Curriculum under COVID-19
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 3, 11 May 2020, page no. 12
As a result of the global health pandemic, the P-10 Australian curriculum has been modified and condensed to six key learning areas: English, maths, science, and HPE for students in prep-year 10, with the addition of the humanities and social sciences (HASS) for years 3-10.
While HPE was initially not part of the core curriculum flagged prior to the school vacation, it was added to the Term 2 Operating Guidelines for Queensland State Schools when it was acknowledged that ongoing physical activity was important for the mental health and wellbeing of students learning at home.
Senior Officers of the QTU met daily with senior department officials to negotiate the operating guidelines after earlier versions of sample weekly timetables proved unacceptable and unachievable. The department’s expectations were that the lesson duration may be shorter than the proposed time allocated in the daily P-10 timetable shown below.
Schools will decide which curriculum areas should be covered in the 40 minutes for other learning areas (such as HASS) for years 3-10 students, including how often these areas should be alternated.
It always comes down to IT!
The NAPLAN Online team, set up to support schools in undertaking the online tests, pivoted to providing IT support to schools. During the week of student free days, however, members reported issues with uploading planning to The Learning Place, and the department added more servers to keep up with demand. Teachers worked tirelessly to record and upload a range of interesting and informative online lessons, only to find that on the first day of Term 2, students could not access them. In response to the unprecedented demand, with more than 1.8 million users trying to log on for Day 1, the Learning@home website and The Learning Place were unreachable.
The Minister and the Premier had warned parents that there would be teething problems, however no one could have anticipated the extent of the outage. Teachers again stepped up and emailed work to students or provided take-home work packs, available for pick up by parents.
The department recommended reducing the file size to 50mb for Share-Point and One Note and reducing the use of high definition video content across all platforms, adding yet more workload for teachers. As the term progresses, there will no doubt be more challenges to overcome.
One thing is certain though. The QTU will be here to support members to ensure that unreasonable expectations are not placed on teachers at a time when many are already feeling anxious.
Assessment and reporting
The department has released supporting assessment and reporting guidelines for Queensland state schools in Term 2 (Academic reporting requirements for State Schools - Term 2, 2020). The document provides guidance on how to assess and report, aligning Term 1 face-to-face teaching with Term 2 remote and flexible teaching and learning methods.
After consultation with stakeholders, the department has adopted the position of continued assessment and reporting for the term and Semester 1. You will have access to information, including anecdotal or progress information on students from Term 1. Students will continue to participate in the flexible and remote learning processes adopted by each school.
Two options have been proposed for schools to choose between (following consultation, of course). Either of the options can be used, however one option lends itself better to primary settings and one lends itself better to secondary settings.
Option 1 is a modified version of the current reporting requirements, allowing for reporting on each subject but recognising that the achievement is indicative. As this would require reporting in all subjects, it is anticipated this may be the preferred option of most secondary schools.
Option 2 is to modify the current reporting requirements to reflect the Operating Guidelines for Queensland State Schools. Reporting would be aligned to a minimum of four KLAs that are supported this term in the home learning program. In addition, primary school settings may further modify the arrangements for reporting on prep students.
How do we consult at a school level?
Consultation could include discussion and decisions at your online briefings or staff meetings, which many schools are now holding. Alternatively, members could complete a simple survey after reading and discussing the requirements as a staff.
How can we guarantee that the disruptions don’t mean the result is less accurate than normal?
Your planning and teaching for this term has been developed on the basis of the learning outcomes of students in your classes or subjects last term. That cycle for teaching, learning and responding to student progress continues throughout this term. However, conducting assessments in a remote learning environment is complex. Consequently, the achievement standards may support progress decisions rather than attainment. This should also take into account the uncertainty surrounding the end of Term 1.
Your school can choose to forgo comments – if it hasn’t already – and indicate that “this is an indicative result at this stage” or “your child is progressing their understanding of…”.
Depending on what option you and your school community decide upon, you will be able to use the language and points provided in the department’s assessment and reporting guidelines to communicate the decision with parents.
What about my workload?
Many of you are receiving work back from students, either by paper or electronically. Your usual methods of collating student work samples and marking would apply.
Is this a change from normal practices?
As is the current practice, schools are only required to report formally twice a year. Some schools offer students and parents an interim report card at the end of Terms 1 and 3. There remains no requirement from the department for Term 1 interim reports to proceed, however this decision would be made by the school following consultation.
What are the timelines?
The timelines should be established following consultation. This may mean that Semester 1 report cards are distributed early in Term 3 rather than at the end of Term 2. That gives all staff a chance to manage workload in the completion of reports for students.
What about parent/teacher interviews?
At this time, parent/teacher interviews can be offered, but as social distancing restrictions remain in place, they can only proceed via telephone or videoconference.
How can behaviour and effort be reported?
You will have information from Term 1, with further information also gathered from engagement, participation and learning completed in Term 2, within the remote and flexible learning mode. Your school may choose to make a comment on the report card about behaviour and effort.
Research Officer - Professional Issues