Welcome back to Term 3.

The landscape at Clonard certainly changed over the break with the installation of the building site on Tullow where the construction of our new Science and Technology Building has commenced. We applaud the students for the speed with which they adapted to the changes in making their way to Tullow Hall, DigiTech and the food tech areas.

We have had a very calm start to the term with students focused on studies and enjoying the reconnection with friends and teachers. There has been great interest this week as students have made their subject selections for 2024. We thank families who have supported the discernment process of their daughters. Ensuring we have a clear picture of what subjects need to be run in 2024 allows us a solid lead time to ensure staffing requirements are met.

One of the joys of my role is seeing students at their best. This was the case last Friday night when I went along to watch the combined schools’ performance of School of Rock. It was clearly evident that the students were loving what they were doing and in chatting with some they have found newfound passions that they have only discovered after taking a courageous step into something they hadn’t done before. We are most grateful to Sacred Heart College who were the lead school and hosted the production this year. Thanks to to our own Performing Arts staff for their support and encouragement of the students.

We also welcomed staff from Ave Maria College in Melbourne who visited to learn about our New Narrative for Leaning journey and how it is taking shape at Year 7. It was exciting to share our journey and have the voices of the students articulate the impact it is having on them and their learning.

World Youth Day

Next week we bid farewell and offer our heartfelt blessings to our dedicated staff Bridget Taylor and Anthea Hinchey and students Ada Corcoran and Sienna Talbot who are embarking on a journey of faith as pilgrims with the Melbourne Archdiocese to the 16th international World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon. This significant event in the life of the universal Catholic Church is celebrated every 3-4 years in a different host country, and this year’s theme is “Mary arose and went with haste” (Luke 1:39).

World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 is set to be the largest ever event to be organized in Portugal, with an expected participation of over 1 million young people, including our very own staff and students, joining Pope Francis from 2nd to 6th August 2023.

The week-long WYD festivities in Lisbon will be a rich tapestry of activities, including 290 concerts, 55 religious events, 38 conferences, six dance groups, ten plays, ten exhibitions, 15 films, and a space for sports. The traditional WYD events such as the Opening Mass, catechesis, Stations of the Cross, and a Saturday Night Prayer Vigil, which includes a sleep out under the stars, will culminate with the Final Mass presided over by Pope Francis on Sunday, 6 August.

As we say farewell to our pilgrims, we extend our prayers for their safe journey, a spiritually enriching experience, and a deeper connection with their faith. We know that this extraordinary event will leave a lasting impact on their lives, and they will return with a strengthened sense of purpose and devotion.

Attendance Semester 2

Every day counts!

As we strive to prepare our students for a successful future, consistent attendance is one of the foundations upon which this is built. Most of our students show a positive attitude to the importance of attendance and we congratulate them for the courage they demonstrate to ‘show up’ even on days when it might be a bit of a challenge! Whilst we recognise that from time to time students may be unwell or unexpected family situations arise, a focus on consistency in attendance matters.

Each day of school attendance contributes to a student’s progress, and even seemingly minor absences can accumulate, affecting their overall academic trajectory. Therefore, we call upon our students and families as we commence a new semester to prioritize attendance as a key element of their educational journey, unlocking the doors to both academic achievement and personal growth.

We know that:

  • Regular attendance positively correlates with higher academic achievement among students in secondary school. Our internal data supports this statement.
  • Consistent attendance allows students to actively participate in class discussions, contributing to better comprehension and knowledge retention.
  • Missing school days, even sporadically, can lead to gaps in learning, making it challenging for students to catch up with their peers.
  • High attendance rates contribute to a sense of routine and structure, fostering self discipline and time management skills.
  • Students with good attendance tend to have stronger relationships with their teachers, which can lead to increased academic support and mentorship.
  • Regular school attendance provides a supportive social environment, helping students build friendships and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Consistent attendance promotes a positive school culture, where students feel engaged and motivated to learn, resulting in higher overall satisfaction.
  • Students who attend school regularly are more likely to develop a sense of belonging within the school community, supporting their emotional and mental well-being.
  • Good attendance in secondary school sets a foundation for responsible habits that can benefit students in their future academic pursuits and professional careers.

Recently our Extended Leadership Team was examining our attendance data sets across all year levels for Semester 1. Our goal is to aim for at least 90% attendance. Even at 90% attendance this equates to a day off per cycle of learning or 4 weeks of lost learning across the year.

Our data shows that our Year 7 and 11 cohorts have the highest attendance rates. We also note that in many cases attendance lowers in Semester 2. We bring this to family’s attention so you can be aware of noticing the patterns of days off. Whilst out focus is primarily on the impacts of learning and wellbeing we are also promoting healthy habits for life. If we applied this to an employment context, we know that levels of attendance less than 90% would not be accepted in a workplace.

We understand it can be difficult for families at times to get their daughters to school. We have several supports available and resources that can assist families. Please contact Tania Anticev for further information and supports. Sometimes it is simply raising awareness that supports a change in behaviour.

Leading Teams Professional Learning for College Leaders

Our College leaders participated in Day 2 of the Leading Teams program, which is centered around cultivating a high-performing team culture. Engaging in intensive formation sessions and workshops over the 4 day program, our leaders are being equipped with the essential tools and strategies to create an environment that fosters collaboration, trust, and synergy. Through this program, they are gaining invaluable insights into effective communication for strong professional relationships, culture building through agreed behaviours, and the importance of shared purpose. We are confident that the knowledge and skills acquired through the Leading Teams program will empower our College leaders to continue to build a dynamic and cohesive team culture, resulting in enhanced performance, innovation, and positive impact on our school, most importantly our students.

Thanks to the staff who provided the following feedback:

Leading Teams has provided the opportunity for the larger group of leaders at Clonard to come together to share our skills, our knowledge and our ideas, in creating a cohesive commitment to how we will work with each other and others in ensuring the vision and goals of the College are achieved.  The time together has been incredibly worthwhile to connect as a Leadership group, in particular with others that are not in our “usual” teams, to focus on our purpose, and develop skills in regard to genuine conversations and feedback, and ensure the strong and compassionate culture of our community continues to grow and thrive.                                      

Tania Anticev – School Improvement Leader

I found yesterday meaningful, and it was great to have the chance to work with the greater Middle Leadership team. It is very rare that we get the opportunity to work closely with staff from all areas of the college and I found the time was well spent, hearing different perspectives on leadership, and sharing our own experiences with our table groups. I know that I am early in my leadership journey, but my experience has shown me that with every leadership PD, or book, I gain a new perspective, or pick up something valuable around leadership, and yesterday was no exception.

George McMeel – Learning Leader

Truly a gift and an enriching experience to participate in the Leading Teams Middle Leadership Development Program, a valued opportunity. Taking an authentic evaluation to reflect on our identity, to set aspirations and growth aims for the collective purpose of making a positive impact on students and the community at Clonard. Greatly appreciated that time and space had been dedicated to reaffirming and reignite our collective vision.

Thankful to our leadership team for supporting, believing and empowering us. “With strength we seek, with kindliness we act”.

Lesley DeNoronha –  Administration Team Leader

As I close this week’s blog I wish to share with you some reflections from one of Fr Richard Rohr’s daily meditations that have challenged me this week when I consider our theme of courage (Stories from the Bottom — Center for Action and Contemplation (cac.org)). It speaks about the Bible as one of the most subversive texts in history because it repeatedly legitimises the people on the bottom, the powerless, the rejected, the ‘nobodies’. Interestingly Fr Richard claims that the pattern is so consistent that we may no longer recognise its subversive character. In our contemporary culture taking this perspective can be unpopular and very counter cultural yet this is the courage we are called to in following a God who ‘has a bias for the bottom’.