This week culminated over six months of preparation as we began our full school review process. In what was a ‘sign of the times’ we commenced Day 1 of the 4 day review process completing our compliance review ’virtually’ for our registration with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA). This compliance review included a specific child safety review in accordance with the Child Safe Standards. I am very pleased to report to our community that we were affirmed by our reviewers Fran Reddan and Malcolm Joseph for being successful across both reviews with only two minor points to attend to under the Governance standard of the VRQA review. 

The next phase includes 2 days of focus group meetings and evaluation of our school self-review ratings on the five School Improvement Framework dimensions. These focus groups will include our two reviewers meeting with staff and students as well as a small group of parents. We are hopeful that they will also be able to ‘pop in’ to a couple of our virtual classes as they would normally conduct classroom visits. We look forward to their wisdom and expertise as they help discern potential focus areas for our next school improvement plan. The report of their findings from these next 2 days will be presented back to the College early in Term 4.

This morning I announced to our staff community that Kylie Power has been appointed to the Deputy Principal position at Iona College commencing at the start of 2021. We congratulate Kylie on this achievement and acknowledge that she will be a loss to our community. Kylie has been instrumental in leading the proactive and innovative whole school approach to Wellbeing at Clonard which now includes a comprehensive 7-12 curriculum explicitly teaching social and emotional learning. Kylie has also been steadfast in her care of countless students and their families through wellbeing, behavior or learning supports. We will miss more than what Kylie does when she leaves, we will miss her person and presence and the way she embodies the Kildare Ministry values in all that she does. We wish Kylie and the Iona community every blessing as they build their new learning community together.

One of the guiding documents we have used in our work with Wellbeing has been eXcel: Wellbeing for learning in Catholic school communities. One of the dimensions of this framework is ‘connect’. The elements of this dimension include:

  • Members of the school community have a strong sense of connection and belonging. They know that the school community is their community.
  • Relationships across the school community are authentic, respectful and trusting.
  • Relationships with families are actively fostered and sustained to support students to thrive in learning and life.
  • A culture of collaboration and partnership is evident within and beyond the school.

The final weeks of this term will continue to provide us with opportunities to build connections in our community. Firstly, Learning Conversations with Year 7 families will return next week after commencing in Term 1 and then being put on hold as COVID-19 took hold in Term 2. This initiative was being trialled this year as a way to connect with students and families and compliment subject based parent teacher interviews. Whilst we had planned for these to also be trialled in Year 9, due to the change of some wellbeing classes in Semester 2 we have delayed these conversations until Term 4 to allow teachers and students more time together. Year 7 families are asked to book their appointments via PAM. Conversations will be held virtually via Teams.

Secondly, I would strongly encourage families to take the opportunity to join us for a special screening for the Geelong Catholic Secondary Schools of the award winning global documentary ‘Angst’. Angst is a film-based education program designed to raise awareness around anxiety, with an emphasis on youth and families. The film includes interviews with kids, teens, experts, and parents. We will be showing the film virtually, which will promptly be followed by a panel discussion with experts in the field and include access to further resources and materials.

The screening is presented by @indieflixceo, supported by @projectthriveau 

Registration is required at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZopMFGyWTDqa9qaW14oX2A

I wanted to acknowledge the feelings that many of us are experiencing at the moment as we continue in Stage 3 restrictions and remote learning and working from home. I recognise that there is a great weariness that comes from the sameness coupled with the uncertainty. I pay tribute to students and staff for their resilience and commitment to just keep going…..only 10 school days until the end of term. We have purposefully not yet shared information regarding what may or may not be happening with returning to school and Year 12 students in particular until we felt we have had further clarity.

Please be assured planning and preparations for plan A-Z are continuing in the background. Hopefully we will know more next week. The fatigue we are all experiencing will be taking so many forms….decision fatigue, screen fatigue, sameness fatigue, innovation fatigue maybe even family fatigue (we do love them dearly but…). If I can offer one thing at this time it is a reminder that our Creator God has given us this new season to remind us of renewal and hope. This morning by chance I was in just the right place to see the most magnificent sunrise and for that moment I felt joy, and awe and wonder and not fatigue. My prayer is that creation brings you a moment of joy somewhere in the next week so that you too may find what you need to keep going in this most difficult time. 

And to the dads and father figures in our lives, may you be blessed with the love and gratitude of family this Sunday even if experienced from afar.

Blessings