Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Disturbing story to start off the year

I have included this story from The ABC News online site with no omissions.

Death of Melbourne principal highlights lack of support for school leaders, grieving son says

The death of a well-respected Melbourne principal highlights the isolation school leaders can feel when dealing with difficult issues, his son says.

Victorian primary school principal Dr Mark Thompson took his own life in early December and his son, Matt Thompson, believes work stress played a role in his death.

Matt Thompson described his father's work as inspirational but said he had been let down by education officials.

"I knew he'd had a particular issue in the weeks leading up to his death but he dealt with issues all the times," he said.

Matt Thompson said in hindsight there should have been more focus on his father's well-being.

"It had crossed my mind before that he wasn't getting support for himself, he was going off doing so much stuff, it was all consuming," he said.

There's an example of a principal who had death threats and was told by the regional advisor to toughen up.

Kings Park Primary School principal, Doug Conway

Meadowglen Primary School principal Loretta Piazza had been helping her colleague Dr Thompson deal with a parent complaint.

"The allegation was Mark had discriminated against a child. This was the straw that broke the camel's back," she said.

"When that happens, it decimates you. You feel really worthless because the department does not support us."

Ms Piazza said when she needed support to deal with a critical incident at her own school in Melbourne's north, she was put through to education department staff in the Bendigo office who were unfamiliar with her school community.

"In fact had I followed their advice, I would've inflamed the situation more, so I went ahead and hired security guards and managed the whole situation myself," she said. 

Matt Thompson said his father was best known for his work during the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

"He was there or on the phone to the [Strathewen] principal of that day pretty much every day for almost two years because he was so deeply affected by one of most enormous tragedies in this state's history," he said.

"If he wasn't there to help I don't know who would have."

Principals face growing burnout: study

A recent study from the Australian Catholic University found principals around Australia were facing growing pressure to deal with aggressive parents and demanding workloads with a lack of emotional support.

Principals who had experienced parents threatening violence had increased from 19 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent in 2014, the study found.

The study also found violent threats made by students had increased from 17 per cent to 24 per cent over the same period, with one in four principals reporting physical assault from a student.

The principal of Kings Park Primary School in Melbourne's west, Doug Conway, said he has noticed a trend of entitled parents causing school staff grief.

"There's an example of a principal who had death threats and had a very difficult time and was told by the regional advisor to toughen up," he said.

"We're not here to hold your hand, you're the leader, you sort it out. It seems to be an unbalanced relationship."

He said principals can feel enormous isolation.

"I think the department is negligent in its duty of care towards its principals," Mr Conway said.

The Australian Principals' Federation's president Chris Cotching said he hoped the new State Government would address these problems.

"I am keenly optimistic. We've had many examples of principals suffering and struggling to cope," he said.

"But this [Education] Minister has made it clear he wants more authority, support for principals, more assistance, more advice, more authority if you like."

A personal view

I don't necessarily think it is fair to hurl too much blame at Regional Office. The amalgamation of regions under the last government was an unmitigated mess in many respects but as far as the Department's duty of care to its school leaders it was a disaster. Our 'line managers'  our old RNLs went from overseeing 20 schools to overseeing more than double that. They also seemed under a lot of pressure to 'act the heavy' when it came to the new staff performance plans which were an added unnecessary burden on staff and principals given it's ridiculous time frame for implementation.

My RNL ( now retired and her new acronym is SARPP) was always supportive of me and was constantly nagging me about my welfare but she hadn't visited my school in 2 years ( maybe longer) Like all of us she was over worked and over stretched.

One of my colleagues from a small school ( my size) had issues with staff and a parent that caused her great concern. She turned to us in the Moorabool Network for the support she didn't believe she was getting from Region. Sadly that is not an isolated incident. Small schools in our region have closed due to lack of support and timely on site assistance when a critical incident has got out of control.

This is not new of course. When my last Regional Director retired I had been at Glen Park for 15 years. he had only visited twice (both times to renew my contract) and I received only one visit each from two assistant Regional Directors. ( One on a fact finding mission when new to the job and the other when he came to take some grant money away from me!) Im not unreasonable, I know they are busy people but you should be able to visit every school in your region once a year.

As far as no support or limited support in difficult situations our regional office has always been petrified of bad media coverage and they tend to want to sweep issues away and as the story stated tell principals to 'deal with it themselves' while at the same time doing very little or nothing to get out there and promote state education.

Many of my colleagues have problems with out of control children and unreasonable and often aggressive parents. There are actually too many stories to retell. This along with staffing and budget issues could easily push someone over the edge.I have had some challenging students over the years and when you're dealing with them alone it can be overwhelming.

Luckily I haven't had any real parent problems at Glen Park but the story about hiring security guards and having a 'hotline' to the local police station is not uncommon. it is an issue small school principals have been vocal about in the past. ( I remember advocating for panic buttons , the need for a small school principal association like they have in South Australia and for schools to have at least 2 full time staff years ago but it came to nothing. Maybe it is time now that we have a more responsive government to push for these matters again?) 

Some principals bring on problems themselves. There is little if any vetting procedure for applicants ( some people just aren't suited to the role and in small schools in particular can cause huge problems. Region had tended to put inexperienced people into small schools, secondary teachers or anyone who applies) Poor decision making, poor leadership and an arrogant attitude to parents and staff is not restricted of course to small schools, far from it. Region has proved to be 'hit and miss' at best in removing incompetent principals. In some cases I know of they've acted decisively but a better vetting procedure and more proactive monitoring would have avoided problems altogether.The RNLs didn't get past the principals office even when they only had 20 schools which was part of the problem.

Let's hope the new government has a a more 'people friendly' approach to supporting principals and striking an appropriate balance between responsibility and workload.  

Short visit today

I popped up to school for a few hours today and organised learning for the grade 1-3 kids for the first month. I couldn't work on the iPads because they were flat so I plugged them in and will work on those tomorrow.

Below are a few panorama photos from around the school. As you can see it's very dry.

Happy New Year to everyone. I exceeded last year's posts by 100 and hope to do more next....sorry this year. hopefully lots of good news stories.It would also be good to get up 35 000 site visits for 2015.   

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Years Eve

Finished reading The Boundary Riders and I've nearly finished the unit plan. I won't put it on TPT a until I've 'road tested' it. I went to Officeworks and bought most of our pupil requisites, I just have a few to get from my other suppliers when they are back from holidays and then we'll be all set. I finished our Australian inland explorers unit this morning ( we will focus on Sturt, Burke and Wills and Kennedy) Tomorrow I'll finish off work for the grade 1-3 kids and the unit plan for The Boundary Riders and then I can have a break for a few weeks.
Below is a display I cobbled together for our Australian theme work to start off the year.

Curriculum Planning for 2015

I felt sorry for the thousands of Ballarat people who are currently down the beach because it was very cool and a bit wet this morning.

I gave the old classroom a good clean and updated paperwork today. I also bought some extra carpets for the floor now I've made a bit more room from Spotlight( 50% off) I left the OHS work because the new government promised to 'relieve the burden of OHS paperwork on schools' so I might wait and see what they decide to do because there is a whole day's work in that alone.
While tidying up the library I found an old Scholastic paperback called ' Fire on the Ridge'. It is perfect as a short serial to get our Australian theme started. I've just finished reading it and I'll put together a unit plan for it tomorrow . I won't post it on TPT because the book is obscure and the author seems to have only written the one book.
I am about half way through The Boundary Riders. I'll read that along with Fire on the Ridge and I will post that unit on TPT when completed to add to my classic Australian fiction series.( It's not complete without a Joan Phipson book)
The grade 2 and 3 kids will finish work on our Fairy tales/ folk tales theme from last year and then study Anna Feinberg's Minton stories ( Minton is a spotty green salamander who together with his morose turtle mate love to move fast and create all sorts of interesting vehicles.) series of books. ( Feinberg's is the author of Tashi) which we'll do after Minton. ( I've had to order some of the Minton books but I'll start a unit plan for that tomorrow) After a New Year's Day break I'll also start planning art and integrated study units for term 1 and do some work on the kid's iPads. (For our integrated studies I'll do Australian inland explorers for Humanities and  Plants in science this term which will fit in with an excursion to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens which I'll also need to organise.)

Monday, 29 December 2014

Clean up

I don't know why I kept 3 old laminators that didn't work but I did. Along with a printer that didn't print,a fax machine that you can't get cartridges for anymore, a kettle that kept tripping the fuse,Two ancient computers that didn't work, loads of empty boxes and a broken chair. Today I bit the bullet and hired a skip and binned it all. The new color copier replaced the old printer and after the frustration of laminators that didn't last I bought an industrial strength laminator that seems to cope.It took a while, I also tidied up the store room and disabled toilet which we also use as a store room. 
They were crop dusting using a helicopter today. I thought it was a bit windy for that but you can just make out the copter on the right of the picture.

I filled the bin just before the rain arrived. Tomorrow I can start preparation for next year.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Study says gifted students should skip high school

Story from today's Age about 'gifted students'

Transitioning to university at a young age is increasingly being used in Australia to meet the needs of highly intelligent students, according to a paper by academics from the University of NSW to be published in the January 2015 issue of Roeper Review.

One of the co-authors, Jae Yup Jared Jung, has been researching the career decisions of gifted students and says very few regret being accelerated.

"In fact, many would have preferred to have accelerated further or started their acceleration earlier," he said.

Without skipping a few years of school, these students are not only under stimulated but they are often at risk of becoming bored, disengaged and socially isolated.

Each year in NSW and Victoria, a handful of students sitting the HSC and VCE are significantly younger than their classmates.

Dr Jung says about 35 of 40 universities in Australia have no minimum age requirement "as long as the student has finished his or her high school requirements".

But at Monash University, you must be 17 years of age to enrol unless you have both an ATAR of 95 and approval of the dean of the faculty. The minimum age for study at RMIT is 16 unless the dean provides written permission.

Many universities, including the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University and the University of New England and in Victoria, Melbourne, Monash and Deakin, universities, however, offer dual study programs, allowing students to undertake university study while finishing secondary school.

Australian research has generally found accelerated students have positive experiences at university, both intellectually and socially.

A Tidy desk.....

I can't remember how that saying goes but I tidied up the office today and it looks very.....neat! I wonder how long it will last. I was going to update documents but decided to tidy everyone else's desks! ( Next year I must make sure they do that!) Those desks took a lot of scrubbing. You could eat off them now.( and by the state of some of them I think they were eating off them.) Tomorrow I'll do a major clean out if I can get a big bin delivered.( I forgot that Ballarat hibernates for 2 weeks after Christmas)

The garden is looking good. If you're reading this Emily you should pick some lettuce next time you drive past, they look good enough to eat.

About to bloom
Keeping everything watered.

Back to the grind

I had a good Christmas and a relaxing Boxing Day but I started my 2015 preparations today. I thought I would sort out the library before lunch but it took a lot longer than I thought. I had loads of books to sort out and squeeze into the bookshelves. I wish I had ordered the extra bookshelf earlier so I could relocate our big library of graphic novels but that will have to wait until they deliver later in January. Tomorrow I'll tidy up the office and start updating our documents for next year. I'll get a big bin on Monday and get rid of some old computers, the mower that is rusted and junk in the store shed and shelter shed. Then maybe on Tuesday I can start developing programs for the kids next year. We lost 4 grade 6 kids and ( as far as I know) have none starting next year so I will have a lot less preparation to do next year and an interesting group of children to work with. We always start with an Australian theme. I am looking for a Joan Phipson book to read as a serial. I started reading The Watcher in the Garden but I think it is more suitable for a teen audience. The Boundary Riders is a good book ( a bit old fashioned) but more suitable for my grade 5s.
 I want to continue our focus on writing next year so I will be preparing for that and completing professional learning with my network colleagues in March which I hope will give me lots of ideas to work with. I'd like to try developing Infographics on our PCs in 2015 and try creating and innovating more on our iPads instead of using them primarily for research and games. 
Hopefully I'll be done by next Thursday and I can have a break for a few weeks. When you are running a one teacher school you can never completely cut yourself off from the place. It is important to keep an eye on the school. It is out of the way but the suburbs are creeping up on us and I know we get visits out of hours and that always concerns me.

Below is a photo of some of Ballarat's Christmas decorations which I suppose they'll start removing soon.

Big bucks for bad deal

Story from today's Age

The more than half a million dollars spent on market research for the government's advertising campaign spruiking its university fee changes is a cost Labor's higher education spokesman Kim Carr claims he would never bear.

"When I was minister for higher education ... I never once initiated advertisements, public advertisements, to try to persuade the Australian people that somehow or another, a lie was good for them. And that's what this government is doing," he said today

Carr went on to say “No amount of money, no amount of spin, will change the fact that Australians will never accept the idea that your education depends upon how much you can pay,” 

“No amount of government-funded advertising, publicly-funded advertising will change the Australian people’s attitude.”Carr said the unfair higher education measures were never promised by the government.“In fact, they said exactly the opposite before the election,” he said.The government ( tax payers) has paid out over $350 000 to research company Orima Research to conduct focus groups on the higher education changes, while the same company had already received $163,000 to conduct "market research on the level of awareness and understanding of the Higher Education System" between October and December.Expert in political marketing from the Australian National University, Dr Andrew Hughes, said he was shocked at the spending.A spokesman for Education Minister Pyne defended the cash splash, saying the Department of Education had picked up a "consistent lack of understanding of Australia's current higher education system"...yeah sure. I've seen the advertisements and they're a waste of money, money that should have gone toward paying the states the Gonski money they were promised.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Blow to SRI

Story from today's Sunday Age

The future of special religious instruction in government primary schools is in doubt, with state funding uncertain and new data revealing that fewer than one in six students are enrolled in the program.

The popularity of the weekly 30-minute classes fell dramatically in the past six months – from 92,808 students to 53,361 – a 42 per cent plunge in enrolments in less than a year.

The new Education Department figures are the latest blow to the main provider of religious instruction, chaplaincy organisation Access Ministries, and more bad news could be on the way.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Earlier in the year the Napthine government pledged $2 million funding to the program over four years, but a spokesperson for new Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino pointed out this week that the Labor government had not made any similar election pledge.

the principal of Berwick P.S. Has been a vocal critic of the program and the state money used to pay for it for some time. In the Age today he made the following comments:

"It adds up over the course of a school year," said one. "I tallied it up, and we're losing roughly four days that we could be teaching."

Some schools now have as many as seven different forms of religious instruction – from Greek Orthodox to Islam, Buddhism to Baha'i – which can create other problems, too.

One principal remembered a student approaching him on a recent morning of SRI. As the classes split into various groups, the child asked "Well, what am I?"

"How does a teacher respond to that?" he said. "This is supposed to be a secular education system, and we're dividing kids up every week according to their religion."

Lara Wood, a spokesperson for the Fairness in Religion in School group, said the grassroots organisation would not rest until religious instruction was removed entirely.

"SRI is a dying program, and we are here to make sure that happens sooner rather than later," she said. "The numbers speak for themselves. It is simply not wanted."

Love the cartoon.

Ballarat Brass Bamd playing Christmas tunes in the Queen Alexandria Rotunda during the lead up to Christmas.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Teachers making a difference

Story from today's ABC news on line.

Ten teachers and eight teachers' aides returned to Perth on Thursday night after six months on the remote Indian Ocean territory, set up as a detention centre for refugee boat arrivals. Christmas Island is 2,600km north-west of Perth.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced an agreement with the Catholic Education group from Western Australia in mid-June to set up a learning centre inside the Phosphate Hill camp for families and unaccompanied minors, to provide full-time education services for about 150 asylum seeker children.

176 teachers had applied for the 18 jobs and the centre was set up within weeks. 

It was supposed to be a one-year contract, but that ended abruptly this month when the Senate passed changes to immigration laws, re-introducing temporary protection visas. 

As part of a deal with crossbenchers to support the laws,Morrison reluctantly agreed to remove all children from detention on Christmas Island.( not Manaus Island) 

The Catholic Education Office director Mr McDonald said the experience of running the learning centre had affirmed his view that detention centres were no place for children, whether on Christmas Island or elsewhere.

"The restricted and limited freedom afforded to them as in space and movement, participating in communities, the living conditions, the regimented routine of lining up for food, having to seek and ask for clothes, all those freedoms we might take for granted and for these young people, a sense of no hope of a future," he said.

However, he had also seen the changes in the children and their parents after the centre opened.

As much as possible, it was run like any other school with a fence around it within the family compound, a set starting time, and parent drop-offs. 

Parents could also stay in the classroom for a short time.

"It was no different from a classroom you would have here in Perth," Mr McDonald said.

At an open day for the mix of Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and Rohingya children, aged between four and 18, they were given a hat, shirt, pencil case and backpack. 

They were split into four groups according to English language proficiency and told to be at school by 8:20am.

Mr McDonald said there had been a change of mood among the camp's parents.

"It gave them hope something was being done and they could transfer the skills after," he said.

It also gave parents more time: a women's-only fitness class grew from just a few people to more than 40.

However, some of the children did not want to leave at the end of the day.

"That's the sad part, because the teachers knew they went back into that environment," Mr McDonald said.

The Catholic Education Office has offered to provide immigration authorities with the children's educational reports and other records for any new school they go to.

"We always went in with the idea that whatever we do will be foundational and will enable, hopefully down the track, a better transition into a mainstream school," Mr McDonald said.

The experience had further impressed on him the fundamental right to and basic need for a quality education for every child, regardless of circumstance.( Teachers get this but sadly some of our politicians don't!)

"We've seen that in the faces of the children and what they have told us about the opportunity to access quality education," he said.

"It is not only a basic right, but what a great gift for these young people."

It would be good if the conservative Queensland government could set up something similar for Manaus Island children but I won't hold my breathe.

Disappointing Backflip (A story from today's Age)

The Victorian state government has backed down from an election promise to sack an education department deputy secretary who was once a senior bureaucrat in an English town at the centre of a 16-year child sexual exploitation scandal.

Dr Sonia Sharp, deputy secretary of Victoria's Early Childhood and School Education Group, was the Director of Children's Services at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council from 2005 to 2008. 

About 1400 children in Rotherham were raped by multiple perpetrators, kidnapped, trafficked to other towns and beaten, between 1997 and 2013, it has been reported.

This year an independent inquiry into the child sexual exploitation revealed the "collective failures" of political and officer leadership to prevent the abuse.

Those revelations prompted the former Labor education spokesman James Merlino – now Minister for Education – to pledge Dr Sharp would be sacked if Labor won the November election.

"Dr Sharp should never have been hired and there will be no place for her under a Labor government," he said in September.

"The airbrushing of history needs to be explained."

But on Friday afternoon the Daniel Andrews government appeared to have had a change of heart.

In a statement issued by the premier's office, the government said the recruitment of Dr Sharp had been referred to the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner for review.  

"Pending the outcome of the review, Dr Sharp will move to the Department of Health and Human Services to develop policy advice on the strengthening of collaborative practices between the health and education systems," it said.

Later a state government spokesman refused to answer questions about why Dr Sharp would no longer be removed, or if the flagged move to another department was a demotion.

It is understood the commissioner will report on the review by late February next year.

In August the independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham report criticised police for failing to act on child sexual abuse as a crime and senior council officers for historically downplaying the seriousness of the problem.

It said that Dr Sharp's effort to integrate children's services was still under way when she left the role in 2008, with many staff "not ready for the culture change" this involved.

In an earlier interview with Fairfax Media, Dr Sharp partly admitted responsibility for the abuse saying: "You can't be a Director of Children's Services and not take responsibility for what happens to children."

The Secretary Mr Bolt ( a blatant political appointment) has been moved on like Dr Sharp ( sideways?) but a clean sweep like they did with the Ambulance Board would have been much better. I wonder how long it will take to act on re-forming and re-staffing regional offices across the state?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Last school day of the year

The last day of term started with me visiting the Red Cross to donate blood. I popped in to see Liz at Wines Office Furniture and ordered a book shelf and an extra trolley for next year. I put away all our Christmas stuff and had lunch out. After that I started work on tidying up the library. That was a bigger job than I thought so I'll try to finish it off tomorrow. I have my traditional lunch with principal colleagues on Monday and then I'll have some time off until after Boxing Day.
The ducks I have to stop for just about every morning lately as they stroll across Longs Hill Road.
 Christmas decorations outside Ballarat town hall yesterday afternoon.

Just one more sleep to go...

Yes today was the second last day of term. We finished off some Christmas craft and watched A Christmas Carol.
I've been cooking Christmas lunch on the last day of school for the kids for years now and I did it again today. It was a good thing I got in really early because I forgot to buy potatoes last night so I made a dash to the supermarket for some and got back by 7:30 to start peeling and chopping.
The Ferris wheel they've put up for Christmas in Bridge Mall

Chopped, peeled and ready.

We had 'Turkey from a box' which was surprisingly good.
The kids ate it all up. We also had a visit from Santa. Jim has been our Santa for a long time and always impresses. I bought books for the kids for him to give to them and engraved pens for the grade 6 kids who are leaving for secondary school in 2015.

Santa handing out gifts.

Eating Our Christmas lunch.

I handed out reports and included a movie ticket with them as well as graduation certificates for the grade 6 kids and their Premier's Reading Challenge certificates.
After school I handed out about 60 community newsletters to a housing estate nearby and then headed home to put my feet up. I was given a great book by one of the parents which I'm reading now and another family very generously gave me movie/meal tickets which I'll make use of after Christmas.( I hope that Seth Rogan film gets released)
Tomorrow I'm giving blood at the Red Cross and then it is up to work for my last day which will be cleaning up today's mess and sorting out the library.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Its beginning to feel a lot like...Christmas holidays!

NToday we completed some Christmas puzzle activities and finished off some Christmas craft activities 

I've seen 2 of my old year 6 students from last year recently, Chelsea and Marty. Both have had a good year 7 and have grown so much. It was great to see the two of them again they were great year 6 students. I wish I had had the leadership badges I introduced this year for them because they were great leaders and would have worn them with pride.
I watched my senior girls ourt playing in the playground at recess time today probably for the last time. it is sad that all that ends when they head off to high school.

Awards Night
I attended the Ballarat High School awards night tonight. It was great to see kids from a fantastic state s condors school pick up awards for their academic,sport and artistic achievements for 2014. Below is a photo of the fantastic BHS band and my daughter picking up her well earned award for year11 photography.

Shocking News
Taliban militants rampaged through the army-run school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's capital of Pakistan and killed at least 130 people, most of them children, in one of the bloodiest attacks in recent Pakistan history. It's important for those of us in safe countries like Australia to appreciate just how dangerous it is for some students and their teachers to simply want an education, something we take for granted.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Camp Report 2014

Campaspe Downs Adventure Camp 
15th-16th December

We left school promptly at 11:00 am and drove to camp via Daylesford /Tylden and arrived at 12:00 pm.
We were met by our camp guide Matt who showed us around and showed us the ropes.We had 3 huts which had bunk beds and their own bathrooms.Matt organised our activities and was on call for us all the time we were there.After lunch we played some games with him and then set off to the giant swing.
The kids were a bit nervous although some were 'crazy brave' ( Thrill seekers!)
We had at least 3 turns each which makes us very lucky. Large groups usually get only one go.
We then tried our hand at archery and played some games using our archery skills. There were a few bullseyes scored.
After some down time we had dinner at 6:00 pm. Pasta Bolognese, salad, soup, chocolate mousse and fruit. We then played some games with our group leader for an hour ( They played some great games with him and had a fantastic time) and watched a DVD before bed.( We were going to have a campfire but fire restrictions had just started) We went to bed about 9:30 and everyone seemed to be asleep by 11:00. Birds woke me up at dawn and I took a walk around the lake before gradually waking the kids up. We were all up and ready for breakfast at 8:00 am.After breakfast we went to the flying fox. We had 90 minutes there and because there were so few of us they got 6-7 turns each. I was very proud of the effort of my grade 1 girls and grade 2 boy who tried everything and had a great time.We then went to their indoor pool where they had a play before lunch.The bus came at 1:00 and we were back at school at 2:00pm on the dot.
We were lucky with the weather, it looked like it might storm a few times but didn't.
Camp cost just over $1000 for one night and 4 organised activities. The bus cost $500 and sundries about $50. It was a good camp, well organised by the people at Campaspe Downs and enjoyed by the kids. The food was good and there was plenty of it, the rooms were pretty standard for school camps. There are new owners and they have just started a major refurbishment.
Feedback from the kids was positive so we will consider it again for 2015 or 2016. 
Some of the adventure type activities might be too 'adventurous' for younger students ( The climbing wall and ropes course look good but might not be appropriate for the younger students.)

Kangaroo outside my hut this morning.
Early morning at the lake.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

New boat christened

Today Ballarat High School christened its new boat for the rowing club at a ceremony around Lake Wendouree. I was invited along as I'm on School Council. The boat is named after Neville Brown who is the School Council Treasurer. He and the President, Graeme Howard have been associated ( since they were school boys) with BHS for 60 years!
The photo below shows them setting up the bottle of champage for the christening ceremony. I thought they were going to bang it on the boat but they set it up in cloth over the boat from a tripod of oars and Neville and his wife broke the champagne over the boat with a hammer. )

Friday, 12 December 2014

Reports finished.

Just finished. All tests, creative writing projects and work samples corrected and all reports finished and popped into envelopes to go home on the last day. I've also got a few jobs done in preparation for going on camp on Monday. a few surprises in the tests but mostly they match teacher judgements- which they should do after nearly 30 years of teaching!
( Below- everything completed)
It was quiet and peaceful when I drove through Ballarat this morning. I stopped to grab a coffee and took a photo of the great living Christmas decorations the city has this year.
Paddle boat out on the lake yesterday afternoon and a peaceful few minutes after school yesterday after watering our garden.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Contract renewal

I had a meeting today with one of the Assistant Regional Directors and my line manager about contract renewal.( my contract doesn't expire until 31/11/15) My immediate superior, Julie McMahon is retiring and I think she wanted to get my contract sorted before she goes. Julie has always been a great support to me at Glen Park and I have valued her advice and interest in my career and my school.She said some very nice things about me which was a bit embarrassing but appreciated. Needless to say my contract has been renewed until 2020 ( which seems a long way away) Apparently my School Council President also said lots of nice things about me too. Thanks Tammy.
I have tests to go through tomorrow and reports to finish and print off and package up ready for the last day of school. Then I have to prepare for camp which is on Monday.
Today the kids finished off work on A Christmas Carol. We made pop up Scrooge Christmas cards which I have mailed off for the kids today.

Charles Dicken's Characters

The grade 4 and 6 kids today finished off information reports on some of Charles Dicken's fantastic characters. ( below)

They completed book reports on abridged versions of Little Dorrit, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. it was great to hear one of them say 'I liked Little Dorrit, do we have the DVD ?'
They created word searches on Discovery Puzzlemaker and shared them ( below)
The grade 1-2 students are finishing off a mini unit on Hans Christian Andersen stories and they finished off their Steadfast Tin Soldier pop ups today.

James Merlino, the new Minister Of Education has sent out an email reiterating his new government's policy. ( Refer to the link below)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Making Baubles

We used paper mâché 'Hollow sphere'baubles bought from a craft shop to create fantastic baubles for our Christmas tree. These ones already came with gold string loops for hanging up. They painted the outside and added 'jewels' using PVA glue and inside they sprinkled liberal amounts of glitter and added Christmas shapes and models.

We also made snow globes. We started with a clen glass jar, constructed a plasticine Christmas image ( tree, Santa, snowman etc) attached it to the inside of the lid, added water and glitter and it was complete.

Mmmmmm....... The glitter stuck to the plasticine.
Maybe it will fall off after a while.
We finished our Torch test and on demand tests today/tomorrow. The early years students will finish their maths tests ( I'm using tests from their Targetting maths books) and their Concepts About Print tests on Friday and I'll finish their reports on Saturday. I have creative writing to correct and also Burt word reading tests and handwriting samples.