A Tradition of Excellence

Hale School

“Our clearly stated vision is to provide opportunities for every boy to excel,” Headmaster Stuart Meade summarises. “We believe that it is our responsibility as teachers and school leaders to enable young [men] to leave us and go out into the wider world able to deal with the many challenges that they will face post school.”

The Hale School faculty and staff pride themselves on providing opportunities for every boy to excel, and are careful to cater to each student’s individual needs. “There is a very positive culture here,” Mr Meade reports. “We talk about character development. The development of the boys’ character here is an important part of what we do. And, core amongst that is the notion of respect. There is a great deal of mutual respect between the teachers and the boys.” Hale School’s supportive culture is a crucial part of every student’s experience there, and helps to improve each boy’s chance of long term success.

Campus and Facilities

Hale School is located in the suburb of Wembley Downs, approximately 13 kilometres northwest of Perth and two kilometres from the coast. Upon entering the gates, students and visitors are met by a dramatic row of towering trees that line the length of the main drive. This idyllic landscaping continues throughout the campus. In fact, the school is known for its lovely grounds, which consist of 48 hectares of remnant bush, statuesque Tuart trees, and manicured lawns. The open spaces and Arcadian landscape have become an integral part of the Hale School experience although, ironically, the site was once unwanted scrubland.

Hale School has had six different locations during its long tenure, and Mr Meade believes that the decision to move to the current location was one of the most significant decisions in the school’s history. The forward thinking Board of Governors secured the land back in the 1930s, fuelled by a vision of what could be. “The school was located in a city area of Perth,” Mr Meade explains, “and to purchase land 12 kilometres toward the coast, in what was sand dunes and scrub back in those days, was highly courageous.” The school wasn’t able to actually begin developing the land until the late 1950s, and finally relocated to the Wembley Downs campus in 1961. Today, Hale School is still reaping the benefits of this strategic move. “The facilities and the site are superb, and that can be traced back to the decision in the 1930s to buy land that nobody thought was worth buying.”

Hale School works hard to maintain its picturesque surroundings and to continuously improve its facilities. “At Hale we endeavour to provide all boys with the opportunity to excel,” Mr Meade shares, “and keeping true to this statement, we face the ongoing need for the renewal of facilities and infrastructure.” For instance, a new $14 million aquatic centre, currently under construction, is needed to better meet student needs. The previous swimming facility was built back in 1962 and no longer met the school’s requirements, Mr Meade explains. The old pool was unheated, which drastically reduced its usability, and far too small to accommodate the current number of students. The new aquatic centre features two pools, and its heated water will provide an opportunity for water polo, lap swimming, swimming lessons, and recreation year round.

Innovative Programs

A number of leading edge programs also make Hale School stand out. “We do have a number of programs that are quite innovative,” Mr Meade reports. One particularly notable program is a new leadership initiative designed to mould every Hale student into a strong leader. The school has recently appointed a Director of Leadership who will be responsible for carrying out the goals of the program. The core concept of the initiative is the idea that “leadership is everybody’s business. Because we believe that it’s not just about giving the student a badge or a tie or a title, but that there are leadership characteristics that all people – staff and students – should be aware of, and should be able to tap into.” A combination of programs under this banner will target three separate, but closely related groups: the Hale School students, the Hale School staff, and the wider Hale community.

The Hale@home program is another new initiative that is quickly gaining traction. The program is designed to help students from rural areas make the transition from living at home to boarding at Hale. “As boarders come to the school, that transition from very small country towns into Hale can be daunting,” Mr Meade explains. Hale@home is an interactive online learning opportunity that gives future students a chance to interact with peers and teachers before they actually begin living at the Wembley Downs campus. The online sessions are held for an hour once a week during Year 7 for boys planning to begin Year 8 at Hale School. “The three main things are to connect, to engage, and then to progress. We’re not just sending them worksheets for marking – they are doing it all together in synchronised sessions. They get an understanding of who their classmates will be next year, and they are engaging with teachers whom they need to know, and they are also getting an understanding of the academic work that they will be doing here.”

Faculty and staff also benefit from a variety of Hale School programs. “We look to develop staff in various areas that they have an interest,” Mr Meade reports. “Professional development is significant.” This commitment includes sending staff to regional, national, and international conferences to enhance their abilities to provide engaging and challenging programs in the classroom.

In fact, supporting the faculty and staff is key to the Hale School philosophy. “We certainly want to be an employer of choice,” Mr Meade insists. “We want to be able to provide a very positive and effective working environment for our teachers, and also for our non-teaching staff.” In return, faculty and staff are expected to foster mutual respect within the classroom and support each student in his effort to excel. “The staff have to model those values that we hold dear to us as a school,” Mr Meade explains. Top notch teaching skills are also imperative, of course. “Obviously, when we are looking to employ teachers, their work in the classroom is paramount to us.”

Teachers must also be adept at utilising the most up to date technologies for learning. The Junior School regularly uses computers to support learning, and Years 7 through 12 enjoy a one to one computer to student ratio. “We have an advanced ICT platform here,” Mr Meade explains. “We need staff who are engaged in 21st century learning, which inevitably incorporates the use of ICT. We want our staff to embrace that style of learning.”

Going forward, technology will likely play an increasing role in Hale School’s future. For instance, the administration is actively exploring ways to increase the use of online learning.

Perhaps most importantly, the administration is carefully strategising how they can help Hale School become more financially independent. This has become a key issue because of the uncertainty surrounding the future of current funding models. Taking steps toward greater financial independence has just begun, but one factor is already clear: enrolments must be kept up, and to achieve this, parents must continue to see a return on their investment. “We have to look at what we can value-add to their sons’ education,” Mr Meade explains.

Fortunately, providing an exceptional learning experience has always been foundational to Hale School. And, with 155 years of educational excellence already under its belt, the team is confident that the school’s rich traditions will endure far into the future.

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September 22, 2018, 6:08 PM AEST