A Word from the Headmaster – Ross Featherston

Three thought pieces, the term that was – and holidays

Last week, I read three articles that all reflect in a positive light the work we are already doing at BGS. The first, titled ‘Students’ stress levels up and confidence down’ and published in The Australian,1 indicates that Australian students are increasingly stressed. However, a study of more than 135,000 primary and secondary students reveals that those with highly developed social and emotional wellbeing generally:

  • have parents who are engaged and interested
  • have effective teachers
  • are involved with their peers and extra-curricular activities.

These are all factors we prioritise at BGS.

The second piece, also in The Australian, reinforces the critical role parents play in their children’s academic success. More than 50 years of research shows that shared responsibility between school and family is key to a good education – and that it’s a mistake to let family engagement levels drop during a student’s secondary school years. According to Harvard University professor Karen Map, one of the world’s leading education experts, “some secondary schools create a culture and a climate that makes it more difficult for families”. At BGS, we work hard to make the three-cornered partnership between student, school and family as strong and as smooth as possible. I hope that, as parents, you agree.

The final article, based on research by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), describes report findings that a lower proportion of Australian students “feel like they belong at school” compared to students across the OECD. At BGS, we recognise the significance of a sense of belonging – it is associated with educational success and general wellbeing. According to ACER, students who feel that they are part of their school community are more actively engaged in both academic and non-academic school activities – which brings us back to the first thought piece!

This is the final week of what has been another busy, diverse and excellent term of activity across the whole School – from the ELC boys learning about National Reconciliation Week, to the Junior School boys going on Outdoor Education journeys, performing in concerts and competing in APS Sport, through to the Secondary School boys embracing the theme of ‘As One’ and the challenge to ‘Be a better man today than you were yesterday’. Teachers, students and parents have all continued to implement our Effective Learner model in their classrooms (and homes), with a particular focus on being ready to learn. I thank everyone in the BGS community for playing your part.

Together with some colleagues, I am heading to the UK for part of the break to continue the School’s work towards world’s best practice – particularly in the areas of high performance, entrepreneurship and Design Thinking. Over 11 days, we will visit eight schools, five universities and three high-performing organisations. We are also holding an Old Boys’ reunion in London and spending some time with the boys and staff on the BGS UK Cricket Tour.

Have a great break; I hope you enjoy spending some quality time with your children (and remember that boredom can be a good thing – ‘Boredom fuels creativity and problem-solving in children’)! I look forward to seeing you at the start of Term 3 – boys return on Wednesday 18 July.

1Some of the articles mentioned here may only be accessible to subscribers to the relevant publication. For those who have access, links are as follows:

Rebecca Urban, ‘Students’ stress levels up and confidence down’, The Australian, 15 June 2018 [online].
Andrew Burrell, ‘Parents key to boosting academic results for children’, The Australian, 15 June 2018, [online].
Sue Thomson, ‘Many Australian school students feel they “don’t belong” in school: new research’ ACER, 6 June 2018 [online].
Susie O’Brien, ‘Boredom fuels creativity and problem-solving in children, experts say’, Herald Sun, 18 June 2018 [online].


From the Deputy Headmaster, Head of Junior School – Peter Tellefson

School life is busy for boys, staff and parents and it is hard to believe we have reached the halfway mark of 2018. A snapshot of the last couple of weeks: Milikapiti, Pormpuraaw, Music Camp, Music concerts, Once on This Island Jr. rehearsals, Prep–Year 2 Grandparents & Special Friends Morning, House Mathematics, APS Sport, Year 4 Convict Day, Regional Cross Country, Year 1 Camp Read-a-lot, ELC4 Twilight evening and Year 5 trip to Sovereign Hill and the Goldfields exhibition. This list is only three weeks’ worth, yet it demonstrates the real and relevant nature of our boys’ learning experiences.

We have certainly enjoyed a successful Term 2 and I am appreciative of the great work from boys, staff and parents. Thank you for the role you have played in supporting our Junior School. Best wishes for the break, enjoy being out of the School routine and to those who are travelling, keep safe.


Junior School Happenings and Reminders

  • The Year 3–6 House Maths Competition created great excitement amongst the boys last Friday. Congratulations to the Crowther team (William Tan, Kenneth Yeung, Alex Roach and James Tan), who were House Champions, and to the Year 6 Staff (Monica Le Couteur, Luke Fensling, Hamish Leahy and Cathy Box) for their organisation.
  • Prep to Year 6 Semester 1 Reports will be available online from 4.00pm today via the Synportal. Parent–Teacher Interviews are scheduled for early next term, on Wednesday 1 August and Thursday 2 August. Booking information will be emailed on Monday 23 July. Homeroom Teachers and Specialist Staff will be available to meet with parents.
  • Tomorrow is the final day of Term 2. Following is an outline of the day:
  • 8.50am – Chapel (Prep to Year 6)
  • 10.00am – Free time Winning House
  • 11.20am – Assembly
  • 12.20pm – JPG Lunch (Please note: there are NO Tuckshop orders available)
  • 1.30pm – Tabloid Sports (boys can wear their Sports uniform/House polo shirt)
  • 3.20pm – Normal Dismissal
  • Congratulations to the Prep to Year 2 boys who, over the last two weeks, have been superb hosts at our Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ presentations. The boys enjoyed their music performance, classroom activities and morning tea. Thank you to Hayley Blakiston for the singing and her preparation, to Samara Madden for her overall organisation as Lower Primary Coordinator, to Paul Strain, Emily Beaton, Sam Kuring, Steve Lewis and Christine Marks for their classroom activities, and to the JPG for coordinating and serving morning tea.
  • The following Year 4 to 6 boys competed in challenging conditions at the Regional Cross Country Championships this week: 10 Yrs – Eli Botha; 11 Yrs – Harrison Gibbins and 12 Yrs – Henry Abbott, Ayden Roos, Kyle Roos and Hugo Richey. The boys’ performances and sportsmanship were outstanding. Best wishes to Harrison Gibbins and Hugo Richey, who will now represent BGS in the State Cross Country Championships next term. Thank you to Ben Ryan for his management and to all parents who assisted with transportation and supported their sons.
  • Wednesday was the last round of APS Sport for the term. Congratulations to all boys involved in Football, Cross Country and Volleyball. Thank you to all staff who have coached and managed teams, to the many parents who support their sons on a weekly basis and to Ben Ryan for his excellent organisation. Term 3 Sports are Soccer, Basketball, European Handball and Hockey.
  • I was impressed by the number of boys who participated in the lunchtime Instrumental Concert this Tuesday. Congratulations to Nicholas Galinas, Sam Longley, Oliver Jorgensen, Des McDonald, Anthony Tian, Charles Zhao, Jerry Zheng, Ned Overend-Stevens, Will O’Leary, Seb Khan and William Yang. Thank you to Hayley Blakiston for her organisation and to the parents who were able to support their sons.
  • Term 3 commences Wednesday 18 July at 8.30am; boys continue to wear their winter uniform throughout Term 3.


Student Achievements

Congratulations to the following boys from Prep–Year 6 who will be presented with Semester 1 Class Effort Cards at tomorrow’s Assembly in the G. B. Robertson Hall at 11.20am:

Prep Fivedale – Logan Hollow, Zack Knipe, Kyle Wang

Prep Kurrajong – Charlie Auditore, Tom McLean, Thomas Saadie

1 Banksia – Thomas Everett, Barnaby Heath, Liam Krastich

1 Heath – Daniel Arnold, Tyler Buckingham, Zheyi Zhu

2 Acacia – Anderson Harris, Danny Liu, Thomas Zhuang

2 Waratah – George Cozens, Quinn Wang, Martin Yang

3 Burke – Ed Mohseni, Corban Papadopoulos, Luca Savill

3 Wills – Logan Chilcott, Eddie Jin, Oscar Liu

4 Bass – Jed Constable, Daniel Piccolo, Charles Wettenhall

4 Cook – Leo Jansen, Matvey Kononchuk, Sandro Macnab

4 Flinders – Harry Eyers, Terence Gan, Matheus Judah,

5 Argyle – Thomas Dunne, Jacob Everett, Bowen Ke

5 Melville – Harry Bowerman, Luca New, Lachie Reid

5 Scott – Harry Denning, Tom Fischer, Alex Jin

5 Zachariah – Aidan Hearne, Rishi Mahendranathan, Luke Sexton

6 Discovery – Tom Kollmorgan, Harry Pollock, Josh Watters

6 Endeavour – Lihang Jiang, Noah Laurin, Diesel Saleh

6 Investigator – Matthew Dougan-Bath, Hugh Hasker, Aidan Williams

6 Resolution – Jackson Chen, Aiden Retief, Jem Spicer

Piano Soiree

Last Wednesday afternoon, a number of our young pianists performed in the Semester 1Piano Soiree. Approximately 20 boys from Year 2 to Year 10 presented works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and many more.

For some of the youngest performers, this was their first public performance, as well as a chance to hear some of our more experienced pianists. Informal concerts and soirees such as this provide the boys with a fantastic opportunity to perform as soloists and in small groups – an important contrast to participating in the larger bands and orchestras at BGS.

There will be a number of other similar opportunities in Semester 2, and all BGS musicians are encouraged to get involved.

Kurt Abell
Acting Head of Instrumental Music


Happy Holidays from the ELC

Reflecting on the term always reminds us of the wonderful growth and development of each boy, and the vast learning that has been offered across all four rooms. As always, our Mothers’ Morning was the highlight in May as we turned the tables and cared for our mums to say a big thank you for all that they do for us every day.

Our parent participation program has been active, with each room enjoying a variety of activities delivered by a parent or grandparent.

We continued to celebrate our Cultural Diversity this term, with a focus on acknowledging the traditional owners of our land throughout National Reconciliation week.

For ELC4, the highlight has to be the Twilight session by torchlight last week. For ELC3, the hands-on incursion with Australian animals was a favourite. Ten weeks can certainly be jammed-packed in the ELC and I am sure the boys are looking forward to a well-deserved break before we return for Term 3.

I would like to say a big thank you to the boys, families and staff of the ELC and wish you all happy and safe holidays. We look forward to seeing you for Term 3 on Wednesday 18 July and part-time boys on Thursday 19 July. Happy Holidays!

Amelia Barrow
Director of the Early Learning Centre


Parenting Tip

Click here to view this week’s Parenting Tip: Hopeful kids are happy kids


Year 1 Grandparents & Special Friends’ Morning

Year 1 boys were excited to have their Grandparents and Special Friends visit their school this week, click here to see what they got up to. 


Teaching and Learning

Junior School House Maths Competition

On Friday 15 June, the annual BGS Junior School Maths Competition was held in the G. B. Robertson Hall. This competition gives students the opportunity to test their mathematical skills against one another, hoping to secure victory for their House. Each team of four was made up of one representative from Years 3–6.

This year, the competition’s structure had been overhauled to reward students not just for the speed of their responses but also for their accuracy. There were three rounds of challenging questions: first, a buzzer round; second, a whiteboard round; and third, the highly anticipated Kahoot round! 

With Ms Davies playing the role of host, the competition began. Her smooth reading and charisma helped put the boys at ease, settling any nerves. The buzzer round was hotly contested, with the boys quickly gaining confidence and reacting quickly with the correct answer.

In the second round, boys were given mini whiteboards and markers, as questions became harder and required setting out and solving.  Some boys preferred to draw to solve their equations, while others followed structured routines they had learnt in class. Often, the biggest challenge was interpreting the question.

As the competition moved into the Kahoot round, it became a two-horse race between Crowther and School houses. As both teams rushed to be the first finger, some miscalculations were made, allowing Crowther to pull away for victory by 6 points.

Congratulations to all the boys who participated and particularly the Crowther representatives, William Tan, Kenneth Yeung, Alex Roach and James Tan.

Year 4 Convict Day

We have spent Term 4 immersed in Early Explorers and the First Fleet. The boys have explored and reported their findings via mini projects and reflective journals that a convict may have written. The boys have displayed empathy and understanding about the plight of convicts coming to Australia and the perils that they endured both before and after the difficult journey.

The journal writing component of the term allowed the boys to better understand conditions in England and why Australia was chosen as a penal colony. As a teacher, it was fascinating to watch the class working away silently as each boy became immersed in his imagined world.  The boys’ desire to produce accurate accounts of their convict’s daily hardships was a credit to them and the journals have all been made with a great deal of care and effort.

We were impressed with the skilful way that the boys used technology to assist their learning. iPads and laptops were used to research, record and check facts. Journals were created using fonts and all dates were an accurate reflection of events that occurred. The journals were bound with string and the pages were given an ‘aged’ look using teabags.

The unit culminated in the classes dressing up in their convict costumes. The boys relived the joys of a basic gruel soup with bread at Recess and built solitary confinement cells, experienced an Old Bailey courtroom with dungeon, and explored unfamiliar old English vocabulary terms within the song ‘Bound for Botany Bay’, finishing with a green-screen music video.

The boys have also reflected on their learning and come up with a range of suggestions and tweaks to the unit of work for next year’s boys so that they can enjoy this unit of work as much as they did.


For more on Teaching & Learning at BGS, visit Crowther Thinking