From the Principal: 27 June 2018

Principal Fiona Godfrey

Principal Fiona Godfrey

As we conclude another busy term, it is timely to reflect on all that has been learnt and achieved, but also what needs to be initiated in the future, for all students to reach their full potential. The Semester 1 reports, which are currently in the final stages of production, will provide students and parents guidance about the way students can improve their results in the future. It is important that this advice is both absorbed and actioned.

At this stage, Junior School parents should receive an email this Friday alerting them that reports are ready for viewing, while Secondary School parents should receive a similar email a week later on Friday, 6 July. You can again view a short video update about accessing online reports through Radford Online and SEQTA.

Staffing matters

We eagerly look forward to welcoming our new Deputy Principal and Head of Secondary School, Dr Adrian Johnson, to Radford in the final week of the holidays. Adrian and his wife will be relocating from Queensland over the first two weeks of the break, and he has told me on many occasions that he is really looking forward to getting to know people and understanding the workings of Radford. I hope the change in climatic conditions is not too much of a shock for him!

In Semester 2, Ms Emily Leong will assist our current Acting Director of Co-curricular Music. Emily is no stranger to Music at Radford as she is currently the Director of keyboards and a part-time teacher of Music.

Driver behaviour inside the campusTraffic inside the campus

Driver behaviour inside the College campus has become an increasing concern, especially in the mornings. We’ve had reports of speeding vehicles, dangerous overtaking and even an accident where the driver refused to stop and give their details. I’m disappointed that I have to remind drivers to take extra care when inside the campus. The speed limit is 20 KPH, and that drops to 10 KPH in areas with high pedestrian usage. Remember that students and other pedestrians will behave unpredictably and the consequences of adding speeding or dangerous driving to congested areas should be obvious. Being late is no excuse for poor driving. Please slow down and drive carefully at all times.

Review of the Gonski 2.0 Report

It is now nearly two months since the Gonski 2.0 Report was released to the public, and during this time there has been extensive media coverage examining the pros and cons of each of the 23 recommendations detailed in the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australia.

Recognising excellence in education as a national priority, the Australian Government established the Review in July 2017. Mr David Gonski AC chaired the review and was supported by an independent panel of experts drawn from different states, school systems and sectors.

The review panel was asked to recommend ways that Australia could improve student outcomes, return to being one of the top education systems in the world, and ensure that school systems and schools truly prepare Australia's young people for an ever-changing world.

Despite there being some key recommendations that have sparked particular interest, overall, the report falls short of what schools and school systems require to improve student results. In many ways, the report is a smorgasbord of popular ideas that have been doing the rounds for some time. These include ‘the development of contemporary pedagogy through the use of collaboration, mentoring, observation and feedback,’ ‘embed a focus on individual student achievement through continuous learning progress’ and Professor John Hattie’s mantra that young people should gain ‘a year of learning growth from a year of schooling’.

All these recommendations and many of the others listed have been part of the teaching and learning focus at Radford for a number of years. It is now nearly three years since we introduced the Community of Practice in the Secondary School and the Staff Mentoring in the Junior School, both of which focus on peer-to-peer classroom observations, collaboration, feedback and mentoring. Using and understanding data to individualise student learning has also been a priority at Radford in recent years, particularly over the last 18 months. And, finally, we have been working closely with John Hattie and his team at Melbourne University on the Visible Learning Program, whereby teachers become evaluators of their own teaching. Visible Teaching and Learning occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers.

Additionally, Recommendation 8 to ‘strengthen school-community engagement to enrich student learning through the establishment of mechanisms to facilitate quality partnerships, including engagement in mentoring, volunteering and extra-curricular activities, between schools, employers, members of the community, community organisations and tertiary institutions’ is not something new for Radford. The College has been working hard for many years through our co-curricular program, service learning program and RAS to strengthen relationships with external organisations including individuals, employers and community organisations. This is so clearly evident in our work with Black Mountain School, Cranleigh School, ParkCare ACT, and OzHarvest, just to name a few, and our tours to Gamillaraay Country and Timor Leste.

The report makes recommendations across a variety of areas, but there are a handful that have the potential to be innovative and ‘game changing’, while others are just simply radical.

One of the recommendations that falls into the former category is the recommendation to ‘develop a new online and on-demand student learning assessment tool based on the Australian Curriculum learning progressions.’ The aim of the proposed online assessment tool is to facilitate more individualised learning so that teachers can tailor their teaching to particular students’ needs, as opposed to what the report calls ‘the industrial model of schooling’. If this sort of online tool could be developed, we may be able to do away with NAPLAN testing and focus more on individuals’ progression, rather than school and sector wide comparisons.

It is in the areas of curriculum, assessment and reporting that the report deviates most from our current system. Central to the recommendations is the view that our current national curriculum, which is organised into year levels rather than levels of progress, leaves some students behind, fails to extend others and limits potential opportunities for true curriculum differentiation. The report argues that we should be focusing on maximising student learning growth rather than pigeonholing students into expected growth by year level. 

In terms of reporting, Gonski 2.0 recommends that individual student achievement can be better understood and catered for if there is a focus on student attainment as well as learning gain. The report argues that this will give students and parents not just information on where they sit relative to ‘lockstep’ level years, but more tailored information about individual progress.

On reflection, I believe that most educators would find at least one point, finding or recommendation in the report they could readily support, and most would already be implementing them in their schools. We now need to wait and see what governments will make of Gonski 2.0 and which, if any, of these recommendations become enshrined in legislation or bound up in funding arrangements. 

Holiday tours

As is customary at this time of the year, we have a large number of students travelling locally, nationally and internationally as members of Radford tours and camps.

The 20th Gamilaraay Trip departed last Saturday with 23 students from Years 11 and 12. As usual, they have travelled to northern NSW to work with young Indigenous students in four local schools: Minimbah Preschool/Primary School, Kiah Preschool, Moree East Public School and Tingha Public School. They return to Canberra on 1 July.

Last Friday, for the 10th consecutive year, a group of Radford Years 11 and 12 students left Canberra to spend time in Timor Leste, to return two weeks later on 6 July. This year we have our largest-ever contingent of 25 students and 4 staff, who will be working in schools, orphanages and other community groups in Dili and surrounding areas.

A group of 11 students, all boys, from Years 10–12 left for the USA last Saturday as part of their Science and Technology Tour. They will be visiting Seattle, Chicago and Alabama, returning home on 8 July.

A Round Square service trip involving 11 students from Years 9 and 10 will leave For Cambodia on 6 July, returning home on 16 July. These students will work with students from other Round Square schools in schools and other institutions in Cambodia. A group called Rustic Pathways is organising this trip.

The annual trip to Central Australia, involving 23 students from Years 7–9, leaves Canberra on 30 June and returns home a week later on 6 July.

The Snowsports Holiday Camp will take place from 15–20 July at Perisher Valley, involving 38 students from Year 3 through to Year 12.

On the final Saturday of the holidays, we will welcome to Canberra the students from Stanford Lake College, South Africa, who will be starting their five-week Round Square exchange at Radford. They will be in the College until 24 August and will fly home to South Africa with their exchange partners, the 16 Year 9 Radford students who will then begin their five-week visit to Stanford Lake College. 

I wish all these teachers and students safe travels and we await news of their adventures on their return.

End of semester

Finally, I would like to extend my best wishes to all the Radford College families as we begin our mid-year vacation.

I hope you all have a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday period and we look forward to seeing all our students return safely on Monday, 23 July. 

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