Dear staff, students, and community,
It’s been another busy start to the year, as we work with our students to build their learning and educational opportunities. We’ve had many highlights, including swimming sports, the start of a re-conceptualisation of our technology space, great learning across the board, hosting other schools to support teacher learning across the area, live entertainment in the yard, and GippsSport supporting our students to stay active at recess and lunch. There has been some low-lights too, however, with some unusual incidents for our college in the first few weeks of this year. I’ll start there, and finish with the positives.
Unfortunately, we have seen a small number of incidents between students which have negatively impacted the college. While pertaining to a small number of students, they have the potential to have a significant impact. As parents and the community will know, I have been at the college for four years, and in this time the staff and students have worked incredibly hard to build a positive culture, climate and learning focus within the college. By a wide range of markers, not the least being student learning, the college is markedly different to four years ago. To maintain our expectations and standards we have all helped work towards, there has been no option but to address these isolated cases quickly and firmly.
Following the student incidents over about a fortnight period, I met with each cohort, together with our student leaders and college leaders, to revisit our values and clarify our expectations. As the incidents only involved a very small number of students, I hope the vast majority of our students found familiarity and reassurance in the discussion. Some processes are still being worked through, but I have made the decision to expel two students from our college, and two more have been transitioned to another setting. As I said to the cohorts of students... Many staff, students and our community have worked too hard to build our college to where it is; no individual(s) will be allowed to take away from this or negatively impact our college direction. Of course, all students are still children, and I continue to work closely with the Department of Education to ensure every child is supported with the assistance they need, whether they remain at our college or not.
I want to personally thank the parents and community who have been supportive through this unusual patch. Those who have been with us for four years or more will know this is not what we stand for, accept, or tolerate.
There are, of course, over 1000 students in our college, and the overwhelming majority have had a wonderful start to 2023. Our 2023 Advance to University program is underway and we have launched our new VCE-VM program. I have spent time in Year 9 classes and have been incredibly impressed with their focus towards doing well in NAPLAN (next fortnight), and our student leadership team is doing some work on exploring student sentiment and feedback on our next level of improvement at the college.
Swimming Sports was a fantastic day, with beautiful warm weather and lots of fun activities. Thank you to our Year 12 student leaders who cooked the BBQ for all staff and students on the day, and to the Health and PE team for organising the event.
I mentioned that NAPLAN is nearly upon us. We know NAPLAN is not everything, but it is something. There are a few reasons why it is important – not only does it give us diagnostic information about where every child is at in their literacy and numeracy learning, it also gives our students an opportunity to demonstrate (and celebrate!) the great learning they’ve done over the past two years. In addition, research shows there is a strong link between a student’s Year 9 NAPLAN results and their VCE results… the idea that students occasionally have that "I’ll start working harder in Year 11/12” doesn’t work in reality; VCE success requires a strong foundation of literacy and numeracy from Year 7 to 9. As I mentioned, we have been really impressed with the work ethic and output of this current Year 9 cohort, and we look forward to celebrating their results with them after their last-ever NAPLAN period.
With Mr. Justin Rea now at the helm of technology as our new Technology Team Leader, and with some enthusiasm from the technology teachers, we are beginning to re-imagine technology in the modern era. Earlier this term we purchased two state-of-the-art 3D printers with design software, and students are loving the opportunity to play with the modern technology. Stay tuned for more in technology as we build this space.
Our Mathematics Team has been working on cutting-edge, evidence-based practice known as the Thinking Classroom, having students working collaboratively around whiteboards to share, test and challenge each other’s thinking.
Our tutor program continues strongly into its third year, with several new tutors on board. Our tutor team is working daily with students either in small groups withdrawn from class, or as an additional support within classes, to enhance and accelerate learning. We have been fortunate to source tutors who themselves have done exceptionally well at VCE level, and are now able to support our students in VCE English, VCE Further Maths and VCE Maths Methods.
Due to the growth in science, we are in the process of building an additional, purpose-built science classroom for our college. Together with the purchase of new science equipment, the new learning space will create the opportunity for more practical sessions and more investigative learning for students.
Last week we had immunisations for Year 7s and 10s. The immunisation nurses who service all schools were incredibly impressed with how courteous and polite our students were. They even commented that most students said “thank you” (not bad, after receiving a needle!) and for those students who were nervous, they did a great job trying to self-manage that feeling as capable, young adults.
Looking forward to the last four weeks of term, we have NAPLAN, Year 7 camp, Athletics Day and then finally, parent-teacher interviews at the end of term. Thank you again for your support, I look forward to seeing many of you at the parent-teacher interviews in a few weeks, if not before.