Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,
As we move towards closing out this academic year I am sending this letter to you with details of adjustments we have made to our operations and practices coming into effect from August 2020.
1) Based on ongoing feedback from our Years 10-13 parents/guardians about the quality of report cards for these year levels we have made a number of changes for next academic year. We will be moving these reports onto SMART – Datahub. We will formally report an Overall Grade to you twice per year, at the end of Term 1 and at the end of Term 3. The Overall Grade will be based on all assessments done during the reporting period. For students this will mean emphasising that all assessments are equally important. This will also mean that stress around individual assessments for reporting purposes will be minimised. For parents/guardians this will mean receiving clear feedback twice per year on how your child is doing overall. Reporting done and systematised in this way will also enable us to more easily generate academic transcripts for students.
2) Feedback from parents/guardians around the quality of report cards also highlighted concern about the limited opportunity for parents/guardians to meet with teachers. From next academic year we will increase the number of opportunities for parent/teacher conferences. We will offer both face-to-face and online opportunities for conferencing throughout the year.
3) The structure of the school day has been extensively discussed this year looking at the length of lessons, length and timing of break-times and the length of transitions. At our March School Council meeting the following was approved for next academic year:
- The length of each lesson will be 60 minutes, changed from 63 minutes. 63 minute lessons became 60 minutes in practice but led to students being dismissed at a variety of times and they found it confusing.
- There is a standard 5 minutes given between lessons for movement time, changed from 4 minutes. Five minute blocks make it easier for students to manage their time in getting to lessons punctually.
- Morning break has been changed from 25 minutes to 35 minutes. Virtually all students are eating their main meal at this time so more time is needed for students to be able to get their food and have sufficient time to eat it.
- Second break has now been moved from 12:18 to 13:25. Most students use second break for activities. Teachers report tired students in the afternoon with less productive learning time for these two periods currently. Moving second break allows there to be two lessons then a break, a further two lessons then a break, and then one lesson in the afternoon.
We will monitor these changes over the course of next academic year. With start and finish time remaining unchanged and with instruction time remaining similar, we can continue to adjust our daily schedule for the benefit of our students.
4) With the shift to a two lessons followed by a break approach, the Wednesday schedule now looks different for next academic year. As you know there are four periods of instruction on Wednesdays to allow for teacher collaboration time. We will continue with four periods of instruction however there will be only one breaktime on this day. This means that students will finish classes at 1:30pm on Wednesdays. This will hopefully benefit students who undertake out of school activities. It will also allow us to use the time from 2pm – 3:20pm to make up instruction time with our Years 11 and 13 students as needed over the course of next year, as well as continue to use the time for teacher collaboration.
An overview of the new structure with timings is below for your easy reference.
Academic Year 2020-2021
5) As you know from previous communications international CAS Week trips have been cancelled for the 2020 – 2021 academic year. We have moved CAS Week to the week beginning Nov 16th. We have kept this week on the calendar currently and we will decide when we return in August whether or not to run Hong Kong based CAS Week activities for some year levels.
6) I am attaching the 2020 – 2021 College Calendar for your reference. As is our usual practice we will have three days of induction for students commencing Aug 12th. Ms Lorna Gomes will be sending all families registration and induction information in due course. We have aligned our calendar with SJS for the convenience of our families. Please note that we have scheduled February 5th as an online learning day to enable us to continue to develop the student skill set in a working-from-home context. You can expect to hear more on this next academic year.
7) From August we will be adopting the ESF App as part of a modernisation of our communications systems. The app has been piloted in three ESF schools over the past six months and is currently in use by 4000 ESF parents with very positive engagement and feedback. With the Sha Tin College roll-out of the ESF App parents/guardians will have single sign-on to our platforms, access to their children’s timetable, teacher contacts, calendar information, the ability to send us absence notices, parent/teacher conferencing booking, and general school news. We will be sending further information about this early in the new academic year.
8) Effective Aug 2020 we will be introducing an ePayment system. The ePayment system supports PPS, PayPal and Credit Card via PayPal payment methods. Our system will auto-generate a receipt under your child’s statement screen on Gateway once payments have been made. I am attaching an ESF Payment System Parent Guide for your reference.
As you can see from the above we have been working hard this year to continue to develop and refine our systems and practices. We look forward to ongoing dialogue and will solicit feedback on these developments as we go through next academic year.