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  1. #1
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    Default Silkwood School

    I feel a need to open up this discussion regarding Silkwood School at Mount Nathan on the Gold Coast so that future parents may make an informed choice regarding this school for their children. I also feel like Silkwood needs to face some honest feedback from parents regarding their education and administration. If you are a current or past parent of a student at Silkwood School or you know one can you please add to this discussion, whether or not your experience is positive or negative.


    My children currently attend Silkwood Independent School and i would like to list the pros and cons of this school...


    Pros: other parents (I have made life long friends from the lovely parent group), playgroup/ prep (beautiful art and craft style learning, lots of music and fun), health lunches and tuckshop, learning environment/ pretty classrooms (sucks a lot of us in).


    Cons: after prep education it is a mish mash of learning styles (doesn't function and is adhoc), teacher retention (30% of teachers left in 2012), extremely high number of children with learning and behavioural challenges (school encourages these students only if they come with government funding), the funding is not spent on the children who need it (the money has being wasted on a lost court case against council for a high school that was started without the correct approvals), education such as music programs, LOTE, support teaching has being cut due to lack of funding, over 10% of families left in 2012 and I expect 2013's numbers will be greater, class size is 28 students for 1 teacher (teachers are often first/ second year teachers all with main****** educations), of the 28 students in one of my daughters classes, 5 have special educational requirements (beautiful children but not getting what they require physically, emotionally or educationally, I am attached to all the parents and children but I am getting tired of having to say hello and goodbye due to the unhappy families leaving (the issues are not addressed and the students leaving are just being replaced with more off the waiting list), the administrations organisation is dismal in every respect.


    I, like many others, am in love with the idea of this school and am still holding on to the hope that things may improve, unfortunately it is sinking in for me that I need to move my children to seek a better education. My advice to prospective parents/ students is to visit the school but don't (like me) get roped in with the beauty and dreams of the school and question the statistic and reality of their education. Alternatively, like a lot of families, enjoy the early playgroup and prep education and prepare to seek other options after prep.


    I apologise for sounding very negative but I am so disappointed with this school not living up to the promises they made to us and our children. Please add to this discuss, I would love to hear the experience of others and from any past teachers who could enlighten us as to why there is so much discontent amongst staff...

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  3. #2
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    Default A little information can be dangerous.

    This message was shared on a fb page. So I thought I would ask the school for a response.

    The Silkwood team is always more than happy to address feedback that is delivered respectfully and in an appropriate way. We have tracked our outcomes in being able to address serious concerns with families over the last two years, and when given the opportunity to meet, discuss and find a way forward we have a great success rate. Finding win/win outcomes for everyone and working in partnership with families is fundamental to enabling everyone to work together to realise a child’s full potential. Choosing to address issues with the people who can support them to be resolved is the first step.

    The information being shared is inaccurate, so my assumption is that this person has not been proactive with the school to help resolve their issues. To help clear up the inaccurate information:

    · Silkwood is a fully accredited private school from Prep to High School.

    · No funds have been cut from learning support to pay for lost court costs. In fact we have not lost anything in court.

    · We do not treat students with learning needs any differently through our enrolment process than other students. In our enrolment processes we consider overall class needs and our ability to successfully support the student to integrate into Silkwood. That is for all students regardless of learning needs.

    · We have a responsibility in our agreement with the government to support every student we enrol. We honour and take that commitment seriously. We do reserve the right to make program adjustments in the interests of the student and sometimes parents may want different pathways, but at all times we offer what we believe is the best pathway forward. To allude to this process being anything other than responsible management for the school is erroneous.

    · The land process began eight years ago in response to our parents setting a strategic goal to have a high school. The school team at the time was concerned about accepting this challenge; however, they took it out of respect to the needs of the families. It took a lot of courage for them to step on the path to make it happen. The process set us along a series of events, currently documented in a three page timeline, which continues to grow day by day. When you read this document you can understand how much of what has occurred has been circumstantial; poor professional advice given to the school and being caught in bureaucracy. As planning is not the school’s core business, much of what has been done is reliant on professional advice and work. When you look at that timeline of events it is nothing short of a miracle we are still going and we have been able to successfully continue to keep the school growing and developing. To make a random dismissive comment, inferring mismanagement about the land process, shows a lack of understanding and respect of the efforts of the school team.

    · Throughout 2010 and 2011 we struggled to find teachers who wanted to work with our vision and were capable. This was successfully addressed in 2012 with a new teacher development plan and support approach of which we have continued to improve and build on every year. The figures this person is referring to are from 2011. We did have six teachers leave; they either were moving away from the area, found it too challenging to deliver in the Silkwood Way or left to have babies. Nothing extraordinary really. It can happen!

    · The school acknowledges it has gone through tremendous change over the last five years, as we moved to find our own pathway and identity. It was necessary change if we were to bring forth our school vision. However, it did put us on a more challenging path than what we were previously on. To develop your own unique educational model means you are out on your own, creating something new. There is no easy road to take when you have to build the road. Couple that with highly aspirational educational expectations, being a small school and trying to keep fees affordable for families, means it was never going to be easy. Come to work for a week in my team’s shoes and you will see this is no ordinary work place and no ordinary school. Five years on from the commencement of this process and we have settled into ourselves. The hard work has not ended, however our support systems and team have grown, and the school has stronger enrolments ensuring more funds to help us on our way. I simply applaud my team for the courage to work through all of the change and thank those parents who found the space to continue to believe and support us on this journey. It was not an easy path for everyone to take. 2015 is our year… our focus is succeeding with our High School land approval, starting the big High School build and creating some fun community connection processes. The theme of bringing together our new spirit… The Silkwood Way has well and truly arrived!


    In closing, it is always disappointing when someone who is part of our school community chooses to throw stones at the school. Our greatest desire is for our families to walk alongside us and share the responsibility of bringing forth the school’s vision. Conflict, disappointments and upsets are a natural part of a community's life so we expect that people can and will share their feelings. What we would like to see is the opportunity to work with the person to resolve the issue or if they don’t want to resolve it, that they respectfully exit the school.

    I do not know who this person is and would not normally respond to an inappropriate placement of a school concern, however as a parent sent it in with a suggestion to respond and I understand a request from a closed Facebook group has also been made for the school to respond.

    Hope this has been helpful. You are welcome to post this to the blog site in question.

    Kind regards,

    Valerie Campbell-Hogg
    School Facilitator

  4. #3
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    I was really disappointed with their playgroup.

    It was only in keeping with superficial aspects of their educational ideology.

    After speaking to ex staff and parents, I am under the impression the school level has similar problems...

    However, all this doesn't matter, as they said my little boy can't attend due to being special needs, which is a shame, as their ideology would've been perfect for his 'quirks'.

    Disappointing.

  5. #4
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    Default I am sorry to hear that.

    I am sorry to hear that Silkwood did not meet your needs.
    I would have assumed that reading my post there were pathways to take if you felt there was an issue. I also assumed that there was no difference with a student with and without special needs also taking into account there needs to be a healthy balance. As to talking to ex staff I have been there for 7 years and usually ex staff are ex for a reason. I can say not everyone leaves with happiness in thier heart. There are over 400 students and nearly 60 staff.
    The waiting list in some classes are nearly as big as the class they are waiting for. It's not a solution for everybody but I truly believe that we try to do our best for everyone concerned. I have nothing to do with playgroup or enrollments and feel your disapointment and wish you all the very best for your family.

  6. #5
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    Default Silkwood School

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmyorg View Post
    I also assumed that there was no difference with a student with and without special needs also taking into account there needs to be a healthy balance.
    So there is, or there isn't?

    SN kids create unhealthy balances?

  7. #6
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    Default Balance

    There are pathways you can take your questions. I'm not the correct person to answer on the schools behalf about enrollments. But I will say every class is different and a balance needs to be sort. As an example 33 students is too many for a single class and is an unhealthy balance therefore numbers have to be reduced and the team on that particular class will unfortunately disapoint some families. Silkwood runs an arrowsmith program which has a 12 to 1 ratio for children learning needs. This program only has a handful of schools that run it in Australia and every student that is on the waiting list is SN.

  8. #7
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    Default Silkwood School

    He was accepted, we were on the wait list from birth almost. So class numbers is not the issue. His disability is.

    Arrowsmith is not for ASD kids.

  9. #8
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    I don't see discontent amongst staff, or a high turnover.
    They don't only take on people with special needs ONLY if they're funded. Where are you even getting this information?

    Silkwood is easily one of the best schools on the Goldy, and this information seems misleading to me. Especially since I've heard nothing but good stuff, and had nothing but great experiences myself.

    Maybe it's changed since you wrote this.

  10. #9
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    He's funded. They still wouldn't take him.


 

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