For Queensland graduating students, it has been a year of firsts and unprecedented (as stated many times by world leaders) events.
The COVID-19 pandemic meant schools across Australia went into ‘alternate learning arrangements’ and, in Queensland, students graduated under the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) system for the first time.
In the face of all this, Mt Maria College Petrie students have knuckled down and proved their community culture leads to high performance and favorable results.
Graduating students, Aidan Marsland and April Dawson-Bourke sat down with Mt Maria College Petrie Principal, Wayne Chapman to talk about their year of unique experiences and how they went.
“It’s been a daunting year, and exams just kept coming and coming and we were all prepared for it, but yeah, I think I did well,” Aidan said in the video chat.
Principal Chapman went on to ask the students what they had learned at the college apart from curriculum content.
“How to have a voice,” April replied.
“When I started here, I was quite shy.
“I wasn’t out there, but since I got more comfortable here and the teachers really helped me come out of my shell, and I really opened up.”
When asked about what is next, Aidan said he wants to study secondary teaching at Australian Catholic University (ACU) and April said she wants to study a bachelor of science combined with teaching.
On reflection, Principal Chapman put context around the college achievements.
“We have students here achieving incredibly high results in high level general subjects, and who are aiming for university entrance, alongside students in pursuit of trades and other pathways,” Principal Chapman said in email correspondence with trueAU.NEWS.
“Students like Aidan and April demonstrate the very academic nature of learning that our college presents, in addition to our other learning offerings and our highly inclusive nature.”
When asked to reflect on one of the most unusual years in living memory (COVID-19 and alternate learning arrangements), Anthony Elmore, Principal of St Michael’s College, Merrimac (SMCM) said the college had achieved great things as a community.
“Our achievements are not individual achievements, they are achievements of our students, of our staff, of our families,” Principal Elmore reflected in the video above.
“And two areas I’d like to mention today are around our literacy improvement, that journey accessing and opening up the curriculum for all of our learners, we are so proud of our students and our staff.
“Our Year 7 data has far exceeded what we could even have hoped when we started this year, 97.3% of our Year 7 students achieved our literacy benchmark this year.
“In Year 8 and Year 9, 95.9% of students in those year levels.
“And in year 10, 96.2% of students achieved that literacy benchmark.
“In all of those year levels, we have exceeded Brisbane Catholic Education levels and benchmarks.
“We are proud of our young students, our young women, our young men, but the teachers that have journeyed with them and the families that have supported them along the way – thank you very much for your ongoing support.”
“Another area that we set as a major target for this year and an area that we’ve journeyed with families has been around attendance.
“And I am so proud to be able to thank again and celebrate with the community that 80.1% of our students have hit that benchmark of attendance for 90% of the time.
“And that’s because of our connections, ‘Belonging, Care and Connection’, our families, our students, this is all down to you, your commitment and your connection. Thank you very much.”
As part of the BCE Dialogue Schools Project, students, parents and staff in participating schools completed a set of surveys. For SMCM, the 2019 and 2020 surveys showed “overwhelming” positive results.
“We look forward to continuing to accelerate the family voice in our school community,” Principal Elmore explained.
“Our communication with families, that partnership with families that is so important to us.
“So, I thank our family and community engagement, the families that meet with us on a regular basis, because it’s your voice, your partnership that is so important and vital to us.
“And the BCE Listens Survey has driven home the importance of that connection and has brought to the surface, the deep satisfaction of families in our community with the learning and teaching improvement agenda that has been at this college for the last two years.
“It is a real commitment and a real tick and a real drive in that right direction with our partnerships and communication with families.
“Another area that we’d like to just mention, as we move to the Christmas break, our enrolment retention rates are the highest in nine years.
“Our enrolment retention rates from our February census to our August census for 2020 are the highest in nine years.
“And that goes directly to the commitment of our extraordinary teachers, the commitment of our students, the dedication of families working in the St Michael’s community.
“The improvement journey that we have been on, ‘Belonging, Care and Connection’, St Michael’s is an awesome community because of you,” Principal Elmore exclaimed.
Looking to next year, Principal Elmore talked about growth in the college.
“We in preparation for 2021 have experienced a 6% enrolment growth.
“We are ready to open our doors in 2021 for the largest number of students that our college has seen in the last five years.
“And that comes down to the positive word of mouth, the positive journey in learning and teaching, the positive journey in that belonging, our families, our students, they feel that connection.
“So, thank you very much for your support, the support of our teachers working hard, the support of our students engaging in their learning journey.
“So again, thank you for that commitment.”