Last week, at both our Parents and Friends Welcome drinks and a School reunion, I was able to speak to parents about our new Strategic Plan, Gippsland Grammar towards 100. Whilst this plan has a life span from 2017-2019, it has a particular focus towards the future and our School centenary in 2024. The plan is available on our website and can be downloaded in PDF format.
I mentioned to those present on Friday, that the strategic plan is written in language that is consistent with current educational terminology and may not be fully decipherable to everyone who reads it. We debated this aspect of the plan with the Board and staff when it was written; however, we feel that the plan needs to accurately reflect our actions and to do this, we need to use the language of education. I am hoping to use my newsletter over the upcoming weeks to unpack the 5 areas of our plan and hopefully give you reassurance as to where we are headed and help us to keep on track.
The first area of the plan refers to Academic Care. This is a concept that we borrowed several years ago to describe our educational model or philosophy. It is a set of statements regarding what we teach (curriculum), how we teach (pedagogy) and who we teach (pastoral care). This philosophy inextricably links all 3 areas within our School culture and our teaching and learning. You cannot have one without the other. Once again, a full copy of this educational model is available on the website. In short, we are stating that you cannot effectively teach a student without understanding who they are, how they learn and how we can motivate them in the classroom.
Academic Care at Gippsland Grammar promotes our five core values of compassion, leadership, excellence, respect and responsibility.
Academic Care, where students are understood not just as learners but as part of a caring community of learners, requires teachers to develop curriculum and approaches to teaching and learning that are made visible and enhance student learning, well-being and resilience, and to embed these in classroom experiences.
Academic Care at Gippsland Grammar builds positive self-esteem, connectedness and self-efficacy through pedagogies and organisational structures, and through adults’ relationships with students in and beyond the classroom.
Academic Care activates personal growth. This mindset enables one to cope with challenges and struggle; to endure and persist; and to create and develop a range of strategies and skills which can be used in a flexible way to flourish.
Academic Care is underpinned by our teachers’ passion to the ongoing development of their professional learning, collegiality and collaborative practices, and their commitment to students at the centre of everything we do.
In 3 years
We aim to:
1.1 Develop, consolidate and implement a whole school approach to making learning visible for each student.
1.2 Routinely use targeted data to ensure teachers understand their impact on each student’s learning.
1.3 Purposefully support the wellbeing of each student in the classroom and beyond.
1.4 Develop and allow space for programs that activate citizenship through service learning opportunities. Service learning, not only provides a direct service to the community, but students also learn about the context in which the service is provided, the connection between the service, and their own learning objectives and their roles as citizens.
1.5 Make visible to each student the value of and their capabilities as a leader.
These goals are quite ambitious and we are currently mapping these out over the 3 years of the strategic plan. Departments and Campus teams have already mapped out strategies for these goals for 2017 and will now work with individual teachers to determine how they can support these goals with their own professional growth this year.
Our start of year conference focussed on how we can make learning visible for each student in our classes. Visible to our students as learners and also to our teachers. Together they should have a clear view of where the student is on the learning spectrum, how well they are going and what is their next step. We use the SOLO taxonomy to help both teachers and students describe where they are, with regard to their learning, in a common and accessible language.
For example, my Year 10 Maths students were recently developing linear equations from a real world problem and plotting them on a Cartesian axis. The different levels of their learning were made visible as
Multistructural- they understood where the data came from, and were able to create coordinates and plot these on a graph.
Relational - they were able link the concept of real life data with a linear equation and then a graph.
Extended abstract- they are aiming to be able to interpret graphs in a manner that identifies trends, relates these trends to other contexts or equations and allows for in-depth analysis. The students are aware of where they are placed with regard to their learning, can articulate how they are going and plan their next steps. Their learning is visible to both the student and the teacher.
Whilst these methods are not new to teaching, we believe strongly in their effectiveness. We know from research at both the University of Melbourne and Harvard University, that they work and we are committed to creating a consistent philosophy or approach to teaching at our school. Finally we are improving the effectiveness of our use of data to ensure that our teachers can target their teaching, their pastoral care and know their impact.
Our pastoral teams are also using data to measure the wellbeing of our students and use this information to target programs and support mechanisms to enhance the wellbeing of all of our students.
I would like to thank the P&F for providing a wonderful Welcome Drinks last Friday. It was a relaxing and enjoyable chance to meet and speak with members of our community in an informal manner. In particular I would like to thank the Year 8 parents, Alistair and Catherine Hicks for providing wine from their winery, Blue Gables and TNT Catering for providing wonderful food. I look forward to seeing members of our community at the Foundation Soiree, on Friday 3 March. Tickets are selling fast and can be purchased from the School website.
It has been an incredibly busy start to the School year with our students involved in many activities and events. Last week I wrote about the Prefect Induction Service at Garnsey and today I was fortunate to be involved in the St Anne’s leadership fellowship. Next week Bairnsdale will also conduct their leadership fellowship. These services have been a great way to recognise the opportunities our students have to further their leadership experience and also their understanding of how to fulfil their responsibilities as leaders. I look forward to watching all of our students step into these roles throughout the year.
Both St Anne’s and Garnsey students competed in their House Swimming Carnival this week and Bairnsdale students will have their chance next week. I congratulate all of the students who participated, particularly in the cold weather. Both events were conducted in a sportsmanlike manner and it was fantastic to see House Spirit alive and well.
This week students also had opportunities to attend Year 8 Camp at Cape Conran, VCE Outdoor Education camp at Sandy Point and Year 12 camp at Forest Edge. Ms Henry and I were fortunate to visit Year 12 camp on Thursday and enjoy a meal with the students. Whilst this camp gives students a chance to form into a functioning collaborative year level, it is also an opportunity for them to hear from great guest speakers and receive sound advice that will help to prepare them for the year ahead. The time spent building these skills and foundational behaviours will have great benefits for each student and the year level. The senior students have made a very positive start to the year and they are already pushing the boundaries of what they might achieve this year.
I am looking forward to welcoming all of our parents to the P&F Welcome Drinks later this evening. This is always a relaxing and enjoyable evening where parents can come together and form the strong community bonds that help all of our families feel connected to the School. We especially welcome all of our new parents who are attending their first school function.
This year we are moving towards a campus based P&F model. We are aware that parents are very busy and their time is precious. A campus based approach ensures that each campus committee can focus their time and their efforts into the campus where their children are attending and reinvest all funds raised at their campus. Please speak to your Head of Campus if you are interested in being a class rep of simply helping out with an event. The main purpose of the P&F is to bring together our community in a positive manner for friend raising. Any funds that may also be raised would go towards supporting small campus based projects. We will still conduct STAGGFAIR every second year and I will be seeking support and volunteers for the 2018 STAGGFAIR later this year.
I would also like to remind all of our community of the Foundation Soiree scheduled for 3 March at Kilmany Park. The School’s Foundation is the capital fundraising arm of the School. Whilst the P&F have a strong friend raising purpose, it is the Foundation that enables us to complete major capital works, such as the Sports Centre and the Year 3/4 Centre at St Anne’s. The Foundation raises funds through events such as this and in previous years the M.A.D night, as well as through your contributions to the Building Fund. It would be great to see many parents and friends of the school community, attending this event. Please see our website for details.
Often within my role, I receive emails and letters from a member of the public or a friend of the School. These letters are usually written by someone who has met some of our students on an excursion, whilst they have been attending an activity representing the School, or simply walking down the street.
The letters are usually prompted by the manner in which our students have interacted with the public and somebody has noticed. They regularly comment in a very positive way on the polite way in which they interacted with them, the manners they displayed when speaking to them, offering them a seat, holding a door or simply assisting someone who needed assistance. Not rocket science and certainly not something that any of our students would need to be reminded about, it is part of who they are, it comes from their families, their friends and from the School. It is part of our culture, it has been for 92 years and it is up to all of us to ensure that it continues to be part of our School.
As the current members of our School community, it is up to each one of us to protect and uphold our School culture and do everything we can to live our School values.
When speaking with the Prefects last week, we tried to sum up their role and their actions in two simple statements – first, ‘they are the keepers of our School culture.’ It is up to them to ensure that our School culture will be maintained and, if possible improved, during their 12 months as Prefects. How will they do this? - by the second statement, ‘see something, do something.’ If they see something that requires attention, they won’t walk past and leave it for someone else to deal with. The standard that you walk past, is the standard that you set! If they walk past something, or someone who requires assistance, changing or correction, then they will set a very poor standard. They will become bystanders rather than upstanders!
Whilst the Prefects who were inducted on Monday as leaders of the School for 2017 will do everything they can to have a positive impact on the School, I also put the same standards to all of our students. They are all keepers of our School culture. When they see something, they must do something. Don’t walk past something that is wrong or needs attention. We can all be leaders for our School if we follow this simple statement. We can all be upstanders.
Ms Henry, Mrs Bullers and I, spent some time with the Prefects last Friday and we asked them to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a School Prefect” and more specifically, as a group, “What will they stand for and be known for?” They came up with these three words: To be approachable, equitable and proactive.
Whilst these seem like simple and easy to uphold trademarks, when unpacked, they are quite complex and ambitious. Their challenge now is to set goals that reflect these trademarks and implement them effectively. Their challenge is to also live by these trademarks and uphold them, not only in their year level but every year level across the School.
I would like to congratulate the Prefects on their selection and also our students for selecting them. I wish them well as they embark on their next leadership opportunity and challenge. I urge them to leave a legacy this year with the goals that they achieve and I strongly believe that they will leave the School a better place at the end of their time.
Last year I mentioned the wonderful achievement of Christine Turra from Year 12. Christine is an incredibly talented singer and actress and was recently invited to attend the very famous Stella Adler summer conservatory in July this year. Christine is working hard to fund herself for this amazing opportunity. If you would like to help or find out more, simply search for Christine on the gofundme website.
I am looking forward to seeing many members of our School Community at the P&F Welcome Drinks, next Friday 17 February, in the Chapel of St Anne, at 7.00pm.
Tickets for the Foundation Soiree are selling fast. Please refer to the front page of our website for details.
It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome back all of our students, their families and staff members to the 2017 school year. For the last three weeks we have been busy preparing the School for the start of the New Year and it was wonderful to finally have our students back on Wednesday. We welcomed many new students to the School at all three campuses and we also welcomed many new staff to Gippsland Grammar last Friday. I have listed below all of the new staff who are beginning this year and I am thrilled to have such high quality professionals joining us. All of our teaching staff began the year with two days of professional learning and planning. On Monday this week we spent the day with Sophie Murphy and Luke Mandouit from the University of Melbourne. Luke and Sophie will be working with the academic staff this year, helping us to further progress our desire to make learning more visible at our school and push our students deeper with their understanding. Luke and Sophie work with Professor John Hattie at the University and they are experts in their areas of research, the language of learning and feedback. Sophie has also begun introducing some of the thinking strategies from Harvard University that I have discussed in the past. This is an exciting time for our teachers as we urge them to form deeper understandings about their teaching and the impact they have on their students.
This year we have also introduced some significant changes to our leadership team. Mrs Virginia Evans has begun as the new Head of our Bairnsdale Campus and Mr Jie Van Berkel has begun as the Acting Head of St Anne’s after the sudden departure of Mr Mark Yeowell during the school holidays. Mark secured a position at the Hills Grammar School in Sydney and has moved to be reunited with his family. Both Virginia and Jie have made a wonderful start to their new roles and are already having a positive impact on the Executive Team. This year we also welcome Mr Stuart Llewellyn as the new Head of Boarding at Blackwood House. Stuart joins us from MLC Marshmead and has settled in well at Blackwood House with his wife and two daughters.
I have attached to this newsletter a final version of our 2017-2019 Strategic Plan ‘Towards 100’. This is a plan for our School to reinforce its position as a leading provider of education in our region and beyond. It has a heavy focus on teaching and learning and the development of specific strategies in our classroom that will help our students to develop into deep and critical thinkers. The plan also has a strong focus on Academic Care and the holistic growth of our students into wonderful young men and women ready to take their place in the world. As this plan is a guide for us as a School and as educators, the language may appear to contain a great amount of eduspeak. As such, I would welcome your feedback, your questions and any other comments you may have. I will be briefly discussing this plan at the many and varied events and information nights I will be attending this term and it would be more than appropriate for you to ask me questions at any of these events. Otherwise a simple email or a call would be welcome.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the class of 2016 for yet another year of fantastic results for the School. The Dux of Gippsland Grammar for 2016 was Anna Morscheck. Anna obtained an ATAR score of 98.95. Anna achieved a perfect score of 50 for English Language. We also congratulate Campbell Meade for achieving a Premier’s Award for VCE/VET Furnishing. This is the third year in a row that a student from Mr Kuch’s class has received a Premier’s Award for being the top student in the state. We also congratulate Tom Stewart who has been selected to present his Theatre Studies performance at this year’s VCE Top Class performances in Melbourne.
This year’s results are another strong performance for the School. The School’s median ATAR score was 73.2 and 8% of our students achieved a score above 95, placing them in the top 5% of the state. 19% of students obtained an ATAR score of over 90 putting them in the top 10% of the state, whilst 39% obtained an ATAR score in excess of 80 placing them in the top 20%. 92% of the students placed in the top 50%.
Close behind Anna from Sale were Solomon Jones (Longford) 97.7, Emily Harrison (Giffard) 97.2, Christopher Valette (Maffra) 97.1, Zoe Czempinski (Tyers) 96.45, Kirsten Clamp (Sale) 96.2, Maithree Wijesakara (Traralgon) 95.45, Scarlett Clemens (Sale) 95.2, James Shephard (Maffra) 94.5, Damaris De Kock (Bairnsdale) 93.8.
8.3 % of the study scores were over 40 and hence were published on the VCE high achiever’s list.
78% of these students received either a first or second round offer to attend the University of their choice and 98% of the cohort received an offer to continue their studies at a tertiary level.
We would like to congratulate all of our students who successfully obtained their VCE or VCAL certificates and also our dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly to assist these students for many years.
I wish all of our families a fantastic 2017 and I look forward to catching up with you at some of our start of year events.
New Staff- 2017
Garnsey: Mrs Melissa Farley – Development Officer
Mrs Christina Kyriakou – Teacher
Mr Shamis Law – Teacher
Ms Sarah Little – Teacher
Mr Stuart Llewellyn – Head of Boarding
Mrs Lynette McGowan – Receptionist
Mrs Michelle Reynolds – Teacher
Ms Jenny Roberts – Teacher
Mrs Helen Salisbury – Cleaner
Mr Warren Stewart – Boarding House Supervisor
Bairnsdale: Mrs Margaret Cotter – ASC Coordinator
Mrs Virginia Evans – Head of Junior School
Mrs Evie Wilson – ELC Teacher
St Anne’s: Mrs Ellen Condron – Teacher
Ms Emma Neal – Maths Extension Teacher
Miss Lauren Verde – Teacher
Miss Sarah Wheeler – Teacher
Gap Students: Paige Biddle Peter Brown
Elliott Durrant Solomon Jones
Returning Staff: Kelly Warren (Events Co-ordinator), Lisa Hudson (Bairnsdale PE teacher). Please note that Ms Rebecca Wells has accepted a position teaching in China and will not be returning to Gippsland Grammar.
Strategic Plan 2017: Please click on the link below to view the plan.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our families a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. It is hard to believe that the year is almost over and I hope that each and every one of you will have time for each other and your families during the break. A time of love and enjoyment.
Today we farewelled students from all three campuses and shared tears with those who are moving up to Garnsey or leaving the School. I look forward to watching our new students settle into the School in 2017 and engage with our wonderful School culture, in particular our new ELC and Prep students, our Year 7 students and our students who are about to embark on their final year of secondary education.
Today we also farewell several staff members who are leaving the School. We wish them well with regard to their careers and future adventures.
Mrs Dawn Braham, Mrs Maria Clemens, Mrs Meredith Lynch, Mrs Kath Penton, Mrs Lauren Reilly who will be taking parental leave in January, Ms Rita Eremin who has been filling in at the Boarding House and our wonderful Gap students, Brigette Bragg, Daniel Broadbridge, Sophie Dilks, Riley Jones and Alex Lawson.
We farewell and send our best wishes to Ms Amanda Virgo as she embarks on the journey of her life, parenthood. We also farewell and thank Mrs Katie Cross who has been a burst of energy for the Bairnsdale Campus this year.
From St Anne’s
We send our best wishes to Mrs Louise Hulls, Mrs Amy Laverty and Mrs Katie Germaine who are all taking parental leave. I am looking forward to news of these impending births early next year.
Veritas Liberabit Vos