On Thursday this week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to two significant events for the School that highlighted some wonderful aspects of the Gippsland Grammar culture.
The first of these events was the ‘Green Grubs’ annual luncheon, held at the Warragul Country Club. More than 20 Green Grubs or past students from St Anne’s, I hesitate to use the term ‘Old Girls’, travelled from across the State and beyond to reconnect with each other and also with their old school. I enjoy events such as this and our recent 60’s reunion, as they give me an insight into the life of our School during a different era. A time when students slept on the balcony of the St Anne’s main building, without any form of heating or cooling. A time when the Second World War was still raging and there was a strong military presence throughout Sale and across the country. It was also a time when these girls were sent to the city to find work at the age of 15. This usually involved living in boarding hostels or sharing flats with other girls of a similar age.
Their parents sent them to St Anne’s as they were seeking an outstanding education for their daughters at a time when this was not always available or accessible. Most of the Green Grubs were boarders, as this was also a time when travel was slow and tiring. Their parents also sought the values of St Anne’s and the strong discipline of the Headmistress, Miss Sparrow. The reputation of the School attracted girls from across the state and I believe it was the only Anglican Girls’ Boarding School in Victoria.
Through these stories, it started to become obvious that the values of the School during the 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond were the foundation of the culture of the modern Gippsland Grammar. They spoke of developing confidence, of engaging with a true education, public speaking, the importance of music and their involvement in the broader community. On many occasions the girls would spend their time working on various community projects and learning the value of hard work. Whilst they laughed and told stories of being caught down the street without a hat, gloves and blazer and the punishment for being too loud at dinner, there was a clear strength of character within each of these ladies that they passionately trace back to their days at St Anne’s.
I would like to thank the Green Grubs for the generous offer to join them and for shouting me a very nice parma. I would also like to thank them for the positive influence that they have had and continue to have, on the culture and values of our School.
The other event that I found significant this week was the welcoming of Virginia Evans to our Bairnsdale Campus. Virginia joins the School Executive in 2017 as the Head of Bairnsdale and I was thrilled by the warm welcome she received from both parents and staff during the week. As Virginia mentioned, she currently has a foot in both jobs, as she completes her duties as Deputy Head at St Mary’s and also begins planning her leadership of the Bairnsdale Campus. I am sure she will be a great success.
It is with a tinge of sadness that we farewelled our Year 12 students this week. With celebrations at School and also in the Boarding House, it was a wonderful time for reflection and also a time to recognise the achievements of these brilliant young men and women. As I watched the power point display at the Chapel service, each student’s slide contained a picture of themselves as both a Year 12 student and as a baby. As each photo appeared, it was interesting to identify the child in the young adult and also to wonder about their journey from early childhood to adolescence. For many of the students I was aware of their journey, where they attended Primary School and at what age they joined us at Gippsland Grammar. For me personally, I have enjoyed watching this year level grow from bright eyed and bushy tailed Year 8 students, into deep thinking eloquent Year 12’s with the world at their feet.
It is interesting to ponder about the influences on their lives to this point and how well we have equipped them to be successful in the future. Their immediate priority is to prepare for their exams and ensure that they achieve their best. For a brief moment (usually about a day), they will be defined by their ATAR score; however, there is so much more to these students than their ATAR. It was obvious in each photo that their families are the main influence on their lives and their development and it was clear in each photo that our students come from loving, supportive and aspirational families. As a country school, many of our students are also influenced by their geography, where do they come from, do they travel far to attend school, do they live on a farm, do they board?
As the Principal, I also wonder about the influence our School has had on these students, their friendship groups, the School values, the environment where they have spent a huge amount of their time over the past years. Whilst I see many differences in each photo and many differences in each student, I also see many similarities. A respect for each other, their families and the School. An ambition to create a great life for themselves and to be involved in the world around them. A desire to help others in a caring and compassionate manner and for many, a love for our School. The sadness for our students comes from leaving a place that they have called home for many years, a place that has been safe, supportive and engaging. It is also sad for them to leave each other. The Valedictory Dinner will be the last time they ever come together as a complete group or year level and it will be the last time that some of them will ever see each other.
I wish our Year 12 students well for their upcoming exams, for their transition into life after school and most importantly I have great hopes for what each of them can become. I ask them to keep in touch with each other and to maintain the friendships that have served them so well for so long. I also remind them that they will always be a Gippsland Grammar student and they will always be welcome at their old school.
I am pleased to announce the launch of our new volunteer registration process.
As mentioned in previous newsletter items, Gippsland Grammar has been working tirelessly this year to ensure that we are compliant with Ministerial Order 870- the implementation of the seven child safe standards. As part of this process, we must embed a culture of zero tolerance of child abuse.
To create and maintain a child safe organisation, organisations must have:
- strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements
- a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
- a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
- processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
- strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse
- strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children
As part of our strategy to achieve the above standards, we have developed procedures for the management and training of adults who volunteer to assist within the School and have contact with students in the process. We have endeavoured to ensure that these processes are as efficient and effective as possible.
To assist us with this process, we would like any parents, guardians or others who are likely to act as a volunteer at the School in the next 12 months to complete the following process:
- Identify the activity, date of activity and staff member responsible for the activity.
- Contact this staff member to discuss your involvement and the level of volunteering you will undertake- direct contact volunteer or indirect contact volunteer (please see description below).
- Apply for a working with children check via the website by following this link
- Complete the Gippsland Grammar online registration form by clicking on this link
- If you are an indirect contact volunteer- read the School’s policy and code of conduct via the registration form and indicate you have read and understood these documents before submitting.
- If you are a direct contact volunteer- please complete the online training modules that you will be emailed once you submit the volunteer registration form.
As a School, we thank you for assisting with the implementation of our Child Safety Program and welcome any input or suggestions you can provide.
|Direct Contact Volunteers|
All Direct Contact Volunteers, as defined in this policy, are required to be familiar with the content of our Child Protection and Safety Policy and our Child Safety Code of Conduct and their legal obligations with respect to the reporting of child abuse. This would be achieved through completion of the eight Child Safety training modules.
Direct Contact Volunteers are those volunteers who are involved in providing support, guidance and supervision directly to students and could potentially have direct unsupervised contact with students during the normal course of providing the volunteer service.
Indirect Contact Volunteers
Indirect Contact Volunteers (or 'indirect volunteers') are those volunteers who are involved in providing support and services whilst not directly assisting a specific group of students. Indirect contact volunteers are not responsible for supervising students and would not have ‘unsupervised’ contact with students during the normal course of providing the volunteer service.
Welcome back to Term 4.
I trust that most of our families were able to enjoy time together during the break. It is great to see our students return to School looking refreshed and eager to start a new and very busy term.
For those of you who are observant, you will notice some changes to the silhouette of our buildings at Garnsey, St Anne’s and Blackwood House. During the break, Gippsland Solar installed 800 solar panels on the roof of the Sports Centre (Garnsey), the roof of Blackwood House and the roof of Lorna Sparrow Hall (St Anne’s). They also replaced over 2000 lights with LED energy efficient lighting across all three campuses.
Last week Gippsland Grammar turned on the last section of our new solar array which will generate an estimated 80% of the School’s electricity usage. We are the first school in Gippsland to embark on such a large scale solar and LED replacement program, demonstrating not only our environmentally conscious qualities, but our leadership credentials in Gippsland and nationally. We have been able to financially structure this project to be cash flow neutral with the expected savings to our electricity account projected to pay for the project within 5-7 years.
For those interested in the figures:
- Our 200kW Solar system consisting of 800 solar panels each being 250 watt, is estimated to save us over $34,000 on our annual electricity bill. The system is distributed over the three campuses as follows:
- 100kW system consisting of 400 panels on the Laurie Payne Sports Centre
- 70kW system consisting of 280 panels on St Anne’s Lorna Sparrow Hall
- 30kW system consisting of 120 panels on Blackwood House
- Replacement of 2,260 lights with equivalent LEDs, saving us an estimated 21,400kWh per annum and almost $20,000 per annum in lighting costs
- A total cost for the project of over $500,000 (before rebates).
A special thanks goes to Gippsland Solar who took the time to understand the unique challenges and constraints of working within a school environment and worked closely with us as to provide minimal disruption to School activities. Also thanks to all staff who went out of their way to accommodate the works. This includes the maintenance and ICT teams.
In addition to the environmental and financial motives, this project aligns strongly with our values and has the potential to be of educational benefit to our students. We will have a website available that shows our power usage, the amount of power we are generating and how much we are consuming or putting back into the grid in real time.
I would like to acknowledge our new Business Manager, Chris Beckman, for his tireless work in preparing this project for approval and also for managing the installation process during the school holidays.
It is with great excitement that I announce the appointment of Mrs Virginia Evans as our Head of Bairnsdale Campus. Virginia is currently the Deputy Head of St Mary’s in Bairnsdale and well known to many in our community. Virginia is married to Richard and her sons Lachlan and Hugh both graduated from Garnsey in recent years. Virginia is a wonderful person who will bring a passion for education and many years of experience. She is committed to our School and has a strong desire to see the Bairnsdale Campus flourish. We will orchestrate opportunities for Virginia to meet with staff, students and parents during Term 4.
I would like to wish all of our families well for the upcoming Spring break and my hope is that you can all enjoy some quality family time and return to us safe and refreshed for the term ahead.
At our final assembly today, I spoke to the students about the holidays and gave our senior students the usual rev up to prepare for their exams; however, I also asked them to consider their own wellbeing during the break and ensure that they plan at least one day where they can focus entirely on something they enjoy that will give them great satisfaction and pleasure. I ask our families to discuss this with their children and look for an opportunity for this to occur. Sitting in front of the TV or sleeping in until 3pm does not count, nor am I suggesting that they plan a Grand European tour; however, if they can identify something simple that meets the above criteria, it would be good for their own wellbeing. It would be even better if they could connect with others whilst completing this task.
I would like to thank all of our students, their families and our staff for your ongoing support and commitment to Gippsland Grammar. It has been a very productive and successful term.
Have a wonderful break.