Three Campuses, One School

It has been a very good start to the year, with successful and well attended Parent Information nights at the Minimbah and Penbank campuses as well as Homestead Night at Senior Campus. While each event has reflected the individual character of each campus, there have been strong and consistent messages at each event which highlight and reinforce the commonality which exists across the three campuses of our one school.

Campus assemblies and school meetings have also reinforced the sense of goodwill across the school, as well as our common values. The ‘Lorax’ and ‘2040’ film night this week was further evidence of our whole school unity. Thank you to all families who supported the event and to David BentonKristine TaylorLaura Maasburg and Adam Liddiard for all the work behind the scenes in making the event happen. While the weather did impact the nature the event, the strong message around our capacity to make a difference in the face of the climate emergency was a real message of hope. A determination to improve cross-campus collaboration was a goal of the start-of-year leadership retreat, with cross-campus collaboration for operations, wellbeing and teaching and learning a priority. A team from Minimbah and Senior Campuses visited ‘The Farm’ in Byron Bay in early February as part of our review of our farm program and exploration of an interdisciplinary ‘paddock to plate’ program across the three campuses.

Our Senior Campus Homestead Night was also an opportunity to introduce incoming Principal David Baker to the community as well as highlight aspects of our school that align to our strategic direction and vision to become a global leader of personalised learning. The ‘Five Elements’ model that will support this vision were consciously visible on the evening, as were key elements of this framework – the ongoing focus on student engagement and wellbeing; articulation of lifelong skill development through the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and enhancements in the senior years as well as the ongoing commitment to real world learning through our camps program. Further information on the MYP was provided on the night, and can be viewed here too. As I mentioned on the night, the role of the Homestead tutor is critical in the partnership with families from Years 7 to 12 and I would again reiterate the message I gave on Homestead Night to communicate issues first through the tutor, where most commonly found problems can be solved.

The vision presented by Woodleigh School is completely consistent with the discussion paper published by Independent Schools Victoria in November last year entitled Navigating the Future of Education’. A full copy of the paper can be accessed via this link, and the key recommendations found in this report are completely consistent with both Woodleigh’s traditions and future focus. They include:

  • The need to shift to a student-centred approach where authentic, relevant, meaningful, active and purposeful learning is encouraged.
  • Students will need to be ecologically literate and think from a global perspective to become active citizens.
  • Students will require grit and perseverance to build a higher tolerance of failure.
  • A combination of cognitive, metacognitive, social and emotional skills, and practical and physical skills, will help students to become agents of change.
  • Schools should consider a curriculum that favours real-world experiences to enable students to cope with changing requirements for work and life.
  • Schools will need to encourage data competency among students and teachers, evaluate the right technology to incorporate in schools to enhance learning, and manage ethical concerns arising from data and technology integration.
  • Teachers will need targeted professional learning that facilitates innovative pedagogies and uses evidence-based data for teaching and assessing students’ performance

Woodleigh has enjoyed a historical reputation as being at the forefront of a progressive, holistic approach to education. Over the past five years, the school has further strengthened its standing as an innovative leader through a strong commitment to improvement and direct engagement with the progressive movement in education. Next month the school will literally be leading the national discussion about the move beyond ATAR with luminaries from the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, and the Federal Government panel reviewing Senior Secondary Pathways. We will also be joined by a number of leading international figures who are working in this space in different countries around the world. This stance would seem more aligned with the school’s historical traditions and future aspirations than to adopt a traditional, conservative advocacy for the status quo. The upcoming ReimaginED 2020 conference hosted by Woodleigh School provides a further opportunity for Woodleigh to lead change in the educational community as we move towards our vision of being a global leader in personalised learning.

Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus