At the heart of every great school is a culture that promotes learning. It was clear to me through my research in applying for the Principal position that our students are exposed to a number of rich opportunities to learn both in and outside of the classrooms. Opportunity is essential because it allows students to perform to their potential, thereby increasing their educational and career prospects.
However, our current context also informs us that we need to place a greater emphasis on academic achievement and effort which can be met through an intentional focus on scholarship. By that I mean cultivating a powerful culture of learning that encourages intellectual rigour, independent thinking and highly valuing both academic study and achievement. We want our students to be challenged and to develop a love of learning so they can harness the intellectual habits that will allow them to be independent and confident.
It is our intention that scholarship is what our students will take from Northholm Grammar School and leadership is what they will give to the world.
We know that education is more than grades, but by one’s influence on the world. The willingness and ability to learn, to lead and to serve are what enable a life to be both well-lived and worthwhile. This is encapsulated explicitly through our holistic approach to scholarship with excellence and character development. However, academic success is the product of mastering the ‘residuals of a true education’ which includes hard work, preparation, resilience, responding to feedback, a positive attitude, organisation and striving to achieve our personal best. Achieving good academic results in examinations increases one’s options in life and a vibrant learning environment helps students to capitalise on their talents, leading in many to professional careers. At Northholm we seek to achieve these outcomes through our positive relationships with students, staff and parents.
In achieving a culture of scholarship, our staff have embraced a framework on ‘Responsive Teaching’ that highlights the key features of classroom practice that have been linked to improved student outcomes which include:
- Professional practice that is fundamentally based on promoting high expectations of intellectual rigour
- Professional practice that is soundly based on explicit teaching creating a quality learning environment
- Professional practice that is informed by data through a coherent structure of formative assessment and deliberate practice
- Professional practice that provides effective feedback for continuous improvement
- Professional practice that allows teachers to build strong positive relationships with students
- Northholm is driven by a deep belief that every student is capable of successful learning. A high priority is given to building and maintaining positive and caring relationships between staff, students and parents. There is a strong collegial culture of mutual trust and support among teachers and school leaders. The school works to maintain a learning environment that is safe, respectful, tolerant, inclusive and that promotes intellectual rigour. This is at the heart of our focus on scholarship.
Christopher Bradbury, Principal 15 February 2019