Deputy Head of College

Deputy Head of College

Professional Learning – Guula Ngurra National Park

The school year commenced with a staff professional learning day on country at Guula Ngurra National Park, where we learnt about Aboriginal culture and the land from our local Indigenous community. The day was an important step in our commitment to building connections with our Gundungurra elders and the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan. We are looking forward to bringing students to Guula Ngurra later this year, with the opportunity to assist in tree planting work, and to learn from and with our Indigenous community.

Academic Excellence Assembly

We have introduced a new tradition at Oxley this year, with our Academic Excellence Assembly, to celebrate the achievements of our 2023 HSC cohort. We invited back to the College our Dux, Proxime Accessit, students who achieved an ATAR of over 90, plus those who received nominations for special State-based Awards, including ArtExpress, Shape, Encore, Callback and OnSTAGE. Our special guest speaker was the Dux of 2019, Skye Holmwood, who was in Year 12 when our current Year 12s were in Year 7.  Skye achieved a remarkable ATAR of 99.75. After graduating from Oxley and a COVID-affected gap year in England, Skye has been studying for her Bachelor of Philosophy degree in Neuroscience and Chemistry at the Australian National University in Canberra. Skye spoke engagingly to the school about her experiences and shared some advice for our current students, including the importance of balance, continuing co-curricular passions in the senior years, regular study and “working your best, rather than working your hardest”.  In 2028, it will be the turn of our Dux of 2023, Leah Halstead, to speak at the assembly – when our current Year 8s (Year 7 2023) will be in Year 12.

Generative AI: Embracing the Challenge

“Students today depend on paper too much. They don’t know how to write on a slate without getting chalk on themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?” – purportedly from a school principal’s publication, 1815

Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in this country.” – from ‘Federal Teachers’, USA, 1950 1

Technological change has always caused significant challenges in education. Indeed, when some state education system systems rush to ban a new learning tool, it is fair sign that it must be pretty good.

Barely a week goes by without a media outlet claiming that Generative AI (Gen AI) could spell the end of a profession; teaching among them. Gen AI systems like ChatGPT have acted as a wrecking ball to long established, evidence-based assessment practices and have the capacity to render traditional academic integrity policies instantly obsolete.

The role of Gen AI in education is a fascinating and evolving field of study that is already indicating its immense value as a learning tool. It is not simply that schools need to adapt to this changed paradigm; ultimately, they will need to embrace the opportunities it brings. As a school, our vision is one of a dynamic learning community and I would argue that two of our core values – to show courage and to seek wisdom – compel us, as educators, to adopt, adapt to and embrace this technology. Doing this requires a considered and strategic approach in which teachers, students and parents are upskilled to use these technologies safely, ethically and productively. The inevitable lack of an evidence-base, due to the newness of the technology, provides an additional challenge.

At Oxley we established an AI Committee of staff in 2023, led by the Head of Learning Technologies, Mr Jonathan Adams, to explore how we can incorporate Gen AI into our policies, propose a Gen AI strategy and promote best practice. Before the arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022, we adults were already immigrants to the digital world inhabited by our children; this is now the case in terms of Generative AI, too. As educators, parents and carers, we have a responsibility to our young people to adapt to this new paradigm.

1 Adapted from Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, A.Collins & R.Halverson (2009). The veracity of the 1815 quotation is contested.

Traffic Management Plan 2024

Whilst it is not the Rozelle Interchange, Oxley nevertheless faces significant and unique challenges when it comes to traffic management. There is one road into the College and one road out, and we are not permitted to use surrounding roads for drop/off pick up. This situation is exacerbated by inadequate walking and cycling infrastructure on our local roads, including no pedestrian crossings on Moss Vale Road, Eridge Park Road or even on Railway Road at Burradoo Station. In 2024 we are actively engaged with both local and state governments to push for infrastructure improvements in and around Burradoo to address this.

The gridlock at pick up time in recent years has caused significant frustration to parents/carers queuing to pick up their children, as well as local residents who periodically are unable to access their property, or they experience cars illegally parked on their verges. It has also caused disruption to the school bus network, with regular delays at Oxley impacting other schools and those with connecting buses elsewhere.

The new Traffic Management Plan this year, including a radical change to after school pick up arrangements, is the result of many months of modelling and preparation. Staggered pick up times in the Junior School, no waiting in pick up bays and asking families to pick up their children together at the same time and location (rather than going to the Junior and then the Senior School pick up zones) has meant that, after less than a week of operation, there is now no traffic queue on Railway Road. I am grateful to all parents and carers for their support of this change – for adjusting family routines and being willing to follow our new protocols – it has meant a much safer and more efficient pick up experience at the end of the school day. Around 30% of students now catch the bus home each day – which is good for our neighbours and great for the environment. We still have work to do in this area, especially regarding the limited availability of parking onsite.

For more information regarding the new Traffic Management Plan you can watch the video or read the Fact sheet:

Many thanks

Mr Mark Case
Deputy Head College