From the Principal
From the Principal: Week 8, Term 1 2019
This week, the College hosted a Parental Consultation Forum. It was an opportunity for parents to meet with myself and the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to hear about the projects we have proposed for launch in 2020, and to ask questions, give feedback and suggest ideas. The evening was a great success, providing us with numerous excellent ideas and ways in which we can tweak and improve our proposals.
It is through a process such as this that we can be sure that we are delivering the educational experience that you want for your children, and I am very grateful to those parents who took part, and to the many parents who were unable to attend but emailed their ideas and suggestions through. This consultation followed a similar process where all staff met to offer their opinion.
For those community members who were not able to attend, I would like to outline below the projects we have proposed for launch next year, or beyond. And I also invite you to get in touch to offer me your opinion on them.
In terms of contextualising these projects, I outlined to the parents at the Forum much of the research that the ELT has accessed over 10 months to assist us with formulating plans. The research process has seen us connect with best practice providers across the country, engage in professional development and extensive reading, and consider important survey and research data out of esteemed institutions such as the McKinsey Research Institute, the World Economic Forum and others.
The conclusions we have drawn from that research process has led us to some high-level conclusions, as follows:
• The future work environment into which our students will enter will be one where certain employment fields (such as creativity, IT literacy and human and care services) will thrive, whereas traditional workplace jobs (such as manual labour, administration and office work) will be obsolete or radically reduced.
• To flourish in these new workplace environments, future employers of our students will be looking for strength of character as a priority: behaviours such as resilience, creativity, persistence and the ability to collaborate will be in high demand as employability skills.
• That those employers place much less value on ‘knowledge’ than they do on ‘the ability to learn’.
• That being successful in the future will mean being agile in thinking and behaviour – the most successful people will be those who are able to balance projects, show initiative and make good decisions, learn on the job and find answers, rather than those who can only rely on what they already know.
These points of learning have been instrumental in our thinking, as we seek to initiate projects and create learning environments where our children can develop these skills of independent learning and self-direction.
Out of that research and after auditing our current practice, our proposed projects for 2020 implementation are as follows:
Project 1: Upper Primary Learning
In 2018, we trialled a learning model for Year 5 students in which students were given slightly more ownership over their own learning choices, meaning that they could make more decisions, within parameters, about what and how they learned. As part of this, structured and formal literacy and numeracy lessons continued in uninterrupted blocks each day, but around those students engaged in more project-based activities where they set their own goals, planned the use of their time and resources and were helped by their teachers to achieve them. The learning style meant that there was more flexibility in the use of the classroom spaces, and this created more student engagement with their learning.
Having reflected on these experiences and engaged in consultation with parents of children in Year 5 this year, we have drawn up a proposed project for Year 6 learning in 2020 which will build on the successes of the Year 5 program and extend it, providing students with increased choice about what they learn and how they achieve their learning objectives. There will be increased opportunities for structured collaboration, self-directed learning and investigation, enquiry and research. We will of course continue our commitment to excellent teaching of literacy and numeracy as foundation skills for all learning.
We will also ensure that the classroom environments have places where students can collaborate, and quiet spaces where they can work in a more individual fashion. The combination of this spaces will mean that all learning styles can be catered for.
Project 2: Senior Learning
The research is clear that students entering university are not equipped with the skills they need in order to thrive in an environment where they cannot be reliant on a teacher providing them with all of the information, resources and answers that they need.
Our proposal for 2020 is based around a restructure of the timetable for Year 10-12, which would mean that students would have opportunities to engage in and develop the skills associated with more self-directed learning. This model would be characterised by formal and structured lessons with teachers in classes as they are now, but coupled with more university style tutorial sessions in small groups, more one to one tutoring and guidance with staff, and an increased degree of non-contact time at school so that they can learn to work more independently and in a more self-directed and self-accountable way.
Students would have more choice about the ways that they learn in this model, but there would also be minimum requirements around contact times in lessons, sports and physical activity time, and independent study opportunities.
Project 3: Nature Play
On the Primary Campus and for use by all students from Prep – Year 6, we propose to build a nature play facility which will provide students with new ways to learn. In the Kindergarten, we also propose to build a smaller version of the nature play environment for our youngest students to access. Nature play consists of an outdoor area, with opportunities for playing such as building, creating, climbing and so on, and also more structured learning experiences such as growing produce and tending to animals which will allow them to become involved in sustainability projects in conjunction with Jabiru Café, and develop their environmental understanding and sense of responsibility.
The nature play facility will provide students with new opportunities to be creative, collaborate and learn, whilst at the same time providing them with outdoor and active experiences and a reduction in sitting and screen time. Around the world, nature play has demonstrated benefits for student wellbeing and school engagement, and has proven to result in better concentration, motivation to learn and learning outcomes.
Project 4: Facility Development
In order to support some of these projects, some facility development will be necessary. Clearly, a nature play facility will need to be constructed. In addition, to support the Upper Primary Learning Project, the reconfiguring of classroom spaces to allow for different types of learning will be necessary. This can partly be achieved by the use of classroom layout, but acoustic treatment and furniture will also need to be carefully chosen to ensure that these spaces are what the child need to concentrate and flourish.
Similarly, the Senior Learning Project will require the completion and use of our next exciting build, the Centre for Senior Learning, which is expected to open in Term 1 2020 and will be for the use of Year 11 and 12 students. This facility will support a variety of learning opportunities, and also provide a pre-university environment in which students can be more mature and self-directed learners in a space in which they feel comfortable. Aspects of that build which we discussed in the Forum were the hours of use of the facility in the school day, furniture, audio-visual needs and so on.
In addition, a further possible project was discussed at the Forum our plans for the conversion of the Wattle Building into a Student Services Hub which would create a space where student needs could be met in one accessible and comfortable space for students. Housed there would be our Heads of Clan, careers advisory services, Chaplain and Psychologist. Should this project get the support of the community, it is something that we could firm up plans for in 2020.
The Parent Consultation Forum was an opportunity for parents to make comment on these projects, and other matters which were on their minds – popular subjects raised were parking on the Primary Campus, a uniform review, online learning opportunities for our more senior students and the co-curricular participation timetable. It was fantastic to hear the great ideas that parents had on these subjects, and I look forward to tabling and discussing them with the ELT and staff as we make further progress with these projects.
Parent and Friends Association
This week, we also hosted the P&F AGM which included an election of new official position holders. The meeting was attended by many new parents, keen to assist in achieving the objectives of the Association which are principally to raise friends and funds, and to support the activities of the College for the benefit of its students and families.
As usual, the meeting was a fun and vibrant occasion with fantastic ideas and initiatives discussed.
On behalf of the whole community I wish to thank those P&F members who this week stepped away from their official positions or their involvement. Those parents have done a wonderful job for the last two years and have been tireless in their commitment to serving the College.
My great thanks to Peter Corta, who steps down as President, Sean Winterflood, who steps down as Vice-President, and Zoe Milligan and Hadleigh Milligan who step down from the Committee.
The election resulted in the following new positions holders, and I wish to thank all of those who stood for election and congratulate those who were successful:
President Kevin Wordon
Vice-President Michael Casey
Treasurer Karolina Pemberton
Secretary Natasha Widjaja
Marketing Officer Gail Stainbank
Friend and Fundraising Coordinator Liz Hansen
SummerFest Coordinator Jackie Bolsover
SummerFest Assistant Kelly East
The P&F meet monthly in the Jacaranda Boardroom on the Secondary Campus, and their next event for the College will be a Mother’s Day Breakfast on May 10, hosted on the Primary Campus. Should you wish to become involved in the P&F, please feel free to come along to the next meeting on Tuesday April 30, starting 6:30.