It has been great to see so many positive events, connections, and experiences in our college this term. After two long years of remote learning, we are working hard this year to prioritise high-quality learning in our classrooms (supported by our Professional Learning Teams model, coaching for all teachers, and collectively reviewing evidence of impact), as well as a key priority of student and staff wellbeing.
We have many things to celebrate. We also have a complex reality we continue to navigate. The strength of our college is the collective sum of our staff and students and I continue to be impressed by the optimism, determination and focus we see each and every day.
Let’s start with the celebrations. A highlight of our term was the 2022 College Open Day. It was fantastic to have such positive energy from 550 Grade 5 and 6 students, exploring life as secondary school students. Thanks to Triple M for their live broadcast onsite and to Pics & Props for the photobooth – the photo-strips were a huge hit with our primary school visitors! We look forward to seeing our future students for additional transition days later in the year and we cannot wait to welcome the Grade 6s to our college in 2023.
Interest in our college continues to grow, with early indicators suggesting we will have approximately 200 new students in Year 7 in 2023. Enrolments are now open – future parents, please ensure you have your primary school placement form submitted (or direct enrolment request if outside of our catchment area), so we can confirm places for 2023.
In line with our student wellbeing focus, our Wellbeing Team have been incredibly active this year across the college. We have seen numerous awareness days, guest speakers and presentations. It was great to build awareness of Family Violence, including the individual and societal impacts and the various support structures available last week.
I would like to thank the vast array of industry partners who joined Year 10s last fortnight for our Living Library careers project. A great opportunity for students to select areas of interest, then speak directly with professionals in those fields. Thank you our Careers Team and to the Baw Baw LLEN for supporting this project.
I would like to commend our Year 7 and 9 students on their approach to NAPLAN recently. Those who attended not only conducted themselves to a very high standard, but they also showed real determination to do their best. Building from our investment in literacy and numeracy via our Enrichment Programs, no doubt many students were keen to show off and celebrate their learning growth. We look forward to celebrating with them when results are released later this year.
It is certainly fantastic to be back together this year, and to have the opportunity to come together and celebrate learning and wellbeing across our college in so many ways!
I referenced a ‘complex reality’ the start. We live in an interesting time, where society has stopped talking about the pandemic as much as it had previously (thankfully, many will say), but we continue to feel the impact of it. As many of you will know, teacher shortages are currently prolific across the state. This is not dissimilar to other sectors, such as health care and emergency services, as our workforces battle Covid-illnesses, the seasonal flu, and other winter aliments that we have had little exposure to for 2-3 years.
Our college has experienced some impact with a shortage of available staff, but perhaps not as severe as some schools around the state. We have a number of processes in place to ensure continuity of teaching and learning, which at present are working well. I would like to thank our teachers, many of whom have taken additional classes when their colleagues have been away, and to my Assistant Principal team, who often take additional classes to ensure learning continues each day. I am sure you’ll join me in thanking our teachers and principals for their ongoing dedication and commitment to your children.
The other complex challenge is student attendance. We understand that students are experiencing the same range of winter illnesses as staff, and for this reason, attendance at school may be interrupted. I have a concern, however, that some students have low attendance which is impacting their education, and potentially their wellbeing. There may be a range of reasons, and no doubt the last two years has impacted this. Indeed, variable student attendance is currently a trend across the state.
It is important to remember that schooling not only supports students academically, but socially, emotionally, and in their wellbeing. If students are struggling to get to school for any reason, we ask that you make contact with either your Mini-School Team or our Wellbeing Team. Getting back to school is the best way to help students move forward in all aspects of their life.
Despite the challenges, is there great reason to be optimistic. The health department modelling indicates current rates of illness transmission should decrease over the coming months. We continue to provide additional support for learning through our Tutor Learning Program, with great results. We have embraced new statewide reforms, including the Mental Health Practitioners in School project, and the Mental Health & Wellness Fund. We continue to lead the way across the region as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) Link School, and we are excited about lifting student learning and engagement to new levels, with the introduction of our new Student Classroom Feedback surveys. These surveys will add a significant new dimension to growth and development for our teachers.
Finally, we are excited about the new VCE reforms; the most significant enhancement to the VCE since its inception 40 years ago. You will hear more about this in the coming weeks via a statewide media campaign, and through our own course counselling information sessions.
As we approach exams next week, I wish our Year 9 to 12 students all the best. Our senior students will relax at the conclusion of exam week with their Senior School formal, before we all commence Semester Two for the last two weeks of term.
Thank you, as always, for your support of our staff, your students, and our college.