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 Secondary School – Dr Rachel Horton

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first 6 months at Brighton Grammar School. They have been extremely busy, of course, and I am looking forward to a holiday. But over the past few days, in particular, there have been quite a few instances when I have been reminded of the reasons I love working in secondary education. I would like to share three of these occasions with you.

Last week, I invited two of my past students, currently studying at Melbourne University, to have a chat with boys from across BGS about ways to engage in community service – volunteering, in particular. The boys involved enthusiastically gave up their lunchtime and came away with pages of notes and a plethora of great ideas. Student voice, as I have written previously, is very powerful at BGS, and service is a way for our boys to give back to their community while engaging with and developing empathy for those who may be less privileged than them. I am confident when I say ‘watch this space’ and you will see BGS boys building community service into the School’s culture.

This week, the Year 7 and 8 classes were moved to the St Andrew’s end of the School while the Human Centred Design Thinking Program (for Year 10, and some Year 9, students) took place in the Urwin Centre. After getting over some initial disappointment that the St Andrew’s canteen is very much like the Urwin Centre canteen and does not, in fact, take Apple Pay, the younger boys started to enjoy the opportunity of being in the same learning environment as the Year 11 and 12 students.

During tutor group time on Tuesday, the younger boys were coached through some goal-setting activities by the older boys. The seniors approached this opportunity with enthusiasm and maturity, and the younger boys were engaged and really valued the experience.

These are exactly the kinds of interactions that we hope to see more of as we continue to strengthen the Secondary School under the overarching ‘As One’ theme.

Finally, earlier this week I visited the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Fitzroy, where a number of Year 9 boys are undertaking an Urban Camp. These young men have spent the week visiting and volunteering at a number of different community initiatives. Just two examples of these are a breakfast club that provides children with good food and motivation to attend school, and YAMEC (Young Adult Migration Education Courses), which provides tuition to help migrants learn the English language.

During my visit, I sat in on a discussion of immigration, based around the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees, which somehow digressed into gender issues. Both of these are extremely complex, relevant and emotive areas, and I was really impressed by the boys’ level of knowledge and the thoughtful way in which each of them contributed to the conversation.

It only remains for me to wish you some quality time with your boys back at home over the next few weeks.


Brighton Grammar vs Melbourne Grammar Pride Game 2018

For the past two years, Brighton Grammar has placed great significance on participating in the annual Pride Game against Melbourne Grammar. Currently, the score stands at one game each, yet the result is somewhat insignificant to the message that these young men wish to spread. We are really proud of the work we do at our great school when it comes to celebrating diversity and fostering a welcoming environment – and the Pride Game is the ultimate show of that.

The Pride Game shines a light on the importance of inclusion and ensuring football is a game for everyone, and it’s been a pleasure partnering with Melbourne Grammar Swans for the past two years to bring that concept to the wider APS stage. Every person who attends an APS match should be able to experience the incredible sense of belonging that we associate with footy, no matter their gender identity or sexual preferences.

Before the game, Jason Ball, an Australian LGBTI and mental health advocate, tweeted: “This Saturday 16th June Brighton Grammar will play Melbourne Grammar in their second 1st XVIII Pride Game. Make no mistake, to have two conservative, religious, all boys schools back LGBTI inclusion in such a way is a huge deal.”

Robert Shaw
1st XVIII Coach BGS


Marine Biology Camp – Port Douglas B2M

Forty Year 9 students and six staff are currently exploring Port Douglas for the Marine Biology B2M Camp. Presently, the group has undertaken three dives on the Great Barrier Reef, learning about the amazing fish life and marine ecosystems.

During their dives, the boys have seen a reef shark, various reef cod, a leopard shark and two adult turtles. They also ventured to Fitzroy Island, where they swam at the famous Nudey beach and visited the turtle rehabilitation centre.

The students have enjoyed their time on the water and look forward to the remaining days of the camp.


Champs on All Fronts

The BGS boys performed exceptionally at the Cross Country State Championships last Saturday. It was a tough course and the boys had to overcome wind, hills and cold temperatures. All runners gave it their all and it was great to see the sportsmanship shown by the boys, towards both each other and their opponents.

The highlight was the Under 14 team, who were the second-fastest in the state and earned themselves a silver medal. There were also a number of outstanding individual performances, with Oliver Goodger, and Sam Flockart in contention for the national championships. Many of the boys are now able to say that they are some of the top runners in the state. Congratulations to all who participated.

Many thanks to our support team of Sonia O’Sullivan, Yvette Radas, Andrea Bramwell and all the parents.

Individual performances:

Under 14: Oliver Goodger (20th), Hugo Richey (30th), Charlie Paterson (49th), Harry Penwright (99th), Kyle Verbunt (injured)

Under 15: Xavier Hendy (79th)

Under 16: Sam Flockart (18th), James Capp (48th), Charlie Schwerdt (77th), Lachlan Brooks (94th)

Under 17: Maxim Christodoulou (61st)

Under 18 Charlie Lamont (37th), Lincoln Zhang (60th), Tom Bartels (injured)

Harry Penwright, who accepted the medals on behalf of the Under 14 team.


Hat Trick

The Year 9 Visual Communication Design students recently completed a task that required them to design a sporting logo for a cap.

They had to invent a new team, decide through demographic research where the team would be located, and design a logo.

The designs were created on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and then sent to be printed professionally.

Here are Harry Cornwell, James Semenov and Jack Tiver modelling their designs.


Piano Soiree

Last Wednesday afternoon, a number of our young pianists performed in the Semester 1 Piano 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 opportunities in Semester 2 and all BGS musicians are encouraged to get involved.

Kurt Abell
Acting Head of Instrumental Music


For this week’s Career News for Students by Dr Sophie Keele, click here


For this week’s Cooking Corner by Danielle Wolff, click here

Chicken Nuggets