To the Big Picture!

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The Big Picture is a monthly publication from the Principal and senior leadership of Emmanuel Christian School. The Big Picture aims to provide an overview of the school and the direction we see it going in line with our mission and vision. It’s a place where you can also learn more about how the school runs on a day to day basis. 

You’ll hear from our thought leaders about what they think is important and why. It’s a place for careful engagement with the world and our wider community. It’s a place to sit down and read long-form not just in short sound bytes. We hope that you enjoy learning more about your school as we seek to open your child’s mind to life’s possibilities.

This month we hear from;

  1. Best practice changes… by Scott Winkler

  2. Old dog new tricks… by Annie Joy

  3. The next education revolution… by Drew Roberts

Best practice changes

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
— Psalm 127:3

My family, as you may be aware, is preparing for the wedding of our eldest child. We could not be more blessed with our future son-in-law. It is still a deeply challenging place to be as we consider Amy leaving home and getting married to Joe. Reality can be difficult to deal with. Even though she has a Science Degree and a Masters Degree and is on the Dean’s Honour Roll and a Golden Key Member, Amy is still one of my children. It amazes me how our children are so central to us and how we think.

Children. They unite us as a school and are our heartfelt reason to get out of bed in the morning. Teachers, admin, aides, groundsmen, parents, grandparents, guardians, bus drivers and others - we all want the best for the children in our care.

Best practice changes - it needs to. What was necessary for children ten years ago was different from twenty years ago. It is different now - more than ever!

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SEQTA Engage and SEQTA Learn are online tools that some of you are using to connect with the work and pastoral care of ‘our’ children. SEQTA Engage is the parent portal and Learn is the student portal.

You may notice initially that there are some gaps around what teachers have / haven’t included. Please be assured that in the future, as we gain momentum with this platform, more content will be added as we aim to rely on this system more. Teachers will put class work, homework and results in SEQTA Teach, which then becomes available to parents and students. Comments on the students’ work by staff and the students themselves are available as soon as they are released.

Our aim is to move to a continuous reporting system using SEQTA Engage. Our goal, which may even come to pass next year, will be to stop the twice yearly school reports and only release a summary report with results. Why? Because, as with the change I started talking about, parents and students will always know where their progress is at and how they can improve. There will be no need to wait until the School Reports. Everything will be online and as up-to-date as possible. 

Parents will be able to deal with issues and concerns, celebrations and highlights, not in half-yearly packages, but as soon as they come up.

Parents can obtain their login for SEQTA Engage from the office by calling the school or emailing us. It is wonderful to be able to go on this journey into a new level of communication together.

Scott Winkler - Principal

Old Dog New Tricks

Staying relevant in the digital age!

You can teach a Labradoodle new tricks! So, if you’ve been reading my articles you will have seen my recommendations for more outside time (“getting hands dirty time”!), imaginative play and daydreaming away from technology for students. So, I thought it was time to address the elephant in the room – technology and its use in the classroom.

When I completed my Uni degree (BA with majors in Geography & Psychology and Dip Ed), I was required to submit an assignment which had been typed on a computer. Everything else was hand written. In my first years of teaching there wasn’t a computer in sight. When I was 30, and my children 4 and 7, I received an inheritance and bought our first home computer. A Pentium! I loved playing Solitaire on that old beast and writing the occasional poem or children’s stories. I wanted my children to get used to computers and they played numerous, very basic, games on them. 

The classrooms were still mainly devoid of them, but slowly a few crept into the backs of the classrooms and were attacked with glee by students on wet weather lunchtime days. There was a computer lab in the High School that we could book for an hour and get everyone on at the same time! We started teaching keyboarding skills and word processing and printing our good copies of stories and other work on them. We had simple maths and spelling games.

Everything else was hand written. In my first years of teaching there wasn’t a computer in sight.

All my school planning was still done by hand. I had my teacher’s journal and planning folder. All my curriculum documents were on my shelf behind my desk. My assessment book was in my journal. Reports were a printed template that was filled in by hand. Both my children’s Grade 6 reports were done this way. It was considered very cutting edge at the time. There was only a general comment for each student. I remember Dirk Petrusma telling me to write it as if it was going to be read to a grandparent. I have an interesting memory of a parent coming into my son Jake’s Grade 5 class and teaching the students how to make a Powerpoint!

Fast forward to today. Each student from Grade 3 up at Emmanuel has their own individual laptop. My entire mathematics program is now computer based through Maths Pathway. It assesses students and guides them individually through, with me as the co-ordinator and facilitator. As a school we completed NAPLAN online this year. Our Standardised testing is done online. I use a Reading Program and our reward system linked to it. My students have email accounts and complete assignments in a variety of online ways. They often email me their work. Our students can access and research information online. In the last three years our school has adopted SEQTA as a program for everything from completing the role, to writing reports (10 comments required) and behaviour management notes. My curriculum is no longer printed, but online. All great innovations, but continual upskilling of teachers required. Our First Aid training and Compliance training all have modules to be completed online.

As a teacher I am working in a time when I have to be willing to jump in and learn things with my students. I need to be willing to make mistakes and not get it right (Growth Mindset challenges) and have some of my students teach me! Just recently I decided we would create Stop Motion videos of the ‘Patriarch Era’ in the Bible. Drew Roberts told me which app to download on my iphone, I borrowed his camera stand, and lots of LEGO from the Library. We broke into groups and I asked them to create sets and record a small scene from a Patriarch’s life. I suggested they could show moving an arm or a head. One of my students, Poppy, got very excited as she has made these movies at home before. Another student, Charlotte, brought heaps of LEGO from home and now we have four amazing movies we are going to edit ready for the end of Term 2 assembly. They are excited about their learning and really engaged.

We have also been creating Kahoot quizzes. The students have been reading short stories and articles in pairs and creating quizzes using this app with them. We, as a class, then read the articles and play the quiz. We then have a positive and negative feedback session on each quiz. English skills galore, but don’t tell the students, they’re just having fun. And maybe, so am I!

So, I will still argue for outside time, hands on learning, daydreaming and lots of person to person engagement, but, I will keep learning, growing, failing at times, and experimenting with my students.

Annie Joy - Primary Coordinatior

The next education revolution

Are we ready for the next education revolution?

For those that know me well, I am far from an academic. However, I love learning new skills and believe that being a lifelong learner is a key ingredient to achieving success in whatever field you decide to follow. A topic of conversation that Mr Scott Winkler and I discussed earlier last week was, “what does a successful Year 6 Emmanuel student look like? Or What does a successful Year 10 Emmanuel student look like?” 


There is no denying that our world is changing, the landscape has shifted and we are headed toward the fourth industrial revolution. A long standing assumption of our school system is that we need to prepare young people for a full and rewarding future. However, how do we really prepare our students for a future that is unknown? The image to the left depicts how quickly the value of certain skills can change. In the past 50 years, our education system has managed to more or less keep pace with societal change. Our educational philosophy of focussing on the three R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic have been sufficient. We haven’t seen nor needed any radical changes in our education system.

Last week I also came across a paper, Towards Education 3.0 - The changing Goalposts for Education. The beginning of this paper discussed that within the next 20 years, society will witness unprecedented levels of disturbance and change. These changes will not be disciplinary specific but in fact, will affect all areas of schooling and that a fundamental rethink will be required for our education system.


Skills that were vital in the past may not be so important for the future. The following graphic depicts the rise and decline in percentages of people working within roles with specific skill types.

  • Routine Manual - This skill type is characterised by manufacturing and assembly-line type jobs.

  • Routine Cognitive - This skill type is defined by roles such as, bookkeeping, accountancy or paralegal work. Both of these skill forms are slowly being automated through computing and robotics. Artificial Intelligence will see these forms of work steadily decline and eventually disappear as a job option for our future school leavers. 

  • Non-Routine Manual - This skill set is made up of technically unskilled workers undertaking jobs such as waitressing and the Hospitality industry. Although these roles are susceptible to automation, they are less easily replicated by computers and robotics as they are based on effective people skills and therefore they will continue to flourish and be valued in our modern society. 

  • Non-Routine Cognitive - The unknown….. People entering these jobs will typically require high levels of complex problem solving, creativity, entrepreneurship and resilience. They will need to have the ability to adapt to changes rapidly, learn quickly and embrace uncertainty. These skills, are almost impossible for robots to emulate and will remain the least affected by Industrial revolution 4.0.

There will be many doubters who will dispel this article as a doomsday scenario but history shows us that technological-driven disruption creates large job losses in some occupations. As educators, it is our responsibility to change the way we think about learning. Our school system needs to focus more on ‘the way’ we learn not on ‘what’ we learn. If we are really preparing students for an uncertain future, there needs to be less focus on what we think children need to learn and more on equipping them to become effective learners, capable of coping with uncertainty.

For the senior staff at Emmanuel Christian School, we need to consider what our teachers should be doing to support and further develop these capabilities in our students. Thankfully, we are already seeing many of our teachers enabling students with these exact opportunities. Our early childhood teachers engage students in the newly installed mud kitchen and bush kinder experiences, allowing students to develop creativity. These coming holidays, ten students have signed up for a three day Robotics Camp that is running in preparation for the upcoming Robocup Jnr. competitions, developing complex problem solving. Next term our Primary drama production will begin preparation with many of these complex skills being developed in our students.  Our senior students are also engaging in a new hands-on learning program where students will be creating a space that will include a wood fired pizza oven and meeting area.

Each of these opportunities is giving students a chance to think about the ‘why’ rather than just ‘what’ when it comes to their learning. It's a daunting, yet exciting time for education and it will be fascinating to see how we continue to refine our practice.


Drew Roberts - Deputy Principal