Elijah Tuyau, Year 3 student at Newhaven College, working online during Term Two the Covid19 lockdown.

SCHOOL has just got a whole lot more tempting at Newhaven College with the school dishing up some delicious new programs as part of the enforced nationwide home schooling.

These include making the best use of at-home resources too for food preparation and design tasks.

There’s no doubting home schooling has presented some major challenges for most schools but Newhaven College principal Gea Lovell sees many positives, not least “the resilience of the staff and students who have all adjusted so quickly to this new way of learning”.

Mrs Lovell said they were fortunate to already have the SEQTA learning management system running at the college that she maintains has proved invaluable with the remote learning.

The college is also making good use of the Zoom web-based video conferencing service and a suite of other online devices.

As for some of the highlights of this new online schooling, it was with much excitement Mrs Lovell explained about the home delivery style education, assisted by Bass Coast Shire and the Wonthaggi police who assisted and dropped off to students’ homes, educational do-it-yourself packs of Chocolate Roulade ingredients and lolly dispensing machine parts, as part of the practical component for subjects including Design Tech wood and Food and Textiles.

The packs are accompanied by a video demonstration, filmed for students to follow.

There will be more packages drop off throughout term two, with designs in the pipeline for a catapult for students to construct and even a prize up for grabs for the contraption that catapults the longest distance.

Awards for good sports

Other awards have been devised to encourage greater participation in sport, with a special SPEWA (Sport Physical Education Weekly Achievement) awards program.

While the name SPEWA has raised a few eyebrows, the students think it is a bit of fun and have given it the thumbs up and engaging in this new program submitting videos and trying some different activities.

College head of sport Stewart Bathgate and the PE department devised an eight challenge program that offers students choices including football, netball, soccer, fitness, running, walking, bike riding, surfing, yoga and Pilates and students participate through the week and send teachers a record of their training via screen shots, videos or parents verification.

Teachers then award certificates to students ranging from lead and bronze through to gold and platinum at the end of each week.

Mr Bathgate said the students are really embracing the challenge with some parents commenting their children have been more active than ever.

Mrs Lovell said the Newhaven TV is proving a big hit with the teachers, students and parents. The teachers are having a lot of fun while informing the parents what’s happening around the school.

The college is also offering a lot of videos, online tutorials, an Interactive Daily Bulletin, fortnightly newsletter and Physical Education competitions for the house shield.

30 of 900 students attending

While the majority of the 900 college students are being home schooled Mrs Lovell said there is around 30 students attending the Phillip Island college each day across the three sub schools.

Mrs Lovell said the college is open for all those students who cannot work from home for a number of reasons.

“We also have some VET and VCE students attending for a day a week to complete the practical components of their work,” Mrs Lovell said.

Mrs Lovell said she is thrilled with the programs they have in place for the online learning and complemented the teachers, students and parents for all working hard together.

She said: “The increased collaboration between home and school where teachers and parents are working together has been a real positive.”

“Another plus has been the engagement of the students with 95 per cent checking in for roll call each morning and the teachers’ one on one support when needed, which includes tutoring and counselling.”

Year 8 student Mia Innes has been attending online classes at the college and said she doesn’t mind the online learning as the teachers were very helpful when help was needed.

Mrs Lovell said it has been great to see an increase in the understanding of the use of technology and appreciating how powerful a learning tool it is, if used wisely.

Year 6 teachers Simon Furniss and Karen Pearce both agreed with Mrs Lovell in that it is great to see the students up-skilling but they said they are looking forward to having the students back at school.

It seems the message from most students and teachers is that they do miss that face to face contact, social interaction and friends.

While the college has allowed for more flexibility of learning in the junior school programs, including practical and creative are delivered following the regular timetable.

Mrs Lovell said: “All staff members have gone the extra mile, as the home schooling involves much more planning and preparation on their part, and as it is hard for students to be on line for the greater part of the day so it is for staff who are making extra time to ensure students are managing and understanding the requirements.

A totally new program for the school was introduced for Wednesday when all staff and students are engaged in Reflection, Recharging and Planning.

Mrs Lovell said: “Wednesday involves staff connecting individually with students as required and requires them to connect with their respective teaching teams and Heads of School so all remain connected.”

“This came about from parent feedback following our trial last term. A few parents said how hard it was to be online for a greater part of the day.

“I also observed how tired and anxious our staff were during this trial. It just evolved from there, looking at what would best suit our staff and students. For students it is a day to reflect, recharge and Plan. Staff RRP as well, but also use this time to connect at a different level with their students and their colleagues.

Newhaven College is receiving accolades from many parents for the wonderful education being offered during this lockdown period, one parent giving the school some major recognition with a thanks to Newhaven sign being lit up on the Telstra building in Melbourne recently.

Mrs Lovell said: “All staff were really moved by this kindness”.

While online learning is proving to be a huge success at Newhaven with a range of new programs created and many exciting innovations the teachers who have been working many hours more are definitely looking forward to students returning.

As for when the school will officially reopen to all students and Mrs Lovell said they will follow the directive from State Government.

“We have a number of options, but what we do will be dependent on the advice from the experts. It could be a staggered start for year levels, but we also understand that this can be difficult for families who may have older students looking after younger siblings. It could be set days by the letter their surname begins with. It could well be that the advice is that all students can return. The health and safety of our students, staff and wider community will ultimately determine how we return to school.”

Q&A with Newhaven Principal Gea Lovell

The Sentinel-Times put the question to Newhaven College Principal Gea Lovell posed by the Prime Minister to Private and Catholic schools, would they return by June 1 if school funding was brought forward.

Q1. The Federal Government is offering to “bring forward funding” if schools go back in the next few weeks. Is Newhaven College considering re-opening any time soon?

A1. We will take advice from State authorities and return when we are told it is safe to do so.

Q2. Would you consider going back by June 1 as requested by the Prime Minister last week?

A2. We are able to go back any time, provided the State Health and Education ministers say it is safe to do so. We have had overwhelming support from our community for this approach. We are open now for students who need to be at school and have between 30 to 45 students each day.

Q3. Does the Federal Government offer represent any additional funding?

A3. No, it is just our current funding paid earlier, brought forward.

Q4. What are the advantages to the school community of going back before the end of Term Two?

A4. It would take an immense pressure off everyone, parents, students and staff. Whilst our online learning program is working exceptionally well, we acknowledge how difficult these times are for everyone. That being said, many will be anxious about a return to school, children and adults alike, so the transition back to school, when it does occur, needs to be managed carefully.

Q5. Are you waiting for the State Government details on May 11?

A5. Most definitely, hopefully it will give us some indication as to a potential return to school date and what this may look like.

Mia Innes is one of the 30 Newhaven College students still attending the Phillip Island school due to both parents work commitments. Mia said she enjoys attending school as she feels more comfortable and is less distracted. She is looking forward to school reopening as she misses all her friends.

Newhaven College Year 6 teachers Karen Pearce and Simon Furniss are hard at work delivering live online lessons to their students.