The What Parents Want survey report examines the decision-making process parents undertake when choosing an independent school, including cultural influences, sources of information, and the important factors that guide school choice. The survey from 2021 was commissioned by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and results from 136,000 students across 229 schools were released in April. Results from parents of Rockhampton Girls Grammar School showed that nearly half of respondents considered sending their daughter to an independent school only. From the parents who responded whose daughters were new to our school in 2021, just over half of them came from a state school, a third from a catholic school and the remaining from another independent school. Nearly two-thirds of the reasons for changing from their previous school to Girls Grammar was due to their daughter transitioning from primary to secondary school, and the next most frequent response was a view of a better level of education available. It was reassuring to view the positive response to the level of support our school provided during the COVID-19 pandemic with 57% of parents very satisfied and 38% satisfied and no responses of dissatisfaction.
We regularly review the source of our enrolment enquiries with the survey results supporting our understanding that the most frequent source is word of mouth from ‘family, friends and colleagues’ recommendations’. This statistic is closely followed by ‘school open day/formal visit’ in reference to our Action Tours which have gained an increasing response in the number of families attending each term.
As part of our ongoing commitment to continually improve our school, parents, students and staff will have the opportunity to provide confidential feedback across a wide range of aspects of our school community. We strongly value this feedback as it allows us to evaluate how we are progressing, identifying the areas for us to celebrate in what we are doing well, and most importantly make necessary adjustments for improvement. We have engaged with the professional services of MYP Corporation (MYPCorp) for this survey and as such, all confidential results will be collated externally before a summary is provided to our Executive Team. Further details will be communicated to parents, students and staff in the coming weeks including individual log in details.
This week I have joined our Year 11 cohort on their leadership camp at the Capricorn Caves. It is hard to believe that we are in the month of May and have already reached that point in the year where we begin the selection process for our 2023 Senior leaders. As we looked through the Student Leadership Guidelines and timeline for nominations and selections, there were quite a number of shocked expressions as I reminded the girls that in only one and a half terms they would be the seniors of the school. These three days are the first stage of the leadership process and it has been interesting and frankly refreshing to witness the genuine engagement, conversations and social interactions amongst the group without the presence of technology. Seeing these girls talking, dancing, playing board games and cards, singing and sharing in each other’s company away from school, boarding and regular routines has been a joy and a pleasure to be a part of. Memories are being made and captured by Mrs Cobon on her camera while the girls are appreciating being in the moment rather than capturing it with selfies or communicating on their devices. I hope that these days together make a lasting impression that they carry with them well into adulthood.
On the subject of technology, the schools mobile phone policy is currently being reviewed by the Executive team as a result of an increasing number of breaches of our acceptable use of mobile phones and IT policies. This updated policy will be shared with students and families in the coming week and will include a consistent school-wide expectation around mobile phone and smart watch usage. These amendments to our current policy have also been made by considering the many research articles with evidence to support our decision. One article in particular outlines:
1. Improved focus and academic performance.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas and Louisiana State University, students are more attentive in class when phones aren’t accessible and as a result, there is an improvement in academic results. These results were most pronounced for high school students who, not coincidentally are the teenagers most addicted to their mobile phones.
2. Additional support and results
Students who are supported at school to access their curriculum or students who may not be performing as well academically benefit approximately twice as much as their peers when mobile phones are not with them at school. By removing their phones from school, it was the equivalent of adding a minimum of an extra hour of class per week.
3. Reduced screen time
There is increasing scientific evidence about the dangers of children spending so much time in front of a screen. One key way to ensure that students’ eyes and minds receive a much-needed reprieve from so much screen time is by minimising the amount that occurs via a phone at school. This starts with explicitly keeping mobile phones from entering the classroom or being used at all at school.
The increase use of social media and online communication amongst students, especially those in the secondary school, has seen an increase in breaches of our school student code of behaviour policy and acceptable use of IT and mobile phone policy. This can be difficult for parents to navigate when students are not at school and disappointingly many of the social/emotional effects are being brought into the school environment affecting relationships and focus on academics. By phones being locked in lockers or handed in at Reception, students’ social media use during the school day will be reduced along with concerns around social/emotional affects. Our girls should feel safe at school and checking of social media accounts and online communication should not be occurring during the school day.
5. Contact with parents
In the event of an emergency, students and parents can both utilise Student Services and Reception to make contact with one another. If it is necessary for your daughter to have their phone at school due to cocurricular commitments or for notifying family about their return home at the end of the day, their phone is to remain locked in lockers throughout the day or be handed in at Reception when they arrive at school.
Parent support in this updated policy and reinforcement of our school-wide expectations is much appreciated and I look forward to the many positive impacts for your daughter as a result of these changes.