Senior School Report

March 4, 2022

by Director of the Senior School, Mr Hamish McCrum

Once again our First Crew were unable to win the Head of the Lake, however they took some consolation by finishing well to take out second place.  Congratulations to Grammar, they were clearly the best crew on the day.  For crews at various levels from all schools, this has been an unusual season.  COVID has made it difficult for some crews to consistently train as a whole.  In other cases, there have been some crews who have put in the practice only to find that one of them has tested positive in the lead up to Head of the Lake, throwing their plans into disarray.  Life is not always fair. When the disappointment is fresh, it is easy to think the hard work was all for nothing.  But dedication and commitment by our youth are rarely wasted.  The time spent working hard, improving their skill and fitness, being a part of a team and part of a rowing shed are all worthwhile and enjoyable hours. Students have learned to be reliable, and to rely on others.  Friendships have been forged which may last a lifetime.  These things are invaluable.  Congratulations to all the rowers and coaches, whether they won or lost, for your efforts and training over the season.  You have been a part of something that was not just about you.  And to our Year 12 supporters, well done on the way you conducted yourselves positively last week at school and on Sunday at the lake.  It was another enjoyable day.

By Year 11, some students cannot wait to get out of school and start an apprenticeship.  Often their parents would like them to stay for longer, in some cases to finish Year 11 or to get their VCE.  This is in part because parents know that school is for a relatively short time, hopefully all our students will have many years of purposeful work ahead of them.  Work can be a tough place; construction sites are not places for the faint-hearted.  Being that bit older, a bit more mature, and hopefully the extra year or two at school may help to form our young men so that they will react better and cope at work when things do not all go to plan.  In some instances, being that little bit stronger physically is also important.  And while at school, make the most of things, the academic and extra-curricular opportunities, for enjoyment and development.

A couple of weeks ago we held our Academic Assembly where we acknowledged the efforts and achievements of our Chris Nolan recipients across the school and our excellent performers at VCE 3/4 level from last year.  Our 2021 Dux, Jack Sheehan spoke engagingly about what it took to achieve an ATAR of 99.85.  He did not sugar coat the fact that he worked hard right up until his last exam, he managed to stay focused and applying himself right until the end.  He also acknowledged his peers, Connor Gaffney (Proxime Accessit – 99.80), Hugh Ollerenshaw and Darcy Williams and graciously conceded that any one of them could have been the dux.  As with the rowers, these boys and others in their year level who worked hard  have had an enjoyable time and forged good friendships.  They have also grown their abilities through their sustained efforts and have created exciting opportunities for themselves.

Some of the work our successful students put in is staggering.  Generally speaking, to receive a study score in the 40s, a student will need to have completed and learnt from 15 practice exams for each exam in that subject (i.e. 15 exam 1s and 15 exam 2s for maths).  Typically, 7 practice exams will not see students exceed a Study score of 35, sometimes less.  To complete 15 practice exams per subject, students need to have started doing them in Term 3, in addition to keeping up with the never ending SACs at this time.  The boys named above will have done well in excess of 15 practice exams for each of their exams, closer to 30.  And when studying, they tend to focus on what is effective, so that they are getting value for their time and efforts.

What does the research tell us about the effectiveness of different sorts of study?

What is very effective?

  • Practise tests / practise exams
  • Spacing – e. doing small amounts of work often – rather than cramming lots into one day

What is fairly effective?

  • Making connections/thinking about why the things you have learned make sense
  • Doing a mixture of questions, not just all of the same type at the same time.

What practices have been found to be not as effective?

  • Highlighting / underlining
  • Reading over notes

Get the phones away.  We know that performance is decreased when phones are present even if they are not being used.

Get plenty of sleep.  The old adage that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight was certainly true for our high achievers last year.

Our Year 12s have been given some study planners to fill in, so that they will have planned time for getting their school work done while accommodating other commitments.  Please ask them about their progress in regard to setting these up and following them.  They may need to be adjusted a few times.

This week I am isolating at home with two COVID positive children.  I am still testing negative and hope to be back at school on Monday.  I had forgotten how much I disliked teaching on MS Teams rather than face to face.  Many of our students have also had weeks such as this, be that with COVID or as close contacts.  I am sure that they too will have been reminded of how much they dislike remote learning.  It is important if they have COVID that they take the rest that they need, to decrease the chance of it developing into “long COVID”.

Stay well and pray for the people of Ukraine.