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Headmaster's Update

28 March 2022

In this week's article, Headmaster Fenner discusses the COVID Response, support from the community regarding the school's management of our transgender student in Year 12, staffing matters and more.

COVID Response
I would like to acknowledge all our families who have had to deal with COVID-related matters so far this term. We have now had around 350 students and staff test positive since the beginning of the year, including a number during January. After some significant numbers at certain levels particularly in the Preparatory School, the overall numbers are now decreasing, with a relatively small number of students absent.

In addition, we have had a number of students who are close contacts of various kinds, some of whom have therefore had to isolate. To all our families affected, we hope you have been well supported and wish you well for the future.

We have similarly had a number of COVID cases and close household contacts amongst our staff, with around 15 having to isolate at home. Where possible, our teachers have continued to teach their lessons from home, with a relief teacher supervising the classroom while the lesson is conducted via the classroom screen.

I would like to acknowledge again our Health Centre staff, under the leadership of Anna Thompson, for their key role in managing the College’s response during this period. Distribution and training in use of Rapid Antigen Testing has occupied a good deal of time during this period. Fortunately, we are now seeing a reduction in the number of new cases, which we hope will continue.

We have endeavoured to manage everything appropriately, within SA Health directives, whilst trying to ensure that our regular processes and activities have not been interrupted any more than they need be. The latest advice from SA Health in relation to close contacts will assist us in this regard.

We have seen some disruption to our sporting program and are grateful to all our staff and coaches for their good work in ensuring that things have continued under some difficulties. I would like to express my sympathies to boys and families who have had to miss out on major fixtures. We are looking forward to a full round of summer Intercol fixtures this week and hope that all boys will be able to participate.

I encourage anyone with any queries or concerns about COVID-related matters to contact the respective Head of School or myself.

Transgender Student
I would firstly like to thank the many parents who have expressed their support in different ways for the school's management of our transgender student in Year 12. In addition to the many informal comments, we have received well over 100 written messages of support from parents, staff and past staff including former headmasters, Old Scholars, and quite a few with no direct contact with PAC, who simply approve of what we are doing.

Some of those who have written to us have transgender members of their own families and have conveyed moving messages of support. However, we have also heard from Old Scholars around the country and others who believe that we are doing the right thing.

We have also had a small amount of negative feedback, which was anticipated, given the nature of this issue. We have responded to all such comment, to explain what we are doing and why. We have also had a number of reasonable questions about what this means for the future.

I would like to assure our community that we remain a boys’ school, with a transgender student completing Year 12 with us. Our purpose, values and strategic directions remain the same. We have not developed a set of policies to cover situations that have not yet arisen but have focused on supporting one of our own students through a challenging period in their lives. We will now turn our attention to developing appropriate policies in this area. We are not, as one media outlet reported, designing a girls’ uniform, but we are in discussion with Alice about what she is comfortable to wear.

For now, we will continue to support Alice on her journey and have been grateful for the way that students and staff have responded to this development. As I have indicated, I would be happy to discuss this matter further with anyone who might be interested to do so.

I am pleased to advise that Stuart Floyd will join us as Director of Admissions at the beginning of May. A former Prefect of Prince Alfred College, Stuart has Degrees in International Relations and Law from Bond University and is currently completing a Master of Project Management degree. For the past 18 years, Stuart has worked for Bond University in admissions, partnerships, alumni and communications. For the last 10 years, Stuart has been based in Canada, where he has led Bond University's activities in North America, including student admissions, alumni and communications. Stuart impressed us through the selection process with his knowledge of admissions and marketing, and his understanding of Prince Alfred College’s position in the independent school market.

Alice Turnbull has been appointed to the role of Philanthropy and Engagement Coordinator, commencing with us on March 7. Alice is a former student of Annesley College and has strong connections with PAC, including being a current parent. Alice has worked in retail and events with a number of organisations, and in the Development Office at St Andrew’s School, focusing on philanthropy and related areas. We look forward to welcoming Alice to this key role as we expand our philanthropic programs and opportunities.

Lucy Hewitt has been appointed to the Academic Assistant role and will start in this position forthwith. Having completed her schooling at Wilderness, Lucy has a Degree with Honours in Food Technology Management from the University of Adelaide. Lucy has worked as a Quality Assurance Coordinator and Project Manager across a range of organisations. Most recently, Lucy has been doing volunteer work in the PAC Archives, working on a number of administrative projects.

Ben Lewis will join us as Aboriginal Program Coordinator, with effect from the beginning of next term. Having completed his schooling at Scotch College in Perth, Ben has a Bachelor of Arts from Murdoch University and a Diploma of Education from University of Western Australia. Ben is currently employed overseeing the Aboriginal students’ program at St Catherine's College at the University of Western Australia. Prior to this, for eight years Ben was Indigenous Program Coordinator at Wesley College, our brother school in Perth.

Elizabeth Tomas will join us as a teacher in the Early Learning Centre at the beginning of second term. Originally from the Philippines, Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Science and Master in Education (Early Childhood Education) from De La Salle University in Manila. Elizabeth is currently employed at Loreto College ELC and had previously worked in the Annesley Junior School ELC.

With Sarah-Jane Arnold's departure on Friday, March 4, Mary Bralic has joined us as a temporary replacement as Headmaster's EA from Monday, March 7. The selection process for the substantive replacement in this role is under way and we should be in a position to announce the appointment within a few weeks.

Pauline Coupe, who has worked in our laundry for the last 35 years, has retired from the College. Pauline has been a very popular and engaging member of our staff and has developed strong connections with boarders and their families throughout her time at the College.

David Thomas, Carpenter in our Property Services department retired from the College on March 11. David has given outstanding service to Princes throughout his 15 years here and he will be missed.

ELC Chef, Kim Mullarvey, resigned from Prince Alfred College with effect from 8 February. We thank Kim for her good work in this role over the past 8 years.

Bradley Fenner