Posted on: Wednesday 16 October 2019
Posted in: Videos and Conversations
It was a pleasure to connect with many of you at Parent Teacher Interviews last week and at the end of last term at the Year 11 Presentation Ball. Whilst we are only midway through the second week of term, students in all year levels are once again fully engaged with their studies, planning for assessment, and having the opportunity to experience both inspirational speakers and test their talents.
Walkley Award winning journalist, Peter Greste was invited to speak at assembly last Friday by our Amnesty International Group. Peter shared his views on the freedom of the press and how his beliefs assisted him as he faced making decisions about how to fight charges of falsifying news and having a negative impact on overseas perceptions of Egypt when he was arrested in Cairo in 2013. His personal story and great generosity when responding to students’ questions left us all in a sense of wonder at his resilience and the circumstances he and his family experienced during this time.
Staff have begun the term with a focus on awareness of our impact. Well known educator, Professor John Hattie asks us to consider not only what and how we teach, but the impact each of the multitude of decisions we make during the course of a day contributes to the growth of students’ learning and, I would add, to their sense of agency and belonging. This theme was developed further last Thursday when three of our Senior students, representing our Day Girls and Boarding community, along with the School’s Leadership Team, participated in a workshop examining St Hilda’s unique Anglican identity. This work, led by Fr Richard Browning from the Anglican School’s Commission, will provide us with an interesting insight into the values and symbols which are markers of Anglican Schooling.
During Term 3, St Hilda’s staff were introduced to Stage 2 of our Strategic Plan, the Modernisation Project. At present, 92 staff members representing all areas of employment in the School have volunteered their services to work in teams to advise on the Strategic Plan Platforms – Learning, Enriching, Engaging and Sustaining. Initial feedback from the teams will be presented to School Council next week. Stage 3, engaging with our students and parents to ascertain your views on our strategic platforms, will commence at the start of the 2020 school year. We hope you will take the opportunity to engage in this valuable exercise to identify imperatives which are important in focusing the School’s direction and priorities.
A number of special events are planned this term to celebrate the girls’ participation in co-curricular activities, House events, Boarding life, academic achievement and, of course, events for Year 12s to celebrate their time at St Hilda’s and their graduation. Please note these events in your calendar as you receive invitations and I look forward to sharing these occasions with you. The School Calendar on our website is also an excellent ‘go to’ to assist you with forward planning.
Planning for the 2020 academic calendar continues this term as further information is released from the QCAA on our ATAR students’ assessment, and Confirmation Day on Friday, 4 September 2020 which will replace the October Panel Day – if your family has previously used the long weekend facilitated by this staff-only day in October, please note the change for 2020. The final day for Year 12 students in 2020 is Friday, 20 November. Graduation, the Student Reflection Service and the final week program will follow the examination block ensuring our students working with the new Senior program and their families have the same opportunities as previous graduates to celebrate their schooling journey together.
Information on the School’s Honours Program, continuing into its second year in 2020, will be communicated to parents by Mr Tim Crowe this week. In coming weeks, Mrs Lisa Cleverly will provide advice for those wishing to be considered for the Athena Program. We extend our thanks to our parent community for their enthusiastic reception of these programs, which are enabling our girls to engage with challenges and extend their vision on what they can achieve.
I recommend to you an article I have asked our Head of Learning Institute and eSafety Champion, Mr Geoff Powell, to prepare on the current direction of eSafety following his attendance at the eSafety19 Conference in Sydney recently, organised by the Australia and New Zealand eSafety Commissioners. Geoff’s article follows my briefing.
In terms of Staff News, there has also been a great deal happening. Mr Nick Mageros accepted the appointment of Head of Banksia House at the conclusion of Term 3. At the commencement of this term, Mrs Amanda Shuttlewood joined us as our new Head of Junior School. Mrs Shuttlewood has already made a lasting impact on the girls and staff with her genuine love for the School, which stems from her long association with us as a parent of an Old Girl. Mrs Jobson (Head of Year 7) announced the arrival of her baby son Jack on 6 October; Jack’s older sister Ruby is delighted with her brother and we are looking forward to the family visiting us in the near future. During Mrs Jobson’s leave, Miss Rachel Horner has been appointed as Acting Head of Year 7. Mr Ben Andrews (Head of Year 8) is enjoying Long Service Leave this term and we are pleased to have the services of Mr Triston Young as Acting Head of Year 8 till the close of the academic year. Ms Sheri Upasiri will be joining the Middle School team as Acting Head of Middle School at the commencement of 2020 when Mrs Susan Sanburg will be taking a year’s Long Service Leave. Ms Upasiri, who is currently Head of Humanities, comes to this position with a breadth of experience in Head of Year and boarding positions in previous schools. Mrs Janelle Maurer is also on Long Service Leave till the end of term and Mrs Cathy Scruton has been appointed as Acting HOF Business & Enterprise Education. Mr Scott Mudge has rejoined our English and Humanities Faculty, and Mrs Linda Swanepoel has returned to our Business Faculty. Ms Simone Sebban has also returned to St Hilda’s after a number of years teaching French and as a Head in international schools. She is currently working with Year 11 students on the new Unit 3 French, and in 2020 will commence her appointment as Head of Faculty Languages. Mr Ross Boyle has resigned as Head of Teaching and Learning, and we thank Mr Boyle for his service to the School. We will be seeking to make an appointment in this area.
I have appreciated the support and feedback I have received from students, parents and staff in recent months and encourage you as the term continues to introduce yourself at functions or when you are visiting the School so that we can continue to learn what impact we have as we work together for our girls’ present and future experiences.
In September I was fortunate to be able to attend the eSafety19 conference in Sydney. This international event was organised by the Australia and New Zealand eSafety Commissioners. It was fascinating to observe how eSafety as an issue is dealt with on a worldwide scale, not just from within the bubble of a busy school environment. There is often much to be learned from observing practices and issues from outside the prism of your regular workspace. It was also gratifying to have reinforced that we are doing many things right in this area.
To give context to how some of the eSafety issues began, Martin Cocker, New Zealand eSafety Commissioner, referred to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, a landmark piece of Internet legislation in the United States. It provides immunity from liability for Internet providers (such as Facebook and Google) who publish information provided by third-party users. Passed at a time when Internet use was just starting to take off, Section 230 has frequently been referred as a key law that has allowed the Internet to flourish. Wikipedia refers to Section 230 as “The Twenty-Six Words that Created the Internet”.
What was originally designed to protect one of the Internet’s great strengths, that is the ability for a wealth of information to be freely shared across international borders, has also become an inherent weakness as information and content that can be false, slanderous, offensive and even dangerous can be easily posted by individuals. Getting such information removed from the Internet can be problematic. There was much discussion at the conference about the need for Industry giants such as Facebook and Google to be more accountable – especially in light of the recent tragedy in Christchurch, and the attempts by some foreign powers to interfere in the democratic election process of other countries.
While incidents such as these are far beyond the scope of those we deal with at school, it does help emphasise that learning to navigate the Internet safely and use mobile devices sensibly is at the heart of a contemporary education.
In response, the Commissioners identified the Culture of Responsibility Online. This involves a partnership between Government, Law Enforcement, Industry, Schools, Parents and Students. They stressed it is important to recognise what is, and is not, the responsibility of schools and what agency or institution you should seek help and advice from in times of need.
The table below highlights how teachers and parents can in partnership help develop resilient kids who make wise choices online. While at the same time it is important to be aware of when it is appropriate to seek help from schools or other authorities, namely the eSafety Commission and / or law enforcement.
The Anglican School’s Commission is at the forefront of policy development in this area. The appointment of Steve Window as their first Cyber Safety and Digital Wellbeing Advocate is an indication of how seriously the ASC takes eSafety in all Anglican Alliance Schools.
One of Steve’s responsibilities is to help advise schools on what actions to take in the event of eSafety breaches and incidents. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the table from his years of experience in this field. It is invaluable to have such a resource available to us from the offices of the ASC.
Another of Steve’s duties is to convene representatives of all schools for regular eSafety briefings so that we are up to date with the latest developments in this rapidly changing area. St Hilda’s School is hosting the next briefing on Oct 31. During the course of these briefings I have worked closely with Andrew Hawkins, Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School from our brother school TSS. It has been terrific to share insights and ideas with Andy as we formulate policy for our two schools. There is much in common about our approach, while at the same time we recognise that the sometime unique needs of boys and girls will mean a slightly different emphasis in some areas.
In his recent newsletter to parents Andrew spoke of the TSS policy developments in terms of mobile phone use. I thank him for keeping me abreast of their thinking in this area. He indicated to parents that TSS is moving away from the Family Zone App used to lock down mobile phones and by 2020 will be looking at a more student orientated approach. To quote Andrew directly;
“We have to teach boys the self-regulation not to use the phone even if there is temptation to do so. A life-skill they will require as they enter tertiary education and the work force post TSS.”
I could not agree more, and if you substituted “girls” and “St Hilda’s” into that quote it would succinctly outline our shared views on this matter. I take this opportunity to remind parents of our current policy on mobile phone usage found on P.30 of the School Diary.
In addition, when I use my personal mobile phone I agree to be a safe, responsible and ethical user at all times by:
Junior School: Students up to Year 5 who bring a mobile phone to school must hand the phone in to Student Reception. Students in Year 6 must keep the device locked in their locker throughout the day.
Boarders should also acquaint themselves with the Boarding Code of Conduct to familiarize themselves with the use of technology after school hours in Boarding.
This policy is very much designed to encourage appropriate and responsible usage. As a personal example, the girls in my Media Arts classes are on occasions given permission to bring their phones to class if the tasks we are undertaking require the use of cameras or digital audio recorders. When the phones are not required, it is not necessary to bring them to class. Like all policy, particularly in this fast-moving space, it is necessary to regularly review and evaluate for effectiveness and consistency. This we will continue to do in consultation with our colleagues at both the Anglican Schools Commission and TSS.
There are a host of online resources available to parents in this space, sometimes the choice is overwhelming. One of the tools that the Anglican Schools Commission has implemented in 2019 to support parents is the introduction of the Student Wellbeing Hub. I have included a link. https://studentwellbeinghub.edu.au
I would also encourage parents to visit our eSafety Portal and SchoolTV sites. Links are available from the school website.
In future news bulletins, I hope to update you on our eSports programs in Junior School and joint parent sessions we hope to offer with TSS in 2020. If you have any queries on any of these matters discussed, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Head of St Hilda’s Learning Institute