Regulus Address // Issue 2 // August 2019
The shared values of an organisation are critical to its sustained success, particularly in the face of daily difficult and complex decisions. The five core values of St Andrew’s College – Truth, Excellence, Faith, Creativity, and Inclusivity, deserve to be deeply understood but even more critical are the actions and behaviours that support these values. Over the next editions of Regulus, I will explore each of our values which underpin our new Strategic Direction 2019–2023, called Framing our Future.
Achieving Excellence in an educational context is often misunderstood. Our NCEA assessment system allows for diversity in student achievement levels, and the broad curriculum at St Andrew’s College supports success in a range of areas, depending upon a student’s personal skills and interest areas. It would be impractical to suggest that all students can expect to achieve excellence in all their academic pursuits. However, as a school we encourage all our students to develop a mindset and attitude to learning which promotes goals of personal excellence and continual improvement.
Every student can develop the habits which will set them up for successful learning beyond school. Students will learn best when they develop positive, supportive relationships with their teachers and receive feedback which inspires and motivates them, clearly outlining and identifying the next steps in their learning. At St Andrew’s, we strive to appreciate and celebrate the diversity of our students and expect that everyone will experience the satisfaction of knowing personal goals have been achieved.
Our new vision statement states that St Andrew’s College strives to be at the leading edge of ‘high performance’ educational practice. Using evidence-based research, we must collectively strive as adults – teachers, tutors, mentors, managers, and leaders – to achieve our own excellence. To do this we must be honest in our reflection, seek regular feedback, commit time to personal and professional improvement, and ensure that we are adept at using data and different measurement tools to diagnose what behaviours lead to the best student outcomes.
I believe the biggest enemy of excellence is a closed mind and a negative attitude. Alternatively, a ‘can-do’ attitude and a growth mindset opens up all sorts of possibilities. As our young people navigate their way through 13 years of schooling, they will choose to become involved in all sorts of new learning experiences; learning a musical instrument, developing skills of a new sport, pursuing a new subject, or facing new outdoor or physical challenges. There is little point in pursuing excellence if one sacrifices enjoyment, happiness, or health in the process.
I believe that ‘Excellence’ is best considered from a balanced or holistic perspective. It is in being the best version of ourselves that we might truly experience satisfaction and a sense of well-being. Our own personal excellence is a lifelong journey – best achieved in partnerships with our family, friends, and colleagues with the right dose of personal relaxation, recovery time, and recreational activity. What better place to begin this journey than at school where the discovery of self can be encouraged and supported through such a diverse range of experiences.
Let us celebrate excellence, practise the behaviours that will foster high performance, and most importantly, enjoy our own personal journey along the way.