On Wednesday we arrived to find an enormous yellow crane placing the first of our walls into position in our new building. It has been incredible to see how quickly the form of the building has taken shape. It is with great excitement that we can announce Kildare Education Ministries Board has approved the name of our new building which is to be known as the ‘Oak Centre’.  

We believe that the symbol of the oak tree represents the themes of our master plan:  

  • Welcome 
  • Empowerment 
  • Community 
  • Inclusion 
  • Compassion 

Through the symbolism of the oak we touch back to Celtic tradition and spirituality and the Brigidine tradition. We also believe that as a natural form it ties into the purpose of a building that has a key focus around science. The oak tree is a feature of the founding place of the Brigidines in Tullow. This new building is ‘growing out’ of Tullow lawn and would remain a permanent symbolic connection to our own roots. There was an extensive briefing paper provided to the Board around this name which we will explore over the coming months as we watch this space grow and take shape.

In our year of ‘courage – speaking and acting with integrity’, the Trustees of Kildare Ministries have shown courageous leadership in their wisdom and discernment in light of the debate and dialogue connected to the recent referendum. Their statement was shared with our community through this newsletter earlier in the year. In light of the referendum result they have shared with us an open letter that they wish to be shared with our broader communities and in particular First Nations families, students and staff.  

In that letter they write: 

Kildare Ministries values all people and does not accept this result as the final word. Our First Nations Peoples have been on this journey of recognition for hundreds of years and we pledge to listen, reach out and learn what needs to be learned from this year’s failed referendum. Especially for the First Nations Peoples in our schools and in our community works, we want to support the quest for a better life through education and civic collaboration; through truth telling and Makarrata – healing the wrongs of the past, so that we might be a stronger nation living in peace. 

A full copy of the letter can be read via the following link Trustees Open Letter to Kildare Ministries Communities 

As the year comes to a close it brings a time of evaluation, review and forward planning in relation to our progress towards our Annual Action Plan goals and overall School Improvement Plan. This year we have been focusing our efforts on improving students: 

  • skills and engagement in dialogue with our faith tradition 
  • sense of the sacred in prayer and ritual 
  • knowledge and practice of the expectations and skills of positive behaviour 
  • sense of belonging and connection 
  • learning dispositions and agency for growth and success 
  • subject discipline literacy 

These student focused goals were accompanied by actions related to: 

  • implementing our instructional framework 
  • constructing our STEM building 
  • enhancing high performing team practices 
  • promoting family engagement 

Next week the Extended Leadership Team will work through a variety of data sets to evaluate the impact we have had in relation to these goals. To support us with this work over the last fortnight we have met with a representative from every wellbeing group 7-11 to discuss the student experience in relation to these goals. The students were insightful and shared with us their appreciation of having their voice valued in the process. Some comments included: 

I love my RE class. If you feel comfortable with your teacher it means we can be open. Our teacher makes an effort to connect with each of us.  

In nearly every single one of my classes a teacher talks about PB4L using the language of respect, engagement. Some more than others but the majority do.  

I feel certain teachers have definitely been more clear on expectations and that has carried throughout the year. The demeanour of the classroom is a bit different in a good way.  

New words help you step out of your comfort zone and then you can transfer words into other subjects.  

Doing fun activities in our year level helps us to meet new people and feel more connected to others. 

I feel a sense of connection and belonging by being included in decisions at school. 

Along with these comments there were valuable opportunities for further development and improvement that the students believed would be beneficial. As we look towards 2024 this will be most helpful and useful in our discernment and direction setting. 

As we continue to work towards our school review for 2024 we are grateful for the families who attended on Monday evening to provide feedback in relation to indicators in the spheres of School Community and Student Wellbeing.  

This week we gathered with the combined Geelong Catholic Secondary Colleges School Advisory Councils’ dinner. Each College shared a reflection on the achievements of the year. This year we welcomed four new members to our Stewardship Council. The Stewardship Council have been instrumental in providing leadership in connection to our Master Plan, our reimagining of a new narrative for the future of learning and ensuring that we bring the mission of Catholic education to the strategic decisions we make for the College. This year we farewell Yvonne Gdak who has served on the Stewardship Council for seven years. Yvonne has been passionate about building the opportunities for our alumni to engage with the College and has played a key role in the success of our annual reunions. We thank her for her commitment and service. 

Next week will see our Year 10 and 11 students undertake exams whilst Years 7-9 will complete their 2023 curriculum and assessments. Monday 27 November will be a pupil free day in preparation for the start of our early commencement program which gives all students a head start into 2024. Early commencement is a program that optimises learning time, builds connections with new teachers and classmates and sets students up for success. Attendance during this program is as critical as any other week in the year. 

With Year 12 exams completed tonight we gather for our Year 12 Celebration Evening. I look forward to catching up with students and families for what promises to be a wonderful evening.