Welcome to 2017. We are trying a new newsletter format this year with the aim of making the information more accessible. The newsletter will have more event information and pictures due to the new format. The main source of information for parents and students will continue to be the Compass news feed.
This year has started well. The school has now grown to 850 students and will continue to grow until we reach the target of 875. This has been, and will be, achieved by the addition of an extra class at Year 10. This means that at the start of 2018, there will be 200 Year students and 225 students in each of Years 10, 11 and 12. This will enable us to offer more subject opportunities at the VCE level as well as continue to provide a more flexible program at Year 10.
The new Year 9 students have settled in very quickly. The induction program, which has been named the ‘Primus’ program, has been very successful. Improving on the previous year, it has been a highly focussed program ensuring that the students have a successful transition into the SCHS community and also a greater understanding of their own learning. While activities like the City program and the upcoming Year 9 camp are aimed at improving resilience, the learning program, with an emphasis on growth mindset, enabled the students to demonstrate their teamwork skills and their understanding of what it means to have a growth mindset.
Term 1 is traditionally a term of major House events. In the first six weeks of this term, we have already had both the swimming sports and the athletics. The enthusiasm of both students and staff for these events is always impressive; as is their willingness to dress up and wear their House colours with pride. Events like these are an integral aspect of the school spirit and assist students in connecting with the school. Recently the House Chorals ‘boot camp’ was conducted as the student leaders begin their preparations for the House Chorals.
One major change for this year will be in the way we report to parents about student progress. This year we will begin continuous reporting. This essentially means that parents will have real time access to their child’s progress. Once an assessment has been completed, the reporting on the task will be made available to parents and students via the Compass portal, within ten working days of the completion of the task. This provides prompt and relevant feedback for both parents and students. It is therefore imperative that you access the parent porta on Compass on a regular basis. An end of semester report will still be generated; however, it will be a compilation of the information you will have already seen throughout the semester.
There have been a number of physical changes to the school. More fans were installed, including the ‘big fan’ in the Agora. This is part of a continuing emphasis on improving the physical environment for the school community. Another change is to the outdoor basketball courts. In a process that started before Christmas, the old asphalt courts are no longer. They are being replaced by concrete based courts with an acrylic surface, providing a much safer and better quality playing surface.
One of the downsides of the increase in student numbers is the increase in students being driven to and from school. The school has a traffic problem. And while we have given extensive consideration to how we can improve the situation, there are severe limitations on what we can actually achieve. There are a few suggestions that might make the experience less stressful. If you wait next door in the carpark at the VU fitness centre, your child has only a short walk and you will not be caught in the traffic inside the school grounds. There is also a parking area attached to the Wyndham athletics track too. If you do decide to come into the school grounds, please be courteous and also aware of what is happening around you. It is also very important that you do not turn right into Hoppers Lane as it blocks and slows the traffic inside the school. There is some good news; the council has informed the school that they will be widening Hoppers Lane, which will mean there will be a right turn lane into the school. This should start in April.
The school provides many opportunities for our students to travel overseas for both educational and charitable purposes. Last year 19 students and three staff travelled to Cambodia with the APYF and helped build a primary school in rural Cambodia. This year we will be undertaking a similar trip to northern Vietnam. At the end of this term, a group of staff and students will travelling to China. There will be other opportunities throughout the year, including a science competition in Singapore and a six week program in China for Year 9 students. We will continue to explore opportunities for our students, including opportunities for students studying French.
We have high expectations of our students. This expectation is not confined to their studies, but extends to their involvement in the whole school program and the way they represent the school. Two areas that we are focussing on will be attendance, in particular lateness, and school uniform. There should be no excuse for a student arriving late to school or late to class. While there will be the occasional public transport issue, students should ensure that they are catching the service that gets them to school on time. And those being driven should also be mindful of arriving on time as well. The students should always be wearing the uniform correctly. The way they wear their uniform reflects on both themselves and the image of the school.
Finally, the strength of the school community ultimately lies in the willingness of individuals to contribute to the whole school program. This year we will be resurrecting the parents association to provide an additional opportunity for parents to contribute and connect to the school. More information will be provided in coming weeks on Compass.
In this, my third year as Principal, I am looking forward to the year as we continue to improve the school and the education we provide.