Parent Engagement & Academic Expectations

Dear St Andrew’s community,

Parent Engagement – the challenges of the digital world

As part of the College’s intent to provide more opportunity for Parental Engagement, and as part of our desire to assist in the challenges of raising children in a digital world, I am pleased to announce we will soon welcome Dr Mike Nagel for a parent presentation.  An Associate Professor at USC, Michael’s research is in the areas of cognition and learning, human development and early learning, neurological development in children and adolescent psychology.  He is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost experts in child development.  Over the last couple of years, he has turned his focus to the impact of technology on child development and so approaches the topic in a unique and insightful way.

Dr Mike Nagel will visit the College on Tuesday 15 May at 6pm in the Learning Hub.  He covers fascinating topics such as the addictive nature of technology, the impact on the growing brain and allows parents to reflect on the research in order to make decisions about the use of technology with their own children.

At the same time, we are using Mike’s wisdom to assist the College with our review of Digital Thinking here at the College and how we might revise our Digital strategy based on this and other research.

We look forward to welcoming parents to what I know will be a very informative and entertaining evening.  It is our aim to develop a yearly program of opportunities for parent information sessions to allow parents to forward plan to attend these helpful events. For more information on Dr Nagel's presentation, click here.

Academic Expectations

On Tuesday afternoon at our Staff meeting, I posed a question with teaching staff around what we might otherwise refer to as Academic Expectations.  St Andrew’s has a standard of high expectations across so many aspects of our College.  Staff have rightly focussed on teaching and learning practice, our professional learning and innovation, and it is timely to review our academic expectations on each student.  In particular, developing ‘skills’ that are required not just for the new Senior ATAR system, but ultimately academic skills for life.

We know as educators that when we set the bar high with our students, they will rise to it, because of the culture of positive relationships.   We have these high expectations because we want students to achieve their personal best and we know they will do their best to rise to them. If we expect little, students will naturally rise to that level. This does not mean that students should feel overwhelmed, but that they are stimulated to strive to have a go, to experience the rigour of learning and to put their best effort into their attempts within the context of a supportive environment.

Consequently, I have put the challenge out to Subject Faculties and Year level teaching staff to ask the following question: Are we setting the academic expectations at an appropriate level to enable students to achieve their personal best?  When students are young, for example in Prep, academic expectations might take the form of expecting children to be responsible for carrying and unpacking/ packing their own bag, but as children get older this changes and we expect more.   This might be in relation to the discipline of homework, meeting deadlines, being more independent with their planning or time management.  It’s also our own expectations as educators, in the way we plan, provide timely feedback, assess and so on.

I also expressed the College’s expectations around NAPLAN.  St Andrew’s does not teach to the test, however it is important to ensure we provide as much guidance and opportunity for students to achieve their best on the day. NAPLAN testing is still important, as its intent is ultimately to provide the College with information to assist us.  Again, as parents and educators, it may simply be in our own language that needs to change from NAPLAN is not important to, whilst the College will not  focus on NAPLAN for a marketing tool, it’s really important that you do your personal best in the test so the College has the best data to see how you and your year level are doing in different areas.

Both NAPLAN and the ALLWELL testing provide us with some excellent feedback through Mrs Sue Bambling’s analysis of the results and this is of great benefit to our staff in their teaching. 

Having high Academic Expectations is not about adjusting our culture. St Andrew’s strives to provide balanced educational opportunities and values all our student’s achievements and efforts.  It is about ensuring we have the same high expectations on our academic program as we do for every other aspect of our College.  As always, I thank you for your parental support in upholding the values of St Andrew’s.

Best wishes,

Reverend Chris Ivey