As my first term at Lowanna College draws to a close, I continue to be impressed by the endeavour of our students and staff in what has been a busy and productive 10 weeks. There have been many highlights, including our Swimming carnival in the early part of the term, and more recently our Athletics Day - we were very lucky with the weather last week. I congratulate all students who participated, and to those students who will progress to the next level of competition in Gippsland, I wish you all the best.
Our careers program continues to grow under the leadership of Kirsty Mitchell, and we saw a range of guest presenters visit the school this term. I suspect the Australian Defence Force was a highlight, with representatives from the Army, Navy and Air Force sharing their experience with our interested Year 10s, 11s and 12s.
It was a proud moment to see our students take a stand against bullying on the National Day for Action Against Bullying, and many students choosing to make a ‘hand-print’ pledge, passionately stating that there is no place in our school for bullying. There are many proactive anti-bullying strategies our school has in place, from clear and firm processes and consequences to positive educational programs across a range of year levels. I still firmly believe, however, the best school approach is to create a culture where the students themselves stand collectively together and say ‘this is not what we do here, this is not something we accept’. Our ongoing work, of course, is to support and empower our students to take this stand.
OUR STRATEGIC FOCUS
Over the course of the term, with strong support from the Assistant Principal Team and through engagement with our school council, we have solidified our strategic focus for 2019.
TEACHING and LEARNING
We continue a strong focus on building our collective classroom practice, with teachers and support staff setting their own learning and development goals, and many engaging in our new one-to-one coaching program. Coaching for teachers is a practice many high performing schools engage in; it’s about recognising that, as professionals, we can all improve what we do, and doing so will benefit our students over time.
COLLABORATION and IMPACT
As a staff, we will continue to support each other through our Professional Learning Community (PLC) model, where teachers will meet together weekly to plan curriculum based on student needs, share teaching practices, and assess and evaluate learning. The latter part is crucial so that, as a staff, we know where we are having a strong impact, and where we might need to refine our practices.
Our third key area of focus is building a culture of high expectations, which relates to all members of our school community. In some of these areas, such as uniform and strong attendance, we seek ongoing support from our parent community. We know that these are important foundations of a high performing school. Much more than this, however, is the expectations we (as teachers, support staff and students) have of ourselves and each other in regards to learning progress and student achievement.
Our VCE and VCAL students will know how significant the link is between their effort this year, and the results or outcomes they will receive. For our Year 12 VCE students, they now have just two terms remaining before they begin the term four revision and examination period. I continue to be pleased with how our Year 12 students are applying themselves during their study sessions in the Year 12 Centre - if this focussed approach is applied during home-study as well, I’m confident our students will have a positive year.
LOOKING FORWARD: NAPLAN, Term 2
As you will see in the ‘School Information’ section of this newsletter, two key state-wide school assessments will arrive early next term. The first is the Student Attitude to School Survey - a valuable opportunity for students to provide feedback on a range of aspects of our school. The second key assessment for our Year 7 and 9 students is NAPLAN.
NAPLAN is something that often creates much discussion in the community and media when it arrives. I would just like to highlight a couple of key points that students and parents should be aware of. Firstly, NAPLAN is not something that should be stressful for students, but it is something we want them to take seriously, and do to their best on.
NAPLAN provides the school with valuable information about each child’s literacy and numeracy ability, and we will spend some time analysing the results to ensure we are catering for each child. Secondly, from my own experience of reviewing school data, there is a link between students who do well in Year 9 NAPLAN, and how students perform in Year 12 SACs and Exams. Given NAPLAN is a measure of literacy and numeracy ability, stronger results would indicate a better preparedness for future learning. But more than that, students who value all aspects of their education highly and apply themselves consistently, undoubtedly do better in regards to long term outcomes. The notion that “I’ll get serious when I get to VCE” doesn’t actually work that well in practice - learning is a progressive journey over many years. I’ll be sharing this message with students early next term as NAPLAN approaches, and share it here with you in the event you wish to reinforce a consistent message at home.
Lastly, I would like to sincerely thank all members of our school community, students, parents and staff, for the warm welcome this term. There is much to be excited about at Lowanna at the moment - a vibrant and positive community, solid foundations in the school, passionate staff, and a strong, clear, strategic focus which will see continuing improvement as we move foward.
I wish you all the best for a safe and enjoyable Easter break, and look forward to seeing you all next term.