A school dedicated to offering a great education never stands still. Despite our everyday certainties being interrupted by a dangerous virus, we believe in being prepared for the future, no matter what shape it takes.
While the health and safety of our community is paramount in our current planning, we understand that this virus appears to be staying longer than we thought and that we may have to adapt to life in its shadow for months or years.
So, we will not stand still.
Rather than allowing these dangerous circumstances to justify doing things “the way we have always done them”, St Columba will continue to evolve and improve its educational model to suit the needs of our students in the current circumstances and to address the challenges of an increasingly fluid future.
We will do this by continuing to look at how we educate, what we can improve upon and take action to make these improvements a reality. We do not believe that this school has yet reached its potential for greatness, and will continue to seek improvement.
Two examples of areas where we will continue to improve are in regard to linking our teaching and learning to the career needs of our students and making our educational model even more relevant and engaging for our students.
The world changes and careers in that world change. Therefore, schools must adapt to suit the needs of their students. The future of our students is becoming increasingly one where flexibility and continuous learning will be needed to survive and thrive.
“In an age where skill sets can become obsolete in just a few years, many workers are scrambling just to stay current…The bottom-line question is this: How can organizations build career models that encourage continuous learning, improve individual mobility, and foster a growth mind-set in every employee, year after year? This is the opportunity for today; companies that figure this out will outperform, out-innovate, and out-execute their peers.” Catch the wave: The 21st-century career, Deloitte.
Our goal in adopting the Deeper Learning model is to allow our students to develop the skills and knowledge that will allow them to be competitive in an increasingly changing and difficult world.
At the same time, as a school, we also must look at ourselves and be determined to make our model of teaching and learning as engaging and relevant as possible. Educational data tells us stories of students becoming disengaged in learning. So schools who truly serve their community must look at why these students are becoming disengaged and see if their structure is making this situation better or worse.
“Around one in five Australian school students don’t find school engaging, which means they are less likely to learn properly. It’s an issue that tends to worsen as students become older. A study showed that in year 7, 70% of students observed found school engaging, but in year 9, this dropped to 55%. Part of the reason is that the brightest kids are not being challenged enough, leading to students becoming disconnected and disengaged from their studies.”
While we find our students are, generally, engaged with their learning and our staff have created a safe, positive and engaging learning environment, we cannot just assume that this will remain the case forever.
These are two of the many things that are the focus of our planning at St Columba and while it would be “easy” during this COVID crisis to focus entirely on the uncertainty of life and the impact that a possible second wave could have on our community, that is not good enough.
Whatever the future will look like, we want our students to be ready to confront it.
“The school of the future is not a building, it is a culture of competence development, a pedagogical culture that has an active role in the development process of the information society. Schools and educational institutions need comprehensive development of pedagogy and a new pedagogical leadership; this requires systemic change in the operational culture. A change can only be made by ensuring that pedagogical leadership is actively oriented towards the future.” Pasi Silander, Grattan institute (2015).
While we temperature check and handwash, limit the contagion risk and hope that our community remains safe, we are also working hard to ensure that our St Columba education continues to be future-focussed and agile enough to meet the current and future needs of our students.
Anything else would seem a betrayal of our students’ and the school’s future.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School