A Word from the Headmaster, Ross Featherston

Reading, disappointment and academic success

A highlight of the BGS year is the Scholars’ Assembly. At last Thursday’s Scholars’ Assembly, the whole Secondary School honoured the exceptionally high academic achievements of the Class of 2017. The Scholars’ Wall in the Hancock Wing was unveiled and blessed by Fr Tony, as the 2017 boys and parents looked on.

The 2017 Dux, David Lawlor, was the keynote speaker at the Assembly. David gained a ‘perfect’ ATAR of 99.95 – the highest score achievable. He reflected on what worked for him during his final year of school, and what didn’t. He encouraged all the Secondary School boys to find their own formula for success – that is, to discover what works for them. Among some characteristic witticisms, two things from David’s speech stood out for me.

The first was his point on the importance of reading. David spoke about reading as his foundation. He believes that more reading can lead to better writing, which in turn can lead to increased academic success across all subjects. Not surprisingly, I share the same belief!

The second point that resonated was the role that disappointment plays in finding success. David believes that rather than being an impediment to success, disappointment is how you achieve it. To mark this point, he finished with a quote from President John F. Kennedy: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.” Again, I concur with David.

The Scholars’ Assembly (and the Scholars’ Wall) are important statements about the School’s values with reference to scholarly aspiration and achievement. I have no doubt that initiatives like this play a vital role in our commitment to raising the academic culture of BGS.

On Wednesday, we took a moment to be thankful for those that have gone before us to make BGS what it is today, including its rising academic culture. One hundred and thirty-six years ago to the day, Dr Crowther opened the doors of his new school and welcomed the first BGS students (eight in all).

Finally, please take the time to look at this week’s Crowther Thinking section of the eNews. Here, our Deputy Headmaster/Head of the Crowther Dr Ray Swann outlines the vision and purpose of the work undertaken through the Crowther (the ‘engine that drives the School’). I think you’ll find it enlightening and exciting.

Have a great week.


From the Head of Crowther Centre, Ray Swann

The engine that drives BGS

This year in the Crowther Thinking section of the eNews, we will:

– provide you with updates on what is happening in the School

– connect you to some tips about the art and science of teaching boys (in the form of articles, videos and podcasts)

– update you with opportunities to come and learn and connect to the School and our programs.

At Brighton Grammar, the Crowther Centre is the engine that drives the School. It helps generate information; connect parents, teachers and boys to the best available research; inform practice; and measure and monitor School activity.  We are tasked with building the ‘BGS Way.’

The main areas of Crowther are:

– Teaching and Learning (and professional learning)

– Wellbeing and Mindfulness practice

– Leadership and culture-building for our boys

– Research and relationships.

We’re very keen to hear from and work with you in the community. If you read something interesting, have an idea or just want to check in, please contact us at: crowther@brightongrammar.vic.edu.au            



Last week, I had a great conversation with a parent about leadership at the School. What are the opportunities, and how does leadership fit into the BGS Way?
To this end, I would like to hand over to Christian Machar, who has taken on the role of Head of Student Leadership.


Every Boy is a Leader

If you were fortunate enough to attend the Crowther Parent Seminar with former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry a fortnight ago, you would have witnessed an engaging panel discussion on high-performing cultures. The panel included Sir Graham; Deputy Headmasters Dr Ray Swann and Dr Rachel Horton; and Andrew McGrath and Ben Durkin, School Captains in 2016 and 2017.

I came away inspired by the evening and particularly impressed by the manner in which Andrew and Ben conducted themselves. They are examples of the exceptional young men we are producing at Brighton Grammar and the reason why we are in education. BGS is here to develop men of good character; men who have integrity and who are respectful; men of whom we are proud.

I am excited to play my part in the work of the Crowther via a newly created position, Head of Student Leadership. I have identified three focus areas: student leadership structure, development programs and student voice.

The current student leadership structure includes a multitude of positions, from School Captain to committee members. All are valuable roles in building capacity to lead. However, I am currently conducting a review of the configuration so that in the second half of the year, when positions for 2019 become available, the boys understand clearly how the roles, selection processes, and duties and responsibilities are beneficial to leadership development.

It may sound clichéd but I view every boy as a leader. It is my hope that, through programs and activities starting this year in Year 7 and ending in Year 11 with the ‘Leading and Learning’ program, every boy will discover and develop their leadership skills – from identifying their strengths and unpacking what it is to be leader, to engaging in a mentorship for those in positions of leadership.

A strong student voice has the potential to transform a school. Sir Graham Henry explained that the turning point for the All Blacks’ success was when they became player-led, with standards and expectations set by the group (with staff/coaches there to guide and support). For those who have followed The Legacy Project over the last few years, you would have witnessed the empowerment of students at assemblies and a positive culture shift.

Ultimately, a culture where every boy sees themselves as a leader will lead to Brighton Grammar School continuing to flourish.

Christian Machar
Head of Student Leadership (7–12)


Positive Masculinity

How to listen to your boy

This week, we released the first of a fantastic series of videos with Tom Harkin on our Understanding Boys platform.

Tom is well known for his work in masculinity and emotional intelligence. A master facilitator, Tom was a founding member of the Reach Foundation and was featured in the recent three-part ABC series ‘Man Up’. Tom’s new work, Tomorrow Man, explores masculinity with teenage boys. This year, Brighton Grammar is working with Tom to implement his work.

Click here to watch the first of the video posts with Tom, in which he describes how to listen to your boy.


Upcoming Events

Are you interested in joining a focus group for wellbeing and positive masculinity? If so, email us at crowther@brightongrammar.vic.edu.au to register your interest for upcoming events.