A Time to Reflect

As Term Three comes to a close, it is timely for us to reflect on what we have achieved this year and continue our plans for the future.

At all three campuses, we have been busy creating life-changing experiences for our students. At our Junior Campuses, we have had students attending camps in Victoria, the Northern Territory, and internationally. As I write this article, I am preparing to attend the Year 6 Wugubank experience evening at Penbank, and our Year 6 students from Minimbah have just touched down in Bali as part of their sustainability experience at the Green School. Both have been and will be life-changing for the students involved as they are immersed in cultures and languages different from their own and experience perspectives from Aboriginal people in Beswick and Indonesian people in Bali.

These experiences and Camps Week for our Senior students all help to shape a Woodleigh education. This is an education that prepares students for life both at school and beyond. They are real-world, challenging, and provide provocations for some of the most important issues facing our country and the world. While life-changing, they can be daunting if we don’t offer optimism and the opportunity to develop the complex capabilities required to engage with such complicated and overwhelming issues. The capabilities to unpack and understand complexity, solve problems, and organise others as they project manage possible solutions. These are the skills required for life and the skills our student generation will need to impact the world in which they live, positively. If we add to our list of provocations increasing inequality in our world, rising well-being issues, the growth of artificial intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution, global boiling, shifting geopolitical tensions and world conflict, and closer to home an upcoming referendum and the cost of living crisis.

To fully understand and be prepared to find solutions for societal issues, our students still need the basics, and it is important for us to ensure they have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of education; however, we aim to go much further than mere competence and explicit teaching and wish for our students to master complex concepts and be able to apply these to real-life contexts in which they will have depth and mastery.

We continue to look for and find opportunities for student agency and the ability to teach students about the capabilities they will need for life. This occurs through our approach to the International Baccalaureate, the PYP, and the MYP and also through our introduction of the Futures Program to Year 10 in 2024. I look forward to further engaging with our community about this program in Term Four and inviting our advisor, Joost Bakker to the school in October. Together with our architects, they will talk about how we can create generative ecosystems in place of buildings to encourage the depth of thinking our students require for their future.

I am often asked, what about NAPLAN and VCE results, how do they fit with our philosophy as a school and our plans for the future? The NAPLAN tests and ATAR are not going anywhere, and I strongly believe that the work we do will complement both of these measures; however, we also aim to provide our students with more than just a number. We hope to provide a personal transcript of the complex capabilities they have developed during their time at Woodleigh. We continue to work with the University of Melbourne to develop tools for the measurement of character growth that are genuine, authentic, and warrantable. The Year 10 Futures Program will provide us with an opportunity to road-test these tools and provide feedback and data to over 35 schools involved in this project.

It has been a very busy term, and yet we still have much work to do. I hope that all of our families will have an opportunity to enjoy some family time over the holidays and I wish them well for this time and look forward to continuing this conversation in Term Four.

Best wishes