An operational update from the Principal

Fiona Godfrey, Principal

Fiona Godfrey, Principal

Regular readers of this publication would be aware that the Staff Insights section of the Weekly Bulletin usually features articles written by members of the Senior Executive team which focus on educational information, theory and trends or College operational issues. My article this week will be focussing predominantly on the latter, along with some additional updates on the Strategic Goals for 2015 which were detailed in my article four weeks ago. As usual, I welcome feedback on any of the items discussed below.

ACTION buses on the first day of Term 2

As most parents would be aware, the College publishes term dates for each school year 12-18 months in advance.

The number of operational school days is important. Each year we manage to juggle competing demands around the number of school days required to ensure our learning and teaching programs are effective for our students and we are compliant with our registration and Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS) requirements.

In December last year, the ACT Government decided to declare a holiday for ACT public servants on Monday 27 April 2015. As a result, ACT public schools will not open on that day and normal school bus services will not run.

Following negotiations between the ACT Association of Independent Schools, Minister for Education, Joy Burch and ACTION Buses, we have now been advised that ACTION will run a limited timetable (the Saturday timetable) on Monday 27 April, and all bus travel will be free of charge on the day. All students and general passengers will be asked to tag on and off with their MyWay card as usual to collect accurate travel data, but no fares will be deducted. Use the journey planning tools on the ACTION website or call 13 17 10 for further information from ACTION.

Our normal programs will run on Monday 27 April, 2015, the first day of Term 2. All other Anglican schools will also remain open on this day, along with the majority of independent schools in the ACT. We expect that there will be increased traffic at the College on this day, and ask parents to consider strategies such as car-pooling, and to be mindful of traffic and parking so that the roads and roundabouts on the campus are not blocked.

Review of thermal performance in the Year 5 and 6 classrooms

Last year, a concern was raised through the P&F about the heating and cooling in the Year 5 and 6 classrooms. As a result, a meeting was convened with interested parents, members of the Building and Grounds Committee (sub-committee of the Board), the Facilities Manager and a number of staff to hear those concerns and look for a suitable solution.

Following that meeting it was decided that the College would contract thermal engineers to identify the issues and provide a report commenting on available solutions and detailing recommendations. That report has now been examined by the Building and Grounds Committee and was tabled at the last P&F meeting.

In summary, the report indicated that ?the middle school building is designed to minimise direct radiant gains given its orientation and shading provisions?. However, it went on to make a number of recommendations, some of which the Building and Grounds Committee have decided to action. The first point, which detailed the need for staff training to educate the teachers in how to best operate the windows, fans and heaters will be ongoing. The second point, which suggested the installation of additional heating in the six ground floor classrooms is also being actioned. The exact type of heating is yet to be determined (given the folding doors between classrooms) but the Facilities team have been asked to explore options. The third recommendation, which is to install shading structures, will be considered over the coming months in preparation for the warmer months at the end of the year.

All of these recommendations have been carefully considered, bearing in mind that the College is in the midst of a master planning exercise, which may in the near future see alterations or modifications to this and other parts of the existing buildings. As I am sure all parents would appreciate, it does not make sense to spend large amounts of money on areas of the College campus that may in the future undergo capital works programs.

Strategic planning involvement of parents

As detailed previously in the Bulletin, the College is embarking on a five-year strategic planning process this year.

I am pleased to announce that the College has engaged the services of Mr Eugene Joubert, Director of Executive Leadership Australia, to facilitate the development of that plan. Mr Joubert has been highly recommended by other independent schools who have previously used him and his company in similar roles.

Although the development of the Strategic Plan could well be completed ?in-house? without additional costs to the College, it was considered to be prudent to have, from the outset, the collection of input regarding the College?s future done by someone outside the organisation, to encourage people to speak and communicate in an honest and frank manner.

Radford considers parental input an essential element of the stakeholder consultation process. In this context, two focus groups for parents (Junior School and Secondary School) have now been organised through the P&F and will take place in the coming weeks. In addition, a survey will be circulated to all parents via e-mail on Wednesday 1 April.

I would ask parents to note that the information collection process is not a parent satisfaction survey. Parents who have been at the College for a period of time will know that this is done annually through specialist providers (refer to MMG report for 2014 below). The strategic planning questionnaire serves a very different purpose: to seek parental beliefs as to what needs to be considered when developing Radford?s Strategic Plan for the next five years. We would ask parents to try to envisage the sort of academic programs, co-curricular opportunities, facilities and pastoral avenues that students may have in 5?10 years.

The information collected through the survey will augment the feedback from the parent focus groups and the data and information received through the last few MMG Parent Satisfaction Surveys. We would be very grateful if you could put some time aside to complete the survey.

Foundation Day Concert

I am probably very biased, but I am confident that Radford College has one of the best school musical programs in the country. The extent and calibre of the co-curricular program would be the envy of many other schools.

One of the many highlights on the annual Music calendar is the Foundation Day Concert, which this year will be performed at the National Arboretum on Wednesday 8 April from 7.00 pm. The event is shaping up to be a very special evening of music and will feature an array of small ensemble performances as well as guest artist, Meriel Owen, who plays the harp. The major work for the evening will be a performance of The Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo, featuring the Corelli Chamber String Orchestra, Chorale and Camerata Choirs.

I hope to see a large number of parents and fellow community members there on the evening. Even if your child is not involved in the concert, come along and enjoy an evening of fine music in a stunning venue!

Tickets are available through Trybooking

Security on the campus during school hours

In recent months, based on advice from security and intelligence agencies, the Australian Government raised the National Terrorism Public Alert level from Medium to High. Whilst these warnings have not asked civilians to change or alter their daily routines, we have all been asked to be vigilant about suspicious behaviour and to report anything we deem to be unusual to the authorities.

In recent weeks, Radford College has been working collaboratively with the Australian Federal Police to ensure security measures are in place and staff and students are aware of expectations should a situation arise. Whilst we do not expect we should ever have to invoke these protocols, it is my firm belief that it is better to be prepared than wait until a situation arises.

As part of our review of policies and procedures in relation to security, we have been strongly advised to closely monitor visitations during the school day (from 8.35am to 3.30pm), particularly on the Secondary School campus, where student oversight is less closely monitored. In short, this means we will now be asking all visitors to sign in at one of the Reception points on the campus (Junior School, Main Reception and Senior School) if they wish to make contact with either staff or students during the school day. This request does not apply to parents of the Early Learning Centre where special security measures are already in place. Visitors will be asked to wear a white Radford lanyard and Visitor?s Pass, which will be provided on ?sign in?.

In addition, we ask all parents to keep a close eye out for any suspicious or unusual behaviour. Often the most innocuous piece of information is the most useful.

I am sure all parents understand why we want to be careful and prudent in relation to security. We do not impose these measures to make life more difficult but simply to protect all the children we have in our care.

MMG survey feedback

In 2014, the College again commissioned an independent, confidential ?experience? survey of the 2014 students and their parents as part of our commitment to continually monitor and improve the quality of education we provide to our students.

We greatly value the views of parents and students. This information is most important for the College for our operational and strategic planning, as well as tracking changes in our performance.

For the 2014 review, a total of 430 parents and 107 students completed the survey. We are most grateful to parents for their time and effort in assisting us with this important initiative.

The surveys were extensive and covered in excess of 300 aspects in relation to education at Radford College.

The following chart details the percentage of parents who noted their expectations had been met or exceeded across key areas, ranked in order of the importance they placed on these same areas when choosing a school. For example, 84% of parents noted their expectations had been met or exceeded for ?quality of teaching? ? the noted most important area.

Parent expectations met or exceededChart 1 ? parent expectations met or exceeded

Overall, we are very pleased with the results. However, there are areas identified where further attention will be given. These include an ongoing pursuit of academic excellence, co-curricular sports programs, publication and communication, and management and leadership.

Parents also provided valuable ?open responses? on a number of areas. These responses added greatly to the value of the review. In response to the question about what parents valued most about Radford College, parents noted many aspects of life at Radford College, including:

What parents value most about the College

Chart 2 ? What parents most value about Radford College

We wish to thank sincerely the parents of the 2014 Years 2, 5, 7, 10 and 12, and Year 12 students for their feedback and for the extent of information and quality of views expressed.

Attached is a small sample of some of the ?open ended? comments from parents in relation to what they valued about their experience with Radford College.

Kind regards

Fiona Godfrey

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