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Learning News Week 3 Term 3

Making a checklist and adhering to it enforces discipline, and reduces human fallibility. It is a good mechanism where you can see what’s done, what needs to be done and where you stand. Here at Ambrose Treacy College, our checklists are our student planners, our Academic Strategies and our ever vigilant teachers expecting high individual standards from each student.

Several weeks have passed since the end of the financial year and it is the time when companies large and small report to their shareholders on their year’s performance. 2015/2016 financial year has been a very choppy ride with two significant downturns and some patchy recovery.

Our Checklists apply to our academic work, our sporting behaviour and performance, and our pastoral influence to nurture the ATC gentleman. Two complimentary examples may help support these ideas. I think it is a worthy task to reflect on the methods of those companies that seem to have weathered the variations more successfully than others and at the same time look at strategies they have used and how these can help us in our learning.

The company I wish to use as an example is the superannuation fund, Catholic Super, based in Melbourne and servicing the needs of teachers, staff in Catholic hospitals and other related groups such as Centre Care. Their annual return was 5.7% for their main fund, ranking them 3rd out of 50 similar funds and compared to the median fund return of 2.8%

This performance is extremely good in these conditions and hence the comments of the main investment analyst are worth noting. He said that a few key decisions added to the results
1. Staying with one investment group after its fall in performance;
2. Appointing another investment group even though they were a start-up, but their team individuals had been studied closely for a few years.
3. Appointing a small Australian based group that specialised in one area
4. Staying with another fund after initial poor performance
These 4 simple decisions have added close to 2% to the performance of their MySuper option over the last year alone. He summarised his team’s approach as:
“They have avoided making decisions based purely on recent performance and they have been prepared to back boutique managers/strategies.”

I see a strong parallel with the team that make up the important group called Ambrose Treacy College, namely the teachers, the students and the supporting parent groups. The approach of this new College could be described as similar to that described by the analyst mentioned above,
1) Avoid making decisions based purely on recent performance. ATC is only 18 months old as a high school but already it is making careful decisions that are not based on other schools. For example the ATC model of “Three schools in one College” is new and begins with our Year 9’s making decisions that are often left to year 10. Our Year 10 (2017) is to be a deliberate intent around the Senior phase of learning, rather than have a drifting academic year waiting for further directions to be established. The Year 10 Pathways booklet coupled with the Set Planning meetings in a few weeks are a step in a new direction. See the link below to access the Pathways booklet.
2) Prepared to back boutique strategies. ATC has set up a STEM faculty (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and incorporated Digital Technology and Design Technology for Year 7, 8 and 9. Our Year 6 cohort are engaging in laboratory based science that expect strong student outcomes in knowledge and skills. As well, ATC has backed a full team of music professionals to encourage and guide more of our boys to participate in concert performance.

The complimentary facet of our school is highlighted by a recent popular book by a medically trained author name Atul Gawande. The book is called “The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right.” The medical field seems like a field where there is no scope for standardization as every patient needs to be treated differently. However, Gawande says checklists can get things right in the medical field. Following procedures of correct labelling of patients, charts, specimens are essential for repeated successful procedures. There are about 150,000 deaths following surgery in US every year, more than 3 times the road casualties. The author makes the argument that this number would be significantly reduced if there was more adherence to a Checklist approach,

So in the words of the author: “We don’t like checklists. They can be painstaking. They are not much fun. It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment. It runs counter to deeply help beliefs about how the truly great amongst us – those we aspire to be – handle situations of high stakes and complexity. The truly great are daring. They improvise. They do not have protocols and checklists. Maybe our ideas of heroism needs updating. The fear people have about the idea of adherence to protocol is rigidity. They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out of their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them. But what you find when a checklist is well made, is exactly the opposite. The checklist gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with.”

With these wise words in mind, I would encourage all students to make an academic checklist to help break down assignment tasks, assist with time management, to keep focussed on your goals and to have a written, clear pathway to accomplishing all tasks required.

Year 8 and 9 parents would have received emails this week regarding two important documents that require perusal and discussion with your sons:
Year 9 2017 Subject Selection Booklet and Year 10 2017 Pathways and Subject Selection Handbook.
I have included links below to download both documents.

Greg Quinn, Assistant Dean of Learning