Term 4 Newsletter No.2 (03 November 2017)

Hello everyone,

Newsletter No.2 ( 03 November 2017)

We pray for Craig Smith and his family, joining the many who did so at his funeral at Mater Dei Primary School yesterday. Please keep the Smith family and other individuals and organisations impacted by this tragic loss in your personal prayers.

Term 4 is in full swing and I remind everyone that every day of the Term is a day of opportunity and promise. We work to the end to get the learning we deserve this year, and to place ourselves in the best position for the learning and opportunities of next year.

Parents may be interested in some data collected to support work I did for a recent QELI Principal and System Leader course. The basic position was that a persistent focus on improving teacher and student classroom practice and on building the capabilities of teacher and student teams is the key to school improvement. A second foundation was that this only works with a coherent leadership across the many teams in the school, committed to working together to focus on a few most important things.

The school has had many classroom observers including system colleagues, attendees at on-site learning and visitors from other organisations. Their anecdotal feedback was added to on-site observations and used as the basis for a teacher and classroom support staff survey. 50+ staff were asked the extent to which they agreed with a series of observations, using a five-point scale. The table below lists the % of classroom staff agreeing or strongly agreeing that the outcome is present and attributable to our improvement work.

We never use any adjective other than ‘improving’ to describe the College and I am confident that it’s an appropriate word. A key goal is to increase the number of students who are academically engaged or stretched, which means to be working at the optimum level (challenging, achievable learning with the accompanying satisfaction of reaching a desired and worked-for learning target). This academic engagement is hard to measure and you can see that our teachers are confident that is growing, but less confident than they are with other more easily observed outcomes. This is an area we will look at more closely over the coming months and year.

2017 Trial of a daytime Liturgy and Awards Assembly

Three of the five secondary schools in the Diocese have a daytime Awards Assembly, while Mater Dei and Kildare have traditionally had evening events. This year we are trialling a daytime ceremony and early next year we will collect feedback to see which format best suits our community and our purposes in holding the event. We will hold the assembly around lunch time and live stream it to maximise attendance and access. More details will follow soon.

All the best

Rod Whelan

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