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  • Michael Hewitson

Naplan online crashes at Highgate

The GAME CHANGER


Why bother? Michael’s visit on the first day on Naplan online from disappointment to success.

Highgate Primary School Tuesday 15/05/2018

French Director Loïc Calvez, PA Alison Bey, Principal Phil Johansen Michael Hewitson


“Every child is unique. We are personalising the test to meet the needs of every individual child.” School Principal Phil Johansen

It is a privilege as an ACARA Board Member and Deputy Mayor of Unley, to be invited to see the historic first day of Naplan on line. As a previous Principal, it is like coming home. The school is proud, hardworking and joyful. Arriving early, I join a large gathering of anxious parents meeting the Principal and the Director of French. They are seeking to enrol their children, most with little chance of a place. You have to live close by because the school is zoned[i]. The junior primary program has a French option…. 80% in French… Loïc explains “It is a bilingual, binational and bicultural French Program.”

“Naplan is so much fun!” Principal Phil said to his students, “you are so lucky to have a day playing games, doing Naplan.” The school has it right! Naplan measures the basics only. The essential reading/comprehension, writing and numeracy skills. These basic skills give children a chance to learn. The skills are essential, but not a measure of academic prowess. Education is so much more.



Why did Highgate choose to take the risk after the census online had crashed?

Principal Phil Johansen “It is a game changer to get instant results to inform our teaching and learning program.” “We will analyse what the students were able to do and what they got wrong. Then use the PATM[ii] data from ACER tests to combine with Naplan online to work out where the deficits are. We then have a resources’ centre to enable students to go and practice that particular skill. Every child is unique. We are personalising the test to meet the needs of every individual child.”


Naplan test are fun…… Lily with her Yr 3 Teacher after the test



The school IT system crashed and only the year 3 handwritten writing was immediately done. “Thank goodness we do not have the reporter with us!” We laugh…

The IT system had failed

However because the tests are online, they are secure. Students later successfully completed it all. The system worked well even after an IT crash. Naplan online passed with flying colours.

I later learnt that other states had a flawless and exciting day. ACARA is responsible for Naplan and the Australian Curriculum and Highgate is a local Unley State Primary School.

Thomas in year 5 shows spelling tests




‘How is the day going Peter?” I ask. Peter Pagonis is the Deputy Principal responsible to run Naplan. “Not well at all” He replies… “We had a trial earlier… we had 230 students on the network at once trying to knock it over.” We couldn’t, it worked!

“Why is Highgate doing Naplan online?” I ask. Mr Pagonis responds “We think the results we get will be quite different from those on the paper form. We will get accurate tests for the individual … the paper test does not extend our top students, and we are not seeing what they are truly capable of….or where their gaps are either. We have so many students in the top two bands.”

I am so proud that every student at Highgate has had an individually tailored test that will enable every child to receive the education they need.

Principal Phil Johansen, Deputy Principal Peter Pagonis, Principal’s PA, Alison Bey French Director Loïc Calvez

Deputy Mayor of Unley and ACARA Board member, Michael Hewitson AM.

Photographer Dr Allan Hunt (Past Parent of Highgate)

[i] Anna, a teacher from the Pines in one of SA lower socio-economic areas explained that they were one of the 100 SA state schools also doing Naplan on line today. She had just moved into the next street and could enrol at Highgate.


[ii] PATM progress achievement test for mathematics

HEWITSON GETS IT DONE