Teaching and Learning – Our Core Business
Fiona Godfrey – Principal
This week marks the penultimate week of school for our current Year 12s, and whilst there is a growing sense of excitement within the cohort, I know from past experiences that when they actually have their final day next Friday, there will also be a great deal of sadness.
The final days at school are both important and memorable. We want our Year 12s to celebrate this key milestone with fun and frivolity, reflecting meaningfully on all that has been achieved, and thanking those who have helped them along their journey at Radford. However, most of all, we want their celebrations to be memorable for all the right reasons.
I am confident that the Class of 2020 will leave the College being remembered as a group of students who had to cope with a Year 12 year like no other, but were still able to keep their heads up high, with motivation and determination unwavering. I look forward to sharing the final days with a wonderful group of young adults, who will, I am sure, be ready to take on the challenges of life after Radford.
Teaching and Learning – Our Core Business
The study of school effectiveness, systems to measure it, and factors contributing to it, have occupied the attention of university education faculties around the world for many decades. Traditionally, educational research suggests that highly effective schools—that is, schools that achieve high standards regardless of gender, family backgrounds or socioeconomic status—have a number of features in common. The following five factors are generally regarded to be the most important for schools to maximise effectiveness:
- high expectations are set for student learning
- strong and effective school leaders
- teachers have a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of their subjects and a deep understanding of how students learn particular subjects
- outstanding school cultures where students have a sense of belonging and pride
- high levels of parent and community involvement.
While these factors determine overall school effectiveness, in recent times, quality teaching has been shown to be more important for individual student performance than all other factors including social background, or even a school's facilities.
At a conference I attended a few years ago, University of Auckland academic Debra Masters (now working for Education Services Australia) told the delegates that teacher quality ranks above class sizes, school resources or the socio-economic background of a student in affecting performance. "Teachers often underestimate the effect they have on student learning. They say it's the parents' fault, the school's fault, someone else's fault. This deficit approach is wrong. (Instead) teachers must focus on what they can change," she said.
At the conference, Ms Masters pointed to an analysis of 50,000 international studies, involving more than 200 million students, which showed moving schools, television and summer holidays all had negative impacts on education, while quality teaching and good relationships between students and teachers were positive influences. Ms Masters said the most effective teachers knew the curriculum, were passionate about education, set clear instructions for students and were "activators" of student potential.
There is no doubt that at Radford we clearly understand and appreciate the importance of quality teaching. The Radford College Strategic Plan: A vision for our Future 2021 – 2025, soon to be released, clearly identifies the development of teacher quality as a major part of the College’s future plans. Arguably, the recruitment, retention and development of excellent teachers is the most important role of the management of the College.
Along with many other schools in Australia, Radford College celebrated World Teachers’ Day last Friday. We celebrate this day slightly later than many other countries in the world, as it traditionally falls in early October when most Australian schools are on holidays. The theme for the 2020 World Teachers' Day 2020 was aptly titled, Teachers: leading in crisis, reimagining the future. This theme reflects the commitment teachers across the world have made as leaders, particularly teaching throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in a range of learning environments.
World Teachers' Day is a chance to recognise and celebrate the incredible contributions teachers have made in our local, national and international communities, as they help to teach the future. The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession, take stock of achievements, and draw attention to the voices of teachers.
At Radford, we celebrated the day with a special morning tea in both the Junior and Secondary Schools. It was very clear, at both events, that the teachers appreciated the acknowledgement of their work, particularly in this more challenging pandemic year.