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Behaviour is contagious because we catch it from other people. Much of what we do results from unconscious mimicry of others around us.

– Rory Sutherland

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
– James 1:4

If you ever want to restore your faith in humanity, talk to teenagers. In the last month, I have met with all of Year 11 and half of Year 10. By the end of term, I will have met with the rest of Year 10. The conversations we have are honest and refreshing, and I am learning a lot about our students, their interests, hopes and aspirations. I will, early in Term 3, be very happy to share a summary of Year 10 thoughts about the changes they have noticed at NBCS and the things that they are most looking forward to. What has struck me most is what a wonderful and diverse group they are, how well they adapt to and manage change, and how much they value human connection and their friendships.

In my conversations with Year 10, I often talk to them about the five things that we aim to provide them with to unlock the future. We aim to provide our students with the skills, character, work ethic, ability to learn and opportunities that will lead to the biggest future possible. Often the discussion then turns to the HSC or to the ATAR, where I tell them that a strong result is a happy by-product of skills, character, work ethic, learning and opportunities. Our job, as a school, is to provide the biggest future possible for our students, and to prepare them to be able to make the most of it. What we do is seek to provide our students with a key to unlock the future. Our aim is to provide them with a master key, the one that will unlock many rather than one or two possibilities.

It’s true that a stronger HSC or higher ATAR will leave more options open, but not by itself. It will only enable more options if our students have the skills, character, work ethic and learning to take up the opportunities that will then come their way. This is perhaps a long-winded way of saying we aim to develop the whole person remembering that we are a school. I am also at pains to point out to our students that their improvement is a better measure of their learning than their results. It is this improvement that we are striving for, for all our students, irrespective of their ability.

Next week, parents will be able to access school reports for their children. The reports for Semester 1 of 2020 will look a little different than they have previously. During remote learning, you may have had the opportunity to gain more insights into the learning process and the learning management systems that we use, but predominantly by looking over your child’s shoulder. These systems are also used for regular student feedback.

We are working towards parents being able to access their child’s results and feedback for each task during the year, rather than just at the end of each semester, although this is likely to be fully implemented in 2021. We are also reshaping the way we report, largely because there is very little evidence about the positive impact of feedback in reports on improvements in student learning. School reports will still occur, as mandated by the federal government, but they will be complemented by regular, direct, task-related feedback to students and parents. Ultimately, we want reports and reporting to become a more effective tool for timely feedback from the school that supports learning and growth for students and enhances the partnership between home and school.

Simplicity is a great virtue, but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better.
– Edsger W. Dijkstra

Tim Watson