From the Principal, 31 March 21
As we head into our first term break, and make our final preparations for our Foundation Day tomorrow, it is timely to reflect on the first quarter of the 2021 academic year.
Overall, I believe we have had a very successful Term 1. Our new students appear to have settled in well at Radford, and we have been able to undertake a number of large events, some involving travel and overnight stays, despite the constant threat of COVID-19 restrictions.
On reflection, all of the camps held this term (Years 5, 7, 8, 11 and Music Camp) have all been highly successful. They have given staff and students an opportunity to get to know each other better, to test and explore new situations and experiences, and plan for the year ahead. I would particularly like to take this opportunity to thank the staff involved in the organisation of these camps, as they all require a huge amount of planning and logistical manoeuvring and take them away from their own family members!
On the sporting field we have had a highly productive end to the summer sporting season, with our Cricket, Futsal, and Oztag teams and Rowing squads all having a great deal of success.
RADFORD COLLEGE AUSTRALIAN ROWING CHAMPIONS
While most of the sporting teams have now finished their competitions for the summer season, last weekend I had the honour and delight to experience the final three days of the Australian Rowing Championships at Lake Barrington in Tasmania, with 32 of our most senior rowers, many of their parents, and a number of the rowing coaches, most notably, our Head of Rowing Ms Vicky Spencer.
The Australian Rowing Championships are the pinnacle of any rowing year, and this year we sent our largest contingent of rowers ever. The standard of racing is always very high, with only the top crews from schools from all over Australia attending. Prior to the students departing, they were encouraged to do their very best, but were warned that the standard was exceptionally high. and that they should not be disappointed if they did not bring home the usual medal haul.
Well, the students did not disappoint at all, and in fact we had the most successful Australian Championships ever, by a long way. Radford College has won 8 Australian medals in the history of rowing at our school; however, this year not only did we double that tally, but we also won outright the point score cup for schoolboys and tied (with Loreto Kirribili from Sydney) for schoolgirl point score cup. Not surprising, we had the highest aggregate for all schools. These successes saw Radford crowned as the Australian Champion school for rowing in 2021!
Whilst it is hard to single out particular performances from our medal tally of seven podium finishes, it is probably the four gold medals that were most pleasing. These included a gold medal finish in the Open Schoolboy Coxed Quad (arguably the premier race on the program behind the coxed eight), the Under 17 Girls’ Coxed Eight (which included a number of Year 9 students), the Open Schoolgirl Coxed Quad Sprint and the Under 17 Boys’ Double Scull.
Although we will have a number of opportunities to congratulate and thank our rowing community in the coming weeks, it is appropriate to acknowledge, congratulate and thank everyone who has been involved in the rowing program over the past few years. Under Vicky Spencer’s leadership, and with the amazing assistance of President of FoRR, Nikki Schroder, this group of talented individuals and crews, along with a very strong group of supporters, have gone from strength to strength, to take out this weekend what is arguably the most sought after prizes for any school in this country that offers rowing. We are all so incredibly proud of their combined efforts!
UPGRADE OF COLLEGE ONLINE PLATFORMS
I’m pleased to share with you the ways in which the College is upgrading its online platforms in 2021/2022.
New intranet and parent portal – late 2021
The College will replace Radford Online with a new intranet for staff and students, which will include a parent portal. Schoolbox is a platform used by many schools across Australia. It provides the information parents and caregivers need about their child/ren’s engagement with school activities in a more user-friendly way. An app will also be introduced for parents and caregivers to easily access the information within Schoolbox on their mobile device.
New Learning Management System – early 2022
The College will launch a new Learning Management System (LMS) to replace SEQTA Engage. The Secondary School will use Schoolbox for its LMS, while the Junior School will use Toddle, an LMS designed specifically for the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme which will integrate with Schoolbox.
The College’s new website will go live during Term 2. With a bold, engaging style, the new site encourages prospective parents to learn more about Radford.
Resources for current parents and caregivers will be located under a Parent Portal tab in the top right-hand corner of the website.
Until the new intranet and parent portal is launched, Radford Online will continue to operate and will be accessible from the Parent Portal tab.
COLLEGE YEARBOOK - THE RADFORDIAN
The 2020 Radfordian is almost ready to be printed and will be available for distribution early in Term 2.
A copy of the Radfordian will be sent home with the eldest child of each family at the College. They will receive their family's copy during class (Junior School) or tutor time (Secondary School). The Class of 2020 will also receive a copy.
CONSENT, SEXISM AND MALE PRIVILEGE
A review of this term would not be complete without some commentary on the issues that have been capturing the media’s attention in recent months around sexual consent, sexism and male privilege. In my view, we have had, and well may continue to have, unprecedented and long overdue attention given to these concepts, which will hopefully see changes to the way women are treated.
Whilst I am not pleased about the circumstances that have led to this ongoing media attention, I am glad that finally the plight of women, particularly those who are willing to say it is not okay just to accept the injustices of the past, has finally been brought to the attention of the mainstream media.
At the Secondary School Assembly on 17 March, I spoke about these issues in my address. Whilst I wanted to highlight that this was a long overdue issue to be tackled, I was careful to make sure that the boys in the audience did not feel they were being singled out, or any way felt they were to be blamed. I made sure that my speech highlighted that the way to tackle these issues was by everyone working together and ‘calling out’ issues, if and when they heard, saw, or witnessed them.
Here are some excerpts from my speech to the Secondary School students:
Good morning everyone and a warm welcome to our special Harmony Day Assembly.
Harmony Day is traditionally a day when we take time to recognise the importance of cultural diversity. However, I think we are starting to see that it means more than that to many people. I think when we boil it down, Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians. This day is a day for us to celebrate and recognise that everyone at Radford belongs, regardless of their race, their gender, their sexuality, or their religious affinity.
This year, and at this particular time, the need for respect, inclusiveness and equality has saturated media outlets. In recent weeks, we have heard deeply distressing allegations of sexual assault and harassment against women both here in Australia and overseas. The shockwaves have rocked various institutions and refocused the spotlight on the treatment of women in the workplace, highlighting the lack of accountability and power imbalance that so frequently exists. This has ignited impassioned calls to action, including questioning the role that schools play in ensuring our world is one in which the rights of each individual are genuinely respected.
Two days ago, at a March 4 Justice Rally here in Canberra, Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was sexually assaulted in an office in Parliament House, delivered a powerful message to the crowd. She said this:
I speak to you today out of necessity. We are all here today not because we want to be here, but because we have to be here. We fundamentally recognise the system is broken, the glass ceiling is still in place, and there are significant failings in the power structures within our institutions. We are here because it is unfathomable that we are still having to fight this same stale, tired fight.
As it has been said before, time can be used constructively or destructively. Human progress rarely rolls on inevitability. It is through dedication and effort that we move forward. When we fall asleep at the wheel, what tends to happen is that time becomes an ally of those who seek stagnation. We regress. It is the custodians of the status quo keeping the existing order alive. To see a real progress, we must seek it out.
Two weeks ago, Australian of the Year, Grace Tame also delivered a powerful address at the National Press Club. Sadly, her distressing and graphic story is not unique. But in speaking out, she has drawn attention to the disrespect that SOME men still harbour towards women, that underpin these attacks. I deliberately highlighted that word SOME, because we know that it is a small number of men who act in the manner to which she was subjected.
Grace is a remarkable young woman and the courage she displayed in winning her fight to have the victim’s voice heard was indomitable. There are others who do not wish to be identified or fight their battles so publicly. But it is important they know that they are in our thoughts.
As a proud and progressive school, we are a fundamental part of the change that is so desperately needed. But that change cannot come by demonizing boys and men. It is a small fraction of men who have not shown respect to their female counterparts in the past, and so we should not be tarring all with the same brush. While it is clear that there has been a number of men who have mistreated women in the past, we also know there has always been a number of women who have not done the right thing to men in the past. It is important that this recent media attention does not cause certain groups to point the finger at others, but rather for us to say collectively, what can we do to change this situation that sadly, for too long has been allowed to continue.
Now more than ever, we need to have men and women walking alongside each other, addressing or ‘calling out’ discrimination and injustices as they see them. And I think each and every one of you have a role in doing this on a regular basis. Whenever you hear someone making a remark or comment that is sexist or racist in either tone or content, say something. Say something to them, to others, to teachers, to parents and anyone else who can make a difference. We have to constantly remind ourselves about what are the values we hold dear - Truth, Compassion and Wisdom…..and RESPECT.
At Radford, we have a very comprehensive pastoral care/wellbeing and personal development program that starts in Pre-Kindergarten and goes all of the way through to Year 12, addressing at appropriate levels, issues of respectful relationships, sexual relationships, gender stereotyping, homophobia, and warning signs of abusive behaviour (just to name a few). A great deal of the wellbeing and personal development education is completed in the classroom in the Junior School, and within the Tutor Group in the Secondary School, but some of this is explicitly taught in the Sexuality and Relationship Program in Years 5 and 6, and a great deal within HPE curriculum in Years 7 - 10.
Should parents want any further information about what is taught at their child’s year level about these issues, they are encouraged to speak to their child’s classroom teacher, Mr Nick Martin or Ms Emily Begbie (for Junior School parents), their child’s Tutor (Years 7 – 12), the Head of HPE, Mr Justin Wood or Ms Claire Melloy, Assistant Principal Students (for Secondary School Students).
I wish all Radford students, parents and staff a very happy, relaxing, safe and enjoyable first term holiday period. I look forward to welcoming everyone back on 19 April for the first day of Term 2.