The Applecross Primary School Board has an official role, as defined by the Department of Education, which includes reviewing school performance; developing and reviewing the school Business Plan; reviewing and approving school budgets and charges; and establishing and reviewing the school’s objectives, priorities and general policy directions. In addition to this official role, we agree to be ambassadors and advocates for the school; develop a culture of service; support our staff; and be available to other parents.
Annual School Board Chair Report
As I reflect on the 2020 school year, and the role of the School Board over this twelve month period, I am filled with a sense of achievement in all that the Board has accomplished. 2020 was a year which challenged us all, and in this year of change, the School Board continued in its steady governance and policy role, alongside providing counsel and support to the Principal as required, as the year unfolded.
The year commenced with the farewelling of two longstanding parent Board members, alongside two staff members, whose contributions have been highly valued and essential to the cohesive functioning of the Board during their tenure. We then subsequently warmly welcomed those new members, who were motivated to nominate for our School Board, in order to share their skills and expertise with us.
An area of focus for the Board for 2020 related to our increasing enrolment numbers, and the impact of recent and proposed housing developments within the Applecross Primary School catchment. The annual reviewing of enrolment data, student outcomes, classroom availability and staffing, when taken alongside the concerns voiced within the school community regarding possible growth at the school, lead the Board to invite Colin Brandis, Manager of Strategic Asset Planning, and Yash Sanghavi, Principal Demographic Consultant at the Department of Education, to speak at our Term 3 Board meeting. We were provided with a detailed overview of student projections for our school, as well as the procedures used to verify enrolment numbers and to predict new student intake. The Board were reassured that current predictions are in line with enrolment numbers at the school, and that while growth is expected within Applecross, the predicted student numbers will be ably supported by the Department, through their established processes.
An additional area of focus for the Board during 2020 was the consideration of student outcomes and how we measure these. Given the absence of NAPLAN data due to the COVID-19 pandemic, standardised data comparing our students and their cohorts against national benchmarks and ‘like’ schools was not available this year, and as such alternative sources of achievement were considered and implemented by school staff. Mr Guelfi spoke to this at length, in conjunction with our staff members, informing the Board of the tools which were being used, the rationale behind their use, and their validity with regards our student body.
In 2019, the School Board was consulted regarding the school’s implementation of a BYOD program for Years 4 to 6 inclusive. Following one year of implementation in the Year 4 cohort, the Board requested a review from school staff regarding the roll-out of the program. Louis Shepherd, Deputy Principal, and Lindsey Allen, Year 4 Teacher, provided a detailed summary of the program to date, highlighting the increased engagement and personalisation of learning offered to those participating students, as well as the diversity of skill development which has occurred. The program will continue into 2021 with a new intake of Year 4s, and the requirements of increased teacher professional development and the provision for students who may not have access to their own devices being noted.
With an eye to the future, a significant project for the school staff over the course of the year, in consultation with the School Board, was the development of the school’s new Business Plan 2021-2023. This document identifies the school’s goals for the coming three years, alongside the strategies which will be utilised to achieve these goals. Ongoing discussion and debate occurred at the Board, under the guidance of Mr Guelfi, and alongside the expert knowledge provided by our staff representatives. It has been an exciting process, resulting in a document which are all committed to and proud of.
2020 was also the school’s mandated year to conduct a comprehensive school opinion survey, which was administered to parents, staff and all students in Years 5 and 6. The results of this survey were again overwhelmingly positive, and reinforced the hard work of the staff as well as the contributions of our active P & C, and indeed our engaged and responsive parent boy. The findings also provided areas of focus for the coming two years.
The aforementioned discussions, once again took place alongside core Board business. As always, the Board dedicated time to reviewing and approving the school’s finances, including our annual budget, school fees and charges, as well as booklists and equipment. In addition, we were informed of staffing, enrolment and classroom allocations, as well as pupil-free days etc. The Board continued to update the school community regularly regarding the outcomes of the termly Board meetings, and we maintained our close ties with the school’s P & C.
As I come to the end of my four year tenure as Board Chair, I am struck again by what a privilege it is to be part of the School Board at Applecross Primary School. To volunteer alongside parents and staff who are passionate about the direction of our school, and the environment in which our children and their teachers work, is energising and inspiring. Many thanks to my fellow Board members for their commitment and enthusiasm over the course of the year, and especially to our hardworking teachers and school staff who maintained such a high standard of education and care over what was a challenging year. The Board is looking forward to continuing to work for our community, and to enjoy the excitement and opportunities that 2021 will bring.