Principal’s Report, August 2019

Dear families

The annual school production, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is on next week and I encourage you all to buy tickets. https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=531552& Thank you to the many students, staff and families who have worked tirelessly both on and off stage, including those who contributed to a very successful set and prop building working bee last weekend. In particular I want to thank the Director, Chiara Constanzo, for her efforts and wish her all the best for her upcoming family leave. William Balme is taking Chiara’s classes until the end of the year and we welcome him to the school. 

Briony O’Keeffe has been seconded into the Department of Education for the rest of the year to work on the F-10 English Curriculum. We wish her all the best and welcome Lucy Honan, who will be taking Briony’s English classes, as well as Fem Co. Tom Zuscak, who has been our Leadership Facilitator for most of the year, is moving on to another job and I would like to thank him for his outstanding work and, in particular his contribution to the administration of School Council.

The year 8 AFL team competed in the regional competition for the first time in the history of Fitzroy High School and had a convincing win as well as couple of losses against range of schools. In addition, Year 8 Sports Leaders have been representing the school at local primary school athletics days. A large group of Year 8 students are also completing peer support training so that they can support the current and future year 7 students. Year 9 students have been participating in the Real Industry Job Interviews as well as volunteering placements as part of the Connect program. I would also like to congratulate the students whose work was featured as part of the Gertrude St Projection Festival and to thank Alicia Easteal who organized the work.

The Year 10 students have been engaging in panel interviews to present their portfolios and their preferred pathways for years 11 and 12. Each student in year 10 and year 12 has had an individual career session and there are more sessions available for students who require further assistance.  The careers practitioners will also offer support to any year 11s who require assistance with pathway planning or subject changes. Please note that the FHS Careers website has information about Open Days, as well as many other resources. https://www.fitzroyhscareers.com

Year 12 VCAL students have continued their engagement with the Youth Enterprise Hub, exploring social enterprises and entrepreneurial skills. Last week there was an excursion to STREAT, where the students experienced a tour of the facility, including hearing about the work of STREAT as one of the most outstanding social enterprises that integrates people, planet and profit. Students were given a mini brief of a problem they should try to solve in the environmental space; they were given an overview of the problem and then had 30 minutes to come up with ideas to solve it within the business of STREAT.  

Two weeks ago Linda Ekman, Wellbeing Leader conducted a workshop for students and parents, thinking about respectful relationships and in particular how respect is shown at the school. This was followed by a School Wide Positive Behaviour Workshop, where Linda Ekman and Alicia Easteal worked through some ideas for the FHS behaviour matrix with students and parents. There will be further consultation and communication about this in the coming months.

Last year the school leadership team and School Council embarked on a series of working groups to look at complex and important issues in the school. Member of the leadership team, parents, staff and students joined these working groups and formed terms of reference. In some cases, surveys with the school community were conducted, in others guest speakers were invited and research undertaken. The reports from the Languages Working Group, the Digital Technologies Working Group and the Reporting/Feedback Working Group are currently being tabled and will be shared with the wider school community during Term 4. I would like to thank all of the participants for their time and expertise.

Thank you to the parents and staff members who organized the highly successful Trivia Night last weekend to raise money for the Great Victorian Bike Ride. The money will be used to assist students who might otherwise not be able to attend the ride as well as providing any extra equipment that might be needed for the event. 

Finally, it is with sadness that I inform you of the passing of past Business Manager, Susan Farrell, who worked at Fitzroy High School from 2004-2017. She was an inaugural staff member and a very important part of the setting up of the newly reopened school. Sue worked extremely hard to manage the school’s finances and administration. As Acting Principal, I want to acknowledge Sue’s contribution to the history of the school and express our appreciation and condolences to Sue’s family. School Council will also be sending a formal acknowledgement to Sue’s family on behalf of the school.

Kind regards

Linda Mitchell

Acting Principal

Principal’s Report, July 2019

Dear families,

Welcome to Term 3.

We are continuing to work on improving student attendance, as well as lateness. The Compass SMS system to parents has had some success but has also been fraught with some frustrations. Teams are working hard to emphasize the importance of being on time to Advisory and rewarding students’ achievements. There will be more on this to come, including seeking feedback from parents and students about session lengths and times of the day.

On Monday we had a whole school assembly where students reported on a range of exciting activities including Year 10 Work Experience, the Bogong Future Makers projects, the Blue Edge project update, the VCAL composting system update and sports awards. I would also like to make special mention of Mungo S in year 8, who won The Parliament Prize, for submitting a video of a 90 second statement that would be made to the Parliament of Victoria as if he were an MP. Mungo has been invited to Parliament House and will be presented with a trophy and a $500 monetary prize, including $1000 for the school. Congratulations to Mungo and his teachers.

Students were awarded swimming medals and will be awarded athletics medals at the next assembly. Significantly, there was a jumper presentation for the year 8 AFL team, which has made it into the regional finals, the first time for Fitzroy High School! We wish them all the best. Although there are some girls in this team, there is also a separate girls’ AFL team and they have also performed very well. We are proud of the efforts of all our students who participate in sport and physical activity.

The annual school production, Alice in Wonderland, was also featured at the assembly. Students spoke excitedly about their preparation and I encourage you all to attend the performances in week 8 of this term. I also want to congratulate the music team for the fabulous Mid-Winter Music Recital which was held on June 26 at 75 Reid St Fitzroy North.

On Tuesday we had the Senior Programs Information Evening for year 10 students and families, held at Collingwood Town Hall in conjunction with Collingwood College.

This evening, and the program guide that has been produced for the students and families, is a symbol of the two schools’ continued commitment to provide the best senior school opportunities for both communities. In collaborating to provide an innovative, responsive, personalised and future-oriented senior school environment, the partnership looks to optimise outcomes for all students and provide support for future pathways. In the time we have been offering VCE, and now also VCAL, we have established a legacy of student success, demonstrated by strong academic results and transition to tertiary studies. Through our partnership with the Inner Melbourne VET Cluster (IMVC), students can access an extensive range of VET certificate courses.

This is a very exciting time for current Year 10 students, who are in the process of making significant decisions for the senior and final years of secondary school. It is also an important time for current Year 11 students, refining programs for Year 12, the final stage of the secondary school journey, and of course for Year 12 students who are beginning to make choices about post school options.

As students and families have been made aware, Sandra Dickins is spending this term in the central office of the Department of Education and Training. The school has employed two qualified and experienced careers practitioners who will be conducting half hour individual sessions with all the year 10s and the 12s in preparation for subject selections and post school applications, respectively. The se practitioners will also offer support to any year 11s who require assistance with pathway planning or subject changes. The teachers and advisors have also been working with the students, in one on one session, in classes and in year level assemblies. Please note that the FHS Careers website has information about Open Days, as well as many other resources. https://www.fitzroyhscareers.com

The annual Department of Education and Training Parent Opinion survey is currently being held.  In line with DET policy, a randomly selected group of individuals representing 30 % of the parent body, are asked to give feedback to the school on a wide range of issues around learning, engagement and wellbeing. The parents who have been selected will have received the link to the survey. As with the Student Attitudes to School Survey and the Staff Opinion Survey, the school takes the survey results seriously and, along with other data, uses them to set goals for school improvement.

Thank you to Andrea Thompson who is acting in the Assistant Principal role for this term and Paul Cahill who has taken over the Jet 9/Scarlet 10 Team Leader role for the term.

Kind regards,
Linda Mitchell
Acting Principal

Principal’s Report, May 2019

Dear families,

A belated welcome to Term 2.

As mentioned in the last Principal’s Report, we are continuing to work on improving student attendance, with an increased focus on accounting for unexplained absences as well as undertaking targeted wellbeing and engagement programs and teaching strategies for students at risk. We are planning on holding some parenting support sessions on helping reluctant and anxious students to improve their school attendance. Joanne Burch, our psychologist, will be leading these sessions; more information to follow.

This term there has already been the highly successful Bogong Future Makers camp for selected Year 9 students, with the Year 8 camp to Roses Gap to come. Last week year 7 and 9 students completed NAPLAN, while year 8 and 10 students contributed to the Communities That Care student survey in collaboration with Deakin University and Yarra City Council. The survey aims to promote the healthy development of young people through long term community planning to prevent health and social problems.

Students from years 7-12 also completed the first round of the Pivot Survey, which is being used in a number of schools across the country. This survey draws on the research indicating the importance of student voice and agency, while giving teachers more insight into their classroom practice. There will be another round of the survey in Term 3, allowing teachers to compare the two sets of results for each of their classes. It also allows the school to identify trends in year levels and Professional Learning Communities (learning areas, eg English).

The annual Department of Education and Training Student Attitudes to School survey will also be held early in Term 3. This is another important opportunity for students to give feedback to the school on a wide range of issues around learning, engagement and wellbeing. The school takes the survey results seriously and, along with other data, uses them to set goals for school improvement.

I have been involved for the past year in the Youth Enterprise Hub Working Party, which is an initiative of the Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network along with three councils and the Bendigo Bank. The Youth Enterprise Hub builds 21st century entrepreneurial capabilities in all young people in inner north of Melbourne. Fitzroy High School is one of six pilot schools and is currently trialing new curriculum in the VCAL program. There is more information on the website http://inllen.org.au/yeh/ where you will also see interviewed Januar Manirambona, an ex-student of Fitzroy High School who is now in a plumbing apprenticeship. Januar was a guest speaker at last week’s launch of the Youth Enterprise Hub at CERES.

The Annual Report for 2018 was endorsed by School Council and the Department of Education and Training in March and has been published on the school website. The Annual Implementation Plan for 2019, which sets out goals and targets for the year based on the longer-term goals of the Strategic Plan, has also been endorsed and will be regularly discussed in School Council meetings.

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.

Thank you to Sandra Dickins who acted in my role for the three days of school I was away in the first week of term.

Kind regards

Linda Mitchell
Acting Principal

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

Principal’s Report, February 2019

Dear families,

Welcome to 2019. I trust that you had a relaxing break.

Firstly, I would like to welcome the 104 new year 7 students, as well as quite a few students who have joined the school at other year levels. I would also like to welcome new staff who have joined the school as ongoing members of staff or replacements for staff on leave, or who have new roles:

  • Samantha Harrison: Learning Specialist, VCE English, Extended Investigation, 7-10 English and Humanities
  • Kalinda Ashton: VCE English and Literature, 7-10 English and Humanities
  • Andy Chan: VCE General Maths, 7-10 Maths and Science Daniel Lodder: VCE English Language, Italian
  • James Hardie: 7-10 Food Technology
  • Elizabeth Campbell: 7-10 English
  • Louise Speirs-Bridge: VCAL, Discover, Excel
  • Stephanie Nelson: 7-10 Maths and Science
  • Nikkie Sallas: Inclusion Coordinator
  • Liz Floreani: Inclusion Aide
  • Justine Sayers: Library Technician
  • Matthew Hovell: Instrumental Music Coordinator

I am also pleased that, in partnership with Collingwood College, we are able to offer so many VCE subjects, including new ones such as Music Styles and Composition and English Language. On February 15 I was delighted to accompany John Hinman, Jamie Bishop and James Jackson to the inaugural Top Talks, part of the VCE Season of Excellence, held at the State Library.

Luca I (class of 2018) was one of four students chosen across the state to deliver his VCE Extended Investigation oral presentation to an audience which included the Chairman of the VCAA. The event was hosted by former journalist and politician Maxine McKew. Luca delivered his excellent speech on the topic, Do East Timorese students currently studying in Melbourne think that remembering and acknowledging Timor-Leste’s recent past (Indonesian occupation) plays a part in the emergence of a national-identity? Luca also participated in a challenging Q and A in which he answered a range of questions about his topic as well as his research methodology. We were very proud of Luca and I would like to acknowledge his teachers, John Hinman and Jamie Bishop, who taught the class last year. There will be further information about Luca achievements in an upcoming newsletter post.

I was also proud last week to attend the Community Gathering & Welcoming Ceremony, where the new 2019 Year 7 group was celebrated and welcomed into the North-West Metro Koorie Academy of Excellence. This year one of our Year 7 students, Myeesha M, was inducted into the Academy. There will be further information about Myeesha’s achievements in an upcoming newsletter post.

Last Friday, I also proudly attended the Fem Co conference, Your Voice, which was organized by our students along with teacher Briony O’Keeffe and some wonderful colleagues from Deakin University and RMIT. Held at RMIT’s iconic Storey Hall and Building 80, the conference brought together students from all around Melbourne who were interested in learning more about feminism. The school was also approached by a production company to capture footage at the conference. The company is producing a feature documentary about the history of feminist activism in Australia and chose the Your Voice conference to reflect contemporary engagement with feminism.

The student conference organizers will be writing more about the conference in an upcoming newsletter post.

It’s been a busy term already with Year 7 camp, family picnic, Great Race, the House Swimming Carnival, Senior and Intermediate Sport and 7-10 Three Way Conferences.

We look forward to Senior Three Way Conferences, the House Athletics Carnival and Open Day before the term concludes.

Thank you to all the staff, families and students who have helped to make a great start to the year.

Kind regards,

Linda Mitchell
Acting Principal