Principal's Update Term 2 Week 6

Monday, 30 May 2022

National Sorry Day

May 26 is National Sorry Day and at BDC this was recognised at both Chapel and at Assemblies on Thursday and Friday. I wish to thank our Heads of Schools for their leadership in this matter, our college’s student leaders, our Goori Group dancers led by our Aboriginal Education Officer, Ms Gloria Mercy. 

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home Report. This Report was a tribute to the strength and struggles of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples affected by forcible removal. Bishop Druitt College recognises the Stolen Generation and continues to support our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families. We take time in our busy schooling schedules to recognise days such as these as without “truth telling” positive understanding, empathy and behavioural change will not take place. Sorry Day also makes the start of National Reconciliation Week. Reconciliation Australia’s theme for 2022, “Be Brave. Make Change.” is a challenge to all Australians— individuals, families, communities, schools, organisations and government— to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians. Bishop Druitt College is currently working our 5th Reconciliation Action Plan and we have already gathered feedback from Goori student representatives, staff members and on Monday we will be gathering with representatives of our Goori parents and the local Gumbaynirr community to continue to flesh out our 2022-2023 RAP. 

Texas Tragedy

Nineteen fourth-grade students and at least two adults, one of whom was their teacher, were killed Tuesday in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio. All of the child victims were in a single classroom. This tragedy may come up at home or at school with your children asking some difficult questions. Dr Deborah Gilboa, a GP and renown parenthood speaker, has offered the following advice. Let your child’s questions guide the conversation. When your child hears about an upsetting incident, they will likely want to know more and is likely to ask for details such as: Who died? Did it hurt? Will that happen to me? Why would somebody do that? Where were the police? Were they bad people? Where were the parents? Dr Gilboa notes that younger children, under 8 years old, may struggle to process these types of events so it is important to provide a short supportive narrative that the children will repeat in their heads without creating too much anxiety. “You have to figure out before you talk to them what story you want them to tell themselves,” she said. With young children, Dr Gilboa recommended that parents keep their stories simple. These stories should reinforce parents’ beliefs. Perhaps, parents want their children to know that a bad person hurts people. Maybe parents want their children to know that someone with a serious illness felt angry and hurt people. “You are going to give a one-sentence story to anyone under 6,” she said. This might be a chance to change the conversation, too. Try to focus on the positives, such as the heroes of the story.

With older children, in their teens, this conversation can be more complex. Dr Gilboa recommends that parents focus on sharing their feelings and also look for opportunities to discuss possible future actions or solution. “Teenagers are looking for hypocrisy and solutions and this generation believes in collaboration and social justice.” she states.  

They are going to ask ‘What are you doing?’” she said. “You can answer and then ask ‘What are you doing? What would you like to do? What can we do together?” Teaching teenagers to work toward change will help them be resilient, Dr Golboa stated. She stressed that parents still need to listen to their teens’ feelings and display empathy. We should also remember that for adults we are unfortunately used to hearing this type of world event however this may be the first tragedy of this type our tweens are fully aware of. 

If you or your family are struggling with these type of discussions please don’t hesitate to reach out to our counselling staff or to your own mental health professional. 

The following is an American resource from and provides a unique insight into this situation from an American perspective.

College Survey

The Biannual AISNSW Perspectives Survey data has been released and outlined below are some of the key findings from the Student and Parent Surveys.

Student Survey:  There were 135 student respondents from Year 5, 7, 9, and 11.

Top student rankings have occurred in the following areas: 

School Environment
Physical Environment - Buildings and Grounds are well maintained, Physical Environment - Sense of Welcome
Student Wellbeing
Social and Emotional Learning - Students know their strengths and areas for development, Respectful Relationships - Student have a sense of connection with adults, Respectful Relationships - Student know how to respond to bullying, Inclusivity and Equity - School values all cultures

*Note: These areas received Means of more than 5 (so in the agree to strongly agree range).

Areas of student voice for the college to focus on include:

Teaching and Learning
Learning Design - Students home background is know, Quality Pedagogical Practices - Future Focus Learning is a Priority, Quality Pedagogical Practices - Classroom furniture is rearranged to meet learning needs
Student Wellbeing
Respectful Relationships - Respect is valued and modelled

*Note: These areas received mean rankings in 3 to 4 range (slightly agree range).

All other results across the Domains of School Environment (Vision, Mission, Values, Religion, Faith, Sense of Safety, Physical Environment), Teaching and Learning (Designing Learning, Quality Pedagogical Practices, Inclusive Learning, Professional Learning), Student Wellbeing (Social and Emotional Learning, Respectful Relationships, Inclusivity and Equity) and Community (Communication, Student Community Engagement) have all ranked between 4 or 5 (out of 6). This is in the agree range.

These student response figures overwhelmingly note that students have confidence in their school and are engaged in their schooling experience.

Parent Survey 

There were 245 parent responses. Parent responses seemed to be distributed evenly across the year levels in relation to year-level student numbers. 

Top parent rankings have occurred in the following areas: 

School Environment
Religion and Faith - There is a good balance between religious education and other subjects. Physical Environment - Building, classrooms and grounds are well maintained. Physical Environment - Visitors to the school feel welcome.
Teaching and Learning
Quality Pedagogical Practices - There are adequate opportunities for my child to use digital technologies to support their learning.
Student Wellbeing
Respectful Relationships - My child feels like they belong at this school, Respectful Relationships - My child has a positive connection to two or more adults at this school. Respectful Relationships - My child feels valued and accepted at this school. Respectful Relationships - My child feels safe in his/her classes. Respectful Relationships - My child feels safe outside of the classroom (toilets, lockers, hallways, canteen, school grounds etc.). Respectful Relationships - My child knows what to do when they see bullying happening. Inclusivity and Equity - Teachers help my child understand and appreciate different cultures. Inclusivity and Equity - The School holds all cultures, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, in high esteem. Inclusivity and Equity - People are treated the same at this school regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, faith, gender or sexual orientation.
Communication - The school communicates in a variety of different ways - by mobile phones or devices, in print, electronically or face to face. Student/Community Engagement - There are enough opportunities for my child to engage in sport beyond the curriculum. Student/Community Engagement - My child enjoys the co-curricular activities he/she participates in. Reputation - This is my preferred choice of school for my child. Reputation - I am proud to have my child attend this school.

All other results across the Domains of School Environment (Vision, Mission, Values, Religion, Faith, Sense of Safety, Physical Environment), Teaching and Learning (Designing Learning, Quality Pedagogical Practices, Inclusive Learning, Student Wellbeing (Social and Emotional Learning, Respectful Relationships, Inclusivity and Equity) and Community (Communication, Reporting, Student Community Engagement and Reputation) have all ranked between 4 and 5 (out of 6). This is in the Agree range.

No mean scores were recorded below 4.16 (out of 6) across the entire survey.

These results indicate that our student and parent body are extremely proud of their school. 

I wish to thank all students and parents for their participation in this year’s survey. Points of interest will feed into the 2023 School Improvement Plan as part of our continuous improvement cycle. 

Update from the Eighteenth Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia

Our Bishop, Dr Murray Harvey, wrote a letter to the Diocese of Grafton outlining some of the key outcomes from this year’s General Synod,  I have included in my article a handful of these.

“I was encouraged by a motion entitled Safe Church which was carried unanimously. It condemned any behaviour within the church which is hurtful, disrespectful, insensitive, abusive or bullying towards LGBTI persons and apolgogised to all who have been treated in this way.”

“There were two important Motions on Climate Change, one seconded by myself and the other by Archdeacon Tiffany Sparks. They called on governments, communities, individuals and the church to take urgent steps to reduce carbon emissions and adopt renewable energy sources. In speaking to one of the motions as Seconder, I was able to use the recent catastrophic floods in Northern NSW as an example of the ongoing threat to life that is posed by rising global temperatures.”

The Grafton Diocese will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Ordination of Women as Priests next year to align with this region's first ordained woman”. 

Open Day and Kindy Pop-In 2022

We are still collating all the parent and student feedback for these two important annual school events however it was clear that this year’s Open Day and Kindy Pop-In events have been the most well attended in the college’s 28-year history. I wish to thank the hundreds of people who attended and my dedicated staff who showcased our school last week.

School Nurse 

As part of the college’s commitment to wellbeing, Alice Webber, will start as the college’s first School Nurse, early next term. Alice is excited about this opportunity and how she can support our families. 

'School Nurses are instrumental in monitoring and enhancing the health and wellbeing of students, staff and community members. A School Nurse will provide BDC with a professional, consistent, and high-quality system of care. Parents can be assured that their child’s health needs, whether acute or chronic, can be safely and efficiently addressed whilst in the school environment. Furthermore, having a trained health professional on-site to implement processes of health promotion, disease prevention, and early disease management should aid in maintaining high-quality health conditions throughout the campus. I aim to provide students with the ability to connect, succeed and thrive.' Alice said.

We are all looking forward to this new role in our community. Read about Alice here

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor
— ​Ecclesiastes 4:9

BDC-CVAS Partnership 

In December of 2019, the Council Chairs of CVAS and BDC addressed their respective school communities noting their intention to strengthen ties between the schools. 

In June this year, the CVAS Business Manager, Mr Ian Morris, will retire from his role and the respective Principals and Councils saw this as a timely opportunity to take the next significant step in our partnership with what has been termed a "business services model". 

This will effectively mean that CVAS and BDC will work more closely together across financial services, property, HR, IT, Marketing and other key support areas. 

BDC will also continue to work with CVAS on significant professional learning projects, and on some outdoor education.

The benefits to BDC will be seen through staff development, mentoring and leadership opportunities. The Business Services Model will also provide BDC with a modest cash injection which will be utilised to improve facilities and services within our community. We plan on evaluating the model at the end of term 3 and then again at the end of Term 4. 

Staff Recognition

Daniel Linke, our Hospitality Teacher, is a Mid North Coast and Northern NSW finalist in the NSW Training Awards. Congratulations to Mr Linke for such an outstanding achievement. Thank you for all that you bring to our students every day here at BDC. The next step is in July. 

Australian Educators Awards 2022

Congratulations to Deahne Rushforth has been recognised in the finals list Australian Secondary School Teacher of the Year (Non-Government Section). Mrs Rushforth is an outstanding educator and the community is extremely proud of this achievement. We find out the final result at the Australia Educators Awards in August. 

I was also humbled to be named as one of Australia’s Most Influential Educators for 2022.

Finally, I wish all of our music, drama, dance, and voice competitors well over the next few weeks as they represent the college in the Coffs Estidfodd. I look forward to sharing their achievements in the next newsletter.

Nick Johnstone