It seems strange that, as I write this newsletter, the School’s Excecutive and Board are working hard to plan for 2018. We are looking at our staffing needs, changes to structures and reviewing our 2017 goals in preparation for setting goals for 2018; which includes evaluating our progress against our first year objectives, as outlined in our Strategic Plan. All of this, yet it is still winter. I know that there is a sense of urgency amongst my colleagues at other schools to recruit early for 2018 to snap up the best teachers.
At Gippsland Grammar we will have a couple of retirements, a small number of resignations and a few staff will take Long Service Leave. We are predicting growth in our enrolment numbers, which must be supported with adequate time and resources. In particular, St Anne’s will become a full two-stream Campus in 2018, where we will have two stand-alone classes at each year level. We are also hopeful that next year we will begin construction of a Year 3/4 Learning Centre at St Anne’s Campus. The final decision to go ahead with this project will be dependent on funding approvals, which we hope to receive later this term.
We are also experiencing interest and increased enrolments for next year at both Bairnsdale and Garnsey campuses. We will be advertising for several teaching positions at Garnsey in the upcoming weeks, in particular for Maths/Science teachers. At St Anne’s we will be looking for a new classroom teacher and at Bairnsdale we will welcome back staff from parental leave.
Planning is a very exciting time for our leadership team, however we need to ensure that we finish 2017 in the manner in which we started. This year has been a year full of hope, change and excitement. We have welcomed new leaders to critical positions, further developed our ‘Academic Care’ educational model and continued to strive for excellence.
Some of you may be aware that I have been teaching a Year 12 Physics class this term. It has been wonderul to return to the classroom and a subject that I consider a passion. Our Year 12 students have been working incredibly hard this year; they have been great role models for the School and we will be sad to see them go. While we are madly planning and looking forward, I am going to enjoy our remaining time in 2017 and our final months, weeks and days with this year’s graduating class.
The Old Scholars Association launched the 'Be Your Potential' Scholarship Fund at the 2016 STAGGFAIR. This is a new scholarship to enable a student, who could not for reasons financial, social or otherwise, attend Gippsland Grammar. To firmly establish the scholarship, the Old Scholars Association is seeking to build a base amount of $400,000. To this end, all proceeds from the current ‘Be Your Potential’ Fee Raffle will go directly to the fund, thereby assisting future students of our School. The Fee Raffle is a great opportunity to have your tuition fees paid for in 2018, while contributing to a wonderful cause. For full details visit our website, drop in to your local campus or call our Development Office on 5143 6315. Tickets are only available for a few more weeks, so you will need to move quickly to avoid missing out.
As I write this week’s newsletter on Thursday evening, I am mindful that it is the opening night of ‘The Addams Family.’ As a recent inductee to the world of theatre performance, I appreciate the nerves and excitement felt by the cast as they wait for the curtain to rise; as they say in the theatre, ‘chookas.’ I have been privileged to observe rehearsals on a couple of occasions, along with a sneak preview in assembly on Monday, so I know that this will be a wonderful production. I would like to congratulate the students on their commitment and wish them well for the remaining performances. As they say in the trade, ‘it will be alright on the night’.
A special note of thanks to Darren McCubbin for directing this year’s production. Darren has been directing two productions this term, which is an enormous commitment and one we appreciate greatly. I would also like to thank our wonderful music staff, ably led by Mr Goss with strong support from Mrs Candy, Mrs Boyd, Ms Bryant and, of course, the Friends of Performing Arts, who give much support and assistance behind the scenes.
Early next week I will be sending our families an email with a link to the 2017 LEAD survey. LEAD stands for Lead, Evaluate, Act and Deliver. We complete this survey biennially as part of our strategic development. The survey is prepared and administered by Independent Schools Victoria and provides an insightful snapshot of our progress as a school. We use the same survey tool every two years, which has given us a useful longitudinal view of our performance. LEAD survey results were unpacked by the School Board and influenced our decision making and planning in the development of the current Strategic Plan. I would ask all families to take the time to complete the survey and thereby help us to become a better school.
Finally I would like to congratulate our runners and our shooters. The cross country team competed in the Independent Country Co-Educational Schools carnival on Wednesday and won with a significant margin. Thank you to Ms Dyke for her efforts in preparing and inspiring the team. I also congratulate Mr Kuch and the shooting team for an admirable performance at the Frankston ‘down the line’ DTL shoot this week. The students were competing against schools from across the state and, as always, represented the School admirably.
Have a relaxing weekend.
Before the holidays, I spoke of my intentions to travel to Halls Creek (WA) with Reverend Rich. Our purpose was to spend time with our students from this area; to meet and connect with their families and local organisations regarding an ongoing education program; and to learn about Aboriginal Culture in the East Kimberley region.
I am pleased to say we achieved our aims and the trip was a great success. While I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Kimberley for the first time, it was the people we met and the experiences we shared that defined our trip. It was great to spend time with our boys in their local community and meet some of their friends and family. Our students and their families welcomed us; taught us about Kitja and Jaru culture; and showed us their amazing country of contrasts and beauty. Dean Mosquito, Irving’s father, took Reverend Rich and I out into the bush to see some amazing places that are of significance to the Kitja people from Warmum. We also learnt about bush tucker and bush medicine.
As a School we want to develop a sustainable relationship with the people of the East Kimberley and, as part of that relationship, offer an ongoing educational pathway for students. This is a challenging task and heavily reliant on personalities and relationships. It is made more difficult by the isolated nature of the region and our distance from it. The program would complement and support the pathways that we are currently providing for our Gunai Kurnai students.
A starting point for this ambition is to ensure that we understand our purpose and reason for bringing students all the way from the Kimberley to Gippsland. We then need to develop relationships with different organisations in the region who can assist. Rev Rich and I met with Board members from the Wunan organisation in Kununurra. Wunan is a not for profit organisation run by Aboriginal people to support local Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region. Their goal is to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in the East Kimberley by driving sustainable change for the future. At our meeting, my first request was for them to help us as a school understand and be clear about our purpose for developing this program. Their answer came in the form of a video on their website. I encourage our families to view this video on their website at http://wunan.org.au. It is called ‘swimming the river.’
Reverend Rich and Ms Henry have been working on our School’s Reconciliation Action Plan. They plan to incorporate aspects of our commitment to the local Gunai Kurnai people, the Kitja and Jira people from the East Kimberley and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across Australia. I know that they are excited about working on this project and will provide updates and information as we proceed.
I feel blessed to have had this experience; to have spent time with the wonderful people of this region. I am hopeful of returning and continuing to develop these relationships, and of further developing my knowledge and understanding of culture and country.
A photo of Mr Baker with Junior Bradshaw in the East Kimberley region
I would like to welcome our students and their families back for Term 3. It was great to spend some time with students this week; to see refreshed faces and hear of great journeys and adventures.
This term we welcome back Mrs Leanne Caithness, who returns from Long Service Leave and resumes her role teaching Science. It is also my great pleasure to announce that Mr Jie Van Berkel has accepted my offer to become the ongoing Head of St Anne’s. Mr Van Berkel has made a great contribution to St Anne’s as Acting Head and I have confidence in his ability to provide leadership to this campus well into the future.
We were fortunate to be able to conduct our Annual Staff Conference at St Anne’s on the first day of term. This was a great opportunity for staff to spend time together, developing our shared understanding of wellbeing and working towards a whole community definition of this concept. Throughout the day we heard from experts from within our staff and also explored the impact that wellbeing has on academic performance and engagement. Our purpose for the day referenced our educational model ‘Academic Care at Gippsland Grammar.’ In particular, we examined the inextricable link between wellbeing and learning.
As a School we wish to develop a whole community understanding of wellbeing, a common language for describing wellbeing and actions we can take as teachers, students and parents to positively develop wellbeing. This is an exciting and ambitious goal that will take time to achieve as each element becomes embedded in our culture. Ultimately we would like to identify beliefs and behaviours that enhance wellbeing; encourage these at all times; and explicitly speak about these in our language. Conversely, we would also like to understand and identify beliefs and attitudes that may damage wellbeing and be prepared to challenge each other when we observe these behaviours.
These cultural changes mirror our goals and vision for learning. We have already developed a shared language of learning- the SOLO Taxonomy, and we are currently identifying beliefs and behaviours that promote SOLO and enhance learning for our students.
Once again I would like to welcome all of our students back to School and wish them well for the Semester ahead. In particular, I wish our Year 12 students well as they approach their final days at Gippsland Grammar. They have been a positive and engaging year level and wonderful role models for our School.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish our students and their families a happy and safe mid-year break. It has been a full and satisfying semester and I must emphasise how proud I am of our students and their achievements. It has been an incredibly busy six months and we have shared many great moments.
Your child will bring home their Semester 1 report today. I encourage you to take time over the break to read through their reports with them and establish where growth can occur in second semester. Look for, and celebrate, the strengths and successes; develop strategies to take advantage of opportunities going forward.
In particular, I ask our Year 12 students to plan their break carefully. It’s vital to relax and recharge, as second semester is busy and occasionally overwhelming. We encourage Year 12’s to schedule time to review the concepts learnt in Semester 1, and plan to get ahead for Semester 2. Time will be very valuable during the final weeks of Year 12.
I would like to wish Mrs Arnup well as she departs for Italy during the holidays. Mrs Arnup has been sponsored by Independent Schools Victoria to further her understanding and skills in the implementation of Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment. Mrs Arnup is one of 10 people in Australia who are accredited to train teachers to deliver the enrichment tools. This is a great achievement for Mrs Arnup and our School. The course that Mrs Arnup will be undertaking (LPAD) will further her understanding of how to measure growth and improvement with the FIE.
The Learning Propensity Assessment Device (LPAD) is an assessment procedure and set of instruments which enable the practitioner to evaluate and identify an individual's cognitive functions and reasoning skills. It is based upon the theory of Structural Cognitive Modifiability, which purports that intelligence is dynamic and modifiable, not static or fixed. As it focuses on the learner's potential rather than their current level of performance, the LPAD is a viable alternative to static IQ tests.
Unlike standardised tests, which are product-oriented, the LPAD is process-oriented. It investigates how the learner thinks, rather than seeking quantifiable answers. Instead of comparing the learner's performance to age norms, learners are compared only to themselves at different times and in various conditions. The outcome of the LPAD is a descriptive profile of modifiability that includes the area and degree of cognitive change. The results of the assessment are utilised to recommend a course of psycho-educational intervention, which often includes Instrumental Enrichment.
The training process includes acquaintance with LPAD instruments, supervised assessment experience, and writing of reports.
We wish Mrs Arnup well as she learns how to use these instruments and, ultimately, how best to implement them at Gippsland Grammar.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday.