Hale@home is about to complete its 3rd year as a programme to assist boarders in their transition to Brine House. It has a very good reputation with all who have been involved and it is an innovation widely acknowledged by other schools as being immensely valuable. In the 3 years since it commenced Hale@home has had nearly 60 families participate. Annual feedback from parents and boys is again very positive and whilst the core principles of Hale@home remain in place, changes have been implemented which have successfully improved the Hale@home interaction and infrastructure.
- The change to Skype-Business as the vehicle for our virtual-classroom has resulted in an improved weekly virtual environment for most boys.
- Creating a smaller extra session on a Tuesday allowed some boys to experience better connection.
- Heath and I have refined our teaching programmes delivery and structure resulting in high level engagement with the tasks and wonderful, unique work from the boys in the form of home-made videos, constructions, written and mathematical responses and a fair bit of creative thinking
- Inviting Middle School teachers to participate in the delivery of some units in a relaxed "studio -context' (i.e. standing to dynamically present a session) is high on the agenda for 2016 after several most successful drama lessons conducted recently by Julia Jarel.
The Hale@home model is rare "green-field educational space" for thinking and creativity and it is dedicated to the unique needs of these boys. The "Skellig" project last term involved Ms Julia Jarel and several Middle School staff assisting us with the production of a play where the nineteen (19) Hale@home boys filmed their parts around their respective properties, backyards, sheds and fields. These scenes were then linked together here at Hale School. The final result was remarkable and it has captured the imagination of all involved. It is a stunning example of educational innovation. The 2016 Hale@home group will draw from seventeen (17) confirmed Brine House 2017 students with two (2) more possible. At this stage fifteen of these seventeen have confirmed their participation next year.
Hale21 Future School concludes next week after working with twenty-four (24) students and five(5) teachers/Principals in five (5) schools across WA in 2016. Darkan, Caversham, Cascade, Munglinup and Dunsborough all participated each week after I had visited them all and introduced myself and the programme to all involved, including parents. Caversham, Dunsborough and Munglinup schools in particular engaged brilliantly with the programme this year with the Munglinup Principal, Dr Kristi Baju, designing and delivering the final unit to complete the programme.
This is what H21FSenvisioned and it is clear that participation in the programme for these schools has introduced the students, teachers and the wider community to the potential of online learning for rural schools collectively; and upskilled all stakeholders technologically. However, there remains a lack of commitment from teachers to participate due to perceived technological issues, usually personal confidence with what is actually quite straightforward technology in 2015. Furthermore, I have been amazed at the rate of staff turnover in these schools and the lack of flexibility, or perhaps zeal, in responding to what is being offered and what might emerge for their educational community as a consequence of the experience.
For 2016, another two (2) schools have signed up, I imagine we will lose one (1) of this year's cohort. The response of the Department of Education has been disappointing and frustrating. The genuine cross-sectorial nature of my proposal has been politely rebuffed. Hale21FS is a programme with a dedicated group of supporters in rural government and Catholic schools. Awareness of the programme is spreading. The Principals and communities involved are strong advocates for the vision of Hale School in this area and urge us to continue. Hale21FS is a valuable programme no doubt for those who participate, but in time it may well be seen to be a lighthouse model for transforming rural education... and the very nature of our enrolment.
Hale21 Community School - A recent proposal from me to work with Year 6 boys from the Junior School together with a group of non-Hale School students one evening a week has been well received. This will be a creative thinking style curriculum and will culminate in presentations from all involved, probably here at the School one evening at the end of each term. A lot of planning is underway for this curriculum. I will present the concept to boys in Term 1 and work through 2016 exploring this concept and working with perhaps 50 students in 2016. The Hale boys will invite relatives or friends to participate with them each week in an online model similar to H21FS but probably with local Perth school students (and their teachers).
Finally, Hale@home is a programme now immersed in our school's vocabulary and widely acknowledged to be a worthwhile innovation with significant support from stakeholders. Hale21 Future School has attracted the attention of educators who marvel at its impact and potential. I have delivered presentations locally and across the world, online and in person about both programmes and we are recognised as a global leader in this new transformational context. It is a space for educationally rich innovation, transformative use of technology, genuine student-centred teaching and the exploration of the very future of schooling.