I am pleased to be able to present this report on the growth and development of St Pius X Parish School through 2019. The following outline offers a summary of key decisions, events and achievements of the school, that are detailed in the body of this document.
As recorded last year, the school’s focus on learning intervention continues to evolve. During 2019 we wanted to move further beyond good intentions and ensure we were developing a systematic approach that brought together elements of curriculum, data, staffing and resourcing to ensure we were offering extra academic support across the school.
Extra staffing was made available to ensure that there was provision at each level of the school for a teacher in an intervention role. These teachers focussed on providing extra assistance and research based interventions in addition to what classroom teachers were providing. I thank our professional learning teams for their willingness to embrace this extra layer of learning and especially thank those staff who took on the role of ‘boost teacher’; Ms Stacey Atkins, Mr Mick Sully, Ms Jenna Osborne and Ms Lucy Lane.
Zones of Regulation
After trialling Zones of Regulation approaches in our senior school, all staff were offered training in this framework. Zones offers a scaffolded framework of vocabulary and strategised thinking for assisting students with heightened emotions. Our aim is for these understandings to become shared across our school; students, teachers and families so that the development of emotional literacy and self-care develop as simply another area of learning in our school rather than a source of anxiety and confusion.
An important government initiative has been the development of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD). This collection of data provides an indication of the level of support required by students with diverse needs to ensure full participation in learning. Our work this year has tightened the documentation required to accurately record adjustments made during the course of the year for students. I especially thank our Learning Diversity Leader, Ms Jenna Osborne for her efforts.
The school took a number of steps to enhance wellbeing for our community. We firstly prioritised funding to double the provision of student counselling in the school. We were pleased to welcome Ms Molly Melican to the school staff as our Centacare provided counselor. Mental Health First Aid training was provided for all staff to increase the level of knowledge around maintaining adult mental health and a greater ability to assist colleagues and other adults experiencing high need in relation to mental health.
Thanks go to Mrs Sara Graham who took on the role of Wellbeing Leader, in the absence of Ms Lisa Gardner and also Mrs Rachel Brown who continued her work as Medical Officer and Child Safety Officer.
2019 saw the school striving to ensure that the Catholic Culture of the school is accessible to all of our community members whatever their religious or cultural background. The complexity of this task often lies in the fact that most of our teachers have grown up within Catholic communities, thus assumptions around the knowledge and the experience of our families can easily be made.
We are blessed with a diverse community, whose cultural and faith backgrounds enrich us. At the same time, we have inherited the rich culture of the Church. Our challenge is for the position of each to be informed by the other, that they are in dialogue.
During the course of the year our teaching teams strove to incorporate this sense of dialogue into the Religious Education units planned. The goal was to increase the relevance of these learning opportunities for all children, taking into account their cultural milieu, their preferences and needs, as well as offering them a legitimate voice in this learning.
Our staff worked with Catholic Education Advisor Gina Bernasconi to unpack recent data collection of Catholic culture in our school. This data will continue to inform our work in preserving and maintaining our Catholic identity, while also urging us to step further in our understanding of the world of our students.
Professional Learning Plans
Each of our teaching staff was invited to identify a personal learning goal that connected not only with our school priorities, but also with the professional standards each teacher is obligated to measure themselves against. This process involved all teachers setting targets and mapping the professional learning and work completed to achieve these targets.
Consideration of Numeracy & Literacy Pedagogies
We believe that our teachers are the most important resource our students have for learning, and the upskilling of our staff offers our children greater opportunity to increase knowledge and skills. During 2019 our Literacy and Mathematics Leaders, Kate Sewell and Mick Sully coordinated ongoing learning at whole staff and team level to ensure ongoing immersion in best practice. This was specifically tailored to focus on problem solving in Maths and Writing in Literacy. We were fortunate to be able to engage assistance from Teresa Hadden and Felicity Lane of the Catholic Education office to assist us in this work.
Guiding Coalition and Coordinators
Our aim as a school is to always be moving closer to the ideal professional learning community (PLC) as outlined by DuFour, DuFour, Eaker and Many in their book Learning by Doing. Fundamental to the idea of a PLC is demonstrative and distributive leadership in the school. Our school leaders meet in two forms. Firstly, our Guiding Coalition lead our school’s approach and decisions on learning at each of the 3 tiers, focussing on six questions:
- What do we want our students to learn?
- How will we know they have learnt it?
- What will we do if they don’t learn it?
- What will we do if they already know it?
- How do we increase our instructional competence?
- How do we best maximise our organisational structure to assist learning?
Our coordinators met three times a term to map out actions for their particular curriculum area or portfolio, as well as ensuring that the major steps and landmarks had been addressed for the school’s annual action plan. I thank the leaders of both these groups for their commitment to the continued improvement of our school.
Early in 2019 our business manager, Anne Kerr, took leave from her role to undergo a double lung transplant. Anne is fundamental to the smooth running of our school. Her work ethic and experience are valuable commodities that were missed in her absence. We were thrilled at her return in the second half of the year.
Read more of the 2018 Annual Report by clicking here.