Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Vision & Core Values 3 Years After Inception

How do you respond when a school parent sends you an email and states This is not reflective of the St Patrick’s vision statement or policies ?

Towards the end of 2020, during the unprecedented challenges of COVID and when the students were back onsite, I received such an email.

Clearly there was a concern, however, direct reference to and a quote taken from our school vision statement were a joy to behold. We received "open and honest" feedback (one of our core values) aligned to our school wide vision. A member of the community was indicating that they related to our vision and were holding fast to it come what may.

Where did our vision narrative, core values and mental model originate from ? In preparation for a day of reflection with the staff, let me put our vision and core values into context ; three years on from commencing the Schools That Deliver professional learning process.

 Students become the leaders of the future through internally driven change 21 Nov 2017



Empowerment, passion and unified purpose  (staff feedback about the process) 16 April 2018

Staff Generate Future Focussed Vision & Core Values for ALL Learners (27 April 2018) Summary of shared vision and values.

Disruption, Creativity: Innovate 2 flourish 22 July 2018 

Active participation and deep reflection stimulated by the Edward's and Martin Delivering Innovation Conference (June, 2018) led to the creation of a video. The personal challenge was to succinctly capture two full days of powerful learning in a three minute animated video to share with others.
This sums up the approach we are taking as part of the Schools That Deliver Process.


2020 Covid ?   Disruption? Comfort zones ? Creativity ? Innovation ?

Conference to reality ; shift happens together  17 Aug 2018 4 Research teams and practice fields

Practice Fields Lead to Quick Wins for Learners 11 Nov 2018. Shared outcomes of Practice Fields


Reflection of Phase 1 - Outcomes of staff research and recommendations during the first year lead to draft long term plan going forward.

Specific Focus Review Through a Core Values Lens  2 May 2019
Using the core values as a focus for the School Review. How will we gather evidence for our review ?
We will use the core values as the lens through which we gather data for the review. The values were chosen by staff in 2018 as the five key ways to treat each other at our school. The values link to the CEM (now Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools MACS) Horizons of Hope curriculum with a clear focus on honouring the sacred dignity of the human person. If we concentrate on the human element, we will build a sense of belonging and increase student wellbeing data whilst contributing to a natural lift in academic standards.

Archaeological Dig Unearths Invaluable Treasures. 7 Sep 2019

Recommendations from the review led to our staff and leaders developing a new leadership model at St Patrick's school that encourages everyone to take ownership and contribute collectively. It is a team based approach to growing leadership capacity and capability across our staff and was implemented at the start of 2020. 
The team based approach is a shift from silos of learning led by independent leaders to collaborative learning teams. Every staff member is part of an equitable team and together take responsibility within three areas developed and agreed on by staff: Faith and Community; Faith, Wellbeing and Diversity; Faith and Curriculum.
Just as all schools include Child Safety on every meeting agenda, we agreed to include the word "faith" in all of our teams. We want to ensure that the Catholicity of our school is kept at the forefront of all that we do. We are ALL responsible for the Catholic faith at St Patrick's. 
The first sentence of our shared school vision states: St Patrick's is a school where our Catholic identity underpins all we do. Our new School Improvement Plan reflects this innovative approach. Once a week after school, two POL leaders from within each team work alongside staff to achieve the annual actions developed by teams from the School Improvement Plan.

Twelve months on from the review and during the first week back onsite for our staff and children following on from the 100 day COVID lockdown, the leadership team met with Maree Homes (Regional Leadership Consultant), Brittany Ford (Religious Education Consultant) and Donna Anderson (Learning Consultant School Effectiveness). We had a forty five minute conversation in which all leaders contributed. Here is 3 minute excerpt of the feedback given to us by the MACS ( Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools) leaders from the Southern Regional Office.

All of the COVID posts during 2020 focused on our core values. "Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, holding tight to our core values with faith filled hearts enables our community to thrive".

Our core values are now aligned to the House Awards (daily) and Assembly Awards (weekly) and we continue to embed them in all that we do. 
Our values are a way of living and working together and our agreed mental models remind us of what is important to us in our work as we realise the vision for our community.

Our Mental Models
  • Source evidence based research.

  • Work in practice fields and trial innovations and interventions.

  • Action authentic cycles of deep inquiry. 

  • The knowledge is in us all.

  • Slower is faster and less is more.

  • Move forward and deeply through powerful questions. 

  • Listen, listen and listen.

  • Be outward facing through active participation in the following networks and collectives: RE Network, RE Collective, STEM Network, SWIF (School wide Improvement)

Strengthened and enriched as a committed staff team, we will continue to propel our school forward with renewed energy, quality, passion and purpose to ensure "learners leave St Patrick's self motivated ready to make a positive impact on their world".

Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely daydreaming, but vision with action can change the world (Mandela & Barker, 2013)


Sunday, 11 October 2020

COVID -19 (Part 5) Surfing the Second Wave during the Longest Lockdown in the World

Coronavirus Update

As the rest of Australia began to recover from the impact of the pandemic, community transmission in Victoria increased dramatically and on August 2 we moved to Stage 4 lockdown. On August 5 we reached our peak of over 700 new cases. Fortunately, after months of extreme lockdown which included an 8pm curfew, compulsory face mask wearing and an inability to travel further than 5 kilometers from home, on October 3 there were only 8 new cases.  Melbournians wait in anticipation for October 19 when the debilitating Stage 4 restrictions should be eased to enable people to return to work and inject much needed hope and life into the economy. Importantly, the delicate emotional wellbeing of those with elevated levels of stress and anxiety caused by physical distancing, isolation and job loss during lockdown will receive a much needed boost. Sadly, there have also been 805 deaths in Victoria, with many families losing loved ones, especially the elderly. We continue to keep all families in our thoughts and prayers.

Australians are recognised for their resilience and optimism and adhere with determination to the core value of supporting each other to get through the most challenging of times. Just as a surfer repeatedly gets back onto their board, we refuse to be wiped out by the second wave.

Flexible Learning and the Second Wave
In the previous two posts, I shared the proposed changes we made to remote learning based on feedback from all stakeholders and the Flexible Learning guidelines and expectations going forward. That was early in July, when we we were reeling from the shock of 288 coronavirus cases. Little did we know at the time that due to the dramatic increase of coronavirus cases, our renewed Flexible Learning practices would continue for the full 10 weeks of Term 3 and the first week of Term 4. We eagerly await the return to onsite learning for all primary school children on October 12.
I described my experiences with remote learning during the first lockdown as running on the Covid Treadmill. This is definitely not the case as we come to the end of the current lockdown. 
We finished Term 3 with passion, energy and profound belief in the quality of the Flexible Learning programme offered across the school. Our Term 3 second wave experience more closely aligns with surfing ; catching a pipeline, skilfully guiding the nose of the surfboard through the barrel of the gigantic wave whilst balancing with ease and confidence as the wave carries you safely to land on the shore.

Amidst the many challenges of the Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, we are extremely satisfied that the combined efforts of students, staff and parents enabled all learners to achieve to the best of their ability. Student interaction weekly reports from staff developed during the course of the term to include a record of parent communications and online social opportunities for different year levels. We received numerous emails of thanks from the parents and are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive feedback shared with us all. Feedback included:

" ...We appreciate the teachers have gone above and beyond to support us and the kids.." Prep and Yr 2 parent
"..A big thank you to the wonderful staff at St Patrick's...they keep the kids busy whilst providing regular positive feedback..." Y
ear 3 parent
" so energised and happy to log on each morning..the home schooling has been a great experience because of how well prepared and energising you were each day." Yr 6 parent
"..Thank you for your commitment, support and care..I am certainly seeing growth, resilience and maturity...thank you for the key role you are playing..." Yr 6 parent
"..we are loving your work in the school assemblies absolutely fantastic to watch. Shows so much passion for what you do thank you.." Yr 1 parent
'' .. thank you for all your great flourishing under your direction and support..." Yr 5 parents
".. we really appreciate the time you take to review each piece of work, the feedback and messages you write back... feel connected, stay accountable and be motivated..." Yr 4 parent
"..can I once again thank you and your team for the selfless and supportive way in which you have helped us. .. we appreciate everything you are doing to support our children..."

Our student SRC leaders represent their classes and they met with me via Zoom on a weekly basis during term 3. We created some wellbeing videos to share with the community. The focus on wellbeing with tips to encourage us to express our gratitude and remain positive were ideas that came directly from the students. The video below is a reflection of the highlights of Flexible Learning for the students from Year 1 - 6.
You can access further videos by the Semester 2 SRC leaders at these links -


Virtual Assemblies continued to evolve and feedback from families in relation to the "transformations" seemed to give everyone a much needed lift. At this point in time we have uploaded and shared 15 virtual assembly videos. Below is one of the videos that included a senior leadership sing along and bloopers too! 

Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, holding tight to our core values with faith filled hearts is enabling our community to thrive.

As we continue to ride the second wave with passion and purpose, the  emphasis on faith and wellbeing is regenerating the hearts and minds of the community.

Family engagement is strengthening, staff capacity is surging and student agency is flourishing; further deepening the culture of inquiry, "the archaeological dig" that was part of our school wide review in 2019. 

Underpinning all of this is the realisation that we are actioning our long term goals as articulated in the School Improvement Plan 2020-2023. We are living out our vision to ensure learners leave our school self - motivated to make a positive impact on their world.

Seven months of lockdown hasn't deterred us..... imagine what we will all achieve together post lockdown. 

  • To our SRC students and young leaders for their contribution to the SRC and virtual assembly videos
  • To our hard working staff who responded to the challenge to "raise the bar" and make Flexible Learning truly count for every learner
  • To our students and parents who continue to work together, give and receive feedback and keep learning despite the unique challenges that we are all experiencing in these "unprecedented" times.