It is obviously a huge understatement to say that Term 3 has not started off in the way that we had planned for. COVID-19 once again has intervened. While previously we have felt a little insulated from the impact that has been felt in other parts of the country and overseas, this time Westminster School has been front and centre.
Mr Shepherd and the School Management Group have been keeping the community informed of developments. I am full of admiration and praise for how quickly class and specialist teachers were able to kick into the online teaching and learning mode. The students have also been brilliant - even our Junior Primary students who have had far less exposure to the online environment than their older peers. The transition to learning from home has been far smoother than I could have hoped for. This is obviously due to the sacrifices being made at home by parents and families to support the students. On behalf of all of the staff thank you for all that you are doing – for your understanding and support.
It has been far from the usual start to the Westminster journey for the large number of children who have commenced with us this Term. Most of these children got one whole day of face to face schooling under their belt before we were forced to switch to online learning. I wonder if the children in our two new Transition classes think this is the way school always works.
There have been lots of examples of how learning from home has been creative. Here is a photo of Oliver Saccone (Transition Crown), who had been at school for only one day, embracing learning from home in not one but two school uniforms!
Below is Jason Hu (Reception Wesley) showing his excited teacher Ms Cheeseman-Smyth the work he has done from home on the topic of time.
While most Prep families were doing the same, here is a photo of Ashna Venugopal (Reception Mace) working alongside her dad while communicating with her teacher Mrs Papst.
This has been a far from usual start for our staff as well. We have welcomed Ms Sara Crockford to the Prep staff. Ms Crockford has teamed up with the returning Ms Morisset to look after our two Transition classes.
Ms Annette Paunovic has also joined us as a Learning Support Assistant supporting students.
Ms Courtney Maynard who has been a staff member in our Early Learning Centre for a number of years will be joining the Prep staff to take some PE lessons for our Transition classes.
The Japanese program at Westminster Preparatory School has been blessed with strong relationships with our associated schools in Japan over the years, including the Japanese student-teacher programs and the cultural tours. Unfortunately, this is not the case this year as the Global COVID-19 Pandemic has greatly affected our exchanges; we are unable to welcome Japanese visitors to Westminster and our biannual Japan Tour could not go ahead.
In order to continue providing exchange opportunities, we have explored and established several online communication programs between Westminster and Japan. The Year 6 classes have been the inaugural video conference participants; 6D testing Microsoft Teams with Dr Fujitani from the Joetsu University of Education to make a self-introduction speech and 6H and 6C playing Guess Who with Kyoai Primary Year 6 classes, using their Japanese body parts and adjectives knowledge. Thanks to Barad and Kate (6H) and Lachlan and Evie (6C) who acted as MCs to help run the conference and read advanced Japanese phrases in their roles.
Kyoai University is keen to visit Westminster in future when the COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted. They have gathered a group of students to film some video letters to our students, providing some language challenges. Our students will create PowerPoint slideshows with options to video or voice-record their responses.
I am a firm believer in getting our students to speak the languages beyond the classroom to maximise their learning opportunities. We look forward to more online communications with our friends in Japan this term.
Preparatory School Japanese Teacher
I would normally provide a list of dates for your diary for this term, however, due to the events of the last two weeks, many dates remain uncertain at the time of publishing this eNews. For events that have had to be postponed, there will be information provided directly to families regarding these, so please keep your eyes and ears open for new dates.
Head of Preparatory School