Last semester a draft strategic intent document was introduced to parents and staff. Time pressures and the necessary focus on the important day to day issues precluded extensive consultation and opportunities for feedback with staff in 2016.
There were a number of opportunities for parents to consult and provide feedback on the draft document in Semester Two, 2016. The feedback gained from parents via parental feedback to me, the independent facilitator and via parent focus group representatives was generally supportive at the conceptual level, with many questions and points of clarification at the detail level, and in particular:
• how it might apply to their child(ren)
• how it might look on a daily basis
• whether better academic results be guaranteed
• development of risk mitigation strategies
• attitudes and willingness of teachers to embrace such developments
• training and capacity development of teacher and support staff
• support for students along the way
o some parents worry that their child(ren) might possibly be a part of likely ‘experimental groups’
• support from students for such developments
• the need for good communication
During the term concluding, a partnership with Monash University through Professor John Loughran, Executive Dean, Faculty of Education, and Foundation Chair in Curriculum & Pedagogy and his colleague Dr Kathy Smith has seen significant consultation and staff feedback on the draft strategic intent. The report from Professor Loughran and Dr Smith is expected soon. It will focus on the staff perspective and, in addition to parent feedback, will provide the basis for future planning.
Should the draft Strategic Intent be accepted by parents, staff and adopted by the Board of Directors it is intended to be a long term proposition. The draft document lists a range of best practice initiatives that are already being trialled or used, often in isolation by a number of first class schools. The strategic intent document draws these best practices into a coherent whole and thus forms, if adopted, a long term developmental focus for the school.
In the meantime, the staff is working assiduously to continue to improve the learning of, and support for your child(ren) across a number of domains.
This term has seen the implementation of a revamped House and tutor system in the Middle School and Senior College. While much work remains to be done prior to this system becoming a part of our ‘DNA’, progress this term has been strong. The four Heads of House are working smoothly and professionally in support of their tutors who are an important point of contact for you with the school.
As mentioned in the last edition, significant work through our relationship with the University of Melbourne and Dr Christiane Kehoe in particular has seen all teaching staff undertake training; some staff have been trained in depth and parent sessions have been conducted to provide an holistic approach to understanding the thinking and developmental needs of children at various ages.
There has been significant focus, education and training through the entire school on Child Safety processes and best practice.
The Curriculum Committee has announced a review of the Middle School curriculum as a part of regular review, refinement and updating and a review of Camps will also occur this year.
In the Junior School, a review of the use of digital devices is well underway, providing initial preparation for a longer term and coherently integrated use of digital technologies to assist in children’s learning, parental communication, data tracking and administrative efficiencies.
A Junior School STEAM room is under development. In this case a STEAM room does not refer to a health facility, but rather a space in which Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths can be learned in an integrated environment where children’s ‘heads and hands’ are ‘turned on’ and engaged. Early evidence can be glimpsed in a more coherent focus on robotics, coding and engineering in the curricular and co-curricular program. The development of this room complements the ongoing refurbishment of classrooms and the refurbishment of toilet facilities as requested by senior students.
The process of the appointment of a new Head of Senior College is close to completion. Students and staff were provided with the opportunity to provide advice on the qualities and skills needed in the person appointed. First round interviews included eight people and any one of these eight could be successfully appointed to the role. Three of the eight went through to a second round of interviews and hopefully finalisation of the appointment and an announcement can occur shortly.
There is much going on to improve the school. The process will be ongoing and incremental. An example of this incremental improvement is the Rock Out Night Markets evening held last week.
The Rock Out Night Markets evening was an excellent community event and a great opportunity for our bands to play to a live audience. Over 100 students took to the stage as did a staff band. The event is not new on the school calendar but last week’s event was the best of the three I have attended. Preparedness to take some calculated risks, attention to detail and enthusiasm to improve, were evident in the success of the night, and we already know, based on events on the night, that it can be improved again next year!
In conclusion, we are in the process of moving the school from good to great and beyond. Our draft Strategic Intent ‘thinks big’, and we aspire to ‘perfection’.
We realise that successful development in schools is based on shared values, is done in small steps, builds trust through good communication along the way and in retrospect seems to have been no change at all, simply because we all grow into it as we proceed.