2016 Speech Night Address - Board Chair
Graduating students of 2016, to all those returning for more in 2017, staff, distinguished guests, Pulteney families, my fellow Board members.
I also add my welcome to that of Lucy and Henry to our celebration this evening.
The Board of Governors has had an exceptionally busy year, and it is my pleasure to report progress on our work tonight.
Last year, you will of course recall that I introduced our new Strategic Plan to you. This Plan has guided all of our work and investment decisions over the course of 2016, and will continue to guide the Board in the years ahead.
We have continued to explore and develop our international links, both as a way of improving the breadth of education for our existing students, and also as a marketing strategy to broaden the cultural mix of our learning environment.
Staff have been working hard preparing for the implementation of a new Learning Management System in 2017. The system will underpin our offering, and support and enable the increased use of data in the individual learning plans that are required for each student in contemporary education. It will also enable a significantly improved flow of communication between staff, students and parents about student progress and achievement.
The School has continued to develop its relationships with external entities, especially those in the City of Adelaide, capitalising on our status as a City School. These relationships serve many purposes. They have enabled us to expand our curriculum offering, with more vocational education subjects being coordinated by Pulteney, it has provided additional opportunities for niche SACE subjects to be pursued by our students without requiring a whole cohort to offer it internally. Finally, from a curriculum perspective, these relationships enable specialist focus projects in areas such as Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM using the impressive resources of the city.
The relationships also provide opportunity for our students to give back to the community; through the likes of the Magdalene Centre, Hutt Street Centre and Legacy.
In our priority area of building strong governance, we received a clean financial audit, with the School continuing in a strong financial position. Additionally, the Board has reviewed policies, analysed our market position, ensured the continued governance competence of our Board members, and we did some useful work on skills and succession for Board, committee and Executive roles.
However, no matter how excited I’m sure you are all getting hearing about our governance program, the major focus of the year has been the finalisation of our Infrastructure Master Plan, and the decision and announcement recently of our intent to begin construction of a new Middle School building in early 2017.
Our Middle School will provide state of the art learning spaces. It will be a contemporary facility that encourages and demands the adoption of new and innovative teaching methods; it will be a space that empowers students and staff to push the boundaries of their education experience and it will expand on the work already done in the Centre for Senior Learning. At a cost of $11 million, this is our most exciting and significant capital development in some time.
Importantly for the School, we have secured, finally, the properties formerly owned by old Mr Dorosch, who for many years was an institution shuffling around the area of the School. Since his death there have been bizarre and lengthy legal proceedings in a number of courts, but it was always the wish of his family to sell these particular properties to Pulteney, and this wish was settled in October of this year. It will give us additional options for our Master Plan into the future, as well as immediate benefit in providing new space for the modular classrooms that will be needed while the Middle School development occurs.
I would like to take the opportunity to give you all a quick overview of how the next stage of development will occur, as an early part of our communications strategy.
The wrecking ball will swing soon, with Memorial Building [slide] and the two cottages in Osmond Street coming down [slide] as soon as possible after students leave for holidays. This enables space to be created for the placement of modular learning spaces on the site of the cottages in the vicinity of the Centre for Senior Learning and the blue basketball court, ready for the start of school in 2017. These modular spaces will enable us to experiment with different furniture options for the new middle school building.
Before demolishing Memorial, the Library and robotics labs will move to the Factory over by the Kurrajong building, which will require the Vacation Care program in turn to run out of the Centre for Senior Learning over the summer.
Construction of the new Middle School will commence in earnest by April next year, with the new building [slide] open for business from the middle of 2018 [slide].
Importantly, as part of our facilities development, we also continue discussions with the Adelaide City Council and the other users of the South Parklands with our aim of providing improved facilities for students, spectators, our old scholars and other community sporting groups to round out our outstanding parkland offering.
Pulteney lost a couple of the giants of its history during 2016.
Jock McKinnon was the Headmaster of Pulteney from 1973 – 1983. He oversaw the resurgence of Pulteney at a critical point in our history, leaving an indelible mark on the School’s culture, as well as on its performance and aspiration. Jock died in the middle of this year and we were privileged to hold a memorial service in the chapel in September, where many memories were recounted.
Ted Ward began working at Pulteney in 1959. He served as Deputy Master of the Prep, Master of the Middle School, he introduced the concept of Special Education to Pulteney and directed its development. He was the Master in Charge of Vocational Guidance where he introduced, ahead of its time in many ways, the pathways for students to study vocational courses at TAFE as part of their program. Hardly a student in his Year 12 American History classes scored, in today’s parlance, anything less than a 19, such was his passion and engagement. He was the Deputy Headmaster for a number of years, however, towards the end of his career, stepped away from that role to enable himself to spend more time teaching history. His level of involvement in an incredibly broad range of co-curricular activities was enormous. 1959 to 1995 was a serious contribution to Pulteney.
There are literally thousands of old scholars who fondly, now at least, will remember learned stories from Ted which invariably began with a raising of the pants and the opening line of “when I was in the army…”
As George Watt said in his eulogies, both these men were outstanding characters and leaders who fundamentally shaped the ethical and behavioural bedrock of our school. Their contributions are acknowledged, their passing mourned, and their legacy cherished.
I would like to take the opportunity this evening to acknowledge and thank a number of people.
First, to the staff of the School. Your tireless efforts in creating and managing the teaching and learning at Pulteney, in its many forms – whether within the classroom or beyond, enables us to deliver our mission of being a dynamic and inclusive city school community that inspires, challenges and empowers for tomorrow. The Pulteney staff team is led by its Executive, whom I also thank. At the helm, however, is the Principal, Mrs Dunstan, and I again thank Anne for her amazing contribution to the community, to education and to Pulteney throughout 2016. As required of all professionals, you continue to grow in your role and evolve in your profession, and your leadership of our School is outstanding and appreciated by the Board. Strong Chief Executives make the life of a director, but particularly a Board Chair, much smoother.
Which brings me then to the Board. Sporting selection night is usually Thursday, but tonight I want to acknowledge some significant “ins and outs”.
A number of Board members complete their service at the end of this year:
Andrew Winter joined the Board in 2012 and has served for four years on the Finance and Risk Committee of the Board, adding significantly to our commercial capacity.
Jack Madsen was appointed in 2011, and has been instrumental in the work done over the past five years on raising the standard of internal governance of the Board and consequently, the School. Jack has chaired the Board’s Governance and Nominations Committee, leading the introduction of a robust framework around Board membership and capability as well as significantly improved policy development.
Adrian O’Dea has served two terms on the Board, joining in 2008. He has brought his sharp corporate finance view to our dealings, our strategy and plans and has served on the Finance and Risk committee with distinction. His recent appointment to the Board of the SA Cricket Association is testament to his capacity, although I am sure their meetings won’t be nearly as exciting as ours.
Cathy Miller joined the Board in November 2004, and so has reached the time when our Constitution says she must say farewell having served the maximum 12 years. Cathy has made an extraordinary contribution to Pulteney and its Board, serving on just about every committee we have or have had over that time – Marketing and Enrolments, Strategic Capital Works, and Finance and Risk, and she has chaired at least two of those committees.
Whilst I thank all Board and committee members for their considerable time, dedication and effort over the course of this last year, I would ask that we particularly show our appreciation to the group of retiring directors tonight. It has been a privilege to serve with each of you.
The moving on of “old talent” creates exciting opportunities for the new, and the Board in 2017 will indeed be a strong and capable one.
There will be three new members:
Megan Mathews is the Manager of Credit Risk Management for Bendigo Bank in South Australia. She has a background with both the Bank and Deloitte in corporate strategy and financing. I expect that Megan will bring real strengths in project development and execution, assessment and management of risk and stakeholder needs, as well as the understanding of legal frameworks. Additionally, Megan brings the real gift of this being her first contact with Pulteney Grammar School, which is a different perspective than almost every other Board member.
Richard Nunn joins the Board on the nomination of the Pulteney Old Scholars Association. Richard brings a wealth of experience in the finance, investment, banking and superannuation industries. He also brings experience in previous and current directorships in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors.
Daniela Cecere-Palazzo is a lawyer with experience in the education sector, and in commercial, insurance and risk law, as well as in policy development, compliance and litigation – with hopefully not too much of the litigation bit being relevant in her role on our Board.
I welcome the new Board members, and wish them well as they make important contributions to the life and development of Pulteney Grammar School.
This is also my last Speech Night as a Board member having also served my 12 years. For the next few years I will have to get here much earlier and I assume the seat may not be nearly as good.
In many ways, this is a different place and a different Board than the one I joined back in August 2004. The fact that we now have Speech Night in the Convention Centre instead of the Town Hall is reflective of our 1,000 students as opposed to the 700 we had back in 2004, as Graham Lange was rebuilding the place. Our infrastructure has changed markedly; our educational offering has changed; all for the best.
Much has changed; the culture of Pulteney, however, remains a constant, perhaps evolving but still with its core. Over the past year in particular, I have again felt it a deep privilege to be, in a sense, a custodian or guardian of that culture, particularly as I have witnessed various incarnations of it. There are the big and obvious examples like the fantastic Long Lunch – raising both funds but also friends for and of the School. Less dramatic, but still just as important, there is the support of our co-curricular activities. Not always as victors, but as people who give their all.
I loved the effort and enthusiasm of the First netball team in this year’s intercoll against Scotch, giving it everything, not carrying away the silverware, but absolutely leaving nothing in the tank.
I found the performance by 6C at the Preptacular incredibly moving. Not only their beautiful rendition of “I am a small part of the World” symbolic of the amazing growth in our music program, but the fact that they drew their teachers in to participate and be a part of that world to demonstrate another indelible element of our School’s culture, and one of our stand out characteristics according to our students – that deep bond between teacher and student.
And again, at the Year 12 Art Show on last Friday evening. Not only was I absolutely blown away by the quality of art work and the creativity of our students, but also by the bond between people – staff, students and their families – with a common creative passion; all working together. Another example of what it means to say “We are Pulteney”.
That is why people are prepared to give of their time to this place; that is why people send their children to be educated here; that is why this place turns out such fine young people who make such a positive mark in our world, and I have found it an honour and privilege to serve on this Board and to serve this School.
I am pleased to pass the baton to Greg Keene as Board Chair from 2017. I wish you all the best Greg, and look forward to hearing all the hard work that the Board puts in next year!
Finally, and most importantly, I thank my family for enabling my involvement – the nights home late from meetings, the early mornings into Before School Care so I can go to more meetings, the weekends not around getting other things done. Look out now!
For our Year 12’s, I hope the 20th December is all that you hope it will be, remembering that it is but one more milestone in life’s journey. I welcome you to membership of the old scholars association and look forward to your contributions as citizens of a broader community.
So, I wish you all the best for the holiday period, for Christmas and 2017.
Thanks to you all.