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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.
In his latest vlog, Headmaster Tony Sheumack talks all things Beacon Explorers with Head of Outdoor Education at Beaconhills College, Sam Maddock.
The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools – the so-called Gonski 2.0 – has some important key recommendations around reforming student learning to best prepare students for the future.
If this sounds familiar to Beaconhills College, it’s probably because this is the essence of our Learning That Matters philosophy underpinning our curriculum. Beaconhills has always stood for innovation – and Learning That Matters delivers the learning that will be most relevant and useful for students in their future careers.
The new report states that Australia still operates an industrial model of school education, not designed to “differentiate learning or stretch all students to ensure they achieve maximum learning growth each year”.
The report contains a total of 23 recommendations on how the education sector can undergo a reform agenda. Our staff will be spending time reviewing these recommendations to ensure we are continuing to provide programs that meet the needs of our students. If you would like to read the report, you will find a link to it here .
As Deputy Headmaster, I am looking forward to working with our community this term while Tony Sheumack has a well-deserved break on long-service leave.
In his latest vlog, College Headmaster Tony Sheumack talks about his passion for gardening, and how the vegetable gardens at Beaconhills contribute to our sustainability.
Easter services, presentation balls, a wildlife linen drive, ‘coin trail’ fundraising, athletics, and swimming. What more could we fit into the last week of term? And I’m sure there was more!
It’s important that the Easter message is not lost amidst the end-of-term rush and preparations for the holiday break. I believe our chaplaincy team did a wonderful job at the Easter services held across both campuses, in what is a most important part of the Christian calendar.
No matter how dark or difficult life can be, it’s worth reflecting on messages of hope God has given us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I hope Easter is a time of renewal for you and your loved ones. We look forward to seeing you back at Beaconhills for term 2.
As today is International Women’s Day, I thought it was the ideal time to hand my blog over to our two Campus Principals, Jenny Williams and Sarah Rudiger. They share their reflections on how Beaconhills encourages our College community to “think, act and be gender inclusive”.
Jenny Williams, Berwick Campus Principal:
As educators, we endeavour to create gender-inclusive environments so our students can find their strengths, interests and confidence. I believe we are breaking down the barriers to the belief that “girls can”. For example, these messages are reinforced through our assembly programs from Junior through to Senior School, or by our co-captains (male and female). Our SEISA competition allows for gender equity in sport – girls play in a girls’ AFL competition and girls and boys compete together in cricket and other sports.
It is also important to have male or female teachers as role models. We now see both girls and boys participating in Product Design and Technology, Systems Engineering and Food Studies.
I also think the recent changes to uniform have been excellent. In the past, some of the younger girls were restricted in their activities on the play equipment. Now we see equal numbers of boys and girls using the playgrounds.
Sarah Rudiger, Pakenham Campus Principal:
From my perspective, everyone should have an opportunity to excel in anything they wish to pursue. Our classrooms are ideal environments to raise awareness and discuss gender stereotypes and encourage students to think critically about their understanding and views, and to develop their own informed conclusions.
As a society we have come a long way in recent decades, although there is still some gender stereotyping in our world. As a school, what we do well is to assist students to develop skills and characteristics which enable them to develop the confidence to realise their dreams and achieve success. One of our key messages to senior students is to study the subjects they enjoy and to have the confidence to pursue non-traditional fields if that is where their passion lies. Gender shouldn’t determine what we can and can’t do.
(L) Pakenham Principal Sarah Rudiger, (R) Berwick Principal Jenny Williams
I read with interest an article in The Age (7 February, 2018) where Fitzroy Community School principal Tim Berryman urged parents to be brave and give their children more freedom.
His comments were backed by Queensland University of Technology education lecturer Dr Rebecca English, who warned that unless we let children have some level of danger or fear, we are “not allowing the human brain to develop to the full potential”.
I too worry that the risk-averse society we’ve created is doing our children a huge disservice. That in our desire to protect our children from danger, we are denying them the very skills they need to protect themselves.
As Beaconhills College’s Beacon Explorers programs begin in earnest, I reflect on the wonderful new experiences and skills they give our students. Whether it’s their first night camping in the high country of Victoria, or crossing a busy road in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, there is always a level of risk involved. Stepping out onto a football field, or competing in equestrian competitions carries a level of risk. But it’s important to remember how much is gained – leadership skills, resilience, teamwork – and hopefully the ability to competently assess risk and make the sensible decisions.
I am delighted to announce that plans are well underway to open a Little Beacons Learning Centre at the Berwick Campus in 2019.
While this will be welcome news for parents seeking early learning programs, childcare and vacation care, this centre will also serve as a community hub in the City of Casey. It will offer the total package of children’s services, including maternal and child health, speech and occupational therapy, family support, playgroups and early intervention programs.
We are fortunate to have secured a $1.6m State Government grant to help fund this $6m project. Little Beacons will be located on the south-western corner of the Berwick Campus off Kangan Drive.
At this stage we are awaiting approval of the planning permit, before proceeding to the tender process and construction. We will announce more details as the year progresses.
This centre will complement our award-winning Little Beacons program already operating successfully from our Pakenham Campus.
We’ve had a flying start to 2018 at Beaconhills – three VCE Season of Excellence awards, a City of Casey Australia Day award (Community Group of the Year) and strong enrolments across both campuses.
The spirit of community – reflecting our commitment to citizenship and service – has been prominent in recent months. As we start the school year, I’m pleased to report we have had 700 volunteers complete the necessary Childsafe requirements to enable them to be actively involved in College life, from the canteens to the classrooms.
Staff have volunteered their time and donated their money, whether volunteering on the Vinnies food van or supporting some of our charitable initiatives at Christmas services and on staff day held on Monday 29 January.
Our staff day offertory raised $1700 which will go to the CFA, in memory of former Pakenham Campus student Sophie Cann who passed away in September 2017. Sophie was a member of the Menzies Creek CFA.
Today was Orientation Day for our Prep, Years 5, 7 and 12 students and there were many excited faces coming through our College gates this morning. I hope it was the first of many wonderful days at school in 2018.
Welcome to term 3
Tony talks Beacon Explorers
Tony talks learning about sustainability at Beaconhills College
International Women’s Day
The benefits of risk
Little Beacons at the Berwick Campus
Happy new year – and congratulations…
Come to Open Morning
Dragonfly has landed
Vacation care fun
Student doco makes festival finals
Up for debate
Drone shot captures campus
Jacob has the winning edge
Little Beacons Berwick Sod Turning
Year 8 study tour to New Caledonia
Bring it on, Samuel!
School project launches Peregrine Beats
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