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The end of term has no doubt arrived just in time for many. I am grateful for the efforts of staff in all settings, and equally acknowledge students for embracing the opportunities on offer this term, in and out of the classroom.

In a recent round of scholarship interviews, I asked the question – in a school, what might it mean to be invisible? The answers from each of the Year 12 students were suitably reflective, mature and insightful. With their responses in mind, it is important to pause to credit and acknowledge the achievements of all students this term – however small, incremental or personal – as much as the big wins. In this regard, we want all of our students to feel safe, supported and, importantly, seen.

I do applaud all of our Intercol competitors over the past week for their efforts in preparation and contest, and, of course, huge congratulations to our national victors in Rowing.

To continue with the sporting theme, I was fortunate to attend the University of Adelaide’s Women in Sport brunch recently. Moya Dodd, former Matilda and FIFA representative, was the keynote speaker at the brunch, which was, overall, inspirational. Moya spoke passionately about equality and inclusion, messages as relevant to her audience that day as to ours in a weekly Muster.

Her words reinforced what I have thought for a number of years – that it is wrong to assume that those who are most able are also the most aspirational. This assumption exists in the wider world of sport, but I would argue that we could consider this outside of a sporting context too – that a lack of ability does not automatically or always point to a lack of ambition. In another newsletter, I will highlight one of our teaching staff who defied his early school reports and pursued his studies with distinction to complete a PhD. In education, the key is not just in providing opportunity for all, and parity of experience for our students, but in us fostering and then sharing their belief in themselves. This is the inclusion that Moya Dodd was talking about, and what I have seen in our summer sport programs this year, and in other settings.

We have introduced effort grades in the Senior School this year, initially as a pastoral tool, to prompt good conversations with our students about their application and engagement in lessons. Tracking effort provides the opportunity to reveal, recognise and reward the contribution and high level of engagement that many students make in their lessons on a daily basis. I have previously used effort grades to check on the character of students too; for some students whose effort grades reflected a dismissive level of effort, opportunities to represent the School at the highest level were limited. On these occasions, it was sport that provided the leverage to lift effort levels in the classroom and engagement with the School’s values, and, as you might have guessed, this prompted greater academic progress and growth too. As we are often told – your attitude determines your altitude.

Linking effort as a measure of values is powerful. Ultimately, we encourage and support our students to show their best qualities in all settings, and we want those who are consistently role modelling the School’s values to be representing the School at the highest level, where appropriate. After all, pulling on a Saints’ blazer or guernsey always stands for something, and something significant.

We look forward to new seasons and new horizons next term. I wish you a Happy Easter and a restful break.

Marcus Blackburn
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School