Home' Capricornus Quarterly : CQ Dec 2017 Jan 2018 Contents An official seal affixed
to the original Grammar
Schools Act of 1860
Penny and I recently travelled to Japan, as our
daughter Alyssa was teaching English there for
twelve months. She was embraced by the whole
communit y where she taught. Why, because
teachers are held with the highest respect in
Japan. They are equivalent to a third parent.
That is not the case here. Some teachers are
wrongly treated with disrespect; it is terrible. It
should not be happening when we entrust our
children to somebody to educate them and
provide pastoral care. RGS has high standards.
They can go higher if we have the ambition for it.
Q. The School has recently created an
Endowment programme – tell me about that.
A: Headmaster Kellow said about 60
years ago, that Grammar did not have
a financial endowment programme so
it was like a ship without ballast.
When Phillip and the Board created The 1881
Endowment, it had an ambitious target.
There is a fundraising goal of $20 million
with a view to offering more bursaries to
children who might otherwise not come
to the School. Academic scholarships
introduced this year, are another way.
Q: How much consideration, as a Board,
do you and the Trustees, give to new
academic programmes and services?
A. Quite a lot. We are not a management
committee, but a strategic Board. You can look
at the programmes that have been introduced
or reinvigorated over the last couple of years
such as Global Education, Agriculture, the
Dance and Musical Theatre Academy. No
decision is just ‘made’. We investigate matters
and business cases are made for development.
When we look at these offerings now and the
way they are being taken up by our School and
the community at large, we can see the results
coming through to show they are successful.
Q: Agriculture is an accessible education
pathway for a lot of students [176 will be
enrolled from Year 8-12 in 2018]. Some
children come to the School specifically for
academic programmes. Others are drawn
to Outdoor Education, the DMTA or RGS’s
extensive sport and co-curricular offerings.
When we look at ATAR (the new Senior
Queensland assessment to introduced
in 2019/2020) and the School’s diverse
programmes, we can see that RGS is driven
by teaching and learning objectives, students’
interests and community expectations.
How do you balance those interests?
A. School development is driven by community
needs as well as internal needs. For example,
our research revealed to us a few years ago that
the wider community and RGS families would be
receptive to a top tier dance academy in Central
Queensland. So research is vital to the Board.
We will introduce a School community survey
again in 2018, which will help to inform
School planning for the next decade. It will be
conducted by an experienced, external service
provider and everyone will have an opportunity
to participate on an anonymous basis.
Q: Let’s look back a bit. You have been on the
Board of Trustees since 2002. Highlights?
A: The decision to acquire the Early Learning
Centre and then the freehold land at Reservoir
Street. It was a big investment and a courageous
move at the time but it has turned out to be an
excellent investment for the School. It provides
an unmatched service in the community. There
is no other early learning centre of our size
in Rockhampton that has such high ratings.
We are also proud of the Agriculture
programme our close association with AgForce
Queensland and the wonderful resource we
have in the former CSIRO research facility
and commercial cattle property, Belmont
Station. Having come here as a boarder and
having some understanding of the needs
and expectations of rural boarding families,
RGS Agriculture is a great resource.
Q: What about disappointments?
A: When children come to harm under any
circumstance, that is most distressing and
disappointing – it is extremely upsetting.
Another thing that disappoints the School is
misinformation which sometimes circulates.
Everybody has their opinion. That is fine
when the opinion is fact-based and ‘informed’.
The Board had a recent instance where an
anonymous letter-writer made claims in
terms of School expenditure that simply
were not based on fact. It is that sort of
nonsense that gets pedalled around that is
disappointing. All it does is discredit the person
who is spreading incorrect allegations.
That’s rare, however, as we have about 2500
parents in our school community, 1400
students and a couple hundred staff. Our
standards are high and the overall culture is
good. Always room for improvement, though.
Q: One of those areas of improvement is
students’ personal wellness, resilience
and their relationships with peers...
A: Yes. You can call it ‘grit’ or ‘growth mindset’,
class behaviour, character development...
These are all areas of complex child and
young adult development. The Board seeks
advice through our executives, school
management and externally, as to how to put
steps in place that strengthen student growth
and enhance their School experience.
Q: What is the Boards’ role in terms of parents’
concerns in these, and other areas?
A: Our role is to listen and then be responsive
and diligent. Also to work, with the RGS
Parents Association and the Boarder
Parents’ Association. Parents should,
and mostly do, have open relationships
with teachers and administrators.
These Associations can have a great role with
‘whole-of-School’ issues and can be an ef fective
conduit for the School and parents. They should
bring matters, particularly policy issues, to the
Board’s attention and ensure that parents have
every opportunity to share their experiences
with the School. The Board is currently working
to have an access mechanism in place in
2018 for times when people believe they have
sensitive or confidential information which
they think may be compromising the School’s
values or objectives and they want to share it.
Q: Where would you like to see
A: I always think we can do better preparing
our kids for life. Australian children, in general,
leave School largely under-skilled or under-
educated in terms of managing their mental
health and physical wellbeing. Also, they don’t
acquire enough knowledge about personal
finances. Many of us will have some form of
back or neck pain, throughout our life and
all of us have to pay taxes at some stage,
even if it is GST on your cup of coffee. Those
sorts of topics are not taught to all students
to the extent they need to be prepared.
We are conscious of students’ time and
the curriculum, and we need to continually
try to have them better prepared for the
real world when they complete School
whether they leave us in Years 4, 7 or 12.
Whatever the next stage of life is, we want
for the School and the parents to say, ‘There
goes a good kid who is well prepared.’
Q: You raise a point there about children leaving
in different Year levels at RGS. We talk about
a student being a Grammarian for life whether
they are at the school for 13 years or 13
months. Why is that important to the School?
A: For students who have been here from Prep or
Year 1 through to Year 12 there is a very strong
bond. For students who are here for a year or
two or three, they are no less a Grammarian than
any other student. In some respects they may
even form a closer bond to the School because
of what they achieve in a relatively short time.
Q&A: Boarder, day stude nt, parent,Trustee,Chair
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