Hero photograph
Photo by Brendan Biggs

Special Character Report

Brendan Biggs —

A few thoughts from the Deputy Principal of Special Character

Writing for the school magazine provides an opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and to acknowledge and celebrate the successes of 2015.

It has been a busy year with many changes and developments taking place. Some of these changes include;

· School now employs Cyclone Computers to maintain and service our network, a fantastic company to work with.

· The beginning of the year saw the school undergoing the Government SNUP Program (School Network Upgrade Program). It was a fairly substantial project for St Thomas’s and it provided many headaches, as things did not go well to plan but we got there in the end

  • · School after SNUP, we installed a new fibre cable into the school which delivers faster board band.
  • · School went completely wireless
  • · BYOD was introduced school wide
  • · Student Management System went to the cloud – introduced musac EDGE.
  • · Our learning platform transferred to Office 365.
  • · Very recently St Thomas’s has been selected as a model school for Microsoft.

All these changes have benefited the school greatly but in the end they cannot replace the importance of teachers and students developing good relationships. This is key to everything, whether we are talking about teaching and learning, sports, cultural events. Building good relationships is the philosophy and dynamic of the school. This is really at the heart of the Jesus or Gospel Story.

As a Catholic secondary school we exist and thrive in a modern complex world. Educational theory, evidence and practice highlight the fact that students learn and thrive in a multi-dimensional world, this brings with it many challenges, and some challenges are very new to the human story. Of course the human condition raises the questions of how to resolve human conflict- we see now and feel the effect of terrorism. The concept of privacy is undergoing a radical redefinition. We are now becoming more aware of the limit of natural resources and the change of our climate.

In one sense schools, countries, human societies are now entering uncharted waters. Questions and answers posed yester-year are not relevant to this world.

In one sense we are asking more questions, the paradox is that, there are few answers. Emotionally and intellectually this can be very unsettling and yet at the same time it is very exciting because it invites us to come together, to collaborate, to see new possibilities. Educationally we have to design and create new ways of teaching and learning for students to engage more effectively.

The technologies we use are only tools which enable us to access information and knowledge. The hard job for both teacher and learner is to critique it, create something new and then communicate effectively to others.

The Catholic ethos of St Thomas’s there is the responsibility to give extra care that all the students have the access to new worlds of knowledge. Critical to this endeavour is that the policies and decisions made by the Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership Team are fundamentally attuned to this endeavour, that is why the Statement on Technology in Teaching and Learning at St Thomas of Canterbury College. Constantly reminds us of the obligations and responsibilities we have. It is important that we all understand this.

St Thomas of Canterbury College

21st Century Learning

Place of Technology in teaching and learning

Our mission is to inspire students to be responsible, socially conscious, resilient, and personally successful in the rapidly changing 21st century, and to be a student-centered model for educational innovation.

Features or characteristics of the use of Technology in teaching and learning at St Thomas of Canterbury College

Relevant: real-world, connected, meaningful, engaging, global, integrated/interdisciplinary, project-based

Rigorous: challenging, comprehensive, standards-based, open-ended, creative, critical thinking

Relationship-based: collaborative, compassionate, sensitive, culturally inclusive, personal, respectful, trusting, emotional intelligence, self-management

Our educational programs encourage students to learn through collaboration with family (home), our college and community. Students develop the resilience necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Their education at St Thomas’ prepares them for lifelong learning, productive citizenship or service, and personal growth.

Students learn in an innovative and professional environment fostered by the use of advanced learning methods and technology. Both staff and students understand the commitment necessary to implement a rigorous and relevant curriculum, one in which technology, standards and skill development are embedded.

Integrating education and technology has put St Thomas’ in a privileged position. In order to ensure justice, equity and success for both students and staff, funding and access to technology is critical. PD in developing the skill levels of teachers for the purpose of using technology for teaching and learning is critical in our endeavors.

St Thomas’s Ethos and Core Values

“Engaged – Conscientised – Ethical – Spiritual - Hopeful”

As a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice Tradition we believe that all students, regardless of social or economic condition, must be provided the capacity to take charge of their lives. Through new models of teaching and learning, they will be enabled and empowered to make critical decisions for their futures. We believe that we must treat others in our school and community with respect, tolerance, compassion, and genuine concern for their well-being. We believe our flexible business/education environment teaches and encourages student responsibility, independence, and resilience while building life skills in collaboration, project management and leadership. We believe that we must continue to develop and preserve the Community of Trust, diversity and critical self-reflection that define the St Thomas learning environment. We believe in sharing our knowledge and experience with other educators and institutions in order to foster and enhance educational change and development in the ever changing landscape of Christchurch.

We believe that technology provides the opportunity to make significant positive changes in our society. We believe that the model created at St Thomas’ is the future of secondary education and must be nurtured in order to continue implementation of its innovative and creative approaches to teaching and learning.

So in all the developments that have occurred in 2015, let us build a college in we can go forward into the future with an ingrained desire to make our society, country and world better because we exist as a college.

Paul Donnelly

Deputy Principal of Special Character