Learning, Believing, Achieving – Edition 6, Term 3.
Date: September 7, 2018 Posted by: Sue Wicks
It was great to spend some time with Senior School staff on Monday afternoon as we discussed the TAS TALL program. The TALL program is “Teaching As Learning Leaders” and involves individual or small groups of teaching staff carrying out an investigation into an area of teaching that they feel can have a positive impact on student learning. There are some terrific research projects being led by staff and we publish the findings at the end of each year. There is a lot of data out there linking teacher action research with improved teacher efficacy and thus improved student learning.
We have held Open Days recently at both Junior School campuses and have been really pleased to meet and chat with local Cairns families interested in a TAS education. Thanks to the students who help out at these events – guests regularly comment on their maturity, politeness and friendliness. We know how incredible the opportunities are at TAS and the culture of learning we nurture, so it is good when others from outside TAS have the opportunity to see all that our students are involved in. Thanks to those of you spreading the word in the Cairns community regarding the reasons you have chosen TAS as the school responsible for the education of your child – it is easy for schools to make claims and statements in their marketing materials, and TAS (like most high-standard Anglican schools) is an easy target to pull down for the media, other schools and disgruntled past parents. Ultimately our current parents are the best advertisement of our school as you choose to make the significant financial sacrifice for your child to attend TAS to receive a high quality education, access a wide range of opportunities, be part of a positive and supportive culture, and create a wonderful springboard for life after secondary schooling.
NAPLAN was released this week to a wide range of media discussion. As you know, my view of NAPLAN is the data is best used as (i) a way of reviewing curriculum and pedagogy (through item analysis) for each cohort and (ii) to assist with identifying areas or concepts of challenge for individual students. These two approaches focus on how NAPLAN can improve student learning and thus are worthwhile. Unfortunately, there is a lot of media discussion regarding other concerns with NAPLAN. I will expand on this in my next Newsletter article, but I was saddened to see “league tables” come out on the day of release, and an article in the Cairns Post that highlighted schools that had finished at the top of the tables (which is fine), but also identifying the schools that finished at the bottom of each table. This wasn’t necessary and achieved nothing positive by being included in the article.
At TAS we also use NAPLAN results as a way to review the learning growth in a cohort over a 2 year period, although there are more detailed ways of measuring this metric. As parents know, we continue to be at or near the top of each NAPLAN table for our region, but we concentrate more on the student gain between Year 3 and 5 and between Year 7 and 9, which have again been very positive this year. Progress is more important than position.
Friday was a day of contrasts. We said a final farewell to 2 members of the wider TAS community. Marian Tung Yep, wife of Bishop George and grandmother to Stephanie and Thomas was farewelled in the morning at a beautiful service at St Margaret’s Anglican Church in West Cairns. Our best wishes are with Bishop George, David and Heather, Stephanie and Thomas, as well as the rest of the Tung Yep family.
In the afternoon, the Chair of the Board and I attending the funeral of Stewart Howard, husband of current long-serving Board member and past TAS staff member Barbara Howard. Again, a beautiful service celebrating the memories of a much-loved husband, father and grandfather.
Later that evening, we watched and celebrated the TAS S2 Girls Hockey team winning their Grand Final, and ducked across to the Tanks to see 3 TAS students, Evelyn, Jameela and Tiffany, win prizes at the Energy Art Show and Exhibition, amongst many other wonderful art pieces.
The circle of life was never more apparent and, whilst at times sad, we give God thanks for lives well lived and for lives yet to be fully realized but of such great potential.