Blog from August, 2020

Dear VCE Unit 3&4, VCAL & VET Students, staff, parents and carers

Today we received confirmation from the VCAA that schools can conduct on-site assessments for VCE Unit 3&4, VCAL & VET students.

'The VCAA confirms that the Stay at Home Directions  (the Directions) across Victoria enable:

• students to leave their premises to undertake essential VCE and VCAL assessments onsite, 
• a school or other educational facility or institution to operate for the purposes of providing those services to those students, where it is ‘not reasonably practicable for those assessment to be undertaken’ from the student’s home, and
• education staff can leave their premises to undertake support for the delivery of mandatory VCE and VCAL assessments onsite.'

The definition for Essential Assessments listed in the Directions, or what was referred to as Mandatory Assessments in the Operations Guide for DET schools, includes:
• for Unit 3 and 4 VCE and VCAL students, essential assessments include all School-based Assessments (School-assessed Coursework and School-assessed Tasks) for all studies and VCAL strands. This includes these VCE and VCAL essential assessments delivered at a school or other educational facility or institution. For VET programs, undertaken as part of VCE or VCAL, including VCE VET, essential assessments include any units of competency that require access to facilities, resources, equipment or materials for practical assessments that are unable to be conducted via remote learning.

Our school will follow all COVID-19 related Health directions and Department of Education and Training guidelines, as well as the Specific controls for Essential Assessments for VCE and VCAL advice approved by the Department of Health and Human Services. At Princes Hill we will better the physical distancing requirements by at least 50%, along with meeting or exceeding the expectations in relation to documenting seating arrangements; sanitising; mask wearing; cleaning; temperature checking and distributed access points.

Students will know if their assessment will occur on-site when advised by their teacher, confirmed by a Compass Event that will detail the entry point, room and arrangements for their assessment. On-site SACs this week include Maths Methods (Wednesday afternoon)  and Physics (Friday). Specific details and times will be confirmed via the Compass Event. Some assessments will continue to operate remotely where deemed appropriate.

Of course, students must observe all public health measures consistent with Stage 4 restrictions whilst travelling to and from the school, and at all times whilst on site. More information on this will be provided through the Compass Event and News Feed.

Specific information about the conduct of on-site SATs, rehearsals, performance and practical VET assessments will be provided during the week.

Thank you for your patience as we have sought clarification and worked through the challenges presented by on-site and remote assessment respectively.

Best regards

Trevor Smith and Dani Crew

Dear senior students,

Invariably, we find that August is a challenging time for senior students, especially in Year 12. It can be hard to maintain focus, motivation and momentum. The winter weather, a build up of assessments and an awareness that exams are still a way off ( but nonetheless getting closer) are all significant hurdles to overcome in the final year of secondary school.  Clearly, this year the hurdles are a little higher and the race a little longer!  Take confidence from knowing that Princes Hill students make it through these challenges to the finish line and perform tremendously well.  We have been impressed by how well you have so far navigated the uncertainty and unpredictability of life and study in a global pandemic, school closure, lock-down and Stage 4 restrictions.  This is a testament to your strength, resilience and ability to adapt. Thank you too, for your continuing support and care for each other. 

Remote Assessments

During Stage 4 restrictions all Year 11 and VCAL assessments will occur remotely unless otherwise advised.  Some Year 12 assessments will be conducted remotely, others will be held on-site. 

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) has advised schools on the delivery of remote assessments and our processes reflect this advice. Having trialled remote assessments last week, we have further developed and documented our remote assessment processes and expectations. These will be shared with senior school students through the wiki.

Year 12 On-site Assessments

The Chief Health Officer and the Department of Education have reiterated that schools remain safe places for students to be. We are committed to ensuring the integrity and authenticity of our school-based assessments. Consequently, some assessments will be held on-site. There has however, been a delay whilst the Department of Education works with the Department of Health to clarify the appropriate control measures for onsite attendance for assessments. We have been advised this morning that this advice is imminent.

Our aim is to minimise any disruption to the Year 12 curriculum program resulting from on-site assessments.  Therefore, some SACs will need to be scheduled after normal school hours. We are also awaiting clarification of how student attendance for Year 12 SATs (mandatory practical assessment tasks in some Arts subjects) will be managed. 

Students are permitted to travel to school and attend for onsite assessments but must take care to ensure they wear face coverings when out, keep physically distanced and do not gather in groups of more than two. Teachers will be granted permitted worker status to attend on-site where necessary. 

Specific information about forthcoming individual subject assessments (i.e. if remote or on-site) will be provided by the senior school team and your class teacher.

Authentication and Assessment

It is important to note that for all VCE Unit Outcomes it is vital that teachers are able to authenticate student work. Students are required to declare the authenticity of their work. It is advised that students date and keep all drafts, notes, plans, classwork, revision notes etc. These can be shown to teachers to help authenticate student work when we’re back at school. Students are encouraged to keep all work and not to throw out anything that could be used as evidence of learning. 

Importantly, VCE students are reminded of their obligation to follow VCAA and school rules regarding school-based assessments under test conditions. 'A student undertaking assessment under test conditions as part of School-based Assessment in Units 1 to 4 must comply with VCAA examination rules.' - VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook 2020, VCAA. For rules for assessments please refer to VCE Student Guidelines for Remote Assessment. If any part or all of the work cannot be authenticated it will be considered a potential breach of VCAA rules and will be investigated. The work will need to be repeated once on-site.

For detailed information on Remote Learning for the Senior School please use this link. 

As new information comes to hand, we will update you.

Best regards

Trevor Smith & Dani Crew

Dear students, staff, parents and carers

Thank you for your understanding as we seek to clarify and develop effective approaches to VCE assessment whether it be remotely or on-site.

On Tuesday we communicated that on site SACs are still possible for Year 12 subjects and are an approved exception to Stage 4 restrictions, i.e. 'onsite attendance (is) permitted for completion of mandatory assessments by students and staff'. This attendance is subject to the operation of the school's specific Covid-19 Safety Plan and staff being designated as permitted workers.

However, the Department of Education nor the VCAA have yet provided updated advice to schools in this regard. Therefore, we will not conduct SACs on-site until this is clarified. We also outlined on Tuesday that where SACs can be satisfactorily conducted and authenticated that these will be completed remotely.

For tomorrow, Friday 7 August we can confirm that English Language and Literature SACs will proceed remotely. However, the Further Maths SAC will be deferred to a date and time to be confirmed. Details of conditions for the conduct of remote SACs will be provided by the Senior School team and your class teacher.

We are aiming to complete assessments as scheduled where reasonably possible. Therefore, both Year 11 and 12 students should continue to thoroughly prepare for SACs as currently scheduled. 

As further advice comes to hand about VCE assessments we will bring it to you.

Kind regards

Trevor Smith & Dani Crew

Dear students, staff, parents and carers

Following the unexpected school closure for the last two weeks of July, to reopen for just one day, and now turning again to remote learning,  there are inevitable and understandable questions about how assessment will occur for senior students, especially those in year 12. With a back log of assessments due to the school closure we are all keen to proceed as soon as reasonably possible with scheduled SACs.

We are all getting accustomed to uncertainty and rapid changes in direction. Whilst it is not yet precisely clear what the advice will be from the VCAA about how schools will proceed with assessments for Unit 4, we understand that the VCAA will provide guidance on this matter very soon.

The government has announced the following education sector, industry specific specific obligations. That  'onsite attendance (is) permitted for completion of mandatory assessments by students and staff'.  This recognises that appropriate authentication of some assessments can only reasonably occur on site. A specific Covid-19 Safety Plan is understood to be required.

Therefore, we expect to conduct most Year 12 SACs onsite, allowing time for students to safely travel to and from school, and to avoid impinging on class learning time for other subjects.

We are intending that all Year 11 assessments will occur remotely under specific conditions to be advised.

This year we implemented a new approach on our wiki and via Compass to the scheduling and communication of assessments. Our aim has been to provide greater oversight, clarity and balance in the timing and calendaring of SACs. It remains our preference to maintain the existing schedule of SACs as closely as is reasonably possible.

Therefore, we expect the  following Year 12 SACs scheduled for this week to go ahead on-site unless we advise otherwise

i.e. English Language, Literature, Further Maths. 

Theatre Studies and Italian SACs will occur remotely.

Students should continue to prepare for these assessments.

However, please understand that we are obliged to wait for the updated Department Operations Guide - expected today - before proceeding with any on-site SAC arrangements.

As soon as we have further concrete advice we will provide it.

Please also be aware that the GAT has been moved to Wednesday October 7 and is anticipated to play a more significant role in moderating student internal assessments than in previous years. Consequently, our Senior School Team is planning additional preparation sessions to ensure students are familiar with the GAT format.

Best regards

Trevor Smith & Dani Crew

Dear students, parents and carers, and staff

The Premier announced this afternoon that we move to Stage 4 restrictions from 6 pm tonight.

Recently, I have frequently been reminded of the maxim to take one day at a time. I will be as succinct as possible, acknowledging that there will be many questions. However, many of these will need to wait for further information and clarification. As the Premier said this afternoon, 'The whole way through this, I promised to be upfront. So I’ll say this now. This will be imperfect. And for a little while, there’ll be more questions than answers. It’s why I’m asking something else of Victorians – please be calm, please be kind, please be patient.

Tomorrow - Monday August 3

  • Year 11 &12 classes (as advised yesterday) will be held on-site and the school is open. I encourage senior students to ensure they attend for this last opportunity to catch up with their teachers in person for 6 weeks
  • Remote learning continues tomorrow for students in Years 7-10
  • The onsite supervision program for students in Years 7-10 will operate tomorrow as communicated yesterday
  • Close contacts of the confirmed case have completed their quarantine period and can attend and no close contact has tested positive
  • Face coverings must be worn by students and staff.  Please see the specific advice for staff and for students here. Detailed information about the correct use of face coverings can be found here
  • All senior students must enter the building from the main entrance in Arnold St and maintain physical distancing whilst school staff conduct temperature checks

Tuesday August 4

  • This is a statewide pupil free day for staff to prepare for Remote Learning at Year 11&12
  • The school will be open on Tuesday August 4 for students and staff to collect books, prepare resources and important items for remote learning.

Wednesday August 5

  • At Princes Hill SC this is a day of parent teacher interviews for students in Years 10-12. This has been scheduled from the start of the year and will continue as planned via Zoom . Please refer to previous News Feed announcements. There will be no remote learning on this day.
  • There will be a limited onsite learning program during Stage 4 restrictions. Advice on how this will operate will be provided when received from the Department of Education.

Thursday August 6

  • Remote learning classes operate from this date for all students until at least September 13.

I anticipate that there will be further advice from the Department of Education later this evening that I will communicate to you tomorrow.

I'll finish this message with the words of the Premier,

'All the temporary sacrifices we make now – all the time missed with mates, those delayed visits to mum – those sacrifices will help keep our mates and our mums and our fellow Victorians safe. We can – we will – get through this.

Apart. But together.'

Take care and stay safe,

Trevor Smith


Dear students, parents and carers

I’m writing to update you about the situation at our school, after a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19).

I’d like to thank the entire school community at the outset for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.

This afternoon I was advised that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as the lead health agency, has completed its risk assessment and has confirmed the school can reopen from 1 August 2020 now that contact tracing and appropriate cleaning has completed. As such, I look forward to welcoming those students who are allowed to attend (detailed below), to school on Monday 3 August 2020.

When our school reopens, we will operate in line with the current advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer for schools in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire. The only students to attend on site are:

  • students in Years 11 and 12
  • students in Year 10 for VCE or VCAL classes
  • students who require on-site supervision – including children whose parents cannot work from home and where no other arrangements can be made, vulnerable children and children with a disability. Parents who wish their child to access this program where students participate in the remote learning program whilst supervised at school, should complete the form at this link and submit it to Anthony Avotins at as soon as possible or call him on 0475 961 023.

Students in Prep to Year 10 at government schools in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire will continue to learn from home until at least Wednesday 19 August.

Quarantine and Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions

As part of its investigation, DHHS has also identified people who have potentially come into close contact with the confirmed case who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). It provided direct and specific advice to these individuals and their families about quarantine and looking after themselves. If DHHS has not contacted you to advise that you or your child is a close contact of a coronavirus (COVID-19) case, you are not required to quarantine. Identified close contacts are reminded to ensure they have the 11 day (or more) covid-19 test as communicated by DHHS. 

The quarantine period for students and staff identified as close contacts has now expired and they are able to attend school from Monday.

All of us in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire remain under the Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions, with only four reasons to leave home:

  1. Shopping for food and essential items
  2. Care and care-giving
  3. Exercise
  4. Work and study, if it can’t be done at home.

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire you must wear a face covering if you need to leave home for one of the four reasons.

It is important that we all continue to follow the health advice from the experts for our own, and our children’s, health. If you or your child develops any symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath:

  • stay at home and do not attend school
  • seek medical advice – call ahead to alert your doctor about the confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) at the school and any symptoms before visiting, and take this communication with you
  • call the school to let us know

More information

More information regarding coronavirus and schools is available from the Department of Education and Training (DET) on the DET website or by contacting the DET coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 338 663, Monday to Friday during business hours. If you call them, please be clear that you are calling in relation to Princes Hill Secondary College and they will provide as much information as they can.

For school information in your language, call TIS National on 131 450. Please ask them to call the DET coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 338 663 and they will help interpret. For health advice in other languages visit

I also remind you to please respect the privacy of our student who tested positive to coronavirus (COVID-19). We pride ourselves on being a caring and supportive school community, and I thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

The school will continue to work closely with both DET and DHHS during this time. As we prepare to return, I am reassured by the observation that no further positive cases have been reported as part of the extensive tracing and testing procedures.

Further communication will follow tomorrow to clarify various arrangements for the reopening of the school and the return to on-site learning for Year 11 and 12 classes.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Smith