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The Calwell High School newsletter - Week 5, Term 3 2019

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Principal's Report

Dear parents and carers

The last term saw the departure of Bruce McCourt as Principal and as a result, I have been asked to step in and act in the role until the job vacancy process can be completed. As many of you will know, I have been the Deputy Principal here since late 2013. I'll definitely put my hand up to take on the role permanently but I truly want the best person for the role and for them to continue the great work that has been started here. Our students and staff deserve the very best.

Departures in the leadership team

Any staffing change will have flow-on impacts and losing a principal is no different. Mr. Thomas Bluck has stepped up into the Deputy position for the remainder of this term and Ms. Liz Chester has moved into the student wellbeing role. Both are doing a great job and the students have adapted well to the changes - as they always do.

The beginning of the term saw a couple of big staffing changes in other areas of the leadership team too. The headteachers of our two largest teams, Ms. Jennifer Nott in Humanities and Ms. Stacey Griffiths in Science and Technology both accepted positions in other ACT schools. They are both outstanding educators and their loss has been a big blow to us and the students in their classes. I am proud of the way our students have responded though and they have worked hard on their resilience and adaptation to change skills.

Both of those teams have temporary leaders while we prepare to advertise for replacements. Ms. Elisha Jones is taking a sideways step from her Learning Coach position to look after the Humanities team. Ms. Jones is a great leader and one of the most gifted English teachers I have has the pleasure to work alongside. She is doing a wonderful job of supporting the team.

The Science and Technology team will be looked after by Ms. Phillipa Dimmick who is also our Year 8 Coordinator. While Ms. Dimmick is not a science teacher (but is a fabulous English teacher), she understands the need to support teams perfectly and do what she needs to do in order to have the best learning outcomes for students. The team is in very good hands.

Changes in teachers

As a result of those big staffing changes, we have welcomed a number of temporary teachers to Calwell. Some are familiar faces, but others are joining us for the first time.

Mr. Mike Hardy is a returning teacher and will be located in our PE team as he is looking after a combination of classes vacated by Ms. Chester.

Mr. John Talbot is another familiar face and has worked with a number of classes in the past. He is looking after the classes vacated by Ms. Griffiths in combination with Ms. Apinder Seghal who is moving to a part-time load. Both teachers are committed to working together and are already working well together.

Mr. Daniel Paull has joined the school as an English teacher this week and will be with us for the remainder of the term and may join us in term 4. Mr. Paull has worked here previously and is very excited to be back at Calwell High School.

Dr. Nadira Pardo is another new face that has joined us this year. She is also picking up a number of science classes as a result of teachers moving around and is absolutely loving engaging with her students.She has an extremely broad teaching experience and I don't think there's a topic she can't explain. We are especially happy to add her expertise to the team.

Update: We couldn't confirm this earlier, but we are sad to announce that our Spanish teacher, Ms Escobar de Johnson has accepted a position at another school. We wish her the very best in her new position. We are currently looking for a replacement Spanish teacher and will keep students notified of our progress.

Change of Year 7 Coordinator

While we're listing changes - we need to alert parents that Ms. Kira Waddell has stepped down from her role as Year 7 Coordinator. In her place, Ms. Renee Rapson has stepped in. I would like to acknowledge that Ms. Waddell has done an amazing job of welcoming our Year 7 students to the school and will be missed in that role. I am extremely confident that Ms. Rapson will build upon the strong foundations of care and communication built by Ms. Waddell.

Lesson Observations

I've had a good time this term dropping in on classes and seeing the learning that is going on. Since the beginning of the term, I have visited about 10 different classes from Year 7 to Year 10. I'm always impressed by the work being undertaken by the students and the different ways each teacher is asking the students to engage with the curriculum. The arrival of the student Chromebooks is certainly allowing teachers a lot more freedom in the way they ask students to manipulate information and learn.

Phones in classrooms

On a negative, I am still seeing a lot of students on phones in classrooms. We know they can be a great learning tool, but their power to distract and take students away from learning is a real problem. This is always a touchy subject as we know students have phones for safety reasons but we need to work harder on having them put away in prime learning time. Having the support of parents and families on this matter is so important. I would encourage all families to discuss this problem with each other. To get a better understanding of the issue there will be a parent survey in the next newsletter. I'd really appreciate your input.

Parent & Citizen Association next week

The P&C will meet next week on Wednesday 21 August. This is a perfect time for new parents and community members to attend and I know the team will welcome new members warmly. Remember I'll be new too, so we can all be new together!

Principal Lunches

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of inviting eight random students to lunch in our Hospitality Cafe. The event was catered by students from our Hospitality program and the eight invited students enjoyed wonderful rustic pizzas.

The aim of the lunch was to allow the school business manager (Ms. East) and I to hear directly from students on what is working in the school and what really requires our attention immediately. We received great suggestions from all of our guests. The main feedback for us to take away was the need for greater consistency between teachers and classes on our assessment methods and how we address classroom expectations. We also talked about safety at school. The students were very diplomatic in their responses but we all left with a greater understanding of how we can do better as a school.

The Calwell Arts Showcase

On the 26th of June, we were definitely treated to a great show by our amazing art students. I am constantly impressed by the level of commitment and skill displayed by our students and I want to thank them for their hard work and creativity! It was a great show and I enjoyed every minute. The photos in this edition only hint at how great the night was! I am so grateful to our teachers - our job is not just to help with learning, but to create situations that give students memories that they'll cherish for the rest of their lives. The showcase certainly succeeded there!

Term 3 Progress Reports

Our first-ever foray into sending reports home via email has now been completed. Last week we sent home the term 3 progress reports to the emails we have listed in our system. If you haven't received this report, then it is time to let us know - please call our front office team on 6142 1930 so we can try sending the report again.

The progress report is our way of letting the student know that they are on track to meet the requirements of the Australian Curriculum for that subject. We want to report early so we can extend learning or make changes to ensure the best chance of success.

Parent/Teacher Evening

We had an excellent Parent/Teacher evening last night - it was great to see so many parents and carers here to discuss the learning progress that had been made.

Unfortunately, a couple of staff could not make the evening due to illness. When they return, they will make contact with parents and arrange an alternative timeslot to meet.

A reminder again that we don't only discuss progress at these events. If you ever have any concerns or would like to meet with a teacher, then call the front office and they can plan an alternate time to meet.

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Deputy Report

Greetings and thank you for an amazing start to Term 3!

By way of introduction, my name is Tom Bluck and I will be acting in the Deputy role for this term. I have been at the school for nine years and have filled many different roles in that time, from Executive Teacher for Positive Behaviour, to leader of the HASS faculty, to Year Advisor and most importantly as teacher of English and HASS. I’m very much enjoying my time as Deputy and am looking forward to working with you over the next term.

I’m a big believer in the idea that a school should sit at the centre of our community and want to pursue this into the future. While I have had the opportunity to work with many of our families, often in challenging periods, during my previous time at Calwell I’d like to dedicate this term to increasing the connection of all our families and ensuring student has the opportunity to thrive.

With this in mind I’d like to offer three concrete opportunities for you to be involved in the school over the coming weeks:

· Our Parent Teacher Evening will be running on 20 August from 4:30- 6 pm. This provides you with an opportunity to meet your child’s teachers and hep set goals for their learning this semester. I’d encourage you to visit those classes where your child is succeeding so you can share in their success.

· Our School Satisfaction Surveys will be taking place during August and you will soon receive an email inviting you to take part. The responses you give are kept confidential and are used to guide the school’s improvement process. Feedback from parents last year indicated our parents felt staff at the school held strong relationships with their child and that overall students were doing well at Calwell. You also expressed need for more work on behaviour management and a desire for more support with the literacy needs for some of our students. In response to this the school has invested heavily in upskilling our staff around Positive Behaviour for Learning and implemented the MacqLit small group reading program within our Year 7 and 8 cohorts. We look to your feedback on how this is progressing and what other areas you feel the school is doing well in, as well as how we can continue to improve.

· Providing feedback on Positive Behaviour at Calwell. In 2015/16 Calwell High School implemented a Positive Behaviour for Learning Framework to support student management. At the time we were a pilot school in the ACT for this process and our students and families were heavily involved in developing what this looked like at Calwell. Since then almost every school in the ACT has implemented PBL, including our three feeder primary schools. It is timely to now look at our approach and make sure what we are doing aligns with the aspirations of our current community. If you would like to be involved in this, as part of a parent/carer focus group or by giving feedback on specific elements of our process, please contact me by email at thomas.bluck@ed.act.edu.au so I can keep you up to date.

Thank you and best wishes for the term ahead!


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The 2019 School Satisfaction Survey for Parents and Carers is now open. If you have not already completed the survey, please complete the survey by Monday 2 September 2019. A survey invitation was emailed to parents and carers or sent home with students. If you do not have an invitation for each child in your family, please contact the school office. The invitation contains all the information you will need to access the survey. The key ACT results from the 2018 School Satisfaction Surveys have been published on the Education Directorate website (www.education.act.gov.au) and a summary of our school results is provided in our 2018 School Board Report.

Thank you in anticipation of your participation in this important school survey.

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It’s been a great start to semester 2 in the Arts Tech Faculty.

Limelight Art Exhibition

Several visual arts students were selected to be part of Step into the Limelight, the Territory’s creative and performing arts showcase event for public schools, began in 2007 and has grown to become the largest youth Arts event in the ACT. This year saw the largest art show this year with 518 artworks, 6 of which were from Calwell. Below are pictures of the works on display at the ANU School of Arts last week.

Bridie Cragg, Beau Lovelock, Abbie Kmiekciak, Aiana Paule, Nick Bruce and Illana Fogarty were our selected students from their work completed earlier this year. A special congratulations to Bridie, who was singled out by the head of the ANU School of Art Professor Denise Ferris for her outstanding photograph in her keynote address on opening night.

Well done one and all!

Technology News with Mr Lorrimer

We have nearly completed the minor project in Year 7 Wood Design. Today some students sealed their chopping board with vegetable oil. The last step in the project is to photograph it being used at home and submit the photograph to Google Classrooms. Compose an interesting photo displaying the ingredients for a meal being prepared, a carb fueled treat or a diet breaking (braking!) incident.

Students have become familiar with work, health and safety requirements in a practical classroom full of hand tools, equipment, and machinery. New skills include edge joining timber with adhesive and sash cramps, the use of the battery drill for pilot holes and countersinking and the importance of holding devices while working with materials.

Soon we move onto the timber toy project and the specifications of a design brief.

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Dance with Ms. DeCosta

Dance Festival is quickly approaching and our talented and dedicated students have been working hard in order to be prepared for the event. Dance Festival is a non-competitive celebration of dance that occurs once a year with schools all across ACT participating to perform at the Canberra Theatre. This year we have three different groups across the school performing and they have been working extremely hard to create the best possible performance to represent the school, even attending after school rehearsals in order to perfect their pieces. The permission note has been given to your child and is due Friday 30th August with a $20 payment.

If you’re interested in coming along and watching all the hard work the students have put in, the performance is on Friday 13th September at Canberra Theatre and the tickets are available at: https://canberratheatrecentre.com.au/show/ausdance-act-youth-dance-festival/

Visual Arts with Ms. Walkenhorst

Students in the Year 9/10 Ceramics class have been creating bacteria samples using plasticine. We looked at the work by Canberra artist Effie Dee who created a speculative experiment in creating pieces that have a living or natural feel while still clearly being inorganic. Check out our amazing work!

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Music News with Ms. Whitrow

The term 3 Year 7 Band are in the midst of rehearsals and busy learning new notes on their instruments ready for their in-class performance at the end of the term.

Our Concert Band is also up and running, rehearsing on Thursday afternoons from 3-4pm. The Concert Band is open to students from any year who play a band instrument. See Ms Whitrow in the Arts staffroom for more information.

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Chicago Excursion on the 28th of August!

All the places have been booked and payments made. Our bus has been ordered and our teachers have been spotted practicing their show tunes for the singalong on the bus! We can't wait for this excursion and we're looking forward to sharing a full report in our next newsletter!
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As we recommence our studies for Semester 2, it is a great time to reflect on our results in Mathematics from Semester 1 and look at what worked and what needs more work. However it is also a perfect time to reflect on our attitude towards Math. One of the key statements I hear frequently is “I’m just not good at math!…”, as if there was some inherent genetic trait that some humans are born with, which predetermines our ability to do math. This is absolutely false! Studies have proven that all humans have the ability to learn math, just like learning another language, or learning to drive a car, ride a bike and so on. And just like any of these skills it all comes down to practise. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out. So if you catch yourself saying this statement, not only is it false, but actually does more harm than good. If you tell yourself you’re no good at something then this becomes your ‘fixed mindset’ and your excuse to not even try. So don’t be that person! Sure it might be hard at times but it’s certainly not impossible. Instead meet these challenges with a ‘growth mindset’. Changing the way we think about challenges in life to a more positive state of mind, is a fundamental skill that will help anyone in their future careers, no matter the path you follow. This is why mathematics is such a powerful skill that transcends well beyond the ability to just work with numbers (or letters in the case of algebra).

Please watch this clip below to reinforce what we are on about…


To highlight the importance that practise plays in Mathematics, we as a faculty, have decided to place a strong emphasis on this in the curriculum. Regular practise on Mathletics and other homework is a critical aspect of assessment. All students will be required to do this practise outside of normal class time as part of their evidence of understanding of the outcome/s being assessed. Mathletics and other homework makes up 20% of their overall grade for each unit outcome. Provisions are given at school to work on Mathletics in-class on a fortnightly, sometime weekly, basis. We also encourage all students to attend homework club on Wednesdays and Thursdays if further help is required to complete these tasks. All students are made very aware of this with constant reminders in-class and on their Google Classroom pages. Major assessment such as tests and assignments still make up the bulk of the evidence and are weighted at 65% of their grade. The last 15% is made up through class work, quizzes and other in-class tasks.

We hope with this push to practise we will see some big improvements in students outcomes, confidence in their mathematical abilities and a truer sense of mastery of the skills being taught over each unit of work. Please be reminded that all our teachers are eager to work with parents/carers to provide the best outcomes for your child. Please don’t hesitate to contact the maths staff by email or phone which can be found on the website. Thank you for reading and we look forward to improving the outcomes for your child in Mathematics this semester.

Mr Steven Deans

Executive of Mathematics


On Thursday August 1, 11 students competed in the Australian Mathematics Competition hosted by Dr Low. It was great to see some of our students step out of their comfort zones and compete against other Australian and South Pacific schools for the top prize. Although we have not received the results from this yet, we are very proud of those students who took part. We eagerly await for the results and will keep you posted here.

IT in mathematics – Mathletics and google classroom

Mathematics has a large emphasis on digital technology within the classroom which will be further enhanced with the regular use of students Chromebooks. All students will continue to have access to Mathletics. This is a fantastic program that has many great resources and questions built into the program which will be used in class and can also be used at home. All students have been issued with log-in details for access at school and home. If you would like your child’s access log-ins, please contact their class teacher for further information.

All staff have set up a Google Classroom page for every class this year. We would like to invite all parents to sign up to the class page to keep up to date with the classroom happenings and upcoming assessments. Please contact your child’s teacher for the specific class code.

Mathematics Tutoring

Free tutoring is available to all students throughout the year. This is offered during homework club on Thursday afternoons in the library from 3:05 to 4/4:30pm. This is a great opportunity for students to further consolidate work from class, catch up on homework, fill in foundation gaps and work on assignments/Mathletics etc. Alternatively, the Maths staff are always approachable for questions during break times, so students please feel free to drop by and say hi.

Maths quote of the day:

“Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.” - Albert Einstein

Year 7

Current unit: Geometric Reasoning, Major Assessment due WK5, Mathletics due WK5

Next unit: Measurement

Year 8

Current unit: Geometric Reasoning, Major Assessment due WK5, Mathletics due WK5

Next unit: Measurement and time

Year 9

Current unit: Statistics, Major Assessment due WK5, Mathletics due WK5

Next unit: Pythagoras and Trigonometry

Year 10

Current unit: Statistics, Major Assessment due WK5, Mathletics due WK5

Next unit: Pythagoras and Trigonometry

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The first STUDENT with the correct answer to Mr. Deans in the Maths Staffroom will have access to their amazing lolly jar!
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Science, Digital Technologies and Food Technologies

It has been a busy few weeks in the Science, Digital Technologies and Food Technologies faculty. In week two we said farewell to Stacey Griffiths. Stacey will be missed at Calwell High School and we wish her all the best in her new role. We know she will do amazing things! I will be Acting-SLC of Science, Digital Technologies and Food Technologies through to the end of term, in addition to continuing my role as Year Advisor with Year 8.

We have welcome Nadira Pardo to the Science, Digital Technologies and Food Technologies team. The year 8 students enjoyed experimenting with the Van de Graff generator, and Sports Science has been learning about physics via golf. The Science Extension program is going ahead this semester, so watch this space for exciting news about what they’re doing!

This past week has been Science Week, however we are celebrating and experiencing Science Week in conjunction with Book Week over the next few weeks. Science and literacy are intrinsically linked, which underpinned the decision to continue the celebrations. This week students in years 9 & 10 dissected brains and sequenced the DNA of strawberries, with more excitement next week.

Please feel free to come drop by and say hi during the parent teacher interviews this week.

Pip Dimmick

Year 8 Year Advisor

Science and Technologies Executive Teacher

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We would like to take this opportunity to welcome you all back for another busy semester in Health and Physical Education. Over the break, we have had to adjust to some minor staffing changes. With Liz Chester moving into higher duties in Wellbeing, we have employed Michael Hardy for at least the term. Michael is a young and dynamic teacher who has a passion for the fitness industry and HPE in general. He looks forward to working in the team here and providing fresh eyes and insight into our practices. This term our Y7/8 class will be working through a series of ‘invasion’ style games for their practical unit and focussing on bullying, gender, and positive thinking as part of the ‘You’ve Got the Power’ health unit. In Y9/10 the students will be working through the ‘Net Sports’ unit and tackling the risks of the road and driving as part of the ‘Hitting the Road’ health unit.

Once again we have a very busy line up of sports on offer (see below) so please keep an eye out for these upcoming dates. It is also a timely reminder that permission notes and money deadlines must be adhered to. It was with great disappointment that we have already had to cancel one sporting excursion this term because of deadlines not being met. If you have any issues or questions please don’t hesitate to contact the HPE department.

Thanks again for reading and we look forward to another successful semester her in the HPE faculty.

Warm regards,

Steven Deans

Executive of Health and Physical Education

Upcoming Sports

Week 5 – 9/10 Soccer (boys and girls) – Mr Jones

Week 6 – Netball finals (girls) + Boys Netball – Mr Jones

Week 7 – Southside Track and Field – Mr Deans

Week 8 – AFL X (boys 9/10) – Mr Lamb

Week 9 – ACT Track and Field – Mr Deans

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Safe on Social - Fornite and online gaming

Safe on Social is an initiative of the NSW Government and takes a very proactive approach to keeping parents informed on online trends that may impact on the lives of young people. The link below takes you to timely information about a fad game that is starting to fade: Fortnite.
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Digital Technologies team are after old Smartphones - can you help?

Our Digital Technologies junior classes are running Sphero robots at the moment and into Semester 2. Unfortunately, they require an app to run and not all our students have a mobile phone. If you have an old smartphone sitting in a drawer at home, or one that you were thinking of putting in the recycling boxes at a phone store, we would love to borrow it for our class. We are happy to return it at the end of the year or to recycle it for you if you don’t want it back. We can use any kind of phone as long as it can install apps.

Support is still available from the Smith Family

Could you benefit from a saving plan that matches your investment dollar for dollar if it is going to be used for educational purposes? See the ad below for more details.
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Help the school and have a great dinner!

The Southern Cross Club at Tuggeranong has a great program where club members can link their membership cards to a non-profit and community organisation. Any time a member spends money at the club, they will pass a percentage of that cost on.

Our amazing P&C has negotiated that our school is listed as one of the deserving non-profit organisations. So if you are a member, or thinking about becoming one have your card linked to our school and you can enjoy a great meal and know that you are supporting our wonderful school. All you need to do is go to the front counter and ask the team at the club and it will be automatic from that point on.

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