The school year began for our teaching staff with a two-day Staff Conference held at our Corio Campus between 24-25 January 2017. The focus for this year's conference was Student Agency, building on the work in Term 4 2016 which saw Alfie Kohn, Dr Helen Street and Professor Stephen Heppell visit the School. Professor Heppell also joined the conference on Tuesday via Skype for a Q and A session. 

"All three experts argued strongly that teachers should listen to students more, get them involved in decision-making on all levels, find ways of encouraging them to develop intrinsic motivators, rather than ones that are extrinsic, and so much more," Vice Principal, Charlie Scudamore, said. The Conference featured group discussions, video presentations and 'TeachMeet' sessions with a view to establishing just how Student Agency can be achieved. The focus on Student Agency ties in with the School's Performance and Development Programme (PDP), the goal of which for the next two years is to improve student outcomes through an increased emphasis on Student Agency in the classroom. "Current research suggests that students who take agency and ownership of their learning will acquire deeper understanding and skills and become more competent learners," Director of Learning, Kay Long, explained.

The 'Give it a Go' portion of the Conference has become a popular annual element, with yoga, stand-up paddle boarding, pasta making and calligraphy among the list of options on offer. These sessions provide our teaching staff with an opportunity to get to know one another in a less formal setting, while also taking them out of their comfort zones.

While Student Agency was the focus of the Staff Conference, Principal Stephen Meek spoke on Wednesday of the School's new challenge as set-out in our Purpose documentto develop creative thinking and learning to engage with the complex opportunities of a changing world. "We know the world is changing; the skills that were valuable in the past won't be so in the future," Stephen said. "In creative education, we've identified that this is what our student's need and we need to do something about it."

This year's Staff Conference coincided with the announcement of the School's first creative education modules, compiled by the School's Coordinator of Creativity and Innovation, Dr Tim Patston. In the same way that the School introduced and integrated Positive Education, creative education will complement the existing curriculum rather than add to it. "Creative education is not an additional or separate subject, it's got to be in all our departments; all our subjects; all our lessons," Stephen said.