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From the Headmaster | Strategic Plan Update

3 August 2023

It has been a busy 12 months since I joined Prince Alfred College and I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved in that time, by our dedicated staff and students. I am also excited about what lies ahead of us in the next few years as we continue to deliver on our strategic priorities.

It was clear, even on the day I first met with Richard Hockney (Chair of College Council), that PAC is a special place. As I walked through classrooms and across sporting fields, I could feel the enthusiasm and sense of pride. It quickly became evident that these were underpinned by more prosaic but equally important qualities - exceptionally strong foundations and prudent governance practices. These qualities have guided our school community to this point, and they will continue to inform how we plan for the years ahead.

Our 2021-2024 Strategic Priorities:

  1. Young men of character and purpose
  2. Research-informed education
  3. Engaged and inclusive community
  4. Inspiring facilities and environments
  5. Leader in sustainability

Above, are our five Strategic Priorities (the full 2021-2024 Strategic Plan can be found here.) It is important that our College community have a clear understanding of our progress towards delivering our 2023 and 2024 strategic projects to achieve these goals. Over the past 12 months we have regularly sought input from our staff, students, parents and old scholars. We have considered our traditions and the deeply embedded values that make us the College we are today. We have ensured our strong foundations and values consistently underpin what we do to prepare ourselves for the future. Our approach to our campus, systems, processes and programs is fiscally sound and carefully considered. Our Council and Executive work collectively to ensure our priorities enhance the experience and opportunities for our students and staff today, and we are well placed to enter a rapidly-changing future.

College Master Plan

The College worked with Allen Jack Cottier Architects (AJC) in 2022 to produce a new Master Plan for the campus and they presented a draft Master Plan to the Executive, Infrastructure Committee and College Council in November. Since then we have undertaken further investigation and due diligence to prepare the College for its first two stages. This is an incredibly exciting time for the College and in Term 4 the Chair of Council and I look forward to presenting the Master Plan’s details to you and sharing how these projects will enhance opportunities for our students.

We continue to work closely with the architects to make sure upcoming projects are carefully staged so the boys’ learning experience is not interrupted. We are confident this can be achieved.

My thanks to those who were involved in consultative sessions about the Master Plan. For those who were not able to attend a session, or parents who could not attend a Headmaster’s breakfast, below is an outline of what is in the pipeline.

Master Plan Stage 1 - Preparatory School Redevelopment

While we are fortunate to have great facilities and exceptional teachers in the Preparatory School, we have identified a need to improve the Lower Primary teaching spaces to ensure they support our teaching practices and student learning experiences in the years ahead.

After a competitive process, the College has engaged architects Walter Brooke to work with us to design a new state-of-the-art facility that will face Dequetteville Terrace. The new facility will accommodate our reception classrooms and will also include refurbishment of the staff facilities and meeting spaces. While preparing the design brief consultation with staff was invaluable, as was information garnered from parents and boys during the Master Plan consultation. The most productive conversations happen when there are draft plans and visuals to talk to and we will consult with boys and parents again once these are prepared.

The preliminary planning for this project gives us confidence that a staged process over the next 18 months will not disrupt the boys’ learning nor compromise the Preparatory School experience.

Master Plan Stage 2 - Secondary School Development

AJC are currently undertaking a detailed feasibility study to determine next steps and timelines. We will communicate more details in Term 4.

Year 12 Learning Commons

We have been working with Matthews Architects and a group of Year 11 and 12 students to design a refurbished Year 12 space. This is located on the ground floor of the Main Administration building and is currently used to support their learning goals as well as providing a social area. The boys have told us that combining a study space with a social and food preparation area does not work, and that is guiding our planning. I look forward to sharing the designs for this space with you in coming weeks. To make sure their exam preparation is not disrupted, the current Year 12 common room will be refurbished once our Year 12s have finished classes for the year.

Music Department

A much-needed refurbishment of the ground floor music department and the addition of a storage facility will be completed over the summer break. This project will be undertaken in conjunction with the Year 12 Learning Commons refurbishment.

Pastoral Review

Secondary School Timetable

In Term 4 2022, our Director of Teaching and Learning Mr Martin McKinnon led a review of our daily timetable, which currently includes 9 x 40 minute periods. Academic and pastoral leaders consulted with their teams and Mr McKinnon held workshops with the student representative council. A literary review was undertaken, and we investigated best practice in other high performing schools.

From 2024 we will be implementing a new timetable that features 7 x 50 minute periods. This shift will continue to ensure purposeful learning while supporting the processing power and attention threshold of boys. The additional 10 minutes of instructional time per week for compulsory subjects and senior pathway classes will enhance the consolidation of student understanding and ultimately support Year 12 academic outcomes.

Secondary School Pastoral Structure

Thank you to all those involved in the recent review of the Secondary School pastoral structure. Deputy Headmaster/Head of Secondary School, Mr Greg Atterton led the project with Mr Andrew MacGregor, Dean of Students, and their thoroughness made for a comprehensive and inclusive process. We consulted widely with staff, students, parents, and old scholars through the process. We will unveil these changes to students at the Secondary School assembly on Thursday and provide details about the leadership process to Year 11 boys immediately after the assembly. A letter will be shared with the parent community, as well as a separate letter to Year 11 parents about the 2024 leadership selection process and opportunities.

Student Leadership in the Secondary School

Mr Greg Atterton, Mr Mark Dell ’Oro and Mr Andrew MacGregor have worked with staff and boys to assess our current student leadership model and consider how it can be updated to better serve both the new pastoral structure and our student community. The result will be a greater focus on service leadership, using our house system to engage more boys and to build stronger connections between different year levels. This will also be communicated on Thursday. Our Year 11s were provided with information in the last week of Term 2 to help them prepare their leadership applications that they can finalise following Thursday’s meeting.

Student Leadership in the Preparatory School

Mr John Stewart and Mr John Shackleton are reviewing the number and areas for leadership roles in the Preparatory School. They will consult with staff, boys and parents during Term 3 before making recommendations to the College Executive.

Explicit Instruction in the Preparatory School

In Semester 1 Mr Stewart, Ms Lisa Clemente and Mr McKinnon led a team of staff in investigating Explicit Instruction and its potentially significant impact on student achievement. Further information about Explicit Instruction can be found here.

We will soon ask Preparatory School parents to complete a short survey that will help us prepare for 2024 and make decisions about the allocation of time and mode of instruction for our Prep students.

Community Engagement

Engaging with our community is vital to ensuring everyone has opportunities to share their views and ideas to improve the College. We encourage engagement on a regular basis such as our Headmaster’s breakfasts, Pastoral Review parent breakfasts and Year 6 to 7 Transition parent breakfasts. Thank you to all those who have attended one or more of these sessions.

In the second half of this year we will be undertaking our bi-annual Community Survey that tracks College performance on a wide range of metrics. In addition, we will be conducting a number of mini surveys for feedback on specific projects and areas. I encourage you to actively participate in each of these surveys to share your thoughts so that PAC can be an educational and community environment that meets all of our needs.

2024 Strategic Planning

This term the College Executive will hold two planning days to determine the projects that will enhance the delivery of our strategic priorities in 2024. I will communicate these to you in Term 4.

Term 3 is always a busy term in any school calendar. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our new boys and families to the PAC community. We have a group of boys joining us from our ELC into the mid-year reception class as well as new boys into most year levels across the College. Please join me in making them feel welcome.

We’re now turning our attention to the final rites of passage for our Year 12s and making sure they are supported as they prepare for final internal assessment tasks and their examinations. I want to thank those boys as they look toward the school gates - they have been great role models and leaders. I also want to thank our other students. They are exceptional boys who make us proud and challenge us and each other, but they thrive because of the support we collectively put around them. We will continue to set the bar high so they realise there is invariably more in them than they know.

Finally, my sincere gratitude to the staff, and to the College Council and Council sub-committees for their support and dedication in their roles over the last year.

I look forward to seeing you around the College in the coming weeks.

David Roberts