Dear Parents,

Together, we have high expectations at SCBC; spiritually, academically, socially, emotionally, and in physical pursuits. The bar of expectations is rising. I want every student to experience a growing, intrinsic desire to achieve the best that they can. We intentionally employ highly motivated staff to lead by example. As shared in my previous Newsletter article: “It takes a village to raise a child.” We share your passion to see your children thrive.

At the risk of oversupplying information, I want you to have knowledge of rigorously researched factors that are associated with high achieving schools. At SCBC, we are committed to positively building up high levels of student aspiration and expected achievement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement research underpins our college’s journey of growth.

A 2008 study describes five common characteristics that make up an effective school; these characteristics are factors typically found in successful schools throughout western countries. The ‘Effective School’ movement arose because some schools are more effective than others at teaching students to learn. Researchers wanted to know why. Below is a summary of their findings, known as the ‘Five Factor Theory’.

  • The first factor is quality leadership.  In other words, students perform better where the Principal provides strong leadership.  Effective leaders are visible, able to successfully convey the school’s goals and visions, collaborate with teachers to enhance their skills, and are involved in the discovery of and solutions to problems.
  • The second factor is having high expectations of students, as well as teachers.  High expectations of students have repeatedly been shown to have a positive impact on students’ performance. More attention should be paid to high expectations of teachers. In other words, teachers who are expected to teach at high levels of effectiveness are able to reach the level of expectations, particularly when teacher evaluations and teacher professional development is geared toward improving instructional quality.
  • The third characteristic of a successful school is the ongoing screening of student performance and development.  Schools should use assessment data to compare their students with others from across the country. Effective use of assessment data allows schools to identify problematic areas of learning in the classroom and at school levels, so that solutions can be generated as to how to best address the problems.
  • The fourth characteristic of a successful school is the existence of goals and direction.  Administration should actively construct goals and then effectively communicate them to appropriate individuals (i.e., students, teachers, community-at-large).  School principals must also be open and willing to incorporate innovation into goals for school processes and practices. It is important to invite input from all stakeholders in the process of developing school goals. Student performance has been shown to improve in schools where all in the school community work toward goals that are communicated and shared among all in the learning environment.
  • The fifth and final factor of a successful school is the extent to which the school is secure and organizedFor maximum learning to occur, students need to feel secure.  Respect is a quality that is promoted and is a fundamental aspect of a safe school.  There are also a number of trained staff and programs, to help students before problems become overwhelming.

More recently (Feb, 2015), emerging from case studies of rapidly improving schools in Australia are the below factors:

Rapidly improving schools, and schools that produce unusually good outcomes given their student intakes and circumstances, tend to have a number of features in common.

  • They pursue an explicit improvement agenda – they know what they want to see improve and they know how they will monitor success.
  • The staff of the school work together as a team, supporting each other and with a clear focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning in the school.
  • Efforts are made to identify and understand the learning needs of students in the school and to use available human and physical resources to address those needs.
  • The school builds relationships with parents and others outside the school in support of its improvement agenda.

I’m sharing this with you as a means of helping to communicate our commitment to building a thriving Christian community that inspires learning, as a means of transforming and empowering lives. We are attentive to research and best practice. Above and beyond the importance of research and academic pursuits, we are concerned with the hearts of each of our students. Our ‘reason for being’ is to share the love of Christ with every student.

‘If we speak with authority in the professional realm, but do not have love, we are merely an instrument of distracting noise.  If we have the gift of forecasting key educational issues and can knowledgeably talk-the-Edutalk better than anyone else, and if we have the faith to overcome any obstacle, but do not have love, we are nothing.  If we avail every resource we have, our homes, our money and all of our time to benefit needy children that we might boast, but do not have love, we have gained nothing.  (Modified by me from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Des Mitchell