Parents as the primary educators
Many schools today would agree that parents are the first educators in principle, but few are able to pay more than lip service because their contact with parents is minimal, superficial, or largely restricted to discussing academic progress. Yet, parents are the primary educators and schools should seek to give parents every support. In particular, schools have a duty to reinforce of the work of parents in passing on values and building character. We hold it to be the right of parents, except in genuinely exceptional circumstances, to set the agenda in the moral development of their own children. At Redfield a number of very practical approaches ensure that the College works very closely with each boy's parents, ensuring that parents are, in fact, the first educators.
Consistency between home and school
Children need consistency between parents, and between home and school. Parents need to ensure that the other inputs in the lives of their children are consistent with their own messages. If they fail to do so, there is the danger, that no matter how dedicated they are, their own efforts will be undercut by the competition. Children imitate those who take an interest in them… for better or for worse. Children imitate whoever they spend time with, even in chat rooms, on videos and on MTV. Just as responsible parents try to give the best example they can at all times to their children, teachers also have a duty to do so. The staff at Redfield strive and undergo professional development in order that they provide the best example, in their own professionalism and also in their wider attitudes and behaviour. The staff know that their personal example is important because children copy people they admire. The peer group can be the decisive influence in the life of an adolescent and parents comment also on the value of having a peer group that is a positive reinforcement. Parents are encouraged to get to know very well the parents of their own children’s friends.
Close Cooperation between home and school
Our aim is to create a school that works most closely with parents in the education of their own children, and the starting point of close cooperation is effective communication. Hence, Redfield teachers are attentive to home school communication and report on academic progress on paper at the end of each term. Parents at Redfield commit to attending four personal interviews with their son's mentor each year and to attend the three Key Parent Functions held in terms on to three.
Education tailored to the individual person
Effective education is personal – education must be of the whole person. Certainly a school must be concerned about ATARs and academics, but we know that happiness is more about character than intellectual achievements. Doors will always open to a good man who has learned to offer his best. The best education is the development of the whole person: head and a heart, mind and will. Effective education is also personal as opposed to institutional. The mentoring system guarantees that the needs of the individual are understood and addressed. Teachers meet regularly with mentors to review the progress of each student in each subject, the focus being on helping each individual reach his potential.
Virtues as the building blocks of character
In Redfield, great stress is placed on developing human virtues, or strength of character, because these virtues enable a person to be self-directing in life. Freedom is not seen as mere freedom from constraints but as a capacity to carry noble convictions into action. The family, where an overriding motivation is the welfare of the other members, is the environment par excellence for fostering virtue. Essentially, virtues are good habits. We place great emphasis on sincerity and generosity as key virtues for the intellect and the will; the College motto itself is Veritas Liberabit Vos, the truth will set you free. Symbolised on the College shield are the four cardinal virtues, that map out the key fields of human action: Prudence governing our capacities to assess situations objectively and honestly; Justice governing our interactions with others; Temperance or the capacity to manage our own impulses, appetites and passions; and Fortitude, our ability to strive against external challenges in pursuit of noble goals.
The Mentoring System
The personalized Mentoring System is the most distinctive feature of Redfield. The mentors support parents in exercising their privilege and duty as primary educators. An individual mentor, from amongst the teachers of the school, is appointed to each student as his mentor and given the necessary training to do the job. The mentor meets with the boy in regular fortnightly sessions, and meets each term with the parents in interviews to review progress and establish priorities. The focus is on leading the young person to think for himself and to work on acquiring the balanced strengths that he will need in adult life. Through his rapport and friendship with the student, the mentor provides an effective service of personal example, guidance, and advice. The session is also an effective reinforcement for parents. Parents comment on how helpful it is, particularly when their sons are in teenage years, to be able to rely on a trusted mentor to reinforce key values with one’s son. The mentor is ideally placed to coordinate, on behalf of the parents, the efforts of all who are contributing to the education of their son.
Scholastic Challenge and Hard Work
In addition to satisfying NSW Board of Studies curriculum requirements for all the Key Learning Areas, distinctive features of the Redfield Curriculum include:
- Spalding: the structured and systematic Spalding approach to teaching language and literacy emphasisng the phonetic components of language across Primary;
- Foreign Language: study of modern language for all students Years 2-8, a general emphasis on history studies throughout the College, introductory Latin for all, and civilisation studies in Years 8-10 in order to foster a universal outlook and cultural depth in students
- Extension: There is an Honours program for students in Years 7-10 in English, Mathematics, Science, History, Art and Music, allowing the most able students to discover new challenges, whereas in Primary an extensive extension program allows our younger students to flourish and extend.
- Personal Development: an integrated approach to the personal development curriculum, delivering selected PDHPE syllabus content through PDHPE and Religion classes, mentoring sessions, and Motto classes.
- IT facilities and curriculum integrated into studies from Year 2 onwards
- Video and Graphics: a professional quality video studio and control room resourcing English and media studies
- Religious Instruction: ongoing studies in Catholic teaching and practice open to all students. (We ask parents of boys of non-Catholic faiths to decide with their son on his participation in religion classes.)
- Visiting Speakers: the opportunity to benefit from an ongoing and wide-ranging program of visiting expert speakers, from James Mawdsley speaking on his protests for political freedom in Burma, to Tony Burke outlining the arguments against euthanasia that convinced the NSW parliament.
- HSC: The performance of Redfield students at HSC level over the past decade has been outstanding, both at the highest level and across the board. Redfield has peaked at 11th in New South Wales, based on HSC Merit Listings. Typically the median ATAR result hovers around 85.