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From the Deputy Principal – Teaching & Learning, Ms Lynsey Porter

Ms Lynsey Porter, Deputy Principal - Teaching & Learning

Ms Lynsey Porter, Deputy Principal - Teaching & Learning

Understanding Feedback and its Purpose

By the end of this Term, most students will have received feedback and results for at least one task in most of their subjects. It is really important that students use this feedback to reflect and consider the focus of their Term 2 2024 Academic SMART goals. Our Parent Teacher Student interviews at the start of Term 2 provide an opportune time for students to share and refine these goals with their teachers and parents/carers.  

How students respond to results and feedback is just as important as completing the task itself. Sometimes results meet expectations and sometimes students can experience a situation where they have found aspects of an assessment task challenging. Dr Carol Dweck’s seminal work on the Growth Mindset can really help parents/carers to support their children during these times.  

Ms Helen Barrie’s article below outlines some further information on this topic from a professional learning session that she attended last week.

Unlocking Student Potential Through Feedback

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

The process of drafting written work is a complex endeavour. In the drafting phase of an assessment, students value teacher feedback, in which teachers read drafted work and offer advice on how the student can improve their writing in preparation for formal submission. It is common to define feedback as any actions taken by a teacher or coach to provide individuals with information regarding some aspect of their performance. Yet as the demands of the academic year multiply, teachers and coaches must ask themselves, ‘how do I give feedback successfully so students will use it to improve their performance?’.  

Author/consultant James Nottingham, creator of The Learning Pit, argues that to successfully support students to review, apply and adapt meaningful feedback, students must focus on three questions to maximise their learning potential.

  1. What am I aiming to achieve by using this feedback?
  2. How much progress have I made so far?
  3. What should I do next to improve?

This last question is particularly important as it gives the student an opportunity to “look forward” and plan for their next steps to achieve their ultimate goal. 

In keeping with our focus at Waverley on unlocking student potential, the Head of Science, Ms Gemma Brown and I recently attended Organisational Psychologist, Professor Adam Grant’s Sydney event, complimenting the release of his book, Hidden Potential, which in its myriad of applications included educators and people responsible for unlocking the potential in students. When discussing optimal feedback to drive growth, he referred to Dr Carol Dweck’s work on adopting a growth mindset, encouraging learners to be aware of our reactive and ego-driven desires for a quick fix which short-circuits true learning, 

“Learning is more likely when students are reactive to feedback and growth oriented, and the sweet spot is when students are proactive and growth oriented. They consistently take the initiative to expand themselves and adapt,” he argues in his latest book, Hidden Potential.

Nottingham’s three questions are a great strategy for parents/carers to keep in mind when supporting their children to successfully use feedback to drive their growth. Psychologists suggest that procrastination may be a result of discomfort and anxiety related to a task. Yet, as Grant shows in a plethora of examples in his book, seeking out discomfort by reviewing and applying feedback can be a way to learn faster and more effectively.

Ref: Grant, A. (2023). Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things. London : WH Allen.

Da Vinci Triumph!

The preparation is paying off for our Year 9 Da Vinci Decathlon team who were awarded third place on Wednesday at the Sydney Regionals in the NSW Da Vinci Decathlon.

A team of dedicated scholars who demonstrate their aptitude across a range of disciplines in a series of short, complex challenges. Congratulations are in order for Alexander Avdalis, Carter Hughes, Henry Goodrich, Leo Owen, Hudson Campbell, Finley Cromer, Luke Ibrahim and Evan Service who finished,

  • 1st in Science
  • 2nd in Cartography
  • 3rd in Legacy
  • 3rd in Engineering
  • Equal 3rd in Code Breaking

Placing them overall in third place at the event!

Well deserved results by a dedicated team of all rounders and thank you to Ms Bleakley for escorting them and participating in the Decathlon marking process.

Year 9 2024 Da Vinci Decathlon


Ms Helen Barrie

Head of Academic Enrichment


Writing Competitions

With the holidays approaching, here are a number of exciting literary competitions to keep our students interested in writing busy. Please share this information with your sons.

Poetry Competition: “Poem Forest”

The website link is HERE.

Created by Red Room Poetry, in partnership with Wollongong City Council, Poem Forest invites students and teachers to use their words to make positive climate action. For every nature poem received, a tree is planted to help heal habitats and create a Poem Forest for future generations. Since 2021, over 17,100 poem trees have been planted.

All Poem Forest Prize entries are published in our digital library and have the chance to win $5,000 in prizes, including $500 cash for each category, book packs, garden tours, plants, journals and more.

  • Entries are now open
  • Entries close Friday, 27 September 2024.

Poem Forest Writing Comp

Dymocks ‘Beyond Words’ Writing Competition

The website link is HERE.

Stories are being judged on two key things:

CRAFT: Is your story well written and descriptive? Have you shown a strong command of language, structure, and vocabulary? Is it clear that you understand what key elements go into making a good story?

IDEA: How original and unique is your idea? Has your story got something interesting to share? Does it affect the reader emotionally? Does your story grab the reader and make them want to read more?

We encourage all students to enter the competition! We are judging based on ideas and passion for storytelling, just as heavily as on technical craft and command of language.

Entries are now open

Entries close Friday, 31 May 2024.

Dymocks Writing Comp

‘What Matters’ Writing Competition

The website link is HERE.

Since 2004, we’ve been asking young people across Australia to raise their voices on the issues that matter most to them.

Inspired by Gough Whitlam’s lifelong commitment to involving young people in shaping Australia’s future, 20 years of this national competition has shown us that young people are deeply committed to making the change they want to see in the world. We believe that your voices are important and need to be heard in the conversations we are having as a society.

In 2024, the competition’s 20th year, we’re asking you to raise your voices louder than ever! Because what matters to young people matters to us all.

Entries are open

Entries close Friday, 17 May 2024.

What Matters Writing Comp

Foyle Young Poet International Award

The website link is HERE.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2024 is open! Enter your poems by 31 July 2024 HERE.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is one of the biggest and most prestigious poetry competitions for 11-17 year olds in the world. Every year, 15 top winners and 85 commended poets are chosen; together, they represent some of the most exciting new voices writing today.

This year’s judges are the fantastic Vanessa Kisuule and Jack Underwood, and they can’t wait to read your poems! If you’re aged 11-17, send in your poems for the chance to be among the 100 winners and kick-start your writing career.

Poems can be on any theme and in any style, but must be no longer than 40 lines. You can submit as many as you like. The Roots Belong to You (and anthologies from many previous years are available HERE).

If you have any queries, or if you would like any information about the competition in an alternative format, please contact us at

Entries are open

Entries close Wednesday, 31 July 2024.

Foyle Writing Comp


Ms Mary Ryan

Literacy Coordinator and English teacher