The Strategic Pillars of our College are a living, breathing framework that guide our conversations around teaching and learning, pastoral development and the leadership opportunities offered to our students. An A.B. Paterson College education has our College Mission at the heart of all we do, and on a yearly basis, we review our current offerings to determine if our suite of programs are effective, and if they are best placed within their current year group. Those parents of students in Year 5 and Year 9 will no doubt know that there is a relatively new Year 5 leadership camp and that the Outward Bound experience has been moved into Year 9. The timings of these programs altered because of the increasing maturity of our students, their need to become more independent and resilient and the complementary teachings of both camp activities in helping to develop the attributes of perseverance, grit and determination within our students.
Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring the College Strategic Pillars and our Values to show how they are used to refine our programs.
The Strategic Intent has, at its core, the belief of One College, One Focus, and is grounded in whole school goals and strategies to ensure a seamless transition for our students from one year to the next. Our Vision is to develop in our students the intellectual character necessary to become passionate about the ongoing pursuit of learning; to have the skills and confidence to succeed in an increasingly complex world; and to become committed to creating positive futures for the good of all, through leadership, service and active participation in our community.
Every student should have the opportunity to excel and to experience those special moments that will forever remain a treasured memory of their education at A.B. Paterson College. Whether it be the first time they enter our beautiful campus; the level of engagement and endeavour within the classroom; the occasions when they meet and overcome academic or personal challenge; their involvement in a special rite of passage (they often wax lyrical about their Winton Camp, their Canberra Camp, their Outward Bound experience, their Semi-formal and Formal) ; the realisation of their achievement in an endeavour; or, the special relationships formed with their peers and their teachers - it is these special moments that shape their character and, ultimately, their lives, long after they commenced their journey at our College.
The College Strategic Intent is based upon the development of five Key Strategic Pillars: Innovation, Transformation and Leadership, College Community, Education and Care, Building for the Future and Mission and Service. These pillars interconnect, and together provide the foundation of the A.B. Paterson College experience. The pillar that I am highlighting in this article is our College Community.
The Parent Teacher Social Evenings took place on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and are a yearly event in our College calendar. These nights take time and preparation by our College staff to offer parents practical advice on how to help your son or daughter succeed throughout the year, as well as advice on how to help them to become more independent as they traverse the years until graduation. Moreover, they are also a wonderful opportunity for parents to connect with each other and we believe it continues to affirm our strong College culture by building meaningful relationships and experiences between our parents and our teaching staff.
This year, we also had the opportunity to hear Social Entrepreneur and 2020 Queensland Australian of the Year Ms Rachel Downie speak. Rachel regularly addresses our College students in Years 4–12 about cyber safety, online wellness and the notion of being a bystander and how students can harness their own power to ensure others feel safe in our own College environment.
For those of you who missed Rachel’s presentation this week, her focus was about the need for parents to have explicit conversations with their children around screens and screen time. With the proliferation of digital life for our children, Rachel shared some startling statistics showing many Australian parents were allowing untethered online contact between their children and anyone on the internet. Rachel shared that we need to move beyond the conversation about ‘screen time’ and talk instead about the interplay between technology and wellbeing.
In some of the older student presentations, she explained that screens are not always bad – there is a strong argument that they support relationships, learning, entertainment and opportunities to help others. Rather than focus solely on-screen time, she suggested that it might be more productive to talk about what our children are doing on their screens – Rachel advocates that parents need to really be aware of what their children are watching and viewing. Talking to children about how they manage their screen distractions in different environments is important. Helping them to put boundaries in place when they need to manage their online distractions, gives students a feeling of independence, which is something we are all trying to encourage.
Finally, Rachel advocates for all parents to join children online, and to have explicit conversations about privacy, permanency, identity and trolling. Conversations between yourself and your son or daughter help to encourage good online behaviour, try to protect children from the bad, and offer autonomy to support our children as they take their place in this increasingly connected world.
For those who braved the weather, thank you for attending. Evenings such as the Parent Teacher Social Evenings make me reflect on how many parents and teachers there are in our A.B. Community who are working together to support our students.
Principal/Head of College
To view the Strategic Intent brochure on our College website click here.