The Board held its sixth meeting of the year on September 25th. It’s hard to believe we are at the end of Term 3 already!

Curriculum review – Oral language

One of our regular curriculum reviews was presented at this meeting, this time the curriculum area was oral language. This has a lower profile than some areas such as maths, reading and writing. However, there is a strong correlation between ability in oral language and in writing (which is fairly intuitive; it’s difficult for our children to express themselves in writing if they struggle to express themselves orally).

This review was carried out and presented to us by Associate Principal Jane Cameron, who leads the English programme at VAS amongst her many other duties. Jane’s review found that – while we don’t have poor performance in oral language amongst our students – this is an area that receives less teaching focus and less formal assessment. The review recommendations, which will be built into planning for 2018, are to increase professional development for teachers in the planning, teaching and assessing of oral language.

In an interesting and concerning sign of the times, Jane’s research also found international evidence of the deterioration of oral language in young children associated with the increase in use of digital devices in the pre-school years.

Digital devices in the classroom

We also received an excellent presentation from our other Associate Principal Anne Bridgeman on the use of digital devices in the classroom as part of the teaching delivery. As those parents who have been at VAS for more than a few years will be aware, we have taken a deliberately “slow and steady” path into the introduction of devices. The strategy to deploy devices has involved ensuring that our teachers have had sufficient PD to be able to get the best educational value out of using devices with students. We have also trialled different platforms, including iPads, Chromebooks and Macs. The Board has been steadily investing capex into building up our stock of devices, with the intention of getting to a ratio of 1 device to 2 students in each class.

Now that we are further along the learning curve and confident that our infrastructure is in place, we are looking to increase the number of devices in the classroom. This involves us looking at the merits of BYOD (bring your own device), which is an increasingly common structure in schools. We are going to give this some careful consideration and make a decision in Term 4.

Selection of a replacement Trustee

As we mentioned in the previous newsletter, our finance spokesperson on the Board has resigned and we resolved to replace Michael by way of selection. We had three strong candidates for this position and we are pleased to announce that David Shields is joining our Board of Trustees, effective from our next meeting at the start of Term 4.

David has two daughters, one in Y2 and one due to start at school in 2018. David has a background in accounting and finance. We look forward to him bringing his skills and experience to our team.

Property update

Our long-running saga of having the subsidence and sub-standard building works remedied in rooms 16 to 21 is continuing. We now have some certainty of the work scope from the Ministry of Education, which is responsible for these repairs. The current timeline will involve the remediation work being completed over this coming summer break, which would be ideal to minimise disruption. We will keep you posted on progress.

Playground Replacement

A group of students from years 2 to 6 – being led by Alison Laxon who is one of the Gifted and Talented Extension teachers – have been doing a project on how to replace the two playground areas which are currently barricaded off. This is a great way of having student involvement in such an important project, and I’m sure it will lead to a good final result.

The group has met with a couple of potential suppliers and are going through concept designs. We hope that these projects can be completed in the first part of 2018.

Board Contact Details

You can find the email contact details for Board of Trustee members at the following link; //