New super school for Bathurst

Power coupling … The Scots School headmaster David Gates, right, is looking forward to maximising his students’ opportunities following the school’s union with All Saints’ College. Credit: The Scots School

Two of state’s leading independent schools, All Saints’ College and The Scots School, have put aside their longstanding rivalry in favour of a merger.

All Saints’ was on the market for more than a year before The Scots School’s parent body emerged as the winning bidder.

The news came as a surprise to observers as the Bathurst-based co-ed boarding schools have historically played up their differences and are administered by different churches.

The Scots School is owned by the Presbyterian Church while All Saints’ was run by the Anglican Diocese of Bathurst until its recent purchase by the Presbyterian Church of NSW.

The All Saints’ sale was precipitated by the Diocese’s financial difficulties and the proceeds will go toward retiring debt.

Anglican Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer welcomed the sale, saying that it is in the best interests of the All Saints’ community. “It will set the college on a pathway that will enhance its status as the leading educational institution in the Central West in a way that the diocese does not have the resources to do.”

The schools announced their new partnership on August 29 of this year but intend to remain separate entities for the immediate future with plans to eventually integrate, possibly as soon as 2019.

All Saints’ Head of College, Steven O’Connor was upbeat about the school’s prospects under its new regime.

“Today’s announcement is the commencement of a bright new future for the college,” Mr O’Connor said. “It represents the best possible outcome for all stakeholders, and will see minimal changes to the day-to-day operations of the college.”

Locals and alumni have reacted quite positively to the joint venture. Facebook comments on the Western Advocate’s report of the merger ranged from enthusiasm for a larger school in the area: “a fantastic opportunity for two great schools to become a powerhouse” and “a great move. Will make a great sized school with heaps of opportunities for the students” to speculation about how it will impact the local rugby union competition: “Well that is going to make for an interesting trophy season in 2019.”

These sentiments were echoed by The Scots School Headmaster David Gates who told the Western Advocate that there is much to look forward to in the alliance.

“It’s all about maximising the quality facilities we have across the two schools,” Mr Gates said.  “It’s a chance to enhance the academic and co-curricular programs and the strengths of both schools will be even greater.”

Mr O’Connor agreed, predicting an upsurge in student numbers coming up to the 2019 school year. “If we maintain our current enrolments until the start of 2019 we will start the new school with around 750 kids which is a good size school,” he said.

“I would anticipate in five years’ time those numbers could grow from 750 to 900 or even 1000. I’m very optimistic about what this could mean five years down the track.”

Some of the growth will be spurred by a likely fee reduction to bring All Saints’ into line with Scots, which reduced its fees by 30 per cent this year.

“I anticipate the two schools next year would have the same fee structure,” Mr O’Connor said. “I understand Scots are very pleased with their new fee structure and they are the new owners so they will ultimately determine that.”

But while there’s strength in numbers, the larger aim is to combine their resources for a sustainable future focused on excellence, Mr Gates said.

“We believe the merger of two respected schools in Bathurst will provide students with a wider choice of subjects and co-curricular opportunities at every level of their education and will provide students of both schools with enhanced opportunities to develop their interests and character.”


All Saints’ College to Become a Fully Independent Anglican School — Anglican Diocese of Bathurst website

One school and one future — Murray Nichols, Western Advocate, August 30, 2017

Presbyterian Church of NSW buys All Saints’ College — Announcement to The Scots School community, The Scots School website, August 30, 2017


NEGS riding high

Field day … For girls who love horses, there’s no place like NEGS. Credit: NEGS

Situated in picturesque Armidale, NEGS offers young women an excellent education in a healthy country setting.

Founded in 1895, the school’s 50-hectare campus is a vibrant mix of heritage architecture and new facilities, including state-of-the-art science laboratories, two undercover Olympic-sized arenas, a working farm, and a national-standard Equestrian Centre.

As an Independent Anglican school, NEGS offers a safe, progressive environment embodying Christian values. Its Positive Education ethos supports every student’s wellbeing so she can reach her own level of personal and academic achievement.

Amongst its proudest accomplishments, is the school’s outstanding equestrian program having produced national and Olympic champions.


Unique opportunity … NEGS hosts Australia’s only Polocrosse Academy for girls. Credit: NEGS

This year, NEGS has attained a new milestone, fielding its biggest representation ever at the Australian Interschools Championships with 10 students in the country’s foremost children’s equestrian competition.

NEGS girls will represent New South Wales and the Northern Territory, competing in every discipline: jumping, dressage, eventing, combined training and show horse riding, as part of the largest team in the national contest.

The school credits its recent appointment of Olympic Equestrian Imtiaz Anees as a driving force behind NEGS’ success. Since 2015, he’s been building on the school’s customised training programs for horse and rider to produce ever greater outcomes.

Working with fellow coach, elite equestrian Rachelle Hirst, Mr Anees has implemented a coach mentoring program to support all the school’s riders to realise their full potential competitively and recreationally.

“The selection in these teams is a credit to the hard work the girls have put into their riding to rise above the thousands of other students in their states,” NEGS principal Mary Anne Evans said. “It is also a testament to the dedication and commitment of our coaches.”

“A number of students come to NEGS with aspirations to become competitive riders on a state and national level, and NEGS aims to nurture their ambitions through our state-of-the-art training and fitness programs and extensive competition schedules,” she said.

Best of both worlds … NEGS offers cutting edge facilities in an idyllic country setting. Credit: NEGS

With Australia’s only girls’ Polocrosse Academy as well, riding sports of every ilk are championed at NEGS as are horse management skills and animal welfare.

Beyond sport, opportunities for extension and enrichment are offered in all subjects. Students in the Year 9 and 10 Scholars Program can study an area of interest in greater depth, working both independently on chosen projects and with teacher guidance. Where students need extra attention the school offers one-on-one and small group learning support.

Senior students can select from a broad range of academic and vocational subjects, providing a solid foundation for post-school opportunities.

An all-round education is central to the NEGS philosophy and the school has found that its keen athletes tend to bring the same discipline to class work with excellent results.

As the school says of its Polocrosse Academy: “Horse and rider fitness, health, welfare and resilience training sees the girls working together and individually before and after school. The structured schedule enables students to focus on their academic studies and grow as a player. Each student in the program has reported a marked improvement in their academic performance since commencing the training program at NEGS.”

As the saying goes: healthy body, healthy mind. At NEGS, girls are given every opportunity to achieve peak performance physically and intellectually.

To learn more about NEGS visit the Hills School Expo on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, 2017.

Staff from NEGS and many other independent schools serving the Hills area will be available to answer all your questions and offer you a deeper insight into their schools’ unique qualities.

This is an unrivaled opportunity to find the right school for your child.

The Hills School Expo
Where: Federation Pavilion, Castle Hill Showground, Showground Road, Castle Hill
When: Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, 2017
Time: 10am to 4pm both days
Cost: Free admission
Parking: Parking is free and plentiful at Federation Pavilion
Contact: Dorothy Willoughby on 0412 233 742

Beyond Hogwarts: the real-life benefits of boarding

Extended family … Cranbrook School offers boarders excellent pastoral care in a supportive environment.

If you didn’t attend a boarding school yourself, your impressions of residential schools have probably been formed, at least in part, by Hollywood.

It seems that every decade produces an era-defining tale set in a boarding school. From the 60s counter-culture touchstone, If, to Australia’s own haunting 70s classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dead Poets Society in the 80s, and, of course, the Harry Potter blockbusters of recent times, there is no shortage of movies that centre on the intrigue and exhilaration of adolescent communal living.

Reality is usually a little more mundane than the big screen version but that hasn’t slowed the resurgence of Australia’s boarding schools.

Boarding is well and truly back in vogue with more than 25,000 students nation-wide choosing to live at their school — an increase of 25 per cent over the last decade.

Many of these students come from rural and regional areas where boarding is often a necessity but changing family dynamics are seeing more city-based and international students opting to board.

In families where both parents work full-time, the close supervision and access to extracurricular activities that boarding provides makes it an attractive option. In the senior years, students are increasingly choosing to board so they can concentrate on their studies free of the distractions of home and the time-drain of commuting.

Living at school offers students many unique advantages including:

Academic support and extra tuition
When you live at school a teacher is never very far away to lend a hand with a sticky problem or read through a draft essay. Allocated study periods ensure that students have adequate time in their days to get through their homework and no excuses for not doing it.

A structured environment
Boarding is characterised by routine and stability. Students learn good habits early on and for busy parents working long hours, the inbuilt structure of boarding environments is a boon. At schools such as The King’s School in Parramatta, fully a quarter of boarders are Sydney-based; boarding not out of need but because their parents want them to benefit from the “boarding experience”, the school says.

Extracurricular opportunities
Living at school means never missing footy practice again. Even better, it allows students to participate in everything on offer and try new sports and activities. Most boarding schools emphasise physical activity to help promote resilience and teamwork and keep their students fit and healthy, but creative and intellectual opportunities abound. Meanwhile, regular excursions, entertainment and social events keep students busy and engaged with life outside of school. Boarding is rarely boring.

By its nature, boarding promotes independence and self-management; skills that prove useful throughout a lifetime.

“Boarders develop resilience and independence at an earlier age,” says Wenona principal, Dr Briony Scott. “It’s not that they grow up quicker but they definitely do become more independent.

“Boarders learn to look after themselves really well. They learn to look after their things and take responsibility for their time.”

Kate Obermayer, a Cochlear executive and former Wenona boarder agrees, telling the Weekly Times: “Boarding gave me an inner dependence on myself, which continues to help me on a daily basis in my role — no one is cracking the whip except me.

“I have to be proactive. I have to think about all angles. I have to be organised. I learnt all of that at boarding school.”

Lifelong friendships
Close-quarters living promotes tight bonds between students that often carry through their whole lives. Schools with a significant international boarding cohort like Cranbrook in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs offer students the opportunity to make “friends from all corners of the globe”, the school says.

This view is supported by research conducted by the University of Adelaide. A 2004 survey of boarding school students revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents had formed “intense, enduring” friendships at boarding school with fellow students from around the world. The report author concluded that for these students boarding “was a significant factor in fostering independence and embracing cultural diversity”, which helped to “prepare them for life in an increasingly global world”.

Overall, the respondents viewed boarding with fondness and appreciation. As one survey respondent wrote: “For all Grammar’s faults, I wouldn’t exchange this experience for anything in the world!”

Hogwarts may be a fantasy but it seems that, for many students, boarding does, in fact, add a touch of magic to school life.


Boarding schools appealing to the city as much as the country — Emily Parkinson, Australian Financial Review, May 6, 2016

Wenona alumnae explain how boarding at the North Sydney school has shaped their lives — Weekly Times, November 1, 2016

An Australian co-educational boarding school as a crucible for life: a humanistic sociological study of students’ attitudes from their own memoirs — Matthew A White, PhD Thesis, School of Education, University of Adelaide, 2004