Return to Normal?

As Coronavirus restrictions ease, schools are gradually returning to normal (whatever normal looks like!) At PCS we feel quietly confident that Term 3 will be full of school events, the likes of which have been cancelled or postponed since restrictions were put in place.
Many people would assume that schools would be very happy not to have to run extra-curricular activities and events, as they take up teaching time and often involve staff and students being at school outside of regular hours, however we are so keen to get back into them. The main reason for this is because we recognise that school isn’t all about learning the curriculum.
Of course the curriculum is hugely important to us and the main focus of our classroom teaching, but as a school we want our students to learn so much more. It is very important to us that students learn to be young people of strong character; taking responsibility for their actions and thinking of others. We want them to have the confidence to be themselves and speak out about what they believe in.
We want our students to learn how to work together to achieve their goals, and understand the importance of teamwork and leadership. We want our students to be problem solvers, who can think critically and creatively in order to find new ways of approaching old problems.
These are all qualities that our students can develop through our extra-curricular events. From taking part in carnivals and sporting events, to creative arts and performances, through to helping out with the High School Expo or cooking a BBQ to raise funds for a charity – our students have so many opportunities to grow and develop as people.
Just last week, my advanced English classes explored ideas that may be very different to their established ways of thinking. For me, the students learning the content wasn’t anywhere near as important as them learning about being open-minded and willing to consider new ideas and perspectives. History is full of people who are not willing to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and I don’t want any of my students to be that kind of person.
When we went into lockdown, our Year 12 students wrote the staff a wonderful letter and brought in presents to thank the staff for all the hard work we were doing to help them continue with their HSC. Last week, the students put together a lovely card for a fellow student who is going through a very difficult time. There are countless other examples of this sort of thing, and they are always driven by the students without any input from the staff.
I am extremely proud of the culture we have at PCS. The staff work very hard to provide our students with opportunities to grow and learn, and our students love getting involved in a whole range of activities and doing things to help other people.
As a teacher, I can tell you seeing students get good marks in their HSC is nice, but nowhere near as good or satisfying than seeing them become people of strong character and principles, who have a positive outlook towards life – and our extra-curricular activities play a big role in helping them achieve that.
Staff, thank you for your hard work. Parents, thank you for all your support. And students, keep being involved! School provides you with so many opportunities you will simply never experience in the “real world”, so make the most of it!
Greg Ballantyne