The week beginning 5 August was JJAMM (Julian, Joseph and Mary MacKillop) Week, an important and fun week in our College calendar. It is the week that we take time to honour Fr Julian Tenison Woods, St Joseph and, most importantly, we celebrate the Feast Day of Mary MacKillop. There have been many fun activities throughout this week and I am very grateful to all who have been involved. Money raised during the week will be donated to Joseph’s Corner and Mary MacKillop Today. More reports in regard to JJAMM Week can be found later in this newsletter.

On 25 June, the Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino, announced that mobile phones would be banned in all Victorian State Schools from the start of the 2020 school year. Under this ban, students would be required to switch off their phones and store them securely in their lockers from the start of the day until the end of the school day. This announcement has resulted in much discussion in the media and no doubt in many households and schools about the pros and cons of such a ban.

The reasons cited for the ban have been about the need to address cyber-bullying and to ensure that students are not distracted in classes. The latest research from Headspace states that 53 per cent of young Australian have experienced cyber-bullying. This is alarming and a concern to us all, however the cyber-bullying taking place is not necessarily during school hours and it is unfair to assume that it all occurs through the use of the mobile phone. My experience, and that of a number of our Senior Staff, is that this bullying often takes place outside of school hours and we, as a school, support parents and students to address these issues as they arise.

A bigger issue, I believe, is the amount of screen time that young people are exposed to over the course of a day and week. For us as a school, we embrace technology but also ensure that our lessons are varied and provide a diverse range of learning activities that don’t just involve the use of technology devices. What happens when the students leave school is beyond our control and, as such, parents also need to be involved in setting boundaries for the use of mobile phones and technology. As a school, we run a very comprehensive anti-bullying program across all year levels and our approach is to educate the students about their technology use and how to make good choices about that use.

Mount St. Joseph Girls’ College has embraced all forms of technology over the years and has a successful 1:1 laptop program. Our students use many different programs, apps and devices throughout the day to support their learning. For some staff, the mobile phone has been used for classroom activities that have enriched the learning experiences of our students.

Our current policy allows the students to access their phones outside of class time. During classes, phones can only be used if a teacher has given permission for their use. At present, we will continue with this policy and address issues as they arise.

The following local program may be of interest to parents. A number of the College Wellbeing Team and I will be attending this workshop.

Digital Wellbeing: Raising Teens in a Screen World:

Families of Mount St. Joseph Girls’ College are invited to join their local community for a Teen Digital Wellbeing Seminar with leading digital wellbeing expert, Dr Kristy Goodwin, at The Centenary Theatre in Williamstown on Thursday 29 August at 6pm. Dr Goodwin will talk about digital issues that affect teens: pornography, cyber-safety, online gaming, cyber-bullying, social media, and addiction concerns. She’ll help parents to understand what they can do to help their teen develop healthy technology habits. Get your tickets here:

Kate Dishon, Principal