A Word from the Headmaster – Ross Featherston

Goings on out of the classroom

One of the great joys of my job is watching the BGS boys across the Junior and Secondary Schools engage in their various co-curricular pursuits. Recently, I have been lucky enough to watch our Junior School boys run in the Cross-Country competition, listen to our Secondary School boys play in the Wind, Brass and Percussion Concert and see a plethora of sport across all year levels (rugby, hockey, soccer and football) during the first round of the APS winter season. Moreover, I am looking forward to the Senior Production with Firbank Grammar of Chicago later this month.

If I had to pick two recent highlights, I would choose the Senior Concert Band’s outstanding performance of Whiplash and the 1st XI Hockey’s excellent performance against Xavier College. These two ‘performances’ were so different, yet they contained so many similarities: passion, precision, discipline and excellence.

I will always recall the words of George Longbottom (School Vice-Captain 2013) when he said that every boy needs a co-curricular pursuit, and that it doesn’t matter what that is: sport, drama, debating or music. I agree with George wholeheartedly. A boy needs a pursuit that he is passionate about. A pursuit he can deeply engage in to temporarily forget other life pressures. A pursuit that teaches him life skills that can be called upon beyond the school gates. When I see our boys in action outside of the classroom, George’s wisdom continues to be affirmed.

Have a great week.


From the Head of Junior School – Peter Tellefson

This week’s House Cross-Country was a character-building experience for our boys. Long-distance running is a challenge, particularly if you are not built for it! I was immensely proud of the boys’ efforts to dig deep when it hurt, to persist and keep at it; I think all in attendance would agree that all boys who crossed the line were winners. It was also obvious that the boys’ general fitness levels are on the rise, with the Prep–Year 4 boys all running greater distances than in previous years.

At last week’s Assembly, we challenged the boys to be strong-minded and determined, and to keep persevering when they felt tired, their legs were hurting and they needed a rest. Hugo Richey and Harrison Gibbins (both  Year 6 and very strong cross-country runners) also spoke, encouraging the boys to ‘not give in’. Often it is too easy for the boys to opt out by feigning illness – and parents can be quick to write a note to excuse their son from an event like Cross-Country because their son doesn’t want to do it. But we have an obligation to challenge our boys.

The endeavours of the boys, their encouragement of others, the House cheering, the hard work of the staff, the excellent leadership of Ben Ryan and the support from so many parents were all greatly appreciated. A special mention goes to the group of Year 6 boys who showed great determination and commitment by completing the course without stopping or walking.  I was delighted to witness our own BGS ‘Commonwealth Games moment’, when a number of fast-finishing Year 4, 5 and 6 boys went to support their classmates who were further back in the pack, jogging with them and encouraging them to ‘not give in’.  Hancock House was House Champion and Armstrong House was awarded the Team Spirit Award. Congratulations to our Individual Champions and Encouragement Award winners.


Junior School happenings and reminders

  • Class photographs are scheduled for next Monday 7 May. Please ensure that your sons are in their full winter uniform. Year 5/6 boys are to wear their winter uniform to School and then change into their Sports uniform for PE and APS Sport training, with the exception of 5 Melville and 6 Resolution who should wear their Sports uniform and bring their full winter uniform.
  • We are looking forwards to the Prep to Year 6 Mums joining us next Friday 11 May from 8:30am for our Mothers’ Day Celebration, which will conclude at approximately 10:40am.


Student Achievements

Congratulations to the following boys, who have progressed to the next round of trials for the Victorian Primary State teams: Seb Khan (Basketball), Xander Mitchell (Basketball), Cade Segar (Soccer), Tom Hollway (Soccer), Harry Newett (Football), Nicky Robertson (Football) and Zach Travers (Football). 


BGS Bods

As you know, we have amazing teachers at BGS. In ‘BGS Bods’, we’ll share some of their motivations and aims with you. If there is any teacher in particular from whom you’d like to hear, please let us know at hello@brightongrammar.vic.edu.au. This week, we hear from ELC3 Teacher, Megan Gibbs.

  1. Why do you teach? Because I grew up feeling misunderstood by teachers and felt that the education system only catered to one learning style (I was a hands-on learner). I wanted to change this and what better way than to start young.
  2. Why do you teach at BGS? I love working with boys as they are hands-on, visual learners and challenge me every day (in a good way). I also love the environment and the people I work with are very passionate.
  3. What do you want a student to get from having known you? I would love for them to walk away feeling positive about learning, comfortable in their skin both socially and emotionally, and to have had fun in the process.
  4. What is the most important life lesson you want a student to take away from your class/subject? That learning is not just a stage in life. Everybody is learning no matter how old you are and that learning can be fun.  I also want them to know that relationships are important. I would love them to be able to think more creatively and outside the box, and not always go along with what is known as the ‘norm’. I want them to be confident to challenge the ‘norm’, problem-solve and reach different conclusions. Basically, that there is not always a right and wrong way to do things and sometimes you need to make mistakes to learn.
  5. How do you ensure that each student will learn how to learn? I get to know them individually, take the time to get to know their families, understand what makes them tick and how I can extend the skills they already have. But I also teach them to be able to understand that they are learning through giving them the ‘language of learning’.
  6. Anything else you’d like to say? Three-year-olds may be young but they are sponges and they love to learn! It’s amazing seeing the magic of discovery at such a young age and being able to help them navigate the world.


Celebrating Mothers in the ELC

This week, the Centre has been working on secret missions in preparation of our Mothers’ Morning celebration, which was held today. The boys have been so excited to plan experiences for their mums, create special cards and gifts, and practise a song to highlight the importance of mothers.

The boys arrived proudly with their mum or grandmother, buzzed into their classrooms and started spoiling their guests with activities. We had nail salons, cooking, mindful colouring, jewellery making, seed planting, treasure hunts and creative art experiences. And all of this within an hour! We hope our ELC mums had a special morning, and wish them a Happy Mothers’ Day next Sunday.

A friendly reminder that the boys’ uniforms need to be named. We can find it challenging when vests and jumpers that aren’t clearly named get mixed up during busy outdoor play. Also, please have a quick look at home for any ELC spare clothes that need to be returned – our supplies are looking a little low.

We thank parents for their support in keeping the boys at home when unwell. It certainly reduces the spread of infection and illness across the Centre.

Amelia Barrow
Director of the Early Learning Centre

Parenting Tip

Click here  to view this week’s Parenting Tip: 5 ways to validation: showing distressed kids you get it


Teaching and Learning


April 25 is one of the most significant dates in Australian history. Prior to this date, 2 Waratah and 2 Acacia studied the significance of ANZAC Day to help the boys understand what happened and why we commemorate it. Our work had a history and literacy focus.

Pauline Anthony has provided the Junior School Library with beautiful books that tell the ANZAC story and much of our work was taught through these stories. Our particular focus was on Australian life at the beginning of the 20th Century, the beginning of WW1, Australia’s involvement, landing at Gallipoli, life in the trenches and ANZAC symbols.

During the stories, new vocabulary was introduced and boys were encouraged to work out the meaning of words from the context. This was also a valuable and effective way to introduce and extend the boys’ understanding of antonyms and synonyms for these new words.

The boys learned about the symbols of ANZAC by completing comprehension questions, and illustrating and labelling symbols such as the ANZAC March, the slouch hat, the Rising Sun badge, the poppy, rosemary and, of course, Simpson and his donkey.

During Circle Time, we discussed the qualities of an ANZAC and related these to the BGS values. The boys matched the qualities with their meaning and this lead to discussions as to why a soldier would need these attributes. The quality of courage was a particular focus along with persistence, resilience and the importance of supporting your mates.

Homework tasks included finding facts about ANZAC Day and discussions at home about how your family commemorated the day. Boys were encouraged to bring along medals and old family photographs to share with the class.

We completed the unit of study with a report, ‘What I have learned about ANZAC Day’ or ‘What ANAZC Day means to me’.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this unit of work.

Christine Marks
Year 2 Homeroom teacher


Year 3 and 4 Music Program

The Year 3 and 4 Music Program focuses on putting theory and aural skills into an instrumental context. Recently, as part of the program, some very excited string players from Year 4 who have commenced their studies on violin, viola or cello have united to form a wonderful beginner instrumental ensemble known as the Beginner Strings. Tatiana Oskolkov, the ensemble director, leads this group using her instrument rather than a baton. Using a rote method of learning, the boys are taught unison pieces with a focus on aural and memory development.

The ensemble is supported by small-group lessons in the Year 4 String Program. where postural foundations and notational reading are key skills. When they come together as an ensemble, the boys’ repertoire is consolidated and refined, and other important ensemble skills are experienced, including:

  • Experiential learning – boys get to put their technical and musicianship skills into a practical and ensemble context. They develop their understanding of why technique and musicianship skills are key to improving their instrumental performance
  • Social and emotional wellbeing –they share the joy of making music with and learning from others
  • Teamwork – boys practise listening and communicate with each other non-verbally to create music as a team, learning balance, intonation, rhythm and performance etiquette
  • Organisational skills –boys are required to learn their part, arrive on time for rehearsals, help move equipment around, and be ready to perform
  • Most of all … having fun!


The Australian Chamber Orchestra comes to BGS!

Year 5 and selected Year 6 boys were thrilled by a surprise visit from Australian Chamber Orchestra musicians Peter Clark and Jessica Oddie last Tuesday! The boys are part of a Music and Art Program with the ACO and have been involved in regular Skype sessions with Peter over the last term. During what was meant to be a regular Skype call, Peter and Jessica came out from behind the doors – to the boys’ delight!

Peter has been so blown away by the boys in the program that he changed his flights to visit BGS. The boys were treated to a live performance of a work about the life of Steven Hawking, and then had to articulate and draw traits that they shared with Hawking. Through Peter and Jessica’s performance, the boys heard their musicality and understood the feeling behind their music. The boys had to articulate emotions they heard in other pieces of music. Peter spoke of the importance of imagination, and why the arts are so important in today’s world. The audience – including me – left buzzing with excitement, and feeling very blessed to be part of such an incredible opportunity. We look forward to continuing in the program with many more exciting opportunities to come!

Hayley Blakiston
Acting Head of Junior School Music


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