From the Head of the Crowther Centre – Dr Ray Swann 

Easter is special as we observe the changes to the weather, the shortening of the days and the falling of the leaves. There is something beautiful about the Melbourne autumn sun: the remnants of a summer warmth in the cooling air. This time heralds the ending of the opening of the year, and as a community through Easter we are invited to consider the message of transformation and rebirth.

As we finalise reports, assessment and programs for the term, I would like to thank the teaching staff, leadership, coaches, parents and boys for the learning and development that has occurred not only in the classroom but in all of the programs here at the School. It is such an amazing time to be part of the Brighton Grammar Community.

To that end, it was wonderful to have many of you at parent programs this term and I am certainly looking forward to what is in store ahead:  a sold-out parent event with world expert in Raising Boys Steve Biddulph, Crowther workshops looking at Tweens, Teens and Technology and Strong Mothers, Strong Sons with renowned Psychologist Megan De Beyer from South Africa for mothers. The school will also be launching the new Bio-Dash Program with Melbourne University (a world first in mindfulness practice).  Booking will open soon limited places available. 

As always, please contact the Crowther Centre if you would like to know more about Teaching and Learning for boys, Wellbeing or our Research programs.


Outdoor Education 2019

Outdoor Education at Brighton Grammar exists to provide unique experiences which encompass teaching, learning and wellbeing in natural environments: for the purpose of developing healthy, passionate, responsible young men who are confident individuals, successful learners and effective contributors. This is our why.

How the Outdoor Education staff and programs strive to meet this mission statement across all year levels varies depending on where the boys are in their ‘outdoor learning sequence, developmental stage and how open they are to the ideas and skills we are teaching them.

Higgins and Nicol (Scottish Education (5th Edition). 2017), refer to ‘outdoor learning’ as an integration of three areas often found in wider curricular spaces, these are outdoor activities, environmental education and personal and social development.  The Outdoor Education learning sequence here at BGS uses these three areas as foundational pillars to our program development.

Outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing, food preparation and camp-craft skills are built upon year by year from Junior School up. A variety of activities are used and chosen in order to enhance the curriculum.

Environmental education through ‘Leave No Trace’ philosophy, utilising a variety of landscapes with unique Australian and International flora and fauna, and a new 2019 focus on reducing our landfill impact (reducing plastics, separating recycling, soft plastics and compost) and allowing boys time away from digital devices.

Personal and social development through explicit facilitation, program design, small group selection and implicit experiences. New in 2019 is an enhanced focus on understanding the Indigenous people groups of the venues we travel through.

As a part of a learning community  such as our School committed to world’s best practice, I see it as my duty to ensure that each and every Outdoor Education experience a BGS boy has is underpinned by the Australian Curriculum, leading research in the industry, impeccable safety standards and adds value to the ‘BGS way’ of growing successful young men.  We do more than run camps, we deliver educational programs and journeys that utilise the out-of-doors to enhance the learning outcomes.

Camps vs Outdoor Education

It’s a personal bug-bear of mine when Outdoor Education programs, experiences and journeys are referred to as ‘camps’.  Or even worse… ‘just camp’!  A quick Google Image search of these two terms highlights the differences conveyed by these words – a difference I recently highlighted to the BGS Parents Group.

Camps elicit images and thoughts of camping in one spot, very little movement through landscapes and a centre based or Camp America style multi-activity format with large groups of participants.  On the surface, this is not a bad way to run outdoor experiences; they are fun and engaging and are often a comfortable way to engage with a natural environment.

Outdoor Education images show a different scene: more adventurous activities, small groups of students engaged in either travel through a landscape or focused discussion. Interestingly, the ‘camp site’ or ‘tent’ barely features in the images instead being replaced by scenes of focused learning.

Throughout 2019 and 2020, the Outdoor Education department will continue to refine and re-evaluate our suite of Junior school Outdoor Education Experiences and Secondary School Outdoor Education Journeys by utilising filters gleaned from evidence based sources like High Quality Outdoor Learning (The English Outdoor Council, 2015), the Effective Learner Model (developed by Crowther) and the Australian Curriculum.

How can Parents and Staff help?

As a parent or non-Outdoor Education staff member, there are a few small things that you can do to help us reach our goals and strengthen the value of the work we do:

  • Change your language around ‘Camps’ vs. ‘Outdoor Education’. This will help our boys see their outdoor education experiences as learning opportunities equal to the other aspects of being a BGS student.
  • Invite the boys to bring learnings back into the home or classroom. Whether that be in the home by adopting a waste management system of separating out recyclables, soft plastics and compost or encouraging the boys to practice a self-cater hiking meal on the family before bringing it into the field; or in the classroom by using a recent journey as the focus of an English assignment, science exam question, or adjusting the order of geography units to align with the Grampians OE Journey creating real world links to the classroom curriculum.
  • Drop in on the Outdoor Education Department for a chat, read our notice board or send us an email with feedbackpositive or constructive.

David Gemmell
Head of Outdoor Education


James Kerr The BGS Legacy Project

Last Monday evening we hosted James Kerr, author of global bestseller Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life. James spoke about effective leadership, performance and legacy. Below are some comments from BGS community members who attended the presentation.

A masterly presentation by a gifted speaker, highlighting the key factors of ritual, organisation, self-discipline, self-examination, humility and shared leadership that go into the mix to produce arguably the best of the best in team sport excellence.’

I learnt a little more about the language used by the All Blacks; ‘Champions do more’, ‘Sweep the Sheds’ and the idea of striving for excellence. ‘The story you tell yourself is the story that others will tell about you. It was acknowledged that what worked for the All Blacks is not easily transferred into another culture. We agreed and supported the ideas James described about the All Black culture and can see aspects shared by BGS, all of which are relevant to every aspect of life.’ 


Crowther Parent Workshop Program

Strong Mothers, Strong Sons (postponed until November 2019)

We are delighted to announce that we will again be hosting the internationally renowned psychologist Megan de Beyer and her program ‘Strong Mothers, Strong Sons’. Megan ran this workshop at BGS last year and received extremely positive feedback.

Aimed at mothers of adolescent boys, the workshop covers topics including: communication, good relationships, how to manage change, conscious parenting and dealing with your son’s emotions (including anger).  

When – Postponed until November 2019 (dates and times TBA)

Where – Wellbeing Centre, Brighton Grammar School

Cost – Free to BGS mothers

Bookings – To be advised when bookings open, subscribe to the BGS Crowther Centre


Tweens, Teens and Technology – Save the date

Date: Monday 13 May 2019

Time: 6.00pm

Venue: Crowther Wellbeing Centre

Bookings will open in Week 1 of Term 2.


Topics for upcoming workshops include: The Effective Learner; Study Habits; and Difficult Conversations. More information will be available closer to the date via the Crowther Centre eNews.