From the Principal

As we near the end of another term full of academic endeavour, formal exams, assessments and reports plus myriad co-curricula activities I would like to thank all who have done so much to contribute so positively to our wonderful school. As the push into innovative and exciting curriculum and pedagogical improvements at De La Salle continues to develop pace we are seeing tangible changes in the ways in which our young men approach their learning. I would like to expand a little on this theme.

This year I have been privileged to work as a member of the Leading Education Circle, a group of Melbourne principals convened by the Centre for Strategic Education. We work with leading global thinkers in education in a series of seminars, meetings and briefings to listen, consume, debate then plan to apply the imperatives of 21st century learning. It is tremendously exciting to see these pioneering ideas gradually unfolding in our planning, especially in some of our new programs and in the staff Professional Learning Teams.

I have included below a series of extracts from some of the works produced by the various leaders and bodies we’re working with in 2016. The themes and principles therein are guiding the development of ideas and opportunities at De La Salle.

The best schools are dynamic places to learn, skilfully combining the four ingredients: the acquisition of knowledge, both basic skills and higher order conceptual thinking; the development of character strengths such as persistence and resilience; the cultivation of social skills of collaboration, empathy and communication; opportunities to turn ideas into action through making, serving and contributing. Dynamic places to learn allow students to explore all of these dimensions in combination. At the heart of this is the dynamic teacher, sometimes an instructor, often a designer, guide coach and facilitator but always an activator devising ways to make learning more engaging, demanding and rewarding.

Charles Leadbeater, Dynamic Learning: What it is, why we need it, how it happens, for Pearson Open Ideas Program, 2016

Through innovation, schools can break out of old dichotomies between knowledge and skills, traditional rigour and entrepreneurial creativity. Diverse commentators in Australia agree that design and entrepreneurship need to become part of the life of schools. The key is that these new skill areas be incorporated with robustness and care, and combined with the teaching of traditional subjects, to avoid becoming no more than a dropout option for academically under-prepared students. If top students are to be the job creators of the future, and not just one more herd of ‘excellent sheep’, it is crucial that they are given the opportunity to develop enterprise and innovation skills in combination with deep subject knowledge.

David Albury, Tom Beresford, Keren Caple & Amelia Peterson, Global Excellence: Australia’s Educational Opportunity; Innovation Unit, AISNSW Institute, 2016

Over the past 25 years, a revolution has been occurring in the way we work in Australia. We have lost more than 1 million lower-skilled jobs in manufacturing, administration and labouring but gained more than 1 million jobs in the knowledge and service industries. The pace of innovation and automation sweeping through our workplaces has prompted thought leaders and policy makers to argue that young people need more enterprise skills (often called “generic”, “21st century” or “transferable” skills) that can be used across multiple roles and occupations. Recently, the OECD argued that “the increased rate of innovation across economies requires the workforce to possess both technical competence and ‘generic skills’ – problem solving, creativity, team work and communication skills”. Jan Owen, The New Basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order, Foundation for Young Australians, 2016

This generation of young people will promote innovation and entrepreneurialism and grow our economy to maintain our standard of living despite the fact that more older people are about to leave the workforce than younger people are about to enter it.

Phillip Lowe, Reserve Bank of Australia Deputy Governor

Child Protection Policy – Ministerial Order 870

At the PAVCSS (Principals Association of Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools) meeting on 10 June we were briefed by Catholic Education Melbourne’s Student Wellbeing unit on the recent Ministerial Order 870. Elina Raso and Denis Torpey presented in relation to the requirements of Catholic Education Melbourne, Department of Education and Training and the VRQA (Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority) in relation to complying with Child Protection Standards by 1 August 2016. This involves conducting a self-assessment as to where we stand with compliance currently and committing to improvements.

The Catholic sector’s approach to the protection of children is all encompassing. We are resolutely committed to ensuring that all those engaged in Catholic schooling promote the inherent dignity of children and young people and their fundamental right to be respected and nurtured in a safe school environment. This approach is grounded in the Catholic tradition which celebrates the sanctity and unique dignity of each human being.”

Catholic schools have a long standing commitment to the wellbeing, care and protection of students in schools and already take steps to protect children from abuse. The Child Safe Standards provide an opportunity to strengthen existing practices, ensure consistency and transparency and to engage whole school communities in the care wellbeing and protection of children and young people.”

Catholic schools are already doing much to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. The Child-safety Reform initiatives are informed by a strengths-based approach. Rather than focusing only on potential risks or a deficit-based model of child-safety we are emphasising a stronger focus on supporting schools to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they require to lead the way as child-safe schools.”

The basic goals of Ministerial Order 870 are as follows:

  • Upholding the primacy of the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
  • Empowering families, children, young people and staff to have a voice and raise concerns.
  • Implementing rigorous risk-management and employment practices.

The standards are as follows. Ms Lisa Harkin, (Deputy Principal — Students) and a working group from the staff are well along the path of reviewing our various protocols and policies to ensure compliance by 1 August.

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, organisations must have:

  • Standard 1 — strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements
  • Standard 2 — a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
  • Standard 3 — a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
  • Standard 4 — screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
  • Standard 5 — processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
  • Standard 6 — strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse
  • Standard 7 — strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children. Understanding and capacity building

Parent Network Winter Luncheon

Last Friday 17 June the Parent Network held a very successful Winter Luncheon with over 50 attendees enjoying a three course lunch in the function room at the Racecourse Hotel. I was delighted to go along and welcome all our supporters from the parent group, have an informal chat and introduce our guest speaker, Sam O’Sullivan. You may have seen Sam on 60 Minutes earlier in the year when the program featured his extraordinary ordeal with necrotysing mysositis disease, which in layman’s terms, is a bug which eats the flesh. Despite losing most of his lower right leg’s muscle and flesh; spending seven days in a coma; undergoing nine operations and being told he would never walk again, would probably lose his leg and quite possibly die; Sam is now fit and well, very much alive and telling his story. It was incredible to hear his account of illness and amazing recovery and the courage, resilience and mental strength required to get him there. Sam has a brother in Year 12 at De La Salle. Thank you to all those who supported the event and we now turn our attention to the Parent Network’s next big event, A Day at the Races, on Saturday 13 August. Keep an eye out for upcoming details.

Christmas in July Giving Tree

Today you will have received an emailed letter in relation to the Christmas in July Giving Tree. The Executive Team has decided to run the Christmas Giving Tree as a Christmas in July this year. This decision was driven by the need for our recipients – the Berry Street Childhood Institute — to have gifts available for distribution in November/early December. Last year despite our best intentions many of the gifts donated leading up to our 8 December deadline would have been held over until this year. Berry Street were very appreciative of the teenage appropriate gifts and have asked if our focus could be on this age group again this year.

Wishing all our De La Salle community’s families a safe, happy and restful term break.

Funding for Catholic Education

Elsewhere in this edition of Duce you will find a statement from Stephen Elder, the Director of Catholic Education, in relation to the issue of funding for Catholic education in light of next week’s election. Whilst this information will be of interest to families involved in Catholic education, the views expressed are those of Mr Elder and not necessarily the College. I’m sure each of you will have your own priorities around election time!

Study and Long Service Leave

I will be on study leave and then long service leave until Week 3 of Term 3. Tom Ryan will be acting principal in my absence.

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2016 09 - 23 June 2016