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In The Falcon (June 3), I outlined the Safe, Happy and Fulfilling Pathways Framework that underpins the data we have gleaned from surveys taken by your children, our students in Years 5-12 earlier this year. This outline of the framework which might allow you to better understand what follows is available on the school website in two places, my blog site or where copies of The Falcon are housed.

In this edition of The Falcon, I will focus on the results for Middle School students (Years 7-9).

In the responses from students in Years 7-9, over 60% of items were rated significantly (at least 10 percentage points) better than the national benchmarks! This is a particularly good result as the adolescent years are a time of significant growth and change and thus can be problematic. As an experienced educator, I know that it is in these years that students are more likely than in other age groups to suffer from self-doubt, pessimism, issues of connectedness and risky behaviours.

Most of the other results are also better than benchmarks and only in a handful of instances are our results a cause for concern.

Most of the other results are also better than benchmarks and only in a handful of instances are our results a cause for concern.

Over 65% of Middle School students report they send text messages between 10 pm and 6 am. This is an area of concern as health and wellbeing, appropriate growth and development, and academic results are all built of good sleep patterns. Digital devices should not be used at these times at night and should be out of temptation’s way, being left overnight in places other than bedrooms;
Over 40% of Middle School students are not getting 8 hours sleep per night. Health and wellbeing, appropriate growth and development and academic results are all built of good sleep patterns. Less than 8 hours per night for young people 12-15 years of age is a risky behaviour and has compounding negative effects over time
Reporting in separate responses, around 33% of Middle School students feel they lose sleep through worry, feel under strain in their lives and are unhappy. At the same time, also reporting to separate questions, over 80% of Middle School students have parents who listen to them and are good role models. Even though the middle years can be problematic, this suggests that these issues of strain, unhappiness and losing sleep can be addressed. We will actively support, and assist where possible in partnership with you on these matters and report anything we notice at school.

While the positive items that follow are excellent results and reflect well on students, families and your children’s teachers, the items above are of concern. I understand the complexity in dealing with these issues both at home and at school.

For example, removing digital devices from bedrooms can be the cause of significant tension in the home and it is important as parents to work through these issues to avoid long term consequences, some of which can be seriously damaging. Using digital devices in the hours when sleep should be the focus, disrupts your daughter or son’s physical, emotional and intellectual development. These matters occur in the home and can only be addressed there by you in consultation with your son or daughter. We will actively support, provide advice and work in partnership with you.

The results of these surveys consist of many excellent, positive highlights, and some which are also strong relative to the benchmarks. You will enjoy reading of these far more than those already mentioned. Some of the positive highlights follow.

Positive highlights in Year 7 are many and some follow:

98% of students were at negligible levels of risk with regard to smoking or drugs
96% are engaged in the learning process
96% of students demonstrate personal restraint
94% of students value diversity
94% of students felt encouraged by teachers
93% of students report high levels of hope and optimism
92% of students report they feel safe and secure at home
91% of students have good interpersonal skills
89% have medium to high levels of empowerment assets
89% of students feel connected to the school
85% of students report healthy eating habits

In Year 8 some of the highlights were:

96% of students demonstrate personal restraint
96% of students have good interpersonal skills
94% of students report high levels of hope and optimism
94% of students feel connected to their family
Over 93% of students were at negligible levels of risk with regard to alcohol, smoking or drugs
93% of students feel connected to the school
93% are engaged in the learning process
92% of students report they feel safe and secure at home
91% of students value diversity
89% have positive relationships
87% of students felt encouraged by teachers
87% of students are physically fit

In Year 9 some of the highlights were:

96% of students were at negligible levels of risk with regard to smoking or drugs
96% are engaged in the learning process
96% of students report high levels of hope and optimism
96% of students demonstrate personal restraint
91% of students value diversity
91% of students felt encouraged by teachers
89% of students report they feel safe and secure at school
88% of students report they feel safe and secure at home
88% of students have good interpersonal skills
88% of students feel connected to the school

We all will continue to strive for 100% positive responses in all measures but we should all take great satisfaction from the hard work that has led to these results.

Overall, The Knox School is a great place for adolescents!

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