Around the Grounds…
One of the loveliest things about being part of the Radford community is that there is always something happening, no matter when or what time one arrives on campus. After regular school hours, most of these happenings are structured activities associated with an organised cocurricular group, but sometimes one will see a couple of students kicking the footy on the oval or staff working quietly in a prep room. During the day, one can often see senior student mentors helping in particular classes. One might also see a staff member quietly helping a student in the quad, students helping each other in a free period and students or, students and staff just laughing and chatting together. All of these reflect and strengthen relationships and a sense of belonging: fundamental aims of the College, and core principles at the heart of the development of the next Strategic Plan.
Students from Years 4 -12 recently participated in the Tell them from me Survey, designed by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, which focuses on student engagement and wellbeing. The survey covers all areas of the student experience from the classroom, curriculum, cocurricular involvement and relationships (peers, staff and other supports). One of the highlights from the survey was the vast majority of our students feel a sense of having positive relationships and feel they have someone they can go to for help if they need it. Another highlight was the very high rates of cocurricular involvement amongst our students, which we know also helps build a sense of belonging. The survey allows us to design interventions based on quantifiable evidence, such as pinpoint opportunities to improve equity by evaluating the experiences of vulnerable students. These will be key considerations in the development of the next Strategic Plan.
So, what do all these activities look like on the ground?
The last Bulletin highlighted some JS initiatives including the Year 6 Exhibition. This week we will do a ‘speed dial’ trip through the Secondary School.
We recently met with all the families of students coming into Year 7 in 2021. By far the most common response by students to the question, “How do you feel about coming to Radford?” is “Excited and nervous.” New students say they are excited about the range of new opportunities offered at Radford but are often, understandably, nervous about starting something new and making new friends. We are very aware of the importance of this transition, for not only young people new to the College, but also for our current Year 6s, for whom starting Year 7 also comes with a lot of unknowns. We have a number of activities designed to help this transition; one is a ‘Q and A’ panel visiting Year 6, and as a result, the production of an information pack answering these questions.
This year some of our senior Giving Groups will be producing a We’ve Got Your Back bag for our incoming Year 7s, full of things to welcome them, and help them settle into Radford in 2021.
This year’s Year 7s are currently working on their Market Day stalls. Market Day is a long-standing tradition that integrates curriculum and service, and which sees students come up with an idea (product /game) to sell to the College community, with all profits going to charity.
Year 8 Giving Groups are working on their storybooks for the primary schools our older students work with on the ‘G-Trips’ in Gamilaraay Country. Our counselling team has run respectful relationships workshops with practical scenarios for our Year 8s and Year 9s.
Brett Lamson, Head of Year, 8 explains a new Year 8 and Year 11 initiative here:
This semester we have launched a buddy/mentor program with students in Year 11 and students in Year 8. This program was initially introduced as a way of giving a leadership opportunity to students in Year 11, to allow them to take on a mentoring role and to share some of their experiences with students from the Year 8 cohort. Year 8 students were invited to take part in the program to develop an understanding of what life is like in the senior school, and to also learn from the many experiences of their buddy/mentor, to see the ‘big picture’ of where their schooling is taking them, and get advice that will help them on their journey throughout the College. Students meet during Tutor time on either Tuesday, Thursday or Friday each week, and spend about 15 minutes chatting and getting to know one another. So far, the feedback has been really positive, with the older students enjoying sharing their experiences, and the younger students enjoying the opportunity to learn from an ‘old head’ at the College.
Year 10s have chosen their subjects for senior school, and just like the incoming Year 7s, many are feeling that mixture of excitement (white shirt and ‘free’ periods) and nerves (how much work is there ..really…??!!) Again, we understand, prepare, and cater for the range of student experiences and expectations through our end of Year 10 activities and the retreat at the start of Year 11.
Year 11s are preparing for the next L’Arche Disco in Giving Groups, another longstanding and rich tradition of our Year 11s working with those in our broader community living with a disability.
Our significant end-of-year rites of passage for our Year 12s, such as Formal and Graduation, while being modified, will go ahead: Year 12 Formal in the Morison Centre and Year 12 Graduation for students and staff only in TB Millar Hall, and streamed to families. Every event will have a COVID-safe plan, including Year 6 and Year 10 Celebrations. It has been wonderful to see once again the annual sporting competitions between staff and senior students in the gym at lunchtime, again highlighting the many positive and supportive relationships between staff and students at the College.
We have continued to provide rich presentations to our students from our long-standing external experts such as Paul Dillon (Drug and Alcohol safety), Headspace (Stress Management) Brett Lee (Online Safety) and Menslink (Silence is Deadly).
Mental Health Week will be marked in the last week of this term and will reflect one of our key tenets of wellbeing, which is, “What helps?” As such, the week will focus on the mental health benefits of physical activity, fun with friends (and fun socks), and music for students. Activities will include Zumba, Pilates and challenges/games on the oval. Friday 25 September will be a non-uniform day.
Finally, I would like pay tribute to Sir Ken Robinson, who passed away on August 21. I have previously written about the huge influence of his TED Talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity?
He continually advocated for educational reform and the need to nurture creativity and passion, and to celebrate individual talent and ability, over traditional academic means of testing and measuring success.
The following links from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner provide resources that may be helpful to support your conversations with your child.