School Council President’s Letter
Well, we are now at the end of a year (make that 2 years) I think many of us hope to never repeat. But with any luck we’ve turned the corner this time.
In the last weekend of November, School Council held its final meeting for the year at the school’s country campus, Mirimbah. The meeting was combined with a working bee and Councillors, staff, family, and friends put in quite a few hours painting, fixing and oiling balustrades, gutter-clearing, cleaning, and rubbish removal.
The camp has been quite transformed over last two years. The Department of Education has had a program of asbestos removal from its properties and this involved them recladding and relining the Mirimbah buildings as a result of the asbestos removal. The school then took the opportunity to reroof and recarpet as well as replace the windows with double-glazed ones. Accessibility to the site has also been significantly enhanced with extensive ramping and installing an accessible bathroom. The place is really looking very smart. Not all year 7 classes were able to get to the camp at the beginning of the year before the lockdowns so the remaining year 7 classes are having their times at Mirimbah now. They may have missed out earlier, but they are at least getting the advantage of the seriously upgraded facilities. I’m sure they will appreciate the new bunks and mattresses and the oodles of hot water from the new hot water system.
Quite a bit has been happening around improving facilities at the main campus too. Such as sound proofing in the music rooms and a new PA system. But the big project, the Landscape and Basketball court project, has unfortunately stalled. We were well on our way with planning, and even receiving tenders to refurbish the basketball court and redoing the seating and landscaping around the court, as well as improving the entrance to the school, thanks to a capital works grant, when Yarra Council has brought us to a, hopefully, temporary halt due to the need to clarify and agree on the use of the land made available by the historical half road closures.
The Department of Education worked with the City of Melbourne Council in the mid 1980's to achieve the half road closure. Perhaps those of the school community who live in Yarra might like to email Yarra Council to ask why they are not being more supportive of public schools in their municipality.
On a brighter note more things are happening to enhance the school. The Student Council, with the support of School Council, has engaged First Nations artist, Elijah Money to undertake a mural at the main entrance to the school. Elijah has been consulting with the students and Council on a design. We’re very close to finalising the design and the mural should be ready for unveiling early next year.
And there is still more. The Student Council is also working on enhancing the school’s atrium with the help of some parents and friends of the school with expertise in landscape gardening, horticulture, native vegetation, and biodiversity.
The school welcomes parents, carers and friends sharing their expertise. We were fortunate, through a staff member contacting an ex-student whose partner was ventilation consultant to gain a pro-bono assessment of the ventilation throughout the school at a time when these skills were in very high demand. And, by the way the assessment noted that the ventilation, though not without drawbacks, was really quite good.
I am pleased to say the school has ended the year in a solid financial position. The lockdowns precipitated some unexpected expenses, but savings were made in other areas. It remains to be seen what impact changes to Department parent payment policy guidelines have on schooll finances across the state.
The Education sub-committee has been considering the Department’s FISO 2.0 draft. FISO stands for ‘Framework for Improving Student Outcomes’ and is designed to place both learning and wellbeing at the centre of school improvement. The school is required to develop an Annual Improvement Plan each year, and a School Strategic Plan every four years, and these are now to align with the new FISO. Council’s Education sub-committee supports the Principal and staff in developing these plans.
Through the last part of this year the Education sub-committee has been looking at the LOTE (languages) program at the school, looking at options to increase opportunities and how to encourage students to take languages past the middle years of school.
The Education sub-committee is also beginning to look at the possibility of developing a long stay program at Mirimbah where students take their classes at the Mirimbah campus.
It’s been a difficult 2 years but the school is poised to enter next year in a good position with the students able to take advantage of some significant facilities improvements to the city campus and Mirimbah. A new four-year Strategic Plan is soon to commence development this will take us through the next few years, building on the current positive atmosphere, I feel, around the school.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Councillors for the effort they have put in and their patience… with yet one more Zoom meeting.
I’d also like to thank the non-Council members of the various school sub-committees whose expertise has been a real support to the school this year.
Compliments of the season.
President, PHSC Council