From the Principal
The mid-point of Term 3 marks a critical stage in the academic journey of our Year 12 students.
I have spent a good deal of time in the past weeks unpacking and analysing the feedback from the Year 12 teachers to a survey which was conducted a fortnight ago. The questions were designed as a progress check to ensure our students are on track to achieve all they are capable of in 2017.
As a collective, the Unit 4 staff responded to questions comparing Unit 3, 2017 data to 2016 outcomes and indications for Unit 4 and end of year results. Of greater consequence was the mapping out of new strategies teachers have been using to drive an improvement in results and the skills they’re working on developing in the students to support their progression.
Staff were also asked to assess just how familiar the students are with the resources which are so crucial to their success. Year 12 students simply must know the details of the Study Design for each subject; the structure, demands and assessment criteria of the examination plus past Examination Reports. These are indispensable texts, which every student must know inside out.
“Feedback is at or near the top of those treatments which have the greatest effect on student learning.”
In response to a question of the extent to which feedback is having the desired effect in their classes, many staff reported that students were not fully utilising the valuable advice delivered by their teachers. In the final weeks of Term 3 when most SACs are being completed and preparations and revision for the Trial Exams is already underway, working closely with teachers and implementing their feedback is more important than ever.
Some of the strategies teachers are employing to build students’ chances of success include:
- Identifying weaknesses in students understanding and targeting individual student’s development,
- Emphasis on skill development,
- Focus on examination technique and literacy skills around questions,
- Increase expectations of students’ work and challenge them,
- Reiterate the basics in relation to homework completion, structure/emphasis/quality of written responses,
- Providing example answers,
- Sharing practice with other schools,
- Building and encouraging students’ work ethic and their responsibilities in completing all set work, attending to revision.
Academic success will be the result of the partnership between teachers, students and parents, and all of us have a role to play in supporting the students to achieve their potential. Ultimately it is the student’s own responsibility, but encouragement from us and conversations around their progress can greatly assist them.
This week we celebrated Feast of the Assumption, a very special day in the Catholic calendar. The Feast of the Assumption was originally known as “Memory of Mary” and in the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the “Falling Asleep” of the Mother of God. Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that Mary had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.
I am very grateful to the young men who contributed in such a rich and meaningful way to Tuesday’s liturgy. This belief that we as Catholics hold about the assumption of Mary into heaven is but one of many traditions, values and principles we accept as part of our Catholic faith and our students’ Catholic education, but this landscape is changing, and that’s why it is so encouraging to see our student leaders so heavily involved in organising and running such a liturgy. It is through this involvement of the young, giving contemporary meaning to our traditions, that Catholic faith and education is sustained.
I’d like to reflect briefly on the importance of some of our Catholic traditions like the one we celebrated this week. In the past, Catholic schools demonstrated their religious identity mainly by habits and sacramental customs passed down from one generation to the next. However, the traditional idea of handing down the faith through home, school and parish life can now no longer be taken for granted.
Each of you will have your own experience of and preferences regarding our Catholic faith but it is my hope that your involvement here at De La Salle develops in you that deep sense of identity and belonging that I believe comes from life in Catholic schools. At the very centre of our understanding of faith is a process that enables you to make sense of your lived experiences, as each of you has your own personal story and everyday reality. Liturgies like the one we celebrated on Tuesday, with student involvement at their core, allow and enable each of you to reflect and make decisions about your own Catholic identity.
Catholic Education goes beyond skills and qualifications. It guides individuals to seek wholeness, truth and hope in their lives, sees the person as essentially social, with a sense of community, based on solidarity, the promotion of justice and making a difference. Lasallian students and staff have a keen sense of this pursuit of justice and making a difference as seen through our commitment to service. Mission Action Day, the Philippines exchange, last week’s VCAL Immersion in Wilcannia, Year 11 students in Papua New Guinea and the Year 12 Yaluwo trip to Sri Lanka are all terrific examples of how our contemporary De La Salle students live out their Catholic faith in ways which hold meaning for them.
Finally, on behalf of all of us in our De La community, I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of our College Captain, James Biviano, the two College Vice-Captains, Aaron Trusler and Leon Lymbouris, and our five Lasallian Captains in the crafting of our very own College Prayer presented at the liturgy. These Leaders were able to identify the integral aspects of a Lasallian education, the key features of our Founder’s philosophies and our commitment to faith and service. These are captured very skillfully in the final version of the prayer presented for the first time to students and staff on Tuesday.
In emphasising values of excellence, compassion, faith and justice the leaders have provided us with a prayer suitable for everyday use which will stand the test of time by virtue of its relevance, depth and appeal to all Lasallians. To these outstanding young men responsible for this prayer, I thank you on behalf of all in our community. Thank you also to Mrs Rana Brogan who engineered the process and guided these very mature and responsible young men throughout. I must also thank Br Michael Carroll, Director of the Brothers community in Malvern for his input, advice and support.
Ensuring our Catholic identity is retained and our traditions continue is the responsibility of all in the College. Our Feast of the Assumption Liturgy, the launch of our College Prayer and the leadership shown by the students involved demonstrates we are in good hands.
Mr Peter Houlihan