From the Head Master
Happy New Year, and welcome back to School!
One of the lovely aspects of this time of year is experiencing the revivification of the School community. Between Christmas and New Year there is no-one on the Summer Hill site, apart from my family and the security guard. The first week of January sees the return of some support staff, particularly in ICT and the buildings and maintenance team. The numbers build a bit in the second week of January, but the third week sees the great influx of staff. The senior staff conferences, the new staff inductions, and then three professional development days for all staff, with an associated lift in energy as colleagues reconnect, collaborate and plan for the year ahead. This rising wave of life peaks with the return of students this week. Every year at this time, I am vividly reminded that the School is a community of people, not a cluster of facilities.
As is the ongoing way of School life, there are many new members of the Trinity community this year. Around forty new teaching and support staff have joined us, as have around one hundred and eighty boys, most of whose families are also new to the School. We are delighted to have all these new people join us. Our hope and prayer is that, whether the journey is brief or lengthy, you will both experience and contribute to the mission of the School and that your time with us is powerfully formative in all sorts of ways.
Many families will be aware of the strong results achieved by the class of 2020 in the HSC and the IB Diploma last year. There were some wonderful highlights, including six boys achieving an ATAR equivalent of 99.95 in the IB Diploma, and our HSC Dux achieving 99.85. The median ATAR across both cohorts was 90; that is to say, half the boys in Year 12 achieved in the top 10% of the State. However, these ‘headline’ achievements were also accompanied by many other ‘good news’ stories of individual boys who achieved their goals, overcame challenges, and exceeded their own expectations. While there are always students who are disappointed by aspects of their final results, it is also encouraging to hear of them finding a way to pursue their desired next step in life’s journey. We are very proud of them all.
Although the year is only a month old, I imagine that we are all very much aware that the dynamics of 2020, at least with reference to the pandemic, are still very much with us. Thankfully, on the current level of restrictions, much of the School’s operation is able to continue according to the protocols that emerged in the second half of last year. One of the major changes that will be experienced by the boys is the requirement that students older than twelve, and staff, are now required to wear masks while on public transport and the School buses. The boys have all been issued with facemasks, which they will now be expected to carry as part of their standard school equipment. The School’s expectation is that the boys will wear either a plain black facemask (as issued or equivalent) or a disposable mask.
One of the enduring protocols that we must continue to chafe under has to do with the prohibition of parents onsite during School hours. We know that education is a partnership between families and the School, and it irks us to have this requirement still in place, but we continue to be committed to following the guidance that is provided to us by the government and the public health authorities. There are some minor exemptions that are primarily aimed at the parents of our youngest students; these have been communicated directly to these families through other channels. As always, the place to look for a summary of the School’s COVID-19 protocols continues to be the front page of our website, where you will find this link.
Having noted that the School is people, not buildings, it is still exciting to see some construction underway at the School. The Preparatory School site at Strathfield has been transformed over the summer, with substantial demolition work having taken place and demountable classrooms having been installed. At this point, the construction is on track for completion before Term 4. The construction of staff residences and a classroom block are also progressing at the Field Studies Centre, and we are planning towards an Open Day at the FSC in Term 3. Our State Significant Development Application for The Renewal Project at Summer Hill is with the NSW Department of Planning and we are hoping for approval to be granted at some point this term, although it is not yet clear when works might commence.
One of the other notable features associated with the start of the year is traffic chaos around schools. Many families like to drive their children to and from school at the start of the year. It also takes some time to find and establish the rhythms and timing that work best for family life. I would like to ask and urge all our families to adhere to all the usual road rules, and the School’s guidance with reference to traffic and parking. I do not exaggerate when I say that nothing matters more to the School than the safety of our students, and I fear that there is no greater threat to that safety than vehicular traffic. Your patience, your compliance, and your willingness to work with us are invaluable both in this early part of the year and in the months to come. The School continues to encourage families to explore alternate ways for the boys to come to and from the School. Walking, car-pooling, School buses and public transport are all excellent and viable options, depending on your circumstances.
Heraclitus, one of the ancient Greek philosophers, observed that one cannot step into the same river twice. The river has changed, and you have changed. For all the continuity that we observe on the return to School, and the ways in which 2021 looks very similar to 2020, this year will not be the same experience that we had last year. May God’s blessings be with us in the ups and downs of this new year and may we know His peace, which passes all understanding.
Detur Gloria Soli Deo.
Tim Bowden | Head Master
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