A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Adelaide,
South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 17 - 2018

Ivan Ljubičić, Colin Swatton, Harry Gallagher and Franz Stampfl are not common household names in Australia, however, Roger Federer and Jason Day are. Ralph Doubell should be as he is still the last Australian male to win a gold medal on the track at the Olympics (Mexico City 1968). Ivan, Colin and Franz are the coaches of Roger, Jason and Ralph respectively. Harry Gallagher was the swimming coach who first spotted Dawn Fraser.

We all know the names of the coaches of our favourite sporting teams. Dedicated fans will even know the names of the specialist coaches. We also know of coaches who have transformed teams who somehow, with the same team player base, found a way to help them all play more cohesively or bring their skills to the fore. Eddie Jones has done this with rugby all around the world.

In the world of performing arts, the same applies. The best performers in their field still learn from directors, conductors, coaches and mentors – professionals who know how to bring out the best in those with whom they work.

In essence, teaching is not that different. Many of you will have noticed we have advertised for a Pedagogy Coach for Westminster and some may ask why. The answer is very simple. We want every child at Westminster to be taught by teachers who not only have a great skill set, which our teachers do, but who are utilising their skill set fully.

Roger Federer is arguably one of the best (if not the best) male tennis players in the history of the game. Yet, even with his tremendous depth of experience and enormous skill set, Roger still has a coach - a coach who will help him bring out his best in every match he plays; a coach who can provide feedback, prompt reflection, help as new techniques are tried and mentor when and where necessary. Every day in every class, our teachers provide feedback to the students they teach to help them achieve their best. Like Roger Federer and countless others who work to stay at the top of their game, why would we not think our teachers deserve a coach who can help provide feedback, help them reflect and achieve their best. A coach for the teachers is something we should all embrace in the interests of making sure our students are provided with an exceptional education, a key outcome of our strategic plan.

Alvin Toffee stated the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. As the face of the workforce changes, education changes, although there is a significant time lag in this change. Our teachers need to be able learn, unlearn and relearn, and coaching enables this to happen in a more timely and productive manner.

Currently, South Australia is languishing at the lower end of NAPLAN results while other states are surging ahead. In the best performing states, the role of the pedagogy coach has been established for years in both the private and the state sectors. Like our sports and entertainment stars, our teachers have talent, skills and do a terrific job. Add in effective coaching and team leadership, and there is the making of an exceptional premiership winning team!

Simon Shepherd