From the Principal – 8 December 2017

To the St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar Community,

In our society, we are often not very good at reflection unless compelled. We sometimes spend too much time looking ahead and not learning from the past. Reflection and review are instrumental if we are to improve and learn. As I reflect on my first year as Principal of this beautiful school, I find myself in some ways delighted and in others frustrated. We have achieved so much, but have so much more to do.

Things of which I am very proud include the completion of the 2017-2021 Strategic Plan which I am confident reflects the voices of our time as well as honouring those of the past.

Enrolments for 2018 are healthy and a number of year levels were full across the three campuses by Term 3 2017.

The commencement of Dr Steven Middleton as Vice Principal/Head of Berwick Grammar School has already resulted in a surge of excitement, focus and goodwill. His ideas are original, engaging and will cement the place of the school as one of the top boys’ schools in Australia. His catch cry of ‘Growing Good Men’ is already resonating with the broader community. The other Heads of Campus continue their good work, building strong relationships with all.

The move to a ‘One School’ approach is enabling us to maximize life choices for the young people in our care. From 2018, curricula are moving towards being common across both St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar School while allowing the individual flavour of a boys’ school and a girls’ school to gain expression. Every senior years’ St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar student ended up with a 2018 course that reflected their preferences and the timetabling staff are to be commended for exploring options new and inventive to our community. A small number of shared VCE classes have assisted the provision of subjects of choice to students and this innovation has been extremely well received by those involved.

Next year we have some outstanding new staff commencing at Berwick Grammar and St Margaret’s that will complement the highly skilled staff we already have. The number of VCE examiners that teach at the School continues to grow and sits at approximately 18. Likewise, our staff members are increasingly asked to sit on both curriculum and teacher training panels nationally and internationally through our association with the universities, IB PYP and IBSC. The commencement of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in 2018 will continue this focus on quality teaching.

Most importantly though, beyond the organisational, structural and operational improvements, we are growing as a school with heart that engages young people and (I hope) their families. I often refer to wellbeing as characterised by the three-legged stool – one leg representing a strong sense of identity, another the existence of strong relationships and the third relating to feeling part of a community. One leg collapses, and the stool falls over. I invite all to suggest ways of engagement that will build both relationships and community and make that stool stable for the young people in our care and, indeed, the whole family. I regularly have parents share their passions and we are currently speaking to some fabulous parents in the areas of STEM education, global citizenship, student mental health and the provision of physical attributes (such as lighting). Already a number of projects, such as the Global Citizenship project involve broader members of the community beyond the teachers and students and this has been invigorating, exciting and a palpable way of reflecting the importance of student voice and the community at large. If you are considering a simple opportunity through which your family may get involved, the 2018 Fair on Friday 16 March is a way of sharing time, energy, companionship, goods, talents or donations that help our community in a concrete and celebratory way.

For me personally, the year has been fulfilling both professionally and personally and I thank the School for that. Schools are much more than buildings and gardens (although are we not lucky to have the spaces we do?) and it is how such places and people make us ‘feel’ that is a measure of their worth. I confess I think St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar rather special. As we move forward with the CURIOSITY to know and learn through exercising COURAGE to do the right thing, CHARACTER to be one’s best self and RESPECT to live wisely and compassionately with others and the planet; I invite you all to engage, share your stories and passions and (to paraphrase our new vision statement) help make our School the best it can be, now and in the future, for the betterment of all humanity and the planet.

A safe and happy holiday to you all.

Ms Annette Rome FACE FACEL

Important Dates for 2018
St Margaret’s and Berwick Grammar School students commence on Wednesday 31 January
Community/Parent Cocktail Party: Friday 23 February
Twilight School Fair: Friday 16 March