Encouraging a sense of belonging in the Secondary School

By Brad Cooney, Deputy Principal and Head of Secondary School

Encouraging a sense of belonging in the Secondary School

High-quality teaching and a safe, inclusive environment at school are two key aspects necessary to students enjoying positive education outcomes and feeling like they belong, and can contribute positively to our generously-spirited learning community. Parents can assist us in the following ways:

  1. Help your child find their people. The journey of adolescence is about dipping into different groups until you find people with genuine, common interests. When you find your people, you don’t have to try so hard because the interests you share are genuine and you can be your authentic self and know you will be accepted.
  2. Encourage co-curricular or extra-curricular activities. That’s where children find people with the same interests who will accept them for who they are. Encourage participation in different school activities and activities outside of school too. A shared sense of hard work and success foster belonging. Shared experiences allow children to build a sense of self-worth in their group.
  3. Give it time. As a parent, it’s natural to worry if you feel your child is on the outer at school and in social groups, but give them time to find where they belong before you intervene.
  4. Talk to us. If you are worried that your child is struggling to settle in, speak to their mentor. They can craft situations to help things along, like organising seating arrangements and creating group activities to help a child get to know other children.
  5. Invest in what your child does. Talk regularly about their day and be interested. Ask how their week has been, if there is anything they need help with, and what has been the best part of their day. If they are doing something new at school, ask about that. Conversations can sometimes be difficult with children of a certain age, so ask questions that are open-ended and require more than "yes" or "no" answers. Make the most of moments when you are alone with your child and where there is no technology, like when driving in the car or walking the dog.
  6. Guide them through the struggle. When a child is struggling in a social setting, help guide them away from the group that isn’t working towards another social group. But remind them that their new social group might have been together for a while and your child has just joined, so they should get involved slowly and take small steps until they are accepted and belong.
  7. Remind them that there is belonging beyond school. Belonging doesn’t start and finish in the classroom. Remind your child they are valued by other groups and places e.g., their soccer or netball team or youth group. Remind them they are more than a student.
  8. Don’t underestimate the importance of belonging. When the belonging feels right, it has a positive impact on success in the classroom and on a child’s growth as a learner and student. A child performs at their very best when they have that comfortable sense of belonging.

Parent/Teacher/Student Conversations: Creating strong learning partnerships in the Secondary School

Thank you to our parents/guardians in the Secondary School for taking advantage of the opportunity to meet with teachers at the end of Term 1. This is a valuable learning partnership for everyone in terms of ensuring learning is a three-way process between the parents, student(s) and teaching staff. When we all work together, the outcomes are far greater. I acknowledge and thank the teachers for their preparation and participation in these three-way conferences and parents/guardians and our students for attending to discuss their learning progress and growth.

Foundation Day

This year’s Foundation Day (6 April) was held on the Morison Lawns in the Secondary School. Many staff have said to me that it was one of the best that they have experienced, and this certainly comes down to the positive behaviour, attitude and energy of our students, and the way in which they wholeheartedly participated in the telling of The Story of Yungbali, and the subsequent activities and events throughout the day. Our students really demonstrated the spirit and character of what it means to be a Radford student.

ANZAC Commemorative Service

Congratulations to all the students and staff who commemorated the fallen at our ANZAC Commemorative Service on Monday, 24 April. Radford College reflected on and recalled those who - in the great tragedy of war - gave their lives for Australia and for the freedom of our country. They still sleep amid the ridges of Gallipoli, the terraced hills of Palestine, in the cemeteries of France and Belgium and the olive groves of Greece, the Middle East, the jungles of Malaya, New Guinea, the Pacific Islands, Canada, South Africa, Korea, and unknown resting places in every continent and under every sea. Since WWII, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice have been brought home to Australia and found their resting place under the stars of the Southern Cross.

We acknowledge the grief of all those families who have lost sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, neighbours and friends in the many theatres of war since the first Diggers of Gallipoli.

Each ANZAC Day, we remember all who have since fallen in both World Wars, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and while working with the United Nations in the many commitments, whether at sea, on land or in the air. On ANZAC Day each year, we remember and pray for the men, women and children who have died as the result of war.

School Production: Guys and Dolls

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2023 Radford School Musical: Guys and Dolls. Our students performed spectacularly on stage and in production, sound and lighting. The band performed to a very high standard in support of the cast and crew.

A special thank you and shout out to Head of Co-curricular Drama, Dance and Technical Theatre, Mr Nick Akhurst; Director Ms Tracy Bourne; Vocal Director and guest performer Mrs Alira Prideaux; Music Director Mr Caleb Campbell; and Director of Bands Mr Ben Marsten for playing and helping with the brass.

Thank you to Head of Co-curricular Music and Director of Strings, Mrs Kirsten Knight, for leading the band and music; Mrs Donna Robards and Ms Susan Troy for ticketing and administration; Mr Dave Burcher for helping our sound students run the band and microphones; and Mr Stuart Mitchell for marshalling the students and front of house. And, of course, our very talented students who have worked so hard to get this amazing production off the ground.

Best wishes for a productive term, filled with purpose and a commitment to trying new things and giving everything a go.