Gymea Technology High School

Remote learning proves to be a catalyst for change.

In the face of the greatest disruption to education in decades, the lessons learnt during the remote learning period about technology and students' ability to work independently are shaping how students will be taught in the future.

A collective approach to online learning by our staff and their commitment to retain the valuable lessons we learnt during remote learning is something we are very proud of.
- Peter Marsh, Principal, Gymea Technology High School, Metro South

An “anywhere, anytime” approach to teaching and learning adopted by Gymea Technology High during the remote learning period epitomises the transformation underway in NSW schools.

Technology was already providing students at the school in Sydney’s south with a host of opportunities to engage and be inspired, says Gymea Tech’s principal, Peter Marsh.

But the challenges of remote learning have further entrenched the use of technology in the curriculum, and in homework and assessment, he says.

In-house digital tools developed by the school meant teachers could easily and regularly track student engagement and progress, while students and parents could access a reporting portal “anywhere, anytime” to check on the student’s performance.

The result, says Mr Marsh, is wider collaboration among teachers at the school; greater feedback for students and their families about a child’s performance, and; in conjunction with quality face-to-face teaching, new learning management systems that are making it easier for students to reflect on their progress and set learning goals.

“Communication and connection with home is a crucial part of student learning and engagement,” says Mr Marsh.

“While there is a need for formalised reporting home each semester, giving parents and students ongoing, clear insights into progress at school through continuous reporting will have greater impact for all students,” he says.

“With so much information collected at school, parents can get a better picture of their child’s wellbeing and academic progress.”

As it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic would impose remote learning on schools, Gymea’s executive team consulted its entire staff about the best way to proceed. Early on, students and families were told what learning from home would entail, and how they could receive support.

“Our staff worked together to produce the learning materials for their students across courses and across faculties to ensure the expectations and messages we were sending to our community were consistent and clear and that the learning packages we delivered were of quality and benefit to all of our students,” says Mr Marsh.

Two high school girls using laptops in the classroom.
Image: Gymea students continue using the digital tools implemented for learning from home upon their return to the classroom.

The school developed a new whole school, continuous formative assessment and homework program around learning platforms Moodle and Google Classroom, vodcasts, and a Remote Learning Markbook developed in-house that tracked every student’s engagement and progress.

Junior school students received weekly learning packages that included a set number of targeted, online activities that students worked through at their own pace.

Senior students continued with the syllabus via vodcasts produced by Gymea’s teachers, which mapped to online tasks such as quizzes, practice exam questions and draft exam essays.

Drawing from data collected by the school’s Remote Learning Markbook, individualised emails were sent to students and parents about students’ progress, every week.

Parents will eventually be able to access the data being collected by Gymea’s online Student Task Tracker by using individualised logins.

The new practices have worked so well that Gymea Tech has retained them now that it has returned to face-to-face teaching.

The new formative assessment strategy has created a culture of high expectations for academic achievement and engagement, says Mr Marsh.

“We are continuing to see our students engaging more regularly in quality home study, which is supporting their classroom learning, and we are able to track the effects of this for students, teachers and parents through weekly formative performance data.”

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