Principal’s March Report – more eNews tomorrow

Principal’s March Report to the Community

TERM 1   As term 1 nears the end, we can all breathe out as the term vacation provides us with some much needed time and space. This may have been a short term but the hustle and bustle of a new year is always something to be reckoned with as a school. I would like to thank the staff for the smooth transition into 2015 and I hope the students have all had a positive start to the school year.

SCHOOL LOCKDOWN    At around 4pm on Monday 23/3/15 a phone report was made to police by two students from Collingwood College who happened to be walking along the pavement in Vere St. The Police took the report seriously and conducted a “sweep” of the immediate area around the school and the grounds to the north of Vere St on the public housing estate. On the advice of Police, the school was placed in lockdown. This lockdown impacted on a number of community and school groups who were participating in extra-curricular programs, including the after school care program, community soccer and Senior Orchestra. The search of the area cleared all perceived danger and there will be no further action by police.  I apologise for any inconvenience that this matter may have caused parents and visitors to our school, however our duty of care extends to all persons on the school grounds in such matters.

SMOKING BANS    From 13 April 2015, smoking will be banned within four metres of an entrance to all primary and secondary schools in Victoria, and within the school grounds, under an amendment to the Tobacco Act 1987.

STAFFING   We recently started the process of seeking replacements for Kristyn Martin  (Maternity Leave) and Laraine Milburn (Retirement).  I wish Kristen a smooth transition into motherhood over the next few months and I would like to acknowledge the 30 year contribution to Collingwood College by Laraine Milburn. I wish Laraine a very happy retirement and l know she leaves with many fond memories and friendships.

ATHLETICS   The recent athletics carnival for Years 5-10 was an amazing success. It was particularly pleasing due to the enthusiasm of students, the fun they had in the non-competitive atmosphere and the large number of parents who attended on the day. Congratulations go to Frank, James and Craig for their planning and running of the day and to the students who had a very enjoyable day.

NAPLAN   The Australia wide testing program is fast approaching and the school will once again adopt a minimalist approach to NAPLAN preparation. I ask parents to fully co-operate with the testing program. Our participation rates are normally above 85%.

STRATEGIC PLAN   The School Strategic plan has been circulated and it is now due to be ratified by School Council (SC). NWR have approved the plan. The Annual report is currently being prepared and it will be presented to the community at the May SC meeting.

SCHOOL COUNCIL ELECTIONS   The results of our SC elections are-

DEECD Members:   Craig Bradley, Liria Stratus, Jacinta Walker and Chris Astley.

Parent Members:  Catherine Smith, Toni Turner and Sherrian Poon

Continuing Parent Members are Paul Gardiner, Maya Starr, and Michael Carver.

There will also be further co-option of two members -one for PA executive and another based on governance needs in terms of specific skills required.

SCHOOL COUNCIL    I would like to take this opportunity to thank 5 Collingwood champions who deserve to be in our team of the century. Mary Gardiner, Toni Turner, Robyn Lyons, Simon Thornton and Peter Ginnivan have been our school champions for many years. Their very kind support and generous offering of time as long term school councillors and volunteers has been an amazing contribution that needs to be acknowledged. Our governance has provided the perfect backdrop for much of our celebrated school growth over the past few years. This strong governance has underpinned our development over the past 12 years and the long term devotion of all these people is testimony to their wonderful commitment to this school. Not too often is a school gifted by a band of such hard working individuals over such a long period.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Tim Sharkey as the outgoing school council president and treasurer over the past two years. Not too many people can wear both of these hats and execute the roles with such mastery, respect and precision. l have thoroughly enjoyed working with Tim during this period and he gave me enormous confidence and support in my role as principal. I would also like to thank Euan Morton for his contribution to SC over the past 2 years.

Now that elections and the SC composition is decided, we need to recruit widely for skills and knowledge for our formal SC sub-committees –

  • Edpol  (Policy and Curriculum direction development)
  • Finance (Oversee budgets, revenue and expenditure)
  • BES (Buildings, Environment and sustainability)
  • Communications (Marketing and Publicity).

There are also two working committees of SC – Canteen and Spring Fair. I am formally seeking volunteers to assist with all of the above committees, but in particular, we are seeking a group of interested parents to drive the planning for the 2015 Spring Fair.

SCHOOL BUDGET   The College staffing budget ended with a very large deficit in 2014 and we have had to manage the impact of this deficit with changes to programs in 2015. Despite good growth in enrolment we are reducing this deficit over a three year period, after which we hope to be in surplus. While we remain in deficit, it is more imperative that parents pay outstanding balances in fees to make up for any shortfall. As a means of making the management of finances easier for parents, we plan for the introduction of the Compass Finance module at the start of term 2.  This online portal will allow parents to set up their own payment plans.

LED LIGHTS UPGRADE   We are seeking to upgrade the lighting of the school to a more energy efficient LED system.  A scheme is being considered that allows us to upgrade our lights and use the savings on our energy bills to pay for the upgrade. The added advantage is the no- maintenance associated with the new technology.

BUILDINGS    The works on the refurbishment of our new music precinct on the top floor of the old building have commenced and we are very excited by the potential of this project. The under passageway connecting the courtyard and the mezzanine under croft will also be completed at the same time as these works to minimise the impact on the running of the school. This will reduce an area currently used by our playgroups and there will be serious interruptions to the operations of these playgroups during term 2. Storage areas have been reclaimed and cleaned out. Our accumulation of  old furniture, junk and Bric-a-Brac over the years has become a major problem, particularly during our current growth period.

CULTURAL INFUSION ( has signed a five year licence agreement with the School Council to use the (soon to be vacated) Music buildings as a home. The synergy with this group is very strong and we are very proud to be associated with this Not-for–profit group who work with some of the largest organisations in the world.  CI have in the past worked with our students on major projects such as the opening/closing of World Health Conference in Melbourne in 2012 and the shipping container Classroom for Somalia in 2013.  CI are currently running the ANZAC Roadshow for the Federal Government and last week they allowed our students to launch the Recipes for Harmony DVD in the presence of the Federal parliamentary secretary Concetta Feirravanti-Wells. This cultural resource is being delivered to every primary school across Australia.   CI will reside in the old music area and A7 and operate independently of the school. Bookings for the Dance studio will now require 1 term’s notice in advance. The establishment of this relationship will forge a stronger synergy with a group that will provide new opportunities for our students with a global context focussed on cultural diversity.

Collingwood College and Fitzroy High are exploring new opportunities for our current and future VCE students. Both schools are experiencing growth in student numbers and we are considering ways to further enhance the delivery of programs for students. The IB and themed VCAL have been the types of offerings being considered for the future.  An overall manager will be appointed to drive the development of the joint provision.

I recently attended a meeting with representatives from CAS Basketball Club and the CEO of the City of Yarra. It was a very productive meeting and l was able to project our vision as a school for a more inclusive community precinct for Sport and the Performing Arts in the western section of the school. I have also suggested a no-cost-to-school development of a full size artificial soccer pitch which could convert to tennis/netball (x3).

The Playground Project team have now moved the project into recess and no further working bees are planned at this stage. The yet-to-be started projects such as the Musical boardwalk, Birds Nest, Climbing Frames and the many other active stations will now be documented as projects to be completed.  We hope small teams of parents will band together and undertake some of these micro projects as class projects. I would like to thank the parents who have participated in this project in the past months and it is unfortunate that we were not able to sustain the energy through to the end point of completion. We had a band of very committed parents led by Tim, Melissa and Paul and I would like to thank this group for their commitment to the project over the full 18 month period. Unfortunately the lack of volunteers this year has made it very difficult to continue with this project which has already transformed the learning space into something very ‘Collingwood’. The class projects will be advertised next term.

Other building projects committed to by the School Council using school reserve funds are:

  • • Loading bay area to be made more accessible with disability access and drive through capabilities.
  • • Relocation of the Doll’s House to Hoddle St.
  • • Refurbishment of student toilets on levels 2 and 3.

SRC   The recent SRC training day was once again another huge hit with 40+ participants. The enthusiasm and energy on display was terrific and this band of young leaders will hold this school in good stead for many years to come.  Congratulations go out to Liria and her team of school captains for organising such a brilliant day.

VISITORS PASS   All visitors between the hours 9.15am and 2.45pm must sign the visitors book and make their business known to the office staff. Lanyards must be worn at all times by parents and visitors during the above time period. Parents of children In the secondary school are also advised that they cannot approach classrooms directly without first signing in and seeking permission to do so.

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