Principal's Blog - 9 November 2017

09 Nov 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

I have said before that one of the most valuable and critical conversations which can take place in education is that between primary and secondary school teachers. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the rarest and most underutilised. This conversation provides mutual benefit for both the primary and secondary school settings. Understanding the primary learning and teaching environment from which our students come is as important to secondary schools as understanding the secondary environment to which they will be going to is important to primary educators.

At Marcellin I believe we do excellent work in coming to an understanding of our boys as they enter our College in Year 7. Through the application process we receive comprehensive information regarding the students’ progress through primary school including student reports, assessment and NAPLN data. During the interview process we learn about the student’s interests, aspiration and the areas of curriculum he excels in as well as those that provide him with challenges. At our Grade 6 testing day we learn more about each boy’s learning styles and areas of learning in which he requires extension as well as those where extra support is required. We also often speak with the students primary school teachers who know each boy more closely.

But how well to we know the learning environment from which each boy comes? How intimately are we aware of the educational language which is being used in his classroom or the teaching methodologies primary teachers use in different settings to engage and connect boys with the learning? How well too do we know the scope and sequence of their learning in the primary setting. Conversely; how familiar are our primary colleagues with the educational environment they are preparing their students for.

Developing a common understanding between primary and secondary school teachers regarding the educational language, scope and sequence of learning and teaching methodology and use of data can provide clear indictors/signposts which can immeasurably support both sectors in supporting students to reach their full potential as learners.

Often as educators we rely heavily on anecdotal evidence to support our understanding of the needs of our students as they enter secondary school. However, this is not enough. The use of data in developing a greater knowledge of the progress and learning needs of students has become exponentially important in the past few years as the quality and breadth of this data has developed.

The collection and use of this data to benefit student outcomes is important. However, of itself it’s value can be limited. To enhance the worth and significance of this data requires conversion, collaboration, understanding and trust between primary and secondary school teachers.

To support and encourage this conversion, last week at Marcellin we were fortunate to be joined by many of our local Catholic Primary School colleagues at our Data Driven Dialogue symposium. This event provided an opportunity for our two educational sectors to come together to discuss how we can both best use data to develop an understanding of our students needs as well as the environment from which they have come and to which they are moving.

I am pleased to say that the afternoon was a highly successful one. Not only with regards to what was learnt but equally importantly due to the relationships and understanding between primary and secondary school teachers which were developed and enhanced due to this collaboration.

I am very grateful to Sandra Hanson, Head of Learning (Years 7 -9) for her foresight and expertise in producing and presenting this important gathering of educators. I am also appreciative of the number of Principal’s and teachers from our Local Catholic Primary Schools –  St John's Heidelberg, St Kevin's Lower Templestowe, St Anne's Kew East, St Gregory the Great Doncaster, St Bernadette's Ivanhoe West, St Bridget's Greythorn, St Francis Xavier's Box Hill, St Martin of Tours Rosanna, Mary Immaculate Ivanhoe along with many Marcellin staff for giving of their valuable time, energy, passion and expertise to this valuable endeavour.

We hope to continue to develop further opportunities to engage in this learning conversion into the future for the benefit of the boys of Marcellin and for the children of our local primary schools.

Mark Murphy