CaSPA News


Case Study - 25 Years as a Principal - Michael Kenny

Posted on 20 June 2018
Case Study - 25 Years as a Principal - Michael Kenny

When I was asked to reflect on my 26 years as a Principal in Catholic Secondary Schools, my first reaction was where has the time gone?

It all started for me in 1993 as a very young Principal at MacKillop College in the rural town of Swan Hill Victoria. The school had a student population of 250 and was struggling to compete with the two Government Secondary schools in the town. In the space of four years, we were able to double the student numbers and we became the school of choice in the region.
I was fortunate to inherit a passionate group of staff who were very supportive of the direction the school was heading. I am delighted that four of the staff are now Principals in Catholic Secondary Schools across Victoria.

In late 1996, I accepted the Principal's position at Servite College in Tuart Hill Perth for the coming school year. It was a big decision to move across the country but as our two girls were relatively young, we saw the move as an opportunity for a different life experience.
The Superior of the Servite Order, Fra. Christopher Ross was a wonderful mentor and gave me the confidence to back myself in trying to build a culture in the school where the students were proud to be 'Servites' and were willing to embrace the College's Co-Curricular offerings.
I also had a very supportive Senior Leadership Team who were also up for the challenge of lifting the profile of the College in the community. In my seven years, we were able to increase the student numbers from 750 to 950 and establish a number of new programs which included a LOTE Exchange and an Immersion to India.

In 2004 I moved to La Salle College in Midland Perth and really enjoyed my two years there. I was fortunate to again have a very loyal Senior Leadership Team and a staff who wanted to engage with their students in the teaching and learning.

As a family, we loved the Perth lifestyle and formed some very strong personal friendships which made the decision to apply for the Assumption College Principal's position in Kilmore Victoria very difficult. I had a longing to return to a Marist school as I was a strong supporter of their charism and in particular, of their "loving all children and loving them all equally". At the end of the 2005 school year, we again uprooted across the country to return to Victoria. I acknowledge the support of my wife Cathy and daughters Joanna and Alexandra in agreeing to the move.
Assumption College Kilmore was a country school steeped in tradition and even after 13 years in the Principal's chair, this was a real learning curve for me. Taking on a Boarding School for the first time was exciting but also challenging as you now had adolescents in your care 24/7. I came to understand and admire the special bond the boarders had for each other but also the challenge to integrate the boarding students into the day school.
ACK was commonly known as the football factory as many of its alumni went on to have long and successful AFL careers. The challenge was to maintain its strong football culture but also establish an engaging teaching and learning program and co-curricular activities outside of sport for our students.
In my nine years at ACK, I believe we were successful in creating a school culture where everyone felt welcomed no matter what your interests were, and our academic results improved noticeably.

I always thought that ACK would be my last school as a Principal, but in 2014 I made the decision to apply for Marymede Catholic College in South Morang. It was a relatively new school (nine years), and being a P-12 school is unique in the Catholic sector in Victoria, which was very appealing to me.
I am now in my fourth year at Marymede and am really enjoying the opportunity of leading a young school on its journey and loving the interaction with the Primary students, who always seem so happy. Our student numbers are on the move and are now in excess of 1800. We have a very attractive campus with very modern contemporary facilities. We recently opened an Early Learning Centre on the campus which has proved to be very popular.
Our school community is embracing the direction the school is heading.

Throughout my 26 years as a Principal in Catholic schools, I have always stressed the importance of honouring the dignity and self-esteem of every member in our school community. We, in Catholic Education, are about far more than training children for jobs, but rather to educate in ways that shape who our students become.
I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to lead five Catholic schools and help to develop a strong faith community over the journey.
I thank the members of the Senior Leadership Team in each school, my Executive Assistants and the staff, students and parents for their support. I will be forever grateful to my wife Cathy for her loving support and her selflessness in allowing me to do the job that I have loved for so many years.

Kind Regards,

Mr. Michael Kenny


Posted in: CaSPA Case Study   2 Comments

Emmaus College [Parramatta] wins global engineering challenge

Posted on 19 June 2018
Emmaus College [Parramatta] wins global engineering challenge

We congratulate our colleague principal Robert Nastai and his staff and students on this significant international achievement:

Emmaus Catholic College, Kemps Creek recently represented their school and Australia in the Destination Imagination Global Finals winning the Renaissance Award in the Drop Zone Secondary Level engineering challenge for outstanding design, engineering, execution and/or performance. Congratulations to the 'Thinkaroos' who put in eight months of hard work to compete in the challenge.

The Destination Imagination program aims to foster students' creativity, curiosity and courage through project-based learning. It encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus and frame challenges while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning.

Posted in: curriculum   0 Comments


Posted on 18 June 2018

Above: St Joseph's Celtic band members Amy Young and Elijah van Galen

IT WAS a shared interest in Irish songs between staff and students that saw the formation of St Joseph's very own Celtic band four years ago.

While the other kids are enjoying their Friday lunch, the band has been busy practising for its slot in the line-up at this weekend's National Celtic Festival at Portarlington.

Under the keen eye of music teacher Amy Young, the band has gone from casual lunchtime jam sessions to performing for the festival masses.

"We've got a good bunch of kids now. At one point it was more staff than students," she said.

"This is our third time now at Portarlington." The band has 10 members, with students from Years 8 to 11 involved.

Ms Young said the group usually attracted new members, many who had never been exposed to Celtic music before, after playing the mid-year concert.

Year 8 student Elijah van Galen was one of those students. Joining the band towards the end of Year 7 as a modern flute, Irish flute and tin whistle player, Elijah had never picked up even a standard flute before coming to the school.

"Celtic music is fun to play, and it's a bit more advanced than other things," he said.

Ms Young said the band had been performing gigs around town to prepare for the festival. "We've been going hard at it since the start of the year. Most of the students come into the group not playing Celtic music before." St Joseph's College isn't the only school involved with the festival this year.

Year 1-2 students at Portarlington Primary School have been collecting old bottles for their contribution to the weekend's festivities.

Art teacher Tim O'Hara said the students were excited to be supporting the Enchanted Tree workshop, in which children turn plastic e bottles into flower-shaped solar lights, which will be attached to trees around the festival.

From: Geelong Advertiser, Geelong VIC  by jaimee wilkens

06 Jun 2018
Posted in: Catholic Secondary Principals Australia   0 Comments

The elusive ATAR score is anything but a sure thing...

Posted on 17 June 2018
The elusive ATAR score is anything but a sure thing...
Concern about gaming of maths ATARs has prompted a review by universities and the state government in NSW.

Meanwhile the Australian National University announced a change in admission policy to widen its scope beyond Australian Tertiary Admission Rank.

In New South Wales a joint committee of the NSW Education Standards Authority, the Universities Admission Centre and the Vice Chancellors' Technical Committee on Scaling is investigating whether school students can improve their ATARs by doing lower-level maths.

Education experts say it is impossible to game the ATAR, owing to the algorithm used to rank results.

But an analyst of HSC results for Catholic schools, Dr John DeCourcy, says an anomaly in the way maths results are scaled and the fact a "critical mass of bright students" study general maths, falsely inflates their results.

"There is an entire cohort of students who are good at maths but don't like maths. So general maths gets undue favouring by a large number of students who are doing well in their other subjects. Their good performance in their other courses is mirrored in the unduly inflated result given to general maths."

The review is looking at whether a so-called "common scaling" method between general and higher-level maths could iron out any potential for gaming. Any changes would come into effect at the same time as a new maths syllabus in 2020. Dr DeCourcy said ATARs were "largely ungameable" and the best choice for a student was to do the subject they liked.

He said people had an undue fixation on ATARs. This distorted some students' outcomes from the HSC.

A capable student might get a good ATAR with only general-level maths but get an HSC result that is poorer because they haven't done the sort of mams they need at university.

And an obsession with ATARs took over some students' lives, with the result they didn't develop skills in research, team work, expression and sport.

In Canberra the Australian National University will introduce "ATAR Plus" in an aggressive push to sweep up the strongest students.

The admissions policy will make maths and English prerequisites in addition to getting a minimum ATAR which will be recalibrated each year.

Would-be students will be scored for having built at least three out of seven life skills, including volunteering, leadership, community service and sport all of which would have to be verified.

The university will also directly offer a place to any school student in Australia in the top 3 per cent of HSC results.

Deputy vice-chancellor, academic at ANU, Professor Mamie HughesWarrington, said the university is already full, but it wants to attract the top students. The "Percent Plan" model comes from the US and has never been used in Australia before.

"We believe in an elite education, but we're not elitist," she said. ANU was still committed to ATARs, despite adding new criteria to admissions.

"We like ATARs and you've got to have an ATAR to get past the post But we want to look at the whole person, which is why we've introduced the cocurriculum criteria."

Key points An anomaly in the way maths results are scaled is to be reviewed.

The Australian National University is to use an "ATAR Plus" admission policy.

From: Australian Financial Review, Australia  by Robert Bolton

31 May 2018
Posted in: pathways   0 Comments

Former PM resolute about establishing My School Website

Posted on 16 June 2018
Former PM resolute about establishing My School Website
Former prime minister Julia Gillard makes no apology for establishing the controversial My School website as education minister, despite concerns it has become a rating tool and led to a multimillion-dollar coaching industry.

She said she was also pleased to see politicians "falling over themselves" to align themselves with her policy of needs-based funding.

Ms Gillard said fears about the negative effects of the My School website had not eventuated, but did not address recent criticism of the comparison system made by many, including NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes.

"I fought for the radical transparency provided by the My School website, believing that the more good-quality information that we deliver in the public realm, the more that is out there, the better education policy debate is going to be," she said at the EduTECH conference in Sydney yesterday. "I still believe that. The nightmare scenario painted at the time I delivered that reform, of league tables and name and shame, has simply not come true, and I was very confident it would never come true."

Ms Gillard also said her needs-based school funding reform was "bitterly opposed every step of the way" by those who wanted to get political advantage from siding with certain school sectors.

"Now I am delighted to see people from all sides of politics falling over themselves to grab the mantle of being the truest believer in needs-based funding," she said. "This is a change in Australian politics of which I am very proud."

NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the only reason My School didn't lead to league tables was industrial action by teachers. "It's really galling to hear her say that," he said. "[My School] has turned what was meant to be low-stakes into a highstakes test. It has caused immeasurable damage to the teaching of curriculum across the country. It has led to the blossoming of a coaching industry.

"The creation of My School was a singularly retrograde policy initiative, which very few people in the profession would defend."


From; Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney  by Jordan Baker
09 Jun 2018

Posted in: Governance Government   0 Comments
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