During the most recent holidays, I was fortunate to be able to participate in a Study Tour in Europe. The tour was called ‘Meet the Disruptors’. The schools that we visited were chosen because they achieved their visions by doing things differently, for example it may be the way that buildings had been transformed or the addition of flexible learning spaces or the innovative curriculum. We visited five countries in 12 days and 13 schools in total. It was an amazing experience and I am continuing to reflect on all that I saw and heard whilst visiting the schools, as well as the discussions with the other educators on the tour.
We visited a variety of schools including primary, middle and senior schools. Some of these were from very low socioeconomic areas that have a parent population that suffers from many generations of unemployment. Other schools were recently built or were previously office buildings that have been transformed into schools. One school in Copenhagen was only a few years old and cost $100 million dollars to build!
As we visited, we were able to talk about all aspects of education. Whether it be the way that they group classes, the furniture used in an area, how many staff meetings occur or the level of access the staff have to professional development. We had the opportunity to see classes in action, talk with students, participate in a lesson, and talk with senior leaders in the schools. Time was spent with us talking about risk assessment or, in some schools we visited, the lack of it!
Part of my reflection has been upon the fact that all of the schools talked about the importance of relationships. It didn’t matter whether it was a new school that was just starting or a school that had existed for many years. The type of building was not important, it may have been a purpose-built school or a building that has been redefined as a place for learning. All of the schools had their vision of what the foundation of the relationships needed to be and that the children were at the centre of those relationships. As a College, we understand the importance of relationships and each campus ensures that we develop positive relationships. It’s one of our strengths, I believe.
Answers are never clear cut. The time away has certainly given me far more questions than answers! The main question I have reflected upon is ‘How is Concordia travelling in comparison to the schools overseas that we visited?’ The answer was clear for me. The schools need to come and visit us! We have so many areas to celebrate. There wasn’t a school that had boxes ticked in the areas that I was wanting to compare. The facilities, curriculum, relationships and ‘vibe’ of the schools were great but not one school had them all. I think Concordia College has all those aspects working well. Not that we can sit back and say, “job done”. We are constantly looking at areas to improve for the benefit of our students.
We have a vibrant and dynamic community of learners. To be able to visit schools abroad and come away feeling positive about what is happening at Concordia College was certainly a cause for celebration.
Our vision of the College; Engage. Achieve. Serve. is well and truly alive and can be felt and witnessed from our Early Learning Centre to Year 12.
Deputy Principal - St John's Campus