Principal’s Report August 2021

Dear students, staff, parents, guardians and carers

Amidst the turbulence of our times, I want to express a heartfelt appreciation of our school community. Many people, not least myself as the Principal, are realising the true value of schools, not only to provide education, but also to bring people together and to support individuals.

The UNESCO Report, Education in a Post Covid World: Nine Ideas for Action, makes nine points, but I want to particularly mention the first one, which speaks to the Education State’s objective to balance excellence and equity:

Commit to strengthen education as a common good. Education is a bulwark against inequalities. In education as in health, we are safe when everybody is safe; we flourish when everybody flourishes. 

I have also been reflecting on how apt the first paragraph of Fitzroy High School’s vision is:

Fitzroy High School values children as individual learners who are full of potential and capable of excellence. Our students will be lifelong learners, reflective and creative thinkers, responsible and active citizens, and resilient and adaptable problem solvers able to navigate through an uncertain and constantly changing future.

Bright Spots
Last week was Book Week, which ended on Friday with a wonderful collage of students and staff showcasing their attire for both Book Week and Wear it Purple day! Part of Book Week was the Senior Students Vs Staff Reading Challenge, which was a lot of fun. Some younger students also participated in the Write a Book in a Day challenge. They completed their book last Monday – all 4873 words of it – and have thus far raised $1030 for the Kids’ Cancer Project. If you would like to get behind them, head to this website. Thankyou to Imogen, Clare, Tim, Annie and many others for supporting these wonderful initiatives and creating opportunities for us all.

There has also been the Virtual Challenge (Run/Ride/Skate/Walk) which has kept many students and staff active. Thankyou to Shannon and the Health and Phys Ed team for sharing this with everyone.

Another bright spot has been the year 10 to 11 and the year 11 to 12 subject selection interviews. I was lucky enough to be a panel member for some of these interviews. Every year I enjoy being part of these interviews, where I often see the best in our students. This year in particular, I was impressed and humbled by the courage and honesty, as well as the level of deep self reflection, that students exhibited, as they talked about their hopes, their dreams, in some cases their fears. I was reminded of how impressive our advisory and careers program is, along with the recently redeveloped personal learning plan and the work done in year 10 Discover. Thankyou to Paul, Vanessa, Lucy, Louise, Tyson and the rest of Scarlet 10 and Scarlet teams.

Updated Dress Code Policy
After many months of consultation with various stakeholders and careful redrafting, School Council has completed work on the Dress Code policy. The school recognises that it is important to discuss elements of the policy with staff and students, so it will be communicated early next term when we hope to be back in person. Time will be spent in staff meetings and advisories going through the policy and ensuring its smooth and consistent implementation. Although the policy is based around free dress and no uniform, student focus groups have indicated that there is interest in the school offering some optional items of clothing that incorporate the school colours and logo, rather like the sports shirt. The senior student focus groups at both Fitzroy High School and Collingwood College have expressed that they would also like some optional garments that identify them with the newsenior campus. We will be calling on students early in  Term 4 to discuss possibilities so that we can order garments in time for purchase in 2022.

Student Achievements
The year 7 and 9 NAPLAN results have arrived at the school this week. All students who participated will be posted their results and certificates, including a year 9 certificate of achievement for eligible students, the first time that this has been provided by the VCAA. I will report on the results once we have gone through the data and analysed more precisely where we are at as a school, however I can say that I am very pleased with many of the results, which have  excellent learning growth.

The Tutor Learning Initiative is another area where I have seen terrific learning growth, whether it is from the students in the Quicksmart literacy program; the students being supported by an additional teacher in the Maths classroom; or the senior students receiving one on one or small group support for specific VCE and VCAL subjects and skills. Today I participated in a review of this important DET initiative, conducted by Deloitte. Schools are eagerly awaiting news of whether the initiative will continue next year; I will keep you updated. In the meantime, I would like to thank all of staff, as well as the participants in the Tutor Learning Initiative, and I wish them well.

I would also like to wish the year 12 students well as they embark on their final weeks of learning before exams. I know that they are supported by a hard-working and dedicated team of teachers, as well as by parents, guardians and carers who have often gone above and beyond. I would like to remind everyone that, as much as we want our students to do as well as possible in their year 12 endeavours, those results, those study scores, those ATARs are only one element of a much bigger picture of what every individual can achieve in life. It is very important to put year 12 into
perspective when we are dealing with as much turmoil as we are at the moment in the world.

Staff Appointments
The school has recently appointed Louie Dalzell as Science and Outdoor Education teacher; Sean Vah, physical education and health teacher; as well as Caleb Schultz, Humanities teacher. Maria Foster has moved on to other ventures and we thank her for her many years of service at Fitzroy High School.

Upcoming events
On Monday September 6, there will be an Indigo Creators and Makers Day, a chance for our Year 7 and 8 students, families and staff to engage in some creative time away from screens, devices and Google Meet, as well as an opportunity to foster wellbeing and community engagement. We want to remind our students that they are part of a vibrant creative community and we want to acknowledge the same of our staff. Thankyou to the Indigo team for organising this and I very much look forward to seeing what is created!

Three way conferences were held for the senior students earlier this term. Thankyou to those teachers and families that participated in this important feedback opportunity. We have decided to delay the three way conferences for year 7-10 students due to the situation we are currently in. We will proceed with these early next term and will let you know as soon as we have more certainty about the return to onsite learning. In the meantime, teachers have been completing feedback on student progress in the learning tasks on Compass, some of which have needed to be modified because of the recent lockdown and its impact on specific subject areas.

The year 9 camp, which was to happen just before we went into lockdown, has been rescheduled for the end of the year. We are unsure at this stage whether we will be able to hold a year 8 camp.

Another event to look forward to is the Arts Party in mid November. Students have signed up for various contributing Excels; Specialist and CRE8 classes will also be represented as part of the offerings. The Arts Party is in place of the school production which would normally have been held this year, as well as an acknowledgement that the school cabaret last year was an online event instead of a live one. We are very hopeful that this year we can have a festive, live event, which will showcase the creative work in all of the arts and from all year levels. This will be a wonderful
opportunity for people to get together and to celebrate, after what has been a difficult time for us.

As I sign off, I want to remind you of the many opportunities for wellbeing support that are available to you. Many of these are posted regularly on Compass and the website. Other supports are given through individual student-parent-teacher-wellbeing team contact, which I know lately has been even more of a focus than usual. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need to. Thankyou to all of the people who make this happen every day, especially Linda and Jamie.

Lastly I want to acknowledge the people who are onsite at school, supporting vulnerable students and children of authorised workers where this is allowed. Ross, Rachel, Ian, Melissa, Amanda, Molly, William, Bianca, the IT staff and our leadership team, all contribute to making Fitzroy High School a comfortable and welcoming space. We can all look forward to some spring sunshine and longer, warmer days.

Kind regards
Linda Mitchell, Principal