Principal’s Update

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

May is Mary’s month.  Mary, Mother of God, holds a unique place in the history of the Church. She is a model of prayer and motherly love, the teacher of wisdom and our guide. As we are pressed in our journey of faith, we contemplate and imitate her faith, her outreach to the poor and her joy at the wonders created by God.

Mary, the Help of Christians, leads us to the fullness of life and gives us courage for the service of our sisters and brothers.

Mothers’ Day last weekend was a special time for our families to share and honour our mothers; when we stop and contemplate the daily gifts of time and energy they devote to the care of children and families.  Motherhood is about giving and giving, but it is also about receiving. Any new mother will tell you about the instantaneous joy and peace of mind that comes when the baby is placed in her arms. This loving relationship is often seen as being very close to divine love. In many photos of a mother and her child, we see the serenity of the mother looking down at her baby.  Many famous depictions of Mary and the Christ child emphasises this calmness.

Even if we are not mothers ourselves, these images invite us to recognise the caring mother in all of us.  There are many opportunities for us to nurture others in our daily lives.  We are challenged to participate in loving relationships through giving selflessly as mothers do. And in giving in this way we also receive. The love from within, is translated into actions of heart and mind which bring peace and wholeness.

Teaching and Learning

Over the last few weeks there has been many examples of students responding positively and in a very engaged way with their leaning. Whether it be the science ambassadors, the debating teams, the Suspend Judgement group, the CTC group or my Religion, Meaning and Life class, students are focused and connected with their teachers and class groups. With Naplan this week and subject areas assessing student learning, it is imperative that students are attending all classes and activities throughout the week. The data is conclusive, that students who attend classes and readily engage, will perform at their optimum and achieve to their potential. As my class identified last year during the COVID-19 lockdown, ‘I worked well at home and could really focus on my work, but I missed the interactions with others and the opportunity to really comprehend what I need to take in.’  (Year 11)

I look forward to continuing to witness and enjoy the energy that is created by having all students engaged and connected to their purposeful learning.

God our Mother
Loving God, we give thanks for mothers!
Thank you for mothers who gave birth to us, and women who have treated us as their own children.
You teach us how to be good mothers, cherishing and protecting the children among us.
Help us mother lovingly, fairly, wisely and with great joy.
Help us raise our children to be the people they are born to be.
Help us create a world where mothers can raise their children in peace and plenty.
God of mothers, who created mothers, who came as a child and had a mother,
God our Mother, loving us with a sweeter and deeper love than we have ever known,
hear our prayer this day.   Amen.

Brendan Cahill

Setting up girls for success: The vital role of ‘academic buoyancy.’

First discovered by Australian academics Andrew Martin and Herbert W. Marsh in 2008, ‘academic buoyancy’ refers to the ability of students to successfully deal with the everyday academic stresses of school life, such as failing a subject, missing an assignment deadline, catching up after an absence from school, or an unexpected change of teacher.

Students who are academically buoyant are able to successfully handle normal day-to-day academic challenges, difficulties and setbacks. They also demonstrate higher levels of motivation, engagement, wellbeing and achievement. Academic buoyancy, also called ‘everyday academic resilience’, is acknowledged as a key component of a student’s capacity to thrive and prosper at school and beyond.

However other studies, including those undertaken by Andrew Martin and Rebecca Collie of the University of New South Wales, have revealed that female school students are significantly less academically buoyant than male students. Students who are unable to overcome the common day-to-day stresses of school life may experience underachievement and disengagement, while others are unable to complete their schooling. Therefore, the inability to be academically buoyant can result in students failing to reach their full potential, which may have significant long-term implications for educational and personal outcomes.

Martin and Marsh’s ground breaking 2008 study found that anxiety explained much of the variance in academic buoyancy that they observed. Indeed, multiple later studies have confirmed that feelings of anxiety, lack of control, worry, tension and academic fear predict lower academic buoyancy.

Furthermore, Martin and Marsh’s later research, published in 2020, found that while being academically buoyant predicts lower academic adversity, experiencing academic adversity does not predict higher buoyancy. Some experience of academic adversity can have positive effects, but this is more likely when a student already possesses high levels of academic buoyancy.

This is an important finding, they write, because it demonstrates that “academic buoyancy is not the outcome of exposure to adversity”. Instead, buoyancy is a distinct attribute which buffers students from the effects of academic setbacks. This runs counter to ‘inoculation’ theories which hold that exposing students to moderate levels of academic adversity will result in increased academic resilience.

On this basis, Martin and Marsh concluded that “it is important to instill in students the capacity to effectively deal with academic adversity”. In particular, students with low levels of academic buoyancy should be identified at an early stage so that interventions can commence before they move into the upper years of high school where the level of academic adversity increases and there is a “general escalation in social-emotional demands and complexities in students’ lives that can lead to some disconnection from school”.

As it is critical to ensure that all students have the capacity to navigate the day-to-day challenges and stresses of academic life, Collie and Martin’s latest study — commencing in 2021 and supported by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia — will be the first to examine academic buoyancy specifically in girls.

It will also be the first to investigate the long-term outcomes of girls’ academic buoyancy on educational and career outcomes up to the age of 25, and the first to examine the effect of female academic buoyancy in a COVID-adjusted world.

Collie and Martin’s three-year study, concluding in 2024, will use data collected from girls attending single-sex schools in Australia and New Zealand, combined with Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) data, to investigate the academic buoyancy of girls attending single-sex and co-educational schools, as well as young women up to the age of 25.

A major focus of the study will be investigating the role played by teachers’ instructional practices in developing academic resilience. Little is currently known about which practices lay the foundations of academic buoyancy, how these might differ across school types and contexts, and how they impact girls compared with boys. However, as teaching practices are highly adaptable, Collie and Martin believe that this area holds great promise for boosting low levels of academic resilience in girls.

“It is vital that we understand how to boost academic buoyancy among girls,” state Collie and Martin. “Failure to do so risks leaving girls’ potential unfulfilled in relation to both short- and long-term educational and occupational outcomes”.

Indeed, boosting academic buoyancy may help young women to overcome some of the barriers faced by females after leaving school, including gender gaps in STEM fields and gender biases in appointment to leadership roles.

“Today more than ever, academic buoyancy is an essential capacity due to the heightened academic adversity brought on by COVID-19,” argue Collie and Martin. “With the focus on modifiable instructional practices, the project’s findings will yield highly practical implications for helping female students navigate new experiences of adversity and a changed job outlook.”

Alliance of Girls Schools, Issue 7/2021: May 5, 2021

Middle School News

In 2021, Year 9 students will be invited to demonstrate their leadership through a variety of groups offered in the Middle School, rather than being elected a Middle School Leader in the traditional setting. Through these groups, students will be able to start their leadership journey with servant leadership at the core. At the end of each semester, students who have demonstrated leadership qualities and initiative within the Middle School groups will be recognised.

In Week 1 of this term, Year 9 students went on Solas Bhride to Camp Coobey in Geham (Toowoomba). While on camp, we made several new friendships within our activity group. As a cohort, we branched out of our comfort zone and learnt to work together in activities such as constructing campfires, catapult building and night-time activities. The camp experience found us supporting and uplifting each other more than ever.  Through the challenges we encountered, we gained greater mental toughness, grit and perseverance. Overall, the Year 9 camp was an inspiring and great experience as it allowed us to build our confidence as a cohort. Furthermore, this year, Year 9s have also been engaging in several leadership opportunities as Middle School Leaders. Multiple middle school leadership groups include Active Play, Middle School Blog, Girls supporting Girls, and the Assembly Team. We all have a general goal to improve Middle School and let every pupil in the Brigidine Middle School feel part of our community.

Students Lucy Thorley and Avalon Gardener

Religious Education News

For Year 7 Religious Education students, Term 1 was an opportunity to explore the foundations of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Students at Brigidine College come from a range of backgrounds and bring with them a variety of knowledge and experiences related to religion and ritual that make up the fabric of our diverse community. In fulfilling our College mission and values, this unit was designed to welcome all within and outside of our community to promote a sense of interfaith awareness and engagement. Throughout the teaching and learning cycle, students in Year 7 engaged in a range of activities that explored the history, rituals, sacred text, symbols and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to understand the concept of monotheism.

Inspired by visual diagrams in magazines like National Geographic, students were then given the task to develop a visual representation that explores the deep interconnection between the Abrahamic faiths that unite religions with a common beginning and understanding. The Year 7 students should be commended for their efforts in this task. It is evident that their knowledge has been enriched throughout this process as you can see in the student work below.

Charley Murray

Taru Narasinghe Arachchillage

Mischa Reid

Nidean Dickson
Curriculum Leader – Religious Education

Humanities Update

As part of the Year 9s investigation into the making of the modern world, students explored the significance of the Industrial Revolution. Within their learning about the rapid changes in the way people lived and worked, students researched and examined primary evidence regarding the working conditions, particularly the exploitation of children.  Students in 9D, with the assistance of our Music and Humanities teacher, Dr Schofield, consolidated their learning by developing a verse/chorus incorporating the terms and concepts learnt throughout the unit. This creative task was a fantastic way to engage with historical content in alternative formats—congratulation to Dr Schofield and all students who contributed.

Lyrics are below:

Verse 1: 
Child Labour in Textile Factories
Child Labour, where your child might die
Get their fingers chopped off by the spinning Jenny
Child Labour
Verse 2: 
Child Labour in the Coal Mines
Child Labour, where your child might die
Get the fumes in the lungs from the grit in the mines
Child Labour
Verse 3: 
Child Labour in the Chimney Pipes
Child Labour, where your child might die
Get beaten on the sly, and get stuck in the chimney
Child Labour
In the year of 1840
The Industrial Revolution ended with a BANG
It ended with a bangggggg
Child Labour

Dom Strachan
Curriculum Leader Humanities

Categories: The Brigidine Blog