More than Academic Programs
During the recent school holiday I had the privilege of travelling to Arnhem Land with twenty-four wonderful Year 11 students and four very generous colleagues on the Verity Immersion. In terms of developing a wider perspective on life, Australian identity and meaning, conversations with the Yolngu people of Bukadal and Yirrkala proved to be enriching. As an English teacher I was particularly affected by an appreciation that language is fundamental to the ongoing and future identity for our First Peoples.
For life back at Loreto Kirribilli, where we operate at a frantic pace, the experience was a welcome reminder that time spent talking, singing and playing with others – trying to understand the perspective of other people – is perhaps the most important thing we ever do as human beings. We should all remember that.
Given that consideration, I ask both Year 11 and Year 12 students to keep a sense of proportion as they prepare for their major examinations in Term 3. I would advise that students try to connect their learning to the broader ideas that have been presented in their classes, rather than just memorise atomised pieces of information. Seeing the big picture behind a unit of work, most of which actually connects to real-world concerns or ideas, often helps to contextualise learning and make it more real.
Students in Years 8 and 10 are making subject selections for their next two years of study at school, and again I would encourage girls and their families to explore courses that resonate with both the individual and their interests in the wider world.
Year 10 students will commence their subject selection process for their senior years with the three periods dedicated to considerations of career options and their personal interview with a teacher on Monday 25 July. That same night students and their parents will have the Subject Selection Presentations that commences at 7:00pm in Centenary Hall. Hopefully this will give students a chance to seriously consider subject choices for their last two years of school. I hope that the girls have also taken the opportunity presented by the recent holiday to do some imaginative and researched thinking about their future directions. Constructive conversations and careful listening to a range of people are invaluable when faced with making such significant decisions. The Year 10 Parent and Teacher Night held on Thursday 28 July is also an important opportunity for students and their parents to speak to individual teachers about their recommendations regarding subjects and courses for the Preliminary and HSC years. Subject selection will be completed online by Year 10 students, but a hard copy of the final choice of subjects and reserves is due to homeroom teachers on Wednesday 3 August, in Week 3 of the term.
Year 11 students are taking part in the Leadership Program this term, which should give them ample opportunity to reflect on their learning and the contribution they have made to the wider school community. Year 11 also have examinations that mark the end of their Preliminary Course which begin on Monday 5 September. This is an opportunity for students to show their teachers the depth of their understanding in each of their courses. While some students may be considering altering their pattern of study with the addition of HSC Extension courses, or through dropping individual subjects, all students need to recognise the need to work steadily until the end of the Preliminary Course. Decisions about altering a pattern of study need to be made carefully, in consultation with teachers and parents. Board of Studies requirements and school administration also need to be considered.
Year 11 students and their families need to be aware that the school will be sending grades for all preliminary courses into the Board of Studies. This detailed record of courses and achievement levels will make up a Record of School Achievement (RoSA) which will be accessible by students and also make up part of the official academic testamur that comes with the Higher School Certificate. This public record is yet another reason for students to work effectively in all of their preliminary courses.
Year 11 are also having a Study Skills Evening with Prue Salter on Wednesday 10 August, the aim of which is to improve students’ capacity to meet the demands of their senior courses.
For Year 12 their Trial HSC Examinations are obviously a forthcoming challenge. Students need to find a balance between the competing demands of their individual subjects, their social life, family obligations and co-curricular activities – maintaining some physical exercise and keeping up with sufficient sleep are certainly of benefit as is developing a flexible and realistic study timetable. For most subjects the Trial Examination will be the last component of the internal assessment. After this point students need to realise that they should work together as a cohort in each subject, because the strengths of the group in the final HSC examinations will directly affect the moderating of the assessment marks. The Year 12 Reports when issued will report on the Trial Examinations only – students need to use the time between August and the first HSC written examination on Thursday 16 October intelligently. There will be a carefully targeted Study Skills Presentation by Prue Salter for all of Year 12 on Monday 29 August from 11:30am to 12:40pm that is focused on effective study strategies to apply between the end of the Trial examinations and the actual written examinations. In the past students have found this to be remarkably useful.
Year 8 will also be making decisions about their future when they choose subjects for Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10). Their Subject Selection Night is on Monday 22 August at 7:00pm, beginning in Centenary Hall. While I advise students to select what they enjoy and what they are good at, I would also like them to consider challenging themselves with new learning experiences. Interested and engaged students learn more, and grow both intellectually and emotionally. Students and their parents will have an opportunity to speak with teachers at the Year 8 Parent and Teacher Night on Thursday 1 September. The Year 8 students too will complete their selection of subjects and reserves online, with a hard copy printed out and signed by parents due on Thursday 8 September.
During this time of decision making and hard work, it is important to keep an eye on the world around you – take the opportunity to enable connections to those around you, not only locally but also globally. Keep up with world events, ask questions and be curious. Think about what Mary Ward might do with a mobile phone.
Sandra Duggan (Ms)
Director of Academic Programs