Tony Hytch’s long career in the Queensland education industry has seen him in everything from classrooms to examination halls. His varied experiences have gifted him an intimate knowledge of what students need in an educational resource to succeed. That’s why, recently, he has co-authored one of them with Macmillan Education.
In collaboration with fellow educator Jo Bickerstaff, Tony has created Essential English QCE Units 1&2, a textbook designed to meet the needs of students studying under the new Queensland syllabus. With the new requirement that students satisfactorily complete a Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority English subject in order to be eligible for an ATAR, engaging and accessible English resources are more important than ever.
Tony was a clear choice to form part of the Essential English team led by Olive McRae from Macmillan Education. He is currently employed as a Senior Project Officer with Brisbane Catholic Education, and has worked as Chief Examiner for External Exams (English) since 2006, in addition to teaching in a variety of Queensland schools. Tony was also involved in the construction of the mock External Assessment for English and the Common Internal Assessment for Essential English, two crucial assessments for the new Queensland curriculum.
Tony says one of Essential English’s strengths is that it is so closely built around the new curriculum. “It clearly takes the Unit Objectives from the Syllabus and scaffolds a range of learning activities to help students develop their skills in these areas.” By doing this, it improves educational outcomes for students by giving them the opportunity to use language for a range of purposes in a range of contexts. Once students have the confidence to engage with language, they can creatively and imaginatively respond. Rote learning is immediately obvious to an English examiner, so students who can develop thoughtful and flexible English skills are in a much better position to succeed. Essential English encourages this by using relevant and engaging texts and activities to create a more student-friendly feel.
Writing Essential English was a positive experience for both Tony and Jo. Meeting editor and writer Anita Heiss at the launch of her book Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (extracts from which appear in Essential English) was a particular highlight. Tony explains, “We were confident that [using extracts] would even further raise the profile of Anita’s book and spread the beautiful message she presents in it.”
Being given the opportunity to write a textbook allows Tony to draw on his passion for educating young people. “I love that we get to work with young people and see them grow and mature and develop their understanding and interests in English.”
We all have that one teacher we can still remember, the one that sparked a love for learning. Fewer of us have the opportunity to stay in contact with these teachers, but Tony was able to send the first advance copy of Essential English he received to his Year 11 English teacher Mr Butler, along with a note thanking him for inspiring a love of English. “Winning an award at this year’s Educational Publishing Awards would be a perfect acknowledgement of the hard work done by everyone who worked on Essential English, a resource that is an authentic and engaging interpretation of the Essential English syllabus.”
And it would make Mr Butler proud!