A word from the Headmaster, Ross Featherston
Marking academic success and the 3CP
Yesterday we had the pleasure of welcoming back our 2016 Academic Scholars for the annual Scholars Assembly. At the Assembly, we recognised and celebrated the successes and achievements of our academic elite from last year. I believe this event also serves to inspire our current Senior School boys to achieve their academic best.
2016 School Dux Raymond Li (ATAR 99.90) gave the current Senior School boys some great advice across a number of areas. However, for me, the advice that stood out was Raymond’s encouragement to “figure out how you learn”. This strongly aligns with our continuing work to make each BGS boy a more capable visible learner and it applies to all BGS boys, big and small.
Our 3CP focus for Term 1 is on engaging parents in all things relevant to the BGS academic culture. We have finished our parent information sessions, and this term presents other opportunities for parents to deepen their understanding and engagement, such as parent/teacher interviews and The Hub information sessions.
On Tuesday 28 March, Crowther Centre Director Dr Ray Swann and I will host a whole-School parent information night on our school-wide teaching and learning approach. Specific information regarding venue and start time will soon be available. My hope is that every BGS family will be represented on this important night.
Finally, best wishes to the Year 9 boys and staff for their 12-day Great South West Journey, which starts this weekend. We look forward to the welcome home ceremony and hearing great stories of challenge, learning, collaboration and fun.
From the Head of Middle School, Jeremy Martin
On Tuesday morning, the Middle School Leaders for 2017 were inducted during a service at St Andrew’s Church. Parents, family members, staff and students were in attendance to witness this proud moment as the leaders pledged to serve their community, act as a role models, show positive leadership and maintain the high standards of Brighton Grammar.
My message to the boys focused on ‘every day’ leadership. Leadership can often be perceived as something bigger than us and as long as this is the case, we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day from ourselves and from each other – we can start to devalue the leadership that we can demonstrate every day.
I encouraged the boys to tap into the leader within, not only to uplift their own lives, but also the lives of those around them – whether it be their classmates, teammates or the community in which they live and are privileged to serve.
This type of ‘every day’ leadership is something all boys in the Middle School can aspire to. Whether it’s helping peers to make progress in classes through constructive feedback, role-modelling desired behaviours, a quiet word of praise, or the ‘pick me up’ when things don’t quite work out, every day leadership is about the small things that can have a big impact. It means that every day is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and under this approach, more boys can be engaged in leadership, often with a bigger impact.
Every boy in the Middle School can be a leader every day. Every boy can influence those around them positively. Every boy can make a difference to the spirit and culture of BGS.
Middle School Captain: Sam Flockart
Middle School Vice Captain: Andrew Penca
House Leaders: Dylan Goodger, Patrick Gu, Declan Hayes, Sam Stewart, Connor Marriot, Ben Sullivan
School Leaders: Chris Field, Harley Chessells, Sam Wyss, Hamish Roberts, Tom Burnell, Jack Anson, Josh Badge
Teaching and learning
This year, two significant programs have been built into the English curriculum. One is a heightened focus on reading – more of that in another eNews – and the other is the introduction of ‘Daily Writing’.
How does Daily Writing work?
At the start of every lesson, the boys enter the room and start writing. Ten new topics are up on the classroom screens. Quite a few boys enter with the Daily Writing topics already up on their laptops. From the moment the boys enter to the moment they put down their pens, the students work in a bubble of silence. This is not an attempt to subject your children to the schoolroom regimen of the Dickensian era, but rather a means to protect the learner. Writing is a discipline and we want to give every student the greatest opportunity of accessing their best ideas.
How long do the boys write for?
The boys spend the first 10 minutes of every class writing – not typing. Everything is handwritten. Some boys write furiously and it is not uncommon to see them shaking their hands to get the blood flowing in the latter half of the writing session. After 10 minutes, the class moves into other aspects of English. Occasionally, we give the boys an opportunity to read their work aloud. Invariably, after a couple of tentative volunteers, just about every hand goes up to take part. Every boy has a story in them and just about every boy wants that story to be told.
What happens next?
For homework, the boys are expected to transfer their handwritten work to OneNote where their classroom teacher can access it. This is not just an act of transcription – the boys are expected to use this opportunity to polish their work, remove errors and when the mood takes them, extend it. English teachers will read the OneNote notebooks once a week to ensure the boys are finishing the task. Boys will often find a teacher’s comment indicating that the work has been read (and appreciated).
Sounds great but you must be getting some resistance?
Surprisingly, no. In fact, the English faculty has been stunned by the way in which the boys have taken to this. The only complaint we’ve had thus far is when we ask the boys to stop writing – quite a few budding authors just want to keep going. Which they can do… once they get home.
What will you do with all of this writing?
We’ll publish the best of it. Each boy will polish his favourite piece and submit it for inclusion in a rather large book that will go to print. We’ll have copies in the school libraries and we’ll look at ways to make copies available to families to purchase.
They have computers – wouldn’t it be better to use these during Daily Writing?
In English, we want to save the computers for computer-reliant tasks e.g. using Photoshop to better understand visual analysis; using Audacity to record podcasts; using Eclipse to create interactive crosswords; using Premiere to record and edit video reviews; using Comic Life to create graphic novels… We want to give the boys plenty of practice handwriting so they don’t run out of time when writing to a time constraint in their senior years. We want our boys to work on the legibility of their handwriting so assessors can access their meaning easily, and we want our boys to devote all of their working memory to expression and ideas and not to dilute that by having to focus excessively on handwriting – the more they write, the less daunting the physical act of writing will be.
It sounds wonderful. How can I help?
Please encourage reading at home. The boys are currently flourishing in Daily Writing but the quality of their work will plateau if they are not being exposed to a range of writing styles outside of the classroom. If you can find time, consider sitting down and reading at the same time as your son.
Programs and activities
Middle School Production 2017 – Camp Rock
Camp Rock rehearsals are off to a flying start! Rehearsals continue this Friday from 3.50pm to 6pm at Rosstrevor Hall. If you have not collected your Middle School Production contract and schedule, there will be more available on Friday.
The production dates are:
- Monday 22 May – dress rehearsal
- Wednesday 24 May – dress rehearsal/preview
- Thursday 25 May – performance
- Friday 26 May – performance.
At the Induction Chapel for the Middle School Leaders, Jeremy Martin spoke of ‘everyday’ leadership: “everyday actions are what make you a leader and that there are opportunities around every corner for you to demonstrate your leadership this year and beyond”.
It is a radical idea: every young person has the resources to be a leader, and that leadership can be exercised within the normal everyday circumstances of our lives.
An equally radical idea was expressed in Chapel as the School Leaders were given a blessing: an action by the Chaplain assuring them of the certainty that God gifts them in leadership, calls them and will assist them to do what needs to be done.
This is what the Christian faith holds to be true: that God is not just a nice idea but rather an active participant, especially to those who make good use of this belief to make a positive difference to the world around them.
Be bold, be confident, have faith.
Prayers for all.
Fr Tony Poole
Middle School notices
Year 7 Immunisation Cards
A friendly reminder for Year 7 parents: your son’s Immunisation Card needs to be returned to his House tutor by Monday 26 February 2017. If you require a replacement card, please collect from Middle School Reception.
Fostering positive relationships
Positive relationships are based on respect, fairness and tolerance. Please click here to read about practical ways to foster positive relationships in children and young people.
Student achievement: sailing
Congratulations to Stirling Findlay in Year 8 who won the Intermediate Sabot Lidgett Sailing Cup last weekend. This is the second win in a row for Stirling, sailing his Sabot Rasta Rebel.
Middle School dates for the diary
For updates and events, see School Stream or click here for the online calendar.
Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF)
Families holding a valid means-tested concession card are eligible to apply for a payment of $125 (primary students) or $225 (secondary students) to be paid directly to the School (the amount of which will be deducted from your fees) for use towards camps, sports and excursion costs for the benefit of the student. A special consideration category also exists. Information about the CSEF program can be found here.
Please contact the Accounts Department on 03 8591 2213 to submit an application on your behalf.