While it appears that we are now on the path to overcoming COVID-19, the disruption of the pandemic has caused many parents to revisit the question of education and schooling for their children. In looking to provide your children with the best chance to learn, grow and thrive, we must consider what these ideas mean to us in the post-COVID-19 world.
The new school year is approaching, and 2021 is set to be a year shaped by a ‘new normal’. But the most pressing questions come from how that new normal intersects with what we already know about the lived experience of education for our students.
On average, a child will spend 200 days at school each year. Whether this student is on campus or studying online, parents want to make sure their child feels supported by their peers and teachers, and inspired by the work they are doing to grow and learn.
Flourishing Through Challenges
Across Australia, approximately 15% of school children attend a private school. This number has increased steadily over the past five years with many parents choosing to invest in private education. The benefits are clear. Enriched academic opportunities, broader co-curricular activities, smaller class sizes, and a range of support for student health and wellbeing.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions that have come with it, have of course presented difficulties. Though as educators, the pandemic has encouraged us to re-examine aspects of the way in which we approach education and find ways to innovate and make improvements. A process enabled by our independent status.
Nothing will replace the experience of face-to-face teaching. But this period has called on us to become innovative in the way we seek to educate and inspire our students. As we continue into what has been badged as the ‘new normal’, we believe that what we have learned ourselves will inform the learning of our students in years to come.
Embracing the Educational Opportunities at Hand
Recently, while speaking with the Herald Sun, Principal Kristy Kendall said “I’m very glad to be in the private sector at the moment. We haven’t had to wait for others to make decisions about how we proceed. We’ve been able to take the lead, which has been a real benefit to our students and their families.” It has been our independence that has been one of our strongest assets through this unprecedented time. In the face of uncertainty, Toorak College has remained flexible in approach, but steadfast in our commitment to the quality that sets us apart as an institution.
Continually Striving for Better
COVID has taught us that nothing can replace the face-to-face teaching experience but it has also gifted us the opportunity to think outside the box and come together as a community. Throughout this period of uncertainty, Toorak College has remained optimistic and a constant source of support for our students, staff and families.
We have made adjustments to our timetables to accommodate the need for balance – instituting daily screen-free periods, physical activity and creative stimulation. Students have had access to a range of live lessons each day — creating opportunities to connect with teachers and peers in a way that is as close to the face-to-face experience as the pandemic has allowed.
These adjustments have formed the experience-level details of a broader educational strategy. One undertaken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students through what has proven to be a challenging time. And we are proud to say that we feel these efforts have been recognised. Enrolments at Toorak College have steadily increased throughout 2020. Our Junior School in particular has seen students joining us in a variety of year levels.
“It is in our Junior School that we have seen parents value our programs, expertise and extra layers of support more than ever before,” says Mrs Kendall.
While traditionally student enrolments increase in the transition years - Early Learning, Prep, Year 5 and Year 7 - Mrs Kendall believes that any time can be the ‘right time’ to make a change.
“As we approach 2021, every student, no matter the year level, will be making adjustments as they transition back to on-site learning. Students will be establishing new goals, adjusting to new routines and experiences and forming new social connections. If you think your child will benefit from changing schools, why wait? 2021 presents a fantastic opportunity for change. My advice to parents is to always explore your options and have a conversation with us.”
Find out if Toorak College could be the right fit for your child.