In a time when partisanship, us vs them, and wedge politics seems to be the flavour of the year in politics and education, it is reassuring to read something that eschews this approach and talks about schools in a language that we can all agree on – transforming schools so that our students get the very best education possible.
NSW strategic plan for education recognises the status quo will not be good enough. “Strategy is all about choices and deciding what is important – where you are going to focus and invest….If you don’t make choices and decide what is important there is no strategy, just lots of activity…What do we know about the world’s finest education systems? They are constantly lifting educational outcomes. They have high student engagement. The professionalism of teachers is recognised and ever-increasing. Great education systems are based on equity and fairness. They are great places to work. Great education systems are full of great schools, doing wonderful things to transform lives, renew communities and open brilliant futures for young people.…..” Mark Scott, Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Education. March 5, 2018.
Thank you, Mr Scott. We agree with you.
In fact, if you look at the goals of the DEC, published in their Strategic Plan 2018-2022, it makes you wonder where the acrimony between educational sectors comes from.
Let’s see how SCAS aligns with the DEC Goals:
- All children make a strong start in life and learning, and make a successful transition to school → The alignment between St Columba Anglican School and Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, the respect the educators on both sites have for each other and the processes that have been put in place to ensure a smooth transition to big school have been key components in the great start to education for our students.
- Every student is known, valued and cared for in our schools → It is harder for students to fall through the cracks at SCAS. It is not just the structures and staff that we put together that ensures a level of care for our students, it is the culture, activated by our students and shown in the way they care for each other. They welcome newcomers and stand up in the face of inappropriate behaviour and language and that makes all the difference.
- Every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improves every year → SCAS believes Excellence is achievable. We are using data to tell teachers where our students are, where they want to be and how to get there in their learning. We have teachers working in diverse teams to share their professional knowledge, insights and skills. We have made a commitment to improving teacher professional learning and campus facilities and we will continue to do so.
- Every student is engaged and challenged to continue to learn → Aspiration and desire to achieve are part of our School’s DNA. It is not socially damaging to try, succeed or fail and keep trying. The teaching and learning models we are developing are designed to engage, challenge and reflect the evolving world into which our students will graduate.
- All young people have a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy; deep content knowledge; and confidence in their ability to learn, adapt and be responsible citizens → Academic achievement with a focus on the basic skills of literacy and numeracy are among the keys of a SCAS education. Promoting the skills of not only accessing information but developing the ability to evaluate, balance and utilise information are other key components of our education. But academic success has never been enough for us. It has never been enough for SCAS, because our goal is to educate our young citizens to be productive and positive members of society.
- All young people finish school well prepared for higher education, training and work → SCAS students leave well-prepared for a life after Secondary School. Our record of access to universities and employment for our students is remarkable – and they tend to graduate at a significantly higher rate than many of their peers.
- Education is a great place to work and our workforce is of the highest calibre. → Fortunately, we live in a great part of the world and the lifestyle attracts many of the best teachers from around Australia to live and work here. An even greater advantage we have is our capacity to choose the best of the best teachers without having to bow to the kinds of staffing rules that limit other schools.
- Our school infrastructure meets the needs of a growing population and enables future-focused learning and teaching. → Life at SCAS is never dull! We are constantly aware of the need to make our learning spaces attractive, safe and functional. We are committed to provide our students with a learning environment that matches their aspirations and needs.
- Community confidence in public education is high. → We cannot speak for other schools, but we believe that our continued growth shows that we meet our families’ expectations. If we lose the confidence of our families we have no “head office” to support us. We will never rest on our Laurels and assume the support of a community.
- Our education system reduces the impact of disadvantage. → We charge school fees – Fact! Our fees are significantly lower than many other schools in other sectors and much lower than the schools that we often better in academic, sport and cultural pursuits. Fact! The myth that only the wealthy can access a great independent school persists in some quarters but the facts are different. The main determinant of membership of our community is the alignment with our ethos and the desire to be an active member of a vibrant forward-thinking school.
SCAS Graduates will:
- Display, by their words and actions, a positive, Christian view of the world and their place in it.
- Understand that while they should be valued as an individual, their willingness to serve their community, now and in the future, will be a key to their continued growth.
- Have been shaped by the ethos and actions of the school and in turn, have played a role in the evolution of the school community towards greatness.
- Have been offered access to an education that not only allowed them to reach their academic potential but also provided them with the access to the knowledge and skills required to successfully enter the next phase of their lives as lifelong learners who are erudite, optimistic and disciplined.
- Understand the vital nature of change in the world and are prepared to face this reality with confidence and resilience.
- Be exposed to and given the opportunity to develop such 21st Century skills as agility, creativity and an ability to work collaboratively with others.
- Have developed leadership skills so that by their great and small actions, they will have the potential to make the world a better place.
OK, time to stop talking about this stuff and get on with making our school even better. We have plans!
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School