Nobody said that bringing Australian education into the 21st century would be easy.
You see, we know we not only have to change the way we teach to improve our students’ career and life options in the 21st century, but we have to also change the structures that underpin and support our teaching.
That means finding the best learning management system available, transferring all our data into it, teaching staff how to use it effectively and then offering its benefits to you and your children.
By the time you read this St Columba will have launched its new learning management and reporting system.
And we really hope this new system works for you!
I really mean this because bringing in this improvement means a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes.
Lots of work for support, administrative and teaching staff.
Lots and lots of work — and sometimes we might even question if these changes are really worth the effort!
I think they are because I am old enough to remember paper school reports. And the waste of time and effort that went into generating them
Bear with me while I recount an example of the joy of school reports, accounts, etc. in schools in days gone by.
At one school where I taught as a very young teacher, each Secondary student received their report, twice a year, on a single foolscap page, with all their comments and marks handwritten by each teacher.
Lovely and personal, except, if one teacher made a simple mistake on that page, a small spelling error or grammar mistake, every teacher had to rewrite all their comments and marks!
Then it would be checked by the Head of School and the slightest error or smudge on that piece of paper would see the whole process begin again!
Then teachers would fold the sheet, place it in an envelope, check the address, seal the envelope and deliver it to the office for posting.
That process wasted thousands of hours of teachers’ time twice a year.
A few years ago we adopted a software system called The Alpha School System (TASS) that allowed parents, students and the school to communicate more effectively, allowed accounts to be paid, permissions to be given, reports received etc.
This replaced a software system (That shall not be named!) that was universally loathed by staff because it was clumsy, unreliable and seemed to have been designed to cause optimum stress and anger.
Bringing in the TASS system was a task that required massive data transfers, manual inputs and time.
Learning how to use the new system was sometimes confronting and irritating for staff and parents but, in the end, it worked.
In fact, it worked brilliantly for administration and finance arms of the school BUT as a learning management and reporting system, it had weaknesses.
After months of investigation, another system was found that ”talks” to the TASS system (Oh, please let it be true!) and is great as a learning management system. It is called SEQTA.
And so, once again our staff have to go through reloading all the data and learning how to use the new system — all because it will make teaching and learning and reporting more effective and 21st century agile.
We hope the new system, once all the “bugs” are worked out and the system becomes second nature, will work beautifully for you and your children.
If it doesn’t work for you, please let us know what goes wrong so that we can fix the problems and ensure that we do not have to change systems again for a decade or so and we can get on with teaching!
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School