At Hills Grammar we believe that education is valuable for its own sake. We are proud of our School and proud of it being a school that values education for its capacity to change lives, for its higher purpose, and importantly one that values education, broadly defined. At the same time, we need to teach the basics, attend to NAPLAN, conquer the HSC and prepare our students for employment. At a recent education symposium I attended:
- The Minister for Education said we need to raise standards. He decreed this would occur by making performance in Year 9 NAPLAN a prequalifier to be eligible to sit the Higher School Certificate. Similarly, there is talk about testing students even younger than Year 3. I am not convinced this is raising standards, but we have a responsibility to both comply and make our preparations for these challenges the best it can be.
- The business fraternity and employers told us we are not moving fast enough to prepare students for the future (which is also altering). They are looking to schools to do this preparation, not necessarily the tertiary institutions which have traditionally allowed students to specialise and train for a specific career.
- The educationalist said we are moving too quickly and need to slow down and instead ensure deep learning occurs so that schools can produce students who are problem solvers and have the capacity to adapt with change and graduate from our school with confidence and wellbeing intact.
My own personal view is that one of these pathways is nobler than the others, but my work as Principal of a contemporary forward looking school is to ensure our School travels all of these pathways, in the interests of our students. It is a tall order, but I believe that Hills Grammar knows its responsibility and has, and will continue to meet them as we prepare our students for the world they will inherit.
If our focus is on enabling students through learning, through education, if we inspire and engage, if we innovate and take risks then they will enter the world as active participants and partners and also be able to demonstrate this though performance in state and national test and examinations. Further, learning to learn will prepare our students for their futures.
It is so easy to get bogged down or stuck on those things which are knowable, that which is compliant, that which the SMH reports - these to me are not extraordinary. They are important, but not at the expense of, or in place of our broader and wider agenda and purpose. It is our joint responsibility to set and travel this broad direction for the future. Our belief and trust in our School to achieve all of this, within the period we have access to our students, ranging from one year to fifteen years, is crucial, requires patience and certainly demands a positive and co-operative partnership between the School and home. Let’s ensure these features of our school are strengthened further!
Michael Smith | Principal