Good afternoon families,
Before we break for the term, I'd like to spend a few moments addressing some of the recent conversations between parents and the school regarding the use of technology as part of our everyday curriculum and pedagogy at Sherwood. I want to ensure all families are provided with the same information so you can consider this over the holidays, and come back to us at the beginning of Term 4 ready to provide us with feedback through a school survey, so we can finish planning for our technology options in our upper school for next year.
As you are aware, Sherwood State School has, like all schools, been utilising technology devices such as iPads, laptops, and interactive whiteboards across our classrooms for a number of years. In 2019, and with significant parent collaboration from our then current Year 1 families, we made a conscious decision to formalise this integrated and contemporary learning approach with the introduction of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program process for the incoming Year 2 2020 cohort. As with all change, we recognised the need to build trust, and allow parent observation and feedback around the BYOD program, so during this change process, we gave parents two options:
1. They could opt in to the BYOD program which required parent managed devices where the device ratio was 1:1, OR
2. They could opt to be in a class where they continued to use school managed devices, where the ratio was 1:2.
Just because these families did not opt into the BYOD program in its inception year, did not mean their Year 2 classroom was technology-free. Rather, students in these rooms use school managed devices, but the pedagogy of the teachers and use of the devices remained the same. To support this change process, we worked with staff to build their understanding and capacity with this pedagogy, and engaged with a number of other schools to ensure a smooth transition.
In our first year of this approach in Year 2 2020, 47 parents took that leap of faith with us, resulting in 2 x BYOD classes and 2 x classes also of 47 using school managed devices. Moving forward to 2021, the same cohort resulted in 3 x BYOD classes (due to an additional 25 families opting in) and 1 x class using school managed devices. This class split remained the similar for the 2022 Year 4 cohort.
Our second cohort introduced to the BYOD approach started Year 2 in 2021, with 76 families opting in to the program, and 23 preferring to use a school managed device with a 1:2 ratio. When this group moved up to Year 3 in 2022, as a staff we decided that it was important to continue to be able to blend and mix our students to ensure balanced classes moving forward. Whether devices were parent managed or school managed was a secondary consideration. As such, we created 'hybrid' classes which had a blend of students who were BYOD working alongside students who used school iPads, which we believe has been a successful undertaking.
Similar to above, our third cohort of Year 2 2022 had 80 families initially opt in to the BYOD program, and one class of 27 students where parents chose the 1:2 device ratio. As with class formation in 2022, it is our intention in 2023 to blend these four classes to make balanced, hybrid Year 3 classes.
The work being produced by our students within these classes, and during our times of home learning during COVID-19, reinforces our belief in this approach as an effective and engaging tool for learning. Whether you love iPads or hate them, it is hard to argue that as a teaching and learning tool, used by great practitioners (who understand and implement great pedagogy), they can certainly enhance learning experiences for our students. We are continuing to support our staff to engage with professional development to ensure we deliver strong digital pedagogy in all classrooms. Such pedagogy includes the understanding that this is a tool to support, enhance and extend learning in classrooms while ensuring safe, healthy and responsible use.
I want to make very clear we are not taking away parent options, nor forcing parents to purchase and manage a device if they are not comfortable with this. We offer equitable solutions for all family situations and budgets. I also want to clarify we have not made decisions for our 2023 Year 5 and 6 cohorts, and want to consult these parents and take their concerns and feedback into consideration. Historical data indicates many parents opt into BYOD once they observed classroom pedagogy after this initial year, and we have consulted with parents annually since 2019. We have aimed to be transparent in this process, this year already offering an open classroom morning, in addition to a consultation evening earlier this week which included a parent panel. The evening was not intended to discuss the use of iPads as a teaching and learning tool across Years 2 to 4, as the inclusion of a BYOD option has been in play since 2020. The recent evening was intended to allow parent input into – 'Where to from here for our 2023 Year 5 and 6 cohorts'. This agenda and discussion were not able to be fully delivered, as we decided not to stifle the vigorous debate and parent feedback being shared by some parents present, around technology use in the early years.
Please also be aware, we continue our collaboration with Corinda SHS, as our key feeder state school, to offer a free parent session next month with an industry expert discussing the topic of teens and technology. As a Leadership Team, our door is always open to discuss parent questions and concerns, and we thank all of those parents who have emailed us their feedback and questions as all feedback allows us to consider all perspectives. As discussed at the parent night, we will be issuing a parent survey around 'all things' technology early in Term 4. The key points taken at that parent night will also be shared at this time.
This generation of students live firmly in a digital age, and all their future learning will incorporate devices of some description right through high school and beyond. This year, NAPLAN was conducted online throughout Australia, and we feel our students navigated this process with great confidence. It should also be highlighted that when our staff collaborate to complete class formulations for 2023, we make balanced classes by taking into consideration social and emotional needs of each child, their academic needs and learning styles. We consider the iPad as a learning tool and as such this does not influence class placement.
However, all this said, the factor which has the most impact on the learning of your child is their teacher, their relationship with their teacher, and their support network of friends at school. Therefore, my job as a leader within our school is to ensure I continually provide opportunities for staff to build their capacity, so that your children have amazing teachers to guide their learning, and support their social and emotional well-being each and every year they are with us. I take this responsibility very seriously.
I want to thank Mrs Borsht and our other panel members for the background work that went into their preparation for the agenda that was to be delivered at the recent parent information session. Further opportunities will be provided in the future to ensure we fairly capture all parent voices.
We want to again to thank all of those parents who continue to place their trust in our strategic decision-making and thank all of those parents who have sent in feedback from their perspective around this or any school agenda.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message, and I look forward to your thoughts via our survey, early next term. Have a happy and safe break.