Sometimes in your life there are moments when it is okay to wallow in pride, to feel thrilled and joyful because of the achievements you witness. We experienced it during the Olympics, especially when Australians we had never heard of rose to glory to take gold. Their journey to Rio was often a humble one, some financial support from the government or sponsorship, but mostly done on the cheap. I experience that same intense pride when I see the faces of teachers light up at their students’ achievements and the smiles on the faces of girls who have challenged themselves to be the best they can be. Last week, we held two exhibitions in which HSC Major Works and the Years 7-11 works undertaken by students in Visual Arts and TAS were shown. When I arrived in the Bowie Hall, I was dragged by a smiling Head of Visual Arts to the works done by her Year 12 Life Skills Art students. Her pride in their achievements manifested itself in a grin that remained throughout the evening and her pride was justified. It also extended to all the work on display by the Year 12 Art students whose concepts and their realisations were worthy of public exhibition.
The Head of TAS also spent the evening with a grin stretched across her face and this was shared by all Visual Arts and TAS teachers throughout the week as they proudly spoke about the girls’ achievements. All works are now packaged up and sent through to the marking centres.
At the same time as this was happening, our athletes were competing at Olympic Park in the Broken Bay Secondary Schools Sports Association. Our Junior Team (12-13yrs) was the Champion school placing first, our Intermediate Team (14-15yrs) placed 3rd and our Senior Team (16-17yrs) placed second, placing the school second overall in a field of 12 schools. 16 girls will represent Broken Bay at the Combined Catholic Colleges Carnival on Friday 16 September. Ta’alili Feaunati of Year 8 set a new record in the 13 years Shot Put and Melissa Fitzsimmons of Year 12, Isabelle Ronksley of Year 10, and Esme Sergi of Year 7 all won their events.
This week the Year 12 Drama students have undertaken their HSC performance examinations over three days. I have watched them rehearse outside my office and go in and out of the theatre, curious about how they fared. On Tuesday afternoon, I caught up with their teacher, Mr Rutherford, whose grin and thumbs up told me more than words about his pride in their performances and his desire for them to receive marks commensurate with the excellence he saw on stage as the HSC examiners assessed them.
On Wednesday evening, over 50 girls entered BrigFest, our short film festival, now in its seventh year at the College. London Hartard of Year 9 took out the Overall Best Film category with her short film, Run, about a young couple fleeing Nazi-occupied France. Other films varied from the reflective to the abstract and all reflected the joy and pride of their student directors.
Many of us buy into the notion that we should ‘fit in’ to a mould of contained behaviour, fearing to stand out or risk being judged. What has been evident over the past week in a brief snapshot of life in a school is the commitment by teachers who believe in their students and the courage of our girls as they put themselves forward for exhibition or performance.
We are pleased to announce that Stage 3 of the Master Plan building works will commence at the end of this term. This will involve refurbishment to the McCammon Wing including new larger senior classrooms, improved access between the northern and southern ends of the campus, staffroom, common room and function space. Disability access will also be improved with the installation of a lift over the three levels of the building and wheelchair access to the College Reception. Since I last provided you with an update the tender process has been finalised and the building contract awarded to Prime Constructions Pty Ltd. Fulton Trotter (architects), Touchstone Partners (contract administrators) and a range of other consultants will continue to play important roles working with Prime, towards a high quality outcome for the College.
Brigidine College St Ives is delighted to have Prime on board as they have a strong background working in the independent school sector. In our meetings with them to date, they have demonstrated a clear understanding of the specific needs of schools, where student safety and child protection are at the centre of our considerations. Strict management plans incorporating child protection, workplace health and safety, and emergency responses are in the process of being agreed. These will be routinely administered and monitored, and reported upon at regular site and management meetings with Prime.
The timing of the project has been planned to take maximum advantage of Term 4, when rooming needs are at their lowest with Year 12 students having finished classes, and the Christmas and New Year break when students will not be present. Early works were carried out during the July non-term period with road widening along the northern side of the Chapel and structural steel measurements finalised to facilitate off-site fabrication. During the September/October break, construction sheds and fencing will be established and demolition works carried out. At the start of Term 4, Higher School Certificate exams will commence, with most exams being scheduled in areas well away from the building works to mitigate any noise interruptions to students. Those exams with large numbers of candidates will be scheduled in the Bowie Hall and building work will be suspended for those specific days.
Entry of construction and delivery vehicles will occur outside of the commencement and end of each school day and will be through Gate 2, into a compound at the front of the Chapel accessing a fully fenced roadway through to the site compound on the southern side of the McCammon Wing.
There will need to be some restrictions on the paths of travel for students throughout the College as the normal routes through the College Reception and McCammon will be part of the building site and therefore not accessible by students. Staff have been briefed on these changes and Mrs Curran will provide a detailed information session for students prior to the end of Term 3.
We look forward to a safe and successful build, and showing you our new facilities early in 2017.
While walking with students on a Duke of Edinburgh hike recently I was reminded of the important role parents play in the lives of our teenage girls. The students constantly made reference to their parents and the things that they say, or ‘always say’. It struck me later that our girls really do listen to what parents have to say and it has meaning for them. As a teacher this often occurs when a student may speak to you and mention that they remember a comment you made at Assembly three years ago. They may remember a remark you made to their class or group in Years 7 or 8, and they are now in Year 12! It often means something to them. Our girls do remember, they do listen to what we say and they think about these issues often.
It highlights the need for us all, as parents and educators, to both listen to and guide our girls through their teenage years. The developmental stage of adolescence requires a stronger presence from adults in the lives of teenagers. Often parents may think that it is a time to step away more and to give them more freedom, to be less ‘hands-on’ as when they were young children. This position is not supported by research or common sense parenting.
Adolescence is too hard for our girls to navigate on their own and they want their parents to nurture, guide and support them. Parenting that enables the girl to not be smothered, but supervised and monitored to make sound decisions and to learn from life’s challenges and inevitable mistakes.
Parenting can’t be done via mobile phone. It requires time and a deliberate focus of energy despite the demands of work and relationships for parents and educators. For parents, the ideal time would be the end of the day where a discussion of the day or recent experiences can be shared over dinner or even in the car or on the lounge in front of the TV.
A danger time for adolescents is late afternoon when parents are at work and where social media and connection with others holds sway and without you around they can be lost in cyber space, games and face challenges without you to support and guide them. Engagement in activities and sports are ideal ways to defuse this challenge. If this is not always possible, good conversation about their online use and clear boundaries for use at home need to be managed by parents. Devices need to be out of bedrooms and placed in public spaces or parent rooms for re-charging overnight. They all need time alone to look after themselves, sleep well and re-energise for their lives. The world is a different place now with the internet and we have to safeguard our adolescent children through this new world.
At Brigidine we use this time of year to interview students through the Mentor system and check their progress and goals following their recent half yearly examinations. It is a time for us to listen to our girls and to assist them in setting some learning goals for the next six months, as well as attaining a good balance in their lives. If grades need improvement they can discuss how best to improve and to learn from the feedback they have received in their reports. It is timely for parents to go through the reports as well and explore key strengths and challenges that emerge in comments and data, as well as the messages written ‘between the lines’ by teachers who are gently encouraging or urging your daughter in her learning at Brigidine.
What we do know is that they will listen to us when we speak thoughtfully to them. Our comments and suggestions and what we think of them are important to our girls. Finding time for good conversation is important. Finding the balance between being a tough parent with clear values and allowing your daughter to find her own way is difficult. Working at it and giving your best as a parent is the most important thing. The College staff will always support you in times of challenge and offer suggestions for managing difficult situations with your daughter.
It’s time to turn the conventional wisdom on it’s head and take more time to listen to our girls and allow them to voice their concerns and joys with us. We already know they are listening to what we have to say, let’s all build up our communication strategies and make time to improve these critical relationships and enable our girls to thrive and flourish as young women.
Click here to read an article from Michael Grose, author of the ‘Parenting ideas’ website, about consequences and good parenting that is worth a quick read.
Please go to the Cybersafety website for any support with online behaviour and to get some guidance on managing this area of your daughter’s life.
Assistant Principal Pastoral Care
There have been two Academic Assemblies at the College since the start of Term 3 and it has indeed been a genuine pleasure for me to be able to lead these. During these ceremonies students who have been awarded Application to Studies, Academic Application and First Place in Subjects were presented with their certificates to acknowledge their success. It was a real joy to see the girls walk proudly across the stage and I was pleased to see some of my own students up there. For me there was also a realisation that the work put into the organisation of these assemblies had finally come to an end. It is a process that starts in earnest once the results from the first semester are calculated and finalised. A great deal of collating and checking lists is involved so that all of the prize winners can receive due recognition for their efforts for that semester, and in the case of the Academic Application, for the years that they have been attending Brigidine College.
Academic Assemblies at the College also provide an opportunity to showcase student performances in the area of Performing Arts. These do indeed demonstrate the depth of talent we are fortunate to be nurturing at the College. My thanks go to all those who helped ensure the smooth running of these joyous occasions.
Having been asked to write this Editorial I reflected on how ceremonies such as these had changed since I had been at school some, dare I say it, 40 years ago. It also had me thinking about the kinds of characteristics a successful student embodies.
Being a History teacher it is not uncommon for me to illustrate a point about my own experience, especially when studying recent history. In a previous syllabus we looked at the prime ministership of Gough Whitlam and I would recount that I was studying for my last ever school Mathematics examination on the day that Gough Whitlam was dismissed. Somehow I was still able to do as well as expected in my exam, despite the fact that the world seemed to be going crazy and established routines and structures were being eroded by forces that I could not really understand. (It’s interesting how some things don’t change over time!).
That year I did get to walk across the stage and receive an award for achieving an average of more than 75% in all my subjects, which was the criteria at my school in those days. That was the only time I received an academic award for success across all my subjects. I had received book prizes for coming first in a subject, which, believe it or not of this passionate History teacher, was German. I had worked hard in my senior years to get that award and I was inordinately proud of my achievement. I trust that the students who received awards in the assemblies were also similarly proud of their achievements and acknowledge that their hard working efforts and commitment have paid off.
I have also been reflecting on and researching what it is that makes a student successful. Common factors include prioritising study, having a routine and sticking to it, knowing or determining what your preferred learning style as well having good results. The last factor is somewhat subjective and this is why modern learning theory talks about the idea of one’s personal best.
The development of skills is also crucial whether they be metacognitive (research and synthesis of information) or developing one’s cognitive abilities. Embedded in the metacognitive skills is the notion also of learning how to handle ICT. One article suggested that having a sense of humour is a characteristic of a good student, while another put it that good students get excited about the material. Honest work was also a feature as were creativity, adaptability and having extrinsic motivation.
Many of these ideas are also embedded, albeit expressed in different terminology, in the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum that is now in place for Years 7 to 10 and that will be in place by 2019-2020 for Years 11 and 12. BOSTES is currently seeking teacher feedback on Draft Stage 6 syllabuses in English, Mathematics, Science and History.
One article suggested that good students participate, take notes, ask questions, avoid distractions and even sit near the teacher if possible. In these modern days where teachers and students are just as likely to be moving about the classroom, or not even in a classroom, I had a little giggle at that one.
I encourage our students to consider these qualities of success and I do hope that in doing so they can recognise themselves.
For those interested in reading one of the online articles I came across regarding how to be a successful student, click here. It is written in accessible language and could provide some beneficial advice to students who are looking to achieve academic success. Thanks to the internet, we are so fortunate to have access to so much information at our fingertips that it is hard to imagine a time without it.
The article also says that good students remember to have fun. I know I do in my work as a teacher at Brigidine and it is my hope that our students do too.
Acting Assistant Principal Teaching and Learning
As we approach the second semester, now is a good time to go through the following checklist to see if you can improve your approach to school.
You can learn more about being more effective and efficient in your schoolwork at www.studyskillshandbook.com.au by logging in with these details:
Head of Library Services
University of Sydney: 27 August 2016, 9am to 4pm
UNSW: 3 September 2016
Macquarie University: 20 August 2016, 10am to 3pm
Western Sydney University: 28 August 2016, 10am to 2pm, Parramatta South Campus
University of Newcastle: 20 August 2016, 10am to 4pm
University of Wollongong:13 August 2016
UTS: 27 August 2016, 9am to 4pm
ANU: 27 August 2016, 9am to 4pm
University of Canberra: 27 August 2016
Western Sydney University Parent Information Evening
Parramatta Campus 21 July 2016
Campbelltown Campus 26 July 2016
Penrith Campus 3 August 2016
The information evenings will give parents the chance to obtain information on ATAR cut offs, HECS-HELP, the Western Sydney University experience and what the university has to offer.
UTS New Courses
UTS now has two new science courses, these include Forensic Science and a Bachelor of Biotechnology. To find out more about the courses follow the link below.
CSU Sydney Info Day
27 August 2016, Powerhouse Museum
This day will present the opportunity to meet academics, find out about courses and accommodation options and scholarships.
UNSW Women in Engineering Camp
Applications now open until 25 September 2016
The camp is for girls in Years 10 or 11, who are interested in a career in engineering. The camp will be held 9 - 13 of January 2017. FAQs and how to apply can be found on the website.
ACU Passion for Business - Early Entry Program
If you are a domestic or international student currently studying Year 12 in Australia and have completed, or are completing, a business related subject in Year 11 and/or Year 12, you are eligible to apply for entry to ACU through the P4B Program. Applications close 14 September 2016.
ACU Passion for Law and Commerce - Early Entry Program
If your passion is law and commerce, we will show you how to combine the two to provide you with the skills and opportunities to work in both the courtroom and the boardroom.
Applications close 16 September, 2016.
ACU New courses in 2017
B Science: This course will include the ACU core curriculum, community engagement and work integrated learning. The majors will be Biology and Chemistry.
B Teaching/B Science: This is a four-year program that will qualify students to teach general science to Year 10 and discipline science to Year 12. It will include the Religious Education units required to teach in Catholic schools.
B Theology/B Philosophy: This is a four-year dual degree program designed to engage students critically with questions of meaning, reality, knowledge and value in light of the Catholic intellectual tradition.
2017 Undergraduate Course Guide: http://www.acu.edu.au/
UAC Education Access Scheme
EAS applications open 3 August 2016 for 2017.
The UAC website provides information booklets on applications and eligibility requirements.
UAC Schoolink Events
The dates for the various events can be found on the link below. They include information about ATAR, HSC subject choices, bonus points and the selection process.
As is usual at the start of the term, the staff engage in professional development. Building capacity is an integral part of any school improvement focus and most professional learning opportunities aim to contribute to this. Some of the most successful learning has occurred within our own community when we have engaged with one another’s expertise, shared the experience and started the conversation.
On Monday after a year of researching, the teaching staff presented their findings and recommendations on a range of topics that were drawn from the Strategic Plan and current developments in curriculum and wellbeing. These included: neuroscience and adolescent learning, STEM in the curriculum, learning beyond the classroom, alternative modes of delivery, learning spaces, assessment in Years 7 to 9, service learning, student leadership, optimising student wellbeing, spiritual formation in the development of girls’ wellbeing and optimising professional learning. They were excellent. They were rich in detail, thoughtful, considered in their recommendations and interestingly, reflected that Brigidine was already using evidence-based best practice in so many areas. The recommendations sought to build upon those in the spirit of ‘What is possible?’ - a question that drives much of our thinking about improvement.
Both project-based learning within and across different subjects and the universal design of curriculum for learning were evaluated favourably but these became far more interesting when the understandings of neuroscience indicated that multisensory classrooms, an emphasis on visual techniques and employing regular repetitions for mastery should be included in the planning. It became clear that learning spaces could be any size, anywhere, any colour, in fact anything as long as the teacher and learner were stimulated by the environment created.
The focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) highlighted the possibilities that innovative cross curricular activities might achieve despite the constraints imposed by the timetable. Perhaps STEM could be an extracurricular activity positioned outside the timetable? It was established that the skill sets related to STEM were the important components of a successful program but problem solving, logical and analytical thinking could be embedded in many subjects’ programs with careful planning. The idea that intracurricular skills had a place in every subject’s programs extended to leadership which teachers believed should be explicitly taught, enabling every girl to play a role as leader within the school community, especially in the area of service learning, spiritual formation and the pastoral system.
A powerful message emerged about the importance of feedback in assessment and homework, about the regularity, the form and meaningful nature of it for the girls. It was clear girls had a preference for one on one discussions with a teacher and this relational approach extended to wellbeing, resolving personal issues and the value of Mentor groups. The importance of student voice was emphasised in discerning service learning opportunities, the nature of spiritual formation and being powerful contributors to effective decision making within the school.
The opportunity to progress our thinking into developing action plans that capture and implement the recommendations represents yet another phase in school improvement and one that is an exciting development. The day was a testament to the quality and expertise of the teaching staff at Brigidine, all of whom were involved in the success of the day. It was worthwhile, productive and relevant professional learning for all.
A journal of articles produced by each group will be published this term.
We pray that what we read in the Gospels
comes alive in our classrooms and corridors.
Where all differences are accepted
and where each person is valued and challenged
to be who they are.
Where each member will read and write, compute and pray,
growing each day in faith, hope and love
with respect for each other.
To enrich the poor, the needy, the lonely, those with problems,
those with special gifts and all who struggle to learn.
Where learners are recognised as thinkers, feelers and doers
and the whole person is educated.
That celebrates learning as a lifelong, exciting journey
that delights in the aesthetic, the imaginative, the problem solving.
That is driven by hope by vision and inspiration
and open to the future that is God coming to us.
Where students grow in self knowledge, inward freedom, moral responsibility,
courage and sincere service to others
in harmony with the Earth and the dignity of all creation.
A school that promotes peace and justice to all,
That liberates and empowers,
that challenges stereotypes and the established norms and actions.
Where each one of us
gives to God the first place in
all we have and all we do.
St Brigid, pray for us. Amen.
(Prayer offered by the Maths Department at Monday’s Staff Development Day)
The Brigidine Archives were established to ensure that records which have value as authentic evidence of administrative, corporate, cultural and intellectual activity are made, kept and used. The work of the Archivist is vital for ensuring organisational efficiency and accountability. In doing this the Archivist collects, promotes and shares the rich heritage of the College and the Brigidine tradition with the Brigidine Community.
The establishment of Brigidine College St Ives Archive dates from 1989 when the Principal, Sr Anita Murray saw the need to provide financial
assistance for the care of the historical documents, papers & memorabilia that record the life of the school.
At this time a committee of concerned staff members (including a parent & ex-student) were collecting and collating the material. Whilst this group continued to work on the collection, they campaigned for a dedicated archivist position to be established. Around 1999 a committee member, Philippa Goddard, was given official responsibility for the Archive and in 2003 a professional Archivist was employed part-time and more stringent archival principles of provenance and original order were applied to the collection.
The Archives collection includes:
The College is always interested in donations that will complete and fill gaps in our existing Archives collections. The archivist is available Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9.30am – 2.30pm.