From the Principal

I extend a warm welcome back to all in the community for what we anticipate to be a very exciting Term 3. I hope that all staff and students were able to enjoy their break and take time to recharge their batteries, after a long (and at times hard) Term Two. I trust that our senior students used the break to prepare for what is the downhill run for them as they enter into the last 13 weeks of their VCE. We spoke to the Year 12 boys on their return about the importance of Term Three as they complete the last of their outcomes as well as prepare for their final exams. The theme of our conversation, one that will be repeated over the coming months, is that whilst they have completed close to two thirds of their final year, as far as time is concerned, they still have two thirds of their marks up for grabs. This is the time to build on the platform they have laid, or change their work habits to improve on their results thus far.

There are a number of events in the coming weeks here at the College, beginning tonight with the final of the Mary McKertich Public Speaking Awards. I look forward to the boys presenting their final speeches and the opportunity to witness their talents. In a couple of weeks’ time the College Production will take place, in partnership with a small number of girls from Sacred Heart Girls’ College. The boys and girls have been rehearsing feverously over the break to ensure they put on a great performance. The Annual College Cross Country Carnival will be run on Friday of next week, while the boys are undertaking Subject Selections for 2018. It is a very busy time. I thank all the staff and students involved in making these things happen and look forward to the positive outcomes.

In this week’s newsletter I would like to highlight two important issues; the first is the launch of our new Homework Policy.  This document is the product of consultations throughout the course of Term Two which involved staff, the Student Congress and members of the Parents’ Association.  Over the years, there has been a degree of uncertainty and, at times, divergences of opinion about homework practices at Salesian College.  Questions such as: “What do we mean by ‘homework’?”, “Why does it sometimes appear to be unnecessarily repetitive?”. “How much homework should my son be doing?”, “Why does my boy seem to get lots of homework for one subject, and not much in others?”, and ‘How can students be assisted to manage their homework responsibly?” arise with reasonable regularity.

It would be foolish to imagine that the development of a new Policy will, in and of itself, mean that these questions will never arise again.  Hopefully, however, it will provide solid reference points for all members of our community, and enable questions to be answered when the need arises.

The ‘Policy’ section of the document contains a rationale and a set of principles which established a framework for homework practices here at the College.  The key parts of the Policy are to be found further on in the document.  In the ‘Expectations’ section you will find detailed descriptions of the types of homework tasks boys can expect to receive, a guide to the amount of homework boys at various levels are expected to complete during Term time and in holiday periods, and a set of expectations that the Principal, Teachers, Parents/Guardians and Students are expected to live out. The final part of the Policy sets out the consequences which will be applied in instances when homework tasks are not completed.

During Oratory lessons this week, boys will be thoroughly briefed about the new policy. The entire Policy can be obtained by clicking here.  I have included below the ‘Expectations’ section of the Policy, which I warmly encourage you to discuss with your son at various intervals throughout the year(s). As always, please contact me if you have any comments or suggestions you would like to make concerning this matter.

Expectation of the Principal

The Principal will ensure that expectations relating to homework are reviewed and published regularly and are clearly understood by teachers, students and parents.

Expectations of Teachers

It is expected that teachers will:

  • set a balanced mixture of varied, challenging and meaningful tasks related to class work which suit the students’ learning needs
  • avoid setting homework tasks which entail unnecessary repetition
  • ensure that the amount of homework set represents a fair and just proportion of the available pool of time for the particular year level
  • monitor homework completion and provide timely and practical feedback to students
  • help students develop: (1) effective study techniques; (2) organisational skills and; (3) time-management skills
  • use SIMON to record details of major homework tasks
  • communicate any concerns relating to student homework completion with parents / guardians at the earliest possible opportunity
  • ensure that students actively use either the ‘Outlook’ calendar facility or a diary to record and monitor homework tasks.It is expected that parents / guardians will:

Expectations of Parents / Guardians

  • ensure that students have a suitable space which they can use to complete homework
  • develop a positive and productive approach to homework by regularly discussing homework with their son
  • ensure there is a balance between the time spent on homework and recreational activities
  • proactively raise with relevant teachers any concerns they may have about set homework.It is expected that students will:

 

Expectations of Students

  • be aware of the College’s expectations concerning homework
  • actively use either the ‘Outlook’ calendar or a diary to record and monitor homework tasks
  • discuss with their parents or guardians the College’s expectations concerning homework
  • apply themselves to fully complete homework tasks within set time frames
  • inform staff if prior to the completion date if they are having difficulties with the task
  • reflect on and take heed of feedback given by teachers
  • seek assistance when difficulties arise before the homework submission date
  • organise their time to manage home obligations as well as participate in physical activity and sports, recreational and cultural activities and part-time employment.

 

I hope this policy document will provide clarity for all members of the community and contribute to further enhancing the learning environment here at the College.

My second point in some ways, is not quite as positive. I begin by restating my strong held belief, something that I have said many times, what a superb learning community we all enjoy here at Salesian College, Chadstone. A statement that I am sure most, if not all in the community would testify. This sentiment is regularly reinforced by comments I hear or read from current parents, parents and students who have left the College and importantly from parents considering Salesian as a school of choice. Comments like, “Salesian College has a wonderful sense of belonging and connection”, “The sense of care is obvious amongst members of the community”, and “The boys have a real sense of pride for their College”. These are things for which we all should be very proud.

These characteristics do not come about by chance, nor do they magically appear, and they certainly don’t eventuate without a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication on behalf of everybody in the community. These characteristics grow by all in the community working together, celebrating each other’s successes and sharing our difficulties.

The reason I share these reflections with you is born out of my disappointment in the number of boys who absented themselves from the last Friday of last term. Whilst I am fully aware that there would be a number of boys away for legitimate reasons, I find it near on impossible to accept that 230 boys were either too ill to attend or were away on holidays with their family.

I am sure that the conversations that took place would have gone along the lines of, “Mum/Dad, I only have three lessons and an assembly tomorrow, so it’s really a waste of time for me to go in.” If we were to take this on face value it may sound reasonable, however, I caution parents to think like this, as it could be detrimental on a number of fronts for your son.

Whilst accurate as far as classes and assembly goes, the above statement implies that missing one class is fine, which I would strongly challenge. I believe that all our teachers prepare their lessons to provide the boys with important teaching, right up until the final class. Lessons should not be missed if it can be avoided. This sort of mindset also encourages boys into habits where they don’t see things through to the end, encouraging them to quit when things are difficult or outside their comfort areas. Most importantly, however, is the underestimation of the value whole school assemblies have in developing the characteristics I mentioned earlier.

As a College we only meet once a term, significantly heightening the importance of these gatherings. We gather as a whole school to recognise and acknowledge the wonderful achievements of the Term. It is in these gatherings that we engender and develop the characteristics of belonging and connection, and the sense of pride that we currently enjoy at the College. So apart from letting their peers down by not attending on the last day, the boys who absent themselves may be inadvertently destroying the very characteristics and values that attracted them to the Salesian College in the first place. I often wonder how a parent would feel if it were their son’s turn to be acknowledged, and found that a significant proportion of the community felt the occasion of little importance and chose to stay away.

So it is with this in mind that I ask parents to support us in our future efforts to promote the importance of every class and assembly, to build on the strong learning culture that currently exists, and to further add to the values and sense of community and pride we all share by not allowing their son to take a day off when it suits them. We will work with the boys to ensure they understand the importance of attending school each and every day, ready to learn and celebrate their achievements together as one.

I wish all in the community a productive and successful term and encourage ALL to participate and contribute to this community to the best of their ability.

Mr Rob Brennan
Principal