From the Principal: 18 November 2019

From the Principal: 18 November 2019

As I am writing this the VCE Mathematical Methods exam is about to commence and for many of our students, this will mark the mid-point of their exam period. Over the past few weeks, I have been observing students working individually and in groups with their teachers preparing for the exams. The exams have been running smoothly and I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to our Chief Exam Supervisor, Ms Jenny Turner and her wonderful team of invigilators and the Senior Years Team who collectively ensure that there is calmness to our exam centres, assisting students to focus on the task in front of them. Many of our invigilators are former MGGS teachers who have been supervising the VCE exams for years. Good invigilators create a special sense of calm and order to the exam setting and create the right tone for exam sitting, and the value of this cannot be underestimated.

Our incoming students for 2020 have been warmly welcomed to MGGS in recent weeks with orientation and transition days. I understand it is often with great apprehension but also nervous excitement that many of our new Grammarians walk through the gates of our school for the first time. It has been delightful to see them quickly make friends and find their way around. I welcome all new families to our school, and I encourage all to get involved with our very active community.

The Senior Years at MGGS

As a new Principal, I have kept a close lens on our innovative Senior Years Program this year and have met with all program and curriculum leaders to understand the philosophy and intent. My experience in leading Senior Schools affords me the understanding of the supports required for young adults in their preparation for graduation and the wider world. Our Senior Years Program is essentially an adult learning program that places the student in the centre to develop self-efficacy in their wellbeing and academic pursuits. The program is tailored to enable independence and agency. We know that many students when they leave school, struggle with the independence required when they enter university. As we are preparing ethical women of action, the program sets them up well to enter the wider world with a sense of control and confidence.

I am pleased with the implementation of the program and the dedication of our staff in the execution of the academic and wellbeing curriculum. The Director of Senior Years, Ms Nikki Kirkup and Assistant Director of Senior Years, Ms Katherine Barton have developed a collaborative model and are ensuring that every Grammarian has the support they require. We are now closing out the third year of our new Senior Years structure with our first cohort of students to have experienced the program moving into Year 12 in 2020. The original design intent of the program was to deliver a personalised learning experience that would increase student control and agency and boost engagement and achievement. Throughout the journey, the School has sought feedback from a range of stakeholders and continued to make changes we believed would enhance and improve the program; the introduction of House Wellbeing Co-ordinator’s being one such change. This is a successful, and improvable program and as such we will continue to enhance and modify as required as we continue to use evidence and data to inform our practice.

The School has engaged the services of two external academics, Dr Gerard Calnin and Dr Faye Lambert to evaluate both the fidelity of the program implementation and the impact on key domains of student development. Dr Gerard Calnin was, until recently, a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Program Evaluation at The University of Melbourne and is currently a Scholar-Practitioner Fellow at The Education University of Hong Kong. Dr Faye Lambert has a PhD in evaluation and organisational improvement, has presented and published both nationally and internationally in the areas of: program evaluation, teaching and learning; leadership and team development; and organisational change. Dr Gerard Calnin recently presented the findings to our School Council and highlighted the strengths of the programs and where we need to continue refinement.

This evaluation was undertaken over three phases and has informed ongoing adjustments to the program, as well as tracking student growth in the Learning Domain, Cognitive Domain and Affective Domain. In all three of these domains, the evaluation has identified significant positive student growth. The evaluation team undertook statistical testing with The University of Melbourne which supported the view that the scores in these domains identified statistically significant improvement which was understood to be attributable to the intervention of the new program. This is a pleasing outcome and something we will continue to build on. Particularly pleasing was the growth in the Affective Domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, Masia, 1973) which includes ‘the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitude’.

Another key reference point for our current Year 10s is the Academic Assessment Services (AAS) external benchmark testing we conduct at the end of year. This testing is conducted at the end of Year 8 and again in the latter part of Year 10. The results of this benchmark testing show better growth in literacy and numeracy for our first two cohorts through the 9/10 program than for the four previous cohorts who undertook the same benchmarking process.  As with all programs, our teachers continue to refine and improve the pedagogical practices and course structures of the Senior Years and our broader Senior Years team collaborate extensively to ensure we deliver a continuously improving experience for our students.

Mathematics in the Senior Years Program

Three years ago, the curriculum decision was made to use the computer-based program ‘Mathematica’ as the technology for the learning of Mathematics. From 2020 we will be reintroducing CAS technology for Mathematics in the Senior Years Program. I have thought carefully and purposely about this change and do not make this decision lightly, but do so with the students’ needs in mind first and foremost. I have consulted widely, and combined with my understanding and curriculum leadership of senior programs have made an on-balance judgement and formed the view that the most appropriate technology for our students in their Mathematics learning is CAS technology. I have conferred with our Mathematics Department and our incoming Head of Mathematics and all are very supportive of the restoration of CAS technology into our program. All senior students are being supported during this transition phase.

Staffing for 2020

I am delighted to welcome the following new staff into our MGGS community. We have conducted a rigorous recruitment process for 2020. We have employed experienced, well credentialed, excellent staff for next year, including a new Head of Mathematics, Head of Science and Head of Sport and Coaching. All of our new staff have been invited to our Annual Speech Night as their part of their induction to our MGGS community and I look forward to the skills and contributions that they will add.

Mr Anthony Bruhn Head of Sport and Coaching
Mr Robin Dunn Head of Mathematics
Ms Tara Quenault Head of Science
Ms Bei (Michelle) Jiang Teacher of Mathematics
Ms Julia Collins Teacher of English & English Language
Ms Tara Ambrosio Teacher of English & English Language
Ms Kate O’Keeffe Teacher of Dance and Drama
Ms Olivia Wilson Teacher of Drama
Ms Amy Bickford Teacher of Junior Years
Mr Alessandro Micciche Teacher of Latin
Ms Samantha McCook Teacher of Junior Years

VCE Assessors

A healthy sign of a scholarly school is the number of teachers who are engaged in outside professional associations, who are invited as speakers to state, national and international conferences and who are examiners and assessors for the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA). This dedicated work complements their teaching, contributes to the professionalism of teaching and enables them to be experts in their field. I am very pleased that we currently have 22 MGGS teachers who are assessing for VCAA this year. The staff include:

Ms Sheryle Allan Art
Mrs Aleks Ballarin Biology
Ms Elizabeth Barwell VCE Music Performance
Ms Allison Bray Geography
Ms Monica Davis Specialist Mathematics
Ms Josephine Fagan Art
Ms Elisa Gennari Italian
Mr Peter Iagnocco Italian
Ms Fenglan Luo Chinese
Ms Bridget McKernan English Language
Ms Florence Melinand French
Mr Rhys Page Global Politics
Ms Eleonor Palacio Spanish
Dr Matt Perkins Art
Ms Kieran Pinnuck Art
Dr Jessica Priestly Latin
Ms Monique Sharp Physical Education
Mr Christophe Taylor Literature
Ms Stephanie Walton Psychology
Ms Lucy Jongebloed History Revolutions
Mr Ashley Pratt History Revolutions
Mr Jiwei Xu Chinese SLA

I look forward to welcoming you to our Speech Night celebration at The Melbourne Town Hall on Wednesday 27 November. The students have been busy rehearsing and the mass singing sounds amazing! May I remind all parents and guardians that this is a compulsory event and all students from Years 5 to 11 are expected to attend in full summer uniform.

Author

Dr Toni E. Meath, Principal