A virtual celebration
Here's how we celebrated learning together in a virtual world during Education Week 2020.
Information about this year's Education Week (26-30 July 2021) is coming soon.
Monday - Education Week launch live stream
Monday 3 August 10am
Live stream the Education Week 2020 launch video to your school community from 10am on Monday 3 August 2020.
Reflecting on the incredible year to date – with the bushfires, floods and continuing drought as well as the COVID-19 pandemic – the Education Week launch will focus on the achievements of students, school staff, parents, and the community as we have continued to learn together in 2020.
Following the launch, the video will also be available on demand for schools to use at other events during Education Week.
Expect to hear from dignitaries and department leaders, as well as performances by students and film reflecting on the year so far.
Video – 2020 Education Week launch
Hello everyone, my name is Kailash Sarma and I go to Normanhurst Boys High School and I am one of many students who is ready and counting down for the HSC.
And I'm Nickie Tran, in Year 10 at Sarah Redfern High School. I'd like to say a special hello to everybody out there especially students across New South Wales.
See Nickie, this is an amazing day, because this is the first time that Education Week is coming virtually. For the first time in 60 years, and we would like to welcome all staff, teachers and students for the first time that this has happened.
We'd like to start our launch today with a beautiful Acknowledgement of Country produced by The Arts Unit.
Kayb ngalpa ngitha mura. Which in my language means, good day everyone.
My name is Zipporah Corser-Anu and I'm a proud Torres Strait Islander woman from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait. It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the traditional custodians on the land on which we stand.
We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging and extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people present today.
The stars are our totemic spirits. May the stars shine bright wherever you are and guide you all.
It gives me great pleasure now to introduce the Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian, who is a proud graduate of NSW Public Schools and also has a real passion for the transformative power of education.
Congratulations to all of our school communities across New South Wales on Education Week.
Learning together is such an appropriate theme for this year's celebrations.
We're all doing it a bit tough at the moment but we're all doing it together and certainly learning together is a combination of the efforts of our students, our teachers, our amazing principals and of course the parents and carers who offer and contribute so much to our schools.
I'm really excited as the New South Wales Premier to know that there is so much happening that's improving the opportunity of every single student no matter where they live and no matter what their circumstances across the state.
I want to thank everybody in particular for your efforts during COVID, the coronavirus. All of you have had to put up with online learning, have had to put up with disruption. But all of you have come through, demonstrating wonderful resilience and a wonderful capacity to learn together.
Congratulations, thank you and I look forward to seeing you all in the coming year and beyond.
Thank you Premier.
It's only August, but what a year we've had. We've had droughts, we've had fires, we've had floods and now a pandemic. But even through all of this unprecedented change, we've seen a lot of innovation and creativity and this can be seen in Evans High School in Blacktown where before, in the middle and after the lockdown they recorded Bapa by Dr G.
Warwuyu ŋarranha mulkana
Yaa bäpa marrkapmirri
Yaa, bäpa marrkapmirri
Ŋäthina Djotarra maṉḏa
Garray Dhuwandjika Daylulu
Ḻiya-wayna wäŋaŋura Gunyaŋarri
I'm sure we've all learnt some new words and phrases this year. Pandemic, social distancing, flattening the curve and now words like sanitiser and isolation has a whole new meaning. The year 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns and lockdowns has really been like no other year that students and staff can remember. Next we hear from our education leaders who reflect on how quickly we made the transition to learning from home. And then we'll share a video about the digital transformation of learning. We went to online learning within days, just incredible.
Welcome to Education Week 2020. It's a year that we will never forget. When we started this year, parts of the state had been in drought for a considerable period of time. Then bushfires, then floods and now the pandemic. What a remarkable year it is and we come to Education Week 2020 and still so much great work to celebrate. I'm joined by the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell. And the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee. Sarah as you reflect on this remarkable year, what are the highlights for you, what have you seen and what have you learned?
Mark I think for me it's been the ability to see how quickly our schools adapted to going from learning in the classroom to learning at home. I think the phenomenal effort that we saw right across the state, from our principals, our teachers, our school support staff, was just incredible. I personally witnessed it with my eldest daughter being in Year 1 and the great work from her local public school. And I think that relationship with parents that we've been able to really build up during the pandemic is something that while it's been a challenging time, it's been really exciting to see that in practice.
The theme for Education Week this year is, Learning together. And has there ever been a more apt theme? You know parents and the broader community working with our teachers to ensure the continuity of learning despite the disruption of COVID-19. Great learning took place from home and then we were delighted to welcome students back to the classroom with a strong continuity and a focus on learning improvement for every student. That's what we're committed to, the improvement of every student, every teacher, every leader, every school, every year. That's a hallmark of NSW Education and also our commitment that every student is known, valued and cared for. What we can see at the moment is the impact of globalisation and technology and unforeseen events like the pandemic will just put enormous pressure on students to continue learning through the rest of their careers. And I know Geoff Lee you've got a real focus on lifelong learning and equipping our students to be learners throughout their lives.
Well absolutely Mark, and I think it's important for the students today is, what are you gonna do after high school? What career are you going to choose? Whether you choose to go to university. But many people don't consider the option of Vocational Educational Training. It gives people the opportunity to get great jobs and rewarding careers. So can I encourage everybody to simply look at the different options available. Some should go to university but not everybody, some people much better suited to vocational education. So I can ask everybody, make sure you make an informed decision at this important part of your life.
And as we continue to wrestle with the challenge of COVID-19 in the community, it's also important to reflect on just other great achievements we've seen in New South Wales this year. Sarah what are some of the highlights for you?
Look I think, Mark, the work with the Curriculum Review particularly is a real highlight. You know that's major reform that we've been working on for a period of time. It's a major shake up when it comes to education in New South Wales. We haven't done anything like this for 30 years and I think that work is really exciting and the implementation of that now to come I think provides some great opportunities. And I don't think we can forget our infrastructure projects as well. You know given that we have had a pandemic under way, we've still been able to deliver more than 40 new and upgraded schools so far this year already. There's another 50 projects that are being worked on as we speak. Lots happening in the school builds as well.
So despite the disruption, despite the challenge, it's already been a year of great success with our commitment to every student. And we reaffirm that commitment during Education Week. Our commitment to learning together. So much to celebrate, enjoy Education Week 2020.
I remember my maths teacher came in and said, "School's shut". I went home and like, cried. I was like, I don't know what to do, like this is so foreign.
Well I was very old-style teacher. I'm paper, pen, writing on a white board. When we were told that, we're going remote in a couple of days, steepest learning curve I've ever faced.
Good morning Stage 3.
Our parents love their kids. They love them, they want to provide, but they really struggle. And our kids deserve exactly the same as everyone else. They deserve to be able to get on the Internet. They deserve to be able to access learning from home.
The school sent message out, but didn't elaborate on this message. It kept us in suspense of, what are they planning? And then the next message that came through, probably less than a week or so later said that every child is getting a laptop to take home, and we're just gone, what the...? How cool is this?
There was excitement for everyone. I remember packing all the bags for all the kids. I think there was 165 bags we packed with laptops, chargers, and all work from their Stages.
When we got the computers, I was just, yeah, mind-blowing.
Setting it up was a bit hard at first, but once we were up and going, it was good, it was pretty seamless.
The first day we had, I think I had 45 children in Stage 2, all on Zoom, it was just amazing to see them from my own home.
It's been such an interesting process for many of the teachers. And I think it accelerated us in that area. In terms of using technology in the classroom, I think it accelerated us 5-10 years, to be honest.
If you didn't want to see someone's face you could hide them. I liked that bit!
A few parents that I've talked to after we've come back have been really, really grateful.
They were just incredibly impressed with the teachers, and incredibly impressed with how their kids were able to not miss a beat in a pretty stressful, high-stakes environment, you know?
If I have kids who are away due to illness, or other appointments and the like, they can now watch a video, and they're there for the whole class, they've watched the entire lesson as if they were there.
For maths, especially, like now everything's just online if you need notes for something. A lot of my other classes also have that, so that's really useful to have everything online, so I can just get it whenever I need it.
It's always fun to play on our laptops. We can change backgrounds, we can play games.
I think she's learning to use a laptop or electronic devices at an early age because in the near future,
It's gonna be the way,
That could be the way it is.
I really wanna keep using it, 'cause it helps our learning, so in the future we can get jobs and stuff.
I'm really comfortable that they've learnt a lot, and I'm seeing a really different, energised cohort, which is lovely.
We also wanted to pay tribute to the NSW schools that were affected by the bushfire. Coming up is a story about how three schools came together and really showed that they are the cornerstone of our community. This video really shows that our school, our staff, and our communities are coming together to help each other in such a challenging time and really show that we care.
It's fantastic to be able to join you here from Buxton Public School in the Wollondilly Shire on the outskirts of southwestern Sydney. This is one of over 200 public schools that were deeply impacted, in a physical sense, by the extraordinary summer bushfires that we all contended with and experienced.
In fact, this entire playground was burnt out, and it's due to the enormous fortitude of the school community here at Buxton and school communities right across the state, the enormous efforts of our teaching and non-teaching staff, our school leadership teams, sections of our organisation like School Infrastructure NSW, our Health and Safety Directorate, all of our folk who've galvanised and supported school communities like Buxton Public School to make sure we were operational, we were ready to embrace our children, we were able to get on with continuity of learning from day one this year.
A huge shout out to many of our staff who indeed were not only staff inside the school gates, but volunteers outside the school gates fighting the bushfires as well. Our hats off to them.
On behalf of the department, thank you to all of our teaching and non-teaching staff, our school leadership teams, sections right across the department that have supported during these unprecedented times, and a big call out for our parents and community who keep backing us in and supporting all endeavours that we undertake, just like they do here in the Buxton School community.
Enjoy Education Week, and make sure you're out there celebrating all that is fantastic in public schools across NSW.
To be honest, it looked like a tsunami of fire. And we had the firies in our driveway and he said, "Nah, you're gone."
I saw some of my cattle running into the fire, and I thought that they were trying to find the end of the fire so that they can be safe on the other side.
What did you think was going to happen?
It was going to burn down.
When we found out that a lot of our community were displaced to Grafton and that they were trying to organise phone calls to set up starting to recover, and that the kids were there and all the kids wanted to do was catch up with their friends, we decided, within our staff, that we needed to do something for these children. Michelle, from Grafton Public School, reached out to us and said, "We've got a safe place for these children. "Please come to school, if you can, on Monday."
We had a working bee on the weekend and a lot of our staff came in and set up the classrooms. We put all spare furniture into the rooms, and set it up exactly like it would be a normal classroom that we would operate ourselves.
My entire 47 years of being here and in this area, never, ever seen Baryulgil and Malabugilmah like that.
It's very hard to find contact of somebody. So I just rang the person I knew who'd be able to tell everybody, Don't bring anything except yourselves. We'll have food, we'll have clothes, we'll have everything ready for the kids at school. And they were there Monday morning.
When we got the call of Miss Woods, "It's been arranged at the school," it was like, "Awesome, mad! Deadly!" There's no other word to describe it.
On Monday morning, we had 11 of our 17 students arrive on the first day. They came in. They saw a sign on the door that said Nymboida Public School and Baryulgil Public School. And they were just so excited. I don't think I've seen so many kids after such a tragic event, so excited to be back into school, to see their friends and have so many things to play with.
It was really good to have that support because we don't have family around here. So to have someone have our back like that, it was really good, yeah.
To see them devastated, but also happy to get together and talk about what happened after the fires. You can see how close the community actually is. In the busy day-to-day life, everyone's going here, there and everywhere. But these guys, it's that good old saying that, "It takes a village to raise a kid." And that's definitely something that I see out here all the time. Everyone just chimes in. Whether it's us at school doing our little part or whether it's the community, we've all found a way to work together.
You know when people told me that Year 12 would have its fair share of challenges, I sort of brushed that idea off. But 2020 has been quite challenging. It's tested my ability to adapt, to be flexible, and also to be resilient, like many Year 12 students in the same boat as I am. However, public Education Week is all about honouring creativity and innovation. And I think this year's really tested our ability to do so. On behalf of all Year 12 students and students across the state, I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation for principals, school teachers and school staff for their all ongoing support and assistance through this challenging time.
Unfortunately we are coming to the end of the launch of Education Week 2020. However I'd like to leave you with the incredible collaboration between our students, The Arts Unit and the Australian singer-songwriter Lior. Lior's song, Real Love, has been carefully arranged for our students for the performance in orchestras and choirs for the Sydney Town Hall. However like many other events, it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Students around the state had already started rehearsals before the lockdown, so they continued their rehearsals through online Zoom calls. Now more than 100 students has recorded their videos at home to be stitched together in one amazing performance. This is Learning together.
I broke it down to the last detail
I drew a list why we should fail
But if it's one thing I've learnt in all my time
If it's real love
You don't need to ask why
Back when I was greener
I thought love was black and white
I somehow had it in my head
That if it's right
It won't need a fight
I didn't know that I should never break you down
That you can't split someone into what's right or wrong
But if it's one thing I've learnt in all my time
If it's real love
Don't let it die
If it's real love
You don't need to ask why
And if it's one thing that I could never deny
Real love ♪
And you were always there for me
But I couldn't see what you could see
I change my colours easily
You're strong and steady
It's how you'll always be
Now I know that I will always be in flight
Forever drawn into your light
And if its one thing I've learnt in all my time
If it's real love
Don't let it die
If it's real love
You don't need to ask why
Yeah if it's one thing I know I could never deny
[End of transcript]
Tuesday - An introduction to Aboriginal languages
Tuesday 4 August 10am
Join us as we celebrate National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day with this this fun, all-ages, 45-minute video lesson presented by the NSW AECG's Aboriginal Language Educators.
- Find out more, link to download the app and watch An introduction to Aboriginal languages.
Video – An introduction to Aboriginal languages
- Gulbiyaay ngindaay. Dhawun AECG-dhu winanga waabaldanha. Guuguu ngiyani winangaylanha. Ngiyanibula wayamaa winangaylanha. Gayaa ngaya yyara, Yinarr gayaa Gamilaraay, Nean-gu Weatherall-gu.
- My name is Kyara Nean, and I'm a proud Gamilaraay woman, belonging to the Nean and Weatherall families.
- And my name is Warren. I'm a proud Ngunnawal man from Yass and Canberra, but I've always lived in Sydney. We work for the New South Wales AECG Secretariat, as project officers. Today, we're here to celebrate National Aboriginal Children's Day & Education Week.
- National Aboriginal Children's Day is an opportunity to show support for Aboriginal children--
- As well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family, and community play in the life of Aboriginal children.
- National Aboriginal Children's Day has been running annually since 1988.
- Education Week is about celebrating the great work done in public education by teachers, students, and staff. The New South Wales AECG supports six language nests across New South Wales. These are Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, Wiradjuri, Gamilaraay, Paakantji, and Murrawarri. Our deadly language educators teach Aboriginal languages in many schools and communities, to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.
- Today we're going to go on a journey around New South Wales, to four different language groups, Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, Wiradjuri, and Gamilaraay, focusing on native Australian animals.
- Now, before we get started, there are some protocols we need to understand when teaching Aboriginal languages. 'Cause languages can't be taught in isolation of culture. Cultural protocols are a set of cultural rules that advise the cultural practices for teaching Aboriginal languages and cultures. You should engage with your local community to find out what cultural protocols to follow.
- So to get you started, we want to show you an app developed by the New South Wales AECG that has six different language groups on it. It includes a dictionary, three games, Pictionary, Wordsearch, and Storyfill, to help you learn these languages.
- Kyara, using the app, can you find the Wiradjuri word for "emu"?
- So first, you can click the little arrow, that will list all of the different language groups that we have. And I'm going to go to Wiradjuri. Now I'm going to go to the dictionary to find the word "emu." Dictionary, and scroll down, because it's in alphabetical order, to find "emu." Click on "emu," and it comes up. You can also listen to the sound of this word if you're not sure how to pronounce it.
- [App Narrator] Dinawan.
- That's great! Can you now show me how to use the Storyfill, maybe with a different language?
- So I'm just gonna go back, and we're gonna go to Gamilaraay, to Storyfill, and it has a sentence that we have to answer. "The man paddled his" something, "across the river." I wonder what his something is? Let's try this word. "Better luck next time." Even if you get it wrong, it will still tell you the correct pronunciation of the word. And you can also listen to this.
- [App Narrator] Nganda.
- Good job! Okay, now let's cross over to the Wiradjuri language educators, see what they're doing.
- So, what I said there was, "I would like to acknowledge my Wiradjuri people, "the traditional owners of this country, "which this video is gonna be shot on today." So thank you for listening.
- Gawaymbanha Dhubu-gu!
- Welcome to Dubbo!
- Welcome to Western Plains Zoo.
- I'm Anthony.
- And I'm Brian.
- I'm Darren.
- And I'm Shane. I'm a Wiradjuri man, in Dubbo. We're out here at the Zoo on Dundulimal country. I'm looking at all the landscape and all the different animals from all over the world and how they're adapting to it. So, yeah, it's all sandstone country, and you see a lot of currajongs, and a lot of-- We're at another yung madhan, a scar tree. By the looks of its shape, we cut a canoe, a wargan. So we would've went into the galing and caught some guya, some fish, and we would have brought it back to the garray, the land, and cooked it in the wiiny, the fire. And if you look down here, there's a miilbi, which is a hole, in Wiradjuri. That woulda been for a wilay or gindhaany, possums. And that woulda been our farming, to catch them when we was looking for food, or warm clothes from their fur.
- [Brian] All that. You're deadly. You're deadly, dinawan!
- "Please sir, gimme some--
- So at this time of the year, the males will be nesting, so it's around breeding time, after they've started to breed, and The Emu in the Sky relates to this. At a certain time, the Emu in the Sky will be sitting on the nest, and that tells us that the eggs are starting to develop inside. So it's not time to get the eggs. They have a close relationship with the quandong trees. Without one another they won't be able to survive, so the emu eats the quandong seeds, quandong fruits, and when they're digesting the seeds, what actually happens is the bile, it will regerminate the seeds. So, that's the only way that a quandong seed can regrow, is if it's been passed through the emu's stomach. And another thing with the emu, when it needs to digest, it'll pick up a small stone, or something shiny, and that stone will rattle around in its stomach, and that'll process the guna inside of it, so it can come out.
- There were a lot more emus around, or dinawan around, but because of them like to eat shiny rocks, to help 'em digest, they're eatin' all the gold. They were eatin' gold that they saw on the ground, and the miners found this out and they went around and started killing all the emus for the gold in their stomach. Which really decimated the numbers, sorta round the Molong area, all the way down through to Peak Hill.
- Crikey, what have we got here? This is a beautiful specimen, just look at the colours on that lovely green tree frog. Now our Wiradjuri word for "green tree frog" is gungalang. And, if you're gonna touch these beautiful babies, make sure your hands are nice and wet. Because if they're dry, that might cause some damage to the frog, it might dry the frog out. Or the gulaangga. Gulaangga is our general word for frog in Wiradjuri. But just look at those beautiful colours! Mate, they can come in any sorts o' colours, you've got this nice green down here, then up here you've got another different shade o' green. And the one over the back, if you just pan the camera over to the back, you can almost see that it's almost black up on top o' that one, isn't it? What a beautiful creature that is. All right. In the snake season, if you see a lot of frogs around, you can almost guarantee that there's a snake around. Because these snakes like to feed off these beautiful creatures. The gadi.
- [Host] Hello! Well, you can share some knowledge that you know about this snake, my friend?
- This is Dull, and Dull's a children's python. He's only a little fella, so this is how big he'll get, and so he's considered to be a small snake. He's from Central Australia. So, he's a desert snake. And you can see the nice markings on his back, there. So that's for him to hide, in that country up there, where it's a bit sandy, but there's a lot of little shrubs where they drop little seeds, so he's got those nice little markings to be able to blend in with the country up there, hide himself. He's also got some, can you see down the side of his face, he's got some heat-sensing pits down there. And that's, when he's hunting, looking for food, when he's moving through the sand, could be a mouse, hiding underneath the sand, or, a lizard, or something like that, and he can just sense their heat, and just pounce straight through the sand to get to 'em. They're pretty clever. Yeah, so you can see him stickin' his tongue out?
- [Host] Time!
- Sorry I wasted your time--
- [Host] It's okay.
- So, you can see him stickin' his tongue out, and what he's doing there is he's checking the temperature. He's tryin' to get to the warmest spot. 'Cause he's a reptile, he's cold-blooded. So he wants to get warm. And then he's also smelling. All right, so, this is a stick insect.
- A stick insect is called "madhan-gabang."
- It's actually a female, and we can tell that by the size. The boys are smaller, so they're just skinny, they look more like a stick, like an actual stick. Whereas she looks, that way, she looks a little bit like a dead leaf. So you can see she's startin' to swing, as though she's in the breeze, and if you're a dead leaf, no one wants to eat ya. So, it's all about camouflage with this species. So, she's female, and another way we can tell is she's got little wings, the boys have really big wings, all right? So the girls don't fly, and if I hold her that way, she looks, oh, we can get her to tuck her tail up, she looks a little bit like a scorpion. Yep! So it's all about camouflage. And if you can see in the back of her tail there, she's just got an egg, about to launch it out.
- [Host] Is that what this is?
- Yep, so we've got an egg here, and the other one's poo.
- All right, so, and it's just basically crushed-up eucalyptus leaves. So if you crush it up, smell it, it smells just like eucalyptus leaves. All right, so, these guys are really interesting. So the girls, they don't need to have any, they don't need to mate with a male to be able to have fertilized eggs. So if she's just laying eggs, and if you look in here, you might be able to see a few on the ground, if she's just laying eggs, she's just laying female eggs. So she doesn't need a male to mate with to have--
- To reproduce.
- Yeah, to reproduce. So, and then if she mates with a male, she'll get only male eggs, all right? So, what she does is she flicks the egg out, and then, so basically all the girls do all day is produce eggs, and eat, up in a tree. And the boys gotta fly around to find a female. And then, if you have a look over here, you can see on her, on the egg, on the end there, there's a little bit of sugar. You see that?
- [Host] Right here?
- Yep. So she's flickin', she's up in the tree, and she's flickin' out her eggs everywhere, and they're landing on the ground. And who lives on the ground? The ants. The ants think that that's a whole piece of sugar, so they take the whole egg back to their nest, and they take it down in there, and they eat the bit of sugar that's on the end, and then they realize it's all not sugar, and they just chuck it away, leave it in there. But the ant's nest is the right temperature and humidity for that egg to, what's the word?
- Incubate, yeah. So then, it takes about 18 months in there. Then once they hatch, when it's hatched, it looks like a baby ant. They think it's a baby ant, so they start looking after it, treat it like a baby ant, and as it gets bigger, it starts moving from the nest, up into the trees again, start again. So they're all about camouflage, so they're pretty pretty, they're pretty cool animals.
- And, do you want--
- And then, so they take about 18 months to incubate and to hatch, and then they only live for about 18 months. So, it's a very short lifespan. There is about 50 different species of stick insects in Australia.
- [Host] You want this back now?
- Oh, yes, sorry. And the other bit in there is poo, you see that one? And if you just crush it up, crush it up so you can see it.
- Oh, all right.
- [Kirsty] You can see how green it is.
- Oh, yeah.
- Yeah. This basically just smells like crushed-up eucalyptus, 'cause that's all it is. Go ahead and pour that in there. Here we are at a dharran, or a creek. In the creek, we'll down and find yabis, or as the other people call 'em, crayfish. You'll find a lot of your water birds. This is the type o' area you would find a biladurang, or platypus, 'cause it's nice clear running water. Good thing about the platypus or biladurang, if you see it in there, you know you've got nice drinking water. 'Cause they live in the nice clean water. Okay? So that's our dharran, a creek. mandaang guwu.
- Green tree frog. And what I'm doing here is just spraying water on him, just so that he can stay wet. So it can help him to breathe. So what he does is he uses his skin to breathe. So what they do is they absorb the water in, and water's made of, what's, do youse know? Well, the chemical compound for water--
- Is H2O. Again, it's another sophisticated adaptation that he's evolved into over thousands and thousands of years. So what he's doing is absorbing the water straight into his body, taking out the oxygen directly into his bloodstream, and then he squirts out the rest, what he doesn't need. Yeah, so that's what he's doing. Now, frogs are really cool, 'cause if we don't look after these fellas, we're all gone, pretty much. And they're really really good indicators of how our environment's going, and especially our water systems. So, what these guys, and that's because of being able to absorb that water straight into the skin. If you're absorbing polluted products, or polluted water into your skin, then you're gonna die. So, he tells us how good we're being to the planet, and how, you know, if we're looking after our country.
- [Host] He's a good indicator that the country's good?
- Yeah, yeah. So what they do is, because they've got that nice stretchy skin, and it's transferable skin, they can move the water in and out, what they do is, their tongue is attached to their bottom lip, and they flick their tongue out, pull the food back in, and then they use their eyeballs to squash the food down into their stomach. So if you touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue, it's hard, you can't push through it.
So, Stumpy here, he doesn't have that, so he's gotta use his eyeballs to push the food down into his stomach. Then if he doesn't agree with it, and it makes him sick, he can pull his stomach out of his body, clean his stomach out, and then push it all back in. So that's a really cool adaptation.
And then, that adaptation is also in our Dreamtime story, Tiddalik. And we talk about him in the story going around and drinking all the water up. And the first time you're told that story, because you would be told a Dreamtime story, you know, four or five times in your lifetime, depending on the level of knowledge that you need to know, but the first lesson in Tiddalik is don't be greedy, and to share. It's good for little kids to learn that. And then, you would get told it again, and in the story, he drinks up all the water, and gets really big, and the land goes into drought. But in that story it also tells of his adaptation, from what happened to him. So, he got really really big, and when you get really really big, and then all the water comes out, and you get to a smaller size, your skin becomes really stretchy. So that's that adaptation, explaining that adaptation through that story. And then, he has a good laugh, when he has a good laugh, he spills out all the water. When you have a good laugh, you feel good. And when you feel good you wanna do good things. And it talks about, also, the gut being connected to the heart and to the mind. So if your gut's not good, you're probably not eating right, you're probably not, you know, looking after yourself. And if he's ingesting, you know, polluted water, he's not gonna feel good either, which means we aren't gonna feel good. So it ties all that, it's all connected.
- Wambuwuny, we got many other subspecies of the kangaroo, this is a redneck swamp wallaby. And the way we say it in Wiradjuri is "baradhaany."
- [Kirsty] So, he's a shingleback. He's also known as a two-headed lizard, or a bobtail.
- Shingleback lizard, also known as a bagaay.
- And you can see that their tail looks like their head. So that's a defense mechanism. And also their skin, their skin's a little bit like armor. So if a snake strikes them, it's harder for them to get through that skin, through those shingles, or those scales, I should say, sorry. So what they do is, if a bird's up in the air, ready to come down, he'll move his tail as though it's his head, he can move his legs, his back legs to make it look like his front legs and his front legs look like his back legs, so he can move them in a 360 motion. And then, the bird will attack his tail, and he can turn around and bite the bird on the face, pretty much.
- [Host] Did I just watch his leg turn around?
- Yeah. So they're pretty cool.
- [Host] Did you know about that?
- So these guys are, monogamous, is that the right word? Am I saying the right word? So they'll mate with the same shingleback for the rest of their life, once they've made their first mate. You can see, this is Gumnut, so she's got some coloring come through now. So as they get older they'll lighten up in color, usually, so he's got more color. 'Cause he's quite old, that fella over there. I didn't get him out because they do, when we get 'em up higher, they do suffer a bit of vertigo, and they sometimes poo everywhere. He's got his tongue stickin' out there, again, same as the snake, he's checking the temperature and smelling. But can you see how black his tongue is? See if he'll do it, or she, sorry, she. So, that tongue has its own SPF built into it. So, when we get burnt, we put sunscreen on us. If you got more pigment in your skin, you go darker. And that's pretty much what that is. Her tongue is full of pigment, so that's just like the same stuff as in SPF sunscreen. Yeah, so she doesn't get sunburnt. 'Cause if you're sticking your tongue out all the time in Australia, you're always, it's gonna get sunburnt, yeah.
- [Host] And predominantly where are they found?
- [Kirsty] All down the east coast of Australia, yeah.
- Introducing the ringtail possum, or, in Wiradjuri, gindhaany.
- [Kirsty] So, she might be able to curl her tail around. You can see on the back of her tail, she's got no fur, yeah? So that's just to help her grip, so she can use it like another tool. Ooh, she's not gonna stay out. So, if youse wanna have a pet?
- [Anthony] Oh, ain't it cute.
- [Host] Where do we go for a pet like this?
- [Anthony] How old is she?
- So, she's about eight years old. She's sort of the equivalent of maybe a 20-year-old.
- [Host] So she won't get much bigger than that?
- [Kirsty] No, this is as big as they get. So they're not like the brushies, the brushies get about, yeah.
- Big and fat.
- They get nice and solid. Yeah. But we used to have ringtail possums out here, before farming, and agriculture and settlement. So, yeah, there was heaps of 'em. But if you're, when their habitat became smaller, and if you're the smaller one, and you're a territorial animal, what are you gonna do, you're gonna get out, ain't ya? So, these guys have to sort of move closer to the coast now, and you find 'em more on the coast, don't ya. But if you wanna know the rest, you gotta come to my class.
- Just wanna give a massive Mandaang Guwu--
- Mandaang Guwu!
- To Kirsty, the Aboriginal programs coordinator at Taronga-Western Plains Zoo, at the education center. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and helping us out with the video. So I say Mandaang Guwu again.
- Mandaang Guwu from AECG. Garray-gu!
- Crikey, that was good!
- Now let's head out to Bundjalung country. It must be getting close to tucker time, let's see what they're up to. So when you're looking for Jubal, you look for this sort of stuff. That's the poo. Okay, then what you do is you go "All right, "we'll have a look," and you sorta trace it up. So there's more over here. And you go, "All right, so it must be close, "'cause there's a lot in this area." Then you always go "All right," then you follow it up, follow it up, and then you find the hole there. See how it's bulging? See how it's all bulging there? Take that away, and that's it there. Okay? This tree's really good, 'cause on the right side of this tree, you can see all the scars. Running down the side you'll see more.
- [Gil] Are you gonna grill it, or what?
- [Kris] Yeah, I think we'll have to go home and get it done there, 'cause I think I left it at home. If you look here on this side, you can see where I've done it before. So there's one here, an old one. And there's another one that's recent. I think it was last season, that one. That was last season. There's another one. They're all over the place, they're all over. That one there. Some up there, there's an old one there. So Gil has found some here.
- [Gil] Right there, eh?
- [Kris] Oh, yeah, if you look and see again.
- [Gil] Another one.
- [Kris] See again, there's a poo.
- [Gil] Oh, chipping then.
- [Kris] And then you follow it up, and there he is there. Okay? So there's two o' ya, we can get. As you can see, we're looking for Jubal, which we call "witchetty grub." We do look for the poo, that the Jubal extract from their holes here. And you look for a hole that's all swollen, and you get your ax, sharp, preferably. Safety's always the key, you always put your hand away when you're choppin' into a tree. And go from the top down, This one's a good one. Not too bad. Clear it out, best you can. As you can see, there's the hole. Now you grab your wire, which I put around my handle, it's always there. And you just unravel it. And on the end of the wire you got a hook, master hook, for witchetty grub, the Jubal. And you slowly pull it out. So, what you do is you grab your hook, and it's up in the tree here somewhere. And he's just there. Sometimes they take a bit to get out, 'cause they are fragile, they've only got a thin skin. Sometimes you do bust 'em. And you go slowly, you feel that you've got 'im, and then you pull him out. Got him there, feel him out like that. This one's a big one.
- [Gil] He says, "Look at the size of this Jubal!" Wow!
- And there, there's your witchetty grub.
- [Gil] That's our Jubal.
- That's our Jubal! So yeah, he's a big one!
- So, for you, kids. I don't know if any one of you fellas will eat these, but I love 'em. And, I won't eat it raw, it's a bit gluggy, but I'll cook the big ones. Here.
- [Gil] Deadly, eh? They're deadly size. That's a feed and a half there.
- Oh, yeah. So you have four of them, you've got a good feed. They all come in different sizes, different stages of their maturity. So the little ones are real pink, as they get bigger, they get more prominent white color. There we go.
- Well, now there we go. Two jubals outta this one tree. And they're very yummy, very nice, all right? If you haven't tried one, have a go. Because you won't turn back once you taste it. It tastes so yummy.
- [Kris] What do they taste like, Gil?
- Well, I like to hear, they've got sort of a nutty taste. Real nutty taste, like a macadamia nut. Similar to a one of our native macadamias, but I love 'em, very nutty.
- [Kris] Here we are, we've got the Jubal, in all its glory. And we're just about to put it on the barbie. Now we can't in the forest, man, 'cause there's a bit of restrictions around, so we just chuck 'em on like this. And the other one. They wriggle a bit. So, a bit o' heat comin' off there, yeah? So we just cook it. Until they stop moving. But yeah, so that's how you cook the Jubal. I'll get back to you when they're cooked and show you how you eat 'em! So we got a bit of salt, bit of salt on the jubal. Now, brother Darren here's gonna have a go. Go ahead, there, Darren. All right, here's the jubal, first taste. Put it straight in there. Is it all right?
- It's all right.
- [Kris] yeah? All good?
- Yeah that's all right, tastes deadly.
- [Kris] Come on, Gil, have a go.
- [Gil] Lovely! Make a jubal, all right?
- [Kris] All right, grab your piece there. Right there.
- Jubal, lovely, yummy, food! Very yummy.
- [Kris] Go on then.
- Oh, lovely, mm. Mm!
- [Kris] Have a go there?
- [Gil] Lovely, fresh, too.
- Mm, I could do with one of those jubals.
- You know what my problem is, Kyara? After a good feed, I get real sleepy. Maybe those Gamilaraay fellows might have a good song for us to relax to.
- Good idea, Warren, let's go and check them out.
♪ Ngamiy bandaarr, barawaanha waa ♪
♪ Ngamiy dhinawan, murubidi waa ♪
♪ Winangay gugurrgaagaa gindamay dhii-li-ga ♪
♪ Bawili dhii-gal-gu ♪
♪ Ghamiy guda, buruwiylanha ♪
♪ Ngamiy maliyan, gunagala-ga ♪
♪ Ngamiy bigibila-gu giidjaa dhaldanha ♪
♪ Bawili dhii-gal-gu ♪
♪ Ngamiy bandaarr, barawaanha waa ♪
♪ Ngamiy dhinawan, murubidi waa ♪
♪ Winangay gugurrgaagaa gindamay dhii-li-ga ♪
♪ Bawili dhii-gal-gu ♪
♪ Ngamiy guda, buruwiylanha ♪
♪ Ngamiy maliyan, gunagala-ga ♪
♪ Ngamiy bigibila-gu giidjaa dhaldanha ♪
♪ Bawili dhii-gal-gu ♪
♪ Bawili dhii-gal-gu ♪
Hello, everyone, my name is Kelsey. I work as a project officer for the state New South Wales AECG. So a little song you would've heard me sing earlier was called "Dhii," and in Gamilaraay language that means "animals." So these are some of the animals that have been mentioned in the song.
So we've got bandaarr, that's our kangaroo. Dhinawan, emu. Gugurrgaagaa, kookaburra. Guda, koala. Maliyan, wedge-tailed eagle, and bigibila, echidna. So what I'm singing in the first line, I'm saying, "See the bandaarr hopping," see the kangaroo hopping. "See the emu running." "Hear the kookaburra laughing." And then the next verse is, "The koala is resting," 'cause you know we always see koalas just lazy, resting or eating in the tree, eating the gum leaves in the tree. Then we've got "maliyan in the sky," 'cause you know you always see these beautiful big wings flying in the sky. And "bigibila eating ants." So that's what the little song translates to.
And I hope that you learned something new today, and you enjoyed listening to the little song, and learning some words about our animals in Gamilaraay language. Maarubaa, or Maarubaa, thank you.
- Gee, that was deadly! Hasn't Kelsey got a great voice?
- Yes, she does. You know, our people are storytellers. And I hear that Gumbaynggirr mob are great storytellers.
- Yes, Kyara. Maybe they can share a story with us today. Let's check in with them!
- Giinagay, . My name is Jarrett Kerrie. I am Gumbaynggirr. I'm the Gumbaynggirr language and culture project officer. Today we're gonna share , the story of how the kangaroo got its tail.
- [Kangaroo] Galang, biiway nganyundi juun! Ngaaja walla nyaagiliw, juun.garri niigarr. Ya gala minya waruungga juun.garri? Jalaawanda ngiinda guuyu.
- [Koala] Minyaagu guuyu?
- [Kangaroo] Yilaami ngiinda wajaada! Ngalii junyirrila!
- [Koala] Ngiibarr ngayam jalawaygu guuyu.
- [Kangaroo] Ngalii junyirrila darruyay.
- [Koala] Minyagay ngaaya ngiinda juun.gu guuyu?
- [Kangaroo] Jirri ngiinda waandiyay waaru biguuda? Ngiinda jalaaway muluuna, biguuna. Jirri ngiinda ngaarlu?
- [Koala] Ngambii ngaaja ngaarlu; waandi biguurr.
- [Kangaroo] Biiway nginundi gulung?
- [Koala] Biiway! Ngaya jalaaway ngarluugu ngambiigu. Biiway nganyundi gulung. Yuwarrgin. Ngaya yaanyji gulungbiya.
- [Kangaroo] Ya nganyundi gulung. Ngaaja Maanija Galiiija.
- [Koala] Waw, ngiidi ngiinda maaning galiija gulung?
- [Kangaroo] Ngaaja ngiina ngurraaw gulung.
- [Koala] Jugi nginundi gulung guuyu?
- [Kangaroo] Ya-yang galiija gulung ngaaja maanijay guuyu. Y ngaaja ngiina ngurraaw gulung. Ngiinda gala ngaanya ngurraa yang nginundi juun!
- [Koala] Ngiibarr! Ngaaja ngurraaw nganyundi juun. Ngurraaw-barr ngaanya yang galiinga gulung. Ngurraanda, ngaaja nyaala guuyu.
- [Kangaroo] Yaarri ngarri gulung nginu ngaarlu ngambiigu muluu warruugida biguuda.
- [Koala] Galang! Yadi nganyundi gulung ngarluunggu?
- [Kangaroo] Ngurraa gala nganyu juun jaginyarr!
- [Koala] Yaarribarr nginju juun! Ngaajaga ngurraaw ngiina juun. Yaarriga ngaaja wurraang, bundul wurraaw. Jaginy-jarri-gay ngiinda! Ngaaja Bunggigurra-la, Majay-gurra-la.
- [Kangaroo] Yilaami ngiinda. Ngaaja galiija nginumbala muugala gulung. Ngiigay ngiinda ngambii guuyu ngaarlu! Ngarri gulung miiladama ngarluunggu. Ngiigay, ngiinda waandi biguurr gulung-garri-w. Biyagay ngiinda balunggiw. Ngiinda waruungga ngayinggi, bularri-bularri-garrugun.
- [Koala] Ngiinda gala jawgirr murri, dulaybam. Ngiigay birrmadi ngiinda garraji!
- Were those animals real, Kyara?
- You're so gullible, Warren. Now you see why they're great storytellers. That's all we have time for today. We hope that you've enjoyed what we shared, and continue on your learning of the rich and unique culture of Aboriginal people.
- The New South Wales AECG has many different programs that we run for students and teachers across New South Wales. Have a look at our website and social media pages for more details, or feel free to give us a call.
- [Both] Happy National Aboriginal Children's Day and Education Week, from all of us.
- See you later!
Wednesday - 'Film by ...' virtual student film festival
Wednesday 5 August midday
A key event for Education Week 2020 will be the livestream of the best of ‘Film by …’ films in a virtual student film festival. Dim the lights, dish out the popcorn and settle in for a celebration of student creativity on screen presented by Film by ... Aussie Kids.
The festival will include a message about student filmmaking by ‘Film by …’ patron, Bryan Brown and an opportunity to vote for your favourite film in a People's Choice award.
Video - 'Film by ... Invitation' virtual film festival
- Read the transcript of Film by Invitation student film festival.
- Find out more about the Film by Invitation virtual film festival and see who won Bryan's Pick and People's Choice Awards.
Thursday - Technology for parents and carers
Thursday 6 August 7pm
Presented by the Federation of Parents and Citizens Association of NSW in partnership with the NSW Department of Education’s Rural & Distance Education team, this one-hour Zoom webinar was specially created to give parents and carers a working understanding of the technology most commonly used in NSW public schools. A link to a recording of this popular event will be available here shortly.
Friday - In conversation with Mark Scott
Friday 7 August 9:15am
Students have the chance to share their aspirations and ideas for learning when they sit down with Education Secretary Mark Scott during Education Week. 'In conversation...' involves four students, including two zooming in from regional NSW.
Video: In conversation with Mark Scott
Welcome to Education Week in Parramatta.
In recent years, I've held a lunchtime forum with students from across New South Wales. I've asked them a few questions. They've asked me tougher questions, and it's always been a highlight for me for this special week in New South Wales education. This year, of course we're challenged by COVID-19, but we thought it was still a great opportunity to have a conversation. And so I'm delighted to be joined here in Parramatta by two New South Wales students, but also we have two students who are coming in on the Zoom, and we're about to have a conversation.
We're meeting here on Dharug land, and I wanna pay my respect to traditional owners. And I'd like to ask Joseph to do an Acknowledgement of Country.
Hello, I'm Joseph Wilson, and I would like to welcome you all to the land of the Nari-Nari and Wiradjuri people of which I stand on today. I would also like to acknowledge the Gajinbarra of the Bundjalung Nation and the Dharug land of which one is standing on during this interview. I'd also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, and recognise the continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to the elders past, present and emerging in our local communities today and tomorrow, and always.
So Joseph is one of the four students I'll be talking with today, and he's joining us from Hay War Memorial High School in south-western New South Wales. Joseph is in Year 10 and is part of three schools, his local high school, Dubbo School of Distance Education and the Aurora college, our virtual selective high school for remote students. And I also understand he's a keen guitarist.
And also Zooming in to join us today, far up on the north coast at Kingscliff High School is the SRC president Jadzia Wolff. Jadzia is in Year 11 and has grown up right beside the beach in northern New South Wales. And she's passionate about the environment and she's also very interested in leadership and the role young people can play in shaping our world, including in ways of education.
And here in Parramatta, two students, Genoveva and Oliver. Genoveva is a Year 11 student from Rooty Hill High School. She is an accomplished violinist. She's very proud of her Romanian background and plans to study physiotherapy. Whereas Oliver is involved with his school's media and communication team, and he was lucky enough to be one of 21 students from around Australia, who attended a youth and media conference at the Museum of Australian Democracy in Canberra.
And I'm Mark Scott and I'm Secretary of the Department of Education here in New South Wales. And these students will be asking me some tough and tricky questions, but I'm planning to ask them some questions as well. And because I'm speaking at the moment, I can ask the first question. So why don't we do that?
So, you know, back in the day, I was an English teacher and even now, I'm on the board and I'm chair of the board of the Sydney Writers' Festival. So I'm very interested in reading. I'm very interested in books. And so here's my question. If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would it be and why would you choose that character? Genoveva, let's start with you.
So one of my favourite books that I've read was probably Treasure Hunters by James Patterson. And in that book, you find yourself going through history lessons and going through these different countries and exploring them. And these kids, they have to find their parents because one's been kidnapped, and the other has been lost at sea. And there's one character, his name is Bick Kidd. And he's the character who's optimistic and believes that they can get anywhere they can when they put their mind to it.
That's yours. Oliver, what are your thoughts?
So I've read the Series of Unfortunate Events.
Yep. And I really admire Klaus' intelligence, as he uses it in many different situations to help people and they, all the characters, they just go through many different...
Lots of adventures.
Lots of adventures, lots of hardship. Fantastic series of books.
Joseph, favourite character from a book, any character that you'd particularly want to be?
What comes to mind first to me is the character Grover from Percy Jackson. That's a book series. He is a very empathetic person. He's very nice and kind, and he's a very logical thinker as well. He's something to look up to and he's able to go through all the issues and stakes in those novels and make it through.
He's your man. Jadzia, what about you?
-So one of my favourite book series is The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. And I would love to be Alex, who is one of the main characters in the book and she was around my, around the age I was when I read the book. So she's young, she's really powerful, she's magical and she's heroic. So I really resonated with all of those things about her. And I also loved the idea of there being another magical world that some people can travel between.
For me, that's the easy bit out of the way, 'cause I've asked my question, but Jadzia, I think you've got a question you wanna fire back at me? And I'll have a go at answering, but if it's a really tough question, I'm gonna get Oliver to answer it for me on my behalf. So be on standby, Oliver, if it's a really tricky one.
So it's a little bit long, but I wanted to just talk about how several schools are starting to embrace the power of student voice and teacher-student partnerships. And I was wondering what you would have to say about, why do you think this hasn't always been as relevant and as present in schools? What can be done to convince those who aren't convinced themselves of the value and the importance of this concept? And so with that, what are some things that you would like to see coming from students that would be positive steps forward?
I think it's a really good question and something we've been wrestling with a bit here. I think a traditional view of education was that students are there to learn. Teachers will teach. Do as you're told, get the homework done. That would have been an old fashioned view. I think what we now understand from learning, I think, and best practice is that students who are really engaged and interested in learning, they're the ones who are really going to learn and progress well.
And so how do you keep students engaged? And I think the key to that is to have a respectful, interactive engagement with students and to respect student voice or respect the perspectives that students are bringing to their learning and to provide opportunities and forums for students' voices to be heard in a meaningful way.
So this week we've launched a student voices hub, which is a place online where we've created for students' views. So students' views can be heard. I know the Minister is working through plans to create a student advisory group so she can hear from the voice of students. But I think in a way, to encourage student voice is to also encourage the engagement around critical thinking. It's one thing to have a point of view. It's one thing to have a commentary. It's another thing to actually encourage student voice so students can critically engage with the complexities of ideas that we are involved in, and to encourage the cultivation of those skills.
So, I think there's a lot in it and we are looking for forums and mechanisms to ensure that student voices can be heard and to ask students what good teaching looks like. And to ask students, what is the best arrangement that we can have so they can learn best? And to respect the voice and the experience of students as well.
Let me come back and ask you guys a question. What's the class that you have that you really would never wanna miss? And what is it about this lesson that engages you so much? Why is this class so good? Oliver, what do you reckon?
So I really enjoy being in the class Commerce. The lessons are very well coordinated and it's basically a class teaching me how to manage my future. And I learn a lot about investments, property and shares in the business sort of community. My teacher is a very good teacher and she teaches me well.
Did you know about any of this stuff? You know, share markets, property, investment. Were you interested in these things before you started doing the class? Or have you kind of come to understand it all because of the class?
Yeah, I've come to understand it because of the class.
Yeah, and who's your teacher?
Miss Kumar. Shout out to Miss Kumar. All things going well in commerce, in Oliver's class. Genoveva, what are your thoughts? What's the favourite class and why?
I think I first need to put a disclaimer out. I love all my teachers.
All the teachers. No favourites.
I love all my teachers.
No favourites, Genoveva, but just name one out of all your wonderful teachers.
I'll leave music aside because that's obviously a passion of mine.
She plays the violin.
But I would probably definitely say CAFS. Community and Family Studies with Mrs Andrews.
Tell me about that, 'cause I'm not sure lots of people do that class. What do you do in Community and Family Studies?
Well, what I've enjoyed about it is that we've learnt from different backgrounds that everyone comes from. So knowing that not everyone has the same living circumstances and learning how fortunate we are in the community of what we might have already. So I've enjoyed learning.
To understand about other people and develop kind of empathy and insight into lives outside of your own? That's very interesting.
Now Joseph, three different kinds of schools for you. Tell us a little bit about those different experiences and what's the class that really grabs you when you're... that engage you across those three different learning settings that you're involved in.
So with the three different learning settings, by learning through my home school here, I learn a lot of teamwork skills and a lot of personal related skills, through those subjects. And through my two distance schools, I learn how to be independent with all my classes and manage my own workload and flow. But my favourite class would have to be Commerce, which I'm doing through Dubbo Distance as well, just because of how important it actually is overall and how interesting everything is.
Joseph, it strikes me that, you know, we've had lots of students move to learning from home in recent months through COVID-19. That wouldn't have been as big a jump for you because you've been using virtual technology to plug into classes. So what do you think the secret is to being successful when in a sense you've gotta be, you know, learning on your own, perhaps with a screen rather than in a class surrounded by other students?
My biggest thing that I did to help me was remove all distractions. Because...
Because they're distracting, right?
Because they're distracting. Remove distractions 'cause they're distracting.
Just having almost nothing around me helps me be independent and actually manage myself better.
And how did you come to understand that you needed to do that?
By not doing as well in my work as I did before.
And is that hard to put your phone away?
Not for me, it wasn't, but for other kids it might be.
And is it easier now that you've done it for while?
Definitely, yeah. I'm able to focus my vision a bit more.
And Jadzia, what about you? What's the best example of good teaching that you see in your weekly classes?
So the way I see education is that it's really important to be bringing the outside world into the classroom and to be having those critical discussions about things that are happening so that we can create informed perspectives. And the class that I really experience that in is Geography with Miss Corby. Because we cover a few controversial topics. And so I get to have those discussions with my class members that maybe don't agree with me on certain things. So I think that's really important that those things happen in the classroom.
Terrific. Lot of great answers and wonderful to shout out to some of the wonderful teachers we have in our schools as well. Genoveva, time for question from you.
Yes, so my first question for you, Mr Scott, is how has education changed since you were a student and what developments do you see from what you've experienced?
Well, I'm very old, as you can all see. And look, there's some things I look back on from schooling, that are just unimaginable now. Back when I was a kid at school, students used to get hit with a cane. I had a teacher at a school I went to who had a collection of canes in the cupboard, in the back of his classroom. And if in fact, you hadn't done your homework, you were talking in class or you were causing trouble, you would get sent outside and get hit. I think it is unbelievable now that in all sorts of schools in New South Wales, government schools, independent schools, Catholic schools, we used to beat children. And that was as recently as 40 years ago. I find that just astonishing when you think of it.
But the other thing that I think has really changed in a wonderful way, is how technology even like the technology we've used today has opened up the world. When I was at school, you would go to the school library, there would be textbooks there, there'd be encyclopaedias there that'd be out of date. The ability for you to access information and be able to share information the way that we do now with laptops and tablets and, you know, virtual reality, be able to explore the world from home or the classroom, I think that's just extraordinarily different and exciting and creates great opportunities. And, and even in what we've heard from Joseph today, I think what that does is allows us to get great teaching into classrooms all over the state, allows us to bring students in from wherever they are to engage with other students, like the way that they're doing now. And I think that's terrific. And I think even the kinds of subjects that you can cover now, there's a range subjects for a full range of interests that were certainly not a factor when I was at school.
And I think in a way, the other great thing that's very different about school now is that when I went to school, only about three students in 10 would have stayed to do the HSC. The vast majority of kids left before doing the HSC. Now it's about eight students in 10, and I think that's a great thing. And the ability that you can go and do the HSC and get a job, or do vocational education, go to TAFE, go to university maybe, or maybe a combination of all three. I think there are that many more options open to people. And it means that, you know, it used to be in the day that, if you were on that university pathway, that was set very early and there was no way of getting into it. And we used to kind of put labels on kids earlier. And I don't think we do that as much now and I think that's a good thing.
So more opportunities for more people, and it's a bigger world and we don't beat children anymore. I think that's a good thing too. Now, Joseph, we go to you. You've got a connected question, I think.
So, Mr Scott, do you believe that our education system has become too focused on university entrance and neglected vocational studies, because we have massive skill shortages? And as Secretary, what role do you think schools should play in providing vocational skills and training and raising the profile of these essential careers?
Yeah. Let me just build a little bit on what I said earlier. I think for a long time what's been on offer in schools has been too narrow, and a lot of it's been driven by a focus around university entrance. So you do an HSC, you also get an ATAR. What's an ATAR really? An ATAR is just a tool that's used by universities to help select their students. But I think, many people, including vice-chancellors, have said to me, the ATAR is far too important and the HSC is not important enough. And so, yeah, I think we need to do better at having a full range of vocational courses on offer for students, particularly in the senior years of secondary school. And these could be vocational courses of really for a full range of ability. I think there'd be some students who want to go to university and do very advanced courses, who would also benefit from doing the right kind of vocational education courses. So we need to get better courses on offer, I think, and support the teachers in our schools who are offering vocational education, but also to do more in partnership with organisations like TAFE. I'd like there to be more opportunities for students to be able to do TAFE courses and even apprenticeships while they're in school. Now, some students can do that now, but not as many as I think we would like there to be. So I think there are really good opportunities on that.
Can I just ask, Mark.
With everything that you're saying about how we should be encouraging schools who are introducing vocational studies and stuff like that to suit a more wider range of students, do you see that happening a lot in your work? Do you think that most of the schools are heading in that direction, or it needs a little bit more encouragement from people like you?
Well, I think it's got really hot about now. So I don't think we've seen it yet. We've announced two schools, one at Seven Hills in Sydney and the other one up on the north coast where we're making investment in the physical facilities of those schools so they can offer more vocational ed classes. And that's an experiment, a prototype that we're doing. And if that works well, I think we'll do more of that around the state.
We've talked with TAFE about being able to create some courses that students should be able to do for the HSC vocational ed courses, that they'd be able to do no matter where they are in the state. And so that's also an opportunity that we are looking at.
But I think the curriculum review, which you'll have heard of, there's a review that's been taking place of the curriculum in New South Wales. The curriculum review also puts a focus on the range of vocational education courses that are on offer. So it's almost like, Jadzia, that at this point, everyone is in heated agreement we need to be better. NESA is, the department is, federal government is, state government is, we all agree we need to do a better job around vocational education. And it's an area that I expect to see a lot of change and improvement in the next couple of years.
So I've got a question now. And Joseph, it kind of takes up the point that I was asking you earlier. Let's talk about the pandemic and this most unusual schooling year that everyone's experiencing. We've all had a burst of learning from home. How has the pandemic and learning from home changed the way you feel about school and learning and what happened at your school? And is there anything that you'd like, that we had to do during the pandemic that you think would be valuable if we kept on doing? Or we could adopt as a consequence of the learning we've had this year? Jadzia, we'll go to you first on this.
Okay. So I, what I took from my pandemic learning experience is two major things, and I might run along a bit, so I'll just start with the one. And that was that I was made aware of not just my school, but the whole country's ability to rapidly adapt to this desperate new situation that a lot of us had never experienced before. And so after it hit, and after a couple of weeks, I was sort of processing it all. And I was thinking if we're able to make such big changes under desperate circumstances, imagine the great, much-needed change that we can make happen when we're not under so much pressure. So for me, it was a bit of an eye opener. I was like, yeah, we are capable of rapidly adapting and changing our education. And so what I would love to see is Australia proving that it doesn't take a pandemic to make some major changes in our education.
Yeah. What's the second point?
The second point was that I felt it really highlighted that for a lot of students, there is a major lack of motivation and interest in learning. Because we found that when there wasn't teachers or parents there physically telling people to do the work, they weren't doing it and they were falling behind. And that comes back to a lack of interest and a lack of motivation. And from there, my school personally, we had students on a panel with teachers on a staff development day. And it was our job to get as much information as we could from the student body about what was working and what wasn't working. And we had this really insightful goal, that was how are we gonna keep students engaged at school? What changes can we make even post-pandemic to make sure that students are engaged in their learning? And so that was a really powerful thing that I got to be a part of.
And what a great powerful example of student voice at your school, on the back of that.
Yeah. Yeah. It was really, really good. It was a game changer in the student voice department.
Yeah, wonderful. Great story. Oliver, what about you? What were your thoughts coming out of the pandemic?
So I really liked the freeness with the lessons, but I discovered that students really had to set their own schedule. And go through a process of what teachers have to face in their daily lives. The communication online wasn't the best because you didn't have the teacher by your side to help you get through the work, but I would also like to implement from my school more online technology and base that learning around the idea of setting students up to be independent.
Yeah. So many interesting experiences on this and I want to go to you in a minute, Joseph, but I think one of the things we learned from the department frankly, was that, you know, we've spent millions and millions, a massive amount of money rolling out technology into schools and fast broadband into schools. Often in many communities, the school will be where the broadband is fast as anywhere, and good wifi setups in many places. But of course this put pressure back on the setups that students had at home. And so if in fact the, in the home there wasn't fast broadband and there wasn't access to devices, and that was a real challenge for us. And so we had to find more devices, find dongles to connect people to wifi. Free up the computers at school often to support students at home. But, and I think that's been a challenge for us to just think through. It's not just thinking through how you set up a school, but how you support students in learning from home, that was a big issue.
And I think Joseph, tell us a bit more about your experience and how you found it and things you think we can learn from the remote learning experience that everyone's had.
With the remote learning experience, I found that it's not just the education aspect, but it's also the social and a personal aspect of learning that is important. I found this when I was jumping from a home school education to distance from other schools. There's a lot less motivation because of the teachers not being there, and actually not having anybody to talk to causes issues as well. The way teachers communicate with students is incredibly important in my opinion, with how the education is distributed. So just communicating via email or messages is not the same as being physically in the room with them. And a lot less work would get done in my opinion.
Yeah. Genoveva, your thoughts?
I think that during the time with the whole pandemic, I feel like it was a moment of realising how fortunate we are to be able to be going to school in person and having those face to face lessons. Because when we were faced to go online, like you guys said as well, like teachers and students, it was hard. Like students didn't always have that access to devices, but we were fortunate enough that Miss Cawsey, our school principal. So she made sure that all students had devices lended to them from the school and that everyone did have the internet access. So the kids who didn't have access at home with internet, they were able to have these Optus SIMs given so that they would all have the equal opportunity of being able to complete all tasks and continue on learning.
And then knowing that all the students, teachers and everyone in the community came together in community to make sure that everyone was supported, felt like they had someone to talk to. Because it wasn't just the schools that were affected. It was also families outside of school, because you saw so many jobs were lost. The whole economic side went down and that would have been another added pressure outside. So knowing that the teachers daily checked in on us and had calls with us to make sure that they checked up on us to make sure that we were okay and that we had someone to talk to, just really was encouraging to see during a whole pandemic that we all had support.
Yeah. I'll just conclude this bit by saying that firstly, I don't think we've ever valued our teachers more. And not just in the department, students valuing the work that their teachers do in helping them focus and keep learning and being on that learning journey. But I think parents really value teachers too. And the other thing I think we really kind of appreciated, we value, and I think you were saying this, Genoveva, I think it's school itself. I think at times it's easy to think, "Oh, if only there were more school holidays, do I really have to go to school today?" All that, but once we couldn't go to school, I think a lot of people thought, "Actually, I miss that. I miss that routine. I miss my classes. I miss my teachers. I miss my friends." And when we opened the gates and asked everyone to come back in again, it was interesting. Everyone kind of rushed back and there was a sense that we were happy to be back.
Now, of course COVID-19's still about. And you know, here in the department, I have meetings every morning and most afternoons to talk about our COVID-19 planning and to look at those parts of the state where there are cases of COVID-19 and occasionally have to close schools for a day or so to clean them and to do contact chasing.
Now Oliver, I've been prattling on here 'cause I know you'll have a tough question to ask me. Fire away.
Having worked as the Managing Director of the ABC and now leading the education of young people in New South Wales, what is your advice to young people as they experience accessing news on social media platforms?
Wow. That's a really good question, Oliver. It's funny, going back to the last question, I reckon one of the things I was thinking about COVID-19, in a way is how lucky we are that it happened in 2020, not in the year 2000. Because if it happened in the year 2000 phones hadn't been invented, iPads hadn't been invented. There was no fast broadband. There was no video streaming. It would have been really difficult to do learning from home 20 years ago. And even 10 years ago, it would have been tough. But so it was amazing that the technology was here now and to a degree that technology is a gift, but you've got to be careful in using the gift. And I think this goes to your question.
I think you've got to be very careful in reading and engaging with media online. 'cause you need to ask the question, well, who is writing that news and what agenda do they have in writing it? One of the interesting things, when I grew up there were just a couple of newspapers, a couple of radio stations, a couple of television stations, everyone read and watched and listened to the same thing. Whereas now that's not the case at all. If your Facebook feed, Oliver is different to your Facebook feed, Genoveva, because it changes according to the stories that you read. And the idea is to give you the news that you are interested in, rather than news that is necessarily accurate or necessarily fair or necessarily tells the full story.
So I think what you've gotta do, is you've got to get outside that bubble a bit, get outside your Facebook feed or your Instagram feed or a Snapchat feed or whatever else, wherever else you're getting information on. You probably have social media accounts - I don't even know what the technology is, that's the way it is. But to make sure you're trying to experience media from outside that bubble, and to read widely and to think widely and to recognise on a whole lot of issues, there will be different people with different views and different perspectives and to understand those different views and those different perspectives, that's really very important.
So, I think it's important not just to read the news, but to understand how that news comes together. I think that's an important part of what we need to do now. And I think we need to be training people to understand what is fake news, what is accurate and how you work out what accurate news is, and to make sure you're exposing yourself to a broad range of inputs, I think, is really quite important. Jadzia, another question from you?
Yeah. So my second question is, as a leader in education and working with many others like yourself, I was wondering, how do you think my generation and our generation's leaders will have to be different to, say, your generation and generations before?
That's a really tough question. Do you have an answer to that, Oliver? I'm a bit frightened of that question, myself, Jadzia. That's a good one.
Look, I think it's tough being a leader now. I think it's, I've met lots of political leaders, prime ministers, and premiers and CEOs over the years. I think it's tougher and tougher to be a leader. I think the media environment is tough. I think the social media environment is tough. I think there seems to be more division in the community, but what I think you really need to do, I quite like the idea that you need to be a servant leader in a way. You need to be pretty clear that in your leadership, you are serving the people that you lead. And if in fact you think your leadership is going to be all about telling people what to do and they will automatically follow it, I just don't think that's the case anymore.
I think what you actually have to do as a leader is to spend a lot of your time listening to people so you understand them well. And then a lot of time talking and explaining yourself about what you're doing and why you're doing it, and why it's important and why you've come to that point of view. And so I think in a way, more listening to the people you want to lead, more talking with the people you want to lead to be almost more respectful in the partnership engagement that you have with them. I think that's the hallmark to great leaders. And I think if you look around the world and you think of great leaders, I mean, I think Jacinda Ardern is one of the most interesting leaders.
Jacinda Ardern is my absolute idol.
My daughter has a poster of Jacinda Ardern up on her wall. I mean, Jacinda Ardern is a really interesting leader, I think. But what is it? I mean, why do you admire her so much? What is it...
Well, for me, there's that aspect of here's this young female, who's just absolutely killing it. And I think she just destroys the stereotype that politicians are, that they lie and that you can't trust them. And I feel like her country just loves her and she's authentic.
Yeah, I'd agree. I think she just seems like she's the real thing, right?. And I think she feels like she understands the New Zealand public, they understand her. She, in a sense, puts herself out there. Some of those videos she puts out with her and the family and just, she just seems very kind of warm and very real.
Now I'm gonna take that leadership question and fire questions or answer. Joseph, I'll go to you now. How do you think leadership in the future needs to be different from leadership we've had up until now?
Maybe a lot less dominance in a lot of aspects, like a lot more freedom around with the people, rather than one person making the decisions, that I believe that there should be a lot more aspects of community and involvement in those decisions and aspects.
Yeah. Genoveva, you've got a thought on changing styles of leadership for the future?
I think that leaders are focused on making promises and that that's how they believe they may get votes. But I feel like making promises means that you will have to do them. You have to just keep your word and stay true to your word. But instead, if you say that you would try your best to make a change, knowing that you at least tried is actually better than saying something and not sticking to it. It just shows the type of person you are and the type of leader you are.
Yeah. Oliver, what about you?
I think that leadership needs to be a little bit more community-based, instead of when you're elected just for the fame. In saying that, the community needs to have as much say as the leader.
Absolutely, you need to have those community members deciding they're going to follow the leader. And so they need to feel listened to and respected and engaged with as well. Jadzia, further thoughts on leadership apart from the fact that more leaders like Jacinda Ardern.
One of the things that I would have to say is that our generations of leaders have to not be afraid to challenge the ways of previous leaders, because I think we've grown up with a totally different social context. For example, the LGBTQIA+ community matters. And then recently the Black Lives Matter. We've grown up with these things and they shaped, they've shaped us and they also shaped the society that we know and that we're bringing forward. So I think in that way, we're gonna have a more diverse way of thinking just because of all these things that we've experienced and that we've grown up with. So we definitely need to challenge the ways that things have been happening.
Yeah, I mean, one of the interesting things, I think just reflecting on that. It used to be the model, certainly in Australia, that in order to be the leader, you had to be an old white man, right? And all around the world, old white men. It's very interesting. You see the analysis done of leaders who've done a great job under COVID-19 globally, disproportionately women leaders have done a fantastic job and you see from Jacinda Ardern, you do not need to be a man in your 60s or your 70s to be a leader. And so more opportunities to tap into all the talent that's available. I think experience is useful in leadership, but it's not the only thing that's useful. And so to be able to tap into the expertise more broadly in the community, and to have more young voices, I think, is clearly a great opportunity. And we learn from that too.
Time for just a few more questions and then you're gonna have to go back to learn and I'm gonna have to go back and do whatever it is I do through the rest of the day. But Joseph, another question from you?
With the COVID pandemic in mind, and the lessons we have learned from it, how do you believe that technology in schools will innovate classrooms in the way schools are able to teach efficiently?
Yeah, we've been talking about this a lot. I mean, as I said earlier, we spent a lot of money getting technology into schools. Technology in schools is not new, even though if you want to know how old I was, I am, when I was at school, there was one computer. And only the really, really good maths kids were allowed to touch the computer. The rest of us, stand clear. So clearly more technologies around, but the critical question isn't the technology that's around. The critical question is can you use the technology well? And I think that's been the great achievement of COVID-19. The fact that so quickly, so many of our schools had to really think through, well, how are we going to use these tools to help students keep learning? And they did a great job.
There's a video we put up online about Freshwater Senior Campus, where they did an extraordinary job. And they say that in the time of COVID-19, they made five or 10 years improvement around how they've engaged with the technology and how they pushed the use of technology. And, you know, I think even other examples we had of schools that as you said, happened at Rooty Hill, getting the technology out in the hands of students so that they could engage with it.
I think two other things that I'm really interested about. And it's to do a bit with the size of the state. Now, we're on the north coast here, we're out in Hay in the south west. It's a vast state. And this is a challenge for us to get great teachers in front of our classes at times, and also to get professional development for teachers. So the teachers keep learning. There's no doubt that technology will help us do that as well. We found there was an enormous use of the material we put up online for teachers to use of the department. So no matter where you were, you could tap into great expertise. We've talked about Eddie Woo a bit in the department over the years, our famous maths teacher Eddie Woo. The way you can use technology to get Eddie Woo into the classes all across New South Wales.
So great teachers, great professional development and great learning tools. And I think it goes back to the conversation we had earlier. I think our best teachers are thinking, what can the technology do and how can students use technology at home but what best happens in a classroom setting, with teachers and students learning together. So how do we think that through best? And we're doing more research on that in the department.
Genoveva, question for you.
Yes. So I was wondering, what is your vision for education in New South Wales? And what legacy would you like to leave?
Well, that's a big question. Even though we have a lot of people, this is one of the largest education systems in the world. We have 800,000 students in our classes today, and there are very few systems in the world that are as big as that, but it's a lot when you add it together, but it really it's individual students. And we have a few commitments to those students.
One is that everyone is improving every year, that every student is learning. Every student is making progress and we want to see every student, every teacher, every leader, every school, improving every year. We're committed to improvement and what we really want to do for you guys, but for everyone, is to turn you into independent learners. So create an environment in school where you can be learning for the rest of your lives. Because I think our understanding about how the world is changing so quickly with technology, with globalisation, with climate change, with disruptions like COVID-19, you're going to need to be learning for the rest of your life. And some of you are going to have jobs. The technology hasn't been invented yet, the job hasn't been invented yet. So you're gonna need to learn to master new technology, new skills and new workplaces. So for you to be independent learners, learners for the rest of your life, that's what we want for every student in New South Wales.
But the other line we talk about a lot is we want every student in our schools to be known, valued and cared for. You know, life is complex. We've all experienced that. Being a child, being an adolescent, these are complex and demanding times in a complex and demanding society. And we want school to be a safe place. We want school to be an affirming place, where where you go to school, they know you, they care for you. You're part of something important. And it's a place where you can always turn. And so we want to create independent, strong learners for lifelong learning. We want to create an environment of security, and of trust and of care. So you can grow up strong and independent. That's what we want. And we want that for every student in the state.
So look, one final big question from me and then back to life. So if there's one thing that you could change, of all these things we've been talking about today and anything else. If there's one thing you could change in the world, what would that be? That's a tough question. Oliver, we're going to go to you first.
It would have to be human greed in how everyone needs to respect each other a little bit more.
Thanks for that, Oliver. Jadzia, what are your thoughts? What are the things you want to most see changed?
Well, this is a pretty big call, but the first thing that comes to my head is our addiction and dependency on money. I feel like there are so many inequities and injustices that wouldn't have to happen if we weren't so focused on money. And if it wasn't such a, the driver of our decisions.
Interesting, Jadzia. And I think there are a lot of people and certainly people my age, who would say there were times where everyone tried to convince you that money was terribly important and money would buy you happiness. But the things that most give you happiness, aren't things that you can actually buy. It's a bit of a cliche, but I think it's true. It's a good answer. Are you gonna have a political career, Jadzia? Are you thinking about this?
Definitely, I'm thinking about that.
We need to keep this video tape. Keep this video tape. This could be valuable down the track when you're Australia's Jacinda Ardern. Genoveva, what about you?
I would say probably the different perceptions in society. The thing is that when you express yourself and when you just show who you really are, you're still judged no matter what. So I feel like people don't express themselves then because they feel that judgement will really impact them. Just be you. Doesn't matter if people don't like it. Just be you because judgment's still around. I would probably change that.
Comfortable in who you are. Thanks for that.
I believe that the world needs to be more empathetic more than it actually is already. I think that we need to just generally have a lot of respect for each other, just like Oliver said. And it's incredibly important to a society like ours to actually understand each other properly.
Thanks for that. I think four great answers. Four great answers our political leaders could listen and learn from. Great insights. Thanks for that.
Just about out of time.
Oliver, I'm gonna give you the last question. 'cause you're seated right there. And I know you've got one more for me and then we'll have to go.
If you could give advice to a high-school-aged Mr Scott, what would you give him?
Well look, I, you know... Let's be blunt about a few... Be careful about those wardrobe choices, 'cause those photographs can come back and haunt you. I warn you now Instagram generation. Jadzia, political career. Consider your Instagram choices now, okay?
I think also more seriously, I just do think, one of the things you learn over the years is that tomorrow is another day. And at times things seem absolutely overwhelming, but the sun rises tomorrow, Tough circumstances kind of change. Things improve, things break for you a bit more. And it's important not to just get too stirred up and overwhelmed in that moment, but to try and see that bigger picture and try and see that bigger perspective.
The other thing, I think a little bit, and I think a bit this as a career, I sometimes think about my career. I planned none of it. You know? You might think you know what your career is going to be. My career is nothing like... I've had opportunities that I would have never kind of thought or planned or contemplated. But what you've gotta do is just be great where you are right now. So if you're at school, just be the best person you could be at school. And then if you go to university or you go and do some other study, just be the best person you can be there and be the best person you can be at the workplace. And be, I think, the characters that you've talked about. Wanting to be someone who is empathetic and listens well and gives trust and is deserving of trust and then see what opportunities open up for you. But don't sell yourself short by over-planning, but to just take advantage of every moment and every day, 'cause you get to be old really quickly. That's the greatest shock of all. The grey haired guy in the mirror. Where did he come from? All of a sudden there it is. So take advantage of the moment where you are now.
That's about the end of our conversation. All the time we've got today.
I want to thank the crew here at Parramatta, who's put all this together and hooked us all up around the state.
I want to thank everyone online for showing us their fabulous Zoom abilities that they cultivated effectively during COVID-19.
So thanks to Joseph and thanks to Jadzia. And thanks for the folks who are there helping you at your end. And thanks to Genoveva whose birthday it is today. Birthday,! Happy birthday to Genoveva.
And thanks to you.
And thanks to you, Oliver, as well for being part of it.
And thanks to everyone for listening and taking part in this conversation today as part of Education Week 2020.
[End of transcript.]
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