A Culture of Inclusion and Diversity

Christ Church Grammar School

Overlooking the Swan River in Freshwater Bay, Perth is Christ Church Grammar School, regarded as being one of Australia’s most prestigious boys’ schools. On campus, the boys have access to state-of-the-art learning facilities, including a Centre for Ethics, and are involved in life-changing experiences beyond the classroom.

While Christ Church Grammar School has an outstanding record academically and the waiting list for enrolments is long, the peer culture is inclusive – not exclusive. “We embrace our core values of inclusivity and excellence and hope that our boys are always learning to live with and give to others. Those are the skills that will take them through life,” says Garth Wynne, the Headmaster of 14 years. From humble beginnings, Christ Church has grown into a dynamic day and boarding school that is achieving truly wonderful outcomes, not only for students, but for the local and international community as well.

Countless Opportunities

In 1910, Anglican rector Canon William McClemans from Christ Church Parish established Christ Church Grammar School with just ten students. Christ Church is an independent, Anglican boys’ school and currently has 1650 students from pre-primary to Year 12. Spiritual and personal development are emphasised in the curriculum, summed up by the school’s motto ‘Deus Dux Doctrina Lux’ (Latin for ‘God is our leader, his teachings are our light’ and paraphrased as ‘God is our leader, learning is our light’). “It works very well for us, being an organisation that wants to continue learning at all levels and at all layers, from the Headmaster all the way down to the boys in pre-primary,” explains Mr Wynne. “Being a faith inspired school, we want to help young people come to terms with their spiritual selves. That spiritual knowledge of themselves and their soul – and its need to be nurtured – is something that will, in turn, nurture them through to their adult lives.”

The Centre for Ethics, run by Canon Frank Sheehan, is a special part of Christ Church Grammar School. “It’s a place where we think about, consider, and question the world in which we live; why it is the way that it is and the potential for it to change and improve,” comments Mr Wynne. Together with his assistant, Father Frank has developed an exciting programme of guest speakers with thought-provoking perspectives to engage the boys and members of the wider school in conversations on ethical decision-making. Another outstanding facility on campus is the Visual Arts, Design and Technology Building. Inside the centre, superb teachers inspire the boys to create and innovate using high quality materials and equipment.

Christ Church boys are free to express themselves on canvas and under the spotlight with dazzling art exhibitions, plays, and concerts held throughout the year. There are choirs, bands and orchestras covering rock, jazz and classical music, and more. The school even has its very own award winning theatre group, the Midnite Youth Theatre Company, which has been a runaway success. After hours, inquisitive minds can keep learning at Christ Church with a number of interesting co-curricular offerings including Debating, Army Cadets and Mock Trials in the Senior School, and Radical Readers, Spectacular Science and MasterChef in the Preparatory School.

Impressive Diversity

One of the great features about Christ Church is the diversity of its students; from boys with special needs and significant learning challenges to intellectually gifted individuals, Christ Church serves students with a variety of learning styles and abilities. “I think we always strive to achieve our personal best in all our different programmes,” remarks Mr Wynne. The Christ Church pedagogy (teaching methodology) focuses on catering to individual differences, providing structure and feedback, and enhancing personal bests – teaching boys to know, to do, to live, and to be with others. Although the school remains non-selective, many of the boys are achieving exceptional results across all areas of the curriculum. Each year, the boys receive a high number of General Exhibitions and Course Exhibitions in the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) examinations. In 2011, the school set a new state record, with ten boys achieving General Exhibitions.

Out of the classroom and on the field and water, the Christ Church boys continue to achieve solid results. In March, the First VIII rowing crew won the Head of the River in a heart-pumping regatta against Guilford Grammar School and Scotch College. This is the eighth time in the past 13 years that the school has won the award. Christ Church – which is developing new playing fields in Mount Claremont – also came second in the cricket and tennis competitions and third in the water polo competition. More than any specific achievement, Mr Wynne is pleased with the overall quality of the school’s sports programme, which serves boys at a variety of levels, from the Preparatory School all the way to the top. “They are very well coached and also have the opportunity to play at whatever level of capability is relevant to them,” he shares with pride.

Of course, giving students a global awareness is a fundamental part of education in the 21st century. Christ Church Grammar School celebrates Harmony Day and NAIDOC Week with a range of activities and currently teaches four languages: French, German, Mandarin, and Japanese. Last August, the world famous Gyuoto Monks were guests of the Centre for Ethics, giving the boys a fascinating insight into their faith and culture. Christ Church has also developed an incredible Service in Action programme that sees team members in Years 7 and 8 go to work in a Fijian orphanage. In Year 9, they visit Yipirinya School, an Indigenous school in Alice Springs, to work with the local community, and in Years 11 and 12, they go to Phnom Penh to work for the Cambodian Children’s Fund. Boys can also experience a completely different culture firsthand by spending up to a term away at an overseas school through the Beyond Queenslea Drive immersion programme.

Celebrating Compassion

Approximately 10 per cent of the 110 boarders at Christ Church Grammar School are students from overseas. The campus has two modern, spacious boarding houses: Knutsford for Years 7 and 8 and Walters for Years 9 to 12. The boarders have plenty of support with their studies, enjoy a terrific recreational programme on the weekends, and form life-long friendships.

Together with staff and parents, both the day and boarding students at Christ Church do a tremendous amount of fundraising and charitable work. The Romsey House boys support the Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation by organising an annual head shave; they raised over $6,300 last year. The Queenslea House boys and their parents wake up early in the morning to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation one step at a time in an annual stair climb race to the top of Central Park Tower. At a dizzying 53 storeys, Central Park Tower is Perth’s tallest building. Wolsey House has supported Anglicare with donations of clothing, blankets and hygiene packs in the past, but the boys have found a new way to raise funds by hosting a one-night sleep out event at the school. The event raised $2,500 for Anglicare’s Street Connect programme last year and will be on again this year. These events are just a fraction of the philanthropic work that the Christ Church community does to help create a brighter future.

Whatever new endeavours Christ Church may embark on in the future, everything centres on motivating and educating boys who will grow to be a part of the next generation of Australian men. “The school is about preparing young men for the challenges of the 21st century and equipping them with the skills they need to thrive in that world,” explains Mr Wynne. Cyberspace poses ethical dilemmas and risks to boys that their fathers and grandfathers did not have to face, but that is not to say that past generations had it any easier. “The challenges faced by a generation of young men going off to war are vastly different than the challenges of dealing with the internet,” reflects Mr Wynne with a chuckle. “Each generation has different challenges to navigate, and they navigate best if they can fall back on core values like honesty, integrity, trust, inclusivity, and the pursuit of excellence. These sorts of values remain constant even though the outside world grows and changes. Young people now have access to obsequious technology, and that has been the biggest change that has occurred over the last 10 to 15 years.”

While technology is changing the world in a multitude of ways and at lightning speed, some things never change. A quality education enables boys to put their best foot forward in life and reach their highest potential, and Christ Church Grammar School is always looking to improve its educational offering and facilities in the pursuit of excellence.

The Year 12 graduates are a testament to the continuing success of the school. During Christ Church’s annual 3-day Sony Camp, Year 12 graduates can volunteer to be special needs companions for disabled children; the number of applications handed in each year always outweighs the number of positions to be filled. This alone indicates to Headmaster Wynne that the school is definitely on the right track.

For more information about Christ Church Grammar School, please visit https://www.ccgs.wa.edu.au.

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December 19, 2018, 5:12 AM AEDT