Senior School Report

February 4, 2021

by Director of the Senior School, Mr Hamish McCrum

Welcome to all Senior School students after a significant break.  2020 was a difficult year for most and the Christmas break was a much-needed opportunity for us all to refresh and reset.  At the time of writing we are all back into face masks but hopefully things will remain open throughout 2021.

On Friday our Year 12 students had their Retreat and listened to Steve Lawrence, who comes across as a gentle religious man. It is hard to imagine this same person was the player of the AFL final series in 1991 and part of the Hawthorn premiership team that year. He shared part of his life journey and encouraged our boys to pursue the Kingdom of God and to be the best possible versions of themselves.  He told some powerful stories that highlighted the importance of doing what you know is right even when this seems difficult, and the positive impact that this may then have on others, far beyond what you could have considered possible at the time.

For some students the start of a new school year is the chance to resume the good work they have been doing, for others it is a chance to form better habits than they may have had in the past.  It is important for all students to realise that when they put in sustained efforts over a period of time to learn, they not only learn new information and skills, they grow their capacity for learning.  It is also known that high (and realistic) parental expectations of students’ performance typically leads to higher performance by students.  So we need to dare to expect our students to do as well as is realistic for each them.  In many cases this is higher than people might think.  With this expectation then comes the expectation that they will do all their set homework.

Typically, a Year 10 would average 7.5 hours of homework per week, a Year 11 would average 10 hours per week and a Year 12 15 hours per week (which may include work done in study periods where used correctly – some will do much more than 15 hours).  Study is more effective when it is done in many small blocks rather than “leaving it all until Sunday”.  Busy students who do well tend to use every spare 20-minute block of time to get something done.  For many students setting them up for homework where they can be passively supervised (e.g. kitchen table) may result in more effective learning than if they are hidden in their bedroom with phones and computers.  Please encourage students to place their phones in another room while studying.  Students (and the rest of us) tend to under-estimate how long tasks will take, so it is a good idea to start early.  Good results do not come without hard work and doing the correct things: one of these is plenty of practice questions / writing tasks / exams rather than just reading and high-lighting.  Making and roughly adhering to a homework timetable is something that successful students do.  It will take a few drafts to get something that works and it takes some self-discipline to follow it.  Self-discipline can be developed and is bigger indicator of high scores than IQ.

Part-time jobs tend to be good for students, however exceeding five hours per week is not advised during term.  Some businesses will roster students on for up to 15 hours per week but this may be better for the business than the student.

Some sport is good, but playing in three teams each week and the practice that goes with this can also be a limiting life choice in the long run.

Socialising is also healthy, but saying no to some parties depending on other time constraints may be required (ideal if the student can say no, but sometimes it will be the parent’s role).

And another basic request, please name all items: clothing, calculators etc. unless you don’t mind buying another one at short notice.

Once again, welcome back and I look forward to seeing you all involved in many of the different aspects of College life.