2020 Principal's Address Pulteney Celebrates

I would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the land upon we gather today and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Mr Allen Candy, Chair of the Pulteney Grammar School Board of Governors; Deputy Chair of The Board of Governors Dr Greg Keene; Governors of Pulteney Grammar School; School Captains Jessie Aldridge and William Rooke; School Vice Captains Olivia Veronese and Declan Beard; students, staff, parents and guests; welcome to Pulteney Celebrates.

This time last year I sat amongst the audience an outsider to the Pulteney community; today I speak having been welcomed with open heart and hand as Pulteney Grammarian. This affinity for the school, connection to something greater than ourselves, defines our great school; it is one of the legacies of a Pulteney education. But what of this Pulteney community? What defines it? Who are we? An endeavour to understand this has been one of my tasks this year.

As the foundation date of our school, 1847, suggests, independent education in Australia has its origins with colonial settlement. The product of a desire for like-minded communities to perpetuate their values, independent schools flourished throughout Adelaide in times prior to universal education in 1875. While most origin stories include either endowment from a church body or the philanthropic ideals of a wealthy benefactor, the origin story of Pulteney Grammar School is quite different.

The School’s history cites that the school was founded to ‘offer the elements of a plain, useful education to all such that are placed in circumstances that render economy indispensable’; a contemporary translation might provide that the school was founded for the working classes. This societal ideal is echoed in the School’s name. Where many schools sought to take names in deference to the feats of saints, The Pulteney Street School drew its name from the street in which it sat, named in honour of the work and toil of a man, Sir Admiral Pulteney Malcolm.

The following excerpt taken from The South Australian in December 1848 reports on the fledgling school’s inaugural Speech Day: At 10 o’clock, the procession left the school. First was one of the banners borne on two poles. It is blue, and has the words ‘Pulteney Street Schools’; then followed the boys in pairs, numbering 180. A similar banner, of white, preceded the girls, of whom 80 were present.’ Co-educational in our first year.

A rummage through the history also reveals that in 1851, twelve full scholarships – six to boys and six to girls – where granted to ‘children whose parents could not afford the fees’. So what to make of this and how might it aid my efforts to understand the community of which my family and I are now part?

The thread I pull from the preceding anecdotes is that our school’s origins are humble but purposeful. Pulteney’s origins lie not in the desire to perpetuate privilege but the intent to build and contribute to the growth of society. It is an origin that speaks of altruism and opportunity; of pragmatic, egalitarian ideal; an origin steeped in the eclectic not the elite; in determination not dogma. It is, in every sense, an origin and a community that past Headmaster Angus Kerr captured in 1911 when he gifted the School its emblem and its motto: a community that will, has and always will, prosper by our handiwork.

And so we have throughout this year as Pulteney@Home saw the most transformative leap in student empowerment since the outlaw of corporal punishment and the premise of motivation through fear was once and for all confined to the annals of history. Pulteney@Home saw, through force of circumstance, students and teachers proceed towards the gifting of students ownership of their education, their time, their learning. I am indebted and wish to pay tribute to the teaching staff at Pulteney Grammar School who rose to this challenge and with the aforementioned commitment to our community created a learning program that responded to crisis with care, empathy and clarity. Would you please join with me now in saying thank you to our teachers for their commitment to this community, this, most challenging of years.

The job of a teacher has not become easier; far from it. The role requires use of one of the most sophisticated combinations of discipline knowledge, human empathy, problem solving, organisational acumen, and time management in the modern world. A teacher is a role model for their students, a confidant for their colleagues, an ambassador for their school. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of a few of our teachers whose contribution to Pulteney have been immense.

Mr Mark Webber has enjoyed a 40 year association with Pulteney Grammar School. Joining the school in 1979 as a graduate, Mark has given his life as a navy blue. He has served in multiple roles from Head of Mathematics, to Head of House, to coach of the first XI cricket team and co-ordinator of the School’s football program. I observed to Mark when he informed me of his decision to retire that principals come and go in the lives of schools, it is those like him who give their life to a school that become custodians and guardians of its culture, its heritage and its values. To the very end, I am pleased to write that Mark was innovating bragging earlier this year of conducting a Maths class with a student joining the lesson live from China.

Mr Greg Atterton, Deputy Principal, and Mr Nick Brice, Head of one ninety, both leave Pulteney in a few short weeks to pursue the next stage in each of their careers. Greg has served as Deputy Principal for six years as an exceptional leader and role model for his peers and students alike. In his time at Pulteney, Greg has overseen a schoolwide review of reporting, a review and significant changes to sport, led the teaching staff towards sustained high NAPLAN and SACE achievement, and served as coach of the First Girls XVIII football team. Commencing his time at the School with a newly renovated building, Nick, similarly, has overseen the development of a strong culture and thriving pastoral care program in the Centre for Senior Learning throughout his six years. To Greg and Nick I offer my sincere thanks for the contributions you have made to Pulteney.

I also wish to acknowledge the retirement of Mr Paul Ryan, Head of Middle School following ten years of service to Pulteney and a career that has traversed the Tasman. Paul has enjoyed a distinguished career in education from his early years in inclusive education through to his curation and collaboration on the design for the new Middle School building here at Pulteney. Would you please join me in thanking these four servants of the School and I would invite them to receive a small token of our appreciation.

Both Messer Webber and Ryan would observe that teaching has changed markedly since they commenced in the profession; and yet, for each of these changes, there are glimmers of continuity. The Editorial of the August, 1956, edition of The Pulteney Grammar School publication ‘The Magazine’, opens with the following observation:

The approach of automation into Australian industry is arousing mixed feelings amongst business men and their employees…
With the switch to automation, the time is not far off when, without sound educational qualifications, it will not be possible to get a job worth having. Scientific and industrial leaders have repeatedly emphasised the need for high educational standards in those seeking employment. Some things, it seems, never change.

In this world then, what role plays the School? I would pose the same role that it always has throughout 173 years of history: to provide a plain, useful education that does not seek to perpetuate privilege but instead to build and grow society. In this sense, this school, Pulteney, is ideally placed to embrace the ebb and flow of educational thinking and to respond to the needs of an ever changing society. As we did in April and November we are positioned to do as we know to be in the best interests of student learning when opportunity presents.

A school site continues to therefore be an extension of the home: a partnership between family and school towards the raising of children. In accord with the time honoured proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, so it has been and so it will always be. A village of people who share not only in common purpose but in the lives of each other; a village of people who each call the school a home. It is only some three years that we have owned our own home here at Pulteney. Three years since we acquired terrace houses and unified the campus, our village.

It is therefore now, on the cusp of our 175th year, time to once more build our village; to create the spaces that welcome each and everyone one of us, each and every day. As a place, the quad – as it is known – is in many ways the ceremonial home of the School; a space that time has built as the School’s site has expanded from the Nicholls Building to its current scape. The 175th Anniversary Quadrangle will be the physical legacy of our 175th anniversary in 2022. A gathering place, a place for recreation, assemblies, and in years gone by fairs and carnivals, the Quad is the heart of our Pulteney village. Its borders capture the history of the School in its architecture and its symbolism. The Nichols Building, the first building on this school site in 1921, Ray Wing, the Chapel and Gare wing, built in the 1950s, through to the Middle School building of 2018 are drawn together by their opening to the Quad and what has formed through time, acquisition and construction will very soon be defined as a sense of place in its own right.

As I close, I take the opportunity to remember our colleague, father and friend Garry Whitelock and acknowledge Gail’s presence this afternoon. I also take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to the Chair of the Board, Mr Allen Candy, for his support and leadership this year and to thank out-going Deputy Chair and former chair Dr Greg Keene, and former Deputy Chair Mr Colin Dudley, for their service and dedication to Pulteney as their terms draw to a close. I welcome Old Scholar Mr Grant Kelley to the position of Deputy Chair in 2021 and thank all of the members of the Board for their ongoing service to the governance of our school.

To our award recipients this afternoon, congratulations. Your accolade represents years of dedication, commitment and sacrifice. To our Year 12s, congratulations on the completion of your secondary studies; I hope you walk from the stage today towards your life ahead confident and courageous; Pulteney Grammar School aided you to be the best version of yourself you can. To our staff, thank you for your trust, your counsel and your ongoing passion for teaching. To our parents, thank you for entrusting us with the education of your children; I only hope we have repaid your faith.

I wish everyone joy and love for Christmas and the close of 2020; I look forward to our new year, the 174th of Pulteney Grammar School.

May we prosper by our handiwork.

Cameron Bacholer