2 May 2024

Welcome back to Term 2!

Welcome back to Term 2!
Welcome back to Term 2!
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We hope that the break has been a refreshing one for all our students and their families. As we come together again, we are very conscious of the social issues facing our community at the moment.

Community Support

We acknowledge that a number of people in our community are grieving the loss of a loved one. We extend our deepest sympathies and offer our support to all those affected during this difficult time.

Additionally, we understand the anxiety that many may be feeling in response to the incident at Bondi Junction Shopping Centre and other disturbing events in the news recently. In light of these challenges, we want to remind you that support is available at Carey. You may find this month’s School TV report helpful in navigating these situations with your children.

The Anxious Generation

Recently, I have been reading The Anxious Generation by Jonathan Haidt. It is a compelling read that provides insights into the collapse of youth mental health from a social psychologist's perspective. Haidt tracks the impact of smartphones and the influence of social media on all of us, particularly adolescent youth.

He makes a strong correlation between a significant decline in mental health and the increased time spent online by our children. Of particular concern is the extent to which social media is shaping the values and beliefs our young people. In many cases, we have no insight into who is in these social media feeds and the ideas and issues being discussed. For those of you who prefer a podcast, the Rich Roll Podcast interviewed Jonathan Haidt about his book and the realities of youth mental health on 22 April.

There is also a growing body of evidence indicating a decline in academic performance globally which correlates to the introduction of smartphones, possibly due to the distractions provided by smartphones and the continuous need to multitask, resulting in a net loss of focus on any one task.

Our approach

As you know, we have taken a hard line on removing phones from our Junior and Middle Schools this year. The new data presented by Haidt only strengthens our resolve to continue these efforts.

Feedback from our students indicates that they feel more comfortable in the school environment, particularly at lunchtimes when they are not worried about what they are missing out on as nobody is on their phones. We are witnessing a positive and healthy reconnection among our children, with increased physical activity, more playtime, and the development of social skills through interactions with their peers. Read more about this impact in an article from Deputy Head of Middle School Harry Dendle from last term.

For those of you with younger children, I encourage you to delay giving students smartphone (the recommendation from Haidt is not before 16), and to wherever possible encourage children to be playing with each other, ideally outside and off screens. It is essential that you work to get phones out of children’s bedrooms overnight as we know too that many children are having their sleep severely disrupted by social media interactions all night long.

Nominate someone for the Carey Medal

Every year, we are proud to present the Carey Medal to a member of our community who has gone above and beyond to influence positive change. This year, our Medallist was Hugh van Cuylenburg (1998), a Carey alum who has dedicated his life to improving mental health outcomes for all Australians. Hugh’s organisation, the Resilience Project, as well as his podcast, the Imperfects, is accessed by millions of Australians every year, and he has recently become an ambassador of Eating Disorders Families Australia, an organisation close to his heart.

But the Carey Medal isn’t only for well-known individuals whose impact is so far reaching – the Medal recognises all levels of selfless commitment to the service of others, and can be awarded to any current or past students, staff or parents.

We want to hear from you – who do you know whose community service inspires you and who you think should be recognised for their work? Fill out a nomination form or contact the Carey Medal Committee now. Nominations are due by the end of the month, and we’d love to see yours.

Carey Community Forum – Body Confident Children and Teens

Further support we are pleased to offer at Carey is the Carey Community Forum. The upcoming session about body confidence will be of interest to anyone in our community who cares for children of any age, although the Butterfly Foundation, who will be presenting the session on Carey’s behalf, do ask that children do not attend the session. The session is free and online, and I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about how to support their children’s body confidence to register their attendance so they can be sent the link to the session.

Concussion guidelines

You may be aware that there are now new concussion guidelines in place which we have adapted at the schools and across the APS network of schools. The new policy we have adopted see a 21-day exclusion period from contact sport following a concussion. It is a requirement now that we keep a register of concussion incidents to ensure that the exclusion period is observed. As a result, can we ask for your help please in ensuring that concussions are reported to the School, including those which may take place in community sport away from Carey so that we are able to enact a concussion management plan for each impacted student to monitor their safe return to contact sports.

Professional development in Term 2

I will be away for the remainder of the term on sabbatical continuing my own learning. I will be undertaking some study in the Oxford Strategic Leadership Program at the renowned Oxford University Saïd Business School. I also look forward to working with some leading educators and schools to share insights and learnings on how we will continue to develop the best possible learning programs for our students in the future, and I will take the opportunity to host some reunions for alumni whilst I am away. During my absence, Deputy Principals Kate Croft and Peter Robson will be sharing the Acting Principal role. I look forward to seeing you all again towards the end term.

Jonathan Walter


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