Home' Independence : Independence Vol 39 No 1 May 2014 Contents 42 INDEPENDENCE VOL 39 NO 1 MAY 2014
one of the values we promote, I never
do. They guide every decision.
Now in to my fourth year as Principal
I can look back and see that from time
to time I worked too hard. No matter
how fast and hard you work to get
through the list of tasks, the list always
gets bigger. There were moments when,
over-tired, I lost the humour and energy
to put myself in other people’s shoes.
I am proud that I survived the last three
years, and the growing demand for
places in our School gives me immense
satisfaction. I am also proud that people
have chosen to make the journey with
me. It has been a very challenging road,
and I am deeply grateful that people
have believed so strongly in what we
are doing that they have come on board,
stuck it out and even laughed along the
Daphne Gum MBE OAM was made a Member
of the Order of the British Empire in 1960 for
her work as Director of the SA Cerebral Palsy
Children’s School and granted a Medal of the
Order of Australia in 1996 for service to the
education and welfare of children and adults
with physical and intellectual disabilities.
2 Patrick Duignan is currently Emeritus Professor
at ACU National and Director of Leading to
SCHOOL, CLAREMONT, WA
Christ Church Grammar School is a day
and boarding school for boys with 1600
students from pre-primary to Year 12.
THERE is no doubt that one of the
toughest tasks of leadership as a
Principal is to deal with difficult
situations involving parents.
I have found myself in the unusual
position of having to deal with three
challenging situations involving
parents within a single week. All three
circumstances were very different in
context, and all involved fine boys.
However, the core issue was the same:
the parents’ behaviour had compromised
our school values. The parents were held
accountable for their behaviour against
these values, with the result that the
three students left the school.
The first situation involved parents
apparently manoeuvring to have their
child avoid a compulsory outdoor
education activity. One day before
departure, the parents produced a
medical certificate citing a 'pre-existing'
medical condition and giving the
student permission to be off school for
In the eight years the boy had been at
the School, this 'pre-existing' condition
had never before been identified by his
parents on medical forms. The parents
were given the opportunity to identify
this condition, which they declined.
I advised the parents that their son
could no longer attend the School,
as there had been an irrevocable
breakdown in trust between the School
and them as parents. Honesty and
trustworthiness (‘be honest, sincere and
seek the truth’) are core School values.
Christ Church Grammar School not
only publishes, communicates and
continuously reinforces its core values,
it publishes a statement of intent for
students, parents and teachers to uphold
those values. For parents, the statement
of intent includes the following:
‘In choosing Christ Church, each
parent through his or her behaviour
and example, strives to demonstrate
understanding and reinforces the stated
aims and values of the School. They
act in partnership with School staff to
provide the best support for their boys
both at home and in the School context.
‘Parents encourage their boys to engage
actively in the life of the School, to
make the most of opportunities offered,
to strive for personal and collective
excellence, and to make choices
consistent with School values.’
As the student’s entire year group
engaged in their outdoor challenge,
mother and child were seen boarding an
The second incident relates to class
allocations in the Preparatory School.
It involved a parent request, without
compromise, for a change in teacher.
The answer was no: the parents (who
had a second child at the School) were
given the opportunity to stay at the
School with the allocated teacher or
remove their child.
I explained to the parents the
expectation that they would demonstrate
their support of the professional
judgement of the staff of the School.
One of the School's core published
values is respect (‘treat others with
consideration and regard’). As Heads,
we must demonstrate our respect for
staff and their professional judgement
or risk undermining staff morale;
parents must demonstrate their regard
for teachers as professionals or risk
undermining their child’s learning
The parents removed their child.
The third situation involved external
‘elite’ sporting commitments.
Christ Church Grammar School has a
compulsory sport policy for Years 7-12.
Parents of a boy who had played in our
First XI soccer team in the previous
season 'told' the School that their son
would no longer be playing soccer at the
School and, because of external soccer
commitments, would be 'unavailable'
Values in action
. . . arethekey
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