Principal’s Report, March 2019

Dear families,

As we are nearing the end of Term 1, I would like to highlight some of the events that have occurred and the projects that the school is working on.

The House Athletics Carnival was a couple of weeks ago and, although the participation of those competing was fantastic, there were a significant number of students who didn’t attend on the day. The school is currently looking at ways of engaging more students in the day and is open to any suggestions from families.

Three way conferences for VCE and VCAL students were held at Collingwood College on March 26 and were well attended.

The Information night for prospective families for 2020 is being held on Tuesday April 2 and Open Day the following day. The school will be operating as normal with student tour guides taking families into a range of classrooms and areas.

A whole school assembly will be held on Thursday April 4 at 12pm in the gym. Families are welcome to attend. The year 12s will be formally welcoming the year 7s; awards will be given out; music will be played; and students will reflect on a range of experiences.

A major focus for the school over the past year has been the Professional Learning Communities initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to establish a culture of shared vision and purpose that promotes trust and collaboration among teachers, working together to ensure learning success for all students. The provision of time and support for teachers to meet in learning-area-based Professional Learning Communities, such as English, Humanities, Maths, Arts/Technology, Science, Health/PE and LOTE, has impacted on developing this culture, including working across schools with Collingwood College. Professional learning for High Impact Teaching Strategies has been undertaken and related to specific theories of action and inquiry cycles for improved student outcomes.

Teachers now have a better understanding of High Impact Teaching Strategies in their classroom practice, as well as a greater capacity to incorporate them into their teaching practice. As the work continues, the focus will be on incorporating High Impact Teaching Strategies into an explicit model for teaching and learning. The nomination of Fitzroy High School as a Professional Learning Communities “Link” School, modelling and sharing practice with other schools, is recognition of the quality of the work that has already been done.

The Professional Learning Communities initiative has also impacted on the way that teachers collaborate within teams to support student learning, wellbeing and engagement. The provision of time for Advisory teachers to collaborate has resulted in a more developed Advisory curriculum including Respectful Relationships, as well as a stronger approach to wellbeing and engagement issues. Staff have completed three of the four training days for the Berry Street Education Model, which focuses on trauma-informed practice. The goal is for all staff to adopt trauma informed and restorative practices in order to create an environment that will support student wellbeing, engagement and learning.

Students will continue to provide more regular feedback to teachers and peers, through the use of a number of surveys, including Pivot. There has been a renewed focus on shaping the curriculum and learning activities in Excel and some core subject areas. The target to develop metacognitive skills in students, including being better able to articulate their learning goals and experience greater learning confidence and motivation, is a work in progress. The nomination of Fitzroy High School as an “Amplify” pilot school, trialling strategies for increasing student voice, leadership and agency, is recognition of the work already undertaken in these areas.

As part of the project, the Year 10 team is working with students to design a prototype of a new personal learning plan.

Fitzroy High School is recognised throughout the state for its work as a lead school for Respectful Relationships but there is always more work to be done. It has been decided to begin implementing School Wide Positive Behaviour support in 2019, in response to feedback from students and staff that this would strengthen the Respectful Relationships and Berry Street work, leading to a more positive learning environment for all.

We are also continuing to work on improving student attendance, with an increased focus on accounting for unexplained absences. Last year the school implemented SMS to parents when students were absent and put further resources into monitoring attendance, including the use of Compass and follow up phone calls. We intend to work on this further in 2019, as well as continuing to undertake targeted wellbeing and engagement programs and teaching strategies for students at risk.

There will be more updates on these projects and initiatives as the year progresses and I welcome any input, including having a one on one conversation. My door is always open.

I trust that you will have a relaxing holiday and Easter break. I will be on long service leave in the first week of term 2. Sandra Dickins will be acting in my role for the three days of school that week. Remember that Monday April 22 and Thursday 25 are public holidays.

Kind regards,

Linda Mitchell
Acting Principal