Principal’s Report June 2021

Dear school community

Firstly, thank you for your continued support and cooperation during recent weeks and months as we have all needed to act quickly and be flexible in response to the Covid lockdown. However, it is not only the recent lockdown that has been challenging. Recent research has shown that 2021 has already been a difficult year for the community, especially for young people. I recently heard Dr Rob Gordon speak at a principal network meeting. Dr Gordon is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the field of disaster recovery since the Ash Wednesday bushfires. He made a number of interesting points:

  • We can often expect a lag between a traumatic event(s) and their impact on health and wellbeing
  • The impact of lockdown on social connection (even where academic learning isn’t negatively affected) has been significant in relation to social development and maturation. This is especially important for teenagers.
  • Social connection is a key element of wellbeing and in an educational context might be considered ‘oxygen for learning’
  • Sharing our understanding and perspectives is an important part of making sense of our experience, even though there may be a limited number of things we can do to address the issues

There are several videos from Dr Gordon available on the internet. Here is one from September 2020 which, although created at a time when the context was somewhat different, is still pertinent. This is the link if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNup_FZtr00

Victorian Certificate of Education Premier’s Award

Congratulations to Lana Knezevic, Fitzroy High School Class of 2020, who has been given a Premier’s VCE Award for her results in Croatian undertaken at the Victorian School of Languages as part of her Year 12 studies. We wish Lana all the best and will be there to help celebrate at the upcoming awards ceremony.

Volunteering

There has been a strong desire from the school community to contribute to the school through volunteering in different ways, some of which have been delayed due to Covid 19.  I would like to draw your attention to “The Shed” project which was communicated a couple of weeks ago through Compass. We have already had some great responses to that communication. The Garden Club has been running successfully for the past few months and I would like to congratulate James Hardie, as well as the parents who have been involved, for the fantastic work done in the kitchen garden as well as some of the indigenous gardens around the school. The latest request for volunteering in the canteen is another opportunity for parents, and we hope to see lots of responses to that. Please note that Volunteers Policy, under Our School-Policies, should be consulted before volunteering, especially with regard to a volunteer’s Working with Children’s Check.

Policies and communication

You will shortly see the Languages Policy being distributed through Compass. The school is also working on a Name Change Policy due to a large number of requests. School Council is continuing to revise the Dress Code Policy, which has included significant consultation with students, parents and teachers, and will be available soon. It is very important that families read these policies in order to streamline requests made to the school, as well as to avoid miscommunication. Teachers and leaders are finding that the volume of emails has increased in the past few months and are doing their best to respond in a timely manner. The Community Subcommittee of School Council, which includes parents and teachers, is working on processes for improving home-school communication for the benefit of everyone. One of the possibilities is to move to using more tailored forms for specific purposes, rather than relying on emails and phone calls. There will be more to come about this early next term. In the meantime, we all need to maintain respectful communication at all times.

Tram Time

We have decided to revamp our “Hands on Learning” program and change it to what we are calling “Tram Time”. This has been introduced to students in years 7-10 at the end of term, with a view to starting in Term 3. Following is the blub that has been given to students so that they can apply to be involved. We are not requesting parent permission for this program, however we encourage parents to discuss it with their children:

Tram Time is replacing Hands on Learning and is being offered to a wide range of students from Years 7 to 10. The school recognises that Tram Time can be a valuable opportunity for students, especially during 2021 when the impacts of Covid are being felt by everyone.

The activities in Tram Time are fun, creative and community spirited. They are designed to help build the four Rs, characteristics or dispositions which are ‘people’s predominant responses when they encounter difficulty, complexity and uncertainty’ (Guy Claxton).

  • Resilience – inquisitive, persistent, adventurous, focused
  • Resourcefulness – imaginative, connecting, crafting, capitalising
  • Reflectiveness – methodical, self-evaluative, self-aware, transferring
  • Relating – collaborative, open-minded, independent, empathic

Students who are interested in Tram Time are encouraged to think about how it might help them to develop these characteristics. With support from the Tram Time staff, they can then link it to a goal in their Personal Learning Plans.

Tram Time will start in Week 1 of Term 3. There will be sessions available for different year levels on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays. Students can sign up for one or two sessions per week for a three-week block. If they want to do another three-week block they can apply to do so, based on availability. A timetable of activities will be provided for each three-week block so that students know what is on offer.

It is important that students express interest for Tram Time to their Advisor who will then pass on to the Year Level Leader or Team Leader for approval to participate. Once students are approved, they will be timetabled to sessions and events made on Compass. Inquiries about the Tram Time program can be made to Penny Stray and Olie Balestra via Olie’s email address olieb@fitzroyhs.vic.edu.au.

Students will need to ensure that they know what work they are missing when they are participating in Tram Time and negotiate with their teachers to either catch up or complete alternative activities. Please note that Quick Smart, music lessons, in class assessments that can’t be changed and excursions take precedence over any particular Tram Time session.

Staff professional learning

On the student free day on May 24th, all FHS staff participated in two professional learning sessions.  The first session, delivered by Open Road Consultancy, supported staff to understand and apply conflict resolution skills in order to increase confidence when dealing with challenging conversations and situations.  The session was framed in the context of our School Wide Positive Behaviour matrix and aligned to our school values. The second session, led by Create Space Consultancy and Social Enterprise, focused on anti-racism and supported staff to enact anti-racism practices by building on our school values. The session included learning around the neuroscience of talking about racism, key terms, key reflections and areas for unlearning for anti-racism practice in school as well as repair processes for racism when it occurs. Feedback received from staff was very positive in terms of the learning gained from both sessions.

Building on the learning from the anti-racism professional learning, 10 staff members put up their hand to be involved in a series of Schools Stranding Up to Racism workshops.  Schools standing up to Racism is a collaboration between the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) and the Victorian Department of Education and Training, providing a range of resources to support schools to address racism and discrimination within their school environment. The learning from these workshops will support us in the development of a specific anti-racism policy for Fitzroy High School. 

Gasworks Senior Secondary Campus (interim name) School Design Talk

The building of the new senior secondary campus of Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School is going very well. As already communicated on our websites, a flythrough of the campus can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qusFlk6slwQ

The Victorian School Building Authority website has authoritative updates on the building progress https://www.schoolbuildings.vic.gov.au/schools/Pages/FitzroyGasworksSeniorCampus.aspx 

Shortly you will receive an invitation with an Eventbrite link to a virtual public event to be held on Thursday July 22nd at 5pm. This will give members of both school communities the opportunity to find out more about the campus and the educational programs being offered, and to ask questions of both the architects and the schools.

The Senior Programs information Evening for year 10s will be held the following Thursday on July 29th. This is an exciting time for both Collingwood College and Fitzroy High School as we move towards our new joint campus due to open in 2022.

Staff Appointments

The school has recently appointed Ellyce Wallace, art teacher; Mika Suwatan, Science Teacher; Tegan McCarthy, English and Literature teacher; Oliver Packard, Psychology teacher; and Melissa Boyden, our new Inclusion Leader. Nikkie Sallas, Riley Moloney, Jackson Muir and Duncan Hillier have taken up other opportunities and we wish them very well in their new ventures. We wish Miranda Jenkin all the best for her family leave. Lastly, I would also like to thank Andrea Thompson for taking over as Acting Principal while I was on leave for a medical procedure at the end of Term 1 and the beginning of Term 2.

Kind regards

Linda Mitchell, Principal