Dear CSPS families,

We encourage all parents to please make the time to read this full flexi-message.

100 Days of School

Here we are at the 100th day of school for our Prep children (with almost a 50-50 split of at school and remote learning) so what a year 2020 has been for our newest CSPS students; for us all!! Congratulations to our Prep families and teachers who have tried so hard to stay connected, have fun and learn lots in this year with such a difference. There have been some wonderful celebrations and so there should be, although I’m a bit worried about the aging of our Prep teachers from certain videos I’ve seen; this year has taken its toll! The wonders of technology! Thanks to our teachers and parents for making today a special day for our Preps.

Five Weeks into Term 3

We’re at the halfway mark of the term ‘and miles to go (before we sleep)’ to quote Robert Frost, one of my favourite poets, or weeks to go till we’re all hopefully back together at school.

The complexities of this time continue and therefore this continues to be a time of more emotional stress and pressure than I’ve had to deal with previously with the vast range of both family circumstances and student academic and social/emotional capabilities. Thank you so much to those parents who are trying to make the most of the flexible learning opportunities and understanding the pressures and workload involved in trying to cater for that range. The positive vibe and gratitude coming back to us all is overwhelming and I’m very grateful for those who have managed, under their own demands and life pressures, to keep that coming. Our Leading Teacher Andy McKibbin who, as the role title suggests, is responsible for leading teaching and learning and curriculum development at CSPS, with the support of a dedicated leadership team and our CSPS teachers, has written an account for our community about some of the reflections, research, learning and decision-making over the last two terms as we’ve approached and navigated this time of remote teaching and learning.

Curriculum Update:

Throughout the transition into remote and flexible learning this year, schools around the world have searched for the best methods to engage students and support learning in this new and challenging context.

At Caulfield South Primary School, we have continually revised our remote learning program throughout this period, making continual adjustments as we learn along the way. One of the main challenges has been for us to find the right balance between ‘live’ teaching (via Google Meets) and ‘flexible’ teaching (via Seesaw and other offline tasks). We are aware that some parents feel very strongly that the school should move to a model with much more live teaching and less flexible teaching. It is our firm belief that the predominantly flexible learning program offered at CSPS, supported by regular live class meets and small group lessons, is the best fit for our school and its community.

One of the main challenges of the remote period is that each family’s circumstances are different. In each class there are some students who complete their work first thing in the morning, others who do bits and pieces throughout the day and others who work mainly in the afternoon. Families have used this flexibility to find the best fit for their own work and care arrangements. It also allows families to share devices and internet bandwidth. This flexibility allows students to work at different speeds and for teachers to offer optional extras to students who are in a position to complete them. A live teaching schedule, where students are expected to be online for large parts of the day, would significantly reduce this flexibility.

Any online teaching is full of technical and other challenges that impact student learning, including students:

  • missing out on learning
  • regularly experiencing dropouts, audio issues, glitches and other problems that limit their access to learning
  • entering into the lesson half way through, or suddenly disappearing
  • losing resources
  • being interrupted by family members

All of these factors reduce the effectiveness of live teaching, not only for these students, but also for the rest of the children in the session. Student engagement is severely impacted by these interruptions and technical difficulties.

Live teaching remains important to maintain relationships and connections, for teachers to probe and extend understandings, and for students to hear the thinking of other students. We value the contribution that these sessions make to our learning program, however, after our experience during remote learning, considering student and parent feedback, discussions with staff and principals of other primary school settings and reading some of the expert opinions available, we feel strongly that the predominantly flexible learning program better supports the educational needs of the majority our students and the day to day arrangements of the majority of our families.

There is no perfect solution to remote learning and we acknowledge the immense challenges that some families and students are experiencing, and teachers endeavour to make adjustment to accommodate for the diverse learning needs.

We thank you for your ongoing support during this extremely difficult time and value your feedback as an important part of our decision-making. A family survey will follow directly after this notice and we would really appreciate you all taking the time to complete the short Google questionnaire.

Community Wellbeing:

In Bianca’s Assistant Principal role, wellbeing is paramount and we have tried to emphasise this in all our communications. Bianca has included two flyers which parents may find helpful as they steer their children and families through these uncertain and challenging times.

Stay healthy and above all take care of your own wellbeing and that of your families.

Warmest regards

Gayle, Bianca and CSPS staff