From the Principal

Welcome to Week Four of Term 3. We have entered a period in the school calendar where we can settle into the term and work diligently to complete our tasks with minimal disruptions to the learning program. Our senior students will be well into their outcomes, counting them down as they go and keeping their motivation levels high as they begin the journey into the end of the year and the end of their secondary schooling. Staff will be busily planning, delivering and correcting student work, ensuring we continue to provide a high level education for the students in our care.

The College Production starts in a couple of weeks, and I would like to encourage all in the community to come along and support all the boys and staff who have put in an amazing amount of effort to bring it to life.

I thought it important to raise an issue that is of some concern to me, as left unchecked it has the potential to undermine many of the good things that happen here at the College on a daily basis.

The issue causing me concern is the growing trend here at Salesian College Chadstone of parents challenging College processes which have been put in place to ensure the safety and learning environment for all in the College. In most cases these processes have been in place for long periods and should come as no surprise to anyone in the community. Of more concern is that, in some cases, parents are responding in a rude, aggressive or defiant manner to decisions or actions taken by the College which we believe to be reasonable or justifiable. In the firing line are staff who are merely trying to do their job, in some instances having very little if anything to do with the decision or action being taken. This trend is reflected in the wider community, however, we would argue strongly that these behaviours have no place in a nurturing Catholic School community.

This behaviour is not true for the vast majority of parents who are truly supportive of the College and its staff. I wish to publicly thank these parents who work with us to address issues as they arise in a courteous and professional manner. We find that when issues are dealt with in this manner we are able to work in partnership with parents and resolve most issues. However, there is a significant minority who believe it appropriate to challenge any action or consequence that does not suit them. In the majority of cases such as this, the situation arises due to their son behaving outside College expectations, expectations that are in place to ensure the best possible learning outcomes for their son and all students. Their behaviours include but are not restricted to; questioning educational decisions made in the best interests of all students, abusing and swearing at staff, demanding audiences with staff without notice, blaming the College for all issues, siding with their child’s story regardless, accusing staff of picking on their son without evidence, questioning the professionalism of staff based on hearsay rather than fact and taking what I would describe as a defensive and quite often an aggressive stance in dealing with issues, amongst many more. It is particularly disappointing when staff are abused when contacting parents to alert them to a problem born out of deep care and concern for their child and their learning.

I wish to challenge this small minority of parents and alert them to the fact that these behaviours make it very difficult to resolve issues.

As a parent myself and having dealt with numerous issues through my three children’s education, I am aware that schools get things wrong at times, however, I am also aware that in the vast majority of these circumstances there is no malice or hidden agendas, merely good people trying to do the best by all the kids in their care. With this in mind I ask parents not to form opinions solely based on their son’s perception of things but wait to hear both sides of the story. I also ask parents to understand that experience tells me that the worst thing we can do for our kids is to have them believe that no matter what they do, we as parents will back them, as it reinforces many bad habits in them and stifles their growth and development as young men. They need to see that we, as adults, are willing to work together to resolve any issues that may exist and that we will all support the processes and decisions taken when they align with the values and set principles of the College.

We are not for one minute saying that we don’t make mistakes, nor are we trying to back away from the mistakes we make, rather we ask that they be brought to our attention calmly, professionally and without the associated emotional responses or biases. We encourage anyone in the community that has an issue to raise it with us so that it can be dealt with. In dealing with an issue we ask that all parties come to the table, so to speak, with an open mind and a conciliatory approach so we are able to work in partnership to resolve issues as they arise. It is our belief that this approach allows issues to be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Subject Selections are an area in which we have witnessed such reactions. As most will be aware, our students have been involved in Subject Selections for next year over the past few weeks. An important part of this process is the criteria boys are required to meet to undertake certain subjects. The criteria are made explicitly clear to all boys early in the year to ensure they go about their studies in a manner that will allow them to meet these set criteria. As part of this process, boys who are excluded from a subject have the opportunity to appeal the unfavourable decision if they feel there are extenuating circumstances which have impacted on their studies. The criteria and the processes involved in Subject Selection are put in place by the College to support the boys and give them the best opportunity of successful learning outcomes, both in the short and long terms. We are very aware that their selections and the subjects they are offered impact on them in years to come and it is for this reason we take it very seriously. We encourage all students and their families to take the time and actively enter into the process, work hard to meet any set criteria, gather all information needed and follow instructions to complete subject selections to ensure their choices provide a successful and relevant program that will meet all their needs. Having said all this, once selections are made and selection criteria are applied we ask the boys and their families to respect the processes and the decisions of the College in the knowledge that we are working with the best interest of your sons in mind.

“The College sees education as the key to liberating people, giving them choices in the path they will ultimately choose. With this in mind the College provides a broad, holistic curriculum that aims to engage and challenge our students, demand excellence of them whilst developing their minds, body and spirit.  It is hoped that the wide educational perspectives provided at Salesian College, including our subject selection process, will encourage students to discover and pursue individual interests and pathways that will equip them with essential thinking and communication skills required of them post schooling, enabling them to become productive members of an ever changing community.

An integral aspect of one’s education is making prudent subject choices that suit your needs and your God given talents. To ensure your senior years at Salesian College are enjoyable and productive, we hope you have undertaken a comprehensive process including reflecting on your current work habits before making your subject selections.”

Choices we make, both short and long term, will have implications for the pathways you will be in a position to follow post-secondary education and Salesian College. Your work habits and your subject choices should reflect possible pathways you wish to follow. They should consider pre-requisite subjects for any courses you may wish to undertake. Your subject choices should ensure a breadth of education that will maximise the pathways open to you, and most importantly they should reflect the subjects you enjoy and the ones that you are good at. I strongly advise you not to discount any course, subject or pathway until you have researched it thoroughly to see if it suits your needs.

Education is an individual journey that only you can take. The end result of your journey will be the development of some long-term goals and the identification of the steps that you need to take to achieve them. I encourage you to continue to work hard, seek information, guidance and support from all avenues available to you to ensure you get the subjects, and ultimately the course you want.

Many of you have gained your subjects of choice because you have done the work required and given yourself every opportunity. Others, however, will have to undergo a process to demonstrate your ability and commitment in order to gain access to a subject of choice. If you find yourself in this situation, allow the process to happen and in the meantime do everything in you power to rectify the issues that put you in this situation in the first place. Good luck to you all.

Have a great week, and God Bless.

Mr Rob Brennan