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30-34 Toomuc Valley Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810
92 Kangan Dr, Berwick VIC 3806
The Prime Minister’s National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse on Monday 22 October was described as a ‘watershed moment’ in Australia’s history.
As Head of Beaconhills College and a member of the Board of the Victorian Institute of Teachers (VIT), I wholeheartedly agree. I was among the many people who listened intently to the apology and witnessed the enormous pain and suffering of those to whom this apology meant so much.
As we have previously reported, all schools are now required to demonstrate that they are Child Safe schools. We fully support these government initiatives and work towards ensuring all children are safe from abuse in our schools.
The VIT is the responsible regulator for our teachers. It has always had an important role in the wellbeing and safety of children, and these responsibilities are now formally spelt out in legislation. Chief executive officer Peter Corcoran has made it clear that in coming months the Institute will explore what more it can do to improve and enhance its work in this area.
Along with other Victorian schools, Beaconhills College has implemented new Child Safe standards which embed a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse. In addition, our Wellbeing team has developed a proactive program for our students and staff, to ensure we maintain the best practice possible.
Today I was proud to be part of the official opening of our new Year 9 centre at the Beaconhills College Pakenham Campus.
As the State Member for Eastern Victoria, Daniel Mulino, emphasised in his speech today, this magnificent facility represents a partnership between the government and our community. Schools like Beaconhills are critical to providing education services in what is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia.
We had some 80 guests join us today, including students, parents, former and current staff, Melbourne Anglican Archbishop The Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier and Reverend Ann Simons from the Officer Pakenham Mission Area, State Member for Gembrook Brad Battin, Board Members and House patrons.
Today was not just about celebrating the facilities, but also the innovative Year 9 program and those who helped bring it to life when our original centre opened in 1997. This first dedicated, on-campus Year 9 program in Victoria was just three months old when I joined the College as Headmaster that same year.
My predecessor Rick Tudor, who was present today, had extensively researched the concept of the Year 9 campus. His vision was of a campus where:
Twenty-two years on we have affirmed that early vision. We have a beautiful new $5.7 million centre, built on the same village concept as the original centre, with a central courtyard.
For our students, Year 9 at the Berwick or Pakenham Campus is on their list of their most memorable schooling experiences, a life-changing year where lifelong friendships are forged.
I welcome the Federal Government decision on non-government school funding announced yesterday, which now gives us a degree of certainty on our College funding for 2019 and beyond.
In my August blog, I had expressed concern about the proposed funding model and its effect on independent schools. However, the decision now enables us to maintain our modest fee levels while continuing to deliver the broad, high quality programs our community has come to expect.
Under the new model, to be phased in over coming years, parental income tax records will be used to assess the socio-economic status of private schools to determine their level of Federal Government funding.
Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) has expressed cautious optimism that the model will create the long-term potential for a workable funding system. ISV is pleased the government has not made any “special deals” that unfairly favour one non-government school sector over another.
So how will it affect our fees at Beaconhills?
Our policy has always been to keep fees as affordable as possible. We are now confident that we can – as in previous years – set a modest fee increase when the College Board ratifies the 2019 fee schedule next month.
Beaconhills represents true value. We are an open-entry, community school, offering an exceptional range of programs, outstanding co-curricular opportunities and an all-inclusive fee structure for curriculum-based activities. Teaching staff salaries remain competitive and our program of improving infrastructure continues to flourish, with a strong emphasis on environmental sustainability. We are now one of Australia’s largest solar-powered schools.
I am delighted that local families choose to educate their children at Beaconhills. We will officially confirm our 2019 College fees in October.
Recently I was delighted to be able to help out with our wonderful artist-in-residence program by providing the subject matter – my 1982 Morgan Plus 8 English roadster.
My Morgan, of course, is not my everyday vehicle. It has been my hobby and personal passion – working with a friend – to restore it over a period of 18 months. It needed a roll cage (as it has a timber frame), some headrests and other parts to meet Austin conditions. It is literally only driven to church on Sundays!
When I was asked if my car could be used as a photography subject for Media students working with our artist-in-residence, Rob McGregor, of course I was happy to oblige. Our artist-in-residence program not only enables students to gain industry experience from working with experts in their fields, but allows artists to work for period of time at the College and leave their artworks as a lasting legacy. It’s a fantastic way to foster creativity, exchange ideas and inspire students in their art studies.
Students from all year levels have benefited. While senior students learned photography and lighting techniques from Rob as they photographed the Morgan, our Preps also enjoyed sketching the car and sharing their artwork with me. I am very much looking forward to seeing some of the final work of our students.
The Morgan (photo here by Rob McGregor)
I am saddened to hear of the passing of one of our House patrons, Nigel Creese, AM.
Nigel played a very significant role in the foundation of our College. He not only served as an interim Principal at Beaconhills in 1989 (after retiring as Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar), but first suggested the Latin version ‘Lux Luceat’ of our original school motto, arranged for the creation of a College flag and wrote our school prayer – still used today.
After his term as interim Principal, he served for a further seven years as Deputy-Chairman of the College Board, bringing his vast experience in education to the Board.
Nigel’s support and commitment for Beaconhills and independent education in general was outstanding. He has also been a mentor to me since I took up the position of Headmaster 21 years ago.
Of course earlier this year we also lost another House patron, Rev. John Leaver. Our Founders’ Day service held this week at the Pakenham Campus paid tribute to Rev. Leaver who, like Nigel Creese, was a significant and active supporter of our College.
Nigel Creese was the fourth of eight House patrons who have passed away. Their contributions to our College should never be underestimated.
The funeral service to honour the life of Nigel Creese, AM, will be held at Holy Trinity Anglican Church at 251 High Street, Kew, Thursday 6 September at 11am. Donations to the Mental Health Foundation of Australia in lieu of flowers are appreciated.
The importance of good governance of a school cannot be overstated.
Not everyone may realise that the ultimate success or failure of Beaconhills College rests with our Board of Directors. Board members volunteer their time and expertise to ensure the financial health of the College, to steer us through the waters of risk and compliance and determine the policies that define the shape and purpose of the school. They ensure Christian values on which the College was founded are maintained. They don’t take any of these responsibilities lightly.
Last week we paid tribute to Board member Roger Lord, who has just concluded 19 years of dedicated service. Roger was awarded life membership of the College in recognition of his service.
Roger is a quiet achiever. This year marks the end of an amazing track record of involvement with our school, including the education of his own three children at Beaconhills. His financial acumen has been invaluable, helping guide us through the challenges of the Global Financial Crisis and the growth and development of our two campuses. His keen involvement in all aspects of the College was always evident. At so many events, from official openings to exhibitions, displays and performances, Roger would be there, asking questions and taking a genuine interest in students and our educational programs.
A true example of citizenship and service in action. Thank you Roger.
In the last few days significant publicity has been generated around the new proposed Federal Government funding model and its effect on independent schools. After reviewing the limited information available to us we have concerns with the new model and its impact on our community.
There are two key reasons why this is a worry.
Firstly, the proposed funding model could mean a significant cut in Federal Government funding support to independent schools such as ours. That leaves schools with the choice of either reducing the education services they provide – or increasing fees.
Secondly, the government funding proposal uses gross earnings on parents’ tax returns to calculate how much government support each child receives for their education. Parents currently make significant sacrifices – using their after tax income – to educate their child in a school that best meets that child’s individual needs. Not only does this proposal reduce parents’ freedom of choice, but raises questions about government use of their private and confidential personal tax information.
The initial modelling conducted by Independent Schools Victoria shows Beaconhills College would receive less Government funding in the future under this model. Our Board is fully aware of the significant sacrifices made by our families to send their children to Beaconhills and any reduction in Government funding would make it difficult to deliver all the current programs.
Our funding stream at Beaconhills College is relatively simple – 50 per cent of our income is made of largely Federal, and some State, money and the other half is from parent fees. It actually costs governments comparatively more to educate a student in a government school than it does to fund a student in an independent school. In independent schools, parents are making a personal choice to spend more on their child’s education.
For now, we are unsure about how this proposed school funding model will impact Beaconhills College and will keep you informed of any developments. I also urge parents with concerns to contact their Federal Member of Parliament
As part of our commitment to best practice in education, last year we sent out a survey seeking feedback from our community on our BeaconNet portal.
The portal is the repository for all the essential information specific to our College families, students and staff and is accessed via a password. The survey generated many suggestions and plenty of constructive criticism.
I’m pleased to say we have taken on board many of these suggestions. These include making BeaconNet more user friendly with targeted ‘quick links’, a search function and generally improved navigation. Features such as live reporting of student assessments and parent-teacher interview online bookings are now well-established and well-received by our parents.
Education is the partnership between parents, students and the school. Beaconhills continues to work hard to find new ways to strengthen this partnership – for the benefit of our students.
It is wonderful to be back at Beaconhills after a very interesting and challenging period of long service last term.
Firstly, I would like to thanks our College leadership team and, in particular, our Deputy Headmaster Stephen McGinley for ensuring the smooth operation of the school in my absence. Beaconhills is blessed with highly-talented staff and I am very proud of the work of our leadership teams.
As part of my leave, I spent eight days hiking across the High Atlas mountains of Morocco in North Africa. We summited the highest peak in North Africa, Mt Toubkal (4167m). This trek was very challenging due to the high altitude and the climbing required, across rocky terrain and of course sleeping under canvas in – at times – not terribly comfortable conditions,
So why do it? I have a deep love for the great outdoors and in particular climbing in the mountains. But aside from the spectacular scenery, this trek also gave me the opportunity to reflect on some of the important philosophies which underpin our Beacon Explorers global and outdoor education programs. These include spending time technology-free, the physical challenge of getting out of your ‘comfort zone’ and the chance to discover and appreciate a culture very different from our own. We are currently considering making this hiking opportunity a part of our extension program for experienced Beacon Explorers students.
My trek coincided with the Islamic religious festival of Ramadan. Each day, our guides would rise and prepare our breakfast before travelling with us from sunrise to sunset, without any food or water, stopping only to pray. The contrast between the lifestyles of the Australian hikers and these local guides and mule-handlers was stark – yet this was a resilient community supported by their strong faith.
In a similar way, our Beacon Explorers programs give students the opportunity to reflect on how much we have as a country and help strengthen our understanding of the world and how others live.
I hope you are ready for another great term of learning at Beaconhills College.
Learning mindset. It’s a phrase that will be prominent when Beaconhills parents read their child’s reports on Tuesday.
What it a learning mindset? As well as percentage marks for their semester’s work, why are students assessed on whether they are adaptive, responsible, focused, knowledgeable, collaborative and reflective? What does it all mean? What’s wrong with the good old A to F grades?
Put simply, the learning mindset is a framework designed to encourage our students to think of themselves as learners. As the nature of work in the future continues to change our students will need to not just ‘know stuff’ but have the approaches and mindsets that allow them to be continually skilled learners.
Unfortunately, the grade can be for our students the singular defining judgement of themselves as learners, leading them to creating fixed mindsets about what they believe are their capabilities. This can lead to our students not reflecting on what aspects that they can improve on the way they learn instead of what they have achieved.
At Beaconhills, we want our students to:
Thinking is the cornerstone of learning. And learning is the cornerstone of achievement. The more we encourage our students to think about their learning will lead to them develop themselves as learners and consequently improve their learning outcomes.
I hope you all have an enjoyable school holiday and we look forward to our students returning in the new term.
This blog was written by Stephen McGinley, who is Beaconhills College’s Deputy Headmaster. Headmaster Tony Sheumack has been on long service leave during term 2.
Importance of Child Safe legislation
New centre a celebration of original Year 9 vision
School funding model announced
Vale Nigel Creese, AM
Roger Lord awarded Life Membership
New school funding model a cause for concern
Parent input benefits BeaconNet
Welcome to term 3
Tony talks Beacon Explorers
Videos for Change winners
A big camp for Little Beacons
Victorian All Schools Track and Field Championships
We are now an eSmart school
Harmony Club means no-one has to play alone
Brain Food: What to Eat When Revising
Vale Snr Antonio
Tribute to our teachers
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Gate C, Syme Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810