Dear St Andrew’s community
The last couple of weeks have focussed on celebrating the achievements of our students across a number of areas. The next few weeks will continue to celebrate the year that was 2018. It is wonderful to see both the commitment and passion of our students and acknowledge the goals they have set and achieved this year.
At the same time, however, there is much preparation being done by our staff for 2019. I hosted a 'Conversations with the Principal' event on Monday and talked through some of these initiatives below. The majority of these developments arise from our Projects, the means by which we are implementing much of our Strategic Plan. In no particular order;
- Flourish at School Survey. This was shared by Mel Clare in last week’s newsletter and I want to confirm how important this development will be in 2019. Wellbeing is a high priority at St Andrew’s both for our staff and our students and we want to approach this area with commitment and rigour.
- Extension and Enrichment. The Enrichment project team were tasked in 2018 to develop a plan to review our enrichment program. The team has proposed two key questions: How can we as a College support talent development which includes children’s interests, passions and creative trajectories? And how can we provide opportunities for natural acceleration where talented or creative children who hunger for domain understandings have an opportunity to explore and be immersed within the pursuit of interests? Please read more about this here in Ben Dean's bulletin article this week.
- Teaching and Learning. I have asked Jenny Grant in her role as Head of Learning next year to focus some initial attention on our teaching and learning in the middle years. In particular; looking back at the skills our students are gaining through Walker Learning in our Primary, and ensuring secondary staff acknowledge and build on these. In addition, also projecting forward to the key competencies required for academic success in the Senior years and planning for this in consultation with the Heads of Faculty. As our thinking around the need to embed 21st century skills develops, there is also the need to give our students every opportunity to achieve academic success in Year 12 and this is an important balancing act that I am confident Jenny and the teaching and learning team will build on next year.
- ATAR. An obvious one is our continued focus on ensuring we prepare our staff and students for personal success in the new ATAR system which commences for our Year 11s in 2019. I do commend Mr David Elley and his team for being well and truly ahead in their planning and organisation in the preparation for the new systems.
- Cognitions and Thinking Skills. As part of our strategic plan we developed the Thinking skills team. They have been working in collaboration with the Enrichment team and others to propose a way forward in which we embed thinking skills into our curriculum and align these with the Cognitions as developed by QCAA. This will be the main focus of our staff Professional Learning in 2019 and is an exciting development. As I shared with parents at Conversations with the Principal, it is an interesting situation where skills such as creative thinking are being embedded in our curriculum. It is a more valued skill than ever before, but if I were to be honest, my skills in creativity and thinking were developed as I played free range in the backyard or with Lego, had to problem solve without the aid of technology and so on. I am all for the benefits of technology, but it is so important to hang on to some of the benefits we ourselves experienced as children!
- St Andrew’s Institute of Learning (SAIL). One of the areas of focus for 2019 is having an engaging plan for guest presenters to share with our staff, students and parents on topics that support the strategic plan. The focus will be about engaging with issues of wellbeing as identified by the Pastoral Teams, exploring how parents can assist their children in their learning journey as well as offering more support with cyber safety and so on.
- Increasing student expectations. Whilst not as ‘glossy’ as some of the other projects, Nathan Goodall has been appointed to oversee expectations of our students. This is a small but important point for 2019. Following up on some of the issues of uniforms, personal presentation and lateness to class is often time consuming; however, these are the sorts of expectations that as parents I know we appreciate. They are like road rules, they are there to teach lessons for life which at St Andrew’s we hold as important values. Providing a staff member with the time to do this is a welcome initiative.
- Community engagement. Continuing to engage our parent community will be an important part of 2019 as we look to embed some of the great thinking from Steve Robson, Sue Sagar and their project team, Community Engagement. Parents often seem to disconnect as their children enter Secondary so we will be particularly looking at the Secondary School and trying to better connect Parents with our seminars, with each other and with our Values and Vision here at the College. We will be appointing a part time ‘Community engagement’ person next year to assist as it addresses to one of our core values of Building connections and I believe the flow on effect will be positive in so many ways.
- Digital Integrator. I am pleased to have appointed Lauren Stanhope to provide both a pathway for the teaching of Digital skills across the College but also she will work alongside and coach our staff. She will also be responsible for continuing to develop our coding and robotics programs in Primary and the Middle years. This is a key coaching role here at the College and we look forward to the knowledge and expertise that Lauren will bring to both staff and students.
It is exciting to reflect on our plans for 2019. We aim to balance the focus on improving our current practices as well as looking forward to how to best prepare our students for their future beyond the College. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this, please feel to have a chat or email me.
Reverend Chris Ivey