Term 3 is always a busy term and this year that has definitely been the case.
It is, in effect, the last term for the Year 12 students and the frenetic pace of finishing the coursework and preparing for the VCAA exams continues throughout the term. For the other year levels, there is a focus on subject selection for next year. Meanwhile, the day to day business of the school continues; classes, interschool sport, clubs, celebrations and musical performances, are all part of the life at SCHS.
This is also the term when we stage the school musical. This is a major production for the school, and once again, the staff and students have outdone themselves. Last year the school produced a musical centred on rebellious teenagers; this year the musical was also about rebellion! We Will Rock You, often abbreviated to WWRY, is set in a future world where everyone thinks, acts and dresses the same, and where music is forbidden, especially rock music. Every musical has a story and a message, and I appreciate that this story is about ensuring that there is diversity and, more importantly, music.
This year marks the third musical production for the school. As I have oft stated, our school is more than just academics. Providing opportunities in the arts is essential to the development of both the individual and a whole school culture. And this year we were able to celebrate this musical culture through the songs of Queen.
From the beginning our staff and students have demonstrated that they know how to produce a great show; and this year was no different. I would like to thank the Director, Ms Helena Moore, for her unwavering dedication, and to all the staff who give of their time to ensure the success of the production. The students should also be congratulated, especially the Year 12s, whether they were the performers, the band or the stage crew.
This year we invited local primary schools to a Wednesday matinee. With some 200 primary school students, and students from Warringa Park SDS, it was a wonderful way for the cast and crew to start their performances. The show was an outstanding success.
Last term we started the process of a leadership review for the school. This term we have advertised and filled the new positions for 2019. The main change will be to the structure of the school. The fundamentals of the leadership structure of the school continue to be sound. The result of the review in 2015 was that there were essentially two parts to the leadership structure; a teaching & learning part and a wellbeing & engagement part. When we fundamentally changed the leadership structure of wellbeing & engagement in 2015, it was the first step in providing more effective leadership of student management, student wellbeing and student engagement. I believe it has been a success with the sub-school system working effectively and the engagement of the students also increasing and being more meaningful.
In terms of student wellbeing & engagement, the structure is a mixture of horizontal and vertical. In a wellbeing structure, a school would normally have either a purely horizontal structure, that is year levels, or a vertical structure, that is groupings based on students from multiple year levels. Interestingly, SCHS has a hybrid structure where the wellbeing system is semi horizontal and semi vertical; a wellbeing leader looks after Home Group (HG) from two year levels. And the HG are based on the houses. In addition to this wellbeing system, our major vehicle for engagement is the House system, which is entirely vertical. The co-curricular program is also entirely vertical.
The House system at SCHS has grown significantly in the past three years. Student, and staff, ‘buy in’ has increased significantly and association with the house is much stronger. The student feedback spoke in favour of the house system. The change in attitude to the house chorals is a perfect example of that positive change that has occurred. One of the other significant changes has been the level of student leadership. Student agency and voice in the whole school program is vital and the vertical structures of the houses, and the co-curricular program, more readily allows for high level student leadership and input.
Over the last two years we have modified the tutorial program. The positive aims of the tutorial program need to be maintained; however, we should also look at not only what, but how we deliver this program. If we maintain a fundamentally horizontal structure, then the tutorial program will likewise be horizontal. There is an argument though that components of the program should be delivered to all year levels. The difference between a 14 and an 18-year-old is not that that significant in many respects.
We are combining both the house structure and the wellbeing structure. In simple terms, the House becomes the sub-school and looks after all wellbeing issues for the students in that house, as well as also continuing the house program. The HG would then be vertical; in effect a HG would consist of 6-7 students from each year level. One of the key improvement strategies in the School Strategic Plan is to “improve the connections between the house and wellbeing programs” and that “staff wellbeing teams based on the house structure will be embedded in the school” and that “student wellbeing will be enhanced through increased participation in the house program.” The SSP requires that we consider how to achieve these goals.
The reasons for the vertical structure are many, but the main ones are that HG equates to a ‘family unit’; it helps build house spirit and pride; it builds stronger connections across year levels and provides more opportunities for meaningful mentoring; working with diiferent age levels prepares them for the adult world; and, it will improve transition into the school and across year levels.
We have started the process of transitioning the school to the new structure. All students, both current and incoming, have an opportunity to nominate who they would like to be with in a HG. The staff will then create the new HG informed by these student requests. The new vertical sub-school structure will be in place in time for transition in late Term 4.
Another major outcome of the change will be to the daily structure and the tutorial program. The tutorial program is highly valued; however, we also recognise that there needs to be changes. Following education best practice, we will move the HG time from the beginning of the day to after Period 2 (and before recess) and extend the time from eight (8) minutes to 18-20 minutes. There will be one less tutorial period per cycle and therefore the school day will finish ‘early’ on Wednesday of Week B. We will send more detailed information via Compass next term. If you’re interested in reading some of the literature pertaining to vertical systems, I have uploaded some reading on Compass under Community/School Documentation.
With the change to the structure we have also revisited the student leadership structure. The structure has not changed significantly; however, we have aligned the SRC to the Houses and also added some additional whole school leadership positions. These include, Sport Captains, Music Captains and Citizenship Captains. The new system will be explained to students and applications will be called for before the end of Term 3.
The final week of this term will see the entire school undertake examinations; trial exams for the Unit 3&4 subjects and standard exams for the other subject levels. This is a good chance to remind that the exams for Year 9-11 are just another assessment task and not the final assessment of the year’s work.
In the first week of Term 4, the school community will assemble for Presentation Night. This year we will be holding the event at the Melbourne Town Hall on Wednesday 10 October. We expect all students to be in attendance. This promises to be a magnificent evening and I look forward to seeing you on the night.