Yeoval Central School

This snapshot was originally published 14 July 2020.

Students at Yeoval Central School
Image: Yeoval Central School

School context

Yeoval Central School is a small Kindergarten to Year 12 school located approximately 1 hour south of Dubbo in central west NSW. It serves a farming community that has been significantly affected by the recent drought. There are 104 students currently enrolled in the school. Approximately 24% of the student population is Aboriginal. The school has a FOEI1 of 149. Yeoval Central School uses a combination of face-to-face and remote teaching, in partnership with four other central schools, to provide Year 11 and Year 12 classes.

Learning from home journey

Getting ready for disruptions to face‑to‑face teaching
  • Executive developed implementation plan noting possibilities and constraints.
  • Casual teachers employed to allow teachers time for remote lesson preparation.
Learning from home
  • 72% of students, on average, learnt from home.
  • Live online lessons were delivered to an amended school timetable; Google Classrooms or hard-copy learning packs were used for tasks and feedback.
  • Laptops and internet dongles were loaned to students as required.
  • School buses delivered learning packs and feedback to students.
  • Staff (excluding high-risk staff) attended school under a roster system.
Transition back to face‑to‑face teaching
  • Year 11 and 12 students returned to school full time on 11 May 2020.
  • Kindergarten to Year 10 students returned to school in house groups one day a week 11-22 May 2020.
  • Onsite attendance 11-22 May averaged 50% each day.

Challenges to overcome

Ensuring equal access to learning: Access to devices and internet is not consistent across the student population, and the distance of students’ houses from the school created challenges for delivering physical learning resources.

Keeping students engaged in learning: The sudden transition to learning from home placed some students at risk of becoming disengaged from learning.

Ensuring staff had the skills for delivering learning from home: Teachers had varying levels of confidence and skills in using digital platforms and effective remote teaching practices.

What has worked to maintain learning continuity

Prioritising student engagement

Yeoval Central School recognised that some students may find the transition to learning from home challenging and were at risk of disengaging from learning. The school sought to maintain student engagement by:

  • Making access to learning as easy as possible, for example, the Yeoval ‘Super Satellite School’ website was created as an easy-to-navigate portal to live online lessons and Google Classrooms. Hard-copy learning packs and assessments were provided for those who needed or preferred them, and school bus drivers delivered and returned them with feedback from teachers.
  • Providing clear expectations for what learning from home looked like at Yeoval Central School. The school adjusted their well-established Positive Behaviour for Learning program to focus on independent learning skills necessary for learning from home.
  • Maintaining connections with every student and their parents and carers. Teachers called families every week to check-in and ask about any emerging access, learning, or wellbeing concerns.
  • Providing additional learning support. The school’s four SLSOs2 were each assigned a Stage to support. They rang identified students to check for understanding and progress, and to assist students to complete tasks as required.
  • Adjusting protocols to address student disengagement. Teachers recorded absences, disengagement during live online lessons, and non-submitted work into a centralised system. SAOs3 sent SMS messages to parents to inform them of disengagement. Subsequent incidents were followed up by teachers, with ongoing disengagement concerns referred to school leaders. Students who were engaged were recognised through the school’s merit system.
Innovative use of staffing

Yeoval Central school appointed a temporary Instructional Leader – Learning from home to provide more focused support to students, parents and carers, and teachers during the disruption to face-to-face teaching. This position was created following the mid- Term 1 departure of an assistant principal. A key aspect of this new instructional leader role was supporting teacher digital literacy and use of remote teaching pedagogical practices that met the needs of rural students. The instructional leader led the school’s professional learning periods each week. These professional learning periods provided an opportunity for ensuring consistency in high quality teaching practices, and for addressing the professional learning needs of teachers. The instructional leader also provided one-on-one support, participated in team teaching during live online lessons, and sourced and collated tools and resources for teachers.

The instructional leader also played an important role in supporting student engagement and access to technology. For example, the instructional leader developed the Yeoval Super Satellite School website, ran online information sessions to support parents and carers’ digital literacy, and collected and analysed data to inform the school executive about student technology use, attendance and engagement on online learning platforms.

Continuing to work in partnership with parents and carers

Staff at Yeoval Central School were committed to maintaining effective partnerships with parents and carers to ensure they felt supported in facilitating their child’s learning. The school achieved this by:

  • Keeping parents and carers informed about the school’s learning-from-home approach. Information was given in weekly emails from the principal, the school newsletter, and the school’s website and Facebook page.
  • Providing every parent and carer with information about setting up a learning space, structuring their child’s day, and maintaining student wellbeing.
  • Supporting parents and carers’ digital literacy. The school provided technology information sessions and one-on-one support for parents and carers as required. This was especially important for parents and carers of Kindergarten to Year 4 students, who had less exposure to online learning technology than Year 5 to 12 students.
  • Seeking feedback from parents and carers. The school used short surveys, consulted with the P&C and encouraged parents to reach out to the school about the needs of students and what was working and/or could be improved.
  • Adjusting parent and carer events to a remote format. For example, parent-teacher night was conducted using phone calls, and teachers ran a virtual open classroom tour and created a virtual exhibition of student projects.

Appendix

Screen capture of the Yeoval Super Satellite School website and virtual student projects exhibition
Image: Yeoval Super Satellite School website and virtual student projects exhibition
“Having that website as the one-stop-shop for everything was good… it worked really well for our families.”
Nicole Bliss, Principal
Three webpages with information for parents, titled Overview for parents, Setting up a learning environment and Tips for parents.
Image: Advice for parents and carers about supporting their child’s learning
“I kept saying at the beginning, ‘same, same but different’. That was my little mantra, ‘same, same but different’ ... So for instance, we had parent-teacher night scheduled for Monday, Week 11. We’re still going to do parent-teacher night, we’re just going to ring the parents this time.”
Nicole Bliss, Principal

1 Family Occupation and Education Index – a school-level index of educational disadvantage with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 50. Higher values indicate greater levels of need.
2 Student Learning Support Officer
3 School Administrative Officer

CESE would like to thank the Principal, Nicole Bliss, for her valuable input to this snapshot.

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