07 October 2021

From the Principal

Article by Mr Michael Exton

From the Principal

Dear Saint Ignatius College Geelong community members,

Welcome to term four

Late last week, we received the very good news that Years 7 – 11 will begin the staggered return to onsite learning in regional Victorian schools, joining the Year 12 students who returned for the last week of term three. We know how important it is for our young people’s wellbeing and learning to be at school with their teachers and friends. I hope all students have had an enjoyable and restful break (with some revision and preparation for the new term) and are looking forward to finishing the year off on an excellent note.

The Parent/Student/Teacher conferences held at the end of term three will have helped identify and affirm good progress to date, provided a valuable opportunity to discuss areas of concern and helped set some directions for an effective term ahead.

The Year 12 VCE students sat their trial exams during the second week of the holidays. VCE Coordinator, Mr Michael Brown and Year 12 Coordinator, Ms Kristin Williamson, reported that they were very pleased overall with how the students approached this very important assessment preparation.


This term brings further changes to our school operations, as the wider community now works to function with the presence of coronavirus. To assist us in getting students back to school and keeping our school open, we must continue our diligence regarding COVIDSafe practices, adopt several additional measures, and revise our programs, events, and activities.

I am sure everyone will work together to ensure we have as smooth and safe a return to onsite classes as possible. However, we mustn't drop our guard about consistently following the ‘COVIDSafe’ guidelines and insist that our students follow them. Having been away from the regular routines at school, we will need to establish these routines again and remind students and insist that they comply with the expected health and safety practices. These include mask-wearing, hand washing/sanitising, physical distancing where possible, ventilation (windows & doors open or class outside), and not coming to school if unwell.


The Victorian Chief Health Officer has determined that vaccination will be mandatory for staff who work in schools. All staff are required to be fully vaccinated by 29 November 2021 unless a medical exemption applies.

To keep school communities safe and support the plan to reopen Victoria, our school encourages all eligible students to be vaccinated for their safety and support the community's safety. Vaccinations for our students are voluntary; however, the more vaccinated students, the more protected our community and our school will be. Please talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have regarding COVID-19 vaccines/testing. I also encourage you to consider the information at <www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au> regarding COVID-19 vaccines/testing.

Shade sails

The Victorian government’s ‘School Shade Sails Fund’ provides grants to schools for shade development to facilitate outdoor learning. Schools can apply for up to $25,000 per school campus. This fund aims to help schools maximise the use of their outdoor learning areas and environments by creating new safe and shaded outdoor learning spaces in schools to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). I expect that our College will be eligible for a grant, and we will work on a proposal to increase the shaded area available that students could be used for outdoor learning.

Air purifiers

In addition, I expect our College will receive some of the Victorian Government air purifier units as per the government’s recent announcement. As yet, I do not know how many and when we will receive these units. However, initial advice is that these air purifiers are to be prioritised for higher risk areas. These areas include where there are high levels of mixing of staff and reduced mask use when eating, higher levels of exertion and increased aerosol projection, and areas of lower ventilation and possible exposure to illness. Examples include sick bays, staff rooms, canteens, school receptions and student centres, gymnasiums and music rooms. Further advice will be provided on air purifiers when we receive an update from the CECV.

Year 9 Camps cancelled

Unfortunately, after assessing the likelihood of conducting the Year 9 camps, which had already been postponed twice, we have decided to cancel these camps. This will be very disappointing for our Year 9 students, who would have been looking forward to this valuable outdoor education experience and time away with their classmates. Parents of Yr 9 students will receive a letter via email about the cancellation with more information.

Year 12 celebrations

As we reviewed the College calendar for the remainder of the year, we have had to curtail our usual Year 12 celebrations very disappointingly. I am very mindful that our senior students have experienced the impact of the pandemic restrictions during their final two years of secondary school. Our Year 12 Coordinator, Ms Kristin Williamson and her team have planned for what we can under the circumstances to mark this milestone and make it somewhat special for our Year 12 students.

We will hold our traditional farewell from the whole school assembly on Monday 18th October. On this day, the Yr 12s can come in appropriate costumes or casual clothes, and there will be a pizza lunch provided for them. Their last day of classes will be Tuesday 19th October. (This will be a normal day of classes.) After the VCE exams, we will invite them to return for a formal occasion on the late afternoon and evening of November 18, the Graduation Mass and assembly. Hopefully, the restrictions will have eased by then, and if we can, parents might also be able to attend. Ms Williamson will write via email to Year 12 students and their parents with more details.

There are less than two weeks of formal classes for Year 12 students remaining. It is very important that the Year 12s remain as focused as possible on their studies right through to the last exam. A lot depends on their ability to apply themselves well during this time. I wish our Year 12 students and their families, as best they can under these uncertain and challenging times, a special and memorable time during the last phase of their secondary school journey.


Another event that has been affected by the restrictions is our annual end of year College community celebration, “Mosaic.” 

We usually hold this special evening at Costa Hall in November, and it is a wonderful celebration of student achievements from across most aspects of the school year. I am very disappointed that we will not be able to conduct this special evening in the usual way. Our plan to recognise the student achievements usually presented at Mosaic is to run a day of level assemblies at school early next year to make the presentations. In this way, students will still receive their awards, and hopefully, this will be another way to inspire all students to make the most of the opportunities available in the new year.

Production of “Wicked”

I thank everyone for their patience with the uncertainty about whether we will be able to conduct the performances in early December. Unfortunately, the latest report from the Production Team is that things are still tentative. I am very pleased that there remains a strong desire for the performances to go ahead; however, it remains uncertain regarding what the restrictions will allow at the time, and we are still waiting for confirmation from the licenser granting permission to run the show at the rescheduled times. We will keep you updated about this.

School Improvement Surveys

Each year, we pause to listen to our students, families and staff to gauge how our learning community is travelling. This feedback is invaluable to our progress as an effective school community and is backed by evidence-based research and best practices.

A significant and formal way in which we engage and gather data is through ‘MACSSIS,’ the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools – School Improvement Surveys. These surveys have been built specifically for Catholic schools by the Learning Services team at MACS, in partnership with researchers at ‘Learning First.’

In the following few weeks, students at our school will be provided with supervised sessions to complete the online survey, where teachers are on hand to help and answer any questions.

Staff will complete the survey at a Staff meeting next week.

Parents will be invited to complete the survey anytime over the two-week window via an emailed link and password. Our school’s MACSSIS Survey Coordinator, Deputy Principal Paul Lewis, will be providing you with more information next week.

Your opinions are critical to understanding how our school is performing – MACSSIS is a key data source for guiding the ongoing work to improve our school.

All participation is invited, welcomed, and 100 per cent voluntary. The surveys are not a test; they are an inclusive way to support the work we are already doing to improve our school. Everyone has the right to refuse to participate or withdraw from the survey at any point before, during or after completion of the survey.

Thank you, in anticipation, for your support in this important feedback process.

Magis 2020

During the next week, parents of Years 8 to 12 students will receive their copy of the College’s 2020 Annual Magazine. Parents of last year’s Year 12 students who do not have a current student at the College will receive their copy in the mail.

‘Magis’ is a fantastic record of College life for the previous year. I hope you enjoy looking over the year’s records in this annual magazine, and over time it will become a treasured memory of your daughter or son’s 2020 school year.

On behalf of the College community, I express my gratitude to our Communications Officer, Mr Tony Berryman-Long, for his coordination, design work and development of the ‘Magis’ for another year.

Michael Exton