From the Principal
Wow, it has been a very busy month, this month. Lots of really good, positive things happening and many, many lessons learned. This term feels much more settled than last and although we continue to see increased absences in both staff and students, so far we are weathering these well. Please do be aware that we are seeing increased absences in the staffing area as is happening across the system (not just globally but internationally) but education is certainly not the only industry experiencing this so we all just do what we can to keep things running smoothly.
This week, we had our final review panel day. From here, a draft Strategic Plan will be developed and this then needs to be approved and signed off by the Department. Once this process is finalised, we will begin an exciting new chapter at Heathmont College, one that very much focuses on improving student outcomes – all outcomes, including the academic ones, the social ones and the emotional ones – and supports teachers to develop their practice to do this. There will be further opportunities for staff, students and parents to be involved in developing the strategies that we employ to meet this new plan so please, keep an eye out for information on this.
Speaking of improvements….. I have informed you all of the fact that we are currently in the process of having areas of the school updated, modernised and improved in the facilities space. These improvements include refurbishing the toilets at the top of the school, near the canteen. However, in recent times, we have been experiencing increased damage, rubbish and poor behaviour in these spaces which is leading to some of our students feeling as though the toilets are not somewhere they wish to be – at all. This is clearly not acceptable and something that we are very keen to stop – especially given that we are looking to make these spaces much more pleasant. In order to combat this, we are going to be implementing a reporting system for students to report things that are happening in the school that they feel need addressing. The system will be set up so that students can let us know if they see and hear things happening that may lead to damage for the school or for a reduction in student safety. The system will operate very simply, through a link to a form that students will be able to access from their Compass homepage. It will not be anonymous (we need some assurance that the reports being made are legitimate) but it will be easier for students to report things without worrying about being ‘seen’. The reports will also be treated with a high level of confidentiality. They will come only to me and I will only share the information about who has made the report in the instance that I feel it needs to be shared.
More detail regarding this will be sent out to students shortly.
On a more positive note, we have had some recent ‘modifications made to the courtyard girl’s toilets in response to some very brave and very strong sentiments that were expressed by some of the girls at the school. This, I believe, is a really great example as to hoe expressing your views in a way that is considerate of others can lead to positive outcomes. To the girls who started this, I salute you (you know how you are!).
Assistant Principal - Student Management and Wellbeing
The new Heathmont College hoodie looks fantastic and the students have reported it to be very comfortable and warm. It is pleasing to see the vast majority of students wearing the correct uniform, it presents the school in a much better light and gives the whole community a greater sense of pride in the school. Students also seem to be much more settled this term, perhaps reflecting fewer changes to the learning environment in terms of remote learning and mask wearing.
Excitement is building towards year 8 camp which will be occurring in another 2 weeks during week 7 of school. We have 10 staff attending the camp and they are very much looking forward to getting to know year 8 students outside the classroom. The camp will be at Lake Eildon and will involve students setting up tents, hiking, canoeing, rafting and mountain biking. Students will be leaving their electrical devices behind and immersing themselves in the natural environment!
Year 10 work experience forms are due on Friday 3rd June. The majority of students have completed their forms and handed them in, which is fantastic. It is great to hear about the huge range of placements the students have organised which will no doubt lead to rich learning experiences for students about their post school lives.
Assistant Principal – Whole School Coaching and Development
NAPLAN is over for another year. For our Year 9 students, this was the last set of NAPLAN tests they will do. For all Year 7 and Year 9 students there was a gap of four years between NAPLAN seasons.
I was very impressed with the way the students conducted themselves during the tests. They arrived on time, with the equipment they needed, found their seats and remained focussed on answering the questions the best they could.
The test results provide us with information on how students are performing in areas of literacy and numeracy and support improvements in teaching and learning. The assessment also allow achievement to be mapped as students progress through schooling. Results are expected somewhere between mid-August to mid-September. When we receive the individual student reports, we will distribute them to parent/guardians.
In 2023, NAPLAN will be held in Term 1 with the testing window running from the 15th to 27th of March.
Assistant Principal – Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
Life in the Inclusion and Diversity space has been focussed on providing learning support to a wide range of students. With the Tutor Learning Initiative, MYLNS, QuickSmart and student focussed classroom support operating to help students engage cognitively and emotionally with their studies. The team of staff in these areas is quite large and each staff member brings a set of skills and expertise relevant to assist students in gaining success in their learning journey.
We look forward to working with more students and encouraging them with the skills required to grow.
One staff member in the team is Frances, our Well-being Dog. She provides emotional support for students but also allows for learning opportunities as students and staff navigate her needs as well as their own. This week, she showed students how to use alternative behaviours to stave off boredom and negative behaviours. We used Frances as a tool in the teaching to help students understand they can in fact be the masters and owners of their own behaviour and find replacement to the way they react.
If you have ever wondered what Fran gets up to during the day, check out her video.