I’m excited about the year ahead, I’m honoured to be given this new role and the enormity of the responsibility is not lost on me, or might I add, on the rest of the leadership team.
I would not want to be anywhere else. This is a great place to work, we are very people focussed and our culture oozes that sense of belonging and connectedness. Results matter to us. Every student matters. The School community is connected, supportive and proud.
We can SOAR.
Our families demand great value for their investment in our School. They deserve a first class service and that requires us all to soar higher. That is going to be our mission for the next two years. St John’s Grammar has to be the school of very happy parents, children and staff…it has to be a school of choice.
In 2018 and 2019 the blueprint to soar higher will be framed in two ways;
Firstly we will plan for St John’s Grammar to be further compelling! To do this we need to be strategic. A new strategic plan will be engineered after extensive consultation and data analysis is completed in the first half of the year. We will all play a role in its construction. That’s everyone; the Board, staff, parents, kids, educational professionals. Within our organisation we have so many people bursting with brilliant ideas, ready to be unleashed.
Secondly and more immediately, we have an improvement plan for this year and next. This is about doing what we do now, even better! The leadership executive has established a focus framework of improvement, one that channels a fair proportion of the things we want everyone, individually, in professional teams, learning areas, in administration to have a crack at!
There are three elements to that framework;
Showcasing the brilliant outcomes of our teaching and learning: When young people are required to post their work on a more public arena, there is a level of scrutiny and interrogation that naturally inspires and demands a greater engagement and commitment from the student. Think of drama productions, concerts, art shows, media productions, book publications, even exams, year level expos, passion product displays. These are opportunities to exhibit the work done by our students to a wider audience, and watch the pride and care and richness that goes into the learning. Every learning area can showcase!
Building our results: If you do not have the appetite for better results, the thinking and planning does not happen. Defining just what greater success looks like in terms of results and outcomes will be our first step. We need those measures in place. Teachers can then plan on how to help forge these new tiers of achievement. Every student should aim for personal bests and we should never stop working towards that with them.
The third area of improvement focus is in community building. Community is such a big reason why our families come to St John’s Grammar. A true community is one where every member works for each other. There is inclusion, empathy, collaboration…this only comes when we understand each other, by working and playing together, by winning and losing together, by navigating the ups and downs together. We want not just every student, but every staff member and every parent feeling this powerful sense of belonging and connectedness. Recently I asked the staff two critical questions to consider in their improvement planning:
- What can you do that improves the richness and quality of our relationships with students and parents to a first class level?
- What can you do that value adds to the connections we make within our organisation with each other?
Hitting the Ground Running. One of the advantages I have relished is the transition afforded to me in this new role, and it has meant that from as early as April last year, I have been able to instigate a few measures of the improvement agenda for 2018.
- A new Secondary Campus timetable is in place: The key features of the new timetable include consistent times throughout the week, sensible lesson scheduling that optimises learning and some key considerations that ease the intensity of the school week.
- New Secondary School Executive: Three new leadership positions were created; Leader of Learning and Curriculum, Leader of Wellbeing and Leader of Professional Learning and Development.
- The Whitechapel Gallery: The previous learning areas dedicated to Music have been converted to specialist spaces for art and design and will feature exhibitions of student work. A Year 12 art studio has also been added.
- In-House VET: In partnership with TABOR College of Higher Education, the school has introduced the Certificate 3 in Education Support. The Cert 3 course attracts 70 Stage 2 SACE Points and can be included in ATAR calculations. Importantly completing the course leads to employment of further educational pathways. The course is facilitated here at school with opportunities for students to do their placement hours also here at ELC, OHSC and the Junior School as well as other early child education centres. It is the first of three planned in-House VET courses for the future.
- New Head of Sport Positions: The Secondary Sports portfolio has been divided up into three new positions; Head of Physical Education (learning and teaching), and two Head of Sport Positions. This will improve the quality of our sport offering and the management of the operations. A new Senior School sports exchange to Canberra in August has been organised along with a Sports Extravaganza end of year event.
- Relocation of the International Program: The School has again attracted over 30 international students. The program, including the office of the International Coordinator, will be relocating into the Language Centre. Chinese Stage 1 and 2 will be taught. The existing International room, TC101, will be handed back to Design and Technology and the office dedicated to the Technology teaching team.
- Study Support: The Library will remain open to 5pm (Wednesdays 4.20pm). On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays tutors will be present to support students with their study. The list of tutors (old scholars) has been compiled and an induction process will occur in the first two weeks before the study support begins in Week 3 of Term 1.
- Frequent Flyer Program: Middle School students will be able to choose to be involved in the Frequent Flyer Program which is a collection of co-curricular opportunities which takes their learning to new and engaging arenas. Tournament of Minds and Future Problem Solving teams will be established and the School will enter the Schools in Subs program.
- A three-day Citizenship program in Year 10: This will be framed around service as an enterprise, with students being given an opportunity to develop their own service program.
Junior School and ELC
- Transitions from ELC to the Junior School: In 2018, the School is introducing ELC specialist lessons in Music, Indonesian, PE, Art and STEM in Terms 1 and 2. The purpose is to create a series of experiences with clear learning intentions that provide ELC students and families an opportunity to work with key specialists in the Junior School. The learning series will help build a stronger partnership between the ELC and Junior School.
- Establishing a Science Learning Area: The classroom under the Sports Hall is being converted to a general Science and STEM learning space.
- Wellbeing Framework: A small team, as part of their Masters Study) is establishing a R-7 well-being framework which will guide policy and practice, as well as pastoral learning.
- The focus of the Rudolph reference group is changing emphasis from agency to enterprise: The school still values the importance of providing opportunities for student agency, particularly with learning, but the group will now look at constructing a scope and sequence (Year 5 to 11) for enterprise learning (which is very much about agency at work!)
- Communications: The Junior Executive have started an audit of all the communication services on campus to look at best practice in relation to parent and student needs.
A lot is already happening and every staff member has developed their own action plans that support the improvement agenda. We are an energised lot working under the mantra of “if it don’t have clout then leave it out” and I look forward to sharing more with our community in the coming weeks.