Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School

Mr Jeff Symms

School to return for Reception and Year 1

As parents would be aware, the State Government has approved students to return to school in four year levels – Reception, Year 1, Year 11 and Year 12, in recognition that these four year levels are those which most urgently require a return to the classroom.

Reception and Year 1 boys can return to school on Monday, May 11.  A normal school timetable will resume for these two year levels.

There are a number of items of which to be aware, in helping this return to school run smoothly.

  1. Monday, May 11 is a return to school date only for these two year levels.  Boys in Years 2 -6 are scheduled to recommence at school classes on Monday, May 25 – as long as it is deemed appropriate to do so.
  2. Parents are asked not to visit the classrooms or congregate in the car parks.  We are required to manage adults on the campus in a way which minimises contact between them and our students and also visiting adults (parents) are asked to continue to observe social distancing requirements.  This is really a ‘DROP and GO’ scenario at drop off, and ‘DRIVE THROUGH’ arrangement at pick up time.
  3. The boys stationary; books, pencils, erasers, scissors, glue, etc, needs to come back to school with them.  It is important that you bundle up all of their school stationary into one bag and have it clearly named.  Parents are to place their son’s bookpack into the designated class tub which will be located on a table near the drop off zone.  This will help the teachers to quickly sort the boys’ materials back into the classrooms.
  4. The on-line teaching program for these two year levels will cease on Friday afternoon of this week.  Boys remaining at home can access Mathletics, Literacy Planet and Wushka under their parents direction.

We have a number of new boys who start their first day at TSS on Monday and I give permission for their parents, if they wish, to walk them to their classroom so that they can assist with settling their son into his new school.  I’m sure all families are supportive of this small concession to our new boys.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank our Reception and Year 1 teachers for all the work they have undertaken during this unusual time to keep schooling as normal for the boys as they could.  Thanks too, to the parents of our littlest boys, for whom remote learning has certainly presented unique challenges.  As I said last week in my video message on Prepbook – together I think TSS Preparatory Parents and Teachers have made an outstanding team.

We all look forward to seeing the boys back at school and hopefully, with everyone in the community continuing to obey the guidelines which have so successfully helped stop the spread of COVID19, we can welcome everyone else back in two weeks time.

Preschool

Just to confirm for families that Preschool, which has been fully operational for some weeks now, continues as normal.  As above, my thanks to the special educators we have at TSS Preschool, (no surprise that we are the only Excellent graded kindergarten program on the Gold Coast), and our Preschool parents for their efforts in supporting our boys.

They say you learn more about people in times of adversity and what I’ve learnt about our community is that we have an amazing capacity for coming together to support our boys.

Sport and Activities

As advice is received around what is permissible regarding group sizes for co-curricular activities, we will inform parents.  Start up dates for sport teams and music ensembles, chess, art clubs, robotics clubs and the many other offerings at TSS will be determined as this information comes to hand.

At this stage, no on campus large gatherings are permitted so Assemblies and Chapels will remain online.

Staying in touch – facebook and instagram

While Prepbook is the way to stay in touch with with your son’s day to day life at school, particularly all the routine matters, we also have our own Preparatory School facebook page which provides Prep only content that can differ to the posts on the main TSS facebook page and also you should follow us on instagram:- tsspreparatoryschool.

These two platforms help you keep in touch with the wider school’s events and happenings and see some of the latest news from the campus before it gets to newsletters or prepbook.

Technology and Education

There has been much said about the important role that technology has played in helping schools and students navigate this period of remote learning.  It is definitely true that without the technological advances that have occurred in online collaboration and video connectivity, it would have been a very different experience for our boys.  I have been regularly amazed and inspired when visiting classrooms to see the boys and teachers interacting, or the teachers delivering lessons online.  Seeing students submit work electronically and teachers providing feedback has been interesting, and observing the creative ways that everyone has gone about adapting so quickly to their changed circumstances has been fascinating.

I think as teachers and parents, many of us have had our technological skills and understandings stretched, but we now all know so much more about what IT can offer our lives.  There will definitely be some aspects of this online world which teachers will adapt and modify to classroom life and so will continue into the future.

However, the flip side of this has been the clear message about what technology cannot deliver.

It cannot replace actual human face to face interaction.  It cannot offer a hug when things are tough.  It cannot take you outside to kick a footy or respond to the silliness which sometimes brightens up the day.

What I have come to appreciate as the biggest challenge during this time has been the way in which the boys have missed their mates and their teachers.  We have seen the ways in which the boys light up when they have the chance to communicate directly with each other and their joy in sharing some news with their teachers. Parents have reported instances when their son has become quite down and when questioned, has not complained about the difficulties with his work, or the fact that his log in wasn’t responding.  It has been how he is missing his regular life – lunch breaks playing with friends, sports and music activities and interacting with his teachers.

Technology can do a lot for us, but it does have its limitations.  But the bright side is the way in which we have all come to understand the significance of the important people in our life and how just simply spending time with people is so special.

I think our teachers are going to spend lots of time just reconnecting with their boys, listening to their experiences, reading stories and playing games.  Being people.

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