Issuu on Google+

2010

PRINCIPAL’S R E V I E W

ITH NR PE

ST P AU L’S

AR SCH MM OO RA L G

In C h r i st o Fu t u r u m

S t Paul’s GRAMMAR SCHOOL penrith, australia


PAGE 2

2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH


FROM THE PRINCIPAL It is now more than 10 years since we entered the 21st century. A techno-futuristic apogee is now no longer the set of fantastic and uncertain possibilities it seemed in the fin de siècle ‘90s; it’s been our reality for the past 10 years, although perhaps you can still remember life before Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Wikipedia and the iPhone! Already much has happened that has forced us to reflect upon our values, dreams, aspirations and the very ways we live. This first decade has been witness to countless watershed moments from which we cannot go back, irrevocable changes that have forced us to come to grips with new realities, possibilities we had not previously considered. They have struck at the very heart of what it is to be human; some have devastated and horrified, while others have uplifted and transformed. It’s certainly been a heady start to the century. Perhaps you can remember exactly where you were when news first broke of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, or the Bali bombing in 2002, or the London Underground

bombings in 2005? Perhaps you wept for the countless thousands who perished in the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, or the hundreds who perished in the Black Saturday firestorm only 22 months ago? Closer to home, perhaps this first decade has brought your family the joys of new births, children or grandchildren, marriage, separation, divorce, or the passing of a loved one. Maybe you have moved house, changed jobs, lost a job, started a new career, learned a new skill, joined a new church, a club or a sporting team. These are relationships, moments and experiences that shape us forever.

Public discussion about education, its purpose, format and value has been considerable. A major watershed moment for education in this nation took place in January 2010 with the release of MySchool, a website developed by a Commonwealth Government body, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). The site was intended to give parents comparative information about the performance of schools in key areas such as literacy and numeracy; the new site, launched only last week, now includes financial and average growth data. Debate in the media and amongst the community has been lively, to say the least.

Consider the different futures that lie ahead for the families of the Beaconsfield miners rescued after 5 days in 2006, the families of the Chilean miners rescued earlier this year after 10 weeks underground, or for the families of the Greymouth miners earlier this month after their devastating loss.

Some are pointing to such a site as a breakthrough for transparency and accountability, while others, including me, have been concerned that such information can never adequately capture all the richness of what happens within the thousands of diverse learning communities across the nation.

Such events can confuse and cause us to question, confronting us with some of the great existential questions of life; on the other hand, they can sometimes show us we can rise above even the most tragic of devastating moments and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. It is no different for a community like St Paul’s. Particularly so when there has been such a monumental change this year... and it’s not just the matter of a new principal settling in.

SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 3


We do not want to become complacent or indifferent; the lives of our students and their possibilities demand greater than that. There has also been much discussion about what should comprise a national curriculum, the other major watershed for education in 2010. Both MySchool and a national curriculum presuppose questions about what is important in education. But what difference does all this national debate and talk of websites make to the daily life of St Paul’s? Some, but more significantly, we have this year been asking two fundamental, schoolfocused questions: How do we go from being “good” to “great”? What does it mean to be a “great Christian Grammar” school? In answer to the first question, the emerging view seems to be “honestly and continuously”. There are plenty of examples from 2010 of how St Paul’s demonstrates that it is a good school, and many of them are included here; plenty of them have already been listed throughout the year in Revelations and Futurum, or through presentations at assemblies and other functions throughout the year. Yet we want to acknowledge openly when we are not doing as well as we can and commit to doing better. We do not want to become complacent or indifferent; the lives of our students and their possibilities demand greater than that. We still have much to do, and “the march of a thousand miles begins with one step”, according to Chinese

PAGE 4

philosopher, Lao Tzu. Structural change can take place quickly; cultural change takes longer and will require patience and grace all round. In answer to the second question, it seems there is still great debate throughout our community nearly 30 years since our establishment, showing that simple answers to this question are unlikely to emerge quickly. Dynamic tensions exist between the various aspects of life in such a diverse community; I think this is valuable as it reflects that St Paul’s is an open, non-selective, inviting community. For some families, academic pursuits are paramount, while for others it is the opportunities provided for enrichment through the performing arts, sporting teams, outdoor education or service learning experiences. Ironically, it is in the pursuit of them all, undergirded by exploration of Christian faith, that the foundations of St Paul’s are to be seen. Dr Michael Barratt, founding Chair of St Paul’s Grammar School, outlined that the vision of St Paul’s was to be “a school of high academic and cultural pursuits unashamedly grounded in the person and work of [Jesus] Christ”1 and the first brochure advertising St Paul’s clearly stated that “a high academic standard is set and students are

1  Barratt, M. (1993), “Not by might nor by power”, in Codrington S.B. (ed), The First of Many Decades, Penrith: St Paul’s Grammar School Penrith, Ltd., p.46.

2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH

expected to work to their capacity”2. It is tempting to see in these comments a narrow focus on only those who achieve at the highest level, evoking some utopian vision of what a “grammar school” truly represents. Yet this seems to be a somewhat problematic reading of history. Medieval grammar schools, often connected to cathedrals or monasteries, concentrated on the teaching of Latin and Greek as preparation for university liberal arts or theological studies – perhaps not an ideal model for 21st century students. Numerous reforms to English grammar schools of the 19th century, led by Thomas Arnold of Rugby School (headmaster, 1828-1841) and Edward Thring of Uppingham (headmaster from 1853-1887), helped transform the core ethos of what has been characterised as the “grammar school” model, yet, sadly, these tend to be lost midst the diverse and passionate sociological critiques of such schools:

2  Codrington S.B. (ed) (1993), The First of Many Decades, Penrith: St Paul’s Grammar School Penrith, Ltd., p.85.


“it volupta tibusam quamet omnim faccae que sedit doluptae con consendessi aut es simet volupta turio. consendessi aut es simet volupta turio.

The challenge is for us to maintain our commitment to grand and noble ideals. Arnold emphasised the formation of character as the central purpose of education, popularising the term “muscular Christianity” to describe his practical, engaging and robust outlook on faith, learning and life; Thring, in a statement made to the trustees of Uppingham in 1875 at the height of his headmastership, stated that his school had been built on the axiomatic principle “that every boy, be he clever or stupid, must have proper attention paid to him” 3 because “every boy can do something well”4. Thring’s biographer captured the ethos of Uppingham as one where: A boy who cannot hold his own in purely literary work may command the respect of his fellows, and, what is even more important for healthy growth, may maintain his own self-respect on other lines of effort.5 Such “other lines” included sporting games, carpentry, metalwork, gardening and music. Honoured scholars of Oxford and Cambridge, to which students from Rugby, Uppingham and other English grammar schools “went up” to study, are also known not only by their bookishness, but by their cultural, 3  Parkin, G.R. (1898), Edward Thring: life, diary and letters, London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd, p.68. 4  Parkin, G.R., op.cit., p.76. 5  ibid.

sporting and moral pursuits. That most esteemed of academic prizes, the Rhodes Scholarship, is often held as a standard by which elite scholars are judged. In establishing the scholarship via an instruction contained in his last will and testament, Sir Cecil Rhodes listed four key attributes he expected of a scholar worthy to benefit from his estate: • • •

literary and scholastic attainment; fondness of and success in outdoor sports; qualities of truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; exhibition of moral force of character and instincts to lead and take an interest in one’s contemporaries6.

The ideals of Arnold, Thring and Rhodes and those articulated by our founders resonate still. They find expression in our mission statement: St Paul’s Grammar School is dedicated to equipping its students to become people of discernment who value Christian faith, integrity and excellence in all of life, and who will serve in the world as confident, competent and compassionate adults.

Thus there remain for us the challenges: • to maintain our commitment to grand and noble ideals in the face of public debate which seeks to reduce education to a single mark or rank; • to uphold integrity and excellence as values by which to live; • to explore honestly and fully the claims and implications of Jesus Christ; and • to seek the good in and for others through service. Throughout any given year, there are diverse ways in which the activities of students and staff are conveyed to the community – through our weekly Revelations, through the periodic Futurum, through the annual report to the NSW Board of Studies (available on the School’s website), through student exhibitions, through formal assemblies, through semester reports, through news on the School website, and numerous other small ways continuously throughout the year. There seems little merit in repeating details from many of those communiqués here. Rather, what follows is an exploration, an inquiry, a reflection on some of the key ideas that have featured during 2010. For those named herein, I trust there is not cause for embarrassment; for those not named, please forgive the omission – it is simply a feature of limited space, not a reflection of the merits of any achievements.

6  http://sydney.edu.au/rhodes/info. shtml, accessed 2nd December 2010

SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 5


All students deserve to be acknowledged for fine achievement, right across the academic spectrum; the goal for all students should be to set and achieve ever challenging goals for themselves, regardless of their level of academic ability.

It’s about Learning...

We are one of Australia’s most experienced International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme schools, but we also have great success with the NSW Higher School Certificate. Foundations for success are laid by the Primary Years Programme and the Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate. Yet we do not wish to be known simply by results in any particular credential; credentials do have their place and significance, but it is the nature of productive and effective learning for all students that should be at the core of St Paul’s, regardless of which credential is finally awarded. For this reason, we have spent 2010 shifting the focus in our learning away from simply what type of educational name badge we wear and on to the nature of learning and its continuous improvement. Anyone who has had children grow to complete formal schooling knows that their needs and range of experiences change markedly throughout the more than a decade of formal education. Many of our students increasingly commence their formal schooling in the Early Learning Centre, “Little Saints”, before proceeding through the Junior School and on into the High School. Learning for a 6 year old looks very different than what it does for a 16 year old, as it should. What binds the learning together for us at St Paul’s is a commitment to the International Baccalaureate’s Learner Profile. The Learner Profile is not about content, or

PAGE 6

even skills, so much as it is about values and attitudes. It describes a set of characteristics we endeavour to support students in developing. We want all students to aspire to be: • • • • • • • • • •

inquirers knowledgeable thinkers communicators principled open-minded caring risk-takers balanced reflective.

In the years ahead, we will continue to explore how these characteristics are infused through our pastoral and welfare policies and programmes, adding to the sense that an education at St Paul’s is coherent and connected in all its elements. Further details of this central feature of learning at St Paul’s can be found at www.ibo.org/programmes/profile. Academic achievement must always be the lifeblood of any great school. It is the measure beyond all others by which schools are judged. Sadly, however, this can be construed only in the context of those who achieve in the higher ranges of whatever measure is used. This is such a limiting and simplistic evaluation of achievement as it denies the opportunity for all students to be acknowledged. It is as rewarding for a student to exceed his or her expectation of achieving 65 to

2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH

work hard and achieve 71 as it is for a student to achieve 95 or above. All students deserve to be acknowledged for fine achievement, right across the academic spectrum; the goal for all students should be to set and achieve ever challenging goals for themselves, regardless of their level of academic ability. This seems to be the essence of Thring’s rather direct, but now seemingly harsh comment, that “every boy, be he clever or stupid, must have proper attention paid to him” 7; I hasten to add that Uppingham was at the time a boys’ school only but is now co-educational and Thring’s comment is equally applicable. Similarly, achievement is not to be considered simply as test results or a grade on a project. Learning is a rich and complex process that cannot and should not be reduced exclusively to a set of numbers. It is not that the numbers are unimportant – they are important – but it is that they do not capture the full experience of what has taken place throughout an entire year. As the academic year concludes, our nation’s sporting tragics are warming up for the “Ashes”, a series of test matches between the Australian and English national cricket teams. Each of five tests is scheduled for five days, a total of 25 days; each day of each test has 6 hours of cricket, or 90 overs (each of 6 bowling deliveries), providing the staggering possibility of 13,500 individual bowling 7 Parkin, G.R. (1898), Edward Thring: life, diary and letters, London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd, p.68


SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REPORT PAGE 7


“St Paul’s values a

broad understanding of ‘learning’, so it is important that involvement in cultural and sporting pursuits is acknowledged.“ PAGE 8

2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH


SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REPORT PAGE 9


Academic measures need to be seen in a context where learning is ongoing, multifaceted, complex and dynamic. deliveries over the duration of the series. It is a considerable human undertaking, complex and nuanced, ebbing and flowing through hours and days, even if some may not be interested in or appreciate the game. And, yes, at the end of the series, one of the national teams will be declared the victor; England will either “retain” the Ashes or Australia will win them back. Yet I cannot help but feel that simply saying “Australia won” or “Australia lost” doesn’t fully capture what an Ashes series represents. Neither does a focus simply on numerical measures of academic achievement. There are a number of academic measures referred to below, but I would trust they are seen in a context where learning is ongoing, multi-faceted, complex and dynamic. Our pre-Kindergarten Early Learning Centre (ELC), Little Saints, is a wonder to behold. It has grown from strength to strength this year, like the flourishing vegetable gardens they have established. Mrs Bonazza, the indefatigable director of the ELC, travelled this year to one of the most significant early learning centres of the world, Reggio Emilia in Italy, to explore further ways in which young learners are nurtured and engaged in their learning. It is not surprising that the ELC has this year had waiting lists for enrolment, testimony to the value the programme provides for parents and students. Two highly significant developments took place in the Junior School during

2010. The first grew out of the School’s commitment not just to highly capable learners, but to how better to meet the needs of a diverse student population; educationalists refer to this process as differentiation of the curriculum. The second focused on improving the transition between Year 6 and Year 7, reinforcing the notion that our School is one continuous learning community from Pre-K to Year 12. This took place through what was termed “the Crossroads project”. One of the challenges continually faced by schools is how to engage students across a broad range of skills and abilities. Highly capable students need to have increasingly challenging work to undertake, while other students need more time to develop their skills and understanding. These differences assume that learning takes place in different ways and at different rates for students, requiring a multiplicity of approaches for any class. To better equip staff in supporting these differences, the Junior School engaged consultant Mrs Bronwyn McLeod, a noted gifted and talented educator, to work with staff in developing learning experiences that will better cater for the range of needs found within their classes. While Mrs McLeod has particular strengths in the research area of gifted and talented education, she worked with a diverse range of staff in the Junior School to explore how teachers can better meet the needs of all students. This work continues to support the considerable staff

PAGE 10 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH

professional learning in transdisciplinary learning that is at the core of the Primary Years Programme. We have now had a Junior School on the same site as the High School since 1993. Strangely, though, parents and students alike have reflected to me that the differences between the two, at times, seem stark; coming new to the School this year, I found this odd, to say the least. As has already been noted, there should be differences across the years, but the gap “across the road” within our School seems questionable. This year, a project was developed that would seek to help close the gap (metaphorically speaking). Staff from Year 6 and Year 7 jointly developed a two-day programme involving teaching staff and students from both the Junior and High Schools. It was an inquiry into the nature of the Learner Profile and involved teams of students from the two year groups working together. A number of students who will be coming in to the School for Year 7 in 2011 were also involved, helping them make a positive transition into the School. The findings of a survey conducted after the two days showed many of our Year 6 students found accessing the High School very beneficial. It also reinforced the centrality and benefit of the Learner Profile to the learning process. This year’s NAPLAN had some very encouraging results across all years (Years 3, 5, 7, 9). Above right is the table of all results in the top 4 Bands for all years (the top four bands represent


The nature of the IB Learner Profile is equally important for the HSC as for the IB Diploma, principally because it is about good learning. the % of students exceeding the national benchmarks). It is encouraging to note that the School is notably higher compared to the rest of NSW across all areas. Of further note is that Reading is better than 92%, compared with 80% for NSW. This is of particular significance because of the centrality of reading to the entire curriculum, including numeracy.

School Certificate Examination results

Bands 1-2

NSW

SPGS

NSW

English - Literacy

97.48

82.12

2.52

17.88

Mathematics

94.96

80.57

5.04

19.43

Science

98.34

89.82

1.66

10.18

95.84

85.75

4.16

14.25

97.50

86.78

2.50

13.22

 

 

 

 

Australian History, Civics and Citizenship Australian Geography Civics and Citizenship Average  

Highly Competent

 

SPGS

NSW

SPGS

NSW

Computing Skills

81.66

61.91

18.33

36.62

maintained their good achievements, many of our middle and lower range students have increased their levels of achievement. The 2009 NSW School Certificate tests showed similarly positive results. What is of greater significance and cannot be shown here (both for practical and privacy reasons) are the numbers of students who have had significant growth over the last two years, that is, between Years 3 to 5, Years 5 to 7 and Years 7 to 9. The value of the NAPLAN data is that it enables tracking of growth across time and the analysis undertaken by staff has shown that many of our lower achieving students have made considerable growth in the last two years. While our students at the top end of the academic range have generally

Bands 3-6 SPGS

The Middle Years Programme grades showed similar patterns, providing a consistency of achievement patterns across the compulsory curriculum years up to Year 10 (MYP Year 5). Nearly 50% of grade results were 5, 6 or 7 (the highest 3 grades), and it is encouraging to see individual achievement among our middle range students increasing.

Competent

Since then, the nature of academic learning has continued to strengthen in both the NSW Higher School Certificate and the IB Diploma. The nature of the IB Learner Profile is equally important for students undertaking the HSC as it is for those undertaking the IB Diploma, principally because it is about good learning, regardless of which credential is undertaken. This mutual strengthening is a feature of St Paul’s where the candidature for both credentials is approximately 50:50; in many schools, the IB Diploma involves only a small proportion of the student population. The 2009 graduating class

It is nearly 20 years since the School introduced the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 11


“Mens sana in corpore sano” (a healthy body lives in a healthy mind) is an ideal that St Paul’s supports, in both team and individual contexts.

acquitted itself particularly well.8 The highest Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank was 99.95, the highest possible result (equivalent to the previous TER of 100.00) was gained by Hannah GrantNilon; a further 8 students received ATARs of 99.00 or higher and in total 35% of ATARs were in the top 10%, i.e., at 90.00 or above. It was also a delight to see Kate Pralja achieve 1st in NSW for HSC Textiles and Design. As has already been outlined, a “grammar school” education is not one solely focused on traditional academic pursuits. St Paul’s values a broad understanding of “learning”, so it is important that involvement in cultural and sporting pursuits is acknowledged. The playbill for the visual and performing arts has again been packed. In total, nearly 30 nights of various performances took place throughout the year – that’s one whole month of performance, be it dance, drama, film, music or visual art exhibition! And that’s before we include Conservatorium concerts, performances in assemblies and other formal occasions, guest artists or masterclasses. Anyone who has witnessed an Easter Chapel, Christmas Chapel or Carols Service can be under no illusion that the visual and performing arts culture of St Paul’s is broad, strong and of the highest calibre. 8

Full details of 2009 results were

published in June in the Annual Report to the NSW Board of Studies, also available on the St Paul’s website (www.stpauls.nsw.edu.au/resources/index. aspx).

The Dance Academy has gone from strength to strength throughout 2010. Lessons have been held before and after academic classes and a diverse range of ensembles have developed their skills and experience. The Sojourn showcase held at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre was a highlight for so many of our dancers across both the Junior and High schools, with well over 100 dancers taking to the stage. The auditorium was full with a broad cross-section of the School in attendance, affirming the value and significance of the performers and the works they presented. So too it is with our sports programme. It has been very encouraging to see success for teams in softball, hockey, netball, football, futsal and rugby. Involvement in co-curricular sport has increased this year with the total number of teams fielded up from 2009 – mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy body lives in a healthy mind) is an ideal that St Paul’s supports, in both team and individual contexts. As a full member school of the Independent Sporting Association (ISA), we compete with schools from the central coast, the central west, and central Sydney. Curiously, it takes about 2 hours from St Paul’s to Central Coast Grammar School, to Oxley College and to All Saints’ College, Bathurst, which means we must be central to the entire competition! Success this year has been achieved through increased participation, both in our own school-

PAGE 12 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH

based carnivals and in representative carnivals. Over 100 students have participated in ISA representative carnivals with a further ten students going on to compete at state level. The School has also supported national level competitors in rowing and athletics. It has also been encouraging to see the establishment of a St Paul’s cricket team, currently competing in one of the local competitions. The team has already enjoyed some modest success in only the first half of this inaugural season. The Junior School also established a rugby team who enjoyed developing their skills by competing against a number of other schools. Work has been done on upgrading a number of our sporting facilities, including the purchase of new scoreboards and resealing of the floor in the Centre as well as top-dressing the oval. The construction of the Junior School Multi-Purpose Centre will help support further physical education and sporting programmes in the Junior School; we certainly appreciate the generous support of the Commonwealth Government for this project. Representing St Paul’s in a sporting team is an honour. It is important to play with courage and determination, regardless of the skill level of the team you face or of the other individual competitors. Character is built through the challenges of sport no less so than through the challenges of academic learning or other cultural pursuits. It


SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 13


A well-rounded education is not just about academics, the arts and sport – it is even more!

bookish sloths. A balance of both, complemented by involvement in culturally enriching pursuits, is what St Paul’s strives to support. A well-rounded education is not just about academics, the arts and sport – it is even more! Opportunities abound for students to be involved in the wider corporate life of the School; the great English poet, John Donne, noted that “no man is an island” and that we need to be involved with one another. In 2010, students have again had opportunities such as the Socratic Club, HICES Debating, Writer’s Club, Rural Fire Service Cadets, Chess Club, Greening the School Committee, the Sound team and lunchtime fellowship groups, to name only some of the opportunities available in the Junior and High Schools. For some students, a lunchtime just sitting and eating is a rarity; they are involved in a multiplicity of activities, making the most of their educational opportunities. Sharing life and recreation time together is the sign of a healthy community, an ideal that students are encouraged to pursue. Excelling in any of academic, the arts, sport or other cultural pursuits will be reflective of Thring’s belief that one’s self-esteem is enhanced through achievement in something, yet excelling in only one does not mean one ought not be involved in the others.

It’s about Community...

St Paul’s is a large and diverse community; families from as far afield as Colo to Cabramatta and from Werrington to Woodford join together to form the community that is St Paul’s. A community is not just about those 1230 students and 160 staff who come onto the property each week, but is about the ideas and values that bind us together. A strong sense of community exists throughout the School, be it at swimming, athletics, cross-country carnivals or other sporting events, at drama, dance and music performances, at the Carols Service or at awards ceremonies, in fact at many times throughout the year. Parents and friends have continued to support the School in many practical ways throughout the year: reading groups, Junior School working bees, sports fixture barbeques, Spring Fair and ArtSkape, the cultural tour to Europe, arts and craft stalls, sports coaching, and the list could go on and on. The support of so many of our parents and friends not only helps us provide great opportunities and resources for our School, but importantly builds stronger relationships throughout the community. The Friends of St Paul’s (FoSP), a group dedicated to supporting fundraising and fellowship for families within the School, has been capably led this year by Rev Chris Cullen as President. While the Spring Fair and ArtSkape are major events run by

PAGE 14 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH

FoSP, this year witnessed an inaugural St Paul’s Grammar School Golf Day. Mr and Mrs Ecob were instrumental in establishing this event, which proved to be a considerable success with over 70 players participating. This year also saw the amazing Mr Walker-thon! Using the physical prowess of our Head of Junior School, Mr Nigel Walker, as the inspiration, the Junior School participated in a wonderfully healthy and engaging activity that helped raised some valuable resources for the School. Not just a great experience, but a great support, too! During the middle of the year, the first set of “Meet and Greet” opportunities was held. These meetings were established to increase opportunity for parents to gather with me to discuss general matters of significance to the School. Three meetings were scheduled, but only two were able to continue. Of particular significance was that these meetings were opportunities for the School to go to the areas where parents live, thereby providing practical and tangible acknowledgement of the great sacrifice many families make to be part of St Paul’s. One meeting was held at Glenbrook, while the other was held at Kurrajong. Both events were well attended, particularly given they were the first of their kind; 35 people in total attended. 2011 will see further such events in pursuing the quest to strengthen the sense of community already present at St Paul’s.


Sharing life and recreation time together is the sign of a healthy community, an ideal that students are encouraged to pursue. We have also endeavoured to improve our communication with families. The Junior School has instituted widespread use of email communication, which is proving to be very effective; we are increasingly making use of such strategies in the High School, but have some way to go in this regard. We have increased our presence on-line, adding Flickr, Vimeo, Twitter and LinkedIn to our Facebook presence. Our website introduced a Principal’s Blog, providing opportunity for the community to comment on articles published in Revelations; after a slow start in the early part of the year, data tracking showed that the blog page traffic has increased recently and is now attracting up to approximately 75 unique visitor hits per day (and they’re not all by me looking up my own blog pages J). Upgrading of our network capacity will see our use of online communication strategies grow in 2011 and beyond. Greater utilisation of email and SMS technologies for communication with parents will begin to roll out over the next few months, thereby increasing further the effectiveness of our communication. Perhaps the biggest community shift in 2010 has been the reestablishment of a House-based pastoral and welfare system from 2011. Following a major review of our welfare needs, a sixth House, Wilberforce, has been created. Identification with a House has significant relationship and

connectedness benefits; younger students can feel they are part of a grouping within the School where they are known and cared for by older students, and where older students can mentor and guide younger students. A further major reason behind the re-establishment of this system is that it helps tutors and Heads of House to connect with families, not just individual students. Often it is the case that a pastoral situation affects not just an individual, but the entire family. Some younger High School students have expressed concern to me that they are “losing the identity” of the Middle School (currently Years 7-9) as a result of the re-establishment of House-based pastoral care. The learning needs of Years 7-9 are, of course, very different to students in Years 10-12 and will continue to be so, even if there is not a title such as Middle School or Senior School. I appreciate the sense of loss that is apparent, but the experience of older students who have experienced both models (horizontal, that is, year-based, and vertical) have strongly expressed the preference for a vertical system; in this year’s Year 12 Exit Survey, a vertical House Tutor system was preferred by the vast majority of our graduating Year 12 students – it’s a compelling piece of data and one that shows there is widespread support for some type of vertical pastoral system. I am confident that early on in 2011 those students who currently have some trepidation will experience not only relief, but positive enjoyment and connection with

a broader range of students. It is this increased sense of connection across the School that makes this change so valuable for students. We will also be making close links with the Junior School, helping again to build stronger and more coherent relationships across our Junior and High Schools. Living as part of an international world has also been reinforced throughout 2010. Student tours to China and to Europe earlier in the year introduced many of our students (and a number of parents) to cultures at once similar to and different from our own. A staff group also undertook a two-week tour to China; this has subsequently transformed the experience of Chinese Day. During Term 3, we also hosted visits from two of our sister schools in the People’s Republic of China, Datong High School (in Shanghai) and TEDA Number 1 Middle School (in Tianjin Economic Development Area). Many families opened their homes to students from these schools, building better understanding of Chinese culture and strengthening the relationship we have with both schools. In 2011, we will be visiting China again, this time with a tour group from our Junior School participating. Our Year 11 students again spent time on a service learning project in Tanzania as well as visiting the International Court of Justice in Europe. A community is not an easy thing to define or capture within the limited space of 1200 words – that represents only one word for each student in the

SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 15


“Character is built through the challenges of sport no less so than through the challenges of academic learning or other cultural pursuits.” PAGE 16 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH


SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 17


The unique calling of being a Christian grammar school is alive and well. School! There is much about which to be encouraged from 2010; there is also much still to be done. As our new House pastoral system is implemented, the centrepiece of our community, I am confident that parents and students will see the benefits to their sense of connection within and across the School.

Staffing

In 1942, a young 31 year old James Wilson Hogg was appointed to the headmastership of Trinity Grammar School. The school was on the brink of collapse, with declining enrolments and few prospects; Wilson Hogg was not given much of a chance, knowing that failure would mean the school would close. He went on to lead Trinity until 1974, giving over 30 years of service to the school and saving it from extinction. He was fond of saying of the renaissance of Trinity that “no school can rise above its staff”, meaning that the quality of a school is a direct reflection of the quality of its staff. During the headmastership of Wilson Hogg’s successor, Mr Roderick West, Trinity Grammar School produced no fewer than 22 principals of schools across Australia. Not only was the influence of great staff felt by the community of Trinity, but much more so among the 22 schools who benefitted from the outstanding leadership provided by its former staff as they moved to exert positive influence beyond Trinity’s gates.

So it is with St Paul’s in 2010. During this year, Mr Coghlan has been appointed as an MYP Workshop Leader and Mr Paterson has been appointed as Deputy Chief Examiner for IB Diploma Visual Arts. These two appointments complement the more than 15 staff already experienced as IB academic leaders and strengthen the School’s reputation as a centre of learning excellence. Mr Nunn, Director of Studies, was a recipient of a NSW Premier’s Teaching Award for History and will be journeying in 2011 to the United Kingdom to conduct research into child convicts. Mr Chris Wyatt has been appointed as the Head of Newington College’s Lindfield Campus. His leadership of the PYP at St Paul’s has been a significant factor in his appointment to this senior leadership role. Similarly, Mr Tim Harris has been appointed to teach at The King’s School, a recently authorised PYP school. Mr Ian Shaw has been appointed as Deputy Principal of Nepean Christian School, Mr Steven Coote has been appointed to a senior leadership role in Western Australia and Mrs Jennie Young has accepted the position as Head of Science at Thomas Hassall Anglican College. Like the staff of Trinity Grammar School, these five leadership appointments are testimony to the high regard in which staff of St Paul’s are held. They also contribute to the increased attractiveness the School enjoys among the teaching profession,

PAGE 18 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW SPGS PENRITH

ensuring that the range and quality of new staff applicants are exceptional. Mr Lindsay, Mrs Bragg and Miss Longland are concluding their service to the School this year. In 2009, former principal Dr Collier commenced a process of restructuring that has been completed by me during this year. As a result of this restructure, Mr Lindsay, Mrs Bragg and Miss Longland have decided not to accept alternative roles within the School but to seek opportunities elsewhere. They have made significant contributions over a number of years and have left considerable legacies, each in their unique way. I acknowledge and thank them for their service; we wish them and all who conclude their service this year God’s richest blessing, grace and peace.


Governance

Leading a school is not a simple task. It involves many hours work by a dedicated, prayerful and supportive group of people who are the School Board. Their wise stewardship of the resources of the School, along with their future planning for sustainable operations, is an onerous responsibility. During the year, the School was served by: Mr Don Harwin, Chair Mr Kim Hellyer, Deputy Chair Mr Stephen Goode, Hon Treasurer Rev Peter Adamson Mrs Leonie Armour Mr Phillip Bryson Mrs Deborah Bush Mrs Margaret Fowler Mr Geoff Hiatt Mr Paul Robinson Mr Geoff Williams Mrs Margaret Wright Their guidance, advice and leadership of the community are greatly appreciated.

Conclusion

No annual review can fully capture the diversity, vibrancy and totality of St Paul’s. There will always be more that can and should be said about students, staff and families. This review does not pretend to be exhaustive; to suggest so would be to diminish seriously those achievements included as well as those excluded. It does not seek to capture the sense of individual achievement that has occurred this year for over 1200 students and 160 staff, simply because this review cannot achieve such a noble purpose within its limited constraints. Rather, it has sought to weave together the threads of the community that is St Paul’s. From those threads, I trust, has emerged a picture of 2010 from which the St Paul’s community gains renewed confidence that we are moving from being good to great, and that the unique calling of being a Christian grammar school is alive and well.

Paul Kidson Principal December 2010

SPGS PENRITH 2010 PRINCIPAL’S REVIEW PAGE 19


St Paul’s GRAMMAR SCHOOL

52 Taylor Rd, Cranebrook NSW Locked Back 8016 Penrith NSW 2751

w w w. s t p a u l s . n s w. e d u . a u


2012 Principal's Review