Hello and welcome to episode two of our College Newsletter for Term I. We woke this week to news of the passing of Archbishop Bathersby. Archbishop Bathersby was a great supporter of our College in his time as Archbishop of Brisbane. On behalf of the College community we extend our best wishes to his entire family and we join in our prayers, with the prayers of the entire Brisbane community, in wishing eternal rest to Archbishop John. And we know that he will now be freed from the pain and suffering that he was experiencing in his final years with his illness. This week also as a College community, we have been able to celebrate International Women’s Day. What a wonderful, wonderful occasion for us here at the College. We are reminded of course as a Catholic community, the most blessed and wonderful example of women in our community and that is Mary, our good mother.
But for each of us, we all have wonderful examples of outstanding strong women in our lives that have helped form us and get us to where we are today. I know for me the fine example and the most precious example of my own very wife, my very own wife Rebecca and the great example she sets for our children. But of course here in our own staff, Veronica Wasiak our Deputy, our learning and teaching team, Catherine, Emma, Kylie, Nina, all of our wonderful staff setting that great example. So I know that for us, for our students that they’ve had that opportunity to reflect on the wonderful role of outstanding women in their lives that help form them. So I hope you’ve had that wonderful time to reflect on International Women’s Day.
Learning and teaching continues to be a major focus here at the College and we are so proud of our staff working diligently every day ensuring that our students are at the centre of everything we do. For me personally, I’ve been meeting with every single Year 9 teacher focusing on how we are progressing the learning of our students, particularly in that year nine space. Because for Year 9’s it’s one of those year levels where perhaps sometimes that level of engagement, that level of interest falls away. So those individual meetings looking at the data have been so rewarding as we begin this year. I know that further in the news that you’ll be able to hear about the great work that’s happening in learning and teaching. Our wonderful College swimming carnival a great event to gather us all together occurred last Friday and whilst we had a delay from our initial date with the rain and the showers came back to visit us on Friday, it was still a wonderful occasion. So thank you to all of those staff and students that were able to contribute to such a wonderful, wonderful day.
Our College annual goals have been approved by Brisbane Catholic Education and I’m so pleased to be able to share those with the College community. Our annual goals for 2020 focus on the areas of learning and teaching and on attendance. And our College goals for 2020 85% of our students in Year 7 and 90% of our students in Years 8, 9 and 10 to achieve the benchmark in our literacy monitoring tool. And you’ll remember from last year that we not only met our goal, but we exceeded that which was far in excess of the goal set by Brisbane Catholic Education. We have our goals within Catholic identity, the establishment of a Catholic Identity Committee, and also then by the end of 2020 the College community will have a deeper understanding of who we are as a Catholic College within Brisbane Catholic Education. And that’s a reminder for all of us that here at St Michael’s, we’re not an independent school, we are not a private school, we are uniquely Catholic College, a member of the Brisbane Catholic Education family.
Very importantly, our goal around student attendance by the end of 2020, student attendance will meet a minimum standard of 75% of our students attending for 90% of the time. And you’ll hear Veronica in her segment around student wellbeing talking about the importance of attendance here at the College. Of course, our other goal in relation to RTC processes about relationships and negotiations. By the end of 2020 that staff have a deeper understanding of those processes in support of student learning. And finally by August, 2020 the implementation of effective practices that would be embedded where teachers are recording the required evidence and adjustment for NCCD, the National Consistency of Collection of Data within our engaged databases.
We’re still very proud to be receiving applications for our Bursary Program. Our brand new Bursary Program for 2021, we have been overwhelmed by the number of families that have been interested in that program. Enrolments are still open for 2021, places are filling fast, so we encourage families and if you have those connections in the community to encourage those people you know to get those applications in as quickly as possible for those Bursary Programs.
We were proud to report at our family and community engagement meeting last week around our sustainability master planning and I know that for those families, that large number of families who were able to join us on that occasion that we were able to report about the next step in our sustainability master planning. And that is our journey towards air conditioning and with the support of our families here at the College, we are able to commit and we’ve engaged our consultants that L Block will be air conditioned in time for our external exams this year and R Block will be air conditioned by the end of 2020.
This is a major step forward for St Michael’s College, a step forward that certainly some would say is overdue, but it is a sustainable step. With the processes that we follow and we outlined this at the meeting for every classroom with the process we need to follow the cost of air conditioning is $20,000 per room. So our commitment for those two blocks is $300,000 this year and that adds to the $1.1 million dollars that we have already invested over the past 12 months for the development of the College.
An update on our tuckshop, we are very pleased to report that we have this week signed our contract for our new tuckshop provider and our new contractors will begin at the start of next term. And so we’ll send out all of those details to our families. We are very excited with that development.
Finally, if I could provide the update for you in relation to our communication, all families would have received an email from me recently that provided our communication flow chart and communication in our relationship and our partnership is so important.
We are pleased to report that this week we will be launching our new family Facebook group. It will be a closed group, but it’s an important form of communication for our community. This group will be moderated and it is a vital link in our communication strategy. If you follow the link below that will take you and provide more information for you so we look forward to members of our community engaging with us in greater detail, in more meaningful ways in the learning journey for your students.
Here at St Michael’s, we are committed to the ongoing development of our young people where passions are ignited exceeding potential. Until next time, have a great term.
Hi, I’m Brooke Wightman a College Captain here at St Michael’s College. What I love about my school are the supportive teachers, they’re always there to lend a helping hand, whether it be with tutorials or late night emails. As a Captain, one of my goals for this year is creating a connected community to encourage relationships between staff or students or a range of year levels.
Hello, I’m Dylan Libbis, one of the College Captains for this year. What I like about this College is the sporting and cultural programs offered to every student. This year, we aim to work together as a team of leaders and positively influence the younger grades as well as the wider community.
Hi, my name is Nikolina Andrejev and I’m one of the College Captains here at St Michael’s College. One of my favourite things about the College is the diverse performing arts programs the College offers. One of the goals we have as the College Captains this year is to ensure that all students look after themselves and create a good balance between their lives and school.
Hi, my name is Lachie Dorricott and I’m one of the School Captains for this year. What I love about this College is the friendly community that we have. One of my goals for this year is to make sure we have a very inclusive community.
Teaching and Learning – Emma Bailey, Assistant Principal Learning & Development
Hi, I’m Emma Bailey, the Assistant Principal for Learning & Development here at St Michael’s College. And as we progress through Term I, the learning and teaching team recognises the significant work that has been undertaken across the College by our dedicated staff in relation to learning and teaching. Learning and teaching at St Michael’s is underpinned by the Brisbane Catholic Education Model of Pedagogy, a strategic approach to planning each unit and learning activity in order to meet the requirements of the curriculum and to move student learning forward. Firstly, the teaching and learning process begins with a focus phase where there is a review of the data so that teachers are able to understand their learners, who they are, what their needs are and where each learner is on their journey. Acknowledging that learners bring with them an abundance of prior experiences.
Secondly, our collaborative teams establish learning intentions, which come directly from the Australian Curriculum across Years 7 to 10. And in the senior years these align with the relevant QCAA syllabus documents. Success criteria is clarified for students so they know exactly what they’re working towards in order to achieve success and these are becoming increasingly co-constructed with our students.
Thirdly, in the BCE Model of Pedagogy, the student learning is activated through learning experiences which are developed using the whole part whole teaching strategy. A number of learning experiences which utilise explicit teaching, peer construction and individual responses in a purposeful and deliberate manner in order to provide our teachers with a framework to differentiate for the learning needs of each of their students.
Fourthly, a response to the progress and student learning is undertaken by checking for understanding. This allows teachers to provide timely feedback to students on their progress towards the success criteria. And there’s a variety of methods that are utilised in gathering this feedback including exit tickets, mini whiteboards and peer review, so the teachers can monitor the learning progress and assist them in moving student learning forward.
The final step in the BCE Model of Pedagogy is to evaluate and reflect on the student feedback which has been provided so that there can be adjustments made to the learning experiences to respond to the information at hand. This requires a practice of ongoing short-cycle planning to ensure that learning experiences are directed and focused on moving student learning forward. At St Michael’s we value the contribution of all of our teachers and we have therefore prioritised the need for collaborative teams to engage in the co-planning, co-teaching and co-reflection process.
This year particular focus has been placed on establishing these teaching routines across Year 9 and 10 whilst in Year 7 and 8 we’re embedding these practices which were introduced in 2019. In Year 9 and 10 teachers are engaging in subject specific collaborative team meetings which focus on a responsive short cycle of planning and in Year 7 and 8 our core teachers of Religion, English, Maths and Science have collaborative planning time embedded into their teaching timetable. These responsive short-cycle planning opportunities provide a foundation from which teachers work and it informs their teaching practice across all of their classes at the College.
Our Student Mentor Program is a component of each and every one of our senior students learning program at St Michael’s College. The main purpose of the program is to provide support for students and to ensure that they have a post schooling pathway. Our Year 11 and 12 students are currently in the process of meeting with their mentors to establish their goals for 2020 and to discuss their pathway options. Setting realistic time-bound and future focussed goals which are measurable and achievable provides a structure for students to feel a sense of achievement and purpose. As we come to the end of Week 7, it’s pertinent to highlight the need to support our students as they enter into a period of condensed assessment.
Across the College, assessment is embedded in the learning and teaching process with a peak assessment occurring across the next three weeks. Next week in Week 8, our Year 11 students will engage in their first assessment block of their senior schooling journey. By the end of term one, Year 12 students in general subjects will have completed their first internal assessment item with many subjects preparing for or engaging in their second item. All subjects across the College have a subject course outline which is available on the Parent Portal outlining learning experiences that students are engaging in as well as the assessment dates. In addition to this, year level assessment calendars are also provided on the Parent Portal.
Students, as you enter this busy period of the term remember that balance is always important. Ensure that you are getting sufficient sleep, eating correctly and enjoying a variety in your life. Utilise your College Planner and the resources that are available to you on the Parent Portal to assist you with your organisation and remember to seek guidance, clarification and assistance if needed.
Term I reports will be issued via the Parent Portal early in the first week of the holidays. With parent teacher student interviews occurring on Thursday April the 23rd from 1:00pm. Bookings for these will be available through PTO and advice around how to access these online will be shared on the Parent Portal and by email.
By engaging our students through contemporary and relevant learning experiences we work to ensure that all students have their passions ignited, empowering them to exceed their potential.
Student Wellbeing – Veronica Wasiak, Deputy Principal
Hi, I’m Veronica Wasiak and I’m Deputy Principal here at St Michael’s and this afternoon I want to speak to families out there about the importance of attendance. Now, I certainly know that attendance affects learning outcomes and we know that poor attendance can have a negative impact on academic outcomes. We know it can also have an impact on social and personal development. And then finally it affects a person’s sense of worth and sense of belonging and also their connection to school.
Here at St Michael’s we look at attendance as a symptom rather than a problem. And it’s a symptom around a bigger problem. And the way that we see that is around that sense of belonging and that sense of connection. So as a result of that, we’ve come up with a strategy called the BCC Strategy and that simply is about belonging, connection and care. And it’s looking at how we here at St Michael’s can let our students feel as though that they belong, that they have that connection with school and that they are cared for. And looking at practical strategies around that. So looking at when we see a student in the playground, in the class, greeting them by name as well as getting to know them on that deeper level and acknowledging when they’re not here at school. We’ll be rolling out this strategy. We’ve rolled it out to our staff and in Term II we’ll be rolling that out further to our students because not only is it important for our staff to create that sense of care, belonging, connection, but also that students do that towards one another.
Families, I call upon you because the importance of attendance is a partnership and how we work together, and it’s about having that common language that attendance is important. Not only having that language but the actions that we show your children. So it’s important that we have that common language around the importance of attendance, but it goes far more beyond that common language. It’s around the actions that we set out. So encouraging your son or daughter to come to school if they do have an assignment due, encouraging them to be present at carnivals, camps, any sort of activity that is outside the common or normal school day. Encouraging that attendance is important and making sure that holidays are booked out of school time and if can be avoided that appointments are booked out of school time.
And if there is a barrier to your son or daughter with attendance and they’re not wanting to attend school, it’s important that you let us know so we can work together in partnership to support your son and daughter, and work with you and them to achieve their learning outcomes.