February 5, 2021
Welcoming each girl and family back to campus for the new school year has been wonderful. Last week was a buzz of excitement as our girls began to return to classes. For our new students there was tangible anticipation and some nervousness!
Our girls have embraced the fresh opportunities wholeheartedly. The Senior School swimming carnival went ahead, despite the inclement weather. Our young Pre-K and Kindergarten students have loved discovering their new learning routines. Several Year 7 Senior School girls enjoyed the opportunity to try out Dragon Boat Racing with their older Danebank “sisters” supporting and coaching them on Saturday.
A new year begins
As we begin the new year, it is with great enthusiasm that we continue to guide Danebank into the future, where we build on our strengths and our strong legacy. In 2021 we continue our thoughtful, measured and coherent approach to shaping the direction of Danebank education, ensuring that our girls blossom and flourish with all they will need in the coming decades.
Using the comprehensive feedback from our community as outlined in Our Future Envisioned, we will begin to explore new ideas together to continue to develop our culture of excellence as a futures-focused, leading school for girls.
Expanding a culture of excellence in all learning
Our goal is to strengthen Danebank’s standing at the forefront of academic achievement and excellence, whilst preparing each young woman for success in the rapidly changing world. As an Anglican school, grounded in the Christian faith, our preparation for success is understood in the context of our mission, “Serving Christ by Equipping Students for God’s world”.
Empowering our Learners for Future Success
As learners, in order to thrive in the modern world, Danebank women will need firm foundational skills in literacy and numeracy, a deep knowledge and mastery of relevant facts and concepts along with a good grasp and understanding of various disciplines.
Our young women will need these foundational blocks for learning in order to take them beyond content to deeper understanding of what they are learning. This is so they can apply their learning in meaningful ways - to problem solve, relate, make decisions, create - while developing certain dispositions relevant to being effective learners in the modern world.
As a pianist, I often relate this to my journey as a musician. I was not able to compose, improvise or create new and innovative music or apply my understanding to different scores without first learning the foundational skills of technique, scales, phrasing, chord progressions and theory.
We also understand that our girls will need to become powerful learners with an enduring life-long love of learning. At Danebank we are committed to helping our students become better learners, to develop in each girl specific learner habits that will help her in school and beyond.
An extensive body of research regarding learning and the brain now exists. Researchers such as Guy Claxton, David Perkins, Arthur Costa and Ron Ritchhart have explored specific learning dispositions that help students learn. When we utilise the findings from these studies to grow each student as a powerful learner then we will see:
Raised academic achievement levels
Agile learning minds
Increase enjoyment in learning and
Refreshing our Danebank Learning Framework
This year, as a community, we will be exploring the research on how students learn and what abilities strengthen their capacity to learn.
Staff will be refreshing the Danebank Learning Framework, taking into account new research as described above and tailoring this to the Danebank culture and unique context. This learning framework will be designed to support the development of our Danebank Graduates.
We will develop a bespoke learning model that will build on our academic achievements whilst developing a strong sense of wellbeing and resilience in our students.
Integral to the above is embedding wellbeing as a cornerstone to enable each Danebank girl to flourish and grow as a learner.
This year, I am thrilled to share that Danebank has become a Visible Wellbeing School, under the guidance of Professor Lea Waters, Professor and Founding Director of the Positive Psychology Centre, the University of Melbourne and President of the International Positive Psychology Association.
Visible Wellbeing is a new and innovative approach that builds on and complements Positive Education. It is an evidence-based, proactive way to build wellbeing in our students, staff and wider community through the integration of wellbeing into the daily lives and learning experiences of our girls.
Staff enjoyed the introductory, stimulating professional learning session with Professor Waters before our girls returned last week. Professor Waters and her team will be working closely with Danebank over the next two years as we further embed wellbeing across our community.
Launching Parent Symposiums
Over the next weeks and months, I hope to share our progress with you and engage families in various conversations on topics such as learning and wellbeing at Danebank.
There will be opportunities for parents and families to share in various forums, hearing from the Principal and key staff, along with guest speakers. Professor Waters will be one of our first guest speakers this year.
We are looking forward to partnering with you to develop in each student the learning dispositions displayed by powerful learners (the emotional, wellbeing, thinking, relational, reflective and character dispositions).