The end of the school year is here and so we look back over the year with some satisfaction about what we have been able to achieve. Each year is built on the previous one, but this year has had a subtle difference. Our school has been examined in depth through the External Review process and in addition a detailed review by the Education Director, Christine Hatzi and Principal Consultant Julie Hardy. The Woodend Report from the Review Panel will hopefully be available on the school website prior to the end of the year.
The outcome was a valuable analysis of the work that we have been endeavouring to do in order to improve the learning outcomes for all students R-7. The feedback validates our work.
This year reading has been a specific focus with a deep analysis of current programs such as Jolly Phonics that provide the scaffold for reading development. Only programs and approaches that are research and evidence based have been considered. As a realist we have made the decision to move to using a program named InitiaLit for our reception classes. This caters for several areas that Jolly Phonics has omitted and that we feel are important to include. An emphasis has seen the increase in the targeted learning of phonemes and phonological awareness. This is evident in the language that students and teachers now commonly use in classrooms. InitiaLit is a structured teaching of systematic synthetic phonics.
Year 3-7 have studied available spelling programs and using the criteria that they must be research and evidence based, as well as being currently used in schools elsewhere with significant results for students, they have settled on trialing a program called Spelling Mastery along with a focus on Morphology. Years 3-7 teachers subsequently will work with a consultant who will provide a differentiated learning program that further skills teachers in the explicit teaching of reading and writing, and who are highly skilled in the area of grammar.
- We will be conducting deeper analysis of the challenges of practice listed in our Site Improvement Plan via professional discussions with individuals and teams of teachers about where they placed themselves on our whole school analysis and what their individual next step might be to move forward.
- The development of agreed data informed approaches to differentiation for individual and groups of teachers.
- Embedding the work on Learning Intentions, Goal Setting and Success Criteria R-7 with students.
- Working with students on high quality success criteria so they can articulate how they will know when they meet their individual learning goal.
The playground development has been moving ahead. It is at the stage of agreeing on a design that can go out to tender. This is an important aspect that we are needing to get right. It is a significant development for Woodend school and will be used by students and the community for many years to come.
The last week of school includes our graduation of year 7’s as they set their sights on high school. Students and teachers have been preparing for this and will enjoy a dinner at the Woodcroft Tavern along with the graduation itself and a special farewell assembly on the last Friday of school. I know it is a transition that most students look forward to, though some do so with a degree of trepidation. We have in place visits to their allocated high schools to learn what to expect in 2020 and to assist to allay any transition nerves.
At the end of 2021 when we see the year 6 and year 7 students transition to high school in the single year, it will be a difficult logistical arrangement. It will just be for the one year and students will see that their graduation just for that year does look different, however the purpose will stay the same and additional strategies will be in place to assist with the move.
At the same time that we see year seven students about to leave us, we know that we welcome 93 new reception students for the start of 2020. They will be in 5 reception classes in a mix of 25 classes R-7. Total school enrolment is anticipated to be close to 667 students with most classes at their maximum.
Each year we survey students, staff and parents. This gives us feedback about how we are managing in many areas such as communication with parents, student safety, learning growth etc. This year the surveys showed that there is a high correlation between each of the student, parent and staff survey responses. There is a high agreement that students are expected to do their best, that feedback is useful and can be used by the students to improve their learning. A strong sense of being treated fairly is evident in responses with the ability for parents and students to both raise concerns with teachers if necessary.
Students feel safe at the school with their concerns able to be raised and listened to. Their opinions are taken seriously via an active student voice and the student representative council as well other avenues, with a clear acknowledgement that they are able to effect positive outcomes for both learning and their own well being. Students report that there are motivated to learn and that they have a variety of experiences that maintain a high level of engagement.
Teachers noted that student learning needs are being met at school and parents reported that their child(re) are making good progress in their learning, with a particular emphasis on English and Maths. There is a strong sense of community and the school is seen as being well maintained, providing a valued environment for students, staff and parents to share the work of educating students.
Due to ongoing preparation of facilities in high schools for the influx of additional students in 2022, we understand that our own building program has been moved to start in 2021 rather than 2020 as first intended.
We look forward to another Community Fireworks Event and know that you will experience the student, parent, community and staff items put on for your enjoyment. We start at 6:30pm and we encourage everyone who wishes to to come along with a picnic to enjoy.
Our Governing Council has tirelessly supported that extension of the school drop off and pick up zone on Edward Beck Drive, the pedestrian pathway through the adjacent reserves and the access to school grounds via Franklin Court. In 2020 we hope to see the addition of safety features for Young Street, much needed with the increase in traffic and the increasing presence of those drivers who choose on occasions to ignore traffic rules.
Three long serving staff are retiring at the end of 2019; Don Zampogna; Lyn Klinkert and Robyn Cavallaro. There will be a separate blogpost that relates further to this.
A special assembly will be held in the school gym on Wednesday of the last week to farewell these people. This will be held at 9am on 11th December.
Thankyou to everyone who has contributed to our 2019 year at Woodend. It is a pleasure to be a part of this active and vibrant community and to lead such an outstanding group of teachers, school service officers and other staff, in the education of your children. Have an enjoyable Christmas and if going away on holiday, may it be a safe one. We all look forward to seeing you at the start of term one 2020.