Message from the Head of Campus, Nat McLennan
International Baccalaureate Global Conference
This week, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the 2023 International Baccalaureate (IB) Global Conference in Adelaide with my Senior and Junior Campus colleagues to collaborate with IB educators from more than 34 countries. The overarching theme for this year’s conference was ‘Education for an Inclusive Future’. Navigating the evolving educational landscape requires critical conversations that challenge us to be more open and forward-thinking in our approach to learning and teaching. The benefit of varied perspectives enhances and broadens access to education, holistic pedagogy, and the adoption of technologies. Through these differences, the global education community can continue empowering an entrepreneurial generation of change-makers who are equipped to redefine their future. It was a valuable opportunity for the Woodleigh team to hear global perspectives about creating an equitable and accessible education for all children through an IB lens. This forum enhanced collaboration to professionally develop educators about a large range of global contexts to support the progress of students in Schools.
A pre-conference course was attended by a small number of senior campus staff to learn about ‘Universal Design for Learning’. This framework was born from the experience of educator Ron Mace. He believed that regardless of his physical disability, he should be able to access the same resources and education as his colleagues. Unfortunately, this concept was born from his inability to access similar rights. The framework has developed and evolved to look at strategies for educators to implement in learning spaces so all children, regardless of the barriers they face, have access to equal educational opportunities. Dianne Blackburn, an expert in the area from the IB, spent the day with us exploring hands-on techniques to further build the capacity of our teachers to enhance individual progress for all our diverse learners. The skills highlighted that the specific tools and strategies used to implement UDL can benefit all learners.
The conference opening on Sunday was outstanding – a showcase of musical talent and an engaging presentation from keynote speaker, Dr Helen Street. She is an internationally acclaimed educational consultant and applied social psychologist. Helen is the co-founder of Positive Schools and the creator of Contextual Wellbeing. She is known as a pioneer in the development and support of long-term learning engagement and well-being accomplished through whole-school systemic change. Helen’s message was simple – connection and positive relationships promote a healthy state of wellness.
The IB Director General, Olli-Pekka Heinonen convened a Q&A session titled the ‘Festival of Hope’. The ‘Festival of Hope’ is an initiative created by the International Baccalaureate that aims to create spaces for millions of young people to speak up and turn complex challenges into positivity and hope. It is an inquiry led by young people to explore what it will take to inspire and transform humanity and address the complex challenges young people face today. It brings together diverse voices and experiences to drive change and make the world a better place. Char Palmer (Year 10) travelled to Adelaide to be part of the panel on Sunday. Char spoke about their passion for inclusivity with a specific focus on the LGBTQIA+ community. They have been active in leading change through various equity and progress committees. Char has advocated for gender-neutral bathrooms, name and pronoun changes, and better education about queer identity in our Health and Well-being curriculums. Char spoke passionately and created a sense of hope and inspiration amongst the audience. Congratulations Char on delivering such important messages to the IB community.
David Baker and Gareth Bolch also presented at the IB Global Conference about inclusivity through an Indigenous lens at Woodleigh. The session enabled the audience to hear from both First Nations people globally and Schools who have aimed to engage with Indigenous practice to develop a deeper understanding of culture within a wide range of contexts. David and Gareth presented about the success of our co-curricular programs at Woodleigh where student and staff experiences with communities at Ampilatwatja and the Wugularr School in Beswick deepen our understanding of Indigenous culture in our country. This extends to the classroom through rich units of learning that enrich our student experiences. They also touched on our Reconciliation Action Plan which outlines our commitment to creating an inclusive space for everyone.
Camp week at Senior Campus is an amazing opportunity for students and staff to connect, establish relationships and learn new skills. It’s a rite of passage at Woodleigh and an important part of providing our community with the opportunity to harness newfound strengths in a range of different contexts. It is also a huge logistical exercise for our camp coordinators, staff, and students to prepare for this experience and I would like to thank everyone who was involved in setting up these amazing programs. This week’s Messenger showcases highlights from a range of camp experiences this week.
Work Experience is an important part of the curriculum for our Year 10 students. Last week, our students embarked on taste of work life in a potential career pathway. Work experience can help students refine their choice of electives and further learning. It’s also an opportunity to find out what jobs are really like, make contact with employers and put classroom theory into practice.
Last week on Senior Campus, we conducted our first series of Student-Parent-Teacher Interviews for 2023. These interviews are an opportunity for parents and students to meet with staff to discuss progress within specific subject areas. You will notice the inclusion of the word ‘student’ in this title. We have recognised the importance of student attendance at these interviews so they can be involved in the ongoing discussions and consequent actions about their learning journey. It is vital that students develop independence and have an opportunity to reflect and take responsibility for their learning. Teaching staff have a range of strategies to support learning and enable high-quality student outcomes. We believe that if teachers, students and parents build strong relationships, they can work together to improve learning outcomes.
I wish you the best for the last couple of weeks of Term 1 and hope you enjoy a well-deserved break over Easter.
Deputy Principal - Head of Senior Campus