From the Head Master

When school is in session, there are rarely opportunities to pause and reflect on progress that is taking place. However, if one makes the time to do so, it is tremendously refreshing as a leader. This week I have had cause to consider three areas wherein the School is continuing to move forward, doing things better this year than we did last year.

This week we conducted the new iteration of Year 12 parent-teacher interviews, which we now know as Learning Progress Conversations. In previous years, these were large, noisy, and slightly chaotic events. We would go through all the effort of setting up the Assembly Hall and other rooms with desks appropriately-labelled. We would require parents to disrupt all the normal activity of a weeknight by making their way to the School. We would experience the frustration of interview schedules going awry, the challenge of conducting a conversation in the same venue as hundreds of others, and deal with the tensions of navigating the carpark and campus.

This year, however, having learned from our COVID-19 experiences, the interviews took place online. In my experience, and in that of the teachers to whom I have spoken, the experience was vastly better, being less stressful and more calm. While there were some minor issues, these were relatively insignificant compared to prior years. It is nice to reflect on that improvement.

A second area of improvement has been the introduction of the Trinity Assessment Parent Portal (TAPP), which has been rolled out in the last couple of weeks. Mrs Williams has written about this in the Bulletin and in information provided to parents. The TAPP allows parents to receive information about their son’s assessments in a much more timely fashion. This continuous reporting provides additional insight to the boys’ progress and tasks, in addition to the end of semester reports. Many changes to organisational practices and use of technology have had to be implemented to make this possible, and it comes as the final element in a reformation of assessment and reporting that has run for the last two and a half years.

A third area wherein I think we have made good progress has been the use of data and digital technology to facilitate and evaluate the wellbeing of the boys. Earlier this week, the ACER Socio-Emotional Wellbeing survey was conducted, providing us with insight into our student body and enabling us to evaluate the experience of the boys. This data is anonymous and aggregated. We have also introduced a weekly wellbeing ‘pulse-check’ for boys in the Middle and Senior School, which provides us with personalised information. Through the Skodel platform, each boy indicates his emotional state, the factors causing that state, and indicates whether he would like someone to follow him up. It is a quick and easy way to facilitate pastoral support for the boys, and it should help us to continue to care for them.

As I started by saying, the pace of School life is brisk, and it is easy to be continually looking forward at the next task, initiative or challenge. It is no bad thing to pause to acknowledge that progress is being made. I have found it encouraging to do so. I trust that our boys and their families are also able to pause and to recognise growth.

Detur Gloria Soli Deo.

Tim Bowden | Head Master

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