I am writing this newsletter article as we look back at a period of two months unlike anything we have experienced previously as a school or a nation.
We are also looking to a new phase, with the return of all our students to full time lessons, experiencing a new kind of school life, for a length of time that is very much unknown. It will still be a long while before we can consider school to have returned to normal. What the coming months hold for us is unclear and further changes are very likely. All this leads to a great deal of uncertainty.
However, I would like to say that despite so much change in our world, the fundamental values and goals of William Carey Christian School have not changed.
Firstly, as Christians we are assured that God can and does keep his promises. The Bible consistently points readers to the fact that despite appearances, God is in control and he is sovereign, and salvation is found through his Son, Jesus Christ. This is good news we want everyone to hear.
Secondly, William Carey is wholeheartedly committed to delivering an excellent Christian education. This is true whether it is through face to face lessons or remote learning.
We know the past weeks have been enormously hard on everyone in our community. Parents have had to wear multiple ‘hats’ in their own homes – running their households, working from home, keeping their children on task as they learn from home. Teachers have done metaphorical backflips on a consistent basis, not just enhancing but transforming their teaching with digital technology. For students this has also been a challenging time. Our student wellbeing surveys indicate a wide range of experiences and there will be a huge mix of feelings in returning to regular timetabled lessons.
Remote learning was a completely new experience for teachers and students alike. However, the use of Google Classroom, the Seesaw App and MS Teams meant that students and teachers could be in touch each day and have ongoing access to learning material. These resources came online within hours of the Premier’s announcement to move to remote learning.
Our LSAs in Primary ran an outstanding MiniLit and MultiLit program, with students making excellent progress. Our High School LSAs also used MS Teams to meet with students with individual education plans to monitor and support their learning. Prep students received packs of activities and the opportunity to meet online with their teachers using Seesaw.
Remote learning using digital technology tools unlocked opportunities to engage students in ways not seen before. Year 3 have been using Flipgrid to promote debating in a way that promotes fun and reduces the fears associated with public speaking. Even Mr Burgess and I got in on the act at one point.
Physical activity has been a challenge for students at home. We know that physical activity has positive impacts on mood and capacity to learn. Therefore, we have delivered a range of online physical activities for both Primary and High School students. Examples have included regular lessons, our P-6 Virtual Cross country and High School wellbeing physical challenges.
As a school, we are well aware that the past months have posed academic and emotional challenges and so we have continued to provide ways to care for and support students and their families. This has included online resources for student and parents, welfare lessons, benchmarked student surveys and online access to the WCCS counsellors.
Video conferencing has been a new experience. While it takes getting used to, it has resulted in a number of unexpected benefits. This week we ran our Year 3 – 6 Parent Teacher Interviews using MS Teams. The feedback from many parents and staff was that this worked well and had additional benefits of enabling parents and carers to participate, when work commitments would have otherwise prevented them from attending in person. We are currently planning for High School evenings including the options for Parent Teacher Interviews and webinars for Subject Selection and other information nights.
In closing, I want to say that I am immensely thankful to be leading a school so committed to our community. I am proud to say that other schools have been looking at what we have been achieving and adapting it in their own contexts.
The past two months have been very challenging, however, they have also highlighted the outstanding results that are possible when parents work alongside school staff for the benefit of our children.
I would like to thank you for your support and restate our commitment to you – to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and deliver an excellent Christian education, whether it is as remote learning or face to face in our classrooms.
Monday morning the bell will go and this place will come to full life. It will be a time to celebrate, to care for one another and to settle into the new routine of school life.
I look forward to greeting all of our students for this new phase of 2020 and joining with them in what has been planned for the coming weeks. I am also very much looking forward to the ongoing partnership between home and school, and would like to thank you once again for your support of WCCS.