A very warm welcome to all of you who are joining us for the first time at College Street this year, and welcome back to everyone else. Much has been achieved over the summer, with many trips and events seeing Grammar boys and staff in action around the country, with the cricketers in Brisbane in the Tri-Grammar Series, our volleyball boys down in Melbourne for the Nationals, the rowers on tour in New Zealand and the tennis players also in Melbourne for the Australian Open.
It has also been a summer of outstanding HSC results for the 2018 cohort. I congratulate all of last year’s Form VI on their fine HSC results.
To put their collective achievements in perspective, the 2017 HSC results had essentially been our best to date in the history of the current HSC. In 2017 an impressive and unprecedented 25% of boys scored an ATAR of 99 or better. Outstanding results indeed. Yet in 2018 we saw that measure rise to 30% of last year’s Form VI achieving an ATAR of 99 or above. And whilst it would be easy to continue reporting various statistics, it is more important to recognise how well all the boys performed in their examinations. It is also exciting to see a good number of boys being offered places to study at Oxford and Cambridge, amongst a range of other impressive national and international universities.
Nonetheless, the School is about much more than public examination results. The best universities around the world are making it increasingly clear that good marks in examinations are only part of what they seek when they look for the best undergraduates. All boys at Grammar are encouraged to involve themselves as much as they can in life outside the classroom. Indeed, I would argue that the success of Grammar boys in measurable areas such as the HSC is the product of factors not always so visible. The School’s outstanding teaching and support staff, the underlying pastoral structure, the highly aspirational approach to sport, music and the arts variously combine to provide the Grammar boy with a community of interesting, exciting and ambitious people keen to learn more and achieve more.
This is a school where we encourage boys to be independent as soon as possible. Some of the practices common in other schools are not found here and it is all the more important that you know how we communicate with you, and how you can readily communicate with us. In particular, you should make sure that you know the name and contact details of your son’s Tutor because he or she will be the primary point of contact between home and school for most everyday matters.
Tutors are drawn from the ranks of the teaching staff, and their role is one of general co-ordination and supervision. Should you have concerns which you feel cannot be adequately addressed by a Tutor, then you should contact the Master of the Lower School, Mr Hesketh, in the case of First Form boys, or your son’s Housemaster for boys in all other Forms. Very serious matters should be reported directly to my office; in such cases, you will then be contacted by the Senior Master, Mr Kavanagh, who works closely with me.
In the very near future we will be launching the new Parent Portal and I will email you more information about this. In the meantime, if you look at the calendar on our website you will see that many concerts, plays, debates and fixtures occur throughout the year. You are welcome – in fact strongly encouraged – to attend whenever you wish. Some events require bookings, others do not. (Where bookings are required, it is most important that you advise us if for some reason you are subsequently not able to attend. We have waiting lists for some of our events, and we do not like to turn people away – say – from concerts or lectures which end up having unexpectedly empty seats.) Many parents attend events in which their own sons are not involved. The School has strong links with outside organisations including professional orchestras, academic societies, libraries and universities. Again, when they hold activities at College Street, you are most welcome to join us.
Grammar is a large school, and it serves many different communities in our city. As a result, it can be a little daunting at first - especially for parents. This is why we have a range of active parent organisations including the Women’s Association, the Fathers’ Association, the Music Association and the Parents and Friends of the Boatshed. These groups provide the School with financial support, but more important than that, they provide social opportunities for parents to meet each other. Some of the best attended activities of the Women’s Association, for example, are those which have nothing to do with the School, or boys’ education at all. I should add that weekly sporting fixtures, especially at Weigall, provide an excellent opportunity for informal conversations both with other parents and members of staff, myself included.
I wish you all the very best for the academic year ahead.
Dr RB Malpass
The Headmaster is available whenever he is not otherwise occupied to see boys without appointment.