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Chairman's end of year speech

Good evening and welcome to the Honourable Mr Jonathan O’Dea, our local member for Davidson, Headmaster, Mr Renshaw and other honoured guests, Board and Members, teachers and staff, parents, and children: -

It falls on me to thank everyone who has worked so hard throughout the year. I will inevitably forget some, and I ask you to forgive me. The Executive of the School and the Board of Governors, the teaching staff and the administrative staff, all the parents who have put in great efforts for the Parents and Friends Association and in other areas, the Chess, Sailing, Gardening and many other clubs and cultural areas.  Your efforts make John Colet School the community it is. Every one of you serves the communal good, above and beyond the normal call of duty.

Building works were conspicuously absent this year.
The Fox Family Library renovations were completed at the end of 2017, ready for use at the beginning of 2018. With just about everything being replaced, as well as many new books, we now have a free-flowing, interactive space for the children.

It is always inspiring to see, collected together, the changes, the accomplishments and the triumphs of the School, and especially those of the children. These cover academic success, sporting activities and cultural achievements as well as other fields of endeavour. It is a pleasure to speak of them.

Beginning with some of our academic achievements; as usual, a good number of our 6th class leavers have attained academic scholarships, selective schools and Gifted and Talented placements – fully a quarter of the children, which is amazing in a non-selective school. We wish all the 6th class leavers well, and congratulate these placement winners.
In other academic areas, the 6th class Sanskrit learners performed very highly in their International examinations – with four scoring over 90%, and one score of 100%!

In the ICAS external examinations John Colet School students achieved at a very high level. With around 40 or 50 children participating in each subject area, Maths and Science, English, Writing and Spelling, nearly 30% of participants achieving Distinctions and High Distinctions – an amazing result, and the children are to be congratulated.
Also, in the Australian Maths Trust Competition, we achieved the highly creditable result of 9 Distinctions and 16 credits. Please remember the small size and non-selective status of John Colet School while you are digesting these academic achievements.
It used to be easy to reflect on John Colet School’s annual high standing in the NAPLAN examinations, as “League Tables” were published in the daily press. This now no longer takes place. However, it is fair to say that our results remain outstanding and well above the national average in all subject areas.  This result is testimony and valuable confirmation that our practices of systematic teaching, respect and love, stillness and mindfulness and other core values, which have always characterised John Colet School, are indeed a recipe for success as well as being highly valuable in their own right.

Like any school, John Colet enjoys having success in sports, however in our case eager participation is even more highly valued. This year we competed in the 8-school PISA competition, often against much larger schools.
• Our 3rd and 4th class boys achieved highly commendable 2nd places in both Tee Ball and Football
• Our 3rd and 4th class girls also achieved great results with 2nd in both Tee Ball and Netball. They also managed a commendable 4th in Football.
• Our 5th and 6th class boys competed very well indeed with a 3rd in Cricket, and 1st places in both Football and Rugby.
• Our 5th and 6th class girls also competed at a very high level; they won in Softball, came 2nd in Netball and 3rd in Football.
• In Fencing we played our very first matches against Newington Boys’ School in Lindfield. The Infants competed very creditably with a very close 3-point loss, and our Senior Team won their competition with a very exciting last strike to give our team a 2-point win.

In cultural areas, John Colet School is proud of its tradition of participation and excellent standards. Our annual Shakespeare festival is amazing and great credit is due to Zoe Emanuel, our indefatigable Drama teacher, and to all the class teachers and parents involved. Our Shakespeare Club, a relatively new venture, competed in two Eisteddfods, placing 2nd in the Northern Beaches Eisteddfod, and 3rd in the Sydney City Eisteddfod, as well as a “Highly Commended” – with two groups competing. As the youngest competitors in the Eisteddfod they reflected great credit on the School.

The John Colet School Art program continues to be a strength of our school. Our talented Art Teachers, are artists themselves, often exhibiting in major competitions and exhibitions. Their passion and love of teaching can be seen in the enriched program that is offered and the wonderful work of the children that is produced. Of special mention this year is one of our young artists won the Armistice Centenary Competition at the Hornsby Branch of the RSL, and another was a finalist . Another two of our children were finalists in the Elgues Art Competition, and the 6th Class children’s art work was once again a finalist in the Gallipoli Art Prize.

This year, as usual, the Chess competition drew large numbers of players, with around 30% of the school involved in the internal competition, many of these not even being Chess Club members! Our teams achieved great success in external competitions, with a 1st place in the Sydney Academy of Chess competition, 2nd and 3rd places in the Mona Vale Public Competition, and a 2nd and a 3rd in the Junior Chess League’s Friday afternoon competition.

Our Debating team entered a larger and longer competition in 2018, with two debating teams speaking each week. They competed very well, with courage, determination and very hard work. As usual, the standard of argument, rebuttal and speaking from both teams was very high indeed.

John Colet School has always highly valued singing and music as a vital part of our curriculum. I must note the extraordinary performance of the children tonight. I am sure everyone here noticed how beautifully the children sang. In particular, the soloist in “Oh for the Wings of a Dove” was extraordinary. Mr Miller: thank you very much for all your work, having taken charge of the Music Department this year. We had some wonderful concerts from our ever-growing musical ensembles, and our children’s talents are also growing, with each succeeding year. Many thanks go to Rosy Davidson and all our excellent music teachers.

Another area I would like to highlight is the fundraising efforts of the children, for charities. Between their regular Market Days, aimed at raising money for the Pink Ribbon Foundation, funding Breast Cancer charities and research; the Hay and Hampers for Hope initiative aiding drought affected communities and the Great Book Swap, raising money to improve literacy levels in remote communities, I have calculated that they have raised nearly $5,000 including a donation to the Bell Shakespeare Company to support Sharing Shakespeare, bringing the Bard to disadvantaged schools. And that is before mentioning the Christmas Giving program supporting the Smith Family. This is making the School’s value of “Service” broad and practical.This truly expresses the School’s value of “Serve and Care for all”.

Now, from the perspective of the Board’s eye view, many other areas of the School’s activities are visible. The leadership of the School is the prime example. Last year I mentioned the good, capable and competent hands of our Headmaster, Mr Julian Wilcock. He has a difficult and unenviable job in some ways, and a very rewarding and satisfying job in other ways. He has handled the challenges and triumphs of leading John Colet School extremely capably, and the Board thanks him very much. His initial 3-year term of appointment having just expired, we are delighted to announce that he has been appointed as Headmaster for a further 3 years. His great experience, skill and love of education, energy, intelligence and warm leadership are great assets of the School.

Enrolments for 2019 and 2020 are strong. I highly value the education John Colet School offers – I think it is unique. I deeply regret it when we have to turn away children who want our education, but we only have two classes for each year, and we have no intention of growing beyond this capacity. However, we are always looking to improve our facilities, and in the next few years we intend to expand our campus with new specialist classrooms, a large new art room, a bigger and better MacLaren Hall, and a larger and more modern kitchen. These works will not take place quickly, and not all at once, but over the next few years, “watch this space”.

Several years ago I shared with you my vision for John Colet School. That vision remains the same. Long after I have gone; long after everyone in this hall has gone; I see John Colet School continuing as a beacon, as a shining light of education, Bearing Witness of That Light in this country. I see John Colet School as the best primary school in Australia, and continuing to grow in the same direction, and with the same values, for a long, long time. When you consider the long-established schools in Europe, hundreds of years old: that is my vision for John Colet School. Let us contribute and lend our support as trustees of what will become a great school, a leader in education, over the next 500 years.

Philip Wolfers
Chairman
John Colet School Board of Governors