Several parents have recently asked me about our up-coming Bollywood Night and asked a few key questions such as “What is the Bollywood Evening all about? What is the point of the evening?” As well as whether they will have to dress in traditional Indian clothes/know how to do Bollywood dances/eat curry?
Actually, the point of the evening is very simple: it’s just a chance for the community to get together, have some fun, and celebrate the amazing news that we have all but finished the building of IIMC’s newest school in Kolkata. The evening is also a chance for us to recognise that the achievements of our community – our parents and alumni – are already making a dramatic difference to over three hundred families in Kolkata’s poorest slums.
And no, you do not need to dress in traditional clothes. Nor do you need to know how to dance Bollywood-style: (the music will be a mix of Bollywood and Western). There will be an Indian food-truck (the fabulous Dosa Heaven, from Burleigh’s Village Markets) selling Dosas for $10.00 each - the best Indian street food, so make sure you try one – but you are welcome to bring your own food and drink too.
In other words, it’s just a loosely Indian-themed party, and I’d love to invite as many of you as possible to join me on Saturday 25 March. So gather your friends and book your table/seats - www.emmanuelevents.ptly.com/bollywoodnight
I’ve also had several parents, and even more children asking me who the visitors were, who recently visited lessons. Well, they were research consultants from the Australian Council for Educational Research, and we invited them in to help us formulate our next School improvement Plan. All good organisations need to be permanently looking for the next area of improvement. Failing to do so will lead to complacency and drift.
Sometimes identifying areas for improvement can be easy: if, say, our sports results were consistently poor, or if we were struggling to attract new students, or had a high staff turnover, we could conclude that something was not right in our coaching, teaching or culture.
However, our results are good – very good – and they keep getting better. Not only that, but we have large numbers of both potential students and staff asking to come to Emmanuel. In other words, we are doing well, which is wonderful, except that it makes identifying growth areas significantly more difficult. Hence the desire to bring in some external eyes, and we were fortunate to be able to engage the services of one of the leading educational research organisations in the world.
The result of ACER’s visit was a report which was both hugely encouraging, and exciting. It contained no fewer than 11 commendations and affirmations, touching on all aspects of school life, including our culture, the sense of pride students and parents feel in our College, the levels of resourcing, the (massive) commitment of teachers, our exceptional sporting and Performing Arts programs, our Learning Support, Gifted and Talented and Kindergarten programs and our highly effective Pastoral and Chaplaincy programs.
However, it also contains a blue-print for an even more successful future, and the consultants were incredibly generous in pointing us in the direction of international research into just what enables excellent schools to become even better.
Therefore, over the next term, the College – leaders, teachers, and students – will be piecing together our School Improvement Plan, to sit alongside the Strategic Plan we developed in 2015. I will, of course, keep you posted. However, let me leave you with the wording of one of the commendations: “The staff, students and parents are united in their pride of Emmanuel College – a highly respected multi-denominational Christian school knowing, loving and serving through the Emmanuel Compass. The College expresses a clear culture of high expectations, exemplified by the statement describing the Emmanuel Graduate. The culture is highly apparent across the College, and in the attitudes and behaviours observed amongst students and teachers.”
Whilst there is work to be done, it is a huge joy to know that not only do our educational successes stand out, but so does our Christian culture – our knowing, loving, serving, culture –because at the centre of that culture, like the centre of the compass and the centre of our crest, is the Cross – that beautiful symbol of the one who lies at the heart of our school.