2020 Term 2 Week 1   |   29.04.2020

TAS Talks Term 2 Week 1

01. From the Head of School


Welcome Back

At the start of what will undoubtedly be a very unusual term in the history of the School, I welcome back all our students and staff, where ever you all may be. I particularly extend a warm welcome to four new students who start with us this term. Having four new families join us now is a humbling validation of how we are meeting the current circumstances and  a wonderful reassurance that even in such challenging times, families are putting their confidence in TAS. I have enjoyed meeting each morning with those students who are here with us on campus and their enthusiasm to be back has been palpable.


Start of term routine

By now you would have all received communications about the start of term, particularly the protocols for the arrival and pick up of students and requirements for checking temperatures at drop off. We have a number of Junior School students in particular who are unfamiliar with the area around Memorial Hall and whilst there are staff on hand to assist with drop off and pick up, please continue be mindful of others as you do so and thank you for your continuing patience. In regards to academic matters there have been some minor changes to the adjusted timetable and these are communicated in the Director of Studies’ report.


Anzac service

While there were no official services on Anzac Day itself, TAS cadets Marcus Braham, Jack Sewell and Clancy Roberts continued a rich tradition of TAS providing the catafalque party for the Dangarsleigh service which was videoed last week and then posted online on the morning of Anzac Day. It was wonderful that the TAS Cadet Unit could continue to be represented in this way in our local community. I know that many of our students also took part in a family ‘driveway service’ at home. TAS has a rich and proud history of service to country as evident by the number of former students and staff who made the ultimate sacrifice. As most of you would be aware, given that Anzac Day fell in official school holidays TAS would have been hosting our School Anzac Service tomorrow (Thursday). In lieu of this a condensed version of the service has been filmed, including the very moving reading of the names of the fallen. A link to this video can be found elsewhere in TAS Talks and I commend it to you.

Wellbeing matters

As the Director of Pastoral Care writes, student engagement with Advisors and in the co-curricular life of TAS online is not just about keeping physically fit or busy but the connection with other students and staff in an informal way is critical for positive mental health. This is so important of course at this time of isolation and I encourage you to support your son and daughter in this way.


Return to Boarding

We are closely monitoring the advice of government, education and health authorities regarding best practice on when our boarders may return. We are aware that a return to boarding is being phased in at other schools however every school and every local community has its own unique circumstances which will inform when and how this may happen at TAS. Please be assured that we are all as keen as anyone is for residential life to resume at TAS and we appreciate your continued patience and support as we work towards enabling this to happen.


TAS Talks/TAS Times

To keep our community informed on a more regular basis, the weekly TAS Talks will be temporarily replaced as of next week by TAS Times, a more concise newsletter with video content to be delivered around 8am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can read more about it in this issue of TAS Talks.

I offer you all my best wishes for the term ahead.


Alan Jones

02. Anzac Service


Across the country public Anzac Day services may have been cancelled but that didn’t stop people from marking the occasion in their own way. For three members of the TAS Cadet Unit ceremonial guard, SUO Marcu Braham, Unit 2IC CUO Jack Sewell and drummer Cadet Clancy Roberts, that meant forming the catafalque party at the annual Dangarsleigh service which was filmed last week and broadcast on Anzac Day. They are pictured at the Dangarsleigh memorial during filming below.

Meanwhile as is usual practice when Anzac Day falls during holiday time, our community comes together during the first week of TAS for the School’s Anzac Service. This would have been held tomorrow morning. Instead, a filmed version of a condensed service has been prepared which includes most of the usual elements. The service runs for 12 minutes and can be viewed at this link.


03. From the P&F


Welcome Back

Welcome back to Term 2.  We are all still social distancing but there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.  Fingers crossed.  I hope everyone stayed safe and that you all have had some rest and relaxation so that you can tackle the months ahead. My thoughts go out to all the families struggling with the results of drought, bush fires and now Coronavirus.

Last TAS Talks I ruminated on how I intended to connect more with my boys, keep in contact with friends and also make recordings of various things that happened over the holidays to remind me in the future of what this time was like.

Well, as an update… I failed spectacularly at recording important and trivial happenstances – I think I took about three photos and that was it!  Never mind.  In the scheme of things, it was the least important of what I intended to do.  I did connect a bit more with friends and family by texts and talking to them.  It was nice – not the same as seeing them – but great to catch up on the news.  In this time of social distancing, you realise that the people you are close to are vitally important and how much they help round out your life.

I also wrote about connecting with my boys…. Hmmm… I certainly still yelled at them a lot!  However, we did play board games and a round of video game racing. Much to their amusement and my disgruntlement, I lost at everything. But the fun and competitive teasing during the games was heartwarming.  They did learn some responsibility for tasks and chores (although I’m sure they wished they didn’t) and we did ‘shoot the breeze’ a few times.  I would say that perhaps my expectations of what teenage boys would like to do with their mother were a bit high, especially when I am in competition with their computers, but overall I think we connected more than we had in the past. Only time will tell.

I hope everyone had the opportunity to spend some quality time together as families and also managed to touch base with friends and family.  In these odd times taking some time to manage your mental health is vital.  If you need to have a chat with someone please do and remember that the whole TAS family is here to support you.  Just reach out and don’t be a digital stranger.



Thank You

I would like to say thank you to Alan Jones, all the TAS staff, teachers, Board Directors and others who have kept TAS operational during this unprecedented time.  In the rapidly evolving and continuously changing era that is Coronavirus their ability to adapt at a moment’s notice to extensive changes in how to teach our students has been amazing.  The P&F Executive really appreciates all the hard work, long hours, and deep thought that is going into keeping TAS functioning.  It will be a long time before school is ‘back to normal’ but hopefully our kids will be more resilient because of the role models that they are seeing every day.


P&F Annual General Meeting Postponed

Our annual general meeting (AGM) was scheduled to be held next Wednesday 6 May.  Due to the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions, this has been postponed.

We are hoping to have the meeting later in the term and will keep you posted once a date has been set.  If you would like to know more about what we do or join the Executive or Committee please contact me on pandf@as.edu.au or 0418 980 662.  The P&F is great fun and we would love to have you join us.


Mrs Rachael Nicoll
P&F President


04. From the Director of Pastoral Care


Given the current restrictions, I’m sure you’ve spent plenty of time with your child recently and I hope this time has been valuable. However I know many students are missing their mates, far more than they may have anticipated.

There has been much said about the importance of face to face interaction with friends and I certainly encourage students to work hard to maintain their relationships with peers. Whether your son/daughter is working from home or on campus, I would encourage them to stay connected with their teachers and especially their advisor. Make sure they are Zooming into Advisor periods at 11.20am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These sessions will hopefully bring some routine and familiarity, whilst also providing an opportunity for students to discuss their experiences in a safe and supportive setting.

Students have chosen a sport and are encouraged to participate in the variety of lifestyle activities and challenges that staff have designed. The maintenance of routine is not simply to keep students busy, but the benefits of engagement in meaningful activities is well documented, especially in an environment where students are supported and encouraged. Indeed, this is why participation in sport and co-curricular life at TAS is mandatory, because of the physical, social and mental benefits. If parents have any concerns about academics, student welfare or general questions, please reach out to their advisor who will be able to assist you with your inquiry.

Meanwhile our enduring partnership with Batyr continues this term with the ‘Batyr on Demand’ program. Current restrictions have made it impossible for Batyr to deliver their usual suite of wellbeing programs to Years 9 to 12 so they have thought outside the box and developed a COVID-19 specific program, which can be delivered to students at home. This program will commence next week and students will discuss the videos and activities during Advisor periods over the coming weeks. More information can be found in the attached flyer.

Find out more...


Mr AJ Whalley
Director of Pastoral Care

05. From the Director of Studies


Year 8 Parent Teacher Interviews

Year 8 Parent Teacher Interviews are scheduled to be held next Thursday 7 May (3-6pm) and Friday 8 May (3 – 5.30pm). These will be phone interviews. Parents will have received an email with information and webcode to book a phone interview time. If you have any questions in regards to parent teacher interviews please contact Mrs Vickey O’Brien – 6776 5806 or vobrien@as.edu.au


NESA Updates

As you are aware, the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Board has confirmed that the Higher School Certificate (HSC) is going ahead in 2020, along with a commitment to providing clear and regular advice to the community about the HSC as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.

It is important for students to continue their learning and covering syllabus content.

Important messages for HSC students:

  1. HSC Exams will proceed this year. A timetable will be provided in Week 3.
  2. Major works for Visual Art, Industrial Technology Timber and Design and Technology continue with adjusted due dates and systems for marking. Please speak to your teacher for further clarity on this.
  1. We know you are worried. While we recognise we are facing an unprecedented situation, we want to assure you that you will be able to get a Higher School Certificate this year, and that the certificate will facilitate access to university, further education and employment, as it has for students over the past 50 years.
  2. Keep learning, do your assessments, make progress on your major projects where you can and, most importantly, look after yourself, whether you are at school or at home. Reach out to family, friends and your teachers if you need to.
  3. If you get sick, the school and NESA have provisions to ensure you are not disadvantaged.

Year 12 students should have a copy of the 2020 HSC Rules and Procedures please read this carefully, particularly the section ‘Maintaining honesty and integrity’. You must be entirely honest when completing all your assessment tasks, exams and submitted works. You will be marked only on the quality and originality of the work you have produced. The link to the Rules and Procedures Guide is https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/11-12/hsc/rules-and-processes/rules-procedures-guide-students

The HSC exam timetable will be published on 15 May 2020.


Online Learning

Online Learning continues for both students and home and those supervised here on Campus. This revised timetable for Middle and Senior School students will apply to students both at home and those who are supervised here at school and follows the student’s normal timetable with some slight modifications. These include:

  • Lessons will go for typically 35 minutes and this shortened length allows for breaks between periods and also more extended breaks during the school day.
    There will be a common lunch time for all students 6-12 from 12:50 – 1:25pm.
  • Each lesson will involve a teacher check-in with students via Zoom for roll marking and explaining of lesson content. Rolls will be taken for each lesson as normal.
  • Teachers will not necessarily be delivering video-conferencing for the entire period of the class. Rather, teachers will be setting up students to ensure they know what is expected of them during this time. If a teacher is planning to use a period for a video-conferencing style lesson, students will be advised and the lesson will occur within the allocated lesson time as per the timetable.
  • For families with limited internet access, we encourage you to keep in contact with the school about options that are available to you. TAS can post resources to families in this situation if required.



Mr Luke Polson
Director of Studies

06. From the Development Office

TAS Talks changes for the times

To keep our community informed on a more regular basis during this time of dislocation, the weekly TAS Talks will be replaced as of next week for the foreseeable future by TAS Times, a more concise newsletter with a mix of video and text to be delivered around 8am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

While the format is yet to be finalised, the idea is that the newsletter will be a touchstone to families and students that incorporates some aspects of TAS Talks but in addition other parts of school life as well. For instance, the Monday edition will include a message from the Head of School, academic notices and co-curricular updates. On Wednesday there will be things that are normally part of Tuesday Assembly (such as a musical item and a short talk from the Chaplain), a message from Middle School (perhaps delivered by Middle School students), maybe a P&F President’s report and a dip into the Archives. Friday’s edition will incorporate Prefects’ Assembly, a Junior School segment and Mr O’Connell’s ‘Movie Night’ recommendation (which may be a video of a past TAS production).

TAS Times will be delivered to your inbox the same way that TAS Talks is currently. Stay tuned!


Tim Hughes

07. From the Director of Co-curricular



Finding a Routine

In the current environment, individuals have greater autonomy in managing their time. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the longer recess on Tuesday (10am- 11:40am), given the absence of Assembly and Advisor. This could be physical activities prescribed by PE or Sport, or projects that you are developing in Creative Arts, Lifeskills or Clubs, or chalking up the k’s towards your 1000km Team Challenge. It is about being aware of your needs and creating a schedule that works for you.

Students can access information for all activities on the Canvas course: https://armidale.instructure.com/courses/3580

Mr Will Caldwell
Director of Co-curricular

08. From the Creative Arts Coordinator


Starting next week we are going to have some exciting additions to our offering but I’ll hold off on that surprise for a little longer and let the suspense brew. Until then, if you’ve run out of TV and movies on online streaming services or just want to watch something that is a little more rewarding or artistically rich then the Creative Arts staff have the following recommendations:

Senior School – beginning this Friday is the National Theatre’s stunning production of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. And it is a double feature as the actors switched roles of Creature and Creator throughout the production run. It can be found on the National Theatre YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ntdiscovertheatre
Middle School – an interesting new musical take on a classic fable can be seen in Austin TX’s Zach Theatre’s production Tortoise and Hare. Check it out here: http://zachtheatre.org/aiovg_videos/tortoise-and-hare/
Junior School – Fans of beloved children’s book character Grug can enjoy the actors of Australia’s Windmill Theatre Company reading books on their website here: https://www.windmill.org.au/at-home/welcome-to-windmill-at-home/


Mr Andrew O’Connell
Creative Arts Coordinator

09. From the Head of Middle School


It’s all a bit different just now

I enjoy being in the Middle School because all staff (a photo of some of us has been provided for you today) are in a position where normally we can actually do something about making life for these Middle School people more engaged, productive, rewarding and ultimately, more enjoyable. Personal experience is a great teacher. It’s been said before, but its importance warrants repetition: the busier these young adolescents are the better, eventually, they will be. But they’re not here at the moment, are they? So, I’m wondering how busy they are at home. We’re furiously busy here with Zoom lessons – so much so, I’ve just come back from the Chiropractor. So, again, I ask – how busy are they where they are?

They all have new timetables – and in my last communication with home, it was with them exclusively (not you that time) I told them to think and act a bit differently. However, suffice it to say, I indicated the wisdom of getting up, getting out, getting busy. These new timetables will be gold if they’re used in the spirit for which they are intended. Zoom is fine but, combined with the right physical activity that this age group needs to function normally, screen time will be so much more beneficial for them. I told them to try to do something for you – and I hope some have offered to do a bit more. A good education is not just schooling: it involves talking to others, doing things with others – for some, making things for others. This time with wider families can wear a ‘bit thin’ occasionally, I imagine, but it too can be rewarding for all. I really hope the time you have with our (not so shared, at the moment) charges is productive. Those particular circumstances that have conspired to make this time together are ‘not worthy of repeat’, but the silver lining is that it has brought people together and, in a century that lends itself to being apart, this can be so good if we work together at it.

There’s no way on earth that I’d advise you on your role at home, but since home and school ‘are one’ at the moment and that school is coming to your homes, I think we could communicate a little more freely as well – if you want this! Again, under normal circumstances, there’s plenty of opportunity for boys and girls to feel a personal sense of satisfaction and if yours have a feeling of ‘isolation’, for lack of better terminology, just tell us. I say this in a lot of my interviews with children – they have a right to be happy and we have a responsibility to assist them. Having said this, it isn’t our job to instruct students in all that they do – they’re old enough to take responsibility for themselves, in a number of areas, and to make wise decisions. We can help of course if they seek advice. But, it’s definitely my / our job to let them know what’s available to them regardless of where they are at present. If you think we can help you to help them, please let us know.


Mr Mark Harrison
Head of Middle School

10. From the Head of Junior School


I would like to welcome everyone back to TAS, whether online or on campus, with the hope that you have all had a very refreshing break. There are some very exciting times ahead for us this term and I know that everyone is looking forward to getting back to business. It will be still be rather different to the regular, but none-the-less enjoyable or satisfying based upon what I have already seen in the last few days. As the term progresses, you will receive regular updates from the School.

You will have received a letter from me recently outing some of the extra-curricular clubs and activities that have become available for our Junior School students and families. In addition to this, you will find information and an invitation to take up the TAS 1000 km Challenge…..and what a challenge it is!

I neglected to include some information from our Music Department that adds to the growing list of co-curricular.


From Ms Roobol….


Can you imagine what kinds of sounds could be discovered from ordinary objects in your home? FanTASticks will be exploring just that! This program will be exploring the ways we can use objects in the house as percussion instruments and turning this into a wide scale musical work! The FanTASticks program will run at 3:30pm every Tuesday afternoon, starting Week 2, on Zoom. The aim will be for students to work on creating their own music from everyday objects, such as cutlery, crockery, furniture, and then also to contribute to a group project in the latter half of the term.

Each lesson will use different equipment, always directed carefully in order to ensure personal safety and also of property. For the first lesson, students should prepare with three glasses of water and a pencil/pen in front of them.

The group will be run by Mr Kees Grenyer (kgrenyer@gmail.com) who is happy to address any questions! The TAS Director of Music, Ms Leanne Roobol (lroobol@as.edu.au) will assist with rehearsals and be the main point of contact.

Looking forward to seeing students learn about Percussion and music through this new avenue!

TAS Junior String Ensemble 

TAS Junior Strings is a foundation Junior School ensemble catering for early learners to more advanced players. The students learn a varied repertoire to help help develop good listening skills, a strong sense of beat and rhythm and to explore their inner expressiveness.

TAS Junior Strings is directed by Mrs Joanna Fairs-Wu (joanna@necom.org.au), Head of Strings at the New England Conservatorium of Music. The TAS Director of Music, Ms Leanne Roobol (lroobol@as.edu.au) will be the second point of contact.

Rehearsals will be held on Wednesday afternoons from 1.00pm – 1.30pm on Zoom, starting Week 2. Students will require their laptop, a music stand, pencil and eraser, music folder and their instrument. The sessions will involve some rhythm games and listening to each other perform their repertoire.

The following details outline the information contained in my previous letter.

  1. • E-Learning Information – General information can be found here:


  1. • Co-curricular activities – associated Zoom sessions and information for co-curricular activities available throughout the school can be found here:


  1. • Tuesday Chess

Please share this web site with your child.


  1. • Wednesday Coding

We have been coding on the code.org site here:


  1. Thursday Engineering

Please share this website with your child:


And lastly, we made a massive discovery in the Junior School sandpit today and we are wondering whether you might be able to unravel the mystery….tree root or dinosaur bone?? You be the judge??


Happy Birthday

Many Happy returns to Casper Cook who is our only student celebrating a birthday this week.


Mr Ian Lloyd
Head of Junior School




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