Wednesday 29 January and then starting with all students on Monday 3 February
Year 11 – Thursday 30 January and then starting with all students on Monday 3 February
Year 12 - Friday 31 January and then starting with all students on Monday 3 February
Required Formal Uniform days: for those beginning at CHSHS main campus, be sure to purchase a formal and a sports uniform and with the formal uniform, black, leather lace-up shoes are required to be worn with it. The first date for all students to be in their formal uniform is their first day of school 2020 – mentioned above and then from there Tuesday 4 February and soon after – the dates are on our website
Fantastic Junior Gold ceremony on Wednesday 11 December! So great to see our families out in force to enjoy the occasion along with the high quality guest speaker, former 2014 graduate Tandia Wood. Her message, based on her own journey since departing school, was so relevant to all – work hard, make your opportunities and then be brave enough to take them even if it is a little ‘scary’
Sincere thanks to Toowoomba East Rotary – again! On a recent Saturday morning they completed a power of maintenance and enhancement work at our Flexi School campus which makes such a difference to all. Always full of goodwill and cheer, it is such a pleasure to work with our Rotary partner
An acknowledgment to our school Careers staff Kellie, Mandy, Sharyn, Craig and Dave – last week I signed off on 168 certificates of appreciation to local employers who, this year, have been good enough to give our students an opportunity at work experience – which in turn very often has led to a school based traineeship. These opportunities, in many cases, change the trajectory of a young person’s life and we are so thankful for such major community involvement with our school
The annual Christmas Choir performances at local residential care communities were, as always, such a treat. Many thanks to our students, organising staff Heidi Law, Rachael Mayers and Sandy Feldman along with Road Crew Col and Jack for bringing such clear joy to residents. So great to see residents singing and tapping along and our students mingling in conversation afterward
2019 sees the departure of long term teaching staff at our school – Alex and Philippa van Dorsselaer, moving to Coolum to live and work and Jo and Jim Brennan to Roma to live and work. Such a major loss to us in regards to the quality people and colleagues they are and the outstanding service they have brought to our students and families. They go with our warmest wishes for the next journey and with the most sincere gratitude. In a similar vein, just recently our staff joined together to acknowledge the careers of soon to be retired teachers – Janelle Duane, Sandy Feldman, Mike Hetherington, Jon Ikin, Garry McMahon and Mike Tracey. These good people have mentored the lives of so many young people in their stellar teaching careers and been incredibly committed to their own learning and that of their students. I speak for my CHSHS colleagues and myself when I say we have been privileged to teach alongside them. Every good wish to these good people for now time to themselves
To our families, my sincere appreciation for your immense support of our staff and myself this year as we do the very best we can for your child and his/her way forward in life.
Very best wishes for the Christmas season and time together as a family.
Principal's blog 17 September 2019
Year 12 Graduations and Formals were a major success. The celebrations began with our Flexi School Campus Graduation Thursday morning 14 November and Formal on the same night. Both events were held at the Empire Church Theatre, the most beautiful venue, and attended by representatives of our Flexi School main community partners, Toowoomba Regional Council, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba East Rotary Club, and Toowoomba Older Men’s Network. Our families and friends and our staff were ecstatic at the volume of achievement attained by our 12s and their myriad of positive pathways going forward. I laud our staff at Flexi for their superb organisation of both events and their total commitment to our young people. Our mainstream campus Year 12 Graduation held at HumeRidge and Formal held at Picnic Point were a delight for all. Assistant Head of Year 12 Tiffany Beck again excelled in her high quality organisation of both events and Picnic Point staff commented to me throughout the night on the fact that, out of all formals held there this year, our students were the most respectful. It was so wonderful to again view the depth of relationship between our students and their teachers, on show as our teachers formed the guard of honour as our students exited the HumeRidge auditorium.
Recently the Gold ceremony for our Year 10 and 11 students was held at HumeRidge - a ceremony attended by many of our families as they celebrated with their children the acknowledgment of their respect for themselves and others both as people and learners. This event was punctuated by straight class and my sincere thanks to Assistant Head of Year Christine Hindmarsh for her stellar organisation and aspiration for high quality. Gold ceremony for our Year 7 and 8 students is coming up on Wednesday 11 December!
Year 12 Queensland Core Skills Test [QCS] results have recently been released and, yet again, our students have excelled. I acknowledge here our students’ application to their learning and the efforts of their teachers throughout Years 8-12 who have so positively influenced our young people in their capacity to perform in all academic situations.
Families of our Year 7, 8 and 9 students – on the last 2 days of this term Thursday 12 and Friday 13 December our Canteen staff will be both cleaning and stocktaking and so our Canteen will not be open. Please plan for this and provide your children with lunches for these days. My sincere thanks to our Canteen volunteers and our Convenor and Assistant Convenor – such a great band of people who love their work with our students. If any of our family members have time, 2020 would be a great year to start work with our Canteen staff. We have many grandparents come in so certainly a role of worth!
Student attendance at the end of this year – it is imperative that our young people are in attendance through to the end of their gazetted school time. Absences impact their overall attendance % which does not work well not to mention the need for teachers to return assessment and go through it with students to ensure it enhances their learning going forward. Meaningful work continues in classrooms all the way through with end of year trips for relevant students ending their time – last day for Years 10 and 11 is Friday 29 November and for Years 7, 8 and 9 it is Friday 13 December. On the Friday 13 December, classes remain scheduled with some variation to learning throughout this day.
Farewell to our teachers approaching retirement – Janelle Duane, Sandy Feldman, Mike Hetherington, Jon Ikin, Garry McMahon and Mike Tracey. Words are just not sufficient to express the commitment of these good people to the lives of so many young people over the years. They have been the most wonderful of colleagues, completely dedicated to their ongoing learning in order to deliver the best for our students and their positive relationships with students have formed the platform for success in the lives of our young people. Simply outstanding!
Earlier this term it was again my pleasure to be present to celebrate with families the graduation of more of our students through the University of Southern Queensland [USQ] Head Start program. This is where eligible students opt to study a subject at USQ over a semester in a course of their choice. If the student passes the subject the credits attained go towards time off in the course should the student wish to go on after school and study at USQ. Apart from that it is such a wonderful way to experience University life for the first time. Congratulations to:
A reminder that school resumes on Tuesday 8 October as opposed to the Monday 7 October which is a public holiday.