2020 Open Day

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Principal’s Opening Address

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Captains’ Chat

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Virtual Open Day Questions and Answers

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The questions and answers have been laid out in the transcript section, so they can be easily read and understood.

College Life


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Virtual Open Day – Principal’s Address TRANSCRIPT:

Anthony Elmore: Welcome to the St Michael’s College 2020 Virtual College Open Day. It’s so wonderful to have you join with us this morning for our Open Day. Of course, with the circumstances that have been in place in society in recent times, we have not been able to open our gates this year to welcome the many, many families who have registered to be with us today. But we are so pleased to be able to welcome you in our Virtual Open Day, to give you a sense of who we are as a community and give you that opportunity to glide through the College with our tour, to meet our College Captains and members of our College Leadership Team. So thank you very much for joining with us today. You’re so very, very welcome. St Michael’s College is a very proud Catholic community. Here at St. Michael’s, we have two key goals for our students.

By the time every student exits year 12 here at St Michael’s, it is our hope and our goal for each student, that they leave here knowing that they are loved by God and leave here with outstanding learning outcomes. What does that mean for us? Because, here at St Michael’s, we are not an independent school. We’re not a private school. We are proudly a unique Catholic community. And so for us, when we talk about every student leaving here at the end of year 12 knowing that they are loved, what we are talking about is every student having wonderful relationships. Wonderful relationships with their peers, great connections with their teachers, their sporting coaches, those teachers going the extra mile in their maths classes, in english, on the sporting field and in the extra-curricular and co-curricular cultural activities. When we talk about every student leaving here with outstanding learning outcomes, we know that no two students are the same.

So here at St Michael’s our dedicated and wonderfully qualified staff work tirelessly to ensure that every student is able to unleash their full potential. To make sure that they can leave here achieving and reaching that potential that perhaps they start here, not even realising that they have. We talk about the fact that every student is different and so we work with our students to make sure. Our staff, working with their families so that our students can light that spark, ignite that spark in every student. I know that for Rebecca and I and our three children, that are three are very different. And we know that for each of our students enrolled here at the college, that every student comes with their own set of gifts and talents. And so here at St Michael’s our staff and our community work to ignite that spark for each and every gifted individual at the college.

We work on a strength-based model. We work to pursue academic excellence. We work to pursue excellence in the arts and the co-curricular so that every student can achieve their God-given potential. For each and every single one of our students, we want those, our students to be educated as an entire person, a whole package. We know that for us here at St Michael’s, it’s not just about the academics. It’s not just about the sport. It’s not just about the co-curricular activities that we’re involved in also. But here we talk about educating our students for doing well at life, because wellbeing is so very important and such a big issue for our young people today.

We know from all the research that we’ve done, that mental health and wellbeing are big and important issues for our young people. From talking to our families, from talking to our young people, that is something that we know. Our Being Well Program, our Going Well Program, the work that we do with our counsellors, our pastoral team, making sure that every student here at St Michael’s can live into the spirit. To know that it’s not just about me as an individual, but, “What can I do to contribute to the community that I live in, contribute here on the Gold Coast, but the bigger picture also.” And that’s what we talk about here at St Michael’s College.

We have support for all learners and with the differentiation of learning that takes place, we extend those learners that come to us through academic excellence. We provide support for those young people that might require a little extra support in their learning. And we have a great team that will extend students, that will support students. But most importantly, for all students in the college, we will encourage all students to live into their potential. Because there’s one thing that we do talk about here as well, that whilst we are on the coast and situated beautifully here at Merrimac, just down the road from the beautiful skyline of Broadbeach and we’re here on the coast, there is no coasting here at St Michael’s. We will push every student to achieve their potential.

The co-curricular and cultural life of the college is very, very important to us. And we will often talk about the fact that for us here at St Michael’s, a vibrant… heart of the college is the arts and a vibrant arts life of the college in music, dance and drama is what creates us to be the wonderful community that we are here at St Michael’s. And you’ll hear a bit more about that later on in our Q & A Session. So we’re very proud of the performances and the activities that our students are involved in, in that co-curricular and art side of college life here at the college.

Our sport and spirit: our students are involved in a range of sporting activities. And I know that this is something that draws the community together, brings our students and our staff and our families together in such great partnership. I know that looking through our Bursary Program for 2021, we do have a number of those bursaries that are going out in the sport area. And so we look at the excellence that we are seeing in a number of those sporting areas. And I know that Miss Wasiak, our deputy principal who’s on our panel today, would love to answer your questions about our sports program. As much as I am Sporty Spice, myself, Veronica is the one that will be able to answer all of those sporting questions for you as well.

Excellence in learning and teaching is something that we are committed to here at the college. St Michael’s College today is not the St Michael’s College of yesterday, last year or five years ago. We have been on an improvement journey. A committed improvement journey, and I thank all of our staff and students for their commitment to that journey that we have been on over the past two years. The learning and teaching journey here at St Michael’s means that the success of every individual student is at the centre of every decision that we make going forward as a college. And I know Emma Bailey, our Assistant Principal Learning and Development will be able to shed more light on that learning and teaching journey and that improvement journey in our panel discussion later on this morning.

At St Michael’s, there are multiple pathways for success for our learners. And as I mentioned earlier, no two students are the same. So at the moment we have just under 900 students enrolled in our college, and we know that no two students are the same. We don’t pigeonhole students into particular pathways. The mentoring that we conduct with our students all the way from when they enter the college in year 7, through to when they exit the college at the end of year 12 means that we tailor the learning to meet the needs of those students. And open those pathways and discover new ways of learning. Because we know for our daughters and sons at the moment, the pathways, the jobs that they are going to be going into don’t exist at the moment. So for us as a college, we are providing an education that lays the foundation for a great success for our daughters and sons.

And so when you come to St Michael’s, there’re multiple pathways to explore and live in to that potential to ignite the spark of every single one of our learners so that they can exceed their potential in life. And that’s certainly a commitment that our dedicated teachers, our wonderful support staff and our students supporting each other on that particular journey.

In concluding the initial opening address today, I’d like to touch on the importance of partnerships. I know for Rebecca and I, as parents, when we were considering schools for our children and certainly when we made that move from Ipswich to the Gold Coast, when I was appointed principal here of this wonderful college – and what a great privilege it is to be principal of this amazing college. One of the key things that we thought about was not how our children going to go academically. That certainly is a consideration for us, but the first question that we considered as parents, when we were considering a school for our children, “How are they going to go, how are they going to get along? Are they going to find their tribe?” And that is something that we do so well here at St Michael’s, because as parents, what do we want? What is our hope and dream for our children? Our hope and dream for our children is that they are happy, they are successful. They experienced fun and joy in their time at school. Our pastoral care structure here means that our older students operate as older brothers and sisters and mentors for our younger students coming in. So when you come into grade 7, you might be one of the only people from your primary school. And our students in year 7, come from up to 21 different feeder schools.

And so the importance of our pastoral care program in providing that support so that our young people make friends establish their connection, establish their tribe and get along. That is so important. And that belonging, care and connection is something that we just do so well here at St Michael’s. And I know that Veronica… I know that our captains, our college captains who are on the panel today will be able to talk to you about that belonging, that care and connection as we journey further this morning in our panel discussion.

I thank each and every one of you for taking time to join with us this morning. St Michael’s College, our motto: “Scientia et Caritas” – stumbled on my own motto, start that one again – “Scientia et Caritas,” knowledge and love. And how beautiful is that? Our focus on excellence in learning and teaching, our focus on connection, belonging, care, and connection. Thank you for spending time with us this morning. We’re going to head to a glide-through tour of the college. We have two of our captains that will take you on that tour. Sit back and enjoy that. And when we come back- that’s only a two-minute tour. When you come back from that tour, I’ll introduce you to our wonderful panellists. And then we will prepare for our Q & A session. Enjoy.

Virtual Open Day – Captains’ Chat TRANSCRIPT:

Brooke: One of my best memories is – I still remember year 7 camp and I got put in the only three-person canoe and everyone else is going fine. And then next minute, (laughing) three people, three paddles. We were not getting our lefts and rights (laughing) right? And next minute we’re drifting off from everyone else. All these waves are coming, everyone else is just flying away, like they’re fine. But then next minute, this huge wave comes and our whole canoe topples over and we’re just like stranded and everyone else was like a good few hundred metres away. And it was just hilarious, thinking back on it, it’s a funny thing to think about.

Lachie: I think my best memory of St Michael’s is my first ever Foundation Day. It just really showed what school is really about. Had all the rides, it really showed and the war cries, it was just so much fun. [crosstalk 00:19:13]

Dylan: Yeah, well, my best memory by far would be my first year at the college. When I played my first sporting event, it was like under 15’s, you know, I was about 12 (laughing) I was by far youngest and smallest on the team. And you know, playing with the grade 9 kids really put in the sense of comradery and you know, just being able to celebrate us kicking a goal and you know, being around with the boys, it was pretty, pretty fun, pretty exciting. [crosstalk 00:19:40]

Nikolina: I’m going to say all the like drama productions that I’ve been in have been a highlight. They’re always fun. With students from all different year levels.

Brooke: Did you have a favourite? Your favourite one?

Nikolina: Yeah. Last year’s Fawlty Towers. It’s quite funny. [crosstalk 00:19:57] That was my favourite.

Brooke: I have to say, I love all of the stuff here, all my teachers are so supporting. But it’s just makes it so much better when it’s not just a teacher and student. It’s a friendship, like say in engineering, my engineering teacher, Mr Barron like, it’s a bit of comedy that goes on there and (laughing) it pulls me up sometimes. It’s a good friendship there.

Lachie: Yeah. Like I love all the teachers here, but in Physics with Mr Baker, having those class conversations. He makes it so easy to just get involved in such good class discussions.

Brooke: It’s so funny though. How like where you sit there for an hour and we were all just talking, had this huge debate.

Dylan: Mr Baker and Mrs Miles, obviously Chemistry and Physics teachers, both feed into each other really. And I really like just sitting up front with the boys and, just talking and having good discussions about – almost like a nerd fest really (laughing). Always in for a good lesson, always look for those classes.

Nikolina: Yeah. I’m going to say Drama and French are always fun with them. Miss Forsyth and Miss [inaudible] we always joke about when we get something wrong in French and it means something that we we’re not supposed to say. Or in Drama, we’ll play like drama games and it just goes wrong. Sometimes. (laughing)

Brooke: I guess one of the biggest things I’ve learned here is you’ve got to surround yourself with positive people. Being within this community felt like, surrounded by all these positive people and influences. It just makes you a better person. And the only way to really be positive in your own life is also be surrounded by positive people.

Nikolina: Definitely.

Lachie: I think one thing that I’ve learnt, especially with friendship, you’ve just got to find your people, find your people and you’ll really fit in, you’ll get that confidence. Yeah, that’s one thing I’ve really learnt.

Dylan: Well, throughout my time at the college, I’ve kind of always wanted to use- like have good friends and good relationships and you know, build on my leadership skills. And that’s definitely one thing that this college has taught me to do. And you know, obviously my whole time here have obviously grown as a person and yes, just been great.

Nikolina: Yeah. And like we were saying before with the students and the teachers working together, it’s really taught you how much you can get done. And your potential is so much more than what you think it is sometimes. Yeah.

Brooke: Honestly, I think we’re remembered as- we will be remembered as one of the most resilient groups. We’ve been thrown so many curve balls but each time we’ve bounced back. We take it in our stride, positive about it. Like we were getting to the point where we’re like, “Oh well, keep going” and I’m just so proud of us and our cohort for that.

Nikolina: Definitely.

Lachie: We were the first grade sevens, first everything, first for the ATAR first for the new curriculum. And the fact that we’ve gotten through this and getting through it really shows we can get through anything.

Dylan: On top of that, you know, we basically had to do a whole term or half term of online learning (laughing) with the current events but-

Nikolina: Just when we thought we made it to the end.

Brooke: I have to say, I found that the whole online learning process wasn’t as big of a nightmare that I thought it was going to be. I thought that it would be the biggest change and that everyone freak out, but it actually made doing work really easier at home.

Lachie: I feel like the teachers really made sure that it was their priority to make sure it was easy. The easiest thing to grasp so we could get through it keep, even though we had to be at home.

Dylan: We definitely kept up with everything. It was more of what I missed from the school though. Like you’re definitely sitting in classes, all the banter that you missed out on with the teachers and the other students, but at least we kept up with the school work and we didn’t do it now. We’re all caught up. So that’s good.

Brooke: I definitely think I have some lifelong friends from the school. Like even if it’s a friend that every year or so you check in and be like, “Hey, what are you up to?” And there’s other friends where you’re like, “I’m going to be best friends with them for the rest of my life” kind of thing. And I feel like everyone will be a little bit in touch after this. We have such a connected cohort.

Nikolina: Yeah, definitely.

Lachie: The friends I found, I noticed – they help me get through everything. And I just definitely don’t want to see them go. So I’m trying to keep them around for as long as possible.

Dylan: Definitely being able to spend more time with these bunch, like pretty much every week. Being able to check up on then, especially Nikki, you know we hardly even knew each other before this year, like almost best friends with.

Brooke: What I wish I knew when I was in year seven was to make sure you grab as many books as possible from your locker so you don’t have to walk all the way back in between each classes. I’ve now got the system down that I only have to go to my locker twice a day.

Lachie: Definitely found in our walk past the sports carnivals, make sure to get everyone involved. Makes it so easy. Definitely makes it a lot more fun as well.

Dylan: Yeah. Well, in grade seven, I used to stress a lot about my grades. And since then I’ve kind of found that you can just take it a bit more easier, to take it to the cruisier. It’s going to get a lot stressful towards the end. So just focus on your studies a bit, maybe take in what’s around you in your early years, because you definitely regret not spending time with your mates. That’s at lunch, when you’re in laundry, or you’re just focusing on your studies. It’s more than that for this experience, high school, it’s six long years. So might as well enjoy it.

Nikolina: Yeah. Don’t want to be too hard on yourself.

Brooke: I’m so happy that my parents decided to send me here. I feel the community, especially the teachers had such a huge impact on me from year seven to now, almost graduating in a few months. Just a bit scary. But they have such a positive influences. I’ve had teachers where I’ve been on the borderline of freaking out with two assignments and three tests the next day. And they’ve just pulled me back to earth and been like at the end of the day, as long as you try your hardest. Like it doesn’t matter kind of thing. Or I’ve had other ones where when I’ve had conflict, they’ve been there for me and supported me or anything like that. Like these teachers have been such an amazing role model in my life.

Dylan: Yeah, definitely. One of the things that I’ve found at this college and why I would recommend it to other people is that when I was in grade seven, I didn’t know what I was going to do when I was older. I thought it was going to be a drama student. And I wanted to play music, and I kind of on this path I kind of found that through different programs at this school that I might be a bit more of a STEM. And on the way up I’ve kind of elected myself to go through subjects like that and go on that pathway for my career. And hopefully into the future.

Dylan: Definitely at this school, we provide all different subjects to help us get into any pathway that we want to go. We have all the teachers who support us and make sure they get us there.

Nikolina: It really shows that anything is possible. Yeah.

Brooke: What about you, Nikki? Anything you really had that—

Nikolina: I think the fact that it’s such a community makes this school stand out. You really feel like you belong. Yeah.

Brooke: I like that it’s not just, like – like I said before, it’s not just the students or teachers and leadership teams. Also the parents. It’s everyone. Everyone’s involved in what goes on here.

Dylan: Such a great community.

Brooke: Yeah.

Speaker: That’s really cool. Thank you for that. That is really awesome. Is there anything else, while the camera’s rolling that you guys want to talk about? Maybe you’d like to. Maybe we can’t publish this until after you guys graduate, but anything you got away with while you were here?

Dylan: Cheating on the Grade Eight scavenger hunt comes to mind.

Speaker: Got it.

Virtual Open Day – Q & A Session TRANSCRIPT:

Panel Members: Anthony Elmore, Principal, Veronica Wasiak, Deputy Principal, Emma Bailey, Assistant Principal Learning & Development and 2020 College Captains Brooke Wightman, Lachie Dorricott, Nikolina Andrejev and Dylan Libbis.

Anthony Elmore: And welcome back this morning. And what a great conversation that our captains had there. An outstanding group of young people that we have as our college captains for 2020. And an outstanding group of young people we have in the college all around. The young women and men here at St Michael’s are such a great testament to their families, but also to the staff that we have here at the college. Such wonderful teachers and support staff here at St Michael’s supporting the development of young women and men here at St Michael’s for over 35 years. And so it’s so wonderful to be working in this environment here at the college.

Our panel is now ready and eager to answer your questions. As I mentioned, all the difficult questions are for our captains and particularly for Dylan, who likes to cut corners on scavenger hunts. But today we’ve had some questions that have come in advance, and our team behind the scenes at the background there have been working at collating your questions that have come in during that package. So, Cassandra, our Assistant Principal, Catholic Identity and Mission, will be asking the questions today and firing them through to us. So, Cassandra over to you for our questions.

Our first question is what sort of extracurricular activities are available at St Michael’s College?

Anthony: What an outstanding question to start with. Here at the college, we have a full range of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that are available. And they range from the sporting through to the cultural and arts and even into the academic areas as well. So I might ask Veronica and Emma to be able to talk about those because, as I said, there’s the sporting activities that we’re involved in. There’s things like the robotics and chess club and those things as well that Emma might be able to talk about. The homework club, all those different things. So Veronica, we start with you.

Veronica: I think you’ve mentioned a lot of the activities there. No, there’s a huge amount of activities. There’s many, many different sports that are on offer here at the college. We have netball. We have rugby league. We have rugby union. AFL, athletics, swimming. You name it, we have it here at the college. We have opportunities for extension dance outside after school hours. We have art classes, art club, engineering club, the media studies club. Lots and lots of different sort of activities. And we’re also open to suggestions. If we don’t have a club here, it’s an opportunity for students to put in a proposal. We’ll have a look at, and if we can do it, we can make, we will certainly offer it.

Emma: Yeah. And I suppose beyond that, it’s not just what we offer in our formal curriculum, but like you’ve said, it’s those extra opportunities that students have outside of the classroom as well to really find out what their passion is and to be able to pursue that.

Anthony: Are there any clubs and activities that you guys have involved yourselves in over the years?

Brooke: Yeah. Well, over the years I’ve tried quite a few. I’ve tried dance troupe, which I learned pretty fast I cannot dance. Then I gave a few different sports a go. Like touch and AFL and rugby sevens. And I gave pretty much everything a try. Then I tried a few academic ones. I did a few extra-curricular STEM activities and stuff like that. And I just kind of tried a bit of everything to see what I enjoyed.

Dylan: Yeah. Definitely on with Miss Wasiak when she said, if it’s not there, you can definitely start it. Like even this year, the boys that I hang out with have started a cricket team. So yeah. Hoping to keep the tradition going up from this year on, but we’ll see.

Anthony: I know that Dylan has with all the current restrictions in place and not being able to have inter-school competitions at the moment that a there’s a proposal for a staff versus student cricket match. And I know that Isaac, my son, has been teaching me a bit of his bowling skill. So I’m keen to line up against him. I don’t know about batting so much, but I might have, I don’t know how much protection I can fit on this body, but certainly I’m keen to roll the arm over against our senior boys. Nikolina and Lucky, have you guys been involved? I know Nikolina, you’re one of our great arts students.

Nikolina: Yeah, I do like getting involved in the performing arts, particularly drama. I’ve done drama eisteddfods in plays over the years. And that usually takes place at lunchtime and after school. It’s a bit of like a drama club. You can meet a lot of other like-minded people. Yeah. It’s really fun.

Anthony: Excellent. And Lachie, you’re an athlete. I know that. We’ve got so many, so many applications at the moment from students involved in the athletics field. What’s been your experience?

Lachie: Yeah. The athletics of the school has been really great since through the athletics carnivals going through districts and they really offer the training stuff. It’s very good. Yeah.

Anthony: Excellent. Very good. Maybe once you graduate might get you back as one of our coaches.

Lachie: Love to.

Anthony: Very good. Next question.

What external sport competitions does the school participate in?

Anthony: Well, as much as I like to think I’m Sporty Spice, I will send this one over to Miss Wasiak.

Veronica: There are many external sporting competitions. Obviously we’re a part of AGCC, that’s the sports that we play against other schools. So we do that throughout the year. We’re also a part of QISSN and Confraternity. So that’s our netball and rugby league. And our students go away on the June, July holidays to compete in those competitions. And they can be up in Brisbane. They can be up in North Queensland. Just depending where it is. And unfortunately this year that hasn’t had to happen due to the circumstances that we are under. There’s also All Schools Touch, All Schools Oz tag that we’re a part of. The Titans cup. We’re in Rugby Sevens. There’s all sorts of different activities. There’s an AFL competition, a soccer competition. Lots and lots of different sports. Guys, have I missed any of the sporting competitions?

Brooke: I think you’ve got majority of them. Some years, we toss our hat into random different ones. Like I know one year we went into like an AFL tournament, another year of the rugby seven. So yeah.

Veronica: Fantastic. And obviously with our sporting, we have the different levels. We have the opportunity for our students to go and compete at districts, go and represent Hinterland and can move forward into Queensland Schools. So there’s many different pathways there for our students where they have the opportunity to compete at a high level as well.

Anthony: Yes.

Is water polo offered as an option?

Anthony: Water polo is not currently a sport here at the college, but as Veronica said, we are certainly open to look at options here at the college. And it’s one of those things that we talk about with every new cohort that comes in, that if we have interest from students, that we’re happy to explore the viability of, of all activities. Certainly not something that I would be playing, so I wouldn’t be your main coach. I specialise in being the chief cheerleader of every activity here at the college. And so it is something that we’d be happy to explore for families, but it is not currently a sport here at the school.

How do we manage social distancing when it comes to sport?

Anthony: Oh, that’s a good question. At the moment with the restrictions that are in place, there’s no contact sport happening. It’s been certainly such an unusual time, and I’d love to thank all of our families, our students, and our staff for their great commitment they have given over these past few months for lots of our students. It’s been at least nine weeks since they’ve been here on the college grounds. And this Monday, actually tomorrow, we welcome every student back to the college. And we are very excited about that. The restrictions around sport remain in place at the moment. And so in terms of managing social distancing with sport, sport isn’t taking place at this stage. So we’re not managing social distancing because we’re not managing sport. But we will, as time goes on, and sports does come back as an option for us, we will follow all of the government regulations to make sure that students remain safe, families remain safe, and that our staff remain safe. So great question. Thank you for that question.

Can you please outline if you have any scholarship opportunities and what the criteria is?

Anthony: That’s also a fantastic question. All the questions are fantastic by the way. But here at St Michael’s College, we are very proud that in 2021, we will have for the first time in a long time, our College Bursary Program. And we shortlisted just the other day, our candidates that will be interviewed for our Bursary Program. So we offer bursaries across three areas: academic, the arts, and sport. And our Bursary Program means that the successful applicants receive a thousand dollars off their fees for three years. So those students who apply and meet the criteria for academic excellence, meet the criteria for sporting excellence, or meet the criteria for excellence in the arts are able to enter the college through that particular pathway. We were overwhelmed by the number of applicants we had for our 2021 bursary program. That program will continue into the future. Applications for our 2022 Bursary Program will open later on this year.

When we do open that application process, the families fill out the application online. We ask families to provide us with evidence of the academic excellence or the sporting excellence. Referee reports are provided. And then the selection panel goes through a shortlisting process. And then those that are shortlisted are invited for an interview. This year, of course, with the interruption that’s happened with COVID-19, that process has been delayed. We would have loved to have been able to have that process completed already for 2021. But those families that have been shortlisted have been invited to those interviews. And that happened in the past couple of weeks, that invitation. And the interviews will be across the next two weeks. So congratulations to all those who applied and to those who have been shortlisted. So I look forward to receiving those applications into the future as well.

Do you have band opportunities for musical students? And do you offer a dance program? Is there a choir or a musical program available?

Anthony: Yes. Yes. And yes. And I might hand over to Veronica who will be able to give you the nuts and bolts details of that.

Veronica: Absolutely. So we have all of the above and you would have heard Brooke speak about Dance Troupe, which is one of our extension or external dance programs that we also have it here within the college. And every student who is interested has an opportunity with that. With our music programs, our students can have voice lessons. They can have guitar lessons, piano lessons, drum lessons. So they can all be done within the college as well. And from that, students do have the opportunity to be in a band.

Just recently during what we’ve been going through, we had SMC’s Got Talent, a live stream of that. And we had many, many wonderful art performances. We had singing. We had guitar playing. We had dancing. We had some gymnastic stuff that was going on as well. So absolutely wonderful and many, many opportunities with that. And our students within the band, they get to perform at different events. We also have at the beginning of the year, and also at the end of the year, a segment called Artsfest. And that’s where our students get to, to showcase their dance abilities, their singing abilities, their musical abilities with their instruments as well.

Anthony: To add on to that, one of the things we’re very excited about within our arts department and the head of arts, Luke Halverson does such an amazing job here at the college, an outstanding leader in that particular field. And we’re so impressed also with the work of our music teacher, and the work that is happening in that area with Michael Blundell, really bringing music to the forefront here at the college. What we are doing. And for those out in the community, you might know someone if for semester two, we are looking to appoint a new leader within the instrumental music program. So intro to music coordinator here at the college, just to bring together those opportunities and to look to enhance those instrumental music opportunities for our families, for our students here at the college. To identify those new musical opportunities and other areas that we would like to extend. So that great work happening in the arts, in that area of music and led by an awesome team there. So thank you for your question.

There’s a few questions here about policies for the college. How does St Michael’s College manage student phone throughout the school day? What boundaries, expectations are in place? And what is the school’s bullying policy and how is it handled?

Anthony: Thank you. I’ll hand that straight to Veronica and to Emma because they both cut across both areas of the pastoral and the learning and teaching area. And then what I’ll do is ask our captains for their perspective on the issue of mobile phones as well. But I’ll start with Veronica and Emma and then dovetail into our captains.

Veronica: I’ll start with our, our mobile phone process I guess I will call it. So within the classroom with teaching and learning, that’s what happens in the classrooms. So there’s to be no phones in the classroom. If a student does have a phone, they go to the responsible thinking classroom and what they do there is they fill out a plan to sort of think about the phone and where it’s meant to be. During lunch times, students aren’t to have their phones out. If they do need to use their phone, they can go to it to one of the offices. Or if they need to make a private phone call or to check a text due to work purposes, that sort of thing, we allow students to do that. So that’s basically what we have with our phone. Emma, did you want to add anything on that?

Emma: And I suppose when you think about the learning and teaching and phones in the classroom as a disruption to learning is obviously not what we’re about, but sometimes our learning can be enhanced by using a phone. So there might be a particular moment in learning that it’s required for it to be. To photograph a science lab experiment or to film part of a drama production, so that there can be reflections on that at a later time. So teachers can engage with that technology where it’s enhancing learning, but moving away from it being a disruption to learning.

Veronica: Sorry, I guess what we’re trying to do is it’s about education with the phone. We live in a society now where if you don’t see mobile phone, that’s not the norm. So it’s about educating our young people on the appropriate use. When it is appropriate to use when it’s not appropriate to use.

Anthony: I wonder if you guys have a perspective on that. Phones as a disruption, as opposed to phones as a learning enhancement tool.

Brooke: I think definitely it’s been a positive that phones aren’t allowed say at lunchtime, instead of everyone sitting on the phone and not looking or socialising with each other, without having it there and makes people socialise with each other and not sit there, staring at their screen all the time, which I think is definitely a positive influence on the younger generation as they’ve become like so lenient on their phone.

Dylan: Yeah. I can’t really speak for experience of me having my phone taken off me, but as for the bullying part of the question, I do believe that the college has a zero tolerance to that. And obviously there is processes in place to mediate with the two people during the bullying and just reconcile and all that. So, yeah.

Anthony: Cassandra, sorry, could I just get you to clarify that the last part of the question about the bullying policy? Sorry.

It was, what is the school’s bullying policy, and how was it handled?

Anthony: Excellent. Thanks. So in terms of bullying, and that’s a question that comes up regularly for me during principal tours, or certainly during our enrolment nights. No school, no school anywhere could ever profess that there is no bullying. Because when you bring 900 young people together in one place, there’s going to sometimes be challenges in their relationships and how they deal with each other. We are dealing in that model of educating our young people. This is where we really rely on that strong partnership, that strong partnership between the college and families. When the college finds out about something taking place. So, you know, challenging behaviour, a bullying incident taking place. The college takes a very, very strong and firm line on that. It’s about supporting all people involved. But if we then, as soon as we know that something has taken place, our pastoral team, our heads of year level, Veronica, our team within the responsible thinking classroom, we’ll work to establish what has taken place.

If we establish that a young person has made poor choices, has engaged in bullying behaviour, then depending on the severity that young person may spend some time outside of the college, away from the college to reflect on their behaviour before they have a reentry conversation with us. But it’s certainly about education. We have a zero tolerance approach, but it’s about us knowing about it and relying on that relationship and that partnership between families, for us to be able to take those steps. So certainly we want all students to have a positive experience of their time at school. So thank you for your question.

Does St Michael’s College have a language program? What languages are taught?

Anthony: We do, and I’ll hand over to Emma in learning and teaching.
Emma: We do have a vibrant language program here at the college. And the language that we focus on and we enhance is the language of French. And so all of our students, when they join us at the college in year seven and eight have the experience of that French program. So they’re able to go through and become familiar with how to speak the language of French. And then as they progress throughout the rest of the college, there is also an opportunity that they can study that into their senior years as well, as one of the general subjects that we have on offer here at the college. So it’s one of the languages that’s very well embedded in our practices here at the college. Yeah. I think Nikolina, you mentioned before that you were studying French. And you might have some comments.

Nikolina: I study French. It’s very interesting to learn a new language. And it’s great learning about the culture of a different country.

Anthony: And Nikolina did you have the opportunity to travel overseas with the program?

Nikolina: Yes. I went on the French trip in 2018.

Anthony: Oh, that’s fantastic. And was that beneficial to enhance your learning?

Nikolina: Definitely. We went to a school in France and got to immerse ourselves in a different kind of schooling system and yeah, I definitely learned some new language skills.

Anthony: Oh, that’s wonderful. Fantastic. Great.

At what stage through the year, do you indicate if someone on the wait list has potentially got a spot for 2021 Year 7 start? We have not as yet got a backup school as St Michael’s College is our first preference.

Anthony: That’s a great question. What we have noticed and what we have seen over the past couple of years is that the demand for enrolment here at St Michael’s has been increasing.

Anthony: For enrolment here in Michael’s has been increasing. And whilst we would love to be able to accommodate everyone that seeks enrolment at St Michael’s, it’s not quite possible. We encourage families to enrol as early as possible and provide us with all the information that is required as part of enrolment process. Sometimes it will be the situation where a young people will find, or families will find that their daughter or son will end up on the waiting list while we’re processing that information. We move through as quickly as we can, in terms of that. Our enrolment policy is fairly straightforward and available from the website, our college webpage. And so for individual family inquiries, I’m happy for individual families to make contact with our enrolment officer or make direct contact with me. And that’s one thing that we encourage here, is for families to make direct contact with members of the leadership team, direct contact with me as college principal or with any of us. So for a specific inquiry like that, encourage you to make direct contact with Kris, our enrolments officer, or with me as we move through that enrolment process.

How should students enrolling in senior years, Years 10 to 12, prepare themselves for St Michael’s College?

Anthony: Well, might be a question for Emma.

Emma: Yeah, I think that’s a fantastic question. So we are really lucky at the college that we’ve got a seamless mentoring program that’s in place. So as students come into the college and usually from year seven, we start to build a little bit of a picture about what their future journey might be. But even as we look as students transition into that senior phase of their learning, really having an understanding about what opportunities are available. And so we do have a number of mentors that work directly with our senior year students. So beyond the set planning process where they’re identifying their pathway, they’re able to talk with students about what their long term vision is, because I mean, at the end of the day, we’re not looking to make sure that our students are successful in finishing year 12, but we want to make sure that they’re actually successful in being able to contribute beyond that into society.

So spending that time, having those individual relationships with our mentees and working through to really have a strong, clear path of where they’re going. I know that that mentor program might be something that’s a little bit newer at the college, but it is something that is being established. And there’s good feedback that’s coming back from students about that individual attention for each student that’s there.

Anthony: One of the things that we are committed to at St Michael’s is continuous improvement. And for us, we’re very excited that starting in 2021, we will have a new position in the college as well within our leadership structure, which is a future pathways middle leadership role. And that role will be working with students from year nine, 10, 11, and 12, really shaping and forming and guiding our young people around their future pathways. Working with our teachers, our heads of department, our academic heads of department, working with our pastoral leaders to really provide that support for our young women and men and their families in that future pathways, because we know that the world is constantly changing and the roles and the jobs that our young people are moving into don’t exist yet. We’ve seen the disruption that has happened this year in society, and we are making sure that we are continually reviewing our practices here at the college to put in place the right supports for our students. So we’re very excited about that new role that will be part of our structure for 2021, moving forward.

Veronica: Sorry, I’ll just add to that, Anthony, as well, just in terms of, if a student does start here in year levels other than year seven, and it is their first time here, they are greeted by their pastoral teacher and they have that pastoral teacher throughout their term here at the college and they’re with that same pastoral care class. We also have a year level leader. And so that is someone who is in charge of a specific year level and they particularly look after that student. As we know, a student coming into a year level from another school is a time of transition and definitely can be a difficult time.

So there is that support network, that wraparound that student to ensure that their transition is a successful transition. And as you would have heard Anthony speak that belonging care connection is something that we’re incredibly passionate here at St Michael’s. And it’s about ensuring that every single one of our students feel as though that they belong to our community, that they are cared for. And that there is that connection here at school, through the varying programs that we do have.

Brooke: Sorry, if I can add to that from my own personal experience, I think it was the end of year 10. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after school. And it was up to choosing my senior subjects and I was sitting there. I had no clue. I knew I was strong at math and science, but I wasn’t sure. And I remember the school organised for the female engineers to come in and they sat with a bunch of the maths and science female students, and they explain their job and what they do. And it made me really go, “Oh, this is what I want to do.” And I was just one of the opportunities that the school gave to me that made me realise what I wanted to do with my future.

Anthony: Yeah. Well, that’s wonderful. Thanks Brooke. That’s excellent.

How do you personalise learning to allow students to explore pathways of interest to them? What pedagogical framework does the college operate under?

Anthony: Oh, thank you. That sounds like a question from Catherine from Burleigh.

Emma: Yeah. So two parts to that question. So the first one is about how do we identify and support students to pursue their area of passion. I suppose that begins back in the middle years in year seven and eight, where students are provided with an opportunity to experience a whole range of subjects. So across the arts subjects and technologies, delving into different subjects, that they may have thought that they may not have had an interest in, but they do get to experience those subjects right from those middle years. And then from there, students can identify what areas that they are passionate about, and then they can engage in those subjects in more depth throughout year 9 and year 10, and then choosing subjects that align with those subjects into their senior pathways as well. So assisting students to be able to have the experiences to start off with in different subject areas that they may be unfamiliar with is really important.

And then also assisting students to pursue those further into the senior years. So we offer a variety of different subjects in the senior years, and that’s largely based on the passions that each student cohort has. So looking at making sure that our subjects that we have available do actually align with what those interests are. The second part of that question, which was around the learning and teaching framework. So we are a BCE school, so we follow the BCE model of pedagogy. So working through that process, which is clearly set out. And, in addition to that at the moment, we’re also an Accelerate school, so working to focus on and improve the literacy journey of each of our students.

And as we all know, literacy is the base of learning. So we need to make sure that we do get that right. So that’s where our focus is, making sure that we have good, solid literacy skills embedded in all of our learning and teaching practices that we work with our teachers in developing a practice of whole-part-whole teaching, where there’s an opportunity for teachers to be able to differentiate learning for each individual student. So that’s our model of pedagogy that we follow here at the college.

Anthony: Thanks, Emma.

Would you describe your classroom learning as more traditional or modern technology based? How has technology integrated with learning?

Anthony: Every student … And I’ll take the question initially and then pass it on to Emma. Here at the college, every student is issued with a laptop and the laptop that every student receives is inclusive within the one fee structure that we have. And so in year 7, every student receives a laptop and then you receive a new laptop in year 10, but it’s not just that we expect that students would be on their computers the entire time. That’s not what learning is about, but we see when you walk around and we conduct our learning walks and talks, and we’re engaging in our learning, and the students will have a perspective on this as well, that we are incorporating technology into the learning that takes place.

And the way Emma just explained before with our learning and teaching framework, that we’re employing a whole range of strategies are effective and expected strategies that the teachers are putting into place to make sure that we’re maximising the outcomes for all of our learners. So, Emma, would you like to build on that and then I’ll hand over to the captains, talk about what your experience of that combination of technology and more traditional style practices in the classroom.

Emma: Yeah. So I’d have to agree. When we talk about technology in the classroom, it’s not just each student has a laptop and that’s where the notes are kept. We embed different ways that we use technology to be able only in enhance learning. So what are the opportunities that are available through technology and how can we enhance student learning by using technology? So we do still have pen and paper available in the classroom for students to work in, and the devices are used to provide extra opportunities. So whether that’s in our virtual tour of the catechisms in Rome, speaking from experience from my year eight art class, working through the media space and utilising the green room or the 3D printers. The technology that’s in place is more than just a device that students have. It’s embedded to be able to enhance the learning across the college.

Anthony: Certainly with those tours like Emma was talking about, during these times, particularly part way through term one, when our excursions had to be put on hold for the moment to go out of the college, or even have people come into the college due to the current health situation facing society, we are certainly being more creative in how our students can access that big outside world of opportunity. And so we’re seeing that more and more in the classroom. Guys, what would be your experience of how teachers have incorporated technology in the learning environments?

Dylan: Just speaking from a past experience. I’m sure Lachie and Brooke would definitely agree with me on this. Obviously, laptops help a lot with assignments. It’s unreasonable to expect us to hand write 2000 word assignments with the pictures in there –

Anthony: You had to back in my day.

Dylan: But we definitely use, even in our math class, you couldn’t expect us to do 10 lines of calculus in our laptops. We still use our books and we still use the traditional things whilst integrating with the computers and modern technology.

Brooke: I think it’s a very diverse, depending on the class and what you’re learning, is sometimes I like to get the paper out and write down what I’m learning because sometimes that’s how I memorise stuff. Other times I love just typing it up on the computer and have it nice and neatly written out because I don’t have the best handwriting in the world. And other times is that interactive where we don’t use books or laptops the entire lessons is that physically building stuff, working in a team to do stuff. It just depends the class and depends what you’re learning and what you feel is the best approach to how you’re going to remember something and yeah. Stuff like that really.

Anthony: Nikolina, in drama and the arts. What’s been your experience there?

Nikolina: Yeah. I’d have to say it’s a combination. Sometimes we’ll obviously get a play to watch it on our computers at home as homework or during the lesson. And then sometimes pen and paper come in handy when we’re doing mind maps and exploring the elements that we want to use in a piece that we’re creating.

Anthony: I know during our alternative education provision time, there was a film of a play or a piece to camera that you did that was shared with the community. That was excellent. I think actually we’ve had an online at Passion’ for families to access. It was outstanding. Is that something that you often have to do with in drama? You would film a piece and send it back into the teacher?

Nikolina: That was particularly because we went in the classroom, usually we would share at the teacher, perform it live, as it’s good to get that experience of having a live audience. But yeah, it’s also good to learn how to video yourself at home and do that stuff remotely.

Anthony: It was a great piece. Lachie, any experiences that you’ve had?

Lachie: Yeah. I’ve found technology, it’s really helped with us sharing our learning with the teachers, especially in the past two years, I think, we had the OneNote introduced.

Anthony: Yes.

Lucky: Definitely makes it easier to show our working in class.

Brooke: I have to add too. It’s nice to have a lot of my textbooks online so I don’t have to carry them my textbooks around the place.

Anthony: Very good. Very good. Excellent.

What learning management system or platform is used for content delivery and all management?

Anthony: Oh, I think Lachie just answered that question, but I’ll hand over to Emma.

Emma: So we do use the Microsoft platform. And so we utilise Microsoft Teams as our central reference point. Then through Microsoft Teams, there’s a number of different options. So that’s where our OneNotes are embedded in as was mentioned previously. And our OneNotes are used extensively across the college and it was seamless the way that we were able to move into the alternate education provisions because of the work that had previously been done. So work being available for students, if they happen to be away or at traineeships or at representative sport, having that work on that OneNote was very valuable. And part of that Team’s system, there’s also a discussion section. Students can post questions and comments and whether it’s the teacher that responds to those eventually, whether it ends up being one of their fellow peers, which I found often in my classes when you’re checking in on a question that had been asked and their peers had provided an answer or direction as well. So building that collaboration you’re really within that site. So the Microsoft platform is what we use as our central platform.

Anthony: And I think what you touched on there, Emma, and something that Brooke picked up before, it links back to a point that I tried to make. Hopefully I did make it in my initial address this morning when I was dropping the clicker, around the fact that we are educating our young people to do well in life. And what that is about is working as a member of a team, working in collaboration. And I think that’s what Brooke said before that collaborating in classes, working as a member of a team and exactly what you’re talking about there. Not having to wait for the teacher to provide that support all the time that, as students together supporting each other in their learning, because that’s what happens in real life, that we support each other, collaborate in our work team environments. So thanks for a great response. Thanks, Cass.

What certificates do we offer? Vocational, educational, training? And what types of certificates do you offer? Do you offer and support a non-ATAR pathway into university and other higher education opportunities?

Anthony: Absolutely. I think we’ve got about 20 questions rolled into one. So now we’re really testing that collaboration and trying to remember all those things at once. Can I just say that here at St Michael’s, and we talked about it earlier, there’s multiple pathways for students. There’s not a one size fits all, and it’s certainly not what you would experience in some places as you need to choose from only two pathways. There’s multiple pathways and individualised pathways for students. We are very proud here of the opportunities that we provide for students in their academic studies. So there are some students that will know very early on in their journey that they are committed to very strong academic studies and will follow through with general subjects on that ATAR path. And I thank these students who have been our current Year 12’s really been the test case for a lot of Queensland.

I think they said in their captain’s address before, the first group of preps, was it? The first group of seven, the first group going through the new Queensland Certificate of Education and the 12’s that have been blessed by COVID and all the interruptions to the celebrations that go with that. But we will celebrate all the key events with them. What that means though, is that we certainly blend with all of our studies, great opportunities around vocational education and training. One of the courses we are very excited about this year is the number of our students who are accessing Diploma of Nursing while still here at the college as well.

We have a range of other courses that our students are participating in. I might ask Emma just to outline some of those. Whilst Emma will outline a range of courses that students are involved in, the message that I’d like people to take away is that we are open to multiple options for young people. If students and families bring to us opportunities that will enhance a young person’s pathway, we are open to supporting those pathways. So Emma, what opportunities are currently available to students?

Emma: So, at the college, we offer a number of different Certificate II and III courses, and that’s across hospitality, business and also in fitness, be it that’s part of the student’s timetable. But then beyond that, we also support our students when they want to access any of the other vet courses that are available through TAFE. So, we do currently have a number of students that are accessing the Diploma In Nursing, but we also have students that are doing their Cert IV in Criminal Justice. And there’s Certificate III in Animal Studies in a variety of different subjects that is really connected to what their individual passions are. And we’re supporting students to be able to pursue those before they actually finished school. So either leaving with a completed qualification or well on their way with that diploma in achieving that qualification. So I do know there was multiple parts to that question. And I know that was just the first part. Can we clarify what the remainder of that question was?

Veronica: I think you’ve answered it all.

Yes. Do you offer and support a non-ATAR pathway into university and other higher education opportunities?

Anthony: And I think with the new Queensland Certificate of Education, the reality for our young people is that their study patterns and their journeys won’t change. What we have seen traditionally is that across Queensland, 50% of young people were entering university with an OP, and 50% of students or young people were entering university through other pathways. And so with the new Queensland Certificate of Education, there will still be flexibility in ways that young people will access further study, will access the world of work, will access other tertiary studies through ongoing training at TAFE or other institutions, and we’ll continue to support students here at St Michael’s.

Thank you. Just a few quick questions. Yes/no answers.

Anthony: Oh, sorry. I was going too long winded. I should see their faces. Turn that camera around.

Do you have a school basketball team?

Anthony: Yes.

May we ask if there is a STEAM program?

Anthony: Yes. So we do have students from Year 9 can enter into the STEM and STEAM program. These three out of four students on our panel here today have gone through that STEM pathway and studying engineering and high level maths at the moment.

Are all the classrooms and student areas air-conditioned?

Anthony: I can’t give you a yes or no on that one, because that’s a bit more complicated. The short answer is no, they’re not air conditioned at the moment, but we are so excited that we have entered our journey towards air conditioning the college. By the end of this year, by the end of 2020, we will have air conditioned two of our most substantial teaching blocks, L-Block and R-Block, and our journey then to a full air-conditioned rollout will continue over the next short period of time. So our energy upgrade is well underway. Our consultants have been working with Energex and the design elements of our air conditioning installation are underway now. And L-Block, which is the block that’s used mainly for our senior classes will be air conditioned in time for our external exams. And by the end of this year, L-Block and R-Block will be air conditioned, and we’ll have that continual roll out of air conditioning across all learning spaces over the next short period of time.

Do you offer home economics, cooking, sewing at school?

Anthony: Yes. You told me yes or no.

Will you extend the applications for 2021 for families who were not aware of the bursary?

Anthony: The bursary applications, unfortunately for 2021 have closed. We did extend those during the time where we had a bit of a delay when we first had the COVID situation strike us and families’ attention, understandably, was moved away from thinking about enrolments and thinking about the bursary situation. We have already gone through the shortlisting process and we have invited our families for interview for our 2021 bursaries. What I can say to families is that there are other opportunities and other avenues for us to support the enrolment of young people into St Michael’s College, in terms of their continued journey around academic excellence, around sporting and co-curricular and arts excellence. So if you fit into that category and you’re not yet enrolled in the college, or if you are enrolled and would like to have that conversation, please contact Kris, our enrolments officer, and we can have that conversation.

Do you have a map of the school you can share to give a better understanding of the school size and learning areas?

Anthony: I’m sure we do. Yes and yes. And we will be able to make that available to you. I encourage families and invite families to register for our principal tours. One of the things that we really love to do is invite families into the college to have a wander around the school. I know that in preparing for today, one of the things that I was talking to my children about, what type of questions do you think people will ask? And one thing that Isaac said to me was, “How far do you need to walk between classes?” And so that is something that I know that is a question for our students that are coming from their primary schools, an environment that they know and are very familiar with. And they might say to themselves, “Well, do I have to walk from one side of the college, to the other?” We’ve already heard Brooke being very glad she doesn’t have to cart her textbooks around because they’re available on a laptop, but certainly we will provide a map. I do love to invite families in so you can actually see where you will be. You can see and feel that learning environment. And the other thing, of course, as well, with our middle year students, our core teacher model means that for our students in Year 7 and 8, your core subjects are in the same classroom. So you stay in that one room for your core subjects, and then you move for your elective subject areas. What that means is that the rooms are set up, you have the learning walls, the classroom is the third teacher, to be able to extend your learning and create a very safe, warm learning environment for you. So you’re not run ragged, moving from pillar to post all over the school. So yes, we will provide a map of the college for you.

What is the student population?

Anthony Elmore: Currently we are just under 900 students. Our projections of enrolment over the next three years, we’ll have to settle at about 1,050 students. And that is a great sized college. We have no desire to extend beyond that, because at 1,050 you still know every student. And that is something that is so important to us here at St Michael’s, that family spirit, that we still know every student, that you are known, that you belong. That belonging care and connection is so very important to us here at the college. That when you walk through that gate, you feel comfortable that you are at home. You feel the warmth of this supportive environment here at St Michael’s. The St Michael’s family. So at the moment, just under 900, over the next three years will grow to be about 1,050 students.

What sort of involvement do you like from parents? That is, parents community, volunteering?

Anthony Elmore: That’s a fantastic question. The education of our daughters and sons is a partnership, and so very important that we have strong partnerships. And it’s a partnership between the family, the student, and the college. Here at St Michael’s, we have obviously our College Board, but then we have our Family and Community Engagement Group. We engage with our families through that particular group that is supported by Catholic Schools Parents Queensland. And that is where we have our high level conversations around learning engagement. Where we have conversations about the Catholic identity and mission of the college, where we have our conversations about ongoing issues around the finance and the future development and growth of the college, because engaging families is so vital and important for the success of St Michael’s.

We encourage families to come to those meetings, to come to the FACE meetings, to have their say on how things are going at the college, to have their contribution to that learning journey. Because when families have a good understanding on that learning pathway, when families have a good understanding on the growth of the college, on the development of the college, when families have a great understanding on what it is for us to be a Catholic school and a member of the Brisbane Catholic Education family, that we are in great partnership for the betterment of their students.

So, yes, we love family engagement. We love our families to be involved, and on our college website, parents can access our Parent and Community Code of Conduct and other engagement documents. So we’d love to see our families and members of the community here for our FACE meetings that happen in the evenings, here in the library at the college.

How does the college quality assure the teaching and learning cycle and ensure quality feedback is received by students and teachers?

Anthony Elmore: That’s an awesome question. I’ll allow Emma to take the question initially, and I’ll conclude that one.

Emma: Yeah, so student feedback is so important. So the teacher-student feedback to be able to indicate and provide direction so that student learning can move forward is the most crucial part of teaching. And so that’s why, especially the last couple of weeks, when we talk about the alternate provisions in place, we didn’t put in place stock standard, standardised test type apps, because it’s all about the teacher feedback, identifying what needs to be addressed by the student and how they can move their learning forward. So that happens every day within our classrooms. And particularly through the work of the Accelerate Program, we’re embedding feedback practices. So a number of different strategies like exit tickets and gallery walks and peer conversations at the end of lessons to really have a look at what is missing from the student learning and what the next steps are moving forward.

In addition to that, when we have our summative assessment, so our formal assessment processes that take place, teachers provide students with feedback on their learning then as well. So as student’s progress throughout the years, they know, “What do I need to address next time so that I can move my learning forward.” So, in addition to that teacher-student feedback, we also have teacher to teacher feedback, I suppose, through our learning walks and talks that happen regularly throughout the college. And that’s to ensure we do have the best teaching pedagogy and practices that are in place. So being able to work with our staff around what our expectations are, what learning intentions and success criteria look at, how they improve student learning and working with our teachers to really improve their practice so that our students are getting the best in the classroom.

Anthony Elmore: And I think really Emma has summed that up perfectly, but one of those things that we’ve been so pleased about with our improvement journey that we’ve been on the past couple of years, is that co-planning that our teachers have been involved in. That short cycle planning, where the teachers are responding to the learning that’s been happening, responding to the teaching that has been taking place, being able to come back and say, “Okay, well, this is what we have put in place. This is the response that has come from the students.” Now, this is … What is our teacher response? What is going to be our response as teachers to the learning that’s been taking place from our students?

One of the things that we are also proud of at the moment, all schools across Queensland have been starting to get feedback from the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority around our senior students and their results through confirmation processes. So far, we’ve received probably two thirds of our subject results back, and I’m just absolutely proud of our students and our staff in that in all of those subjects that have come back to us so far, all of our results and the levels have been confirmed. There’s been no adjustments, no conversations had to be made around any of that work. The QCAA has confirmed that the judgements that have been made by our staff on the work of our students, and that is awesome results for our young people, because these are high level results in high level subjects. So that is really fantastic work.

Brooke: If I can add to that too, over the time that we’re at home and would put our work onto the OneNote. For a lot of my teachers, I’d leave comments on what I’ve addressed well throughout the week, what maybe I need to do some more work on and just stuff like that. They had a lot of response to what we were doing and … Yeah.

Anthony Elmore: Excellent, thanks. Next question.

Do you have to be Catholic to attend St. Michael’s?

Anthony Elmore: That’s a very good question. A question that comes up regularly. St Michael’s, as I mentioned at the very beginning of our time together this morning, we are proudly a Catholic school. A member of the Brisbane Catholic Education family. One of 144 schools, in fact, in Brisbane Catholic Education. You do not need to be Catholic to be enrolled here at St Michael’s College. We certainly welcomed enrolments from all families.

The issue around Catholic education and the way in which we deal with our enrolment process here at the college is that Catholic education is an invitational process. And so we seek to ensure that we are very open with our families, very open with those families seeking enrolment around our beliefs, our values, and when we then invite families to join us through that enrolment process, we’re inviting families to join our processes, to join us knowing full well with openness, what we believe. And so you do not need to be Catholic to be able to say, “You know what? I can subscribe to the St Michael’s way. I can be part of the St Michael’s family.” And so you do not need to be Catholic to be a member of the St Michael’s family.

How often is school mass?

Anthony Elmore: We are very, very lucky and extremely proud to be part of the Surfer’s Paradise Catholic Parish. And Father Peter, Father Peter Dylan, our parish priest, and Father Paul Kelly, the associate pastor, wonderful, wonderful men who support us through our liturgical celebrations.

Here as a college, we gather for Eucharistic celebrations several times throughout the year. We gather for our house mass, we gather for opening mass, and for our key celebrations on foundation day and other times throughout the year, whenever we gather for assembly, we begin with prayer and we have other liturgical celebrations throughout the year as well. So it really depends on the occasion as to whether we will have a full Eucharistic celebration, but we are a Eucharistic people and that is something that is important to us. And we’re so pleased and so proud that Father Peter and Father Paul support us in that journey, and all parishioners of the Surfer’s Paradise Catholic Parish.

When does school start and finish, time wise?

Anthony Elmore: First bell goes at about 8:28 and the last bell is 2:55.

Does St Michael’s hold fetes?

Anthony Elmore: No, no, we don’t have a fate, but it’s always something that we’d be open to. Community celebrations, but no, we don’t have a fate. In terms of fundraising for our parent community, like many Catholic colleges, we have a parent levy. So we have our, I mentioned, FACE before Family and Community Engagement group. So we have a FACE levy that we use, and the parent body then decides how that levy is distributed in support of student learning here at the college. So rather than have to have a lamington driver or a fate or any other manner of fundraising throughout the year, that levy is what is used and decided by the families, how that is used to support learning here at the college.

How frequently do parent student teacher meetings occur to review processes?

Anthony Elmore: So that process happens formally twice a year, but as Emma eluded to earlier, that ongoing journey and conversation about student progress and student learning is something that is a continuous journey. And so we see families here at the college regularly having conversation about their learning. About young people’s learning. So whilst the old style stock standard parent teacher interviews where you’re speed dating, I suppose, like that, and the bell dings every seven minutes and you’re in and out, and you’re running from table to table. That’s one method of having those conversations, but we seek a deeper, richer conversation with families. And we do that through our set planning processes. We do that through our ongoing mentoring. So the college we’re currently having conversations about how can we change that conversation so that our families can have a deeper, richer engagement in that learning conversation.

Emma: I suppose also, in addition to that, there’s that ongoing communication between teachers and families as well. So whether that learning might need to be further supported in one way or another, teachers are having those ongoing conversations and contact via email. And sometimes that’s on the other end as well, where there’s additional extension that that might be in place for that student. So it’s not just about waiting for those two times during the year, I suppose, to have that formal contact, but teachers do that in a more ongoing way. And in addition to that, we do monitor the progress of each and every one of our students across Year 7 to 12. And so that’s done as part of our academic review process that goes on, and where students are identified that there might be a conversation, then it can be initiated either by the parent or by the school.

Anthony Elmore: And one of the important things there, and thank you Emma for raising it, is that ongoing conversation between families and the students, while you might have in some schools where the school might direct parents and families to a generic info@ email address, or enquiries@ info address, we really encourage families to have direct conversation with teachers, because that’s the best way to support student learning. We encourage our families to email directly to the classroom teachers. We encourage families to … and we have our communication flow chart that’s available from our college website as well for our families. And so the conversation with the pastoral care teacher, with the subject teacher through to the pastoral heads, the heads of department for within the curriculum areas, and then directly to the college leadership team, we are accessible to our families. And that is one of the secrets to the success that the college has experienced over the past couple of years, that openness, that transparency and ongoing communication here at St Michael’s College.

Does the college have a Science Fair?

Anthony Elmore: We certainly have our students engaged in science activities over a range of different opportunities. I know on our traditional open day, you would have a number of students in the science department lined up, blowing things up, creating things, engaged in a whole host of different activities. We don’t have what you see in some schools and what you saw 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, trotting every student from Year 7, 8, 9, or 10 out creating paper mache volcanoes. That’s a thing of the past. What we have is highly engaged young people, and highly engaged science teachers involved in contemporary learning in that area.

I know that for example, Brooke, I head down into the engineering area regularly, and that’s an ongoing science fair, isn’t it really?

Brooke: Yeah, really.

Anthony Elmore It’s probably a bit demeaning calling it a science fair, but it’s an ongoing activity where families can come and experience.

Brooke: Yeah, so we’re constantly creating and doing new things. So when sir came in last time, I had created a bridge that used syringes as hydraulics to lift the bridge. Which you might’ve seen at the beginning of this virtual open day, and we have all different things. I think one time he came in and we had a plane going around the classroom. So it really is a constant thing. Or in physics, we’re always doing different things to do with experiments. It’s all within the classrooms really, that whole fair type thing.

Anthony Elmore: Mrs. Massey, I wonder if we might have a couple more questions and then I encourage families to keep their questions coming online. We might hit a couple more key questions, just mindful of the glorious day that is outside. Three more questions out there. And I know that some of our families would be keen to move on to the next stage of their day. Three more questions.

What learning support do we offer?

Anthony Elmore: Okay. And I know … Thank you for that question. It’s a great question. I know that we touched on it briefly this morning, around that differentiation within the classroom. Where here at St Michael’s we support the learning of all students. For those students who come to us that have academic excellence, that we want to continue to push those students forward and extend those students in their learning. Those students who come to us that require some additional support that might have some learning needs. We have those staff that are able to work in support of those young people in a completely integrated and supported model. Emma, would you like to extend on that?

Emma: Yeah, so completely right. The fully inclusive model that we have here at the college, where all students are assigned to their classes and that’s where the learning takes place. And teachers use the skills that they have to be able to differentiate programs, to meet the individual learning needs of each and every one of our students. To help our staff do that, we do have a fantastic inclusive education department that’s able to offer advice and provide suggestions as to how teachers might be able to do that. So fully inclusive, each and every student within the classroom, learning.

Anthony Elmore: Yep. Great.

Veronica: I’ll just to that, in terms of obviously the learning needs of our students, and obviously there’s the wellbeing needs of our students as well. And so, as I mentioned earlier, we do have to have a head of year, but we also have counsellors that work here at the college. We have three counsellors to support students in their wellbeing needs, or even if they just want to have a chat about something that is going on. And then we also have our vocational education leader who supports students in their future pathways in helping them get some sort of clarity as to is it the workforce they want to go to? Is it university? Is it a combination of both? So we have a student services department where all student support needs are met.

Anthony Elmore: Excellent.

This writer leads into their question. “Thanks for the opportunity of a virtual tour. I feel we don’t hear often about St Michael’s. Do you consider yourself a little hidden gem in the Gold Coast?”

Anthony Elmore: Thank you for your question and your comment. And perhaps we are a bit of a hidden gem, and I know it was an interesting thing, and I know Veronica is probably sick of hearing this story, so for her it’s not interesting anymore. I know when I first moved here from Ipswich and I had to put my car in to be serviced at Robina, and I called an Uber from Robina to the college and the Uber driver, as we were coming along said to me, “Oh, I didn’t realise there was a xatholic school back here.” And so we had this conversation, he actually lived off Gooding Drive, and has lived off Gooding Drive his entire life, and didn’t realise there was a Catholic school here on the hill at Merrimac.

Certainly are we a hidden gem? Hidden, perhaps. A gem, absolutely. Our students are amazing. Our staff are dedicated and they are awesome at what they do. So, I’m so proud to be the principal of St Michael’s. I started here in July, 2018. So my anniversary of appointment will be coming up shortly. And I know that Veronica will be baking a cake and have the streamers and balloons. It’ll be a wonderful occasion. You’re all invited. And by then, hopefully restrictions will be over and we can gather more than 10 people in one place.

But it is, yes, a hidden gem here. And producing wonderful results for our young people, and that’s the key. St Michael’s is about our students, and the improvement journey we’ve been on over the past two years is about putting our students at the centre of every decision. And it’s something that I know I talk about regularly, that when we make decisions, when I go home at night and I’m talking about the things that we’re working on, I have that conversation with Rebecca, the conversations we have is, “What would we think about that as parents? How would that decision impact our children? What impact … What would Lily think of that?” And Lily is a 14 year old daughter of mine, and you can be assured those of you have to have 14 year old daughters, they tell you what they think. Well, Lily tells me what she thinks anyhow. And so we have those conversations.

So the decisions we make here are about putting our students at the centre. Does that make some people uncomfortable? Sometimes. But disruption is about moving forward and about continuous improvement here at St Michael’s, and we are proud of our students, we’re proud of our staff, and proud of the wonderful results that we’re achieving for our young people.