Grenville Green, principal of Haileybury junior school in Keysborough, speaks to Education Matters about how COVID-19 brought unprecedented levels of change, learning and innovation for its teachers and students, enhancing the school’s sense of collaboration.
What is the Haileybury’s philosophy and how does it guide you and your staff?
Haileybury’s vision is to be recognised as a great world school, and our mission is to develop high achieving students who are connected globally, to each other and to the communities in which they live and will serve. Haileybury focuses on academic excellence and developing high achieving students, but also offers a broad range of programs and opportunities to develop well rounded students.
Our school lives the motto that every student matters every day. Pastoral care and student wellbeing are central to everything we do.
Although at Haileybury we are proud of our history and traditions, we are also a restless school that continues to innovate and explore opportunities to benefit students. Haileybury is definitely an entrepreneurial and enterprising school. The development of Melbourne’s first vertical school, extensive operations in China and the opening of Haileybury Rendall School Darwin are all examples of this.
How does the Haileybury differ from other schools?
Haileybury is committed to social justice. Our social justice program focuses on the things that matter: generosity, reconciliation, protection of the vulnerable, forgiveness, expressions of gratitude, inclusion, sharing of resources and service. As a school, we are committed not only to provide outstanding opportunities for our students, we seek to contribute to the growth of wider education as a part of our social justice outlook. We have worked with well over 100 schools across Australia to support their development in explicit instruction, including schools in remote areas and schools with high populations of indigenous students. We have provided opportunities for our Haileybury Junior School teachers to visit schools interstate to model lessons, share resources and expertise. It has been great to see the positive impact this has brought to schools, teachers and most importantly, to students across different areas of Australia.
During the Easter holiday break Haileybury worked with the ABC to plan and film a series of Mathematics mini lessons, which were broadcast nationally, allowing students with limited access to online learning to engage in Mathematics.
This year we commenced development of online professional learning courses on explicit teaching. While this professional learning supports our Haileybury teachers, these are also available to educators online through Haileybury X. The first three online courses were developed 2020, with more to come in 2021.
What is the history of the Haileybury?
Haileybury opened its doors in 1892 with five staff and 17 students. In its over 125 years of history, the school has changed dramatically. What started as a small school has developed into a large global school with campuses in Keysborough, Brighton, Berwick, Melbourne (City), Darwin and Beijing (China).
In what ways has Haileybury evolved since it was established?
Haileybury has a proud tradition but we are forward thinking. Haileybury was traditionally a boys school for over 100 years. The year 2000 saw the introduction of girls and the introduction of parallel education. Girls and boys learn in class together through the early learning centre and junior school. In middle and senior school, boys and girls are separated into single-sex classrooms for most academic classes, while sharing the social setting of a coeducational campus. Under the leadership of principal CEO Derek Scott since 2008, Haileybury has continued to grow with the opening of Haileybury international school in Tianjin, China, Haileybury City (Melbourne’s first vertical K-12 school) and Haileybury Rendall school in Darwin.
In my 16 years at Haileybury, our junior school has been greatly enhanced through continued focus and development of our unique explicit instruction model. This has continually evolved and led to continual growth in student achievement and engagement .
How do you provide support and leadership to your staff?
As an instructional leader I am actively involved in leading and the continuous improvement of teaching and learning and staff development. I aim to be in classrooms and engaged in teaching and learning as much as possible, across all year levels, and across all campuses.
Teachers are our most valuable resource. I regularly observe and coach teachers. This also facilitates the sharing of excellent practice across our school. I am not the expert across all areas, but being involved in classrooms provides me with an awareness of strengths across our team and enables me to link teachers with others who can support their continued growth. I do, however, also enjoy opportunities to teach, team teach and model effective teaching strategies wherever I can.
Our staff motto is ‘success through collaboration’. Collaboration is everything –we are better collectively and can achieve more than we ever could individually. We have amazing talents across our school. It is important to provide regular opportunities and avenues for authentic teacher collaboration and sharing of ideas and best practice across our school.
How do you encourage wellbeing among your staff and students?
Every student matters every day. Every team member matters every day. It is through our everyday actions that we bring these statements to life.
Relationships are central to everything we do. It is important for me, our junior school leaders, teachers and students to make time for people, help them connect and treat others with respect and care. And importantly, have fun! School should be a happy, fun and engaging place to learn for students, and I’d also like to think it should be a happy, fun and professionally engaging place to teach and learn for our staff.
What role do you play in the day-to-day activities of your students?
Being visible and actively involved in teaching and learning across classrooms and year levels is vital for all of our junior school leaders. We know the students, their strengths, their areas for growth. We see them in their classrooms, in the playground and throughout day to day school life. We are actively involved from greeting students in morning to dressing up in costumes for Book Week and special events. We know the students and the students know us and are comfortable to work with us in class or to be able to come and see us if they have something to share or a concern. These relationships are important.
What are some of the challenges faced by teachers in the primary sector?
When I talk with teachers across schools, states and territories, one of the common challenges faced is the pressure teachers feel in trying to fit so much into a school day. Timetables are tight with struggles to cover what they intend to. We need to focus on what matters the most and what research shows works. We need to equip students with a strong foundation with literacy and numeracy skills. Explicit teaching has proven to be highly successful at Haileybury as well as many schools we have worked with across Australia. Ballajura Primary School in Western Australia is an outstanding example of a school that has focused on explicit teaching in core literacy and numeracy skills with outstanding success.
What has been your most memorable moment either as a teacher or specifically in the role of principal?
2020 will be memorable for all of us. COVID-19 brought about disruption in education that we have not experienced in our lifetimes. The disruption and significant challenge, however, brought about unprecedented levels of change, learning and innovation for schools, teachers, students and their families. It brought educators out of their comfort zone, and with the right supports and opportunities to collaborate, our teachers achieved amazing things. The thought of teaching primary students online was daunting, but I am truly amazed at how our teachers rose to the challenge. Our Haileybury teachers and classes, including our Prep/Foundation levels, pivoted to live online classes across the curriculum. We took the path of live teaching via Zoom. Students had their English and Mathematics classes online, as well as their Inquiry, Science, music, art, drama, PE and CDT. Technology, however, wasn’t seen as the teaching tool, it was the communication tool. The technology allowed teachers to engage and interact with their students. It allowed teachers to model concepts, work through examples together, check understanding, and support students through independent learning tasks. Brilliant teachers onsite turned out to be brilliant teachers online. Online learning wasn’t about teachers being tech experts. It was more about teachers innovating and working together to adapt teaching and learning to best suit the online environment. The adaptability of our teachers and students has been truly remarkable.
What are your feelings about NAPLAN and its effectiveness?
NAPLAN can be a powerful tool for a school when used effectively. It provides us with a wealth of data, which allows us to explore the ongoing development of our teaching and learning in literacy and numeracy. At Haileybury we have used NAPLAN to provide ongoing feedback on our programs over many years. There is so much more to NAPLAN than a score. It allows us to look at individual student and cohort growth. It also allows us further insight into areas of strength and those needing further support. Data doesn’t provide all the answers, but when schools take the time to analyse their NAPLAN data effectively, it can lead to great discussion and reflection on teaching and learning. Surely, such discussion and reflection can only be beneficial.
The move to NAPLAN online unlocks further benefits, allowing the assessments to cater better for individual student needs through adaptive question branching. Quicker turnaround of data will also allow NAPLAN to be used as a formative assessment tool to inform teaching.
What traits make for an effective and successful leader in education today?
Effective leaders build trust and collaboration with and between their teams. Teachers have a range of diverse skills and talents. Some may have particular talents wiThe more educators engage in professional collaboration and sharing best practice, the more we all build our collective capacity. Opportunities to collaborate are opportunities to learn. Emotional intelligence and building relationships with students, staff and the school community are key.
Finally, effective leaders in education enjoy leading and bring passion to their school. What makes a great leader and school? We don’t just want students to learn, we want them to love learning. We don’t just want teachers to teach, we want them to love teaching. Similarly, great leaders love leading.