“Acknowledgment of Country” by students at Heathmont College
|Hello and Wominjeka.
Wominjeka means ‘Welcome’ in Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.
On behalf of Heathmont College, we would like to note that since the dawn of time, the sacred land on which our school is situated Always Was and Always Will Be Wurundjeri land. We would like to pay our respects to the traditional custodians who are guardians of this land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, and we acknowledge their Ancestors, Elders, Youth and Children; past, present and those of the future within their community.
We recognise the many diverse and ongoing living cultures of all First Nations people of Australia. It’s with appreciation we see their perseverance, strength and value their deep continuing spiritual connection to Country, Community, Animals, Skies, Stars and Waterways, as they belong to the oldest living culture in the world. The Heathmont College community is dedicated to embracing First Nation’s history and cultures by fostering respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people built on co-operation and trust. We all come from different places though we must work together on this shared learning journey to enrich our understandings and celebrate First Nation’s people and their cultures.
This land was never ceded, it Always Was and Always Will Be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land.
Grow with Heathmont College
Discover how we help engage, challenge and develop excellence in our students.
Welcome to Heathmont College, I am proud to introduce our school to you.
Students are at the centre of all that we do here at Heathmont College. We aim to foster student development and growth through a focus on student engagement, empowerment and learning in order to support students to achieve their very best in all that they do.
During these uncertain times, it is vitally important that schools focus on supporting students to develop strategies to navigate the unknowns in the world around them and to build resilience in order to manage uncertainty and challenge. As a lead school in the Maroondah Positive Education Network, Heathmont College aims to do exactly this through developing growth mindsets in our students and our staff and leveraging this to enhance resilience across the school by focusing on student and staff strengths. By developing student skills in managing adversity, we empower them to lead their best lives.
The College is focusing on building a Positive Climate for Learning and on setting High Expectations for all members of the community through the provision of high-quality teaching and learning and the provision of a broad range of opportunities for staff and for students. Hand in hand with setting high expectations comes a need to follow up with an insistence on meeting these expectations and providing the necessary support for all members of the community to do so. As such, we have a range of structures and supports within the school to ensure that the high expectations that we set can be met. These supports include our House structure for student management which aims to enhance student engagement in the college and build stronger connections amongst students from different year levels. Each member of our community belongs to a House and receive the required support through these.
Our Sports Academy provides students with the opportunity to develop their abilities and confidence across a range of sports and to be actively involved in our community. We have had several upgrades to facilities and buildings in recent months this includes our new sports stadium that has been completed and ready for classes to use since 2021, as well as our brand-new HOPE centre which opened in 2022 and provides meeting and conference facilities that can be used across the network.
The Arts is celebrated here at Heathmont College. We love how it builds a curious, compassionate, and creative culture where individual talent and expression is embraced. The community of Arts at Heathmont College is continuing to grow inside, as well as outside the classroom, with our new performing arts building completed June 2023. We are excited to see our new Arts Centre coming to life as it presents many new opportunities for students to use industry level equipment to take the Performing Arts at Heathmont College to new heights.
(Heathmont Gazette – Issue 7)
Another month has passed and much has been happening around the college, as can be seen in the articles in this month’s edition of the Gazette. There have been many student achievements and events occurring to keep students active and happy during these colder months.
As principal, I want to take this opportunity to call out some of the really positive things that we have been seeing around the college and, in particular, I would like to acknowledge the work of our student leaders across the year and especially in Term 3.
Student leadership and achievement
Firstly, I have to say that our school captains and prefects are an amazing group of young people. I met with them recently, after school earlier this week, to discuss how things are going with them and to identify areas for further work. The work that they have done this year is nothing short of extraordinary; from mentoring younger students to running journalism groups, Heathmont Talks, assemblies, and so much more. They have approached their leadership roles with enthusiasm, and initiative and exemplified our school values in every way. As they look to finishing formal classes and preparing for the assessment period, they are still seeking ways to support the college and its staff and students and coming up with ideas for how they can help prepare the next cohort of leaders for 2024 and beyond. Their commitment to this school and its objectives, their compassion for their peers and for the staff and their absolute support for the community of this college will leave a mark that will be felt for years to come. I encourage any students thinking about leadership to reach out to this cohort of young leaders for guidance and support in the work. As role models, you could not hope for any better. Well done Lachlan, Molly, Jess, Marlon, Jascha, Charlie and Claire!
Camps, excursions and events
In 2022, the school was fortunate to receive funding to be able to run camps at every year level for all students to attend free of charge. In 2023, we have not been able to access this funding to the same degree however, we have run the Year 7 camp and the Year 8 camp earlier in the year as well as some smaller curriculum-based camps for subjects such as Outdoor Education. Central Tour is also about to head off in the later part of this term with students from Year 10 able to experience this amazing opportunity to see a very different part of our country and learn more about our First Nations Peoples. Later this year, we will also be running our leadership camp at Rubicon, for which nominations are being collected by Ms Constance, and this will be subsidised by the school council.
In the senior space, there are formals being organised for Years 10 and 11 for next Term, and the year 12s, of course, will have their end-of-year celebrations and Valedictory evening.
In addition to these camps, the college has organised a myriad of excursions and activities to support students to expand their horizons and learn more about the world around them. Some of these events and excursions are included in this month’s Gazette and others will be included in our next edition.
The Operations Committee has been kept very busy trying to schedule camps, excursions and events so as to have the least impact on classes and teachers, but this has, at times, been very challenging. As you would likely be aware, across the system there is a significant teacher shortage, and this can make it very difficult to find replacement staff. As much as possible, we aim to run excursions that leave few classes to be covered but with teacher allotments crossing multiple subjects and year levels, this is not always achievable. When you also take into account teacher absence due to illness and other factors, this does mean that we have a number of classes on any one day who will be taken by a teacher that is not their own and might be taken by a teacher who is a casual relief teacher. This can be unsettling for some students, but I have to clearly state that our expectation for students at Heathmont College is that they treat all staff members, whether they are teaching staff or ES staff or casual staff with the respect that they would afford their regular teachers.
Looking to 2024
We have been doing some planning for 2024 across this term and will be making some changes to school operations for next year. One big change that we will be implementing for 2024 is the structure of the school day. In 2024, we will be running Nourish (our morning breakfast program that currently runs only on Tuesdays and Fridays) every morning and this will be staffed by the college as an alternative to Mentor Group. We will not run Mentor Group in 2024 and, instead, will increase each teaching and learning period to bring them up to 60 minutes which will also make the timing of the school day, much easier to keep track of. The school day will, therefore, start at 9.00 am and will finish at 3.00 pm, this will make it easier for students to get to and from school on time, for those who catch public transport especially. Nourish will be open from 8.15 am each morning and we will continue to run a yard duty roster from 8.30 am.
We would also love to see some of our parents come along and help out with Nourish in the mornings and see how the school operates at its best. As you will see later in this newsletter, Nourish is one of the most popular and positive programs that we run at Heathmont College, and it would be great to get a parent roster happening to support this program. If you would be interested in helping out one day a month or a term, please keep an eye out for expressions of interest from the team as we move closer to the end of the year.
Earlier this week, the Department of Education visited the college to conduct some filming with members of our Leadership team around the approach that the college is taking to develop our Mathematics and Numeracy strategy. The filming was for a series of vignettes for the Mathematics Teaching Toolkit and are designed to support other schools across the system to think about how they approach leadership and improvement in the Mathematics and Numeracy space. Whilst we are still developing our strategy in this space, over the past couple of years we have seen some significant improvements in our Mathematics and Numeracy outcomes for students and our approach to developing our staff is something that we believe is yielding strong and positive outcomes. Whilst we are still developing this strategy, the initial results are encouraging, and it is fantastic to be recognised by the Department of Education for this work. I am hoping that we may be able to share some of these videos with the school community later in the year.
In addition to this and also in the mathematics space, our college has been asked to present at this year’s ATSIMA conference. ATSIMA stands for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance and the reason we have been asked to present is that two of our staff members (Ms Lawson and Mr Hunt) worked with members of the ATSIMA team in 2022 as part of a project to develop and implement mathematics activities and resources that incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into the teaching and learning of the subject. The work was focused at Year 7 and centered around a unit on Statistics. Through this unit, students learned about Aboriginal counting systems, seasons and weather, eel trapping and hunting techniques, all whilst learning about Statistics as outlined in the Victorian Curriculum. The conference that we will be presenting at is to be held in Yirrkala, which is in far North Arnhem Land, and ATSIMA are sponsoring Mr Hunt to attend. I will also be attending – sponsored by the Mathematics Association of Victoria as their representative – and will ensure that we bring back new knowledge and learning to share. With the recent release of the new Victorian Curriculum: Mathematics, incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives is something that all schools will be required to do as part of their regular work in Mathematics. It is exciting, therefore, to know that we are already well ahead in this. The conference is being held in early October and we will be able to report on how things went and what we learned in the October edition of the Gazette so stay tuned.