In the three years I have been Principal at The Knox School my pride in this young and developing School and its community has grown as I have come to know the School, the community and individuals, students, parents and staff.
We are 35 years old this year! In human terms that is well into our adult years. In school terms, 35 remains a young and developing school, but it is also a juncture where a School has to commit to certain standards and directions in building upon the history and traditions that have been developed to date.
At this point in the School’s history, I welcome our new Head of Senior College, Ms Suzanne van Strien, who embodies both positive commitment and adherence to high standards. She joins a staff team growing in strength and knowledge, building on their undoubted commitment to your children.
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 developing the School. At the Founders’ Day Assembly next week, we will celebrate those achievements and those who worked to make them happen.
As we move into our future, a future we develop, we judiciously take the best of our history and traditions. These are melded with contemporary attitudes and knowledge to support the current and future needs of the children and young people in the School. To this end, our draft Strategic Intent to develop Personalised Learning at The Knox School will soon go to the Board of Directors for formal adoption. We have been consulting with parents, staff and other stakeholders for 12 months and we have received broad support to proceed to develop practical plans in this direction. These steps are being carefully developed, well-communicated and implemented sensitively.
We need to do this to meet the needs of children at the School as the times we live in are certainly interesting as technological changes continue apace in our society as does the research into how we learn, grow and adapt. These two factors influence and will continue to influence activities in the School.
We are blessed with the strong relationships we have developed with Monash University’s Faculty of Education, especially the Dean, Professor John Loughran, as well as other relationships with people and programs at Swinburne University and the University of Melbourne. We have also made contact with a small number of schools who are progressing strategies similar to ours and over the recent school break I, along with the Head of Humanities, Ms Michelle Mitchell, visited St Paul’s School in Brisbane, where Dr Paul Browning has been working on similar strategies now for a few more years than us. It was a very useful and insightful visit. (www.stpauls.qld.edu.au)
We rely on working in partnership with you. Your children, our students, develop best in a strong, positive community environment. The success of the School and the individual students within it will be a reflection of the strength of our community. I have seen this sense of partnership deepen over recent years and while our improvement agenda remains a work in progress, good progress is being made on this and several other fronts.
As a group of staff, we strive to continue to learn about the neuroscience of learning and particularly its application to school education, whether it be in our individual teaching of a student or a class or the systems and processes we develop to support good learning and wellbeing.
There is a discernible need for us all to model a focus on growth and improvement through focus and effort if we wish to see our children/students copy us. As staff we are defining improved ways of teaching, refining use of traditional methods and new ways of leading.
Respect for the professional expertise of staff and their continued learning cannot be separated from respect for and support of student learning.
One of the major reasons I was attracted to the opportunity to lead this School is that we are a values-driven, secular School. We all recognise the cultural and spiritual diversity that is our community and we commit to the values that bind us into a thriving community.
As we celebrate The Knox School’s 35th Birthday and move into defining what it will become known for in its maturity, our values provide a valuable template to reflect upon our actions and relationships. What we model to others is what they will copy; how we live our lives influences how others live their lives. Others often take more notice of what we do rather than what we say!
We can also copy the focus and effort of those who have gone before us in the School’s history. Those courageous parents and staff who trusted their capacity to develop a school of quality for their children; who worked hard to see it come to pass; who did not give up when events conspired against them and who ultimately saw a wonderful school develop with a beautiful campus, a strong positive culture and a regrowth in the academic culture.
In providing the best possible education and future opportunities for your children, our students, we positively influence not only their future but also the future of those with whom they come in contact as they move through the 21st century as adults. Such strong, positive influence requires focus and effort on our part now. The rewards are significant and attainable.
For your children, our students, to reach their potential through the opportunities collectively provided by us (parents and staff), they too have to show focus and effort, giving of their best.
My experience and knowledge shows our future is bright and positive. I congratulate and am honoured to continue the efforts of those who have preceded us. I am enthused by the possibilities. I hope you are too!