Board Chairman's 2014 Speech Night address - image  on

Board Chairman’s 2014 Speech Night address

Mr Jonathan O’Dea, our local member for Davidson, Mr Mane, teachers and staff, parents, friends and children: –

We have reached the end of another year at John Colet School, a year of challenges and successes, hard work and great rewards. It has been a very exciting year to be on the Board of Governors; and I thank the members of the Board for their hard work and the long hours spent voluntarily to respond to all the needs John Colet has been presented with.

The most obvious challenge has been the retirement from teaching – and being headmaster – of Gilbert Mane. This is an epoch marking event for him, and for the School. I made a long speech praising Gilbert and his many great qualities and triumphs over 25 years as Headmaster of John Colet School, which was sent to parents and staff, and I will have the opportunity to make another such speech when the appropriate time comes, so I will limit what I have to say about him today. Suffice it to say that, having been Headmaster for 25 of the 30 years the School has been in existence, he has set the character, direction, mood, presentation and format of John Colet, making it the school it is today. I am certain everyone present is aware just what a debt we owe Mr Mane; and I wish him great happiness and success in his various ventures.

I am sure you are all keen to know how the task of identifying Mr Mane’s successor is going, and I can assure you that the process is ‘on track’. I cannot confirm today who the successor will be, or exactly when they will come ‘on board’, but as soon as it is possible to do so everyone in the John Colet community will share in the news. I can say that we have some strong applicants. The Board is very confident that the School will continue to be in good hands.

As far as major projects are concerned, nothing appears to have happened during 2014 – no new buildings, no fires! I say ‘appears’, because a lot has, in fact, happened, but behind the scenes. As you are aware, we have a Development Consent to rebuild the library, reception, administration and headmaster’s office building in two stories with teaching space above. We have also secured a $100,000 Government grant towards this project; and it only remains for the School body to fundraise in a timely way towards the costs, for this important building to go ahead. I know this project has been mentioned several times now, but it is the major ‘next step’ that will benefit many of the current students and those of generations to come.

Also, Council asked the School to present a concept plan for all proposed future stages of the School’s development. This has been prepared and discussed with the Council and a formal Development Application will be lodged soon. This will ‘firm up’ the potential of John Colet’s site for many years to come, and provide certainty for the School, the people of the local community and the Council – a benefit to all.

All this is a ‘Board’s eye view’ of the School – there are also many successes ‘on the ground’. Like all schools, John Colet does more than just teach children, and I will speak of some of these varied activities shortly. But, of course, teaching our children is our central and perhaps most important job, and I am delighted to report that we are still doing it very well indeed. Despite being in no way a ‘selective school’ our standards are very high.

Our NAPLAN results for 2014 indicate that, at 5th class level, we are scoring within the top two bands across the criteria, and well above the State average. Our 3rd class scored in the ‘tip of the arrow’ for reading and grammar and in the top band for numeracy and spelling. These are great results, because they show that all our children are being well-taught.

Of course, we also celebrate particular successes. When Mrs Dunn asked if any children would like to volunteer for the Australian Mathematics Trust Maths Competition, four boys took up the challenge. Ryan B and Lucas V de S scored at the very top of the State group and were prize winners. Xavier S scored one point lower and won a High Distinction, and Sean B won a distinction.

I mentioned earlier the non-academic side of John Colet School, so here are some of our 2014 highlights.

Our choir was involved in two Eisteddfods; in July, in Ryde, John Colet’s choir managed second place, by exactly one point from first. In August, at the Hawkesbury City Eisteddfod, the choir won first place in two sections – ‘Choral, Year 6 and Under’ and ‘Small Primary Schools – Choral’. A great achievement and a triumph for the children and for our own Choir Director, Mrs Miles.

Of course our annual Shakespeare festival went ahead and was a great success, with John Bell visiting the school as usual, and gaining excellent publicity for John Colet in the local press. I believe the performances were outstanding, but unfortunately I was overseas and missed out on this highlight.

Our sporting results were much improved overall on previous years. In term 1 our 5th and 6th class boys had wins in cricket and came 4th in their competition, while our Softball girls also came 4th.

Our 3rd and 4th class girls had a win in T-ball and our T-ball boys’ team came 3rd, losing their semi-final by a single point.

In Term 2, our 5th and 6th class girls’ netball team was much improved and came 4th, while our boys’ soccer team came 3rd.

In Term 3 the boys’ Rugby team came 4th; while in Term 4 the 6th class boys won their annual competition at the German School, with our 4th class boys coming 3rd.

We also had some great chess results. In the Mona Vale One-Day Chess Tournament in March our A team came first (out of 72 teams) with a perfect score of 21 points – an amazing accomplishment. Our girls’ team came second in the Girls division.

In the Manly Warringah Championships we had a number of successes, with A team  achieving equal 2nd place, B team – 5th place, C team – 2nd place, and notably our Rookie team (D team ) in MW4 Division were Division Winners! Also, our Rookie Junior (E) Team achieved equal 2nd Place. Individual triumphs went to Lucas v de S – 2nd place individually in the Sydney Academy Chess Interschool Chess Challenge in the Artarmon heats, and Ryan B – 4th individually in the Harbord Semi-Final.

All in all, a year to be proud of. A year of many changes, yes, but of great opportunity looking forward. The Board will be seeking to augment its membership with the retirement of Jack Redfern, who was very valuable during his two years of service, and of course the excellent and admirable Gilbert Mane, for whom this is the final Speech Night. Unique and highly gifted, we are very grateful for his great service over 25 years.

I now welcome Mr Mane to the stage for the next phase of the evening.

Mr Philip Wolfers
Chairman of the Board of Governors
John Colet School

Click here to see Mr Mane’s speech on our YouTube channel