It has been re-energising to have students and staff onsite as we slowly resume the programs that are so important to the experience of schooling for our young people. Students have navigated the challenges of exams with grace and calm, and a diligent level of preparation.
Today we commenced our 2022 classes with excitement, particularly for students who are exploring new studies through our elective program. We hope that this provides a small taste of the learning adventures that 2022 will bring.
It was a delight to be able to celebrate Year 12 Graduation at the Coburg Drive-In Cinemas this week – not the way we usually mark the end of 13 years of formal schooling, but a great celebration none-the-less. Families gathered in their cars and shared the joy that comes with marking these significant milestones, especially as Year 12 students make their way in the adult world. Congratulations to all of our Year 12 students for their achievements. I would like to acknowledge Mrs Brigitte McDonald, and her graduation committee, for their work and effort in ensuring that we were able to suitably acknowledge this very important milestone.
Feedback from Surveys
As you would be aware, collecting feedback from our community is important for the Leadership Team as we work to plan and deliver the best education possible for the students entrusted to our care. Thank you to the Year 12 students (127 respondents) and their families (131 respondents) who participated in the Exit Surveys. The feedback provided affirmation for the College, with all areas of the survey receiving either an excellent outcome or a good outcome. None of the survey areas were listed as requiring attention or in need of immediate action.
- Parent Surveys – overall satisfaction score of 79% (3.96 out of 5)
- Student Surveys – overall satisfaction score of 70% (3.51 out of 5)
While the outcomes are pleasing, we aspire to achieving an excellent outcome in each of the survey areas and will work with the feedback to ensure we are responding to the concerns raised.
Two key areas emerged from the feedback. One in relation to reporting and the second in relation to the consistency of the learning experienced by our students. In relation to reporting, the introduction of SEQTA (as I introduced in a previous edition of the IONA) will allow teachers to consolidate their work flow through one management system. Learning, teaching, assessment, reporting and wellbeing will all be managed through this one tool. We are confident that once we make the transition to SEQTA, we can begin addressing the concerns in relation to reporting that have been raised as part of the surveys.
In relation to students’ perception of their learning experience, we have a committed and dedicated teaching staff who undertake a performance and development program each year. This element of our professional learning program involves coaching, peer classroom observations and feedback from students directly to their teachers. The implementation of the Instructional Model, hampered somewhat by the lockdowns this year, will continue to inform the shared language of learning that aims to improve the consistency of the learning experience for our students.
Thank you to all the families who participated in the MACSSIS – Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools School Improvement Surveys. These results are not yet available to schools.
Change to Religious Freedom Laws
In coming weeks, the Victorian Parliament will vote on legislation that will affect religious freedom and the independence, integrity and ethos of Catholic agencies and organisations, including schools.
Under current laws, Catholic organisations – along with other Christian, Jewish, Islamic and all faith-based educational establishments – have the right to choose to hire employees who are dedicated to upholding their religious identity.
The proposed Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Amendment Bill 2021 will seriously diminish the rights of religious organisations to manage their activities according to their faith and conscience.
The Bill puts forward measures that replace the current, well-working approach, which will mean Catholic organisations will have to prove that staffing positions have an ‘inherent’ religious requirement, if challenged.
Catholics run service organisations ranging from schools to aged care and hospitals, and provide social support to people in need across the community. Suddenly, the government is determined to tell them whether or not religious identity should be a factor in managing employment matters. While the College is an equal opportunity employer, we do expect our staff to support the Catholic values of the College.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is working with its agencies in asking the state government to reconsider the Bill and abandon the proposal to introduce an inherent requirement test. Catholic school communities need to play their part in this debate.
I share with you Archbishop Peter’s letter to Victorian members of parliament and the Standing up for religious freedom fact sheet, which you can access via these links.
Archbishop Peter’s letter and the fact sheet outline the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s position on the changes to the Equal Opportunity Act. The Standing up for religious freedom fact sheet also includes actions that members of Catholic communities can take to stand up for our religious freedom.
If any of our families are interested in contacting their local member to add their voice to this debate, please contact my Personal Assistant, Debbie Randall, on 9337 5311 or firstname.lastname@example.org, who will provide you with further information.