Thursday, 20 February 2014

Busy. Afternoon

I Just finished reading 'The 27th Annual Hippopotamus Race'. It is a great book, lots of laughs and fantastic illustrations by Jeff Hook.
One of my grade 6 girls helped the preps create some Australian animals.( photo below) Tomorrow we'll all have a go at creating a Winter Olympics skier.( Find the template on TPT for free)

Most afternoons after school I have cleaning to do, lessons to prepare and chores to run for school but sometimes I have meetings or Professional Development (PD) To attend and this afternoon was one of those afternoons.I had the second of the kitchen garden PDs to attend and an AEU Principal Class Association dinner meeting.

Ballarat Kitchen Gardens
Session 2

Ballarat Kitchen Garden Blog (Learn Grow Share) - developed by Blake Curran 
(John Ditchburn site has a great planting calendar for Ballarat. Refer to the above site for a link)

Steve Burns talked about creating sustainable school gardens.(Steve is from the Ballarat Permaculture Guild. Refer Chestnut Farm)
Making School Gardens more sustainable.
Steve talked about above ground garden beds.
he split his talk into 4 sections

Natural ecosystems ( Refer Permaculture principles on Google)
Efficiency by mimicking natural systems- observe what is happening in the garden and how children interact with it. Utilise the children's energy in the garden.Children can eat food as they play. ( life skills can be learnt) children learn about life cycles and they have to accept them. Feedback on the garden design is determined by how children interact with an integrated garden- gardens need to be robust using natural resources - tap renewable resources. Try not to produce waste.( Let children forage) Watch out for big summer gardens which peak during the holidays. 
Determine what is the point of the garden and then conceive a plan from there.Integrate the garden into the school ground and the garden activities into the school program.Design from the kids eye view.( Refer Clunes Kinda) Purchase from locals.Implement over years.Use diverse species and value micro- climates. Plan for sensory diversity.Utilise biodegradable materials.Respond to change.If something doesn't work then try something else.

Watering problems
Wiking beds have a reservoir in each raised bed. Water added to reservoir which reduces evaluation and encourages roots to grow deep in source of water.
Steve suggested using a spud box, lining it with 2 layers of plastic.Add 90mm plastic pipe right down to the bottom of the box. Include an overflow pipe if possible.Add scoria. add weed mat between both layers and put the soil on top.( have a dip in the middle which will remain wet) You only need 30 cm of soil.

Making gardens fun (Rusty Keeler)
'Natural Playscapes', 2008 Exchange Press
Children create the games in the garden. Rusty encourages confidence, creativity , appreciation and empathy through play in gardens.Natural playscapes are designed from a child's eye view.
( refer. Creswick playscape) Yonke Van Geloven also encourages edible options in a playscape garden.

Perennials increase sustainability. Plant once and harvest for years. You can create a habitat for beneficial insects.hardy plants to cope with children climbing and running. Add perennials to beds of annuals.Consider vines for a pathway and plants with distinctive seasonal characteristics.

There were a lot of things to consider for us at Glen Park following Steve's talk especially regarding turning our orange plant boxes into proper wicker boxes, purchasing Keeler's book for the parent library, considering changes to our playground to make it more 'child friendly' and planting perennials.  

Meeting ended at 6:15 pm

Australian Education Union ( AEU) 
PCA ( Principal Class Association) meeting  20/02/14 from 6:30 pm
Discussion with the PCA team.

Performance and Development
Formal consultation period has started. They have removed the ES P&D regime until 2015.
The 'guiding range' ( the number of people passing their reviews within schools)has been removed. Concerns that not giving increments is part of school financial management.
ALP is developing new policies relating to principal workload in particular regarding maintenance workload. they are considering developing 'new networks' that can support each other about the  workload associated with school maintenance. 
They are promoting 4 domain areas with weighting with an emphasis on student outcomes ( the fourth domain) as opposed to 'growth'. they are primarily concerned with a numerical result ( input and output expressed by a number) Other evidence that show how students grow is hard to measure even though extra effort apart from student outcomes ( attendance data and extra curricula work could be considered) which are not quantitative.( numerical results don't necessarily inform our judgement.DEECD has produced samples of evidence for teachers which are not just numbers coming out of a testing regime)
Unsatisfactory performance for teachers (4 descriptors) sounds like a big stick. Some confusion between unsatisfactory and under-performing. No resourcing and limited time frame for dealing with staff needing extra support.
The Governance issue has been pushed back and seems to be off the agenda
Independent school experience in WA show no improvement but the workload for principals increased.

Annual Report requires a sign off on school procedure. School engagement policy will need to be reviewed due to the new ministerial orders. Asbestos issues are of concern. Worksafe is critical of DEECD's approach to asbestos management. DEECD is doing Part 5 for all schools which will include signage ( for state not private schools?)Principals may be asked to be on committees to review expulsions in schools following the new engagement guidelines a role previously undertaken by regional personnel. 

AEU state election campaign will use principals ( the most trusted members of the education service) to be involved in their campaign. the AEU wants us to be involved in the campaign and is asking for volunteers to help- especially in the 'sand belt seats' where the election will be own or lost.
Very little money flowing through to schools. ( Glen Park certainly hasn't seen any) Additional money went to private schools and national partnership schools. Only $7 million went to the rest of our schools.Lack of transparency regarding where the money will be going.In NSW every school knows how much money they will be getting for the next 4 years in stark contrast with Victoria. The AEU has Gonski vans travelling across the country making sure that the clear message that year 5-6 funding should be in the federal budget forward estimates in May. 

Meeting ended 8:00 pm

Below is a photo of the Golden Crown Hotel, venue for the PCA meeting.( 16000 views today!)

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