SOC2035 – 18 Months into an aspirational 15-year Strategic Vision
In January 2021, after community consultation, research and ‘outside the square’ thinking, Scotch Oakburn College launched SOC2035, the College’s ambitious 15-year Strategic Vision. Throughout the 18-month creation process of SOC2035, the College Executive and Board of Directors were determined that this vision for the College’s future would provide ongoing direction for the allocation of resources and never sit idle on a shelf, gathering dust. To ensure that occurs, the Board of Directors receives quarterly updates on the progress of the current projects, each aligned to one or more of the four Strands of SOC2035: Learning; Wellbeing; Community; Capacity.
SOC Learner Attributes are the Complex Competencies needed for Life.
Our increasing focus on the Learner Attributes will assist our young people to develop complex competencies that they will need throughout their lives. Complex competencies go way beyond the understanding and mastery of content. Skills such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, enterprise skills, intercultural understanding and communication are what
students will need to navigate the world they will operate in.
In the early years, it is quite easy to integrate these competencies when children are between the ages of two and six. Unfortunately, as the learner gets older, schools become more siloed in their approach and by Year 12 we risk students becoming quite dispersed because of the separate subjects that they focus on. By keeping a focus on attributes and capabilities we
can provide the connective tissue to bring the whole person back together. This can be achieved by students continuing to work on projects that make it easier to develop these competencies.
University leaders, such as the Vice-Chancellor of Swinburne University, suggest that the current model is not going to get us to where we need to be. The tertiary sector nationwide is moving to make non-ATAR entry mainstream, rather than the exception to the rule that it was only a few years ago. In fact, only approximately 50% of entry into tertiary courses are now based on ATAR alone. Instead of students relying on their ‘rank’ to be admitted into competitive courses, tertiary admissions centres around the country now predict that course ‘matching’ will be the focus, where those competencies that are needed for success in particular courses are sought from students, alongside the necessary benchmarks of course-particular skills or understandings. ‘Just in time education’ is being promoted by some tertiary institutions, the intention being to provide a scaffold around the learner that provides what they need, as they need it. We know that learners now are not the same as they were 30-40 years ago and that inflicting the same treatment on them seldom works.
Changes needed to accelerate a reform agenda involve a strong partnership between schools and universities where more autonomy and power is provided to institutions, rather than sticking to a static system wide approach. If we are truly to re-define success for students, then there needs to be a seamless relationship between schools and tertiary education institutions and for this to happen we need to stop incentivising the focus on score. It has even been suggested that university offers are made at the end of Year 10 to allow students in Years 11 and 12 to take more risks and challenge themselves intellectually in the last two years of school. These ideas are held by some of the foremost educational researchers in Australia and they affirm for Scotch Oakburn that we are heading in the right direction with the emphasis on our ten Learner Attributes. We will continue to embed them (and other complex competencies) into everything we do, at every opportunity.
A key initiative of the College’s SOC2035 Wellbeing Strand in 2022 has been the development of a College-wide Wellbeing Framework. SOCIAL Wellbeing, an acronym for Scotch Oakburn College Integrated Approach to Learning and Wellbeing, is all about helping students and staff develop the wellbeing tools to feel good and function well in their lives.
An integral part of this, our new pastoral care system across Middle and Senior School, is now well-established. Smaller House-based Mentor Groups in Senior School and class-based groups in Middle School work primarily with one of their core teachers as Mentor. The Resilience Project (TRP) is delivered in intensive blocks each term. In Term 1 the focus was Gratitude and more recently students have been developing their understanding of Empathy. At the Elphin Campus, TRP is embedded in the everyday curriculum.
The TRP Parent & Carer Hub features 5-10 minute videos that step through the key pillars of resilience: Gratitude, Empathy & Mindfulness. You’ll hear stories and be introduced to activities to show how these strategies can support our students’ learning and development, and support parents and carers. Also new for 2022 has been the implementation of a College Wellbeing Team. This team includes our new Social & Emotional Learning Coordinator at Elphin and two new Counsellors in Middle and Senior School. Working alongside pastoral leaders, the College Wellbeing Team advises the College Executive, through the Deputy Principal and Dean of Students, on strategic and operational matters regarding the Wellbeing Strand of SOC2035.
The Student Wellbeing and Engagement Survey (SWES) was completed in Term 1 by students in Year 4 to Year 12. This will provide strong baseline data for the development of wellbeing interventions and programs. Recently, our pastoral leaders received training to unpack the data and identify focus areas based on the data.
SchoolTV continues to be a much relied on resource for parents and the wider College community. Some of the important issues we have highlighted in 2022 include Youth Anxiety, Understanding Adolescence, Transitioning Schools and Managing Screen Time. Recently the College welcomed Paul Dillon, a renowned expert on educating young people about the risks of alcohol, drugs and other risk-taking behaviour. Paul’s visits have been a regular fixture on the College calendar in recent years and are always well-received.
This year marks the commencement of a three-year accreditation process with the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) as a Child Safe Organisation. Our Safeguarding Steering Committee has stood up working parties for each of the seven ACF Standards the College must meet for accreditation. A key message is that the safeguarding of children and young people is a shared responsibility which requires commitment across every level of our school, from the Board through to volunteers, and that including the voices of young people in the process is critical to its success.
The focus on wellbeing in our schools and wider community has never been sharper, and we hope this article helps you understand some of the SOCIAL Wellbeing initiatives at Scotch Oakburn to support the wellbeing of everyone in our College community.
As society changes so do certain aspects of the role education plays in readying our students for their future.
SOC2035 is intentionally future-focused whilst remaining agile enough to flex and adapt to the needs of our students,
ensuring they can confidently step beyond our gates, both now and in the years ahead.