Schools 7 ways schools will be different for the rest of Term 2

Schools are returning to on-site learning from 26 May. (photo: iStock)

Schools in Victoria are returning to on-site learning, but things won’t be quite the same just yet. Here are seven ways your school will be different from 25 May.

1. Not all students will be there

The AEU has been instrumental in organising a staggered return to the workplace, to ensure that everyone can resume on-site learning safely. This includes the pupil-free day on Monday 25 May, when school staff are required back on-site to prepare, unless they are classed as high risk or have made other arrangements with their school leadership.

On Tuesday 26 May, all Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 students, specialist school students, and VCE and VCAL students returned to on-site learning.

Vulnerable students in Years 3 to 10, and children in those years whose parents or carers cannot work from home, can continue to attend school on-site as needed during this period.

Students in the broader Year 3 to 10 cohort will continue to learn remotely until Tuesday 9 June.

2. Not everyone will arrive at the usual time

Adult members of the school community are expected to follow the Victorian government guidelines on social distancing wherever possible.

Schools are encouraged to implement a staggered drop-off system to reduce the number of adults congregating outside the school at any one time, as well as staggered break times to manage the number of students mixing across year levels. Some schools, for example, will not be allowing parents to enter the school grounds at drop-off and pick-up time.

3. No school assemblies

At least, not with the whole school sitting together in the hall, gym or quadrangle. Again, schools are finding different ways to host assemblies while following social distancing guidelines.

4. New hygiene practices will be in place

The AEU has won a number of crucial hygiene measures to help ensure staff will be safe working on-site. These include enhanced cleaning for the remainder of Term 2 and all of Term 3, which will be funded with an additional $45 million from the state government.

Our advocacy has also ensured that specialist schools will receive additional OHS support, including PPE equipment where necessary and flu vaccines. We’re continuing to advocate for staff in all other settings to also have access to flu vaccinations.

The AEU is also continuing to advocate for members, including those with medical conditions that may make them more vulnerable or who have a household member who may be vulnerable.

All school staff are eligible for priority COVID-19 testing, with or without symptoms.

5. The PDP process has been simplified

DET has made changes to the PDP process, which means every individual member has a choice about whether to complete their existing PDP or change to a more straightforward and simplified plan best suited to the current circumstances. No member can be compelled to continue their current plan.

The new plan is in the form of a ‘statement of expectation’ common to all staff and covering the key areas of teaching and learning, use of resources, and collaboration. There is a default assumption that those who adopt the statement of expectation will meet the requirements it outlines. On this basis, members will not be required to collect evidence.If there are concerns that a staff member is not meeting the expectations they may need to provide evidence to demonstrate that they are.

The AEU is advising all principal class, teacher and ES members to take up the option of agreeing to the ‘statement of expectation’, as the simplified process will reduce your workload, while still recognising the enormous effort you have already put to continue school programs during the pandemic.

6. Shorter reports

Student reports will be different than usual, to reflect the disruption and extra workload required this term. Schools must report on the curriculum taught in Semester 1, but the AEU has clearly asserted to DET our expectation that schools must ensure that student reports only briefly address student progress to date. Extended descriptive reports are not required and, if expected by some schools, would put further pressure on members.

In regards to A-E reporting, DET has made it clear this is optional and not a requirement. The AEU advises that schools should not require teachers to undertake A-E reporting.

Given the disruption to normal classroom learning in late Term 1 and in Term 2, it would be extremely difficult for teachers to accurately assess student progress. Exercising your professional judgement in assessing student progress requires information that is not sufficiently available.

Any relevant assessment information can be held over and used, along with more comprehensive and up-to-date assessments, to inform a teacher’s judgement of student progress at the end of the year.

7. No NAPLAN!

The disastrous assessment regime has been overtaken by an ever greater disaster this year. Small mercies. The union will continue to campaign so that whole of cohort standardised test does not go ahead again, a position which we reiterated to the panel conducting the review into NAPLAN a few weeks ago.

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