To all our mothers I sincerely hope that this Sunday proves to be a special day for you. Mother’s Day is a time for us to recognise and celebrate the contribution of all mothers to our lives. Many aspects of today’s society are commercialized and Mother’s Day is sadly no different. Despite this obvious slant it is wonderful that we can celebrate a day that epitomizes the concept of love. To all of our mothers I hope that Sunday is a great family day and it is a day for us to say a big thank you for your unconditional love, your support and your understanding through thick and thin. I share this famous Jewish proverb that I believe sums up many of our thoughts and explains the endless capabilities of our mothers – God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.
Federal School Funding
Over the last week, the media air waves have been filled with debate and discussion over the Federal Government’s proposed changes to school funding. As with a lot of concern society engages in, much of the concern raised is based around speculation rather than fact. The upcoming week and the imminent budget will no doubt add clarity to the situation. Like many of you I would be concerned if funding to schools like ATC is cut. My suspicion is that schools like ATC will not have funding cut per se, but rather our current level of funding may be ‘frozen’ as a mechanism to bring about a relative reduction in our level of funding over time. Once again the next week or so will reveal this. I am a great believer in not panicking, especially when there is a void of definitive data available. Politics will always cloud discussion and this last week has seen the ’ugly’ face of politics rear its head to ensure the public is left well and truly confused.
Two quick points are necessary I believe. Firstly I would like to contradict the notion that schools are currently overfunded and the implication is that perhaps schools have done something underhanded to be overfunded. Schools do not determine funding levels, Governments of all political colours determine funding levels. All schools are currently being funded at levels previously determined by a Government decision. There is now a new decision around funding levels that operates on a different needs based model and the big question is how you transition from one model to the next model of funding. I would reiterate that schools really have no means to ‘rort’ the system. Secondly I would assure all parents that we are aware of the position of our current tuition fee levels and each year we will always endeavour to ensure that our tuition fees are kept as affordable as possible for parents. Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming funding decision for schools this will continue to be an overriding influence on our decisions regarding tuition fees.
This week across Australian schools, and therefore for families of school age children, focus will be on NAPLAN tests. For all schools there is always a need to ensure that all requirements of the conduct of these tests are strictly adhered to. The validity of the tests and hence their usefulness are dependent on their accuracy. For schools the importance of the NAPLAN testing is wide and varied. Sadly we hear of schools where the emphasis on NAPLAN surpasses everything else and all energy at the school is focused on the testing and the outcomes that it will produce. Similarly we have parents who fear that the results of their sons’ and daughters’ NAPLAN tests will shape and influence their child’s future opportunities. For school children in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, this often translates into an expectation and a pressure to perform and from this high levels of anxiety. Stories of children being physically sick because of this anxiety are not uncommon. I have always held the view that most anxiety that children suffer from, is the direct result of adult intervention. In relation to this NAPLAN analogy it is adult anxiety, both from teachers and/ or parents that is transferred onto to children. At Ambrose Treacy College we are not a NAPLAN directed school rather we are a school that values NAPLAN as a useful and valuable means to assist our understanding of our students and the programs we put in place. External data is always a very important means to validate our internal data; i.e. data from testing like NAPLAN is valuable in validating the judgments that our teachers make each and every day in their teaching. NAPLAN is a comprehensive assessment tool that is designed to work in conjunction with the outcomes of the Australian Curriculum and as such provides a valuable snapshot on a student’s performance, on how a cohort of students perform in different tests, how groups of students answer certain questions and longitudinally how students improve in time on these measures. It is sad that the value of NAPLAN is lost when the misuse and/or overuse of NAPLAN dominates media conversations.
This week I am confident that our year 5, 7 and 9 students will be well prepared for NAPLAN. I believe that they are familiar with the type of tests to be delivered and that they understand that the tests are important and we expect that they will all do the best they can on the day. I hope that they all understand that while they are important they are not the most important things that they would be facing this year. Being prepared to do your best, where your best this is defined as giving it the best effort you possibly can, is an important lesson and expectation for all children to learn. From this expectation we will have boys who will get one of three results in their NAPLAN; some will perform at a standard that we have come to expect from them, some will achieve at a level above our expectations of them and some will achieve at a level that is lower that what we might have expected of them. This is what happens in point of time testing; they are just a snapshot of how the boys performed on a particular day. The one hope I have for our teachers and parents, is that all our boys are congratulated for the effort that they put into the test rather than the result they achieved.
I would ask our community to please keep Glynis Galletly (Administration Staff) and Connor (9 Treacy) and Riley (4 Bodkin) Eaton, and their families, in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of Glynis’ father Harry and Connor and Riley’s Grandmother. I hope that the passage of time will ease the pain of their passing. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and May perpetual light shine upon them, May they rest in peace. Amen.
With best wishes,