I regularly speak with prospective parents at the commencement of School Tours and as this school year draws to a close it is worth relaying some of these messages.
Many of you were at the Robert Blackwood Hall for Presentation Night, listening to my comments as I untangled myself from a radio microphone that had decided to go to sleep a bit early in the evening. The following words have similar themes.
Ultimately, student achievement, especially that in the senior years of school life and most pointed at Year 12 level is a reflection of how hard a young adult is prepared to work. From around Year 9 and onwards, achievement increasingly represents the adult world where hard work, focus and effort sustained over time are the major ingredients of success.
At the Valedictory Dinner for Year 12 last Friday evening I reminded all the students that in the end their results are their results; their Study Scores, ATAR and their positioning for the next steps in life will reflect their hard work, organisation, and focus. Their teachers and parents provide support, advice, guidance and expert opinion but no parent or teacher can prepare for nor sit their exam for them.
In school terms, this is the end of the first journey through school, the academic journey, the development of knowledge and academic skills. It is a critically important journey; the reason schools exist. However, in many ways our community misses the point when individuals and schools are judged by Study Scores, ATARs, or NAPLAN results.
The measures that our community should use are related to the value added by the partnership between home and school, between parents and teachers and critically whether the young person has achieved a PB, a personal best.
I reminded the Year 12 group at their Valedictory Dinner that they are always admired and looked up to by younger students. The younger students use the Year 12 students as role models whether they realise it or not, whether they like it or not.
The same applies to all of us as teachers and parents. Your children, our students listen to what we (parents and teachers) say and notice how we act. They mimic our attitudes and actions. They pick up our habits, hopefully all the good ones.
Young people notice if we care for them and bother to give them time and attention, listening to their concerns, tribulations and successes. As teachers and parents we deal with and manage, teach, listen to and advise our students and children. This is not the same as trying to be their friend, nor is it granting them everything they ask for and it is certainly not allowing the younger ones among them to make decisions with long term ramifications without the life experience or cognitive development to be able to decide such things.
This is the second important journey through school, the development of character, personality, values and attitudes. What we do and how we act as adults is often more important than what we say. Parents setting high expectations for their children is critical in their development, as it is for teachers to do likewise. Helping them to meet those expectations, through our modelling and engagement with their lives matters.
For parents, the best things you can do to assist your children in both of these journeys is to build positive, trusting relationships with their teachers by attending school functions and staying in touch via email, phone, SEQTA or KeptMe. Work in partnership with teachers to assist your children, our students to meet our collective expectations, attending to what they do at school, without necessarily believing them without care for the perspective of others (teachers) involved.
The third journey through school, a journey that is of increasing importance, is one of cultural awareness and understanding. Our school flies the flags of the top 12 or so national backgrounds represented by students in the school, but I also know there are another 6-10 national backgrounds amongst our student body. The world is now a very small place in terms of communications and travel.
As we plan for 2018, we will be using the parent satisfaction survey report and other data sets. This summary represents about 25% of the total report and was the basis for the Community Consultation held earlier this week. You will note that the school is ‘in a good place’ and I can advise the data shows improvement from the 2016 report. It is my intention that this improvement, along with the growing enrolment numbers continues into the future.