As a new Principal to Hepburn Primary School at the end of 2015, there were characteristics that were immediately tangible. The sense of inclusiveness and student connectedness were palatable. More so than any other school context I had experienced.
It is common to see a game in full swing that includes children from all year levels participating actively. The children have amazing grounds to learn and play in. Making cubbies and digging in the dirt are all part of the recreation at recess and lunchtime.
In the past 18 months, the school has increased from 56 enrolments to 90. This has meant we have been able to provide students with the opportunities of a larger school, but remain small enough to maintain connection on an individual level.
Due to our dedicated and talented staff, the students have access to specialist programs in music, art, drama, physical education, library, Italian and MiniLit and MultiLit (specialist reading tutoring programs). Programs recently implemented such as Cook in a Box, Move Dream Create, Robotics and private music tuition have enhanced engagement and have allowed students to flourish in a variety of curriculum areas.
The children have access to 26 leased touchscreen netbooks, ensuring a blended and engaging learning environment.
All staff recently completed inclusive education training eLearning modules. The Inclusion Boost provided by the Government was utilised to purchase 10 iPads to support student learning.
The children have an extensive camping program. Camping opportunities include Canberra Camp, Camp Wyuna, The Sovereign Hill Experience and the Lady Northcote camp.
Hepburn Primary School recently joined the Wathaurung Sport Cluster. This enables children access athletics, cross-country, tennis, basketball, soccer, netball, football and swimming competitions and the opportunity to progress to higher levels.
The Daylesford Out of Hours Care utilises our facilities. Running their after-hours school care and holiday programs from our site.
The above strengths and programs have been reflected in the 2018 Attitudes to School Survey, an annual student survey offered by the Department of Education and Training to assist schools in gaining an understanding of students’ perceptions and experience of school in Years 4, 5 and 6.
The results below validate the strategic work we as a learning community have been focusing our energy towards. The areas below placed the school at and above the state and similar schools and schools in our network in:
· Stimulating learning
· Student motivation and interest
· Advocate at school
· Managing bullying
· Sense of connectedness
· Sense of inclusion
· The teacher has high expectations for success
· Teacher concern
Over the past three years, significant resourcing provided by Equity funding, has resulted in staff having access to world renowned educational consultants. Teachers have the greatest impact at school and are the school’s greatest resource, so we invest in their development. The school provides a comprehensive curriculum across all learning areas, underpinned by literacy and numeracy. Significant investment in the area of Excellence in Teaching and Learning ensures evidence based pedagogical approaches. Educational consultants Andrea Hillbrick, Anne Hammond and Jan McVitty are utilised to ensure we achieve this.
2018 NAPLAN results also validated this strategic intent. In Years 3 and 5 reading, we are at the state level and above similar schools and schools in our network for certain measures in reading. The Year 3s were at or above the state and above similar schools and schools in our network for reading, mathematics and grammar and punctuation.
This is a result of the efforts of the dedicated staff and our strategic focus of excellence in teaching and learning, supported by educational consultants Anne Hammond and Andrea Hillbrick.
Hepburn Primary School has established transition programs with the local kindergarten and secondary school. The reading and play based transition program between the local kindergarten and the Year 5/6 children is an extremely rewarding for all involved. The local secondary school provides many opportunities each term for the Year 5/6 children to attend whole day activities.
During 2017, the school commenced the implementation of the School Wide Positive Behaviour and Bounce Back social skills and welfare programs. Bounce Back promotes positive mental health and student wellbeing, providing students with practical strategies and life skills to handle challenges and adversity encountered. The SWPBS initiative in Victoria aims to build and maintain:
• safe, inclusive, highly predictable and orderly learning environments
• positive school and classroom learning environments as platforms for improved engagement, wellbeing and learning outcomes for all students.
Hepburn Primary School continues promotes the recently determined values of Respect, Perseverance and Kindness. These values are incorporated into learning programs, which develop the children’s’ social skills. The School Chaplain plays a vital role in coordinating this work.
Staff, students, parents and the community are extremely proud of the school and we look to the future with anticipation and expectation of growth in all aspects.