DE News 2017 T4 W01

Published on: Author: Greg Alchin

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

AADES Newsletter

AADES (Australasian Association of Distance Education Schools) has recently launched a new website which regularly publishes stories from distance education schools in our region of the world.

Please subscribe to the site (for free) to be updated via email when new articles are published.

AADES webinar

The next AADES webinar is being conducted on 18th October at 1pm EST.

This webinar will be led by Lauren Smith the Head of Department of the AADES project award winning Alternative Learning Space (ALS).

The Alternative Learning Space – A holistic approach to doing school differently

Capricornia School of Distance Education adopts a holistic approach to the educational requirements of students within the Alternative Learning Space, taking the multiple issues into account when developing the individual educational program for each student. The school and the locations of the sites currently utilise a Guidance Officer daily for mental health, social and emotional support as well as career counselling. In addition to the support of the Guidance Officer, the Alternative Learning Space team liaises frequently with other youth support services in the area to provide the complex case management required for the success of these students.

Session info:

The aim of ALS is to assist disengaged youth to overcome challenges and assist them to reengage in making positive choices to become contributing members of society.

Session will unpack:

  • The context
  • Community Partnerships
  • Programs used
  • How ALS runs
  • Target students
  • Student engagement strategies and data

The following link will allow access to the session via Blackboard Collaborate.To invite unregistered guests to this session AADES Webinar – Alternative Learning Space, use the following link:

The session WILL be recorded.


Access Program News

Recognition of outstanding work

Mel Rees, Lachlan Access Program Head Teacher, is being awarded a Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching 2017, in recognition of the impact her leadership and work is having in the Lachlan Access Program Schools, and indeed across the state in access.

We are proud of Mel and congratulate her. With many nominations received, being selected to receive this prestigious award is a significant achievement recognising the outstanding contributions to schools.

Mel was presented with her award at a ceremony conducted on Wednesday 13 September. The Honorable Rob Stokes MP, NSW for Education and Mark Scott AO, Secretary of NSW Department of Education, presented the awards.

Congratulations again to Mel on receiving the 2017 Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

DE School News

DE Leaders at work

DE Leaders meeting

The DE Leaders met in Ballina last term in week 9 for their regular leaders meeting. The agenda covered items such as:

  • Report from Rural and Distance Education team, included;  Standards Practices in DE Schools, DE procedures, DE networks, Juvenile Justice and mEsh
  • Teacher Accreditation
  • Supporting Early Careers Teachers in gaining accreditation
  • DE Schools initiative sharing
  • DE Professional learning policies, and
  • Students at Risk.

Debbie Murray, Sharon Hodgson and Tiff Cox enjoying a catch up over dinner.

The Principals and Deputy Principals also met for a session to discuss matters that were specific to their roles and contexts with RDE staff attending the sessions that related to them.

Next year’s first term meeting will be held at Dubbo School of Distance Education. Our thanks in advance to Debbie Murray, DSODE school principal, who will coordinate and host the meeting.

A huge thank you to Greg Armstrong, relieving Principal Southern Cross School of Distance Education, who organised a great few days, including enjoyable and delicious evening meals in Ballina.

Southern Cross School of Distance Education welcomes their new Principal Danny Henman

  Danny has a long career working in rural schools and now takes up the position of Principal at SCSoDE.

Danny started teaching PDHPE at Warren Central School in 1996 to 1998.  From there he moved to Dungog High School as a PE teacher in 1999 where he taught for 5 years.  In 2004 Danny took up a Head teacher Secondary Studies position at Walget Community College, then in 2007 took another Head Teacher Secondary studies position at Braidwood.

The following year Danny started at Boggabilla Central School as the Deputy Princpal. During this period he relieved as the Principal at Mungindi Central School before taking up the Deputy Principal position at Quirindi High School in 2010.  From here Danny relieved as the Principal at Wee Waa high School before picking up a substantive Principal position in Coolamon in 2013.

In 2015 Danny became the Principal of Ballina High School where he led the school through the changes to amalgamate with Southern Cross to become Ballina Coast High School. Danny now joins the school as their first ever substantive distance education Principal.

Welcome Danny to the wonderful world of SCSoDE.

Onward to autonomy!

Greg Armstrong farewells distance education

Greg Armstrong, relieving Principal Southern Cross School Distance Education, is on the move to Ballina Coast High School as Deputy Principal from the first day of next term.

Greg has worked at SCSDE for nearly eighteen years; fifteen as Head Teacher Languages teaching Japanese/Chinese, and the last three as Deputy Principal and relieving Principal. Greg states this has been one of the most rewarding experiences for him in his 31-year career in NSW Public Education:

“I have been very proud to teach and lead in Southern Cross School Distance Education and I am very proud of the teaching and non-teaching staff I work with because I know how dedicated they all are to ensuring our students receive a holistic, individualised and flexible education. They are compassionate and caring and understand the complexity of learning via distance   education. Their passion for their work with you inspires me as well.

What I have enjoyed most is the fact that we are the equity provider for education in NSW with students being the centre of everything we do and every decision we make. SCSDE provides a very wide curriculum and we are continually updating curriculum provision, how we de-liver it, and better ways to teach and learn. We also have a very wide range of students and whilst we have high expectations for all, Engagement and Wellbeing are seen as interrelated and vital for   everyone. This make the professional life for all of us very exciting.

My favourite days are when I am able to meet our students when they visit Ballina, when I can visit them in their homes and at centres, and when we meet in mini schools, on excursions, in schools, and especially at the HSC lunches and end of year presentations. I am going to miss these occasions very much. “

Southern Cross staff have farewelled Greg letting him know that they are very grateful for his leadership these past years, but even more important than that, is the legacy in which he leave them with. Greg instilled in them, to always strive for our best in all we do. Greg encouraged them to work as a team, to always make the students at the centre.  Greg’s sense of humour and entertaining addresses to the staff kept them inspired. Greg is a true gentleman and personifies humbleness in his everyday dealings with staff. He was approachable at all times and at times the “wind beneath our wings”.

All Southern Cross School Distance Education staff wish Greg the best for his move and know that the Ballina Coast High School community, students and staff are being blessed with an amazing leader and a true gentleman.

The RDE team also wishes Greg the very best in his new role and know that he will take the wonderful personal and professional skills he has into his new role.


Abby Honeysett and Jan Schorn

School of the Air, Broken Hill – Pooncarie ‘Bush School’ Preschool Day

The concept of bush school was introduced to our preschool teachers Jan Schorn and Abby-Lee Honeysett by John Brotchie Nursery School, who in conjunction with other distance education preschools in the area form a collaborative preschool network.

Bush school was established to engage children in largely unstructured and unhurried nature play sessions that are creative, hands on, experiential and child directed.

Using the environment as the classroom

As Jan and Abby-Lee were flying to Pooncarie for the preschool day their resources were limited and bush school was the perfect solution. The children were given the opportunity to explore their natural world through play and participate in activities using natural objects they had collected. These included a nature walk to explore their surroundings, threading leaves to make necklaces, hammering and nailing objects, sorting natural objects according to their size and a group guessing game using a nature sensory bag with some of the objects the children collected.

The bush school was a success and has inspired a love for the natural world not only in the DE preschool children but SOTA’s preschool teachers as well. Planning for the next bush school has begun and the ideas are flooding in from the children, their families and our teachers.

Sydney DE High School News

In this edition of SDEHS September newsletter you will read articles about:

  • Enriching student learning through experience
  • Secondary Deputy Principals Conference
  • Student congratulations
  • Teacher visit to Rivendell High School
  • Year 11 Biology Excursion, and
  • Fancy Dress and Film Day

Southern Cross School of Distance Education News

This edition of Southern Cross SODE newsletter includes articles about:

  • DE Leaders meeting photos
  • Wellbeing, and
  • Learning Innovation at Jubullum Local Aboriginal Lands Council joint project

This is the last newsletter that relieving principal, Greg Armstrong will be sharing with us. Greg has been appointed Deputy Principal at Ballina Coast HS and takes on his from this week.  We thank Greg for sharing the newsletter and the many interesting projects in which the staff and students have been engaged.

DE Network News

New network – HALT

A new DE Collegial network, endorsed by the DE Leaders, has been created by a team of distance education executive teachers to support each other in their work. They have created the network’s charter and actions listed below.

As the DE HALT network, we will:

  • share our expertise to develop ourselves and others in the standards for Highly Accomplished and Lead
  • work with Distance Education teachers in developing, encouraging and coaching them to become accredited, and
  • advocate for, and celebrate success within Distance Education and our profession.

Please contact the HALT DE Collegial Network Coordinator, Sueanne Matthews, for further information. Sueanne can be contacted at Karabar DEC (Finigan School of Distance Education) on 02 6210 5200 and

DE Outreach Network

A meeting will be conducted at Sydney DEHS on 16 and 17 September for the Outreach network members to meet to share the way in which their Outreach Cetres operate, discuss resources that can be shared and need creating, address issues being experienced and develop a greater shared understanding of the processes and structures rregarding Outreach across the various DE schools.

Shane Williams, Network Coordinator who is based at Camden Haven School is coordinating this meeting. For further information please contact Shane on 02 6556 8100.

Distance Education Geography Teachers Network Conference, 2017

On October 19 and 20 the DE Geography network members are meeting at Southern Cross School of Distance Education. Agenda items include; Officila handover to new network coordinator, Landscapes and Landforms, Camden Haven Resources, Dubbo Resources, How to embed practical skils into units of work, How to build a stronger network and a networking session.

Please contact Tiff Cox for more information. Tiff can be contacted at Southern Cross SODE on 02 6681 0300.

Senior Geography Teacher Conference

The Geography Teachers Association of NSW is conducting a conference on Monday 6 November from 8:30am-3:30pm at Federation Conference Centre in Surray Hills.

For information please read the conference flyer.

Twitter iconTwitterspheric professional learning

Twitter is a quick and easy tool for participating in and/ or building a Professional Learning Network. To learn more about using twitter for professional learning, download the The Global Digital Citizen Foundation’s Twitter-Tastic Teacher’s Guide.  Below are some of Twitter feeds we hope you find worthwhile!  Why not tweet us about what other networks you would like us to highlight!

International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

International Society for Technology in Education


Universal design for Learning

Common Sense Education


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