- From the President
- ACPPA into the future - What will it look like?
- Why Catholic schools should be supported
- Nolan Carpets
- How NAPLAN could assess creativity and critical thinking
- ACPPA App for your mobile device
- Switch Recruitment
- OPINION PIECE - The Use of Smartphones
- Regional, Rural and Remote education
- Teachers Health
- SPOTLIGHT - WESTERN AUSTRALIA Part 1
- How to say 'NO' to avoid educator burnout
- WOODS Furniture
- How to escape education's death valley
- SPOTLIGHT - WESTERN AUSTRALIA Part 2
- Camp Australia
- ACPPA - Archives - Looking Back to 1991
- Teeth on Wheels
- ACPPA Alumni
- Programmed Property Maintenance
- Just a thought!
ACPPA is YOUR National Association, committed to being the voice of your local, diocesan and state associations. It is one of our priorities this year to really enhance two-way communication which has seen the national survey and consultation groups being conducted and an email database created to allow vital information about Government submissions to be shared quickly and items like this journal to arrive directly into your inbox. Your state reps on the National Executive are also committed to ensuring you are kept informed of the work we are doing on your behalf.
A real positive for our Catholic sector is the joint meeting of key Catholic education stakeholders made up of the NCEC, ACPPA, CaSPA and CSPA, an initiative ACPPA brought to reality last year. The quarterly meetings ensure we have a common and strong voice to be heard on your behalf.
We are focussed on creating a new strategic intent centred around the consultation report which we will share with you in the next issue.
Various members of the National Executive have represented you in numerous forums across Australia, ensuring a Catholic primary perspective is heard. Most recently, we met with both the Education Minister, Simon Birmingham and The Shadow Education Minister, Tanya Plibersek at Parliament House, to discuss Catholic school funding, the recommendations of the Gonski 2.0 report, early years learning, Principal Wellbeing and the recognition of teachers in our society. The important take away from these meetings was that both sides of Government are committed to continuing discussions with ACPPA.
It is imperative, therefore, that your Diocese is feeding into your State Association so that your representatives are fully aware of the important issues at your local level.
If ever you have any questions, please do not hesitate to discuss with your State / Territory reps or to contact myself or Paul for further information. Check our website for all executive contact information.
Our aim is to hear from each and every Principal in Australia so that ACPPA is shaped to support you the best we can in the future.
Brad Gaynor - ACPPA President
The chief executive of Catholic Schools NSW Dallas McInerney addressed the Sydney Institute this week underlying the importance of Catholic schools to Australian Society.
In his second speech to the Institute - the first being seven years ago in his role as GM, Government and Public Policy for the National Australia Bank - Mr McInerney argued three key propositions:
Firstly, that the most significant intervention in Australian education was made by the Catholic Church through its commitment to a national network of schools.
Secondly, this “commitment represents an enormous contribution to Australia’s social and human capital and its ongoing support from the government delivers a lasting national dividend”.
And thirdly, “the current funding model of the federal government needs revisiting as it disturbs the settled policy of parental school choice and risks undermining the breadth of Australia’s tradition of faith-based education”.
“The Catholic primary school in particular has delivered substantial public policy dividends for Australian education. For almost two centuries, it has stood alongside the local Government school providing a valuable choice for Australian parents. It has delivered a competitive tension into the primary school system - a critical component for any compulsory activity,” his address reads.
“The Government school on one side of the street is a better school for the presence of the Catholic school on the other side of the street; the benefits flow in both directions.”
Courtesy of NCEC newsletter May 17 2018
Read the full address here: Catholic-schools-the-education-option-Australia-can’t-do-without.pdf
NAPLAN has just finished. With calls for a review, many education experts are calling the future of NAPLAN into question. Experts look at options for removing, replacing, rethinking or resuming NAPLAN.
Recently, some have suggested critical thinking and problem-solving skills should be measured by NAPLAN, in line with other international tests.
The ability to solve problems, generate creative outcomes and to analyse and evaluate are seen as key capabilities for living in the 21st century. Both national and state curricula and employment bodies argue these need to be taught. If they have a place in contemporary education, it makes sense their gradual acquisition and use by students be monitored and assessed as they progress through school.
But can and should they be assessed in a NAPLAN-type context? A number of issues to do with how problem-solving, creative and critical thinking skills are learned bear on any analysis of their assessment.
These are complex capacities
In the case of creative thinking, researchers distinguish between creative potential and the actual production of creative outcomes. This distinction applies as well to problem solving and critical thinking.
To generate the outcomes in each case, you need the potential to think creatively. It’s the potential that can be assessed in the school context. The potential is displayed either in the skills that are likely to lead to the outcome (such as the ability to think inferentially or divergently) or in the quality of the response to a provided task or scenario.
Research on complex problem solving shows you can assess its components. Similarly, a range of tasks has been used to assess creative potential, including the Torrance Test. These assess and analyse components such as fluency, divergent thinking and originality. As well, there are many tests of critical thinking. You can assess your critical thinking skill online.
The Learning Continuum of Critical and Creative Thinking in the Australian Curriculum specifies the types of thinking students will typically achieve at foundation (the first year of school), year two, four, six, eight and ten. Tasks can be used to monitor this gradual acquisition.
We have a history
Assessing problem-solving, creative and critical thinking skills is not new in Australian schools. NAPLAN tasks have always assessed these skills. The more difficult tasks of NAPLAN reading ask students to evaluate and analyse texts they read, to infer and to think divergently, to synthesise and to compare.
NAPLAN numeracy requires students to apply these to quantitative and numerical contexts. Several assessment tools developed by Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) since the 1980s have assessed a range of thinking and problem solving skills. One example is the Jenkins Non-Verbal Reasoning Test.
Teachers and schools in Victoria are currently required to report student progress against the critical and creative thinking capabilities. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) is researching contemporary assessment procedures and has developed an online assessment tool to assist schools to implement the critical and creative thinking capabilities.
This move is in line with international trends. Creative thinking, for example, will be included as a test domain in PISA 2021.
Should thinking skills be assessed nationally in NAPLAN?
A number of questions are relevant.
What specifically will be assessed? One decision that needs to be made is whether to measure the outcomes or the thinking skills that can potentially contribute to the outcomes.
What assessment tools might be used? If we assume the assessment might examine students’ use of thinking skills, then it would be possible to draw on the current work being done internationally. For example, the work of assessment authorities and the various international projects examining the assessment of 21st century skills.
Multiple choice formats have been used for decades to assess the application of thinking skills. In a contemporary online context, these formats could be combined with the use of branched testing to offer students the opportunity to display more complex and demanding thinking skills. This format is essentially similar to the adaptive procedure in On Demand Testing in Victoria. The multiple choice format obviously comes with the assumption the assessment of separate skills is valid for the intended purpose.
The written response format currently being trialled by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority to assess critical and creative thinking exemplifies a second type of task format. These tasks attempt to take account of the influence of the domain of knowledge about which the student is thinking.
How will the data be interpreted and used? This is a current criticism of NAPLAN. Every item on NAPLAN Reading assesses a student’s ability to use independently specific skills that contribute to efficient reading comprehension. This has not been sufficient to stem the current criticisms made of it. The assessment authorities would need to clarify explicitly the intended purposes and to align these with the protocols used.
Dialogue about the assessment of these skills has recommended a shift from the assessment of students focused on the outcome of a program to assessing students development at a particular time through regular assessment during learning. Contemporary online assessments could support this. It could be possible for data appropriate for both purposes could be collected.
Why and by whom will the data that is collected be seen as useful? You will have your perspective on possible benefits in assessing skills in this area. These are the skills that determine the quality of knowledge that students construct and their capacity to comprehend, to make decisions and to innovate. Some educators see its relevance to planning students’ future educational experiences. Education policy makers are interested in the capacity of students to think independently and autonomously in the ways that are assessed.
Is testing creativity critical?
The Victorian government has adopted the Education State goal that by 2025 25% more year ten students will reach the highest levels of achievement in critical and creative thinking skills. Links with the future development of the Australian culture have been made.
Trends in education suggest an increased focus on the assessment and teaching of thinking skills in the future. One possible direction is a dual assessment approach that includes both school and state or national tiers.
Schools would monitor and assess the knowledge, thinking and emotional engagement displayed by individual students in their pursuit of subject specific outcomes. This can be through a range of avenues such as problem solution, projects, productions and portfolios.State or national educational authorities could monitor the gradual acquisition of broad-based thinking skills; the potential to think creatively and critically and to problem solve. Read Less
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This article was written for school parents as part of a fortnightly newsletter and has relevance to older primary students as well.
The issues around the use of smartphones have confronted schools, families, and in fact our entire society exceptionally quickly. It is only in recent times that we have begun to hear of the effects these devices and the internet have on the iGen (students who have been born since the internet was introduced). The true effects of the constant connectedness, use of social media, gaming, and the amount of screen time experienced by the iGen, have been an unknown. How to deal with a child’s obsession with their devices and wanting to be connected is a new frontier. Most teachers and parents did not experience the world the iGen are experiencing, so how we manage it has been difficult to answer. One thing we do know is that the technology is not going away and that we need to understand the effects and ensure our children’s use of this technology is not detrimental to their health and development.
As much as concerns have been expressed for some time about the effects of technology and social media, these fears were highlighted when key people in the Facebook organisation began raising alarms. Last year, Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, told the media that he does not allow his children to access social media. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive, said in an interview at Stanford's Graduate School of Business that social media was damaging society. But where is the evidence?
I recently read an article based on the research of Jean Twenge. Twenge is an American psychologist who has been researching generational differences. The article is titled, ‘Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? and provides some interesting and disturbing statistics about the iGen compared to previous generations.
She states that the positives of this iGen’s world is that they are less likely to have car accidents, drink alcohol and take unnecessary risks. They attend parties a great deal less than previous generations and have little desire to be independent resulting in them living in the family home for much longer. The allure of being independent meant I left home when I was eighteen, but that is unheard of these days.
The reasons for these positive outcomes is that the number of teens who get together with their friends in person has dropped by more than 40%, according to Twenge. How adolescents relate to each other has changed dramatically. In my day, when I was bored I would go to the neighbour’s place, knock on the door and ask whether my friend could come out to play. These days young people are in their bedrooms connecting with each other through social media. Twenge states ‘The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day has dropped by more than 40% from 2000 to 2015…. They’ve all been replaced by virtual spaces accessed through apps and the web’. I am sure this statistic fits with many parent’s experiences. Parents have told me that their child did not see any of their friends during the entire Summer break but connected with friends online.
However, many of the statistics Twenge provides paints an even darker picture. The incidents of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and generally feeling lonely and unhappy have increased dramatically for kids of the iGen. We have seen this change in schools and what I find disturbing is that the issues of anxiety and depression seem to be affecting students of much younger ages than ever before. Some interesting, but disturbing statistics that I have pulled out of the article are below:
- ‘Eighth graders who spend 10 hours a week on social media are 56% more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media.’
- ‘Teens feeling of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.’
- ’The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.’
- ‘Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27%.’
- ‘Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan.’
- Girls have borne the brunt of the rise in depressive symptoms among today’s teens. Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21% from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50% - more than twice as much.’
The serious effect that cyber-bullying can have on young people has been documented for some time. The need to be constantly connected is sometimes so engaging that teens remain in online conversations that are abusive and/or exclusive. Social media has exacerbated the teenage concern about being left out. Another Twenge statistic: ‘Forty eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more for boys’.
And then there is the problem of sleep deprivation. Sleep experts say that teens should get about nine hours sleep a night. However, ‘Teens who spend three hours a day on electronic devices are 28 percent more likely to get less than 7 hours sleep.’ We certainly have seen this in some of our students, who unashamedly confess that they were up very late gaming or checking social media.
So, what does it all mean? What should we, as responsible adults, do? Well firstly it is not all doom and gloom, but there is enough to be concerned about to take some action. Placing limits on our children’s use of the technology, by ensuring phones are in lockers, is one strategy. But educating young people about the appropriate and responsible use of the technology and modelling appropriate behaviour are the most effective strategies.
As teachers and parents, we certainly need to be aware and we need to be informed. I have come across a couple of websites that you may find useful:
If you would like to read the article I have referred to, it can be found at: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/
Paul Ryan - Head of Middle School Pulteney Grammar School
Birlirr Ngawiyiwu Catholic School
This is my second year at Birlirr Ngawiyiwu (Holy Spirit) Catholic School in Ringer Soak, a remote indigenous school just near the border of WA and NT, about 400km south of Kununurra.
Two ideas have sustained me in my stay here. They are; 1) Justice is restoring to wholeness that which has been broken; and 2) As Catholics we are, each one of us, called to open the love of God to others.
To begin I have to give you a short history lesson…….
The Djaru people of this area used to work on Gordon Downs cattle station. Prior to the Whitlam era they were only paid in food, tobacco and clothing and were treated very poorly by the station managers. When, in the early 1970’s, the law changed to require that all Aboriginal station workers be paid full wages, every Djaru man, woman and child was evicted from Gordon Downs. Homeless, they walked into Halls Creek, 160km away.
This injustice left the Djaru people broken but not defeated. They petitioned the government for some land to call their own and the Kundat Djaru Aboriginal Community was built in Ringer Soak, just 7km from the boundary of Gordon Downs Station.
The Sisters of St Joseph were asked to start a school in Ringer Soak and in 1985 2 sisters started teaching here. They worked with the Djaru people to restore this community of people to wholeness. As well as working for justice in this way the Sisters selflessly opened the love of God to the Djaru people through their teaching and in their living witness to Gospel values.
These days, Birlirr Ngawiyiwu Catholic School is run by CEWA and has 7 Djaru and 5 non-Djaru staff members. What would you see if you visited this school? You would see hard working staff and happy, well behaved students. You would see a positive school culture where there are high expectations for students in relation to attendance, behaviour and working to capacity.
You would see the continuance of those two ideas which the Josephite Sisters embodied and which I find so inspiring. They are ideas which all Catholic Principals can embrace:
Justice is restoring to wholeness that which has been broken.
We are all called to open the love of God to others.
Peter Egan - Birlirr Ngawiyiwu Catholic School
Small Schools Rule
Small schools have their idiosyncrasies. There are many challenges to face but many opportunities that would never present themselves in a bigger school. The closeness of relationships, the chance to immediately identify and respond to individual needs, and the wider curriculum exposure are three of many opportunities that can be of enormous benefit to individual students in a small school.
Wanalirri Catholic School, 370 km north of Derby in the Kimberley, has claims on being the smallest Catholic School in Western Australia. The nature of small schools means that the student population can vary significantly and have a far greater relative impact on class composition. Add to this the transient nature of remote living, as people spend sometimes considerable amounts of time in nearby towns, and it sets the scene for an interesting and ever-changing class group.
Over the three and a half years my wife and I have been the school staff at Gibb River, we have had our share of highs and lows. Student attendance has been as high as 18 and as low as 2. There have been periods of weeks on end when we didn’t have the same group of students in front of us each day, as students came and went and we dealt with the issues of re-engaging students who may not have attended school very much elsewhere. Of course there were always students in the mix who attended well, including our own two sons, so we needed to balance the needs of all.
It’s a situation that certainly has implications for students, but also for teachers. Depending on individual needs, student success might present itself as a child coming to school, behaving well to other students, speaking, completing a written task, taking part in a game or giving an oral report on a completed unit of work. High expectations naturally vary according to student needs. For teachers, not being able to gauge progress because students have moved on can be extremely frustrating, especially when repeated with regularity.
We quickly realised the situation and were able to implement a range of strategies to help to hasten student re-engagement in the school environment. We also wanted to increase the likelihood that students would immediately enrol and regularly attend a school wherever they moved next, so a positive, supportive and appropriately-targeted school experience was vital.
Some of our strategies to this end are probably common to most schools.
- We run a breakfast programme on demand which supplies a simple breakfast to those who want it, but doesn’t seek to take this responsibility away from parents. We also provide a daily hot, healthy lunch which students help to prepare.
- We have a daily routine that is both familiar and flexible, providing students a way to be part of the class and doing the right thing from the moment they arrive, whether early, on time or late.
- When students attend regularly and demonstrate familiarity, we offer alternatives to the set structure which they can tackle individually.
- We utilise the whole-small-whole structure of lessons to involve all students in a theme, the specific learning around which is then differentiated.
- We offer a range of incentives to attend the whole week, and celebrate student success amongst the student group on weekly excursions and with family members at weekly assemblies.
- We implement the PAThS (Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies) programme and include regular times of Christian meditation in which students are assisted to explore their feelings and attitudes.
- We use Individual Education Plans to record formal and informal assessments and to plan individual pathways. This is particularly useful when students return after periods away. We also include health records and the implications of these on student learning.
- We implement a variety of practices that are Trauma-Informed, understanding that we often have before us students we don’t know very well, but who have at the very least just changed school and community, and may be living with different family members.
- As a teaching pair, we depend on each other to bring our best to our work, and recognise this in the way we support each other with assessments, one on one student support, timetabling and working from our areas of strength.
- We embrace the Multi-Age Grouping of our classroom and involve students in interesting shared activities, targeting different skill sets or understandings appropriate to age or level.
What this looks like anecdotally is Kindy and Year 7 students making pasta together, or conducting a Science experiment, or making plans for how to explain to their next teacher that someone’s bullying them. On one occasion we had a group of students and teachers visiting from a city school. After the morning session one teacher had witnessed our students engaged in their learning and interacting with each other and their teachers. She identified one particular student, who had seemed to have a marvellous morning of learning and fun, and asked how long she had been at the school since she seemed to participate and fit in so well. I told her it was the students first day and that we didn’t as yet know her surname.
Small schools can provide their share of frustrations, which of course are simply opportunities in disguise. Resilience, self-reliance and an ability to accept change are prerequisites. I strongly encourage teachers in Catholic Education throughout Australia to consider teaching positions in small schools, especially in regional and remote areas. They are certainly not without their challenges, but they provide fertile ground for those wanting to become adaptable, well-rounded educators.
Dean Savoia - Wanalirri Catholic School
Every ACPPA Conference has been a great experience – a difference experience – and, I suspect, no two principals would agree as to which was “The Best”. But I am going to stick my neck out and say the conference that I remember most vividly was the 8th conference, organised and hosted by the Sydney association, held at the Gazebo Hotel in Kings Cross in 1991, and entitled The Catholic Principal: Leader and Artist.
As we settled in for the opening session, our attention was grabbed, almost brutally, when with no introduction a clown came bumbling onto the stage, clothes in awry, his briefcase bursting, dropping papers in all directions, while he ran hither and yon in confusion and disarray. This clown was, we were soon to discover, Dr Kevin Treston who mimed the behaviour of the avid conference goer who must leave the turmoil of arrival to one of quiet and openness for what was to come. His keynote address asked the questions, “Why are we always rushing to somewhere? Perhaps we are already there!” He built on the theme of the leader as artist which is about mixing the colours of the palette for a masterpiece that is the Catholic school using the diverse gifts of the people we lead.
Dr Ross Keane arrived for his keynote address resplendent in white tie and tails, and proceeded to conduct a video of a full symphony orchestra. The leader blends the talents and gifts of the number so that it all works perfectly, not as individuals, but as a team.
An artist took us step by step through the process he must use to create a painting from just the raw colours he has.
Bob Maza, a musician, song writer, actor and indigenous Australian, told us a powerful story of how the positive influences of his home life and schooling had shaped his development. We need to continually reflect on our story. Story-telling is a powerful tool.
A number of breakout workshops based around music, poetry writing, painting, acting, story-telling and like artistic challenges encouraged participants to lose some of their inhibitions. A graffiti wall also proved popular and was soon covered with “tweets” before tweets were invented.
The conference Mass was most notable for the fact that everyone sat in a circle. The readers were not readers, but proclaimers who had memorised the scripture verses for the day and wandered around inside the circle speaking to everyone face-to-face. At communion time each person served as the Eucharist Minister to the person next to them.
I also remember that it was Aussie Rules Grand Final weekend, but this being pre-AFL days in Sydney, there was no free session to watch the game.
At the Conference Dinner: Peter Blundell Qld, Jim Smith WA, Anne Nolan WA, Frank Hennessy Qld, Denis Anthonisz Qld.
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