“Life is not measured in time, but in love, contribution, and grace.” – Carly Fiorina
The busy routine of school continues with our senior students doing their semester exams. Younger students are working towards completing a semester of learning, mindful of the reports they will receive to reflect their overall achievement at the end of term. Staff are currently working through the Year 7, 2019 enrolment process. This is a very positive experience for members of the College Executive as it provides wonderful opportunities for meeting new students and their families. We always ask families why they have chosen SFX and the answers consistently reflect the work we do as a College to care for students, as well as the exceptional learning experiences we offer in an innovative and stimulating environment.
We find that parents conduct research into decisions about which school will best suit their child (sometimes over several years) by asking their family, friends and neighbours about the College. They say wonderful things about our school and encourage them to choose SFX. Prospective families also report that they were very impressed with our Open Days and Information Evenings. One parent told me that the SFX Open Night was the first of many they attended and that we ‘set the bar very high’ for the other schools they visited. I especially love hearing the positive feedback from parents who regularly comment on our wonderful volunteer student-guides who ‘do credit to the school’ and that these students are so confident and obviously very proud of their school. I also appreciate the comments parents make about our staff being incredibly helpful and welcoming.
That is who we are: we are a welcoming community that works to help students achieve their potential. Another feature of SFX referred to in the decision making is the work we do to support students in times of transition. The Middle School Program and the teaching teams who understand the needs of young students ensure the transition to high school is as smooth and stress-less as possible (as well as being exciting and stimulating).
I recently shared the concept of transitioning with our parents of Year 10 at the Senior Subject Information Evening. I referred to a recently released study by PISA which aimed to establish a profile of what 15-year-old students across the world. This report explored students’ more general attitudes towards school, specifically their sense of belonging at school:
- The importance of sense of belonging has been shown to be an important schooling outcome, and for some students, is indicative of educational success and long-term health and well-being (OECD, 2004).
- School is a central part of a student’s life, and students who feel part of, and accepted by their school community are not only more likely to participate in school activities, both academically and non-academically, but will be actively engaged in these activities (OECD, 2017).
- Sense of belonging has an influence in promoting positive attitudes towards students’ learning, as a means of stimulating students’ desire to learn. This learning is fostered by the building of good relationships with teachers and other students in the classroom, which directly influences students’ sense of belonging at school, which in turn, directly affects students’ academic achievement (Juvenon, 2006).
Our Student Satisfaction Survey for 2017 provided great feedback for the College on our students’ sense of belonging as they rated the College highly on these questions:
- I like being at this school
- I feel safe at this school
- I feel accepted by other students at this school
- I would recommend this school to others
- My teachers care about me
- All my teachers encourage me to do my best
- The school Principal and other leaders in the school are approachable
This gives us the imperative to continue to develop this sense of belonging and the programs dedicated to caring for our students as well as the structures and transition processes we have in place for students across the three levels of school: Middle School, High School and College. At present, energy and resources are being directed at programs to assist Year 10 students to make informed choices about the course of study they will pursue in College. We have great expertise on staff and a wealth of experience in supporting students to achieve their best in the College years and in guiding students into future post-school pathways. Our new Careers Officer, Mr Ben Archer, is currently working with our Year 10s to set up work experience opportunities and our Year 12s providing advice and information that will support them into the challenging but very exciting world beyond school.
I will end with a focus on some recent achievements of our students, it’s very pleasing to congratulate several students on success in different fields:
- On 29 May, two SFX teams competed in the 2018 RACI (Royal Australian Chemical Institute) Titration Stakes Chemistry Competition, in the Science Teaching Laboratories at the ANU. All SFX students performed well in the competition. Jack Le Fevre, Darcy Gilmour and Zac Trafford won the competition and received a wonderful medal. They will compete again in July in the next level of the competition. Desmond Lee, Ken Kaneko and Michael Brooker also performed well and just missed out on a place in the final.
- A group of Year 7 and 8 students recently competed at the da Vinci Decathlon at Canberra Grammar. All the students displayed exemplary behaviour and manners throughout the day and their companion teacher Mrs Amber Rebecca reported they ‘were an absolute delight to be with’. The Year 8 team ranked 5th in Creative Producers, the Year 7 superstar team ranked 10th in Art and Poetry, 9th in English and 7th in General Knowledge. They were called onto the stage because they came 3rd in Creative Producers and came 1st place in the ACT for Engineering!! This is very prestigious and they have a certificate for this award.
- Our wonderful Robotics Teams have just competed at RoboCup International in Montreal. We were hopeful that they could emulate last year’s great success. This was not the case but the A.R.T students were recognised for their work in developing the SFX robot with an Open Source and Innovation Award. The Soccer Team showed resilience and great problem-solving skills in the challenges they faced through the competition. Both teams exhibited that great SFX sportsmanship and determination of spirit and we are very proud of them for the way they prepared for the competition and the way they competed.
SFX certainly has a lot to celebrate.
I hope the weeks leading up to the winter break go well and that the holidays are relaxing for students and hopefully parents too!
Gracious God provide us with a listening heart, that we see and
hear the voice of each of our students.
We ask you God to strengthen and guide all in our community.
Grant us the ability and time to listen carefully when people come to us seeking help.
May our school and families respect, listen and do what is required to help all children feel safe.
Let your grace and love fall gently upon our students giving them the inner strength, peace, and resilience to navigate their journey in Your wonderful world.