Education Matters Primary April 2022

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A content rich, comprehensive, buyer’s guide for schools.



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ACHIEVING MORE THAN POSSIBLE Navigating schools’ needs after COVID-19 - Pg 14 Principally Speaking: Westminster School - Pg 16 The new normal - Pg 20

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Welcome When Term to 1the began, first edition many Australian of Education students Mattersreturned for 2022. refreshed It is hardand to ready believe to take this on year theisnew possibly school theyear. first But timeforin some two years students, students recent will experience events overathe somewhat holiday period ‘normal’ have school hadyear an emotional without remote toll. learning and lockdowns. Following months of severe drought and record-breaking high Despite temperatures, some changes Australiatorecently what classroom experienced experiences one of itswere worstlike bushfire before the seasons. pandemic, Over students 12 millionand hectares teachers of land are still hasadapting been burnt to what – an ‘normal’ area looks largerlike thannow. many countries. And nearly half of Australia’s third largest island, Australia Kangaroolocal Island, was also impacted. Across governments have put in measures to limit the spread The bushfires of the virus claimed and the keep lives school of over communities 30 peoplesafe. and decimated the nation’s wildlife population. This According includes to WWF the distribution Australia, over of rapid 1.25antigen billion test animals (RAT)were kits to killed all early during childhood the 2019/20 education bushfire centres disaster. so that The educators conservation areorganisation able to undertake believes surveillance one of ourtesting most iconic for COVID-19. animals, the koala, could be headed towards extinction New South WalesPerottet and southeast Queensland the million next 30RAT years. In New South Wales,inPremier Dominic announced in Januarywithin that 8.6 kits were sent to Theallstate schools of NSW to ensure was the thatworst students hit, with and staff approximately are able to5test million for the hectares virus twice burnt.aNumerous week for the schools first two weeks were impacted of term. by the fires too, with three NSW schools completely destroyed: Wytaliba, Bobin and Cabramurra School. twotests of these rebuiltinover the school in with time students for Term In Victoria, anPublic estimated 6.6However million RAT werewere delivered the first week ofholidays the term, 1, while the latter isn’t currently in use. A NSW Department of Education spokesperson revealed that and staff at specialist schools required to test at least five days each week. over 180 schools in close proximity to fires were assessed to determine the level of damage, with less The Victorian Government also added school and early childhood staff to the list of workers in key than half of these needing repairs, at an estimated cost of approximately $20 million. sectors. This resulted in staff having to receive their third vaccine dose by February 25. Thousands of homes were destroyed too, leaving many displaced. For school-aged children who have Around 51,000 air purification devices were also delivered to government and low fee non-government lost all of their possessions or been directly impacted by the disaster, a variety of initiatives have been schools for the first day of Term 1. set up to assist. However, in Queensland, the start date for Term 1 was delayed by two weeks following the predictions Minister for Education, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, says there are approximately 1400 schools in bushfireof the Omicron wave hitting its peak, and allowing more time for children to receive their COVID-19 affected communities across NSW, Victoria, ACT, Queensland and South Australia. He reveals funding vaccinations. will go towards supporting those families directly affected with education expenses (see page 58). It is clear the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted almost every element of our lives, and the education of Other initiatives include a partnership between UNICEF Australia and Victorian not-for-profit, State children has been no exception. Schools Relief, which will see educational resources distributed to Victorian students who have lost According to UNESCO, at the end of March 2020 over 1.5 billion or provide 87 per cent of theKart world’s their homes; while Playground Ideas has teamed up with Moosepupils Toys to its Nüdel mobile student population across 165 countries had been affected by school closures caused by COVID-19. play karts to bushfire affected schools (see page 50). At the beginning of thebushfire pandemic COVID-19 required and students to rapidly Though the 2019/20 season will soon comemany to an teachers, end as theparents, cooler weather hits, its impacts adjust to new modes of learning. In a matter of weeks, schools had to find and implement viable are sure to be felt for some time yet. The shear devastation and constant stream of graphic images alternatives the traditional modelofofexperts teaching a physical have heededtocalls from a number to in offer supportclassroom. to students where needed. In this edition, However, today as we reflectEbbeck on howdiscusses far the world has comeimpact since the beginning of thedisaster pandemic, Emeritus Professor Marjory the possible recent bushfire canthe have education community hasand come outteachers more resilient, equipped with new on a student’s wellbeing what can doand to provide support (seeskills. page 42). Despite there being a new sense normality in the classroom, teachers and parents are now It’s a pleasure to join you for thisofedition of Education Mattersstudents, – Primary. If you have any feedback prepared and ready to tackle the year ahead. or suggestions, please feel free to email me at You

canaalso sign to upjoin to our emailofnewsletter, The Whiteboard visiting It’s pleasure youfortnightly for this edition Education Matters – Primary., by If you haveour anywebsite feedback or suggestions, please feel free to email me at You can also sign up to our fortnightly email newsletter, The Whiteboard, by visiting our website

Publisher: Christine Clancy Chief Operating Officer: Zelda Tupicoff Managing Editor: Sarah Baker Editor: Molly Hancock Design Production Manager: Michelle Weston Art Director: Blake Storey Designers: Kerry Pert, Aisling McComiskey Advertising: Kylie Nothrop 0422 046 299 Client Success Manager: Justine Nardone Education Matters is a division of Prime Creative Media Pty. Ltd. 11-15 Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne 3205 Ph: (+61 3) 9690 8766 Fax: (+61 3) 9682 0044 Subscriptions Education Matters is available by subscription from the publisher. The rights of refusal are reserved by the publisher. Ph: (+61 3) 9690 8766 E: Articles All articles submitted for publication become the property of the publisher. We reserve the right to adjust any article to conform with the magazine format. Cover Image Westminster School.



Education Matters Magazine






Education Matters

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Copyright Education Matters is owned by Prime Creative Media Pty. Ltd. and published by John Murphy. All material in Education Matters is copyright and no part may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means (graphic, electronic, or mechanical including information retrieval systems) without the written permission of the publisher. The Editor welcomes contributions but reserves the right to accept or reject any material. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information, Prime Creative Media will not accept responsibility for errors or omissions or for any consequenses arising from information published. The opinions of the magazine are not necessarily the opinions of, or endorsed by the publisher unless otherwise stated. All photographs of schools (including students) depicted in feature articles and advertisements throughout this magazine have been supplied to the publisher (and approved) by the contributing school. All material supplied by schools is done so with the understanding that such images will be published in Education Matters and may also appear on the our website:

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REGULARS Editor’s note 4 Buyer’s Guide




A snapshot of some of the latest news and developments in the education sector.

APPA column

Australian Primary Principals Association President Malcolm Elliot looks at what can be applied to futureproof the society and put in stronger position to withstand a massive disruption such as COVID-19.

Principally Speaking

Westminster School Principal Simon Shepherd speaks to Education Matters about how its graduates are ultimately not remembered for their ATAR or qualifications, but rather for the positive way they interact with others and contribute to the society.


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the essential role that science plays to respond to some of our biggest challenges.

Strengthening learning, strengthening lives

Challenging Learning has been in Australia since 2006 and aims to help educators improve learning outcomes for 3 to 19-year-olds.

32 Teaching Australia’s painful shared history

Dr Tracy Woodroffe discusses how the teaching of Australia’s shared history in schools requires the teaching of analysis and the inclusion and understanding of Indigenous perspectives.



26 Inspiring the next generation of female


The Last Word

A calendar of upcoming education events happening around Australia.

In a technology-forward world, collaboration is key. This is especially salient for the education sector, where fast-paced technological change has posed an ongoing challenge for schools.



Australian Curriculum CEO David de Carvalho; Education Services CEO Andrew Smith; eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant; and Professor Marjory Ebbeck; offer opinion pieces on a variety of topical subjects.

24 Hybrid classroom – the future way of teaching

scientists and engineers

Hot Topic: The new normal

Education Matters takes a look at what the new normal might look like across classrooms as the 2022 academic year unfolds.


34 Invisible language learners

Many First Nations children do not speak Standard Australian English as their first language, education systems and educators need to recognise and respond to students’ language backgrounds.


upporting children’s language comprehension S through vocabulary instruction

Dr Clarence Green explains the importance of why vocabulary needs to be taught in context and when needed.

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T ransition is change - supporting children and young people in times of transition

With the school year commencing and the adaption of our thinking and behaviours amid the Omircon virus in Australia, children are learning more about themselves every day when it comes to adapting in the face of changing conditions.


an penguins support our primary school students C through this pandemic?

T he impact of the pandemic on routines, relationships and recreation means children and their families have been restricted from the sorts of relief that might usually help them cope with difficult times and stress.


Bringing out the Urban Warrior

WillPlay’s Urban Warrior range combines the best of play and fitness equipment to enable an inclusive play area.


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Empower your educators and students ThinkPad L13 Yoga ThinkPad 11e Get a FREE upgrade to Windows 11* Unlock Limitless Learning

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28 Playground Ideas: Nudel Karts A deconstructable mobile play kart that can be reconfigured in endless ways, Playground Ideas developed Nudel Kart to encourage self-directed learning, and help make play sensible and interesting for every child. Education Matters Magazine and au are informative, valuable resources for decision makers of both primary and secondary schools Australia-wide. We provide a content-rich, comprehensive buyer’s guide of the most reliable, trustworthy school suppliers in the market. This is coupled with the latest in news and expert views about the topics and issues currently impacting the education sector. is a one-stop shop for a wide variety of products or services for your school. You can browse our categories which include technology, professional development, curriculum, health and wellbeing, beyond the classroom and more; or use our search function to find exactly what you require.

For further information, contact: Kylie Nothrop Mobile: 0422 046 299 Email:


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Deputy Principals Leadership Colloquium This integrated nine-month leadership program focuses on the critical dimensions of effective school leadership, equipping senior school leaders with the insights, skills and confidence to accelerate their professional development as they strengthen the performance of those around them.

Our suite of professional learning programs combines the best of our evidence-based, applied leadership with a focus on the challenges and opportunities specific to the K-12 education sector.

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The Queensland Government has introduced the Q-MOST program which offers students access to on-demand mental health support.

$8m program to support youth mental health

The $8 million Q-MOST program is offering an alternative for young people to gain access to on-demand mental health support whenever and wherever it is needed. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath.


An innovative service to improve young people’s access to mental health support is being trialled under a multi-million-dollar initiative from the Queensland Government. Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said Queensland Health is partnering with the Children’s Hospital Foundation to engage Orygen to deliver a digital on-demand mental health service. D’Ath said the two-year pilot program was leveraging Orygen’s existing and highly successful Queensland Moderated Online Social Therapy (Q-MOST) platform to enhance mental health support services available to young people. “The $8 million Q-MOST program is offering an alternative for young people to gain access to on-demand mental health support whenever and wherever it is needed,” D’Ath said. “It will provide access to 24/7 mental health support in multiple ways to ensure young people can receive the help they need when they need it. “The Q-MOST program will be piloted progressively across seven Queensland Hospital and Health Services (HHS) and is also being offered to select local stakeholder partners, such as headspace centres. Metro South, Children’s Health Queensland, North West, Wide Bay, Central Queensland, West Moreton and Darling Downs HHSs will all be initially involved to ensure the pilot reaches a broad stretch of the community. D’Ath said the Q-MOST initiative stemmed from the Queensland Government’s $46.5 million Mental Health and Wellbeing Community Package. “This program includes investigating new and innovative ways to provide healthcare services to Queenslanders,” she said. “Advancements in technology have the potential to open up new ways of delivering healthcare and, by extension, improve

education matters primary

health outcomes for Queenslander.” Queensland Health’s Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch Executive Director Associate Professor John Allan said the pilot program came at a critical time. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a significant disruption to social connections, community activities and everyday life,” Allan said. “As a consequence, we have seen a significant increase in mental health presentations and increased use of alcohol and other drugs, particularly for the adolescent cohort. “By focusing on young people, this program will hopefully address these issues and reduce the number of mental health presentations in this cohort. “The two-year pilot has commenced, with all participating services ready to offer the program by April 2022, which will provide an ideal period of time to evaluate its effectiveness.” Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair Karen Prentis said the program would take a multi-faceted approach to ensure young people had timely access to effective mental health care. “The Q-MOST program will help young people cope with these stresses, through access to 24/7 support, responses to those awaiting in-person support, or alternatives to face-to-face care,” Prentis said. Orygen Executive Director Professor Patrick McGorry said the digital nature of Q-MOST helps to address gaps in service delivery. “The demand for youth mental health care has never been greater, and Q-MOST’s integration of digital mental health technology with clinical services helps us address the gaps in existing care models so young people get the support they need, when they need it, at all stages of their mental health care journey,” McGorry said. EM

COVID-stressed parents spending big on back-to-school A new survey of 1000 Australian parents delved into the past two years of on-and-off at home learning, financial stresses, and how much they will be spending on essential educational items. The survey, conducted by Savvy shows that technology purchases such as laptops, tablets, and accessories are topping the bill for back-to-school purchases in 2022. 60 per cent of parents said they were feeling COVID fatigue or weariness associated with the ongoing pandemic, (43 per cent answering somewhat and 17 per cent, significant.). The highest proportion was found in the ACT (82 per cent) followed by the most locked-down state in the world, Victoria (68 per cent). Of the parents surveyed, 71 per cent were sending their children to primary school and 29 per cent to high school. 17 per cent of parents overlapped, sending at least one child to each. Further outlined in the report, 36 per cent of parents said they were more confident than not to send their children back amid the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak. 30 per cent of parents said that school should start as normal while a further 30 per cent said that school should start on time, provided greater COVID-safety measures are in place. Tech tops the back-to-school bill In addition, 59 per cent of parents say they’ll be spending up to $500 on back-to-school items per child, followed by a quarter who will be spending between $500 and $1,000. Laptops (28 per cent) and tablets (25 per cent) are the must-have items for school, in light of schools not providing them for children instead. Other items are headphones (41 per

cent), USB drives (31 per cent), and computer accessories such as mice and keyboards (22 per cent). Parents reported a mean average spend of $1035 on laptops and $604 for tablets. Computer accessories were the next most expensive item (avg. spend of $230) and headphones ($71.) 39 per cent of parents are sending one child to school; 41 per cent are sending two. For the 5 per cent who are sending four or more, their tech bill may be very costly indeed. Though tech is one part of the back-to-school equation, parents are spending up on school essentials such as uniforms (68 per cent of parents), shoes (74 per cent), stationery (65 per cent), and backpacks (54 per cent). 48 per cent reported that they would be purchasing COVID-safety equipment such as masks and hand sanitiser. “An investment in personal tech is much more a necessity than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” says Savvy managing director Bill Tsouvalas. “Having one laptop or tablet per child is still a quite costly upfront purchase, especially with financial stress on the rise in Australia. For households with more than one child, this can add up fast. However, owning the latest and greatest tech should not come at the expense of sacrificing educational needs in other areas.” To gain further information from the full report visit: https:// EM Savvy’s latest reports explores how much Australian parents are spending on schooling items.

An investment in personal tech is much more a necessity than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Savvy managing director Bill Tsouvalas.

education matters primary



Morrison Government delivers record school funding The Federal Government continues to deliver record school funding to support the educational needs of Australian students now and into the future, according to a Productivity Commission report. The annual Report on Government Services 2022 (RoGS) provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia. The latest RoGS report shows the share of public expenditure on all schools provided by the Australian Government increased from 26.3 per cent in 2012–2013 to 31.7 per cent in 2019–2020. Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said this growth shows the Government is targeting its education funding right with initiatives like the Quality Schools package. “The report shows that between 2012-13 and 2019-20, Australian Government funding per student for all schools

increased significantly in real terms,” Robert said. “Government schools have been the biggest beneficiary of this growth, with Commonwealth per student funding growing by 64.1 per cent in real terms over the past 10 years compared with 49.8 per cent in non-government schools.” Robert further outlined that the government is funding $315.2 billion for all schools between 2018 and 2029 under the Quality Schools package. A record $24.8 billion will be invested in schools this year, and a further record $26.4 billion is expected next year. “Since we came to government in 2013, funding across all schools has increased by 91.2 per cent. Government schools have seen the biggest Commonwealth funding increase, with funding growing by 115.3 per cent since 2013,” he said. EM

Contracts awarded for four new Queensland state schools in 2023

We’ve opened 21 new schools across the state since 2015 including three this year which is a $1.3 billion investment. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.


Four new schools set to open next year in Ipswich, Logan and the Sunshine Coast are on track with construction contracts now awarded. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement in Parliament saying the four new schools opening in 2023 represent a $330 million investment by her government, creating 900 local jobs. “I’m pleased to announce that contracts have been awarded to FKG Group, Hutchinson Builders and ADCO for Stage One of the new state primary schools in Augustine Heights, Ripley Valley and Yarrabilba; as well as a new state high school at Palmview,” Palaszczuk said. “My government’s record investment in education is unmatched. We’ve opened 21 new schools across the state since 2015 including three this year which is a $1.3 billion investment.” Palaszczuk advised 11 schools would be built over the next two years which is a further $1 billion commitment. She said she is looking forward to seeing boots on the ground and sods turning to get these schools built for the first students next year. Education Minister Grace Grace said construction should commence around March.

education matters primary

Four schools are set for Ipswich, Logan and the Sunshine Coast in 2023.

“The contracts being awarded for four new schools being delivered in the fastest growing areas of Queensland is another important milestone on the journey to delivering the extra state school capacity we need in coming years,” Grace said. “Our aim is to ensure all children, no matter where they live, get a great start to their future by having access to quality educational facilities. “COVID-19 hasn’t stopped local tradies from progressing multiple school infrastructure projects across Queensland.” During 2021–22, the Palaszczuk Government is delivering an overall education infrastructure investment portfolio valued at almost $1.9 billion, supporting more than 4100 jobs across the state. EM


Is it the most vital STEM skill? Creativity is recognised by many as one of the worlds most in-demand skills and it’s value continues to rise.* Education experts around Australia regard creativity as a core competency required across all disciplines, including STEM. Teaching creativity is now critical for ensuring future success for students.* The good news is that creativity isn’t a gift for the few, but is a skill that can be learnt by all. Nüdel creates the perfect environment for creativity & other 21st Century skills to flourish.

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* Sources: World Economic Forum, Oct 2020. | University of South Australia, July 2020.


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One of the ironic outcomes that has been criticised is the Australian school education sectors’ garnered high praise as families realised just how skilled, adaptive, and dedicated our primary teachers and their leaders are. We must also “dip our lids” to our school administrative personnel who have been on their own frontline. They have helped incalculable numbers of parents and children navigate the confusing, ever-changing world of covid strategies. Australia’s primary school principals and school leaders are, at time of writing, again putting their shoulders to the wheel. Along with our teachers, education assistants, education facility attendants, school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, social workers, all our people in schools have been on the frontline of our society’s coping strategies dealing with anxiety, worry, illness, masks, ventilation, air purification, staffing uncertainty and, not to forget, their own lives. It has been great to get recognition through

Malcolm Elliot has been a teacher for over 40 years. From 2015-2018 he was president of the Tasmanian Principals Association, representing government primary and secondary school principals. He is now president of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA).


the media and mentions from our political representatives, but it would be marvellous to see this turned into more transformative action about workloads, workflow and resourcing that meant all primary schools could focus on the teaching and learning relationships which are currently negatively affected by too much other work. Governments have devised and enacted covid management strategies dependent, as we all know, on the medical advice. A very important learning from this pandemic is that our school leaders must be just as actively and consistently engaged in policy development as our medical friends. Systems, education offices, departments and directorates must be given credit for efforts made in this direction. However, there is much work to be done in changing planning processes so that policy is not only devised in consultation with school personnel but implemented according to timelines that reflect the reality of school operations. Almost every school in Australia operates

Elliot says APPA’s aim now is to attract and retain people who have the motivation and capability to teach children.

education matters primary

on an annual grant calculated on a formula. This causes annual fluctuations in staffing and programming which, in contemporary times, just isn’t flexible enough to support the multi-year sustained effort that primary schools need to produce as they try to deliver the highest calibre education for children in an environment where there is ever fluctuating resourcing. It is certainly within the capacity of those who hold the purse strings to deliver multi-year resource guarantees that mean staffing does not decline. Staffing must be allowed to hold its ground in terms of numbers so that strategies and programmes can have a chance to work and develop over time and not be subject to annual change. Much of this type of consideration must surely be part of risk mitigation strategies and considerations at government levels. The insurance industry spawned the risk management movement which really took effect in this country about 20 or so years ago. As the pandemic began to take hold there was talk about Australia’s preparedness for dealing with just such an eventuality. Pandemic

risk mitigation strategies have been around for many years but have not been prominent. The risk of pandemic has long been known worldwide. But here we find ourselves short of teachers in rural, regional, and remote locales and even in urban settings. And this was the case before the pandemic. We now face an immediate national challenge to attract and retain people who have the motivation and capability to teach our children, contribute to children’s happy and productive lives and who are committed to building our nation. We must ensure that teachers are trained expertly and that our school leaders and teachers are esteemed within our community. Our principals must be enabled to focus on leading high performing schools. They must be recognised for their high levels of knowledge and capability. Our school leaders play a critically important role and consequently should be highly valued by all members of our society. Funding must be prioritised and sustained for the early and primary years. Government funding

We now face an immediate national challenge to attract and retain people who have the motivation and capability to teach our children, contribute to children’s happy and productive lives and who are committed to building our nation. per student must be facilitative of the highest quality education for every student, in every locale and must be targeted to those who need it most. The size and scope of the primary curriculum must be lessened in order to facilitate greater flexibility and adaptability for teachers in meeting the needs and interests of their students. Whole cohort testing should be replaced by a sample testing regime. NAPLAN results should be removed from the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority’s website. Our pandemic experiences are a mandate to address fundamental questions about our education provision in Australia. EM


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Westminster School Principal Simon Shepherd inside the race of the new Thomas Pavilion in the School’s sporting precinct.



WHAT IS THE SCHOOL’S PHILOSOPHY AND HOW DOES IT GUIDE YOU AND YOUR STAFF? Westminster students are encouraged by our staff to achieve more than they thought possible. We want our students to leave school equipped cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually with the skills they need in life to achieve eudemonia. Helping students of all ages achieve this during their formative years becomes a guiding beacon for all staff.


HOW DOES THE SCHOOL DIFFER FROM OTHER SCHOOLS? We aspire to ensure that our graduates are ultimately not remembered for their ATAR or qualifications, but rather for the positive manner in which they interact with others and contribute to our society. Of course, this grounding starts in their primary years. As students age, we also offer a number of significant pennant programs. Perhaps the most influential of

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these is our Outdoor Education program, which encompasses the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards where we regularly receive the most Gold Awards in South Australia. We are one of only two Round Square Schools in South Australia, providing our students with great opportunities to develop internationalism and relationships with schools and students from around the nation and world. WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL? Westminster School was initially founded by the Methodist Church to provide another boarding school in Adelaide, offering educational opportunities for rural students. Our doors opened in 1961 and cater for Years 1 to 8 (equivalent). Over 60 years, we have grown into a significant coeducational day and boarding ELC to Year 12 school of around 1200 students.

We have always been a community-focused school, and this has been carefully cultured. We are also an exceptionally well-resourced school. We have grown and evolved with a student-centred approach, ensuring that our students are always at the centre of our decision-making processes. WHAT YEAR WAS THE SCHOOL ESTABLISHED? Westminster was established in 1961 as a boys’ school and became coeducation in 1978. The sheer size of the campus, originally destined for housing, is evidence of the resolve and influence of the School’s founders and we remain forever grateful to them for their vision. Nestled between the city and sea in the southwest suburb of Marion, the Westminster campus is one of the largest in Adelaide. IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE EVOLVED SINCE IT WAS ESTABLISHED? The greatest evolutionary step was the move to coeducation in 1978. We have also grown and expanded adding and an Early Learning Centre (ELC) and Out of School Hours (OSHC) to include a comprehensive holiday program. We have always been a community-focused school, and this has been carefully cultured. We are also an exceptionally well-resourced school. We have grown and evolved with a studentcentred approach, ensuring that our students are always at the centre of our decision-making processes.

guided by the strategic plan and empowered to achieve their goals within it. WHAT ROLE DO YOU PLAY IN THE DAY-TO-DAY ACTIVITIES OF YOUR STUDENTS? As Principal, I try to be visible to the students, they are not surprised if I ‘gate-crash’ their classes to see what they are doing. I try to lead by example for the students, adopting the tenant that I can’t ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Weekends and holidays are times where I try to see students in a context out of the classroom where I will watch them play sport and attend camps they are on. I have even skied out onto the Bogong High Plains to meet a Secondary School Cross

Country ski trip and share half a dozen blocks of chocolate with them. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FACED BY TEACHERS IN THE SECTOR? Teachers are challenged by the pressure being put on schools to be a panacea. Not only do teachers have to address the National Curriculum or relevant State Curriculum, but they are also expected to teach consent, acceptance, appropriate behaviour, morals and even ethics. On top of this, there is a growing trend of inappropriate attributions where, increasingly, accountability for one’s actions is being attributed to external causes. Less people are accepting open accountability for what they do. At times when a student makes an inappropriate attribution, it is supported by parents and this, in effect, undermines the teacher, the school and even the child. It severely limits growth opportunities and can lead to unrealistic self-perception. We see this as important to instil in the earliest years of education and continue to flex and adapt as students grow and develop.

Westminster is one of only two Round Square Schools in South Australia, providing students with great opportunities to develop internationalism and relationships around the world.

HOW DO YOU PROVIDE SUPPORT AND LEADERSHIP TO YOUR STAFF? With a firm belief in servant leadership, leading by example and the notion that leaders ‘eat last’, I endeavour to provide support and leadership by empowering staff to reach their potential. I look to distribute leadership and, where the situation allows, extend this to consulting. We have and will continue to develop strategic plans from a shared pool of understanding which then allows me, and the rest of the School Leadership Team, to adopt a ‘follow me I am right behind you approach’, where staff are

education matters primary



Westminster School was initially founded by the Methodist Church to provide another boarding school in Adelaide. Today it is has around 1200 students.

reflection on the importance of the profession and its lasting impact. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT NAPLAN AND ITS EFFECTIVENESS? In Australia our National Curriculum is the framework that states work independently within. Each state has its own matriculation process, which are ‘melded’ by the ATAR. Given this, one standardised benchmark test that allows for measurement of growth on a longitudinal journey is a really good idea. It allows teachers to see the value add they provide to students and how both their cohorts and students are growing and tracking against benchmark data. However, when NAPLAN results are used like a rolled-up newspaper to beat teachers with and create a league table for schools, they are very unhelpful. Likewise, when the results are framed, pinned on the wall, and boasted about at BBQs, they are equally unhelpful.

WHAT TRAITS MAKE FOR AN EFFECTIVE AND SUCCESSFUL LEADER IN EDUCATION TODAY? In Australia right now there are enormous pressures that have been created by COVID-19. Educational leaders are sensing a real and ominous threat of a youth mental health epidemic as a consequence of the pandemic with its associated isolations, quarantines and guidelines. More than ever, they must have a very broad skill set that includes showing situational, transformational, and inspirational leadership all at once. They also must have academic and business acumen. They need to be resilient, beyond belief, and be prepared to be praised one day and burnt at the stake the next. As a list of qualities, they need to: • have empathy • be brave • be altruistic • be congruent • show appropriate determination • be accepting


WHAT HAS BEEN MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT EITHER AS A TEACHER OR SPECIFICALLY IN THE ROLE OF PRINCIPAL? The standout moment for me was some years ago when a young man, for whom I had been the Director of Boarding and was his Year 12 Geography teacher at his school, called me almost seven years after leaving to thank me. His journey through school and boarding was not easy. Male role models in his life had not lived up to his expectations and we had a challenging journey together. In Year 12, he went from a D grade student to a solid B and he rang out of the blue to thank me. At the time of the call, I was driving my partner to hospital for cancer treatment and his call reduced me to tears. As an educator you can often be unaware of the positive impact you can have on students and their lives. To have helped this young man to the extent he called me like that was most humbling and a true


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• exercise intelligent disobedience • be a role model • be prepared to communicate excessively so that the communication ‘gap’ or ‘silence’ around COVID-19 is not filled with humbug • understand that communities will expect them to live by a different set of standards to how they live themselves • be prepared to be bullied, upwardly by some members of the community they are striving to serve. Leaders, particularly, have to be prepared to be lonely. They have to acknowledge that success is passed on to the team, yet failure rests with them. Increasingly in Australia, leaders need to realise that there is an empathy valve. Educational leaders are expected, and in some cases legislated, to always show empathy, yet there can be little to none in return. This has been particularly tested by COVID-19 and highlighted throughout the pandemic. EM

Westminster students are encouraged by staff to achieve more than they thought possible.

AMUN 716 Environmental C0 2 Sensor Range









. TH E

Hirian Hinson, Director of Business Kilvington Grammar

When monitoring of the environment matters.

. VIC &

HOT TOPIC // THE NEW NORMAL Masks are required to be worn by school children in class rooms in various year groups dependent on state and territory COVID safe operational plans.



Currently, the operational plans include masks, rapid antigen testing, outside learning and restrictions on assemblies and events, with the National Framework aiming to ensure all schools and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) are able to remain open. The framework is based around six guiding


principles including: ECEC services and schools are essential and should be the first to open and the last to close wherever possible in outbreak situations, with face-to-face learning prioritised. With every state having had learning disrupted to various extents since the

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pandemic began, the repercussions of this are only just being fully understood and have been felt more strongly in some states and territories than others. Students in Melbourne have not had an uninterrupted term since 2019 and have had face to face schooling suspended for over 220 days since March

When kids come to school, we are able to supply them with a safe, supportive, familiar experience as much as we can and that is really what we are focusing on this year. It’s really about giving the kids what they should have had these last two years. 2020. Mother of two and Head of Learning and Teaching, St Thomas More Primary School, Melbourne Kate Korber says some children in Victoria who started prep in 2020 have never experienced a normal year of school. “My son who is now in Year 2 hasn’t really had school for two years. He hasn’t really experienced what school life is like. There is a curriculum, and we can deliver that but all the other amazing experiences of being involved with each other, with other year levels, is the one thing we really craved at the end of remote learning,” Korber says. Research published in January by The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute shows that child and adolescent mental health difficulties, and physical health problems have increased across the 2020-2021 lockdown period in Victoria and that the potential impacts on health and development are likely to be long lasting. The National Framework states that keeping ECEC and schools open is important to children’s learning, social and emotional development, wellbeing,

physical and mental health. Children benefit most from face-to-face learning and further interruptions should be avoided, where possible. “This year the most important thing is kids being together and the thing that we’ve noticed especially with our Grade 1, 2 and even our preps is that they don’t know how to be together. They have forgotten how to work in teams, how to share, how to take turns, how to communicate, so for us, school at the moment is re-learning how to be together,” says Korber. “When kids come to school, we are able to supply them with a safe, supportive, familiar experience as much as we can and that is really what we are focusing on this year. It’s really about giving the kids what they should have had these last two years.” The National Framework requires all state and territory governments to outline individual operational plans in consultation with relevant stakeholders, schools and ECEC sectors. New South Wales and Victoria collaborated on their

Professor Catherine Bennett says outdoor lessons and ventilation considerations are here to stay in the classroom.

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Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair in Epidemiology, Deakin University.

plans which included twice weekly rapid antigen tests for staff and students for the first four weeks of term one. Face masks, that have become a part of everyday life for older Australians, were introduced across various year groups. Measures to reduce mixing, congregating for events and assemblies, improving ventilation and prioritising outside learning where possible have been included across state and territory plans. Professor Catherine Bennett, Chair in Epidemiology, Deakin University explains what COVID-19 safe measures will stay and what will go as Australia moves through the 2022 school year are likely to be dependent on a number of factors including the community transmission rates. “While I’m a supporter of masks, they can make a difference, requiring them on an ongoing and inconsistent basis is problematic if you can’t justify why one group of kids has it and others don’t, in particularly state to state and across age groups. I think class or state-specific rules will disappear and probably not come back as vaccinations slowly creep up in numbers across all the childhood age groups. And we don’t have to reach incredibly high vaccination levels to still be in a safe environment in the current situation, with Omicron being dominant and those infection numbers decreasing in the community,” Bennett says. “In schools we are happy to do what we need



The National Framework aims to ensure all schools and Early Childhood Education and Care are able to remain open, with as little disruption from COVID-19 as possible during term one of 2022 and beyond.

to do to keep our children and our staff safe but at the same time, we would love not to have to wear a mask,” says Korber. “A huge part of expressive and receptive language is being able to read facial expressions, lip reading, that is a huge part of learning for us that really impacts on children’s ability to communicate with each other.” Professor Bennett predicts that as rapid antigen tests work best in high infection environments, she expects to see active surveillance being reintroduced as part of localised plans later in the year if there is an outbreak. “In terms of rapid antigen tests, active surveillance is only recommended in critical outbreak settings, and that is where we were with Omicron. Even though we were past the peak of omicron in the eastern states, it was still important as we still had quite high rates in the community,” she says. “We have to recognise that things will change as the year goes on and stabilise for a while. So, I do think the active


It’s trying to keep education happening but it’s also thinking creatively about how we can do it so it’s not a virus heaven... There are a lot of things that have come out of this that not only help reduce or contain the risk of spread but also reduce that transmission of colds and flu and other pathogens that also spread through the same sorts of mixing, such as thinking about ventilation and how schools are put together and how we use that space. testing will stop in most areas and then we will see local responses that might include testing if the situation changes.’’ Bennett says that some measures are here to stay, such as outdoor lessons, ventilation and how children come together. “It’s trying to keep education happening but it’s also thinking creatively about how we can do it so it’s not a virus heaven,’’ she says. “There

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are a lot of things that have come out of this that not only help reduce or contain the risk of spread but also reduce that transmission of colds and flu and other pathogens that also spread through the same sorts of mixing, such as thinking about ventilation and how schools are put together and how we use that space. I think a shift in the way we think about schooling will happen. Hopefully it will be something that is engineered in the future

Keeping ECEC and schools open is important to children’s learning, social and emotional development, wellbeing, physical and mental health.

to school design and school refurbishments.” It’s clear that Australia wide continuity in operational approaches is hoped for during the year and that a sense of normality for children returns along with a full year of face-to-face teaching. Bennett says 2022 brings a greater understanding of the level of protection from serious illness and the uncoupling of infection rates and serious illness. She believes it would be good to see all the states come into alignment. “We’ve gone through the Omicron wave at different times, and we’re at different points in our vaccine rollouts, but that is going to level out as the year goes on. So, the first thing would be, hopefully, there would be agreements across

states to be a standard, evidence based approach to what measures would be required and under what circumstances,” she says. Korber says Victorian schools are pushing towards trying to get back towards some normal school life, but there are still lots of little aspects of life that they can’t do because it’s not a 100 per cent safe yet. “We would love to be able to hold whole school events like art shows or fetes, our canteen has only just opened, we have a buddy programme with Grade 6 and Prep who still can’t be together as we can’t mix year groups. It’s little things that we are hoping will come back this year, as we get a little bit more comfortable with knowing how to run things safely,” says Korber. “We just want to get back to being educators. I feel that what we are looking forward to is just teaching again, doing the fun things that make being a kid in school such an amazing place to be.” EM

In-person workshops with James Nottingham Sydney 29th April | Melbourne May 4th | Brisbane 6th May

Building Efficacy Through the Learning Pit With James Nottingham

The last two years have emphasised just how important it is to have students (and staff) with high self (and collective efficacy). These workshops will explore: •

Three of the best ways to build students’ selfefficacy (as well as the things to avoid)

The relationship between self-efficacy, selfesteem and student independence

Strategies to teach students how to learn, including questioning, reflection and thinking skills

For bookings and more info scan the QR code or contact us at James Nottingham is the creator of The Learning Pit as well as a sought-after keynote speaker and author of 11 books about teaching, learning and leadership.


EDMAT25 for $25 off ticket price


ViewSonic partnered with Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan to establish the world’s first ViewSonic Hybrid Teaching Classroom.



When COVID-19 first broke out, the demand for online learning increased. Schools and students had no choice but to utilise old technology to conduct online learning, putting teachers at a disadvantage. Today, digital teaching is not a new concept in education, but the demand and necessity for it in the wake of the pandemic was something no educational institution could have foreseen. Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in Taiwan was no different, with the university utilising online teaching for years through pre-recorded videos for students to learn asynchronously and remotely. However, teachers ran into difficulties with these programs as pre-recorded course materials were time consuming, inflexible, lacked interactivity, and did not cater for differing levels of students.


Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan adapting to a hybrid classroom model.

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To meet this challenge, CYCU installed and implemented a hybrid classroom on campus. The key factor being to give equal weight to in-class and remote learners by fully integrating online teaching into the physical classroom, where teachers could use their established teaching methods and interact with both remote and in-class students simultaneously. ViewSonic has developed a solution about how to deal with students going back to school and further incorporate a hybrid classroom. A successful hybrid classroom is built on a combination of hardware and software designed to seamlessly integrate the physical and digital into one cohesive teaching environment. At the heart of the hybrid classroom solution is a large interactive touch display embedded with digital white boarding software that allows teachers to present, annotate, and collaborate on the display in real-time in such a way that is easily viewable by in-person and remote students. “It is unclear when the pandemic will end. What we fathom from this experience is that hybrid learning will likely become mainstream, and schools need to safeguard the quality of teaching by quickly adapting and supporting the everchanging learning environment, the needs of students, and the roles of teachers and parents in learning,” says Jack Hung, Country Manager of ViewSonic Australia. As a result, ViewSonic successfully developed a hybrid teaching classroom designed to meet the needs of teachers and students. At the height of the pandemic, ViewSonic partnered with Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan to establish the world’s first ViewSonic Hybrid Teaching Classroom. The classroom was built to meet the demands of all types of education – starting with Chung Yuan Christian University’s Department of Teaching Chinese as a second language. “The core goal of hybrid classrooms is to achieve a similar experience and outcome among learners and students in and out of the classrooms,” says Hung. ViewSonic’s hybrid classroom cuts the need to pre-record lessons and allows teachers and students to effectively communicate and interact with everybody, online and offline, real-time. With ViewSonic’s EdTech solutions, the school,

With ViewSonic’s EdTech solutions, the school, teachers, and students can adapt to remote teaching in a more intuitive and easy way and keep education uninterrupted.

teachers, and students can adapt to remote teaching in a more intuitive and easy way and keep education uninterrupted. Key aspects of the hybrid teaching classroom includes the ViewBoard interactive display, which is an 86-inch interactive display is installed at the front of the classroom. The 4K ultra-HD display helps teachers capture students’ attention by presenting lessons and videos in vivid colours; scribbling notes over blank canvas or any media; and creating dynamic lessons using myViewBoard. With certified eye-care technology, teachers and students can avoid straining their eyes while looking at the display for a long time. The latest ViewBoard 52 Series of interactive flat panels for education is equipped with usercentric design features and collaboration tools for today’s learning. Featuring a multimedia soundbar offering better audio-quality especially with special effects sound, it also has 8-mic array that comes very handy when recording or transmitting voice in the classroom or livestream. In addition, built-in any ViewSonic ViewBoard, the myViewBoard ecosystem is a powerful whiteboarding software packed with tools for teachers, system administrators, curriculum designers, and IT managers. Teachers enjoy a library of original activities

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and tools for lesson planning; create a secure and safe learning space; drive engagement with polls AI drawing, 3D Sketchfab, and more. Other features included in ViewSonic’s hybrid classroom include touch screen monitors, two projectors, and two cameras. The monitor will be placed on the front lectern so that teachers will turn their backs less frequently when trying to do something on the digital whiteboard. The first projector will mirror what is being shown in the digital whiteboard so teachers can view their work, while the other projector will show the students participating in the class remotely. “By having two cameras it will simulate classroom environment for remote learners. The first camera will be installed in the middle and will follow the teacher’s movements. The other camera will show other students in the room to achieve that feeling of being inside the classroom with their teachers and peers,” says Hung. Education will continue to evolve with or without a pandemic. ViewSonic Hybrid Teaching Classroom is developed to adapt the needs of post-pandemic learning and will help accelerate the spread and improvement of effective teaching models around the world. “ViewSonic continues to capture the demands of educators and students and enable teachers to teach in any space without compromising quality education,” says Hung. EM


TECHNOLOGY // EXPERT CONTRIBUTOR Superstars of STEM is a program that has fast-tracked the profile and leadership careers of 150 brilliant Australian female scientists and inspired tens of thousands of school children.



While this has been happening, another seismic shift has been taking place in the media, on television news, and in Australia’s schools. Quietly but steadily. Scientists have become a lot more visible. And those scientists aren’t stereotypes of stuffy old men in lab coats - they’re a diverse range of brilliant women from across the country, the breadth of the science community, and with wide-ranging expertise. They are Science & Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM. If you’ve been in an Australian school over the last few years, you’ll probably have heard of the Superstars of STEM. But in case you haven’t, here’s a quick recap. Since 2017, this world-leading program has fast-tracked the profile and leadership careers of 150 brilliant Australian female


It’s hard to be what you can’t see. By nurturing these diverse visible role models of women in STEM - in the media, in public leadership and in our schools - this program powerfully shows girls and young women that STEM is for them. scientists, smashed gender stereotypes about what a scientist looks like, and inspired tens of thousands of school children to consider studying science, technology, engineering or maths. In the last two years alone, more than 21,000 Australian school students have been inspired by school visits and talks by the Superstars of STEM. The work the Superstars are doing is

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essential, and it’s making a difference. Research shows that scientists visiting schools inspires kids to choose STEM studies. In a recent study, 94 per cent of teachers surveyed said a visit from the Superstars of STEM had influenced their students’ choice of subjects. The program has also stratospherically elevated the profile and fast-tracked the careers of Superstars. These amazing women scientists are everywhere you look in the media, reaching

Misha Schubert is the CEO of Science & Technology Australia - the nation’s peak body for science and technology representing more than 90,000 members.

a staggering cumulative media audience of 83 million people through more than 4000 media appearances from July 2020 to June 2021. It’s hard to be what you can’t see. By nurturing these diverse visible role models of women in STEM - in the media, in public leadership and in our schools - this program powerfully shows girls and young women that STEM is for them. And that is work that is crucial. In Australia, only one in four workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are women. In many STEM fields, the percentage is even lower. When young women and girls look for role models to inspire their education and career choices, mostly they see men speaking about STEM. In 2016, only 26 per cent of media coverage about STEM in Australia featured women experts. So, we were delighted that the Australian Government recently announced a further $2 million investment to advance women in STEM through the Superstars of STEM program. This powerful investment in Australia’s STEM leadership talent will enable 120 more brilliant and diverse women in STEM to turbo-charge their media profiles and career success over the next four years, helping to inspire the next generations of

girls and young women into these crucial fields. It’s a crucial investment from the Australian Government in Australia’s science, technology, engineering and maths talent. At its heart, the Superstars of STEM program is about brilliant women scientists lifting each other up to be visible public role models and inspire our next generations into these crucial careers.

It powerfully ‘shifts the dial’ on women’s underrepresentation in STEM and will deliver more equity and diversity of scientists in public life. And having more diverse and brilliant women STEM role models this ground-breaking program importantly highlights to young people that a career in science and technology is rewarding, exciting, and waiting for them. EM In the last two years alone, more than 21,000 Australian school students have been inspired by school visits and talks by the Superstars of STEM.

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The Nüdel Kart and its endless configurability can teach students through direct experience through its open-ended design.



Marcus Veerman is an ex-Aussie teacher, now Founder and co-designer of the charity and social enterprise, Nüdel Kart. Made as stimulating creativity spaces in mobile karts, they can be instantly deployed in any space for a whole class of students. Veerman tells Education Matters that children will face a

completely different world than the one their grandparents grew up in. He says schools can’t just teach for the now, but need to help prepare children for a whole new future. “Despite it feeling far away, but due to the exponential speed of technological change, it will be here sooner than we think,” he says.

Collaboration and communication are key to some of the best ideas and creations.


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The good news is that research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that the most in-demand skills are in fact the skills that make people most human. WEF lists creativity, negotiation, problem solving, divergent thinking, EQ, decision making and social skills at the top of the list of future skills that will be essential in daily life and the workplace. “As technology gets cheaper, faster and more sophisticated it will begin to gobble up any and all of the jobs and tasks that computers and robots do well,” says veerman. “So let’s let the robots do the jobs we didn’t want to do anyway and help humans do the things that humans do best.” Creativity expert Dr Tim Patston says focussing on creative 21st century skills is a win for now and the future. “Future-ready children are more confident and have higher wellbeing as well as a solid bump in academic scores,” he says. “We are already starting to see two major shifts,” Veerman says. Veerman says one shift is that many industries, like manufacturing, accounting, farming, and so many other white-and-bluecollar industries, are being streamlined and automated, and at the same time the second

shift is an explosion of whole new genres of work in the creative and social spheres. He says it’s critical that schools challenge themselves to respond to these challenges. “Let’s face it, most children’s understanding and use of technology is way ahead of the vast majority of teachers already so let’s focus on the fundamental areas where we can really add value to students,” he says. “So, what is the best way for children to learn these critical skills? And are educators actually able to shift student performance in these areas or are they more like ‘gifts’ or destiny?” Dr Tim Patston from the University of South Australia has been studying one of the most important STEM and future skills - creativity for many years, with his research showing that creativity is a skill that can be learnt through practice like any other skill. “We have known that teaching and integrating creativity into the classroom has tangible benefits for a long time, but it just takes some time for this knowledge to make its way into daily

Patston says focussing on creative 21st century skills is a win for now and the future.

Dr Tim Patston from the University of South Australia has found in his research that creativity is a skill that can be learnt through practice like any other skill.

education practice,” Patston says. The team at Nüdel Kart have teamed up with Patston and other researchers like professor Anita Bundy (a loose parts play specialist and occupational therapist) to create the Nüdel Kart, creativity manuals and personal developments to accelerate the shift to learning these critical future skills. The Nüdel Kart and its endless configurability can teach students through direct experience through its open-ended design. Dr Patston’s research has shown that the environment is essential in learning creativity and Nüdel Kart instantly transforms the classroom to a childdirected creative learning environment. “Creativity flourishes in a more flexible environment,” says Patston. About the size of a large shopping trolley and designed for up to 30 children, three to 12-yearolds, the Nüdel Kart (and the smaller Nüdel Rover) is designed to trust a child’s unstoppable urge to explore, experiment, and imagine. In this environment the children naturally focus on creativity and the foundational STEM skills, including problem solving, innovation, invention, social skills and negotiation. “It helps children to learn about the world around them and their place in it. When they are in deep, immersive and exploratory activity they are

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engaged, curious and experimental,” Veerman says. “Nüdel resources are specifically designed to support children to solve the same problem in many different ways using different materials,” he says. Divergent thinking is a very important skill when trying to solve unfamiliar problems.” At the end of the day, Veerman believes children are at their happiest when they are being creative which has the holistic benefit of building crucial future competence, wellbeing and social skills at the same time. “it’s a huge win/win for kids” he says. Nudel Kart has created a free downloadable creativity manual to help teachers and schools up their creativity game and take advantage of the huge benefits in building these skills. Check it out at All profits from the sale of Nüdel Karts goes to Playground Ideas, the charity that founded Nüdel Kart that supports around 700 to 1000 communities in 143 countries to build low-cost community play and learning spaces. EM

Buyer’s Guide Playground Ideas Ph: 0432 738 719 Email: Web:





Founded by James Nottingham, who was also the brains behind The Learning Pit, is a soughtafter keynote speaker and author of 11 books about teaching, learning and leadership. He co-founded Challenging Learning in 2006 to share some of the best ways to strengthen learning in schools, preschools, and colleges. Today, his company now employs 20 staff

Challenging Learning founder James Nottingham.


in six countries: the UK, the USA, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Australia. Nottingham brings rare clarity and insight to research evidence, a breadth and depth of exemplar that connects with the reality of the classroom, and a sense of story and humour that ensures learning continues long into the future. His experience and insights are particularly relevant to teachers, leaders, administrators, and support staff at schools through to TAFE. Through partnering with schools, preschools and colleges for the long-term, Nottingham says it allows the company and schools to significantly improve learning, teaching and leadership together. “Keynotes inspire and challenge, leading to a renewed sense of passion and focus. However, it is the longer-term processes that evolve into the most important and powerful outcomes. That is why as a company, we invest in the long-term. Our Challenging Learning Process guides, encourages, demonstrates and coaches. We walk alongside staff for two to three years, ensuring that improvements are embedded and a ‘new normal’ is created,” he says. Having played its part in helping 450 plus schools, pre-schools, and colleges in 15 plus countries to improve the outcomes of feedback, dialogue and questioning; lift attainment grades; boost professional engagement; increase student attendance and decrease staff illness; and embed a healthier attitude towards challenge, progress, curiosity and collective efficacy have been some of the achievements

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Challenging Learning has been in Australia since 2006 and is dedicated to improving learning outcomes.

Our Challenging Learning Process guides, encourages, demonstrates and coaches. We walk alongside staff for two to three years, ensuring that improvements are embedded and a ‘new normal’ is created. Challenging Learning has achieved over its time. Nottingham says a lot of the time schools track their progression through a sense of what is going well. While he says this is an important aspect of tracking, Challenging Learning can provide data collection analysis through its Challenging Learning Process (CLP), so schools have a source of evidence to see the

present a window into the experiences of your students’ learning, and therefore give you a unique perspective on the current situation in your organisation from which we can work with you to set realistic and achievable goals,” he says. “No two CLP projects are the same. We understand that while most schools, pre-schools, and colleges share common issues, it is the makeup of structures, staff, culture, history, location, budget, parents, and students that make it unique. This makes it difficult to say exactly what will be achieved until we have designed a process with the school, for its context.” Challenging Learning’s number one priority is about making an impact on schools. Working across many countries around the world, far too often Nottingham and his staff see an

emphasis on grades rather than the pleasure and satisfaction of learning. He says it strengthens schools’ learning culture and leads to improved use of feedback, questioning and dialogue. “It starts with your context and helps you make the changes you want. A CLP is driven by evidence (including meta-analyses, action learning, and student voice) and supported by practice (including teaching resources, coaching, and demonstration lessons),” says Nottingham. “It has been designed from the bottom-up and top-down and is continually improved and adapted. It represents excellent value for money by building capacity and collective efficacy so that your team continues to embed sustainable change long after the funded phase is done.” EM

Nottingham is best known for creating The Learning Pit and his keynote presentations around the world.

comparisons. When it comes to the CLP data collection, it is based on what the school wants. “One project we might help with is improving the approach to questioning and teachers asking more thought-provoking questions resulting in students giving more in-depth answers,” Nottingham says. “Or it could be on teaching students about how to use feedback and tracking the gains from that.” “An example of where the CLP has been successful in Australia is at Araluen Primary School in Victoria. As a result of the three-year relationship, 80 per cent of staff actively taught students how to learn. This was linked to their use of learning intentions and success criteria. Mistakes were also embraced as a learning opportunity across the school.” The Principal of Araluen Primary School said that teachers were passionate and keen to improve their practice and were therefore extremely positive about being coached, understanding that it is not about judgement but about improvement. Just like Araluen Primary School, Nottingham says a lot of educators find it helpful seeing the practices before applying them in the classroom. “By gathering evidence, we are able to

The Challenging Learning Process guides, encourages, demonstrates and coaches.

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There is no denying that Australia’s history includes tragic incidents that are very uncomfortable for some people to acknowledge let alone speak about or teach. These incidents are part of Australia’s shared history beginning with colonisation. Feelings of teachers new to the classroom are important to understand when discussing Dr Woodroffe says Australia’s history taught in schools requires a more rounded understanding of what has occurred in Australia’s past.

Dr Tracy Woodroffe is a Warumungu Luritja woman with years of experience in the field of education - Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary. The majority of that time has been spent in the classroom teaching and in associated leadership roles. She is a lecturer at Charles Darwin University who coordinates, develops and delivers teacher education units about teaching Indigenous learners and the importance of Indigenous knowledge in education.


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the teaching of Australian history lessons. ‘History is recorded by the victor’ is a common phrase and explains the attributions given to the many milestones throughout the world’s history. Whether consciously or not, we form polarized ideas about the heroes being the victors in their triumph over the enemy. The recording of history is crafted in a way to

present the dominance of the victor and raises the questions about fact and truth. Colonisation has created this scenario in Australia. The language used to teach Australia’s shared history using words such as British discovery and settlement, and then terms such as natives and uncivilized describing Aboriginal people, are only teaching students from one perspective. History requires, and students deserve, a more rigorous investigation than that. The teaching of Australia’s shared history requires the teaching of analysis and the inclusion and understanding of Indigenous perspectives. It requires a more rounded understanding of what has occurred in Australia’s past, to move forward as a nation and to teach for reconciliation. So how do we best teach for reconciliation in a way that represents different perspectives, that includes uncomfortable and painful incidents and concepts, and addresses the contention between fact and truth? Australian history has included massacres, dispossession, segregation, racism, exclusion, and abuse. How do we make sure that all Australian citizens know this as part of our shared history and recognise these painful aspects as tools for reconciliation? The process should be a part of schooling, but past curriculum has been limited to approved priority topics which have been lacking in Indigenous perspectives and not inclusive of the inhumane treatment of Aboriginal people. The teaching of limited facts from only a non-Aboriginal perspective does not allow for the truth of Aboriginal experience, and results in a partial knowledge of Australian history. There are several resources that teachers can utilise to make sure that their students know the comprehensive history of Australia. Teachers can use these resources to ensure a more realistic understanding of Aboriginal people and culture, creating opportunities for reconciliation. The following statement in the Sydney Morning Herald strikes at the heart of the matter. “Most students will leave history lessons knowing about the Stolen Generations and campaigns for Indigenous rights, such as the freedom rides and 1967 referendum. Their understanding of frontier wars, forced labour or blackbirding, however, might be less robust.”

Dr Woodroffe has outlined resources teachers can use to ensure a more realistic understanding of Aboriginal people and culture, creating opportunities for reconciliation.

(Chrysanthos, 2020, para. 1). ( national/nsw/how-indigenous-history-is-taught-innsw-schools-20200616-p5534w.html). The resulting difficulty is in teachers finding out how to bridge this gap in knowledge and be able to move forward. Danielle Hradsky outlined outcomes of several curriculum reviews and political toing and froing, in her July 2021 article ‘Invasion or Reconciliation: What matters in the Australian curriculum?’ (available at edu/@education/2021/07/09/1383496/invasionor-reconciliation-what-matters-in-the-australiancurriculum). The article demonstrated that the portrayal of Australia’s shared history has been an issue debated by many for a long time with relatively limited progress towards a truly comprehensive version with uncomfortable concepts inclusive of Indigenous perspectives. This needs to be remedied. Historical Acceptance is one of the five

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dimensions of reconciliation recommended by Reconciliation Australia and can be accessed on their website at au/what-is-reconciliation. On the website, Historical Acceptance is described as: All Australians understand and accept the wrongs of the past and their impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Australia makes amends for past policies and practices ensures these wrongs are never repeated’ and requires ‘widespread acceptance of our nation’s history and agreement that the wrongs of the past will never be repeated— there is truth, justice, healing and historical acceptance. However, none of this will be achieved though unless people act. The classroom is the perfect place to lay the foundations. In conclusion, teachers have a massive impact on their students and in the shaping of society in general. This responsibility includes truth telling about our shared history with the purpose of healing and moving forward together. EM





Of the original 250 plus languages and over 750 dialects spoken by First Nations peoples before 1788, only 12 are being learned by children today (Dixon, 2019). Instead, widely spoken contact languages – creoles and dialects – have emerged (NILS 3, 2020). However, these languages are often not recognised as the full languages they are by some educators and society generally. WHAT ARE CONTACT LANGUAGES? Contact languages form when two or more languages come together in a context where communication is essential. In Australia this occurred between traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and English after 1788. A variety of contact languages developed which are both similar and different from each other: some more closely related to English, others with more features of the traditional languages. Some examples are Aboriginal English (Rodriguez Louro & Collard, 2020) and Kriol (Dickson, 2016). Many are not officially named. These factors contribute to their lack of recognition in Australian society, including school systems.

Dr Carly Steele is a Lecturer and Early Career Researcher in the School of Education at Curtin University, Perth. She completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2021 which explored the role of language awareness and the use of constrastive analysis for teaching Standard Australian English as an additional language to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in primary school.


INVISIBLE LANGUAGE LEARNERS Little is known about these languages, but children come to school speaking these languages as their first language. Often, the children’s languages are “invisible” (Sellwood & Angelo, 2013) to educators and not recognised as different languages. Consequently, the students may not be treated as second language learners of Standard Australian English (SAE) and their language learning needs not considered. To improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal

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and Torres Strait Islander children who do not speak SAE as their first language, their language backgrounds must be recognised and valued. OUR STUDY In our research (Steele & Wigglesworth, 2021), we sought to quantitatively show some of the language differences to help make the SAE language learning needs of many First Nations children “visible” to educators. First, we compared the short-term memory capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who speak Indigenous contact languages with native monolingual SAE speakers. The shortterm memory capacities of the two groups were the same showing that both groups are equally able to process language. Next, students orally produced a range of simple sentences in SAE to gauge their proficiency. The SAE speaking ability of the two groups differed significantly. We also examined students’ knowledge of four SAE grammatical features: • the prepositions at-in-on • plural ‘s’ on nouns e.g. cats • simple present tense with 3rd person singular ‘s’ e.g. she runs • simple irregular past tense e.g. they ate. The two groups differed significantly in all aspects but the prepositions at-in-on. This finding highlights the close relationship that can exist between Indigenous contact languages and SAE. It demonstrates how speakers of Indigenous contact languages may be proficient in some aspects of SAE, but not others. These similarities can mask students’ status as language learners.

Steele is calling for education systems to recognise and response to students’ language backgrounds.

WHY DOES IT MATTER? Our findings showed the SAE speaking ability of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students improved over the primary school years but did not reach the levels of their monolingual SAE speaking peers. As children progress through school, the SAE language and literacy demands increase at such a rate that the language gains made are unlikely to be identified in many classroom-based or standardised assessments (e.g. NAPLAN). Consequently, students’ achievement may not be visible and go unrecognised in the classroom. The impact can be seen in the deficit positioning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners in educational and national public discourse (Patrick & Moodie, 2016). The educational and social implications are considerable and the outcomes for First Nations children who speak contact languages a national disgrace. WHAT CAN BE DONE? To meet the SAE learning needs of students who speak Indigenous contact languages, their language backgrounds must be recognised and

valued in the classroom. Students’ first language/s play an important role in learning (Oliver et al., 2021). Contact languages need to be treated with respect and understanding, and not viewed as incorrect forms of SAE. All teachers need to understand how language is learned and how it works to effectively teach SAE alongside curriculum content. Language skills are the cornerstone of literacy and educational development. Teachers should explicitly teach of SAE and provide students with the opportunity to practice their language skills (Angelo & Hudson, 2021). Targeted training needs to be delivered in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) degrees and in professional development for teachers already teaching. In the current climate of heavy responsibilities on timepoor teachers, sufficient funding and time must be given for teachers to gain the skills required. EM References Angelo, D. & Hudson, C. (2021). From the periphery to the centre: Securing the place at the heart of the TESOL field for First Nations learners of English as an Additional Language/ Dialect. TESOL in Context, 29(1): 5–35. tesol2020vol29no1art1421 Dickson, G. (26th April 2016). Explainer: the largest language spoken exclusively in Australia – Kriol. The Conversation. https://

education matters primary Dixon, R. M. 2019. Australia’s Original Languages: An Introduction. NSW: Allen and Unwin. National Indigenous Language Survey (NILS) 3. (2020). National Indigenous Languages Report. Canberra: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. The Australian Government. au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2020-08/apo-nid307493. pdf Oliver, R., Wigglesworth, G., Angelo, D., & Steele, C. (2021). Translating translanguaging into our classrooms: Possibilities and challenges. Language Teaching Research, 25(1): 134–150. Patrick, R. & Moodie, N. (2016). Indigenous Education Policy Discourses in Australia: Rethinking the “Problem”. In T. Barkatsas & A. Bertram (Eds.), Global Learning in the 21st Century, 165–184. Sense Publishers. chapter/10.1007/978-94-6300-761-0_10 Rodriguez Louro, C. & Collard, G. D. (16th June 2020). 10 ways Aboriginal Australians made English their own. The Conversation. Sellwood, J., & Angelo, D. (2013). “Everywhere and Nowhere: Invisibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Contact Languages in Education and Indigenous Language Contexts.” Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 34(3): 250–266. https:// Steele, C. & Wigglesworth, G. (2021). Recognising the SAE language learning needs of Indigenous primary school students who speak contact languages, Language and Education, *This article is an abridged version of the article which appeared in The Conversation ( and is based on a recently published article by Steele & Wigglesworth, 2021 (https://www.



Supporting children’s language comprehension through vocabulary instruction DR CLARENCE GREEN EXPLAINS THE IMPORTANCE OF WHY VOCABULARY NEEDS TO BE TAUGHT IN CONTEXT AND WHEN NEEDED.

E Dr Clarence Green currently lectures in the School of Education at the Berwick campus of Federation University Australia. Dr Green has published and taught in areas of the cognitive psychology of language, literacy instruction, language development, corpus linguistics, disciplinary literacy, stylistics and English grammar.


The Simple View of Reading proposes that language comprehension and decoding constitute two fundamental foundations for successful reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986). Vocabulary is one of the most important components of language comprehension (McKeown et al., 2018). Research suggests a strong correlation between the number of words a student knows and their ability to comprehend what they read- a common estimate is around 95% of the words on the page need to be in a student’s vocabulary to achieve comprehension (Laufer, 2020; Nation, 2006). After decoding, vocabulary knowledge is statistically the strongest predictor of reading success in the early years (Biemiller, 2012). Given its importance, Marzano (2020, p. 4) advises “teaching vocabulary should be a focal point” and contemporary educational research offers recommendations for teachers about effective vocabulary instruction to develop language comprehension. This contribution covers a few and is by no means exhaustive. In emergent literacy, shared-book reading has been shown to substantially enhance the lexical diversity of oral language input (Montag et al., 2015) and the accompanying oral dialogic interaction between teachers, students and peers supports comprehension of the print message. It is crucial to develop oral language (McLachlan, 2021). When children learn to read, they are drawing on their oral language vocabulary to

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comprehend print messages and it is not until decoding skills have developed that ‘recoding’ mechanisms arise. Recoding allows the child to develop phonological representations of words from print and learn new vocabulary from their reading (Share, 1995). Teachers should make use of incidental learning and not feel all vocabulary instruction needs to be explicitly taught with teachers selecting target words (Hiebert, 2020). For students who can decode, time put aside for pleasurable self-selected wide reading of comprehensible input provides opportunities for incidentally learning new vocabulary (Green, 2021). When it comes to the direct instruction of vocabulary, however, a widely used pedagogical model in Australia relies on an initial combination of sight words (sometimes rather dated frequency lists such as the Fry and Dolch lists) with the ‘Three Tiers’ pedagogy thereafter throughout primary school (Beck, McKeown & Kucan, 2013). The guidance to teachers in the Three Tiers approach is that Tier 1 words are highly frequent in spoken language and are therefore unlikely to need teaching. Tier 2 words are those encountered across a range of texts, have high utility for academic literacy, and those which in the context of a target text would impair comprehension if not understood. Tier 3 words are discipline-specific metalanguage (e.g. multiplication) and can be taught in subject areas as needed. Tier 2 words are therefore

Dr Green says when children learn to read, they are drawing on their oral language vocabulary to comprehend print messages and it is not until decoding skills have developed that ‘recoding’ mechanisms arise.

recommended to constitute the bulk of vocabulary targets selected by teachers. This approach valuably emphasises that vocabulary needs to be taught in context as and when needed. However, the challenge of this approach for less experienced teachers is that they vary on estimations of word-utility. Decisions can therefore be supported by having a pool of possible target vocabulary for instruction, typically informed by objective frequency (Green, 2021). For example, two recent frequency-based core vocabulary lists for early reading have been developed. Hiebert (2020) produced the WordZones and Graves et al. (2019) the General Utility Words. These vocabulary lists were derived from large collections of books for students approximately ages 5-12. Marzano (2020) has recently completed a large-scale project that extensively estimated and generated pedagogical wordlists for teachers, suggesting what the possible Tier 2 words might be. He notes that while we should definitely teach vocabulary in context to aid comprehension, if we are to wait simply for words to show up in a text being used for a pedagogical activity, then we may not be providing optimal vocabulary support over the school years, nor extensive enough vocabulary instruction to ensure a reading vocabulary size sufficient for comprehension. Marzano’s (2020) list

of Tier 2 words contains approximately 8000 highvalue words for teachers, and groups them together by related themes and meanings. Biemiller (2010) has usefully provided data on the developmental path of vocabulary in schoolaged children. After extensively interviewing children about their vocabulary knowledge, he suggested that we teach the less proficient learners within a class those words known by majority of their peers (i.e. 60 per cent and above) in that same class. For the majority, teachers are recommended to focus on the words known by the majority of students in the next level up but not known by the majority in the target class. Biemiller (2010) produced the ‘Words Worth Teaching’ resource based on these principles. These are valuable researchbased resources and approaches to supporting language comprehension through vocabulary during early literacy. However, it should be kept in mind that the objective testing data such as collected by Biemiller (2010), and frequency-based wordlists mentioned above, were not produced from research and texts in Australian schools. Australian teachers should always draw on their experience and professional learning communities to adapt research-informed resources to the needs and contexts of their students. EM

education matters primary

References Biemiller, A. (2010). Words worth teaching: Closing the vocabulary gap. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill SRA. Biemiller, A. (2012). Teaching vocabulary in the primary grades: Vocabulary instruction needed. In J. Baumann & E. Kame’enui (Eds.), Vocabulary instruction: Research to practice (Second Edition) (pp. 28-40) New York, NY: Guilford Press. Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and special education, 7(1), 6-10. Green, C. (2021). The oral language productive vocabulary profile of children starting school: A resource for teachers. Australian Journal of Education, 65(1), 41-54. Graves, M. F., Elmore, J., & Fitzgerald, J. (2019). The vocabulary of core reading programs. The Elementary School Journal, 119(3), 386-416. Hiebert, E. H. (2020). The core vocabulary: The foundation of proficient comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 73(6), 757-768. Marzano, Robert J. (2020). Teaching Basic, Advanced, and Academic Vocabulary : A Comprehensive Framework for Elementary Instruction (Carefully Curated Clusters of Tiered Vocabulary for K-5 Language and Literacy Development), Marzano Research Lab, 2020. McKeown, M. G., Crosson, A. C., Moore, D. W., & Beck, I. L. (2018). Word knowledge and comprehension effects of an academic vocabulary intervention for middle school students. American Educational Research Journal, 55(3), 572-616. McLachlan, C. (2021). Multiliteracies in Early Childhood Education. Oxford University Press. Montag, J. L., Jones, M. N., & Smith, L. B. (2015). The words children hear: Picture books and the statistics for language learning. Psychological science, 26(9), 1489-1496. Nation, P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(1), 59-82. Share, D. L. (1995). Phonological recoding and self-teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition. Cognition, 55(2), 151-218.



ReLATE positions schools to create safe, supportive and predictable teaching and learning environments.



As teachers work hard to create safe and predictable environments for their students, external to school factors can have a positive or negative impact on students depending on how they handle adversity and the supports being put in place during this time. Ben Sacco, National Lead – Program Development and Implementation, talks to Education Matters about how transition times can create stress for children and discusses strategies to help reduce the overwhelming nature of change. “Whether it be walking through the school


gates for the first time as a new Prep student, starting Grade 4 at the same school as the year before, moving interstate due to family relocation or entering a school for the first time as a Year 11 student. Simply put what comes with these scenarios is the need for the conditions around the individual to be one of psychological and physiological safety,” he says. “Feeling safe keeps us calm and minimising the possibility of a heightened stress response triggered by the absence of well thought-out and implemented transition strategies is just one of many goals of our Reframing Learning and Teaching

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Environments model at The MacKillop Institute.” Sacco says one key strategy schools could implement in order to reduce stress caused by change is providing clear information about the day or week ahead for students. For example, this could be done through letters to students or parents explaining the structure of the day or week or a short form school handbook that helps to identify key things one needs to know. “In times of change, not having clarity or an understanding of what is coming next can send a signal to our bodies that we feel

unsafe and therforfe through the activation of our stress response, we responde with fight or flight,” Sacco says. “We want teachers and schools to have a transition structure that is well thought out and provides predictability and a consistent approach. Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, the structure of a regular school day could change suddenly, including situations outside a school’s control, which is why we focus on how we establish the conditions that helps students learn how to regulate their emotions and respond in a constructive and calm way.” Sacco says this can be achieved through a number of resources and materials, including written and visual cues or activities that are age-appropriate and developmentally sound. The MacKillop Institute works with schools frequently providing teachers with the tools, knowledge, skills and resources that enable them to be cognisant of the impacts of adverse experiences such as transitions and its impact on engagement, learning, health and wellbeing. ReLATE positions schools to create safe, supportive and predictable teaching and learning environments. “Our skilled ReLATE consultants work directly with schools, to provide bespoke implementation based on the individual schools’ needs. ReLATE

Through the MacKillop Institute’s program, teachers and students become more trauma-informed.

follows a three-year implementation cycle, with annual professional learning to deepen and embed staffs’ understanding of adverse childhood experiences and trauma-informed practice,” Sacco says. “Our team provide school level reports and baseline assessments so that efforts are translated into real outcomes. We aim to make real, measurable

The MacKillop Institute works with schools frequently providing teachers with the tools to help with change.

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and lasting change in schools to better the teaching, learning and wellbeing of not only students but staff, leaders and the whole school community. Another strategy Sacco says great teachers already do is actively listening to students and being attuned to their needs at transition times, asking a student how they feel about school and what kind of support would they like to access. Two-way conversations are powerful, no cost strategies. We just need to be willing to create the time to connect and tune into what is really going on for our children. He says by seeking consent to progress a conversation that centres around the child or young persons concerns or worries, we will notice a decrease in their stress almost immediately becasiue they feel heard, valued, validated, and seen. “A teacher can have the best approaches that they will feel will work best for students based on the latest research, but let’s not forget that each student is an individual humanbeing. They respond differently in situations. What might generate stress for one student might not stress another at all. By promoting student voice and agency, they feel empowered andand regain some degree of control which we all need in times of uncertainly,” Sacco says. EM Schools wanting to understand the ReLATE model are invited to attend a free online information session, or contact The MacKillop Institute directly. Dates for upcoming sessions can be found at The MacKillop Institute website.





While many children, families and schools have tried to keep making the best of the situation, the prolonged and universal nature of this pandemic warrants specific attention in our schools. It now marks two years since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. With children in Australia typically spending seven years in primary schooling, two years represents close to a third of their education

in this sector. It is no longer enough to try to continue teaching and learning through this pandemic, we need to ensure attention is given to the skills and capacities children need for this pandemic. So, what sorts of skills and capacities do they need? Some of these would certainly be academic-related, such as the foundational written and numerical

literacy to filter and assess information. However, considerable research now attests to the impact of the situation on children and young people’s mental health and general social and emotional wellbeing (Commission for CYP, 2021; Lundy et al., 2021; Renshaw & Goodhue, 2021; UNICEF Australia, 2020). The impact of the pandemic on routines, relationships and recreation means children and their families have been restricted from the sorts of relief that might usually help them cope with difficult times and stress. Therefore, children need specific opportunities to learn emotional

The Rockhopper Toolkit: Finding your feet during times of change builds on the knowledge and practice wisdom accumulated over 25 years of the Seasons for Growth programs.


Rockhoppers are adaptable, tenacious little penguins.

education matters primary

The Rockhopper Toolkit has been designed to be easily implemented in schools, through a series of three short videos.

literacy and to practice the associated wellbeing skills for managing change, handling frustration and coping with uncertainty. For over a quarter of a century now, the Australian-developed Seasons for Growth suite of programs has been providing small-group emotional learning support for children through our schools. Originally developed by Professor Anne Graham, AO, to support children adapting to the change, loss and grief associated with parental separation or family bereavement, they have been adapted for children experiencing a wide range of change and loss events, including following natural disaster, terrorism events, for out-of-home care and suicide postvention in schools. Fiona McCallum, Seasons for Growth General Manager, says while the contexts differ, at their heart these programs are about supporting participants as they cope with, and adapt to, change and loss in their lives. Given this underlying focus, schools, and Seasons for Growth facilitators across the country and worldwide, identified the potential resonance of the programs for supporting children during the current pandemic. They began contacting McCallum at the MacKillop Institute for advice. “We could all see there was a clear need to support children’s resilience and that the emotional literacy offered through the Seasons for Growth programs would be incredibly valuable to all children at this time. The challenge was to adapt what had always been a small group learning experience to the needs and context of a whole class,” she says. McCallum and her team found the answer in rockhopper penguins. “Part of what makes the Seasons for Growth programs so gentle yet powerful is the underpinning metaphor of the shifting seasons. We wanted to find a similarly helpful idea for the pandemic context,” McCallum says.

Rockhoppers are adaptable, tenacious little penguins that spend five months out at sea before coming back to land to nest. As they try to hop up the steep rocky cliffs of windswept islands, their efforts are repeatedly thwarted by large crashing waves that wash them back out to sea. With the extended school closures in states such as NSW and Victoria, along with snap lockdowns and yo-yo restrictions nationwide, McCallum and her team saw parallels with rockhoppers’ efforts to make landfall on their nesting islands. “The penguins are both funny and resilient, but the real beauty is that they offer a shared focal point for the children that is slightly removed from their own pandemic experiences. As they examine how the rockhoppers navigate challenges and change, and as they practice their own rockhopper skills, the children are encouraged to see the connections to the pandemic without any pressure to share personal experiences,” McCallum describes. “The Rockhopper Toolkit: Finding your feet during times of change builds on the knowledge and practice wisdom accumulated over 25 years of the Seasons for Growth programs.” It offers a fresh, fun yet safe approach to learning how to adapt to change and uncertainty during what can otherwise be a serious and anxiety-inducing time. Like all programs in the suite, the Toolkit is underpinned by research evidence

about what works best in supporting children through difficult times, including the most recent advancements in resilience science. The Rockhopper Toolkit has been designed to be easy to implement in schools, through a series of three short videos ( institute). The narrated videos bring together quirky animated illustrations (developed during lockdown by McCallum’s 15-year-old daughter, Lily) with inspiring clips of real rockhoppers from the BBC documentary series, ‘Penguins in the Huddle’. “We didn’t want to add to teachers’ stress during this time. The videos are easy to facilitate with minimal preparation or resources. Our hope is that they offer a playful, shared vocabulary for social and emotional learning and spark supportive conversations in classrooms across the country and beyond,” McCallum says. The year 2021 coincided with the 25th anniversary of the first Seasons for Growth program. To mark this milestone, the Rockhopper Toolkit has been made freely and universally available during this pandemic. Find out more: programs/good-grief. EM Good Grief is on Facebook and LinkedIn

The Rockhopper Toolkit offers a fresh, fun, yet safe approach to learning.

education matters primary





The Urban Warrior range has been designed to engage older students that no longer feel the need to ’play’. With an emphasis on physical challenge and movement, this system encourages activity without the perception of play that can often be a disincentive for older primary students to get involved. As students approach the higher school years, their incentive and desire to play in a conventional manner disappears, being replaced with less sedentary activities. Add this to the undisputed fact that teenagers are less active outside of school hours, the ability to increase

The Urban Warrior range is Australian-made and uses aluminium and stainless steel for long life use.

activity levels during school is a real benefit. With an emphasis on activities that can develop cardio-vascular fitness and improve core strength, the Urban Warrior can help in student’s overall fitness, strength and improve posture. Improved core strength and posture has been linked to higher concentration levels and improved educational outcomes. Following the rise in popularity of television shows promoting similar obstacle course activities, the Urban Warrior system encourages activity and participation by all age students. The system also encourages social engagement and

A fitness track to encourage play and social interaction in the school yard.


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can add an element of competitiveness. WillPlay’s Urban Warrior system has an added benefit in it can also be incorporated into the school’s Physical Education program. The structured flow to the course allows students to be benchmarked and compare their own results/ improvements in physical performance and fitness over a period of time. The individual elements can be set as a close circuit or scattered around a larger area, creating a cross country style training course. Encouraging students to move between elements can improve cardio-vascular fitness and helps achieve the minimum daily movement that many students are missing out on these days. Elements of the system can also be ordered individually and incorporated into conventional play areas, and also allows a circuit to be built in stages, as budgets allow. Manufactured in Australia from premium materials including stainless steel, aluminium and recycled plastics and timber composites, these units are built to handle anything that students can throw at them. Talk to your nearest WillPlay Distributor to help design the ultimate obstacle course for your school. EM

eSafety Xxxxx // // THE THE LAST LAST WORD

Online safety education opportunities Heading for educators in 2022


ESAFETY COMMISSIONER JULIE INMAN GRANT HIGHLIGHTS THE UPCOMING ONLINE SAFETY EDUCATION TOOLS TO PROTECT YOUNG AUSTRALIANS. The Online Safety Act came into force at the end Xxxx of January Xxxx EM – and with it brought stronger powers to better protect Australians in the fight against online harms. And while eSafety can support Australians when something goes wrong online, we know that educators are fundamental to preventing and mitigating harms – giving individuals the knowledge to confidently navigate the online world and knowing where to turn if things go wrong. As the pandemic forced the education sector to find different pathways to continue to engage and support students and families – both online and off – the work of educators has become even more critical - with an even greater emphasis on online safety education. To support this effort, eSafety has consulted with educators, parents and students to ensure we develop resources and training that are relevant and useful. We call on you to join our eSafety Champions Network, which is comprised of teachers/staff representatives who make online safety a priority in their schools, to help us develop and pilot new material to support educators. Some other resources and ways to get involved in online safety education in 2022 include: LEADING BEST PRACTICE eSafety’s Best Practice Framework for Online Safety Education and Toolkit for Schools are being used across Australia to ensure schools deliver high quality programs, with clearly defined elements and effective practices. eSafety and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority developed the online safety curriculum connection to support this integration.

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING FOR EDUCATORS eSafety offers a range of targeted and accredited professional learning that can support educators across the learning continuum, from early years to school leavers. It can be challenging to keep up to date with evolving tech and emerging trends among children and young people, so eSafety has a NSW Education Standards Authority and ACT Teacher Quality Institute accredited webinar-based professional learning program. This program draws on the latest online safety research, case studies and training strategies to integrate online safety into student wellbeing and curriculum planning. The program is one component of the range of tools and strategies to help integrate online safety into existing programs and student wellbeing planning. It was pleasing to see that in a recent external evaluation of one of eSafety’s webinars: ‘Online harmful sexual behaviours, misinformation and emerging technology’, after attending the webinar: • All respondents were confident embedding online safety concepts in their work; • educators’ confidence in helping young people to report online incidents increased; • all participants reported that they felt (or would feel) more confident dealing with online safety issues as a result of the webinar. This webinar will run all year, along with ‘Digital rights and responsibilities of students and educators’, which begins in April. As part of this professional learning program, eSafety will soon be launching four self-paced online learning modules for educators in lower primary to help support their learning and with links to activities to use in the classroom.

education matters primary

HOME - SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP We know that a holistic approach to teaching children and young people is key in ensuring online safety messaging is having an impact. Integrating eSafety learning in the classroom and having parents continue these discussions in the home reinforces the learning and creates open lines of communication between school and home. Our new resource, how our class stays safe online, can be used with students aged 5 to 8 years. The activity encourages teachers and students to continue the discussion in the home using the family tech agreement. The home activity equips parents with discussion starters and tips to help support learnings at home, and to have discussions within the family. NEW RESOURCES AND VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS Throughout the year on occasions such as Safer Internet Day, National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence and during National Child Protection Week, eSafety delivers live virtual classrooms to primary students across Australia. New resources are also released to accompany these virtual classrooms. To support Safer Internet Day we launched the Play it safe and fair online resource – featuring three Australian athletes – which encourages primary and secondary students to explore strategies for staying safe online and identify how and when to get support if something goes wrong. EM


THE LAST WORD // Australian Curriculum


Essential Learning in Foundation DAVID DE CARVALHO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE AUSTRALIAN CURRICULUM, SHEDS LIGHTS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF CURRICULUM IN THE FOUNDATION YEAR. The Australian Curriculum sets the expectations for what all young Australians should be taught, regardless of where they live or their background. The national curriculum is the backbone of schooling in Australia – it is a central element of the Australian education system and one of the most important levers we have to help set up our young people for their future. The curriculum is nearing the end of the latest review, and I believe one of the most critical pieces of work we have done as part of the review is the revisions to the Foundation year. The learning journey does not start when a child begins school, rather it continues as they enter the crucial first year of schooling. This first year frames one of the most significant transitions young children will face in their lives as they settle into new environments and develop new relationships and routines. This is the year on which future learning is built, and its importance cannot be underestimated. We want to support all these firsts. Throughout the review process, ACARA has been working with teachers and curriculum experts to clarify essential learning in the Foundation year. Ministers gave ACARA the task of improving the Australian Curriculum by refining, realigning and decluttering the curriculum to make it more helpful for teachers, making it more accessible for students. As outlined in the terms of reference for the review, the revised Australian Curriculum builds on the key learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework – that children have a strong sense of identity, are connected with and contribute to their world, have a strong sense of wellbeing, are confident and involved learners, and are effective communicators.


When it comes to our youngest students, we paid particular attention to determining what essential learning was in Foundation. ACARA established a primary teacher reference group to give specific advice about the issues for primary schools, looking across all the learning areas. One of the critical revisions taken to consultation was being specific about the content to be taught and achievement standards expected for the Foundation year in all 8 learning areas. This approach was aiming to make clear the expectations for teachers and students in the first year of school. The most significant suggested changes were identified in the Technologies, The Arts and Languages learning areas as they currently have a 3-year learning band from Foundation to Year 2. The clarity of language and cognitive demand in the content across all the learning areas in Foundation have been improved and realigned. We have also re-sequenced content to improve the conceptual progression of learning. In addition to the formal engagement processes, I also dropped into teacher staffroom meetings at primary schools across Australia, listening to teachers’ views on what it is like to implement the curriculum in the classroom. A theme that emerged strongly in this listening tour was that teachers found the 3-year bands challenging and that a separate Foundation year meant they could target their teaching to engage students in more rigorous and deep learning. Our proposed revisions mean that all learning areas in the curriculum now have a clear set of expectations for the Foundation year. This makes the curriculum more manageable for teachers, giving them more time for their students.

education matters primary

We were also asked to reduce the amount of curriculum content, and this task of decluttering was critical to the primary years of schooling. Overall content has been reduced, and duplication of content across learning areas removed. Finally, one of the most important things we did when reviewing the Foundation curriculum was making sure the curriculum could effectively come to life in the classroom through our expert teachers. Our F–6 intensive engagement project involved nearly 50 schools across all 3 sectors. Foundation teachers told us that they found the revised version of the Australian Curriculum more manageable in the early years with stronger links to the Early Years Learning Framework. They also found that the separation of Foundation year meant they could clearly see what is essential to teach and for students to learn as the building block for future learning. The Foundation year is an exciting one for students, and we hope the revised curriculum makes this important year even more rewarding for teachers, students and parents/carers. Once endorsed by education ministers, the updated curriculum will be available on a new website and will be implemented by schools according to the timelines set by education authorities in states and territories. Teachers will be directed and supported in familiarisation and implementation transition planning by education authorities in their jurisdictions. EM

Education Services // THE LAST WORD

Making senses of the digital education landscape


THE CONSORTIUM FOR SCHOOL NETWORK HAS RELEASED ITS DRIVING K–12 INNOVATION REPORT, EDUCATION SERVICES AUSTRALIA CEO ANDREW SMITH DISCUSSES. Technology is an essential element of learning, Xxxx yet its Xxxx useEM and application in the classroom and the home is inequitable. To help solve some of these barriers, a global panel of education and technology experts has been working together to identify ways to realise the benefits of technology in ways that promote greater equity. The Consortium for School Network (CoSN) recently released its Driving K–12 Innovation report, drawing on the expertise of education and technology leaders from across 18 countries. The purpose of this annual report is to help us make sense of the digital education landscape and chart paths forward by identifying the most important topics in teaching, learning and education innovation around the globe. The report outlines Hurdles, Accelerators and Tech Enablers that influence our ability to positively impact student achievement. This is a valuable framework for educators and school leaders to consider as we emerge from two years of severely disrupted education for many students across the globe. Hurdles are the roadblocks that force schools to slow their application of digital technologies to support student learning. Accelerators are the real-world trends that drive the needs and skills expected of learners and teachers, while Tech Enablers are the tools that grease the wheels for schools as they work to overcome the Hurdles and leverage the Accelerators. The panel identified digital equity as a key Hurdle to digital innovation in the classroom. Along with equitable access to high-speed internet and contemporary devices, digital equity also means ensuring students have the knowledge and skills to use technology

effectively to support their learning, with access to content that empowers them as learners. A second Hurdle is how to effectively scale innovation and overcome the natural drift back to pre-pandemic models of education. Whether it be practices for effective teaching and learning, school administration processes or technology usage, schools and systems are challenged to engage in innovation, adapting what is working well and scaling it out across a school, system or sector. Accelerators highlighted by the panel included personalised learning, which is when the learner is empowered to direct aspects of their learning. This involves opportunities for teachers to shape the learning outcomes, and students direct their learning, in ways that recognise individual student strengths, interests and preferred learning styles. Building the capacity and confidence of teachers to seamlessly integrate technologies into their pedagogy will accelerate their impact. Strengthening the knowledge and skills of teachers will open the door to innovative practices that can enhance student experience and create a culture that recognises and fosters learning across the school community. Tech Enablers that are key to overcoming Hurdles and leveraging Accelerators are the effective use of digital collaboration environments and the safe and secure use of data analytics and adaptive technologies. Digital collaboration technologies aligned to effective pedagogy enable high levels of collaboration and support for both online and in-person learning. Digital collaboration environments include both synchronous and asynchronous

education matters primary

communication tools – platforms that allow multi-user, virtual communications, whether across the room or across the globe. Another example of Tech Enablers are the digital technologies that collect and use data related to teaching and learning to inform instructional decision making. These include adaptive technologies that adapt to individual students, based on their interactions with the technology. This could be in the form of suggesting next steps, providing remediation, controlling pacing, or providing feedback based on analysis of the student’s performance. It is important to remember that any technologies that rely on student data to inform teaching and learning must also meet high standards for privacy and data security to ensure they can be used safely in and out of the classroom. Australia is well placed to make the most of these technology enablers and overcome hurdles to the effective use of technology in teaching and learning. We have a teaching workforce that reports high levels of confidence and capability in their ability to integrate technology with pedagogy, and schools with the ambition to scale and embed effective practice. We must use these assets to retain a focus on overcoming the challenge of digital equity if all students are to benefit from the impact of digital technologies in learning. EM


THE LAST WORD // Early Childhood Education

Supporting teachers to support children’s wellbeing


PROFESSOR MARJORY EBBECK, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION EXPERT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA WRITES ABOUT WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT TEACHERS. Back to school is always a challenge – Xxxx getting Xxxxchildren ready on time, navigating new EM classrooms, and establishing that all-important morning routine. But when the year starts amid a global pandemic, challenging can quickly turn into overwhelming, both for parents and children. While COVID-19 remains a prominent topic in media and everyday discussions, helping children think positively about school is essential, not only to start the year well, but importantly, for their ongoing mental health and wellbeing. In the face of on-going uncertainties, checking in on children’s wellbeing has never been more important. Wellbeing is all about feeling at ease, being happy, spontaneous, and free of emotional tension. When children feel relaxed and happy, they’re able to engage in learning as compared with more anxious children who may feel unable to cope. For children in early childhood and primary school, wellbeing is often determined by the relationships they have with the adults in their lives – particularly teachers – who provide responsive and reciprocal interactions, protection from harm, and encouragement for exploration and learning. These relationships can foster considerate behaviour, the development of empathy for others, and build resilience and self-regulation in children, all central to their wellbeing and achievement of important academic outcomes. Research shows that wellbeing is intrinsically linked to a child’s self-confidence, their ability to engage with others, and to bounce back after adversity... and they’ve certainly encountered adversity in recent times. Over the past two years Australian families


and schools have experienced unprecedented change. From the abrupt closure of schools and sudden disconnection from friends and teachers, to home-schooling, lockdowns, as well as food, grocery, and vaccine shortages, life is certainly not as it once was. Coping with this change is now a way of life…and our children know it. They’ve seen it on TV, heard their parents talk about it, and experienced it first-hand. The consequences have been staggering. In Australia, studies show that over a third of parents say that their children (from babies to 18-year-olds) have been negatively affected by the pandemic, showing increased anxiety, problems with sleep and a sense of disconnection with their friends. Many children have been house-bound and isolated from other people in their lives, including grandparents and school friends, and most have missed the personal face-to face contact with their teachers. Being able to cope again with a range of school requirements will take time, especially for children who may find it more difficult to readjust But it’s not only children that we need to be concerned about, as the wellbeing of teachers is also important. While families and children have been dealing with education uncertainties, teachers have been subjected to stresses such as preparing for online classes at short notice, navigating school restrictions, and, creating interesting and relevant online work for their students. It’s been a tough journey, and for teachers to continue to contribute with the professionalism that characterises important and irreplaceable teaching, they need the

education matters primary

support of colleagues and parents alike. With a new term just started, focusing on the positives of returning to school and building a child’s sense of confidence and wellbeing will be extremely important. Teachers need to continue to reassure children that school is a safe place and that they are there to help them to learn and enjoy school. They’ll need to remind children that they’ll be able to connect with their friends, engage in exciting activities, have favourite books to read again, and play in familiar spaces during break times. Also, as many children have had limited exposure to outdoor environments during the pandemic, including outdoor education experiences will be a much-needed socialemotional outlet. At the same time, parents can also support children’s wellbeing through practical things such as ensuring their child gets enough sleep, engages in outdoor play, cuts back on technology, and settles back into a regular routine. To parents, the message is to have confidence that your child’s teacher; give them enough space and trust them to support your child at school and address their learning needs. Building positive, reciprocal relationships with teachers who are part of your child’s life will facilitate a seamless transition to school and demonstrate positive partnerships that will fare well in their future. EM


ReLATE Reframing Learning and Teaching Environments A research and evidence informed model supporting schools to create the preconditions for improved engagement; teaching, learning and wellbeing. Web: and creating a learning community

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON E-LEARNING, E-EDUCATION AND E-GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS 28-29 March, 2022 Sydney, NSW Web: International Conference on e-Learning, e-education and e-Government Systems aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of e-Learning, e-education and e-Government Systems. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of e-Learning, e-education and e-Government Systems.

that celebrates collaboration, knowledge sharing and human connections.

quality-teaching-masterclass-refresher-sydney/ This workshop is designed to provide a refresher of the Quality Teaching Rounds (QTR) process for schools who want to ensure the fidelity of implementation. Participating teachers will work individually and collaboratively throughout the workshop to strengthen their understanding of the Quality Teaching Model and QTR processes.

There has been a positive shift in our school culture and the way 4TH ANNUAL MENTAL HEALTH IN

teachers view daily challenges. We’re no longer saying how EDUCATION SUMMIT 2022 5-8 April, 2022

frustrating and difficult days can be, instead we are approaching Sydney, NSW Web: challenging behaviours with a positive mindset. conferences/mental-health-in-education-summit/ The Mental Health & Wellbeing in Education Summit provides advice, actionable strategies, and evidenceled insights from educators around Australia. Whilst a large portion of the program will focus on rebuilding wellness programs as stay-at-home orders slowly fade away, the program will also include sessions on how to increase teacher and student resilience in the classroom and the wider community.

Find out how The MacKillop Institute can support youLITTLE SCIENTISTS STEM COMPUTER SCIENCE WORKSHOP and your students. 2022 L&D LEADERSHIP SUMMIT (MELBOURNE) 3 May, 2022 5-6 April, 2022 Melbourne, VIC Web: The Learning and Development Leadership Summit will feature influential L&D and OD leaders as they share valuable insights and lessons learnt on realigning the purpose of working learning, future of work, individuals’ goals and organisational purpose in the changing world; supporting diverse groups of learners to adapt to new working and learning environments; enhancing learning

Enquire today.

Perth, WA Web: Immerse yourself in the world of computer science and playfully explore algorithms, sequencing and sorting without using computers. Understand the basic concepts of computational thinking and learn how to unlock the world of computers for children. (03) 8687 7448

QUALITY TEACHING MASTERCLASS 4 May, 2022 Sydney, NSW education matters primary

ELEVATE – DRAMA QUEENSLAND STATE CONFERENCE 6-7 May, 2022 Brisbane, QLD Web: conference/ Drama Queensland’s 2022 conference Elevate will provide a platform for teachers, academics and industries professionals to share insight, knowledge, practice and experience. It will offer a space for us to share our approaches to advocacy, curriculum and to find new opportunities in the face of adversity. EDUTECH AUSTRALIA 2022 8-10 August, 2022 Melbourne, VIC Web: edutech-australia/index.stm EduTECH brings together educators and solution providers to exchange and explore ideas, techniques, and technology, with the aim of improving teaching, training and learning and raising the education standards in Australia and the world.


With Staff Pulse you can gain an in-depth and accurate insight into how your staff are feeling, identify issues and areas to celebrate, and track improvements.

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April - September 2022

Ask custom questions specific to your school Respond to anonymous comments to open up conversations Track changes in wellbeing throughout the school year Demonstrate you’re taking action on staff concerns


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