Reflections on a year just finished – what changed and what’s ahead.

Photo courtesy of Bayside leader

At the end of a school year I generally get a little reflective – after a day or two on holidays that is and after I’ve spent some time catching up on the uncompleted tasks – which I just have.

Well my first reflection is that the general pace of change and community expectations have continued to increase. The “public accountability race” has been ramped up with more online school data for the community. The link to the Victorian Government’s site with increased data on school performance is their response to the accountability agenda. As principal I was asked to set some context around the Victorian data for Elsternwick Primary and now as a community we await the ‘raw data sets” from the Commonwealth Government’s online site next year. The real test on the usefulness of published data sets on school performance is who will use the either government’s sets and if there is a private or public agenda?

Elsternwick Primary has just completed a  major school review which took 12 months which included the setting of a new strategic plan priorities for the next 4 years. The improvement goals over the next 4 years include:

  • improving mathematics outcomes for students
  • strengthening teachers use of assessment for learning data to try and personalise learning for students
  • using technology to engage with learners and their parents [refer Ultranet link below]
  • supporting teachers to be more reflective about their instructional practice using a new E5 framework developed by DEECD.

Approximately 1/6 of our teachers are engaged in some study in 2010 connected with three different universities and a new Victorian leadership institute opened this year. These improvement targets are challenging and will require changes in the way we work together to achieve them.

A the end of year we were announced as a lead school in the implementation of the Ultranet – an online learning community for students, teachers and parents. This certainly fits with our goal of working to personalise learning for students. This will be an exciting innovation.

Of course we are still building. We completed stage one works worth estimated at $4 million. The facilities included new and modernised flexible learning areas which were officially opened this year. In addition we had a smaller infrastructure grant which paid for the painting of classrooms, new shade sails over playgrounds, a new roof over one of major buildings and badly needed maintenance on one end of our main buildings. Some work remains to be completed on this smaller project.

We expect to have the new gym and performing arts centre completed in August 2010 worth over $3 million. New buildings generally lead to improved learning and teaching conditions its just the dislocation that gets a little tiring for people and we have had some of that this year.

There were improvements in tightening inquiry based curriculum units, a new Mandarin language introduced, an expanded teacher and student leadership program and the usual activity of schools that we should celebrate including a wonderful end of year concert.

So in summary its been a year of evaluation and direction setting, of building and of new programs. We have some exciting projects and professional learning opportunities ahead.

And I wonder why I’m tired and in need of a rest. Feel free to comment.

To my colleagues and readers have a Merry Christmas and I look forward to continuing our work together in 2010.