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Looking into the future, celebrating the now

Posted in News on Nov 06, 2018

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LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE, CELEBRATING THE NOW

Reflections from Vision Showcase 2018

Vision Showcase proved to be extremely popular and our School Hall was packed to the point of overflowing! While it is not possible to capture the “buzz” of the night, below is a summary of the key talking points.

A VISION FOR WHO WE ARE CALLED TO BE

No school can succeed without the support of its community. Indeed, the extent to which a school can succeed is determined by the level of support given by its parents, students, volunteers and community. As people, we generally support what we believe in, what we have hope in, what we see as a sound investment that will bear good fruit. To quote Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. And the treasure in this case is the education of our children. With something so precious, it is wise to know exactly what we are investing in.

We see a future where every student leaves school knowing who they were born to be, equipped with the capacity and purpose to transform their world into a better place.

We are here to empower every child to live life in all its fullness, looking to all the possibilities that God has gifted them for.

We are transforming ourselves to become a school renowned for its uniquely personalised, flexible, practical and caring approach to education, excelling in raising generations that innovate to build a better world as the hands of Christ.

Central to our strategy is to always asks ourselves “What honours God and is in the best interest of our students?”. This question is at the centre of all school-based decisions.

In 2008, educational researchers Brian Caldwell and Jessica Harris published their findings on common traits found in schools around the world that had, within a 10-year time frame, moved from near closure to global renown. They found consistently that such schools kept a strong and balanced focus on 5 key areas. This research forms the basis of our strategic planning which is unique to education.

In our context, we refer to these as our five areas of stewardship;

  1. Spiritual
  2. Governance
  3. Intellectual
  4. Social &
  5. Resources

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CELEBRATING THE NOW

Our theme for 2018 has been Stepping Forward from Firm Foundations and there is much to showcase.

In our spiritual stewardship, we have clarified our unique identity and streamlined our school values so that they are easily understood, remembered and referred to by the whole school community from Pre-Kinder all the way through to our grandparents.

  1. Honour Christ
  2. Learn without limits
  3. Unite in community
  4. Serve selflessly
  5. Live courageously

Additionally, we encouraged students to think beyond themselves and find practical means to tackle real life challenges through the Home Projects, where every class chose a cause they could support, such as Christmas Packs for those on overseas deployment or Brain Cancer awareness. Our Local Missions Day was another highlight.

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In our governance stewardship, we have established both new leaders and a new leadership structure. I congratulate the school community for embracing me as the new Principal and Kathryn O’Rourke as our new Head of Secondary. In response to the growing demands on educational leadership, we have pioneered the unique role of Associate Principal filled by John Rolland, so that important information and decisions are shared and are not dependent on the availability of one person alone. Together, along with Luke Kirkegard our Support Services Manager, we form the Executive Team to collaboratively develop strategy with a stronger emphasis on data analysis and feedback to inform our decision making such as with responses in parent surveys.

In our intellectual stewardship, we have become full members of the Association of Independent Schools NSW, attaining grants and working on projects with expert consultants, particularly in Science education for the Primary years. We have implemented the FUEL program to cater for our independent learners and academic high achievers. We have established a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) faculty, which attracted additional grants. We introduced new courses additional to those of NESA (NSW Educational Standards Authority) with STEM Core, PBL (Problem & Project Based Learning) and Active Volunteering (incorporating Rural Fire Service Cadets certification) into our Secondary timetable. We also pioneered a direct intervention model for literary and numeracy in Secondary years with very significant gains for students involved. We have also launched a school-wide Staff Appraisal Process that includes Personal Learning Plans for every member of staff.

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In our social stewardship, we have observed significantly increased family attendance at events such as the Father’s BBQ Breakfast in our Trade Training Centre and at our Year 7 Orientation Night. As a staff, we now meet as often as a whole staff for devotions and planning, as we do in our own small teams. Most importantly, we have been encouraged with increasing student involvement, whether that be our Primary Student Leaders taking ownership of their Weekly Gathering or the way our students embrace new enrolments. Our Bounce On Program saw Year 6 students being mentored by Year 9 students so that the Year 6 students feel connected and supported socially as they enter the Secondary School in the coming year.

In our resource stewardship we were amazed how quickly our partnership with Waratah OOSH led to the opening of our own Hunter Christian OOSH at the start of Term 2. We have also started projects with a number of other organisations such as The Hub Pre-Schools, First Chance, ATUNE Health, Mountain Bikes Australia and have had discussions with Christians Against Poverty, to just name a few.

To assist families, we have worked hard to increase efficiency and reduce paper in school bags, on fridges and in the office with the aid of e-forms, the Qkr! canteen and payment app, SMS notifications and Eftpos in the canteen.

With the support of our VET Construction students, Mayfield Baptist Youth, SNL Construction and 365 Fencing, we have refreshed our Pre-Kinder playground. We have also completed the Sound Wall Barrier to reduce noise from the highway.

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LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE

Looking ahead, we have updated our strategic priorities and can announce some of our whole school initiatives being launched in 2019.

Flexible Education Packaging: At Hunter Christian School we understand that every child is unique and that traditional schooling arrangements don’t suit every child. Next year we are piloting Flexible Education Packaging suitable to elite athletes, accelerated students, emerging semi-professional performers, missionary families and students with chronic illness. A Flexible Education Facilitator would work with eligible families to tailor course offerings, content delivery, attendance requirements, personalised support and assessment schedules to fit around unique needs.

On-site Psychologist: In partnership with ATUNE health, we will also be hosting an Intern Psychologist on site each Tuesday. Through the school, families can book appointments for their children. We anticipate that this will be more convenient and cost-effective for parents and more productive for teachers in collaborating on strategies for specific student needs.

Inclusive Education Strategy: We are also reforming Learning Support in both Primary and Secondary School to create a P-12 Inclusive Education Team drawing upon personalised, data informed and best practice approaches to literacy, numeracy, special needs and gifted education.

Masterplan for facilities and learning spaces:We are also looking at how we can maximise the outdoor spaces we have for learning. Our architects are mapping out potential locations and costs for things such as a community café, outdoor amphitheatre, running track, fitness stations and the like. There will be lots of opportunities to sponsor projects that will arise from this in the coming years.

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Sustainable Primary Playground: Having secured a grant from Orica we are planning construction of a new sustainable playground to be opened early next year.

Sponsorship opportunities: We are looking to provide our community and businesses with opportunities to partner with our vision through sponsorship. You can sponsor a scholarship, an end of year award, outdoor learning equipment, student travel costs on a mission trip amongst other things.

Scholarships: Another way we are endeavouring to increase access to Christian schooling is to partner with individuals and businesses to provide student scholarships. We are establishing a tax-deductible scholarship fund to enable individuals and businesses to make tax deductible donations to the fund for distribution. We are planning for Academic, Sporting and Creative Arts Scholarships in addition to special scholarships unique to our school community such as Refugee and Foster Family Scholarships. There is still a bit of work to do in this space but we hope to launch these sometime next year.

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FACTS: FACTS is a new initiative to make the setting up, monitoring and changing of payment plans for tuition fees easier for parents. FACTS provides Increased flexibility for parents including the ability to invite a third party to contribute to your fee payments. Families can expect to receive an email invitation from FACTS to create an account in mid-late November with school fees to be added to the account in January 2019.

Uniforms: While the withdrawal of our current uniform supplier was an unwelcome distraction at the time, it has provided us with the opportunity to review the style and construction of our uniform. A new supplier has been found. They manufacture and dye their own material (also supplying fabric to NIKE), supply uniforms for many school and industry groups and have a local warehouse at Sandgate. The sports uniforms and tracksuits will remain almost visually identical with some new fabrics. We are currently awaiting delivery of our production samples for final approval and have been advised that a late December delivery should be achievable. Some tweaks to the formal uniform are being finalised and will be communicated as soon as they are available. It is proposed that we will have a sizing set available at school with orders made and paid for via a FACTS Form, then collated by staff and available at the office for collection daily.

It is our hope that what you have read here empowers you with passion for our school, information to share and opportunities to contribute to a great cause!

Malcolm East

Principal

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