Volume 30 Issue 36 26 Nov 2021 22 Kislev 5782

From the Principal

Andrew Watt – Principal

“Like it or not, we live in interesting times”
Robert Kennedy 1966 

At the end of a tumultuous week, we can look back with gratitude at the support our community enjoyed throughout the School closure. Our staff provided calm and caring support for those students on campus until they were collected, then commenced their teaching online; our parents engaged swiftly in COVID testing, with many expressing their support of the School; our High School students switched seamlessly back into remote learning by 9.00 am, whilst our Primary students engaged with enthusiasm in the activities emailed home. This was a week we would rather not have endured, but we are glad to be back on campus today.

Our risk mitigation measures proved to be very effective, with no staff member and relatively few students identified as close contacts. The mandated mask wearing (Years 3-12), the effective ventilation measures, the cohorting, staggered start and finishes, online canteen order and delivery have proved to be of great value. Thank you to our medical Advisory Panel!

Has the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown impacted student performance?

Laureate Professor and educational expert, John Hattie recently delivered a paper on the impact of remote learning on student performance. He referred to a meta-analysis of seven European countries, based on more than 5 million students. The research revealed “small but important” effects on student achievement in Mathematics and native language, thus showing that remote learning is not optimal. I feel that we had already figured that out!

In gauging the Australian experience, Hattie highlighted the findings of a study in NSW that compared the performance of 1300 Year 3 – 4 students across 113 schools. Encouragingly, the research found no significant difference in results, between 2019 and 2020 in student achievement growth, across both mathematics and reading. Hattie noted that:

“These findings are a testament to the dedicated work of teachers during the 2020 pandemic to ensure that learning for most students was not compromised despite unusually trying circumstances.”

In terms of the lessons learned, Hattie’s key message was how school leaders, educators, students, and parents ‘rallied to meet the challenge head on’. He observed that ‘parents gained unprecedented insight into their children’s education and school, bringing potential benefits for years to come. New skills were acquired, and new pedagogical opportunities trialled’. He also observed more trimming of content coverage to allow for depth, and the fact that most assessments administered in-class did not apply… ‘new methods of evaluating the impact of teaching and the learning of students had to be invented.’

We remain committed to identifying (and remedying) any gaps in literacy and numeracy. Our focus for this year has been to consolidate foundational skills, knowledge and understanding.

We’re all in this together

This year has certainly been challenging and I have been overwhelmed by our community’s unwavering support for each other. The phrase “we are all in this together” truly exemplifies the Emanuel School spirit.

As we near the end of our Capital Appeal, it is more important than ever that we all support our fundraising efforts. Whether you can give $50, $100, $1000 or more, the most important thing is for everyone to contribute whatever they can afford. I am hoping that, by 9 December, every Emanuel family has committed to our children’s bright future.

On a separate note, please join us tonight for our very last Kabbalat Shabbat of the year – join here at 4.45 pm. Your child will be bringing home an extra special bright challah for your Shabbat table, along with some interesting conversation starters about the power of giving.

As we close off what has been a very difficult week and look towards lighting the Hanukkah candles, I wish you an especially bright Shabbat. I know that together we can create a bright future for our children, our School and our community.



A timely warning for parents: how well can your child swim?

A well-respected swim coach has expressed concern about the low level of basic (survival) swimming skills, especially amongst our younger students. The cancellation of the learn-to-swim and other skill development programs over the past two years will increase the risk of drownings and other aquatic incidents. Parents are encouraged to book in for swim lessons and to recognise the potential dangers, as they plan their water activities over the summer beak. This may also require increased vigilance around swimming pools and on the beach.

A call for your support: Hakoah Community Centre

Emanuel School is dedicated to nurturing the leaders of tomorrow and creating a vibrant Jewish life in Sydney. We are therefore proud to support the exciting new Hakoah communal hub. Hakoah at White City will be a world-class Jewish community centre that will have so much to offer. We’re talking sport facilities, function rooms, restaurants and cafes, educational spaces, music, art, culture, fitness, wellness and more.

Hakoah will once again be where many community organisations, including Emanuel, can meet and deliver programs. It will be where we celebrate simchas and cheer on our teams. But above all else, it will be a place where everyone is welcome and feels connected.

Before Hakoah can begin building this incredible facility, they need your help. They need over 2000 members by 30 November to show community support and get this project underway. They’re close, but they need YOU to get over the line. Please join us in supporting Hakoah and become a member today. Family Memberships start from $360 for 1 year.

Quote of the week

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”  ~ Helen Keller