Posted on: Friday 26 March 2021
Posted in: Videos and Conversations
IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS
Years 11 and 12 students at St Hilda’s began their examination block sessions this week, and with much of Queensland and New South Wales experiencing extraordinary downpours of rain and flooding, it was not too difficult to cast my mind back to twelve months ago when we were hopeful that all senior examinations could be completed prior to the School’s closure due to COVID-19.
In the months that followed, we, along with the rest of the world, learnt to deal with uncertainty and the challenges all would face with maintaining safe, welcoming environments where our young people could continue to learn, experience opportunities to achieve, and have their social and emotional needs met.
During this time a number of changes were introduced, in response to student feedback and our staff working parties’ recommendations, to take forward initiatives in our Strategic Plan. Fewer opportunities, however, existed to receive extensive feedback from parents. As this is the second year of my principalship – and I have benefitted greatly from the generosity of many who have given their time to engage in open discussion during parent support group meetings, conversations at School events, and making time to meet with me personally – I would like to seek your support with a short survey early in Term 2.
The Parent Survey in Term 2 will seek your opinion on two open-ended questions, namely:
I understand from our brother school, TSS, that this form of survey has been welcomed in their community and I hope we will achieve a similar response. Your views will help inform our future plans and assist with the development of a more wide-ranging Parent Survey in 2022 which will be conducted by an external agency.
During the past twelve months, we have made changes to our communications with a view to providing more timely information and updates which are specific to our multiple audiences.
Our Social Media platforms are updated multiple times a week and aim to share with parents and our wider community snapshots of life St Hilda’s School – in the classroom, around the campus and at our special events. Links to our social media platforms can be found in the footer at the base of our website.
On a daily basis, St Hilda’s Correspondence uses subheadings to assist in easy identification of information which is relevant or of interest to your family. Parents are emailed our Weekly Newsletters from each of our sub schools; some families receive a mix of Friday communications from Pre-Preparatory, Junior School, Middle School, Senior School or Boarding.
Students in Years 7–12 receive a copy of The Week Ahead, from their Head of Year. The purpose of this communication is to assist the girls’ planning and organisation; however, parents will also note that wellbeing messages, successful study skill tips, and recognition of student achievements are regular inclusions. The School’s Monthly Newsletter serves to provide insight into educational issues and the culture of St Hilda’s. This is now made available to parents and students.
Our new look Spirit magazine is now published twice a year; the Spring edition featuring Old Girl and co-founder of Glow Recipe, Christine Chang, received very favourable feedback from our current families and our Old Girls’ Association. The autumn edition for 2021 is well underway and will feature the story of one of our prominent engineering graduates.
I trust this regular communication, linked to your daughter’s stage of schooling, is helpful in providing insight into our community and keeps you well-informed.
The Learning Platform of our Strategic Plan
Twelve months ago, we began the year with a clear obligation to pursue the School’s Mission to ‘offer a rigorous learning environment, which is active, creative and innovative, targeted at developing the whole person’.
So much has happened since the School’s Educational and Operational Teams began our systematic process of identifying recommendations which would stimulate our learning environment. Even with the challenges COVID-19 presented, we remained committed to sustaining a targeted program of school improvement which included preparations to take forward our site Master Plan. We should have further news on the new Junior School three-storey classroom block next week.
Notably, much of our improvement focus continues to be directly linked to the classroom experience. The impact is seen in our students’ engagement and development.
Ensuring examination readiness for Queensland’s new external examinations was tested last year; our Seniors commendable results and the Subject Reports from QCAA indicated the overall strength of our approach to prepare students to perform with confidence. We are currently updating our information on 2020 graduates with a Destination Survey.
Our pedagogical practices have benefited from the adoption of an Instructional Coaching model across the School to enable our teachers greater focus on the ‘Big Four’: behaviour, content knowledge, direct instruction, and formative assessment. Our teachers are exceptional people always striving to continually develop themselves, and this is where, like any other organisation, a coaching framework facilitates growth. Now, we are specifically focusing our peer coaching sessions on differentiated instruction.
A review of our subject offerings, and mapping of our implementation of the Australian Curriculum, supported a reassessment of how we stage languages in our Junior School, the introduction of a STEM elective at Year 9, and the Psychology General Senior Syllabus. The benefit of the broad education we offer is providing our girls with flexibility, but also challenging them to learn skills and test themselves in areas which will develop a rich and thoughtful interior life.
Parent Teacher interviews are already underway in our Junior School and parents of Middle Senior School students will begin their meetings early next term. This is a great opportunity to keep lines of communication open and build links to the School. I hope you will take up the invitation to meet and engage with us.