2020 is a year like no other. The challenges of COVID-19 continue but I am confident that we have the experience, support, skills, optimism and team work to help each other get through these difficult times.  We continue to see excellence in all aspects of our College community and that is why we have dedicated this newsletter to ‘Excellence in Remote and Flexible Learning’.

Despite the build continuing, the school grounds are very quiet without the presence of students and staff during the week and I look forward to hearing the excited voices of students and teachers teaching in their classes.  I remain inspired by the degree of team spirit throughout our College Community with both students and staff working together to ensure ongoing teaching and learning, and in turn, I have been impressed by our students rising to the challenge of remote learning. 

There has clearly been public debate regarding the current situation and a fair degree of discussion of the impact on student education in 2020. Whilst agreeing that this current scenario is not one that we would readily choose or not without negative elements, I would question the notion I’ve seen in the media about this being a lost year of learning for our students.

Whilst clearly not our preferred option, we are able to continue to teach content, concepts and skills to our students. Again, the pace of this learning may definitely be just a little slower and the modes of learning not always suitable for all, but our young people are still learning and still capable of learning and we feel we are as well placed as we can be to meet the needs of our staff and our students.

2020 has provided the opportunity for students to develop the skills of self-discipline, self-regulation and resilience factors that will leave our students with a broader skill-set than at the start of the year.

We are also focussing very heavily on how we keep working with all of our students, and in particular our VCE students, to make the year the best it can be.  Students are being briefed with the most up-to-date information through level assemblies and extensive pathway advice and counselling is well underway.

While our physical presence onsite has been restricted, our endeavour remains strong and our number one priority remains the wellbeing of students, families, staff and the broader community.  Our wellbeing team has worked diligently to provide information about mental health, and wellbeing support has been provided through Compass and weekly newsletters. We have also used our social medium platforms to promote events to support families.

I encourage all students to increase and/or maintain their connections with their teachers through the online TEAMs environment and are heartened by the solid connections students have with their teachers, particularly in VCE, and the purposeful interactions they are making with the content and each other in the remote and flexible environment.

Each week students complete a survey that provides confidential feedback to our coordination team.  The surveys provide students the opportunity to express their voice about their needs and has given us the opportunity to review and refine our student support. We also encourage parents to contact their House Leader/Cluster Coordinator if they have concerns regarding the welfare or the engagement levels of their son or daughter.

Home group continues to be the cornerstone of our student connectedness with morning meetings not only being a consistent part of everyone’s daily routine, but also serving to engage students, and ensure they have meaningful connections with teachers and other students.  Regular House Assemblies continue to celebrate student success and the commitment to the college values.  I would like to congratulate all students who received awards in House Assemblies last week.  Physical copies of academic awards will be mail home this week. 

Thank-you very much for the levels of support we have received thus far – it is much appreciated.  Particular thanks goes to the Mooroolbark College Parents Association who funded a canteen voucher for our Year 7 students on their return and to our College Captains, Shae Libbis and Matthew Bethell for the letter of engagement they sent to the Year 7s last week..

Please keep safe over the coming weeks.

Ann Stratford