2018 Speech Night Address - Board Chair

Pulteney students, families & guests; Pulteney staff; Board of Governors; Pulteney Friends, Old Scholars and Foundation members: welcome, everyone, to our 2018 Celebration Night.

Tonight, we celebrate another year of varying and diverse achievements by all of our students at our 171-year-old independent school. We congratulate the students being awarded prizes for special achievements tonight and to the teams who have again won State and National Competitions.

Tonight, we also congratulate and celebrate the achievements of all our year 12 students and we wish them well as they move confidently into the next phase of their life. Our whole school community wishes you well with the values, skills and compassion that your families & Pulteney have given you. We celebrate with you your success in achieving this important milestone in life by graduating from school. The Pulteney community is very proud of you.

There are some wonderful challenges and experiences ahead of you. Make sure you enjoy them. We feel confident that your school and its skilled teachers and support staff have helped prepare you well. Whatever you do, give it a fair go!

Mickey Rooney, the American actor and comedian, said “You always pass failure on your way to success.” I guarantee you will remember your Pulteney days and your school friendships for the rest of your life and mostly with satisfaction and a smile.

One of Pulteney’s most famous Principals, Canon W R Ray, said Pulteney produces “Street Wise Gentlemen” and I know he would now happily change that to “Gentlemen and Ladies”. You are now part of our inclusive Old Scholar Community, which will be supportive and as much fun as the school community that you are leaving. I hope that you find time to continue your links with us as a member of the Old Scholars Association.

Tonight is also and importantly about expressing gratitude. “Teachers who love teaching teach children to love learning” is a famous quote that describes your Pulteney teachers and support staff, most of whom are here tonight. Coming from a family of teachers, I understand they are amazingly dedicated people and are one of Pulteney’s strongest assets. The Board knows and appreciates our teachers’ involvement, hard work and commitment in implementing the new progressive educational style that is evolving at Pulteney to keep us at the forefront of independent co-education in Australia.

To all the teachers and support staff, thank you.

To our parents, families and friends; the School Board also values your support and the enormous efforts that many of you are able to provide to the School. Thank you for trusting us with your most important possession: your children. We have all tried very hard to give each student the best education and support that all parents want for their child.

I want to make some comments to you regarding co-education. Some of you will know that Pulteney has had several co-education phases in its very long history but next year marks the 20th year of full co-education at our school. We are proud of our enormous progress in that time. There is increasing global interest, focus and evidence, that co-education has many benefits for both genders. Some of those benefits are improved self-esteem, social skills, increased respect for opposite gender peers, breaking down gender stereotypes, better conflict and problem resolution and ability to work in teams. These are important skills that we all need for successful family and work life.

Co-education awakens the spirit of equality and comradeship without any discrimination. You will be interested to know that 93 per cent of Australian children are in co-education and the percentage is increasing. There have been no new single sex education schools opened in Australia for a number of years.

Associated with our commitment to the benefits of co-education is our commitment to student welfare. In today’s world our students are facing an increase in stress coming from many differing areas. A Mission Australia Youth survey published just last week showed that four out of 10 students in South Australia are now more worried about stress and mental health, surpassing for the first-time concerns about alcohol, drugs, equity and discrimination.

Again, Pulteney is on the front foot in this domain, investing additional resources this year in our student Wellbeing programs and services, appointing a new Head of Student Wellbeing and introducing new programs to meet these challenges. This, combined with the outstanding pastoral care provided by all of our staff, enables our school to place student wellbeing at a very high priority. Thank you to all staff for your vitally important work in this important area.

The Board congratulates our Principal, Anne Dunstan, and her Executive team on their achievements this past year and supports her vision and efforts for modern, forward thinking global education.

This brings me to the work of the School Board of Governors. In the last two years the Board has worked hard to advance our School and I thank all Board members for their positive contributions to Pulteney. Board members & co-opted members give their time gratis to the school. Thank you.

We have continued to implement the School’s Strategic Plan and this year opened the new Middle School, which is an outstanding modern educational facility. We expect in the new year to finalise plans to fully utilise the vacated Nicholls building as well as improve the facilities for our outstanding Performing Arts Learning Area, most ably led by Mr Jonathon Rice. We will also focus our attention on further opportunities to provide spaces for Year 10 students through potential developments to the Centre for Senior Learning. We have now successfully negotiated the purchase of Osmond St from the Council which will enable us to secure the whole North West corner of the school. Our work with the Adelaide City Council on a future sporting and community hub continues to advance positively. These are some of the projects in the pipeline all aimed at providing our teachers and students with the very best modern educational facilities available in keeping with our infrastructure Master Plan.

Another important element of the Board’s work is fostering a close, supportive relationship with The Parents & Friends of Pulteney, Pulteney Old Scholars and The Pulteney Foundation. I am pleased to say that the Board Deputy Chair and I have worked on these bonds this year.

Brooke Willshire leaves the Board at the end of this year and we thank her for her six years of Board service. We welcome Grant Kelley to the Board in 2019.

After 6 years as Board Deputy and Board Chair I am stepping down next year to make way for our new Chair, Allen Candy. I will, however, resume the role of Deputy Chair. I intend to support Allen as well as Colin Dudley supported my Chairmanship. Sincere thank you to Colin who will continue on the Board and as Chairman of the Pulteney Foundation.

Your Board is busy, dynamic and involved. The future of the School is exciting and safe. We intend to ensure that Pulteney will continue to excel in the future as the best city-based independent, co-educational school with its vision firmly focused on providing your children with a globally focused education to help prepare them for a successful and enjoyable life.

We value the thoughts of Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

I would like to finish with advice for our Year 12 graduating students, using some of the advice of Colonel Jack Gregg in his speech at our recent Remembrance Day Service, honouring the men and women who have given their lives or their health to allow us the freedom we enjoy today.

He said:
“Be brave and stand up for anyone being bullied, don’t post hurtful or disrespectful messages on social media, be considerate of others - even if they are a bit different to yourself – be thankful for the freedom to be yourself, the freedom to speak your mind, to worship your God. Respect others and their rights – and above all take nothing for granted but be thoughtful and appreciate what you have got.”

Congratulations to everyone here for being a successful part of Pulteney’s 171st year and for all the successes of our graduating class.

Enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and New Year break and we will see many of you again in 2019.

Dr Greg Keene 
Board Chair