Hi, my name is Stephen Bevan and I am Principal at Madeley Primary School in Perth, Western Australia. Research shows that open and clear communication between home and school is important which is why I have created this blog. As Principal of Madeley Primary School I value your opinions and encourage your comments. Feel free to comment on any of the posts. Comments are moderated prior to going live on the blog.

I will endeavour to provide you with regular and informative posts about our school and its activities. I ask that your comments be constructive and positive with any concerns or complaints directed to me personally at school.

Madeley Primary School prides itself on the positive, open and friendly culture that has been established. Our core values of Curriculum, Community and Care are guiding principles that shape our school.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Speech to graduating Year 6 students

I have had a few people ask for a copy of the speech I gave to our graduating Year 6 students. I have copied it below.

Good morning everyone, I would like to take just a couple of minutes to talk to our graduating Year 6 students about the topic of success.

The truth is that we all want to be successful. We want our lives to be satisfying, to be positive and to be rewarding. We want to have an impact in the world that makes a difference and we want others to recognise what we do. 

There are all kinds of success....
·        There is academic success, getting high grades, achieving a scholarship or award, dux of the school. University recognition, Masters degrees and doctorates.
     Financial success, making lots of money, buying a big house, driving a fancy car, traveling the world.
     Physical success, becoming the next supermodel, Mr Universe or Sporting success, becoming an Olympic champion, winning an AFL premiership, playing in the NBA.
     Work success, winning the next big account, getting a promotion.

All these things are good things but are they really a mark of a successful life? 
There are plenty of academics with degrees upon degrees who are lonely and misunderstood. There are multitudes of rich people living very sad lives, surrounded by drug addiction, alcohol addiction, people who love them for their  money, their fame and fortune. There are numerous beautiful people who have started to age and their beauty no longer seems to be so attractive anymore. There are countless ex-sporting stars who are living a sad, obscure life, addicted to drugs or pining for the glory of their previous life.

Academic success, financial success, physical success, success in your work are all good things to strive towards but they don’t necessarily mean that your life is ultimately a success. Underneath all these things, the thing that glues all these temporary successes together, the thing that weaves together what we would consider to be a successful life is relationships. Strong, deep, quality relationships.

The way that you interact with others at school, in your work, when you play, when you participate in sport, when you participate in most activities, the social skills that you develop and build will have the greatest impact and bring the greatest satisfaction in your life. More than money, beauty, fame or any temporary successes. People who build trusting and close relationships with colleagues, friends and best friends are those that can enjoy all the other successes of life more fully and with greater joy and fulfillment. When they need help they have others to support them, when they experience success they have others to enjoy the experience of life with them. 

To build successful relationships you need to be able to understand and manage your own emotions and feelings. You need to be able to make strong decisions and work to resolve problems so that everyone benefits. You need to develop integrity, honesty, kindness, the desire to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. 

All these things are the basis of what we have been teaching you here at Madeley. We believe that your social and emotional development is the key ingredient to making you successful in life. At the core of this is the golden rule “Treat others as you would like them to treat you.” If you adopt this rule and actively seek to live it out on a daily basis you will develop the kind of relationships that will enable you to live a successful life. 

On behalf of the staff and students at Madeley I wish you all the very best for a safe and happy holiday and for your start to high school next year.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Unpacking our Vision Statement

Our school vision statement:

How was this vision statement created?
Staff and the School Board participated in planning activities in which we explored why our school exists, its purpose and what we hope to achieve for our community. Through these activities the key components of the vision statement were created. This was then refined and the final statement created.

Why is a vision statement important?
Our vision  statement outlines what Madeley Primary School stands for as an educational institution in the local community. It is meant to aspire and inspire and to shape and guide what we do into the future. Everything that we do should work towards achieving the vision that we have set ourselves.

What are the key parts of our vision statement?
1. Promotion of life-long learning
2. A positive School Community
3. Respect is valued
4. High expectations for independence and excellence

Life-Long Learners
Life-long Learners are the people that make a real difference in the world. These kind of learners are often the best innovators and problem solvers. They are people who seek out knowledge and information and then apply it in a meaningful way to their lives and the lives of others. They are social learners who appreciate the knowledge of others and enjoy the company of people who can add to their own knowledge base. Life-long learners never think they have reached the end of their learning and constantly self-reflect in an attempt to apply new knowledge to their lives. 

How we will develop life-long learners?
High literacy and numeracy skills are essential for life-long learners. This means that the basics of speaking, reading, writing, calculating, problem solving need to be explicitly taught. Social skills are also essential to life-long learners. The school will continue to promote Play Is The Way as a basis for social-emotional learning. Students will learn essential life skills like self-regulation, self-motivation and responsibility for actions. The school will focus on these areas as a priority over the next three years and beyond. Teachers will work to differentiate instruction to cater for the preferred learning styles of students. A wide range of experiences and activities will be provided which will include many incursions and excursions as these broaden the range of experiences for students. Students will be taught to ask questions especially when they do not understand something. Student will also be provided with opportunities to consolidate what they know by teaching and supporting peers in the classroom.

The school's Performance Development process will have 'reflective practice' at its core. Through this process staff will model life-long learning and use self-reflection as the basis for improving their teaching and the impact this has on student learning.

A Positive School Community
Our school's guiding principles of Curriculum, Community, Care outline our focus on excellence in learning through positive interaction and involvement with a supportive and connected community. We believe that care, compassion, respect, understanding and inclusion are important values that need to be developed, taught and modeled. We want students, parents and staff to feel like they belong and are connected in a way that promotes the health and well-being of all.

How we will develop a positive school community?
Regular opportunities to talk and give feedback are essential to a healthy and positive school environment. The school will work at providing plenty of interaction points including parent meetings, special events, newsletters, social media, digital communication and surveys. Parents will be regularly reminded that they can arrange a time to meet with their child's teacher whenever they feel they need to. The role of our P&C and School Board will be regularly promoted and close relationship with these important groups and the school will be maintained. The school will continue to explore ways of improving communication with members of our community who come from language backgrounds other than English and the diversity of our community will be celebrated through the curriculum and special events.

Our school's focus on Positive Education will provide students with the understanding and skills needed for them to be successful members of society. Our school's golden rule "Treat others as you would like them to treat you" will form the basis for this learning. 

The school aims to develop the intrinsic motivation of students so that they succeed because they want to and not because of any external reward or consequence. Students will be encouraged to set their own behaviour and learning goals and monitor their achievement of these goals. 

The school will work at developing the health and well-being of the community including its staff through the promotion of healthy practices and relationships. Information about good nutrition, physical activity and sleep will be promoted.

Respect is Valued
Respect involves being careful and thoughtful with other people. Students, teachers, parents and other members of the community show respect when they use kind words or actions regardless of the situation or the emotions that may be involved. Respect is so important that the school has included it as one of its three core values (Respect, Responsibility, Resilience). Respect for self is also important.

How we will develop respect?
The Positive Education approach adopted by the school incorporates processes in which respect for self and others is promoted and developed. The school has established protocols that outline how people will treat each other. The way that the school seeks to communicate and consult with parents and the community models and promotes respect for the opinions and ideas of others. The school will continue to develop the way it communicates with parents. 

Independence and Excellence are Expected
The school promotes students pursuing their 'personal best'. We believe that students who are achieving to their full capacity are also achieving excellence. We will expect all of our students to strive for excellence in their academic achievement as well as their social-emotional learning.

A study conducted in the Netherlands found "Students in self-regulated learning environments are more motivated to learn, report more enjoyment of the material and are more actively involved in their learning than those who study in more restrictive environments." Our staff will work to provide students with the skills they need to succeed as independent learners. They will provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their independence through well planned learning tasks.

How will be develop independence and excellence?
Excellence starts with having high expectations. Our staff will assist students to have high expectations for their own learning. Our approach to Positive Education will encourage students to "be brave - participate to progress' and 'pursue your personal best no matter who you work with.' 

All teachers will complete a Department of Education endorsed professional learning program called CMS (Classroom Management Strategies). This will assist teachers to employ techniques and strategies that raise student accountability and engagement while maintaining a safe and friendly classroom environment.Co-operative learning will be promoted across the school as a tool for engaging students at a level appropriate to them.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Name Calling

At our mini-assembly today I talked with our students about 'name calling', not because it is a serious problem at Madeley but because it happens and needs to be addressed. We also watched a short YouTube clip about the issue.

Name calling is a problem that occurs in every school and at home and is not always easy to resolve. Calling someone nasty or mean things is something most of us have done or have had done to us in our lives. Unfortunately, adults are just as much to blame and we often model this kind of behaviour to our children.

I often come across the situation where people justify their behaviour because they were provoked. For example students will say "I called him a name because he was annoying me or being mean to me first." Adults may say "I called him a loser because he cut me off in traffic." Some students call others names because they think it is funny but don't mean to hurt others (they see it as a joke). Ultimately, being mean or nasty to someone is never justified even if they provoke us first or if we are trying to be funny.

At Madeley Primary school we teach our students to 'Treat others as you would like them to treat you.' Nobody wants to be abused or treated badly so it follows that we should choose to act kindly and with restraint even when others annoy us or provoke us.

The old proverb is so true when considering the problem of name calling ...'A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.' We can help diffuse situations by choosing gentle words or we can help inflame it by calling names and snapping back with the first nasty thing that comes into our mind. 

I told our students today that the old saying "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me' is wrong as names can hurt just as much as physical pain. I also told them that the old saying 'If you haven't got anything good or positive to say, don't say it' is very good advice to follow. 

Our school's guiding principles are CURRICULUM, COMMUNITY, CARE and our values are RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY and RESILIENCE.  As we seek to develop these principles and values our focus is on creating a positive and nurturing environment where respectful and caring relationships are the norm. 

I encourage parents and carers to talk about the impact of 'name calling' with their children. This will support us in our work at school and ensure that clear and consistent messages are being communicated to our children.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Reflective Practice and Excellence

The staff at Madeley Primary School are committed to achieving excellence. Our new Vision Statement says:

“Madeley Primary School will nurture and promote life-long learners within a positive school community where respect is valued and independence and excellence are expected.”

 We seek to promote excellence in the programs we provide and in the work we do. Through our striving for excellence we model to our students that we expect them to do their very best to achieve their very best...this is excellence.

The Ashdale Cluster which includes Madeley, is focusing on developing reflective practice as part of the process of improvement and hence achieving even greater excellence. One strategy that we are using as part of the reflective practice process is video recording lessons. Teachers have identified areas of their practice that they would like to develop and are videoing parts of their lessons in order to provide clear and useful information that they can reflect on. Teachers will use this information to modify various aspects of their teaching practice. This is a powerful tool for self-improvement.

Videos of lessons are only viewed by the classroom teacher although they may also choose to share the videos with other teachers in the cluster as part of the reflection process. After this, videos will be erased by the teacher. If you have any questions about the use of videos please see your child's teacher.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Importance of Pre-service Professional Practice

The staff at Madeley Primary School believe that it is essential for us to provide student teachers with an opportunity to learn and practice the art of teaching through school placements. For this reason we again have many pre-service teachers working across our school in 2016. These teachers work under the close supervision of their mentor (classroom) teachers. Through their teaching practice they learn new skills and knowledge which they will need when they graduate into our schooling system. They also bring the latest knowledge from university and a great deal of excitement and energy to our classrooms.

Ms Dunbar (Level 3 teacher) coordinates and manages the Pre-service Teacher Program at Madeley and we thank her for her work in this area.

This year we have students completing their Professional Practice in the following courses
  • Bachelor of Education: 4th yr Assistant Teacher Program 

  • Graduate Diploma of Education: 1st Professional Practice

  •  Bachelor of Education: 1st Professional Practice (Orientation)

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Importance of ANZAC Day at Madeley Primary School

ANZAC Day is an important event in the school calendar at Madeley Primary. We seek to commemorate all those who represent our country in the armed forces and to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to promote and preserve our way of life. The ANZAC Spirit promotes mateship - looking after your friends and resilience and perseverance even when things get tough. These same qualities are what we seek to develop at Madeley Primary School.

Our school's approach to positive education encourages students to strive to do their very best, to treat others as they would like to be treated and to be brave and sensible in everything that they do. These skills and abilities are an important part of being a 'mate' to others. Our focus on relationship building and cooperative problem solving helps to develop resilience and the capacity to see and appreciate the feelings of others.

Our annual ANZAC Service is a community event which involves local politicians, community groups, School Board and P&C members as well as parents, staff and students. It provides an opportunity for student leaders and classroom representatives to participate in the running of a formal ceremony. It also provides our choir with an opportunity to perform for an audience.

 This year our special guests included:
    • Honorable Liz Behjat MLC
    • Senator the Honorable David Johnston
    • Margaret Quirk MLA
    • Councillor Lara Simpkins - City of Wanneroo
    • Joe Hawkins - Bendigo Bank
    • James Dillon - School Board
    • Paul Wright - P&C Vice President
    • Edna Johanson - guest speaker
We wish to thank our special guests, parents and community members for their attendance at our ceremony. We also thank Mrs Dawn Chester who organised and coordinated the ceremony again this year. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

Composite/Split Classes

Parents often request that their children are not placed in a composite/split class. These classes are unavoidable due to the way that schools are funded i.e. per student. When we create classes at the start of every year we need to consider a number of factors which include:
  1. The number of students actually enrolled in each year level
  2. Anticipated enrollments during the year
  3. Available funding which dictates the number of staff we can employ
  4. Industrial agreements which advise the number of students that can be placed in a class
The onus is on me to ensure that classes are not 'over' full and that there is room for growth if needed. This year has been challenging because we are expecting some growth in student numbers due to the new housing development taking place near Gnangara Road.

Once a class structure is decided it often changes due to new enrollments. This occurred over the school holidays and in Week 1 of this term. As a result of current and anticipated student numbers a few additional split classes were created.

As I say to parents regularly, teachers do not teach a year level, they teach students. In any class you will find a wide range of ability (academic, social, emotional) e.g. in the average Year 6 class the teacher could be catering for students operating between a Year 1 and Year 10 level. This is part of the challenge faced by teachers every day for which they are trained. This means that it is the actual level of each student and not the year level they are in that is the focus of our teaching.

Here is a link which explains the benefits of composite/split classes and provides reassurance to parents who may have students in one of these classes. Research indicates that there is no significant difference in academic performance between students in straight classes and split classes. It also suggests that students in multi-aged classes achieve greater gains in developing tolerance, empathy and adaptability. See this link for additional information.

Parents are always welcome and encouraged to meet with their child's teacher to discuss concerns.