Drop Everything and Read
On Friday 4 September, Forest Hill College was proud to celebrate National Indigenous Literacy Day. The Department of Education is committed to Wirnalung Ganai, the Aboriginal Inclusion Plan, 2019-2021. Forest Hill College is an active and proud subscriber to this commitment.
Only 36% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 96% for non-Indigenous students in major cities, according to the 2018 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). The situation is improving but there is still a long way to go and the challenges are immense.
Apart from the historical, health, social, and educational disadvantage issues, many remote communities don’t have many, if any, books. Most of the remote communities that we work with report there are fewer than five books in family homes.
Through Community Literacy Projects, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation have been able to work with and publish books in many Aboriginal languages. Raising awareness of this gap in indigenous student’s literacy levels in our community is important. We are committed to closing the gap, and building an education system that enables all students to flourish.
Finally, we are still working to identify families interested in supporting three indigenous students from the Northern Territory, who will be coming to us from the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School for the 2020 school year. We currently have four MITS students in Year 8, who will transition successfully into Year 9 in 2021.
We are hoping to find three more families who want to make a difference to these boys’ lives. These boys have travelled from the NT, completed Year 7 at the Richmond Football Club in 2019 and are coming to FHC in 2020. The homestay is fully funded by Abstudy, and includes return travel to the NT during the year for the family and the boys. If you are interested please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
In September 2019 a comprehensive review of NAPLAN was announced to be jointly delivered by the State Governments of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The purpose of the review is to identify what a standardised testing regime in Australian schools should deliver, assess how well NAPLAN achieves this, and identify short and longer-term improvements that can be made.
- The current testing of students in Year 9 should move to Year 10. This would enable greater engagement and provide students with a more accurate indicator of learning achievement prior to their commencement of senior secondary education. This would also give secondary schools much more flexibility in how they structure their Year 9 programs.
- The test should be brought forward from May to as early as possible in the year, so that results can be used more productively by schools and teachers. Students and teachers should also get results within one week of the test. This will help schools avoid feeling the need to ‘teach to the test’ each year.
- The tests should move beyond literacy and numeracy to include a new assessment of critical and creative thinking in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This would replace the current National Assessment Program – Science Literacy test conducted every three years. Critical and creative thinking is widely regarded as a key skill for the contemporary workforce. Assessment of critical and creative thinking in this way would place Australia as a world leader.
- Substantial changes should be made to the writing assessment to address long-standing criticisms that the current approach merely encourages formulaic responses.
- National standardised tests should continue as universal, rather than sample, tests because of the valuable information they provide to schools, as well as students and parents.
- The new test is to be called Australian National Standardised Assessments (ANSA), to reflect the significant redevelopment of the national standardised assessment.
The report was presented at a recent Education Council meeting of state, territory and federal ministers. The review will now be considered by the Educational Council and changes will then be communicated to schools.
The College hoodie will be available for sale online from 5 September. Decisions need to be made in response to the Uniform Bill presented by Student Parliament at the July Council meeting. Time is allocated for this discussion at the September meeting of Council
It looks increasingly likely that students will return in a graduated manner. Taking an educated guess I expect VCE/ VCAL students back first, most likely in week 1 of Term 4. The GAT is scheduled for week 1, on the Wednesday, and it is hard to imagine that will be their first day back, so hopefully they begin on October 5. Our parent forums will be during that first week as well.
The College has a Covid-safe plan, and a set of guidelines for safe working conditions. We are not sure about mask wearing on return to face to face teaching at this stage.