Students to focus on theory

Headshot of Kellie Balaam
Kellie BalaamNarrogin Observer
WA College of Agriculture Narrogin principal Stephen Watt and deputy principal Mark Pascoe.
Camera IconWA College of Agriculture Narrogin principal Stephen Watt and deputy principal Mark Pascoe.

With schools around WA making the move to online learning because of COVID-19, agriculture students are experiencing a particularly awkward transition.

Parents and students at the WA College of Agriculture — Narrogin have raised concerns over the practical components of their education with fears there will be no “hands-on” learning.

In a recent parent survey, principal Stephen Watt addressed parents’ issues and questions, including no clear directions on what was expected each day; no hands-on learning; and whether student attendance, progress and grades were being monitored.

Mr Watt said parent feedback was essential to help the school adapt to the new way of learning.

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“Things are mostly working pretty well. We have had a few teething problems that we are resolving as we go along,” he said.

“Parents have been really pleased with the staff efforts to get the kids into a normal program as much as possible and I’m really pleased with their efforts, but also the parents and students in how they’ve managed this really unprecedented situation.

“It’s important to maintain those connections with families to make sure we have minimal disruption as possible and when we get back to normal, we can move forward as seamlessly and efficiently as possible.”

Mr Watt said his focus was getting the students and parents to work through theory components.

“That way, when we return to normal and the school is back open and the students are here, they can really concentrate on the practical and not get held up on theory,” he said.

Mr Watt said online learning posed some challenges for the college students.

“The opportunity for practical work is far less. From a student’s perspective, they are motivated and engaged by our practical learning program, so some have found the theory not as interesting as the practical side.

“However, if students are involved in practical activities at home, they can take records, video footage and write notes about the tasks and this can be used for supplementary evidence.”

The school’s normal timetable will start on Wednesday, April 29.

“We are working on the assumption that students won’t be back in boarding next term and the current situation of online learning, with some students on site, will continue,” Mr Watt said.

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