An exciting new initiative that has been progressively developed over the early months of the year is the Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT). This will be formally launched next week. Capitalising on research associated with the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) program in the United States that informs the teaching and learning process, student feedback given to teachers via SELT is designed to improve learning outcomes. Staff at the College have been working with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) over the last 12 months to secure the best software and automation processes to ensure the integrity of the data that collates and codifies student feedback to improve educational efficacy. Classes in English, Mathematics and Science in Years 7 to 11 will be the first to complete the SELT questionnaires before the expansion to other subjects later in the year. This complements other more recent developments in Teaching and Learning such as Project Based Learning (PBL), STEM, Instructional Rounds and teacher observation. Videographics that explain the SELT program in detail have been developed and will be distributed to students, staff and parents, respectively, throughout the course of Week 2. We look forward to the gains that this new program will bring to the College over the years ahead.
Synonymous with the introduction of SELT is the procurement of data and data analytics that will be used to provide detailed insights into teaching and learning. For the last 12 months, Riverview has been working with selected schools in New South Wales and Queensland to develop visibility software that will track student performance and achievement data, with particular emphasis on measuring the value add through the educational program. Software of this kind is very new in schools and the College will move in a measured way to determine key indices and metrics that it wishes to identify as the indicators of success in the teaching and learning process.
While the SELT and data analytics will see its introduction across the coming term, the Therry Learning Centre that brings with it new classroom environments continues to progress. I am pleased to report that all of the formwork and concrete work for the structure has been completed with the asymmetrical columns on the upper floors of the building etching a striking impact against the skyline. Services such as electricity and water have begun installation along with the ducts that will be responsible for the natural airflows to environmentally regulate the temperature of the building. During the week the imposing steel structures that form the roof were delivered and seated on the formwork via crane to give further definition to the shell. This will allow the internal fit out to occur as we face the latter stages of the year, which will be complemented by the major landscaping works contiguous to the North East node, the latter of which holds a commanding aspect over First Field and the northern section of the grounds. It has been a long and at times tedious process but the shape of the building gives promise and anticipation to what lies ahead. A more detailed update via Electronic Digital Message will be distributed also throughout the course of the coming week.
Two separate events profiled the Creative and Performing Arts this week. The first was the Chapel Concert, which showcased the remarkable talent of boys who perform at the elite level in the musical program. Among many highlights, the Riverview Orchestra, three separate choirs, the Big Band, the Chamber Strings and the Saxophone Quartet entertained a packed audience in the Dalton Chapel. The boys’ musical prowess, proficiency and instrumentation were of the highest calibre. The second was the HSC Visual Arts Exhibition, which opened in the Memorial Hall on Friday. On display is a range of artworks which draw upon different mediums including painting, sketch, lithography, photography and lenticular imaging. Landscapes of rural regions of New South Wales and famous landmarks of Sydney featured alongside artistic works that embody themes that confront and shock including fear of the unknown, dementia and death. Capturing a maturity and creativity beyond their years, the artworks of 2017 are testament to the passion of the boys and the sophistication of their work.
Over the weekend members of the College Council will join other Council members from Jesuit schools across Australia in a retreat at Sevenhill in South Australia. Sevenhill is where the first Jesuits, Fr Aloysius Kranewitter SJ and Fr Maximillian Klinkowstrom SJ, established their community and mission in Australia, from which expansion later occurred across Australia. The retreat is designed to deepen the formation of those who share in the governance of the schools, to ensure that the priorities of Ignatian spirituality are alive and well in the schools. Time will be set aside for strategic planning in context of the charism, to determine key priorities for the future and to ensure that the schools are responsive to best educational practice as we confront significant changes to the landscape of education. It is clear that while we need to be acutely mindful of the present, we need to be responsive of the dynamism of the times and position all elements of the educational program to be at the cutting edge of best practice.
As SELT is launched, it sits amid a context of educational change based upon evidence-based research. It will be complemented by Project Based Learning, STEM, Instructional Rounds, new educational environments and innovative data analytical tools, each of which is aligned with continuous improvement associated with best practice in teaching and learning. And, the latter has been part of Jesuit endeavour for the better part of five centuries.
Best wishes for the week ahead.