Principal's Message

A very warm welcome to the start of the 2023 academic year to all members of the Radford community, especially families new to the College. I hope all Radford families had an enjoyable and relaxing holiday period and that all students are ready for the challenges of a new school year. We also hope that the orientation programs, Parent-Teacher sessions in the Junior School and the upcoming Parent-Mentor interviews in the Secondary School prove to be useful in answering some questions, alleviating concerns and lessening the nerves.

Across the school, 249 students had their first full day at Radford yesterday, and we hope that the settling-in process has begun successfully. We also hope every new child’s association with Radford College is long and fruitful.

It is a welcome change this year to be starting a school year with the knowledge that our planned events and activities can actually go ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic of the past three years certainly made it extremely difficult to plan the myriad of events that occur here at Radford during the first term. I ask parents to keep on top of information coming out through Nexus about all these events.

Work on the Campus

School campuses are usually relatively quiet over the long summer vacation, but that certainly was not the case at Radford over this Christmas holiday period. Work continued in earnest on our three major capital works projects, with the Multi-Purpose Hall starting to take shape, the G. Wigg Sports Centre Gymnasium extension, and the Boorer Cricket Centre piers and slab construction well underway. The six outdoor courts were finally completed with the laying of the surface and line marking is currently being finalised.

These new sports precinct facilities will provide much-needed capacity for us to offer a range of co-curricular sports, have a comprehensive Physical Education curriculum, and provide a range of meeting spaces for students across the College.

The Sports Department has been fielding enquiries from parents asking if they are able to book the courts after hours and on weekends. Before this can happen, we have to monitor the needs of our co-curricular sports program to establish what level of public use will be possible. We will then announce the process and cost for booking the courts.

At this stage, the construction company, FDC, predicts that all three projects will be completed by mid-to-late August. However, having had experience with several large capital works projects, I am not ‘hanging my hat’ on those timeframes as anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!

Other works completed on the campus over the holiday period included:

  • Installation of a new air conditioning system in the G. Wigg Sports Centre gym.
  • G. Wigg Sports Centre gym refresh, removal of internal wall and resurfacing of the gym floor, and installation of a new drainage system.
  • Replacement air conditioning systems in the Senior Library.
  • Refurbishment of a series of classrooms.
  • New play equipment in Year 2 area.
  • Artificial turf Kindergarten and Year 1 play space.
  • Painting of external bull nosing across the Secondary School and re-fitting of shade covers.
  • Painting of Kindergarten to Year 2 rooms.
  • Resurfacing of all timber decks across the College.

The maintenance team was kept busy over the holidays working on tree and grounds maintenance, refreshing playground soft fall, sealing timber play equipment, pressure cleaning pathways, and installing additional stair tactiles and improvements for vision-impaired students and staff.

A Further Reduction in Federal Government Funding

As detailed in previous Bulletin articles, in 2018, the Australian Government introduced a new funding model that it felt was simpler, more transparent and based on need. Under this new scheme, funding is based on the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is a measure of the amount of public funding needed by each school to meet the educational needs of its students in both government and non-government schools. Under the previous model, the Australian Government’s contribution to the SRS varied between states and territories.

Under this new scheme, Radford was deemed to be funded above its target share and was informed that it would need to transition to the new (and significantly lower) target by 2029. Under these transition arrangements, Radford was informed that it would lose real funding each year over that time period.

For most non-government schools, the calculation of Commonwealth funding includes a reduction in the assessed capacity of the school community to financially contribute to the school's operating costs. This is called the 'capacity to contribute' (CTC) assessment.

In 2020, the Australian Government introduced a new method for calculating a school community’s CTC based on a Direct Measure of Income (DMI) of parents and guardians of students at a school.

The DMI is based on the median income of parents and/or guardians as determined through the linkage of personal income data (from the Australian Tax Office) and residential address data collected.

The median family income of each school is converted to an annual DMI score, which is used to create the CTC score of the school. The CTC score is then used to discount the amount of base funding a school receives from the Australian Government.

The DMI impacts only the Commonwealth’s contribution to the base amount of funding under the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) for non-government schools. There are no changes to other components of school funding, including the six loadings that provide extra funding for disadvantaged schools and students. For example, students with disability, students with low-English proficiency, students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, students from socio-educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, students in regional and remote areas, and small schools.

On 17 November 2022, the College received notification from the Commonwealth Department of Education regarding the increase in the College’s CTC. We were able to estimate that this increase in the College’s CTC score would result in an equivalent further reduction to Commonwealth funding of approximately $1M, on top of the already known approximately $1M.

This advice was received after the Board had approved the 2023 budget, including the fee schedule for 2023, and after the College released this information to the Radford community. The College subsequently appealed to the Department of Education regarding the timing of this information without success.

After some deliberation, the Board made the decision not to revisit the 2023 fee schedule and manage the nearly $2M reduction of funding for this year. Such late notice from the Department is well out of planning cycles for all schools. This reduction in funding will need to be considered by the Board during 2023, as it discusses the setting of fees for future years, from 2024 onwards.

Strategic Priorities for 2023

As is customary in mid-January, a large group of senior staff from Radford, including all of the Senior Executive members, the four Assistant Heads of Junior School, the Senior Chaplain, and the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation spent two and half days together on retreat to prepare for the year ahead.

The first morning was spent thoroughly working through the results and feedback from the MMG survey that parents with students in Years 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12 in 2022 and Year 12 students themselves from last year, had completed. The results are always very interesting and help to inform strategic priorities for the upcoming year. The second part of the morning allowed us to reflect on things that had gone well last year and the things we could have done better.

That afternoon was spent analysing our current strategic plan and determining which sections required further work, which sections needed to be revised, and which sections were no longer relevant. From there, we formulated a long list of Strategic Priorities for 2023, some of which are detailed below.

The next day we took some time to work through a ‘nuts and bolts’ meeting, including recent staff changes, finalising plans for the long list of camps and other events which will take place in Term One, and working through some issues that arose over the holiday period.

Lisa Plenty, our Director of Digital Learning and Innovation then gave us all a very interesting presentation on the challenges and opportunities that IT will continue to provide us as educators, especially in relation to AI. If you have not yet had a chance to read Lisa’s article, entitled Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT for Parents that she posted on Nexus on Monday, I strongly encourage you to do so. Here is the link.

Later that day, we spent time making further refinements to the documentation that will be submitted as part of a five-year Evaluation for both International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) programs that will take place this year.

The retreat was concluded with small group work on Strategic Priorities for various sections of the College. Some of the Priorities discussed and detailed were:

  • Impact of Al on assessment and opportunities from Al for learning.
  • IB five-year Evaluation.
  • Review of co-curricular music.
  • Scope and sequence for study skills and home learning in the Junior School.
  • Further embed ATLs and review of rubrics/feedback.
  • Interdisciplinary learning in the Secondary School.
  • Junior School moderation process and RaVE curriculum.
  • Consistent, quality teaching and consolidation of pedagogical approaches, along with instructional coaching.
  • Digital technologies/literacies.
  • Review mentor group time/program.
  • Professional development in the use of Intellischool.
  • Identifying patterns of behaviour that are a roadblock to student growth and achievement.
  • Implement a staff well-being survey.
  • Develop a schedule of continuous policy review and update.
  • Intellischool implementation.
  • Nexus continued rollout.
  • IT Security.
  • Refinement of ICT Strategic Plan.

A Busy Start to the Year

Over the past two days, the College has celebrated the start of the new school year with two major assemblies. Tuesday’s involved the Secondary School and this morning’s involved the whole College.

The Secondary School assembly was particularly important as it was not only a way to welcome students back to the College, but we also had our 2022 JA Mackinnon Dux, Jess Do, speak to the student body and the 2023 Prefects were inducted into their roles. Jess spoke very well about the importance of being involved in the whole life of the College, while our Prefects - many of whom had their parents in attendance - were clearly pleased to finally receive their badges of honour.

Today’s whole-of-school assembly was truly a sight to behold, with just over 2100 students seated together on the Morison Centre lawn. The students heard from our Senior Chaplain Katherine Rainger, Deputy Principals Andy Gordon and Brad Cooney, and me. The Prefects performed a skit similar to Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham about the importance of “being brave and getting involved.”

Tomorrow will be our third major event for the week when the whole of the Junior School comes together for its Commencement Service.