Ms Sara Afif has been appointed to the position of Year Level Leader for 2018. Ms Afif was previously the Year 7 and 8 Coordinator at Antonine College, a position which she held for the last eight years. With a Bachelor of Behavioural Science/Graduate Diploma in Education from La Trobe University, Sarah recently completed (2015) a Master of Education — Student Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne. A teacher of Mathematics, Science, Personal Development and Psychology, Sarah was also responsible for the introduction of Restorative Practices and the Peer Support program at Antonine College. Ms Judy Eastman has been appointed to the position of English teacher for 2018. Judy is formerly an English teacher as well as Coordinator of Gifted and Talented Programs at Parade College, one of our brother Edmund Rice Colleges and Associated Catholic Colleges (ACC) partners. Ms Eastman holds a Bachelor of Arts/Natural Laws Degree from the University of Tasmania. After a career in the law as a policy analyst, Ms Eastman retrained as a teacher in 2002, with a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) from the University of Melbourne. She has been a VCAA English Assessor since 2009 and a NAPLAN assessor since 2013. She has on three occasions presented Student Revision Days for the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English and is the author of the VCE Checkpoint Guide on Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. Ms Eastman replaces Mr Matt Hurley who has been promoted to the position of Campus Director at the John Bosco Senior Campus (Year 10–12) of Salesian College, Chadstone. Mrs Cathrine Carison joins the St Bernard’s College community as a teacher in the Humanities and Religious Education. She comes to us from Kolbe Catholic College Greenvale Lakes where she held several positions in middle leadership prior to the birth of her first child. Mrs Carison is no stranger to the Essendon community, being a former School Captain of Ave Maria College! Mrs Carison replaces Mr Scott McNulty, who has been promoted to the position of Faith and Identity Curriculum Leader at Mount St Joseph Girls' College in Altona. Mr Joshua Monaghan will be known to some members of the St Bernard’s community as a former student of St Bernard's (Class of 2012). Mr Monaghan will fulfil the new position of Retreat Coordinator from March 2018 as a non-teaching member of staff in a part-time capacity. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre Practice) from the Victorian College of the Arts. I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs Alison Peisley to the position of Finance Team Leader for 2018. Mrs Peisley is a Chartered Accountant with a Bachelor of Economics (Accounting Major); she has extensive experience in finance in the education and not-for-profit sector. Mrs Peisley was appointed following the resignation of Ms Hayley Leane, who relocated out of Melbourne. We also welcome to St Bernard’s College three GAP students who will work with us in 2018: Daniel Cesarini – GAP – Arts Nicholas Sorani – GAP – Sports Angus McKinnon – GAP – Santa Monica St Bernard’s is privileged to have secured the services of such high-quality people, who will add to the already highly qualified, competent and professional staff at the College. I trust that the future work lives of the newest members of our community are positive and fulfilling ones, made so by the quality of the relationships that they forge with your sons and indeed with you in the years ahead. Deputy Principal Mr Paul Shannon In the last days of the 2017 school year our Deputy Principal, Mr Paul Shannon was appointed to the newly created position of Edmund Rice Education Australia Director of Learning. Paul will be based in the EREA National Office in Richmond. In this role Mr Shannon will work with EREA staff and with the Leaders of Learning in EREA schools, including St Bernard’s College. Consistent with EREA’s mission to be faithful to the Charter Touchstones, Mr Shannon will take courage of leadership in the Touchstone of a Liberating Education. 3
I very much valued Mr Shannon’s contribution to the leadership of the College in my first year at St Bernard’s in 2017. While Mr Shannon will continue to have a relationship with St Bernard’s through his work at EREA, nonetheless he will be missed. Mr Shannon will conclude his position at St Bernard’s on 9 March 2018. Fortunately, given that we had an Acting Deputy Principal in Mr Neville Box for the period of Mr Shannon’s Long Service Leave in Term Four last year, Mr Box will continue in the Acting Deputy Principal position from Tuesday 13 March following Labour Day and Mr Shannon’s departure, ensuring ongoing continuity for the College. The position of the Deputy Principal will be advertised nationally in March/April, with an appointment for 2019 in late May this year. 2017 VCE results Some outstanding results were recorded by our most recent alumni in the recently published VCE results. There were four perfect scores of 50, three from Further Mathematics and one from Psychology. Congratulations to the recipients, Anthony Bonaguro, Lawrence Eastham, Vinh Tran and Julian Solarino. Students who achieved study scores in the 40 plus range completed the following subjects: Accounting; Biology; Business Management; Chemistry; Computing Informatics; Computing Software Development; English; English Language; Food Studies; Further Mathematics; Geography; Health & Human Development; History Revolutions; Italian; Legal Studies; Mathematical Methods; Outdoor & Environmental Studies; Physical Education; Physics; Psychology and Religion & Society. The percentage of students with a study score above 40 was 8% with more than half of the cohort receiving an ATAR above 70. The percentage of students achieving an ATAR above 95 remained the same as 2016. The College will honour its High Achievers, its 24 students who attained an ATAR of 90+ at a special whole School Assembly on Friday, 9 February 2018. In addition to our High Achievers, the College will continue to seek ways to recognise and award students whose efforts reflect extraordinary growth in their learning and hard work. It is, after all, not one’s God-given talent which matters the most but that one seeks to do one’s personal best. 2017 Presentation Night Thank you to the several thousand people who attended the 2017 Presentation Night at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Thank you also to the many people who shared such positive feedback following our inaugural attempt at such an endeavour. The College delivered on its promise to make the show short, sharp, interesting and enjoyable. I look forward to those who missed the 2017 Presentation Night joining us this year. Please save the date in your calendar now — Wednesday, 5 December 2018. Capital works As many members of the College community would be aware, two building projects are currently being undertaken current currently and are nearing completion. A new College Chapel, with a capacity of 350 people will stand behind a new courtyard marking the formal entrance to the College. In addition, new College staff facilities will see, for the first time, the majority of teaching staff located in a single staffroom, enabling a greater degree of teacher collaboration in their work. Both projects are due for completion in the final week of this term. While there will be a “soft” opening of these facilities immediately upon the resumption of Term Two, we will look to have a formal opening of the buildings later this year. Gonski 2.0 and funding pressure at St Bernard’s College At several points throughout 2017, I wrote to parents about the funding pressure which was being placed upon Catholic schools generally and St Bernard’s College in particular. No doubt you will have read conflicting views in the press about the impact of the so-called Gonski 2.0 funding reforms on Catholic schools. In the midst of the confusion, here is an indisputable fact: for the first time since public funding of Catholic schools was introduced in the 1960s, there has been no 4
annual funding increase for St Bernard’s College; indeed, our federal government funding has decreased this year. This is despite the fact that the College increased its intake by one stream in an enlarged Year 7 this year. In addition, the 2017 Enterprise Agreement leading to salary increases will see expenditure up by 7.3%. In light of these circumstances, I beg all parents to see the 4% increase in student fees for 2018 as highly reasonable. St Bernard’s College continues to represent outstanding value for money for parents, combining a relatively affordability with commitment to quality Catholic education with physical surroundings that rival many high-fee schools. We are able to keep 2018 fee increases relatively modest because of the excellent financial management of the College over many years by the previous school leadership, supported by the College Finance Committee. Having said that, unless the College sees increases in funding for the 2019 school year, the current situation of moderate fee increases is not sustainable. I encourage all parents to share with their local members the unfairness of the situation in which we find ourselves. As a Catholic school, we accept that the right to choose an education for our children comes at a cost; at the same time, as taxpayers, parents are entitled to a reasonable share of the pool of education funding. The heart of the issue in the Catholic sector is the inappropriate use of Australian Bureau of Statistics social economic status (SES) data to determine funding. It has been well demonstrated how the use of SES to determine school funding produces perverse outcomes which disadvantage some schools. For example, 10% of the families at Holy Rosary Catholic Primary School in Kensington carry an Australian Government Health Care Card, a means-tested form of assistance for low-income families. Nineteen per cent of its student population are considered to come from educationally disadvantaged families, with 27% having a language background other than English. Because the school exists in a middle-class area, however, it has an SES score of 119. Compare the situation of Holy Rosary, Kensington with Geelong Grammar, one of Australia’s most exclusive, high-fee schools. Geelong Grammar has an SES of 115, four point less than that of Holy Rosary, and has received a greater level of 2018 federal government funding as a consequence. SES is clearly a very bad metric for the purposes of determining school funding. While Catholic education authorities continue to press the federal government around this issue, your own agitation with your local member will help enormously in raising this issue in the minds of our elected officials. St Bernard’s needs your support. Finally on the matter of fees, the College relies on prompt payment of all fees in order to operate, this year more than ever. Families experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to make contact with Tina Davis the Business Manager email@example.com at the earliest opportunity so that special consideration can be given and a suitable arrangement can be made. Royal Commission The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published its final report on 15 December 2017. Obviously, the findings of the Royal Commission are highly apposite to the work of schools. I reproduced below a 13 point summary of key issues identified by the Royal Commission, for your information and edification (source: https://goo.gl/CTVXgj). 1. Poor leadership and governance, a lack of accountability, and a culture that prioritised protecting the school over the safety of children; 2. Inadequate complaints processes, investigation and disciplinary action contributed to school leaders and staff failing to act on complaints or meet their obligations to report matters to external authorities; 3. In many cases, investigations were incompetent and not carried out by a qualified person or children were interviewed inappropriately. There was often confusion about the standard of proof required to substantiate allegations and the threshold for reporting suspected abuse; 4. The composition of school boards can contribute to poor governance, such as when boards are predominantly made up of school alumni with a personal stake in upholding the reputation of the school. In other cases, the Royal Commission heard evidence that school 5
boards were not informed about allegations of child sexual abuse, and therefore could not be involved in responding to allegations; 5. Poor human resource management practices contributed to failure to keep children safe in schools through inadequate recruitment practices – such as failing to undertake referee checks, allowing staff to work with children without a Working With Children Check, and lack of induction processes; 6. Individuals the subject of complaints not being disciplined or held to account – such as allowing teachers to resign when complaints of child sexual abuse were made, transferring them to other schools, or giving them positive references that enabled them to teach in other schools and thereby exposing other children to the risk of abuse; 7. Poor management of non-teaching staff – such as failing to ensure that all staff who could come into contact with children are suitable and supported, including administrators, contractors, gardeners, sports coaches, parent volunteers and maintenance staff; 8. Some schools did not have policies and procedures in place for preventing or responding to child sexual abuse. In other cases, policies and procedures were ineffective; 9. Lack of information sharing between employers or between employers and teacher registration authorities, can enable perpetrators to continue to pose a risk to children by moving between schools or jurisdictions; 10. Limited awareness of child sexual abuse among staff and inadequate training on policies and procedures may contribute to a failure to keep children safe in schools because it prevents staff from identifying and reporting potential indicators or ‘warning signs’ of child sexual abuse; 11. Schools did not address the risks of private spaces on school grounds, which enabled perpetrators to be alone with children; 12. A poor understanding of, or confusion about, reporting obligations can act as a barrier to reporting in schools. Evidence was given that teachers could be unsure of what to do when they knew about, or suspected child sexual abuse; 13. Ensuring children are safe online is a growing area of concern. The nature of the online environment and the rapidly evolving ways in which it is being used creates risks that need to be identified, considered and minimised to better protect children from harm. Change to standard time of evening meetings In an effort to find the right balance between a family-friendly time and a time that works for staff, the standard time for evening meetings in the College has been changed to 7.00pm (from 7.30pm in past years). Protocols for home-school communication Secondary teachers can be very difficult to contact directly by phone, as they are most frequently engaged with students, whom they cannot leave to attend to phone calls. For this reason, I encourage you to contact teachers via email initially. Teachers’ email addresses are in the form firstname.lastname@example.org where f=first name initial. If you need to speak with a teacher or other member of staff, make a request for a phone call back. It is reasonable for you to expect a 24-hour business day turn around on response to an email. The following list will help to guide you regarding your enquiries: • Curriculum issues: Initially, look to discuss aspects of your son's progress with the Subject Teacher. Thereafter, any issues can be raised with the Assistant Principal (Learning). The Assistant Principal (Learning) can assist on such matters as formation of classes, overall curriculum patterns for students and College assessment policies. • Student Wellbeing and Pastoral Care: Initially, the Homeroom or Classroom Teacher should be contacted regarding your son's overall academic, physical, social-emotional or spiritual development. The Year Level Leader thereafter might be involved in discussions regarding ongoing matters. The Assistant Principal (Student Wellbeing) oversees the Student Wellbeing and Pastoral Care within the College and will be involved in the most serious or concerning matters. 6
Sport: The team coach can assist with matters such as training, selection and venues. The ACC Coordinator or the House Sports Coordinator can assist on matters relating to College policy on co-curricular expectations, sports played and team selection. Concerns regarding sport beyond this should be directed to the Deputy Principal. Fees, Finance: The Accounts Receivable Officer can assist on straightforward enquiries relating to fee accounts. The Business Manager can address questions regarding general financial policy and all other matters relating to fee accounts. Public Transport: The College Receptionist can assist with applications for and replacements of bus and train passes. Issues regarding problems encountered on public transport should be directed to the Assistant Principal (Student Wellbeing).
Student attendance A key barometer of a successful school is high rates of student attendance. Each time a student is not in class or in attendance at key celebrations of school life like Opening School Mass and Sports Carnivals, it eats away at the confidence of the whole. Accordingly, St Bernard’s has a strong culture of very high percentage rates of school attendance. Please ensure that your family contributes to this positive culture. Students are expected to be in attendance every day. There are no optional school days. Please, do not make arrangements for family holidays that cut into the last days of term time — it will impact on others. Holiday periods are generous and well publicised. In the occasional extraordinary circumstances that do require leave during term time, I would ask that parents write a courtesy letter to the Deputy Principal making that request. Should your child be sick from school on any day, a phone call to the College on that morning before 9.00am (with a follow-up letter on the next day of student attendance) is the protocol. I ask that parents adhere closely to these courtesies. It is also important to note that the end of the school year we have a ‘Headstart’ program where students begin their next year’s study. This is a vital time for all learners and cannot be missed. The College Newsletter The College Newsletter is published electronically each even week during school terms. You will receive a link to the newsletter via your email inbox. I would ask that you take the time to familiarise yourself with the routines and events of College life. The more connected you are, the more connected your son will be. The gateway to important information about the College http://www.sbc.vic.edu.au/parents/ The College’s public website as well as the parent portal of MySBC are designed, in part, as a gateway into the various sources of information that will assist you, as a parent, in being connected to what it is that your son is being asked to do at school. In particularly I draw your attention to the College Calendar which is published in both locations. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with these websites that offer you a gateway into the College. If there is something that you can’t find, or don’t understand, ask us. We are committed to making it easy for parents to navigate their way into the learning life of their son, and we now have the technology to make this a reality for busy parents. Student uniform and grooming I have already spoken with all students regarding uniform and grooming expectations. The expectations are clear and unambiguous: clean-shaven; neat and tidy hair; long hair tied back; black leather belt; black leather shoes; shirt tails tucked in when a jumper or blazer is worn (Terms 1 & 4); tie fastened with top button done up and shirt tucked in (Terms 2 & 3). Boys are expected to wear their uniform with pride. When they are tardy with their uniform, it betokens a lack of respect for self and the College they represent. Your contribution to maintaining the College’s high standards There is much that I could add about the College’s expectations of the highest standards of academic effort, uniform, grooming, courtesy and respect that are demanded of every student. Suffice for me to say that high standards don’t just happen, they are hard work, and they must be 7
demanded by every adult member of the College community as an example to the youth for whom we care. Those ‘youths’ include your son and the ‘adults’ include teachers and parents alike. Your cooperation in reinforcing the expectation of high standards is necessary and important. There is now powerful research evidence confirming that high expectations are essential to maximise a young person’s potential. Do not underestimate your critical and central role in that as a parent/carer. While this opening letter to you is long, I hope that it has provided you with useful information that helps you play your significant role as a St Bernard’s College parent. I look forward to a successful 2018 and assure you of my ongoing commitment to our two core businesses — Education and the Gospel. Discere et Agere
Adam Taylor Principal