The Principal’s Blog

Allan Shaw

The last few weeks have been very busy and productive, which is normal in a strong independent school culture. I was very pleased to be able to announce to the school community the appointment of Ms Heather Ablett as the new Head of the Junior School. Ms Ablett, along with the previously announced appointment of Mr Cameron Bacholer as Vice Principal (Teaching and Learning), provides a powerful basis for the further development of The Knox School in the years to come; building on the strong foundations of focussed student academic growth that I see occur each day in ... Read More
August 31, 2015barrye
One year ago, I commenced as Principal at The Knox School and in some of my introductory comments I commented that I was proud to be associated with the School community and would strive to serve it well. That remains the case and if anything my pride in the School and its community has grown as I have come to know the School, the community and individuals, students, parents and staff. The School has a proud set of achievements in its relatively young history and we build upon the work of those who have preceded us in further ... Read More
July 20, 2015barrye
Positive habits for good learning, sleep patterns, nutrition and use of digital devices in the home At first thought these topics might not seem closely related but a holistic approach is needed in allowing your children, our students the best possible environment for success. While 95% of brain development has occurred by five years of age, the prefrontal cortex, the “rational thinking” part of the brain continues to develop through the adolescent years and is not fully developed until the early adult years (early 20s). Neural connections critical to intelligence, self-awareness and performance, grow with the stimulation of ... Read More
July 13, 2015barrye
Important points to remember:1. Take a common sense approach to the use of social media. Usage should not be excessive, nor interfere with other aspects of a well-balanced life, especially important aspects such as school work, sleep and exercise; 2. Remember when posting to social media sites that posts are public and the record is permanent; 3. Treat all your online relationships, photos and commentary as though they were face to face. If you would not show or tell your grandmother, then do not post it online. In other words, be polite, respect privacy (yours and others), don’t gossip and don’t ... Read More
June 24, 2015barrye
On June 17, about 70-80 parents gathered in the auditorium for the Term Two Community Consultation. At that time, I raised with the group several topics and parents raised with me a number of questions and other topics for consideration and comment. A healthy discussion on homework occurred with many astute questions and comments. The research on homework is now reasonably clear and a summary of this research in included in a previous blog entry (May 11 2015). In summary, homework and study is generally of considerable benefit to older students with the greatest benefit seen amongst senior secondary ... Read More
June 23, 2015barrye
The latest research by Dr Gary Marks was published yesterday in the Australian Journal of Education. Titled, ‘Do Catholic and independent schools “add-value” to students’ tertiary entrance performance? Evidence from longitudinal population data’, the research paper presents analysis of the academic performance of over 40,000 Victorian students. The analysis confirms that, yes, independent schools do add value – represented by an average gain of 8 ATARs over students in government schools. The gain is net of student SES, prior academic achievement, gender and language background. According to Dr Marks’ analysis, non-government schools increase students’ tertiary entrance performance net of ... Read More
June 3, 2015barrye


Over the weekend there was considerable press coverage of cybersafety issues for young people. The Weekend Australian’s front page led with the headline Click bait: kids at risk as sexualised behaviour becomes the ‘new normal’, with follow-up further in the newspaper. The catalyst for this commentary was a highly inappropriate ‘selfie’ by a 13 year old girl posted to Instagram. While the catalyst for the media ‘rush’ was an awful thing for a 13 year old girl to be associated with, we need to stop and consider the day-to-day reality that our children face. Our collective knowledge of the ... Read More
June 1, 2015barrye


The issues surrounding homework have been the subject of lively debate and discussion for many years. There are a multiplicity of views encompassing the full range across a spectrum from absolutely no homework to ‘the more the merrier’ where ‘time on task’ is regarded as the criteria of success. In our School community, parents and staff have high expectations for their children and want them to do well. All parents have their own school experiences that are drawn upon. Education/teaching is one of the few professions where nearly all those who deal with us, be they older children or ... Read More
May 11, 2015barrye
The 60 Minutes program which went to air on Sunday April 19 had a section, titled Public vs Private. The segment focussed on a very complex area of decision making that many parents face: the choice of a school for their children. The segment tended to focus on two criteria only: money and academic results, and even the latter theme was mostly limited to NAPLAN results. The 60 Minutes segment is the latest in a number of media reports comparing the academic results of government and non-government schools. These reports cite research studies which purportedly show that non-government schools ... Read More
April 20, 2015barrye

Welcome to Term Two

Welcome back to Term Two. I trust that you have enjoyed the time with your children that school holidays afford, even if that was confined to the Easter days as I know it likely to have been for some of you. For others who had longer, I hope the break has been rewarding and focussed on fun activities with family and friends. Thank you for your contributions as parents over Term One. Term One was short, only some 8 weeks, but we all packed a great deal into it. Teachers, and in many cases with the help of ... Read More
April 12, 2015barrye