First day of Term 1 2023!

Welcome back to 2023 and a brand-new school year. I hope you all had a fabulous break and enjoyed a restful time with family and friends in the sunshine.

It was brilliant to be able to greet all the High School students at the gate on their first day this week – great to catch up with students from last year and to meet our newest recruits. We were very pleased to welcome many new students on day 1, including two who enrolled only the day before! The High School students enjoyed the usual warm Carmel welcome, including a spectacular photographic session at the front gate as they arrived. New Kindergarten students were welcomed over two days as they started their Carmel journey, as were those in other year groups.

Although the students are generally largely unaware of it, for quite some time before they return each year, lots of preparation goes on behind the scenes. You may have noticed the professional new signage on both campuses, proudly announcing who we are and what we stand for. The Carmel School crest and our motto, ‘Faith and Knowledge’, are things which we are pleased to display. Not only do they reflect our pride in the School, but hopefully the signs will help the numerous visitors who aren’t actually sure where the High School and Primary School are located and who often turn up in the wrong place. Less visible than the signage but no less important, are the time and thought that teachers have put into planning learning experiences to motivate and engage our young people, setting up their classrooms and working collaboratively to ensure that 2023 promises to be an exciting year.

We have made some tweaks to the High School uniform in our bid to increase pride and respect in the School, too. One earring in the lower lobe, the skirt or dress to reach the knee when standing and a school kippa for boys, plus no puffer jackets in winter are the main changes with which we are grateful for your support. Those students who want to, can remain cosy and warm during the Perth winter in a school jumper and blazer, together with a thermal underneath if they really feel the cold as I do.

Last year’s Year 12 students’ results definitely made us proud, and we have discussed and celebrated their results at length. These sorts of achievements involve significant effort on the part of both students and teachers and we thank and congratulate all concerned.

You probably won’t have missed the discussion that is currently taking place regarding the artificial intelligence language processing tool ‘ChatGPT’. The fact that the WA Department of Education has now banned it, must surely make it an exciting prospect for students to find out more! As a staff we have been investigating its uses – how we may be able to use it as a time saving tool and how we can teach students to use it effectively as a learning tool. I recall when computers first became popularly available and there were concerns that teachers would be unnecessary in future schools, but it seems an unlikely prospect. The vast majority of students learn because of the human, working relationships they build with teachers and this won’t change. It’s why teachers are so important.

If you haven’t yet had a play, it is worth half an hour of your time. It’s free, takes only a couple of minutes to sign up (just Google ‘Open ChatGPT’ and make up a password) and is quite fun, even if you don’t generally like that sort of thing. Examples of the types of things I’ve put in include:

* Write a speech for the Principal of a Modern Orthodox Jewish School farewelling their Year 12 students at the end of the academic year
* Write an email to the CEO of AISWA outlining why you plan to educate students about ChatGPT rather than ban it. (I sent the AI answer to him in response to a recent email to all Principals!)
* Create a lesson plan to help Year 9 students struggling with the concept of photosynthesis

The artificially generated answers weren’t perfect, but for people who don’t like starting with a blank page in front of them, they’re a good starting place. I can see how there are all sorts of questions that students struggling with a particular topic could enter if they want some extra help and this extra support can only be a good thing.

We’re really looking forward to 2023. If you’d like to read more about our strategic focus for the year click here.

Julie Harris