Week 2 Term 2
Friday 1 May 2020
In this issue:
- Insights into the BGS home-based learning curriculum design
- Thank you to our dedicated cleaners
- GrammarWell platform launch
- Musicians thriving online
Home-based learning curriculum design
I write to you in my capacity as Deputy Headmaster - Teaching and Learning to provide some insight and reassurance about your son’s education in these challenging times. The design of curriculum and the implementation of assessment is my area of professional interest and educational specialisation. Ultimately, of course, any curriculum system is only as good as the teaching that delivers it and the student learning stimulated by it.
The new online timetable, implemented at the start of Term 2, has been carefully designed to enable quality educational experiences within the constraints of home-based learning.
The latest survey of our students (eliciting over 1150 responses) has revealed overwhelming endorsement of the longer periods and dedicated consolidation sessions, showing that BGS students understand the different kinds of thinking and operating required while learning from home.
The Education Endowment Foundation – an organisation that provides research and evidence-based advice to schools and educators – recently published a synthesis of 60 systematic reviews and meta-analyses about what works in online learning (also referred to as home-based, distance or remote learning). Their publication provides the kind of academic and scholarly imprimatur to BGS curriculum decisions that I know you, our parents and community, have come to expect.
Of the five key effective home-based learning findings, I will share and elaborate on the three that are especially pertinent to the BGS context:
- Teaching quality is more important than how lessons are delivered;
- Supporting pupils to work independently improves learning outcomes; and
- Peer interactions provide motivation and improve learning outcomes.
BGS is committed to ensuring the core elements of effective instruction – such as giving clear explanations and providing students with scaffolding and feedback – have priority in our planning above how or when they are delivered. While the School’s online platforms (Teams, Canvas and OneNote) effectively provide ways of delivering and working with key information, it is the underlying pedagogy that really matters. For example, teachers might explain a new idea live or via a pre-recorded video. However, what makes the difference in impact is whether the explanation builds clearly on prior learning and how students’ understanding is subsequently assessed.
Students learning at home will often need to work independently. The survey of students shows a very high degree of recognition by our boys that their capacity for self-regulation is being developed in the current environment. They also recognise that the opportunity to work independently, structured around explicit consolidation of and preparation for learning, is highly prized. The EEF research cites multiple reviews that identify the value of strategies that help students work independently, such as prompting boys to reflect on their work or to consider the strategies they will use when they get stuck.
The challenge of maintaining the unique BGS culture of collaboration and peer support has been an essential component of our planning and our upskilling of staff in the use of online platforms. BGS students have identified how highly they value social and peer connection and interaction in their learning, and multiple reviews highlight the importance of such interaction during home-based learning as a way to provide motivation and improve outcomes. Across the studies reviewed, a range of strategies to support peer interaction were explored, including peer feedback, sharing models of good work and opportunities for live discussions of content — all of which feature prominently in the BGS student experience.
In closing, I wish all members of the BGS community good health, and I know our students will give their absolute best in their studies and assessments this term. The maturity, insight and diligence already in evidence give me every confidence in our boys.
Headmaster Anthony Micallef is currently taking leave for treatment of a recently diagnosed medical condition, unrelated to COVID-19. I have been in regular contact with Anthony, and he is in good spirits and unsurprisingly focused on the School. I wish him a speedy recovery on behalf of the BGS community. I will be Acting Headmaster until he returns and will keep you updated as appropriate.
The Board of Trustees has decided to discount Term 2 tuition fees by 10%. The decision reflects a desire to support the BGS community in a financially responsible manner in these difficult times. A reminder to please click here and complete the survey, which will inform us how you wish the discount to be applied in respect to your son/s. Note, you must complete a separate survey for each son you have at BGS. For example, if you have two sons, complete two surveys. Please confirm your discount option by completing the survey by Friday 15 May 2020.
As part of our commitment to an evidence-informed approach to ongoing decision making as we navigate this period of home-based learning, I invite you to provide feedback. Please click here to give feedback on the first two weeks of Term 2. The data will assist us in making adjustments to our current home-based educational program. It will also inform our thinking about the curriculum post-pandemic. The survey will close at 7.00pm on Saturday 2 May.
The Term 2 Assessment Schedule has been finalised and is now available via MyGrammar. Using this schedule as a regular reference point will assist students and parents in planning priorities and managing time efficiently. While all subjects have adjusted their courses and assessment to better align with online curriculum delivery and the home-based learning environment, the essential knowledge and skills will still be assessed and student progress reported on.
GrammarWell, the School’s new digital Student Wellbeing Platform, is now available. Students can explore the platform and discover wellbeing resources to keep them happy, healthy and get the most out of school and life. Please click here to watch our Director of Student Wellbeing Programs explain GrammarWell in more detail.
The BGS Boarding community continues to actively care for a small number of boys who are living in Harlin House, and a far greater number who are learning at home or with their guardians. We thank all of our families for their continued support and engagement. Please click here to watch our Director of Boarding provide a summary of what BGS Boarding plans to achieve by 22 May.
For the latest updates from School, please visit the COVID-19 Advice for BGS Community section on the BGS website.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of BGS cleaners has stepped up to take on a critical role in the School’s defence against the virus. Under the guidance of Facilities Manager Craig Derrick and Cleaning Supervisor Nikky Nuneski, the BGS cleaners have been incredible.
Using a high-performance management system, BGS cleaners have been provided with special tools, products and chemicals. They use leading cleaning processes to stop chains of infection and limit the opportunities for pathogens to spread within the campus.
Prior to the Term 1 break, extra staff and resources were approved to allow the team to undertake continued, intensive cleaning of all hard surface areas, touch-points, bathrooms, and social spaces, as recommended by Queensland Health.
During the term break, BGS cleaners worked in teams to undertake comprehensive cleaning of all buildings and amenities on campus, sanitising all areas from ceilings and light fittings to walls, floors and other fixtures and fittings. More than 2000 hours of cleaning was performed by 27 casual, part-time and full-time cleaners during the break.
Additionally, other teaching areas, sports facilities, halls, grounds and social spaces were sanitised. This intensified level of cleaning of all areas has been sustained with the return of staff and some students after the term break, and it will continue as more students return to BGS.
If ever you see a member of our fabulous cleaning team, please take a moment to notice and thank them.
Brisbane Grammar School applied for entry to the National Redress Scheme on 20 August 2019 and the Minister for Social Services formally declared the School as a participating institution under the Scheme on 23 April 2020.
While the School has been operating its own Redress Scheme since 2000, the National Redress Scheme provides an additional path for those who have experienced abuse in the past to seek redress independent of the School. The National Redress Scheme provides counselling, monetary payments, as well as a direct personal response by the School if the person chooses.
Under the rules of the National Redress Scheme, any application for redress must be lodged directly with the Scheme itself.
Information about the National Redress Scheme, how to make an application and the support services available in Queensland and Australia-wide can be found on their website at www.nationalredress.gov.au or by calling the hotline 1800 737 177.
For more information regarding the School's response to the Royal Commission, click here.
An opportunity for growth and connection
Without forgetting or overlooking the illness and loss of life that has resulted from COVID- 19, it has provided me with absolute clarity about how important the connection between teachers and students are to a successful school.
We have been maintaining connection through various mediums and have been collecting student voice data through weekly surveys. The feedback is predominately positive, but a consistent theme has been that boys are missing their friends and being at school. I feel honoured to read the feedback we have received and to have the chance to work with the quality of students that attend our school.
The introvert in me has enjoyed the quieter times, but I have missed the noise that fills the playground each day. I am looking forward to the boys coming back, checking haircuts, uniforms and discussing what they did while they were away. It will be great to return to normality.
Along with reflecting on returning to school, I also think it is important for boys to focus on what they can take away from the different style of education they are currently experiencing. How will they use this change to adjust their practice as a student when they return?
From my perspective, this has been a significant learning period, and I know I will be a better teacher as a result of this situation. Opportunities to grow sometimes present at unusual times, but ultimately provide a chance to accelerate the learning process. It is worth discussing this prospect with your son – it would be a shame for him not to think about what he has learned about himself and his learning this term.
The boys have settled into the routines of school and adapted well to the changes that come with home-based learning. This week, I attended school for a day and saw boys working diligently and collaboratively with their peers and teachers.
As Will talked about last week, the Year 12s have been working hard to find ways to connect the community during this time of isolation. The Form Seniors took the great initiative of making videos for younger boys in their Form Class to welcome them back and give them a laugh, while also reassuring them that learning from home was not vastly different from being in the classroom.
In addition to this, the school spirit Instagram page ‘LDB.20’ has launched fundraising projects for the Leukemia Foundation with the chin face challenge. The goal was to receive 100 photos of boys’ chins (with a face drawn on) to show support for the foundation. This goal has already been achieved, and we now have eight boys shaving their heads (and one boy waxing his chest!). This challenge has also kickstarted the fundraising effort for the Year 11 Public Purpose Committee, who traditionally raise money for the Leukemia Foundation in Term 2.
As you can tell, despite the majority of boys not being at school, there is still a lot happening at BGS as we look to strengthen the School community during this challenging period.
School Vice Captain
Director of Boarding
In the midst of all that is happening, it is not always obvious that it is still business as usual in BGS Boarding, with our eight resident boys in Harlin House.
Our foundation has always been in establishing a clear routine that, in turn, provides each boy with security and reassurance – enabling him to focus on his studies and his wellbeing. Admittedly, the Roll Call does not take long these days, and our Middle School boarders do not need to gather in the Foyer by 7.20am, as is the norm. However, we have sought to maintain the structure of the school day for all boys and staff.
In having only a handful of boys to care for, we have been afforded an opportunity to look at new initiatives. Boys and staff now gather in the Foyer after Prep to catch up and share any information or good news stories, while also checking temperatures to ensure all are well. It has been good to be able to catch up, in a socially distant manner, and it is wonderful to see bonds developing between the few boys in the House.
Of course, the boys are only one part of the community. The residential boarding team has played a vital role in providing ongoing supervision and activities for the boys. We have new games to be played on the Boarders’ Lawn, have enjoyed Mr Tom Christie’s flexibility classes, and have engaged in some gardening. This weekend, we will hold our first BGS Boarding Lego Masters extravaganza, with the mantra: you are never too old.
In addition to the boarding staff, we have been very well served by the Health Centre, Dining Hall and the Maintenance Department who look after the facilities, as well providing a laundry and cleaning service. To each area, I want to express my thanks for your support and commitment to the young men in our care.
In closing, we are about to publish our Easter montage of BGS Boarding, and the photos below are a taste of what you can expect to see. If you haven’t seen our Term 1 highlights video, I encourage you to visit Facebook or Instagram to see what the boys have been up to.
Director of Student Wellbeing Programs
GrammarWell and Connecting with Community
During this time of home-based learning, the School remains committed to the wellbeing of our students as they learn and study remotely. I will share with you a couple of ways this is happening.
Recently, we launched GrammarWell, a student wellbeing digital platform where students can access a range of resources to support their mental and physical wellbeing. There are six key areas, including Mental Fitness, Peak Performance, Connecting with Community, The Great Indoors, Acts of Kindness, and Beautiful News.
In the Connecting with Community section, students will find many fun and challenging activities aimed to keep them connected and engaged with our BGS community. Student submissions for Formal Friday Check-in and Pets of BGS are online for you to see, along with Lego Masters and SuperChef creations. We strongly encourage boys to take part in the activities offered to help them feel connected to their friends and the school community.
Wellbeing lessons are tailored to meet the social and emotional needs of boys. Delivery of content and learning experiences are informed by the feedback received in the weekly student wellbeing survey. The topic for this week’s discussion was resilience. Boys spoke about how their lives had changed since COVID-19 and discussed ways to deal with disappointment. Below are a few insightful reflections from boys in Year 8.
“My world has changed because I can’t leave my house, preventing me from running and cycling.”
“My world has changed because I haven't been able to see my nan.”
“My world has changed as I cannot see my friends often and I appreciate people more now.”
“My world has changed because there is nothing to do and when there is nothing to do, I usually go to the local IGA, but I can’t do that either. This is an absolute first world problem for me.”
One takeaway about developing resilience
“We need to focus on what matters, what’s in our control and what’s not.”
“You can’t control everything, focus on what you can.”
“Focus on the positive things.”
“Make the most of things.”
“Don’t stress over things we can’t control.”
Boys also receive wellbeing messages in the Daily Bulletin to help them start the day with a positive mindset.
Most children are resilient and seem to be demonstrating a remarkable capacity to manage during this challenging time. However, some are experiencing various emotions ranging from fear to anxiety, all of which are considered natural responses. Despite this, it is still important for adult carers to remain vigilant for any signs of unusual distress or behaviour, even though your child may not have any prior history of a mental health disorder.
Anzac Day Assembly
This week commenced with our Middle School Anzac Day Assembly, which focused on the story of BGS Old Boy Adolf Hoffman ’39, who served and died in World War II. His story was inspirational in that his legacy highlighted the qualities we strive to develop in BGS boys today. During the assembly address, we heard of Hoffman’s wide and varied participation in School life, his commitment to learning and the respect he earned among his peers. Thank you to School Historian Chris Price and our School Captains for sharing this story with our community. You can watch the assembly here.
Our next virtual Middle School Assembly will be posted in students’ year level Teams in Week 5.
Elevate Study Skills Program – Years 7 and 8
The Elevate Study Skills program for students in Years 7 and 8 will be delivered online on Monday 11 May during Period 1 (Week 4). An email will be sent to students next week outlining the login procedure.
GrammarFit and GrammarWell
We have recently launched two initiatives – GrammarFit and GrammarWell.
Last week, I completed my first GrammarFit session and thoroughly enjoyed it. With exercises to suit all abilities, this is one way for the whole family to be active together.
GrammarWell is an online platform where boys will find activities to spark their curiosity and information aimed to support their wellbeing. Within the Connecting with Community section, students will find various activities to keep them engaged and connected. This week, we launched the BGS Lego Masters Challenge and BGS SuperChef Challenge. Entry details can be found via GrammarWell for those boys interested in participating.
Several activities have re-commenced this term, including the Pythagoras Club, Aristotle Club and Middle School Book Club. Boys are reminded to check the Daily Bulletin for information regarding available activities and meeting times.
Year 5 Mother's Day Morning Tea
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current restrictions on large gatherings, we have postponed the Year 5 Mother's Day Morning Tea, which was scheduled for Thursday 7 May. This is a highlight of the school year, and we will endeavour to reschedule it to a later date.
"Without imagination and investigation of ideas, our collective fund of knowledge would languish. We do need assessments to determine what students learn and understand, but we can incorporate imagination in the creation of those assessments to ensure that students' creative thoughts and higher executive functions are incorporated into their assessment experiences." – Dr Judy Willis
Many would assume that a quick transition to home-based learning would have been disruptive to the creative arts curriculum. However, BGS Art teachers are have witnessed a rise in creative pursuits and have experienced many benefits to the online classroom.
One benefit is that quieter students are more likely to join discussions. As Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking explained:
"Schools are designed mostly for extroverts. But some kids are natural introverts, and introverts feel at their most alive, most switched-on and most capable when they're in quieter, more low-key environments."
That is not to say quieter students are disadvantaged in traditional schools. However, teachers are noticing greater participation from less outgoing students and have found they are more likely to join the discussions with their extraverted classmates.
Our teachers have also found that students are more resourceful. Resourcefulness is a valuable skill; it requires finding creative solutions to problems. When students have their every need met and limitless materials provided, they are not being called upon to be resourceful. Social isolation and staying at home has required students to be more inventive, set challenges and find new ways to entertain themselves.
In Year 6 classes, teachers have introduced students to the work of land artist Andy Goldsworthy, and they had great success with land art sculptures in their back garden. If boys didn't have a garden, it was suggested to be even more resourceful and look in the fridge – frozen peas, carrots and broccoli became objet d'art!
In Year 7 classes, students were asked to dress as a superhero as a starting point for their paintings. The students showed their resourcefulness, which resulted in comical characters dressed in bike helmets, wearing ski masks and swimming goggles and using blankets as capes.
Amanda Stuart | Middle School Art Teacher
Angela McCormack | Head of Art
This week, I have had the privilege of listening to many of our Cocurriculum leaders share feedback from their work with students during the first two weeks of term.
In Music, I heard of the progress of online tuition and the exciting initiatives being planned among some of our ensembles, which you will hear more about very soon.
In the theatre, I observed an online rehearsal and heard from our health-conscious Drama teaching team, who have been maintaining their GrammarFitness.
Last Friday, I joined an online meeting with our First XI Football squad and their coaching group. It was good to hear firsthand of the work they are doing while they are unable to train together.
Entries in the Training Diary (available to all BGS students) have indicated many more students have been training this week, either for their chosen sport or activity or as part of maintaining their health through GrammarFit.
GrammarFit reached an exciting milestone early this week, with the 1000th session being logged by one of our dedicated Year 6 students.
This week, those enjoying the GrammarFit sessions were treated to an Outdoor Education edition, filmed at Moogerah by our outstanding Outdoor Education team. We hope that GrammarFit is providing an active, positive start to each boy’s day.
One of our unique offerings at BGS is our Activities (special interest groups and internal clubs). This week, I was delighted to see the product of work coming from these groups, which have now transitioned online via Teams. These clubs continue to share materials, chat and meet with our boys, and keep their interests and passions alive.
Another initiative we are excited about is the BGS Sports Webinars, dealing with a range of topics for boys who wish to improve in their sport. This week, our guest presenter addressed the important topic of Sports Psychology.
Students and parents may access these via the Cocurriculum page on MyGrammar.
Many boys and parents are wondering what will happen to GPS sports and activities for the remainder of the year. These issues are currently being considered, and I look forward to reporting on the status and planning for GPS training and competitions as soon as I can do so.
Congratulations to the hundreds of cocurricular Music students who have enthusiastically embraced home-based learning. Attendance at private and group lessons has been excellent, with boys meaningfully engaging in a combination of regular and new activities. From the perspective of a performing musician, boys are having to listen more carefully and be more independent as performers. Teachers report that students are working hard, so well done boys.
We continue to encourage boys in instrumental and vocal ensembles to engage with their teacher and the activities they set each week. While online platforms don’t lend themselves to ensemble performance, we know that boys are joining together in any way they can.
Boys are reminded of the challenge to make some music, record it and be prepared to have it shared with the BGS community. Boys can make music individually, but it is preferred they collaborate with someone else using online applications. Creations are up to the imagination of boys, but examples include:
- Solo music
- Make-your-own ensemble by using an app such as a cappella
- Make an ensemble with other students by using an app such as a cappella
- Have an existing school ensemble produce something (with teacher guidance)
- Adding meaningful visuals to an existing recording
When ready, send them to your Music teacher, Ensemble Conductor or Music@brisbanegrammar.com. If suitable, we will share them with the BGS community. Good luck, and keep making music.
Finally, I would like to reassure the BGS Music community that we will be doing everything we can to feature our boys’ incredible talents for everyone to enjoy. We are not sure when performances will happen or what form they will take, but rest assured, we will let you know when we have more definitive answers.
All the best and remember, keep making music!
Head of Music
“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary.” – Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Champion
At the beginning of Term 2, the Cross Country community launched a number of clubs via the social-fitness platform Strava to promote running and connection during the home-based learning period.
We hope boys will use the platform to connect with their friends and to log their running activity. The clubs are open to all BGS boys, regardless of whether they have signed up for Cross Country.
Our first week of the clubs was a great success, with 75 runners logging 185 runs (total of 1073km). Membership is growing daily, and we are excited by the potential this has to promote healthy habits while boys are learning from home.
To join the BGS Stava Clubs, please visit MyGrammar > Cocurriculum > Cross Country > BGS Strava Clubs. Boys must complete the survey accessible via this page before joining. All runs should also be recorded in the individual Training Diary that each boy has received from the School.
Nick Holland and Brad Scholes
MiCs Cross Country
- BGS Art Show
- Volunteer Roster
- 2020 Calendar
- Upcoming Events
- P&F Auxiliary | Connect - Care - Contribute
- BGS150 History Book
We are excited to announce that the BGS Art Show will be online as a virtual show this year. More information will be shared with the community in the next few weeks.
The Brisbane Grammar School Art Show has been a fixture on the School’s cultural calendar for more than 50 years. Art allows us to express ideas, challenge preconceptions, tell stories and record our history. It has a way of bringing everyone together – all cultures and all levels of our society.
The BGS Art Show is not a student exhibition but rather a collection of professional artists works available for sale. It is organised by parent volunteers in the Art Support Group. Many works held in the BGS Art Collection have been acquired through purchases at this event using funds raised from the show. Other funds are directed towards Art education at BGS.
We are fortunate to receive wonderful support from sponsors each year. Traditionally the BGS Art Show plays a significant role in our community – from inspiring students seeing the collection in the lead-up to the show, to parents and guests celebrating and purchasing professional art works on the Gala Opening Night.
In addition, the BGS Art Show demonstrates to the wider community during Open Day that BGS truly offers a broad liberal education that values cocurricular activities and the Arts.
It is a special event that brings the school community together to include past, present and future students, along with their families.
Angela McCormack - Head of Art
Bronwyn Jerrard - President Art Support Group
Tuckshop +61 7 3834 5229
Grammar Shop +61 7 3834 5347
Roster Secretary Wendy Smith - email@example.com
Grammar Shop hours
Weekdays 7.30am – 11.00am
Weekdays 7.00am – 2.00pm
BGS remains open to children of essential workers and other parents who are unable to keep their children at home. However, we are expecting a low number of boys on campus. The Tuckshop and Grammar Shop will remain open, but we won’t need any volunteers until all students return to school.
We will inform you of any updates. Until then, please stay safe.
The P&F Auxiliary is focused on ensuring it is able to provide a supportive and responsive service to BGS families. The Tuckshop and the Grammar Shop remain open until the end of term. However, there are changes to both shops due to COVID-19 regulations. These changes are detailed below.
The Tuckshop is open and serving staff and students with a selection of fresh salads, wraps, drinks and hot food. We will ensure safety guidelines for social distancing and hygiene are maintained. Until further notice, both shops will remain cash-free due to the risks of cash handling.
The Tuckshop remains cash-free. My Student Account (MSA) cards can be topped-up online via My Grammar > My Student > Tuckshop Account. A low balance notification or automatic top-up can also be set via the Manage > Edit function.
The Grammar Shop will remains open on school days from 7.30am. If you or your son/s are unwell, please do not come to the Grammar Shop. Instead, you can call staff on 07 3834 5347 to discuss your needs. We will happily take your order and payment by phone. We can also arrange for collection or delivery on a case-by-case basis.
The Grammar Shop remains cash-free, but card payments can continue in-store or over the phone. Please call the Grammar Shop on 07 3834 5347 to arrange for a credit to be placed on a student's account.
Most blazers submitted for embroidery are ready for collection. There are also a number of other pre-paid items in the shop awaiting collection.
To check when your blazer or other items are ready for collection, please visit MyGrammar > P&F Auxiliary > Uniforms > Embroidered item pick up list. Payment can be made at the Grammar Shop.
Senior winter uniforms are to be worn effective Tuesday 5 May 2020 so senior students (Years 9 – 12) will need a blazer and white shirts by this time. To maintain social distancing parameters of 1.5m, it is not appropriate for our staff to fit uniforms. If you would like to fit your son yourself, please call Grammar Shop staff on 07 3834 5347 to make an appointment.
BGS remains open to children of essential workers and other parents who are unable to keep their children at home. However, we are expecting a low number of boys on campus. Tuckshop and Grammar Shop will remain open, but we won’t need any volunteers until all students return to school.
Light Dark Blue: 150 Years of Learning and Leadership at Brisbane Grammar School is available for purchase. The beautiful 500-page hardcover book updates the BGS story with previously untold anecdotes, rare photographs and illustrations. With a limited print run, it is sure to become a sought after collector’s item. Standard edition and limited editions are available.
Click here to view all BGS150 merchandise – limited stocks remain.