Dear College Families

Recently I met with secondary students and their families to talk about student perceptions of school life, in and out of the classroom, as they prepared to move into the final years of their schooling. It struck me that the Student Voice was not a strong feature of our current school review and renewal focus.

Listening to students’ views about how they learn best and what support they need to maintain their well-being as a foundation to the achievement of their best academic outcomes is vital to our planning. We know when students feel that its “safe to learn” at school, free from social distractions they will flourish.

Research on the impact of a well-rounded approach to incorporating Student Voice into school life tells us that there are many benefits for students. Not only will students feel heard, but also they will feel that their opinions are valued and the school acts on them in a way that genuinely shapes learning, builds connectedness and belonging, increases engagement in learning, develops social capabilities and above all creates a positive school culture.

In the Secondary School, we are incorporating these research findings into our plans to involve students in ways that lets their voice be heard. Students who are 15 to 19, along with those in many other independent schools, will be participating in the annual Mission Australia Youth Survey in the coming weeks. The survey helps schools understanding of young peoples’ values, concerns, challenges and ambitions and provides information that assists us to plan for well-being and engagement programs for our students.

Following this, and later in the term, the College will also conduct the SEW survey (ACER Social and Emotional survey), for years 4 to 10 to hear what our students are saying about a range of matters and to inform our planning for their optimum learning environment and pastoral care programs. I look forward to hearing more from students in this way.

Finally, thank you for your support in helping to manage the risks associated with the COVID pandemic. We continue with the recommended physical distancing, regular hand washing, extra facilities cleaning and restricted access to the site. From week three, following the Department of Education regulations, we expect that students can participate in limited extra-curricular activities, gathering together for up to fifteen minutes at an assembly or chapel service for example.

As we reminded our staff this week, “in the new normal” we must change our mindsets in three ways; focus on the good things in the day, change our vocabulary from social distancing to physical distancing, because humans need one another, and, learn new ways to do things every day.

Suzanne Bain