30 January 2019 Dear Parents and Caregivers, Welcome to the 2019 school year. To parents new to the St Bernard’s community special welcome; I trust that your association with St Bernard’s is a long one and that you, like your son will meet lifelong friends that share with you a love of the values for which the College stands. I promise not to write in such lengthy terms as this letter for the rest of the year! But in this, my opening note to you, I want to set out a range of important school matters that I hope you will find useful and informative. I ask that you take the time to read it carefully. You might also retain this letter as a reference for the year. It sets out clearly our College routines, protocols and expectations. Your attention to matters that require your consideration will greatly assist in the smooth operation of the College this year. Deputy Principal - Ms Therese Wilson We welcome to the College our newly appointed Deputy Principal, Ms Therese Wilson. Ms Wilson comes to us from her previous post as the Deputy Principal of Learning and Teaching at Santa Maria College, Northcote, a position she held from 2010. Therese is a highly experienced leader and is well familiar with the Edmund Rice charism having held previous senior positions in an Edmund Rice College. Therese is highly suited for the Deputy position not only by virtue of her experience, but also through her formal qualifications. She holds Masters’ degrees of Religious Education (ACU) and Education (Uni Melb), as well as a Bachelor of Science, a Graduate Certificate in Education Law and two Postgraduate Diplomas in Educational Administration and Educational Studies. She has already made an excellent beginning in the week or so that we have been back at work and I am confident that she will make a valuable contribution to the ongoing life of the College and most importantly the education of your son. New members of staff We also welcome new members of staff who join us in 2019: Mr Tim Cunningham (Humanities) Year 7 Level Leader Mrs Diana Dodig (RE and Italian) Ms Samantha Forbes (Science) Ms Janelle Gallagher (English, RE and Humanities) Mrs Leah Harris (English and RE) Mrs Erin Lane (English and Drama) Miss Demi Mitrotasios (Science) Miss Jaclyn Munro (Science, HPE and Maths) Mrs Georgina Muzaferovic (Mathematics) Ms Flor Navarro (Mathematics) Miss Isabella Romanin (HPE) Ms Siobhan Taylor (English and Humanities) Mrs Naomi Varela (Science) The College will have four GAP students with us in 2019: Mr Quayd Duffin (Santa Monica) Mr Harry Catterall (Arts) Mr Lance Olsen (Arts) Mr Aaron Neumeister (Sports) 2018 VCE results The College wishes to congratulate all of our Year 12 VCE students on completing a successful final year of secondary education. We celebrate 29 High Achievers from the Class of 2018, with High
Achiever being defined as students who achieved an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 90 or above. Congratulations especially to the College Dux, Wilson Tsan, who received an ATAR 99.05. These outstanding results only tell a part of the story. Indeed, as the means of achieving admittance to university and other further training continues to evolve — quite markedly in recent years — we perhaps need to consider metrics other than VCE results alone as the markers of success. For the first time in 2018, our leaving class participated in an externally administered Year 12 exit survey designed to assist in understanding our students’ experience of and satisfaction with their schooling. The data from our students, when compared to a national database of thousands of students dating between 2011 and 2018, indicated a number of significant points. When compared to the national average, our students are significantly different in: their aspiration to a highest possible ATAR; their belief that their parents are also aspirational for their school results; their confidence in their teachers’ subject knowledge and expertise in the use of ICT; the level of satisfaction they have with their subject choices; the quality of feedback received from teachers; the level of guidance and support that they received in their senior year; their belief that teachers treat students with respect; and the quality of the Careers advice that they receive. We are a community which maintains a very high aspiration for university and other post-secondary education. Our recent results show a 90% matriculation rate for the whole of the cohort (not just those students who sat for an ATAR). The figure for the local Moonee Valley community as a whole is 85%, and 75% for the whole of Victoria. These results reflect the fact that the College is responding to the educational aspirational expectations of its students and its parents. Interestingly, the students reported significantly higher than average levels of stress, of which we need to be conscious and continue to address, both at school and at home. On the other hand, it is pleasing to report that the most statistically significant result was that our students believe that the College works hard to stop bullying from happening across all year groups. In other data, they told us that our co-curricular life is particularly strong; that they have a good canteen; and that the College is well maintained. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, at St Bernard’s compared to other schools, they are much more likely to have said they felt a sense of belonging and were proud of being a ‘Bernard’s Boy’, and that they would recommend the College to others. I extend my thanks to all who helped contribute to these excellent outcomes. As one Year 12 parent wrote to me in the final days of last year, “We are so thankful for [the] excellent teaching [of your staff] and their support and encouragement of him all year. Their generous nature and pride in their craft have contributed greatly to his success. He has worked hard too.” This is a sentiment with which I roundly concur. Student success is a team effort. Strategic Plan 2019 Inspired by our Strategic Directions 2017 – 2021, the College has prepared a strategic plan for this year. You can peruse a copy of this plan on the College website sbc.vic.edu.au | About Us | Public Reports and Policies. The plan ‘stays the course’ on continuing to develop the ambitious undertakings that were set out in the 2018 Strategic Plan, the report on which can be found in the same place online. In brief, we will continue the Year 7 expanded Discere program into Year 8 in English and Mathematics; continue to develop a new model of expanded learning at Santa Monica; further embed the College House system; complete a schoolwide Vision for Learning; and enhance Catholic identity, particularly through a refined College Retreats program and the professional development of staff. Capital works Work is significantly advanced on preparing for the development of the College’s Santa Monica campus. As you would appreciate, while Santa Monica, at Eastern View (just north-east of Lorne) is in a beautiful bush setting, it is also an ecologically sensitive area that is also a bushfire alert zone. Thus, the development of the site is undergoing the most thorough scrutiny at the Council and agencies level, as it should. It is anticipated that building will commence at some point later this year. Our
eventual intention is to be able to accommodate a quarter of a student cohort at Santa Monica at one time. The current Santa Monica program will continue until such time as the facilities are ready to accommodate that change. The College Board has also had presented to it a renewed Master Plan for the Essendon Campus. Further preliminary and planning work on this will continue in 2019. When firm decisions about what is achievable within the College’s necessary financial and organisational constraints are made, I will appropriately share this with the community. Protocols for home-school communication To those parents/caregivers who are new to being a parent at a secondary school, or indeed to parents who have had a couple of smooth years already with their son at St Bernard’s and have not had reason to contact the College on one matter or another, it is important for me to point out that effective communication between home and school is somewhat more multi-layered than one might be accustomed to in the primary school setting. This is partly a factor of size, it is equally a factor relating to the separation of the curriculum into separate faculties and the corresponding hierarchical organisation of school leadership and responsibility. Consequently, I have laid out for you here the home-school communications protocol. I encourage you to use it as a guide for when you need our assistance, guidance or support with your son’s education, or indeed when you have a concern of a more general nature. 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. 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 cocurricular expectations, sports played and team selection. Concerns regarding sport beyond this should be directed to the Deputy Principal. Fees and finance: The Accounts Receivable Officer can assist on straightforward enquiries relating to fee accounts. The College accountant who is the finance team leader can address more complex enquiries that you may have relating to your account. The Business Manager can address questions regarding general financial policy and confidential matters relating to financial assistance. 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). General complaints: I draw your attention to the College complaints policy which is published on the College website at sbc.vic.edu.au| About Us | Public Reports and Policies. The section What to do if I have a Complaint will guide you. The nature of secondary teachers’ work can make them 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 email@example.com 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 48-hour business day turn around on response to an email.
College calendar Each parent has access to the password protected Parent Portal. You can access the Parent Portal by going to the College website at sbc.vic.edu.au and selecting MySBC from the Masthead line. Once in the Parent Portal, select Calendar from the top banner line. You can then use the ‘Filter’ to reduce the calendar to just Parent Events (for example) and then apply filter. You are also able to use the ‘Export’ button in the top right corner of the resultant calendar to export the calendar to you own personal calendar system. Any queries about your Parent Portal login details should be directed to Luke Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org Student attendance As I have indicated above in referring to Year 12 exit survey data, both you and your sons have high aspirations for his education. It is not possible for the College to assist in the maximising of your son’s educational potential if he is not consistently present at school. Of course, I appreciate that we are an immigrant population, and many (if not the vast majority of us) have family connections overseas which draws away from home. Some travel in school time I thus understand is unavoidable. I am asking you to avoid requesting time for family holidays and travel which draw your son out of school outside of the gazetted school holiday periods. You may think it only affects your family and your son; this is not so. Each time a student is absent from class, it impacts on the sense of direction and purpose and solidarity of the ‘whole’. As I have stated above, it is a team game. College communication 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 is our updated College website, The College also maintains an active Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SBCEssendon.These communication channels 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. Student uniform and grooming The College’s uniform and grooming 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. The College is well placed to have another highly successful year in 2019. I warmly invite you and your sons to enter into the journey. Best wishes and… Discere et Agere Yours sincerely,