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30-34 Toomuc Valley Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810
92 Kangan Dr, Berwick VIC 3806
Choosing a school for your child is one of the most important decisions parents make. We all want the best for our children and, in these tough economic times, this investment in education is very challenging. Families want to ensure they are spending wisely.
The crucial role of a good education in setting the foundations for lifelong learning can’t be overstated. Over the years I have conducted hundreds of parent tours of our school and answered many and varied questions. If you are choosing a school, I would like to share a list of what I believe are the seven key questions you could ask of the headmaster, or school representative:
Next Thursday 10 September and Monday 14 September, we launch our Discover Beaconhills webinar series where you can ask these questions and more. Each webinar is free and you can register here www.beaconhills.vic.edu/enrolment/
Along with our campus principals from Pakenham and Berwick, I look forward to meeting you.
The importance of regular school attendance is an issue we have highlighted recently with our College community.
At this complex time we need to find a balance between managing the challenges of family life and keeping daily structures as normal as possible. The routines of the school day, even in the online world, can help keep a familiar rhythm to life. Things like going to bed at a reasonable time, getting up in the morning, being ready for the day, healthy eating and regular exercise patterns help support wellbeing and mental health
School refusal is an issue to be understood and closely monitored at this time of online learning. It may happen gradually or suddenly. School refusal is when a child begins to actively avoid class attendance. It may begin by students telling you classes are not on, or cameras don´t need to be switched on, or even that they are not required to submit work or participate. You may notice a decrease in engagement with friends or changes to sleeping patterns. The most powerful prevention of school refusal is to support and encourage your child to get a good night’s sleep.
Although it’s normal for a child to occasionally miss a day of school, parents should only be concerned if a child regularly complains about feeling sick or often asks to stay home/ avoid classes due to minor physical complaints.
School refusal is a complex issue as there is rarely a single cause. It affects children of all ages across primary and secondary levels. It can often occur during times of transition at school. More recently, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the educational experience of all students, affecting some more than others. Dealing with a school refusal child can affect the whole family, adding pressure to an already challenging time. As discussed by Dr Michael Carr-Greg on the SchoolTV site, school refusal is not considered a formal psychiatric diagnosis. It´s a name given to an emotional and/or behavioural problem that with assistance can be resolved.
You can click on this link to the school refusal edition of Beaconhills SchoolTV to find a range of information on the topic. And if you have any concerns about your child, please contact the school counsellor for further information or seek medical or professional help.
By Yvonne Ashmore
Head of Wellbeing, Beaconhills College
At the heart of racism is ignorance.
I believe strongly that education is the key to creating a better world for all who share this planet. In the light of recent worldwide protests, it’s important to remember the responsibility we – as educators – hold in combatting racism.
The Black Lives Matter movement highlights the injustices and discrimination that have occurred and are still a major issue in many countries including Australia. When I grew up, a very limited view of Australian history was taught and the first Australians’ story was silent.
In recent times, racial vilification of Asian Australians has been heightened with the COVID-19 pandemic being blamed on the Chinese community.
At a 2018 UNESCO conference titled ‘Education is key to deconstruct racial narratives’, participants agreed that from an early age, children should be taught to look at others as equals. And that promoting intercultural exchanges was “crucial for the education system to build more harmonious societies”.
When Martin Luther King Jr. declared he had a dream, it was that his children would not be judged by the colour of their skin, but “by the content of their character”.
Where do we begin to deconstruct racial narratives? At Beaconhills College, it begins in our Little Beacons Learning Centre and is embedded throughout our curriculum across all year levels.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan aims to build relationships with Indigenous people and communities, to embrace diversity and improve understanding. Just recently, the College recognised National Reconciliation Week, through programs and activities across both campuses.
Our international service and language programs give our students exciting opportunities for cultural learning, a life-changing experience for many. The chance to host international students from across the world means Beaconhills families have the chance to appreciate and understand ways of life other than their own.
When it comes to racism, the power of education to create positive change can’t be underestimated.
Year 7s designed clothing with anti-discrimination messages in their French class this week
I’m sure many parents will be relieved we now have some certainty around when students can return to school, following the Victorian Premier’s announcement this morning.
We are delighted to be able to welcome back Prep, Years 1-2 and our Years 10–12 students on Tuesday 26 May.
Due to the large numbers of Year 10 students who are studying a VCE subject, we have also decided that all of our Year 10s will be able to return on this same date. Remaining year levels – Years 3-9 – will come back on Tuesday 9 June. Children in Years 3-9 who are eligible to attend our on-campus blended program may continue to do so until all students return on 9 June.
Today’s announcement was fantastic news and a credit to all Victorians who have followed our State of Emergency and avoided the tragic outcomes seen in other parts of the world. My thanks is extended to governments and the front line health workers who have led us through to this stage. We all know this is not over and we need to move cautiously forward.
We certainly have missed the vibrant energy of the student population and it will be great to see many more happy young faces back at the College.
We all acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world. While we are fortunate to live in a country that enjoys an outstanding health system, there is no denying that the impact on our community has been significant.
Many people have lost their employment and our society is widely impacted by the government restrictions. It is very strange to have a College without students and staff. To implement social distancing as a key priority is very different to the usual priorities of normal school life.
I can see a positive future with the recent optimistic messages coming from our Prime Minister, Premier and Chief Medical Officers.
Beaconhills College is a community school and our Christian values of integrity, compassion and respect have featured strongly during this time. Our goal is to support all those in need and build on the strong community values that have underpinned our local and international service programs for many years.
Now our community is suffering and this is where we are centring our efforts.
We know it is a very unusual time and all schools are asking families to supervise their children in home learning programs. I wish to acknowledge those families who have sent in their messages of support and congratulations to staff for the quality of our programs. We are all in this together and our staff appreciate the efforts of families who need to be highly engaged in their children’s learning. We have a commitment to delivering learning programs of the highest quality and keeping strong connections with students and parents.
I am pleased to see many Catholic and independent schools, including Beaconhills, have special arrangements for families who have been affected by this pandemic. Like our College, most are focusing on supporting those families in need and ensuring students can continue to learn. Our Board is acutely aware of the need to ensure families are well supported and is currently analysing all aspects of our budget to reduce the financial impact on families.
Little Beacons Learning Centre
During the crisis, Beaconhills has continued to provide the Little Beacons programs at both campuses, for early learning and before and after school care for those who need this service.
Blended Learning programs
We have a large number of families requiring the school-based program, many who work in essential services. We have a range of staff supporting this part of our program while our classroom teachers focus on the online learning. It is a very difficult time for everyone and I am so impressed with the way all our staff have adapted and they are all wanting the best for their students.
The brains behind the Online Learning Program
Our Deputy Head, Stephen McGinley, has led the transformation to online learning. What would usually take months of planning, trials and communication with staff, students and families has been completed in a matter of days. Although many aspects of our online program need to evolve we have received very positive feedback from families
Beaconhills Food Services: another Beacon of Hope program
Beaconhills Food Services teams are using our canteens to prepare food parcels for those in need in the local community. We have co-ordinated this with the Salvation Army and have called on funds from our sponsors to enable this initiative to happen.
Beaconhills’ new Community Garden, now under development, will also help provide significantly more produce for our own use and to distribute to local charities.
All our Beacon of Hope programs have a strong message that underpins our service programs: ‘From those who can to those who are in need’.
I think we know that school is going to look very different for us all in term 2. COVID-19 has certainly thrown us all a major challenge.
I am inordinately proud of our College staff who have worked so hard to prepare our online learning program. Today the program begins in earnest, after it was introduced three days before the end of term. We have had some very positive feedback from families so far. It’s early days, but I feel confident we can continue to deliver the high calibre of education our community has come to expect.
How does an online learning program look for, say, the average Middle School student? We have tried to keep as much structure in the school day as possible. Led by our teaching staff, Middle School students will continue to use apps such as Showbie for their learning resources, our App4 to set and track tasks and Zoom for instructions and video conferencing.
Beaconhills is delivering on-campus learning for children of front line workers, along with places for students in Prep-Year 12 to support families who cannot provide home-based learning. Our two Little Beacons centres are open and continue to deliver early learning programs.
I believe we are firmly on the front foot with our online learning programs. Let’s keep up the great work – and get the most out of term 2.
Suggested Middle School student routine:
• wake: do some exercise
• breakfast and change for school
• 8.45am: tutor check-in on Zoom
• 9am: classes start as per my timetable with video meet check-ins with my teachers. Start working through my tasks on App4 using Learning Resources
• 11am: stop for a break, have some food, do some stretches
• 11.30am: classes start up again with more video check-ins with my teachers
• 1:30pm: stop for lunch, catch up with some friends online (no television, need some off-screen time)
• 2.20pm: final class with a video meet check-in with my teacher
• 3.30-4.30pm: have a break, get some exercise, music practice
• 4.30pm: start your home learning
• 6.30pm: dinner.
I would like to begin by thanking all those who have sent messages of support following the recent launch of our Online Learning Program – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was new ground for us all, but the spirit of collaboration has been truly heart-warming.
This afternoon, we emailed our families to announce the plans for term 2 programs, so that they might consider the most suitable option.
At this stage, we will continue with the Online Learning Program introduced at the end of term 1 for all Prep – Year 12 students. Staff have done a significant amount of work behind the scenes to deliver this program and we received positive feedback from many families. However, we appreciate there are still many challenges and we all need to work together to ensure the best possible learning outcomes for our students.
Along with places on-campus for children of front-line workers, Beaconhills will also offer limited places for Prep – Year 12 students at both campuses to support families who are unable to provide home-based learning for their children. This may include vulnerable children who need extra support.
Little Beacons programs at both campuses will be ongoing. As the Australian Government recently announced, these services will be delivered at no cost to families at this time.
It is important that children do not attend the College if they are unwell. School-aged children will have their temperature checked at the start of each day and social distancing procedures will in place for all children in the Prep-12 and Little Beacons programs.
On behalf of the College staff and board I wish you a safe and peaceful Easter. We continue to pray for those hit hardest across the world by this pandemic and have faith that a path to a healthier future can be found.
– Headmaster, Tony Sheumack
Beaconhills College is committed to doing its utmost to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic and support our community.
As we finalise our Home Learning Program for next week, we will now offer limited spaces on our campuses for students whose parents are on the frontline in medical, emergency or allied health services and don’t have care arrangements in place.
These parents have a critical role in supporting the COVID-19 emergency response. The Prime Minister has made it clear he wants these health professionals to continue their vital work. We hope this new arrangement gives families further flexibility.
During our three home learning days planned for next week – 25 through to 27 March – we will provide limited learning spaces at both of our campuses for Junior and Middle School students who have parents working in the health care frontline.
I hope this can help alleviate some of the pressures on those parents who are at the coalface of this pandemic.
It’s nearly 40 year ago since Beaconhills College opened its doors. What enormous change the College – and the local community – has witnessed over that time.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a tour of Pakenham Campus with some of the College founders, including foundation Principal Frank Millett and his wife Joy (also a former staff member).
We hosted four of the five original staff members and six foundation parents, all who played a significant role in those early years. It was fascinating to hear of some of the struggles and sacrifices these pioneers endured to start a new Christian school in Pakenham – without the broader community support or government funding.
Frank Millett envisaged that Beaconhills would be a “small school”. He regards our development and expansion as nothing short of remarkable. From a block of land bought with a “$50 deposit and a promise to pay the rest later”, it is indeed an incredible success story.
Frank Millett shaking hands with College Deputy Headmaster, Stephen McGinley.
This is a call out to suitably qualified people in our community who would like to be part of the governance of our school.
Last year Beaconhills College adopted a new Constitution to meet the changing complex operating environment, while retaining our heritage and Christian ethos. This was an important milestone in our College’s 39 year history. The change gives parents and members of our wider community the opportunity to be involved in the strategic future direction of our school.
The importance of good governance cannot be overstated. We seek forward-thinking people with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds who wish to serve on a variety of committees where positions may arise from time to time. These include finance and audit, nominations, risk and compliance, property and community engagement.
If you value the importance of good governance and the long-term sustainability of Beaconhills College, we welcome your expression of interest. Apply to David.Young@beaconhills.vic.edu.au.
7 key questions to ask when choosing a school
The importance of regular school attendance
Combatting racism starts with education
Get ready for a return to school
Supporting our community through crisis
Term 2, with a difference
Online Learning to continue into term 2
Support for health care workers
From humble beginnings
Welcome to 2020
Alumni wins Australian Academy of Science award
Little Beacons Berwick completes Achievement Program
R U OK? Day
Zoe takes on the beanie challenge
Early Childhood Educators’ Day
ACS Chess Tournament 2020
Great Boarding House Bake Off
Seizure alert dog success for teacher’s family
100 days of school
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
A sobering story for Year 9s
Beaconhills runs around Australia
1300 002 225 | Int: +613 5945 3001
Gate C, Syme Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810