A Message from Rev. David Barrie – Chairman of Council – 2018 Speech Night Address
On behalf of the Council of Macarthur Anglican School, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Thirty-Fifth Speech and Awards Night. As we gather together, I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet - the Wann-gal people; and the traditional custodians of the land on which the School is located - the Tharawal people.
In his wisdom and love, God gave them these lands upon which they lived for many generations, teaching their children their beliefs, values, and knowledge. As we pay our respects to their elders – past, present and emerging – we are mindful of our responsibility, before God, to do the same; to pass on our beliefs, our values, and our knowledge to the young lives God has placed in our care.
This evening I warmly welcome: The Right Rev. Peter Hayward, Bishop of Wollongong; Mr Chris Patterson, State Member for Camden; The Reverend Paul Davey, President of the Parents and Friends; Mr Riley Warren AM, Former Headmaster; The Reverend Cannon Allan Patrick, Foundation Chairman of the School Council; Mrs Robyn and Mr Brett Legge, Exploring Tree Macarthur; our Macarthur Community Partners; Parents of the School; Members of Staff; and of course Students of Macarthur.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that the Chair of School Council looks a little different this year than at previous Speech and Awards Nights: a bit taller; a fair bit hairier; less graceful. That is because, in June this year, after 13 years on School Council and 6 years as Chair of Council, Mrs Annabel Michie graciously stepped down from that role. To ensure a smooth transition, Mrs Michie has continued as a member of Council over these last six months, with tonight being her final official duty.
Over these 13 years Mrs Michie has served our school faithfully, devoting countless hours of her time to ensuring our school is governed well. I did a quick ‘back of the envelope’ calculation and came up with approximately 1500 hours of volunteer time that Mrs Michie has invested into our school. That is a lot of hours, given for our benefit. And they were high quality hours! Mrs Michie has led the School Council with professional competence, with godly wisdom, with inspiring vision, and with a spirit of collegiality that has fostered unity on the Council. It has been a joy to sit under her leadership.
At official functions, such as this one, she has been a tremendous ambassador for our school as well as for the Christian faith.
Mrs Michie, on behalf of the School Council and the entire Macarthur community, we are sincerely grateful. Thank you for your service! And thank you as well, to Alec and the kids for sharing your wife and mother with us. We are grateful for your sacrifice.
As a small reminder of our appreciation, we would like to present Mrs Michie with a manuscript of the formal resolution of thanks passed by the School Council. Would you please join me in showing our appreciation…
Five years ago, my wife, Jo and I moved our family from Balgowlah on the Northern Beaches to Cobbitty so that I could take up the position of Senior Minister at Cobbitty Anglican Church. This meant we needed to find a new school for our four children, who were due to commence Year-7, Year-5, Year-3 and Kindergarten. We didn’t get very far in our search for a new school before a meeting with Dr. Nockles convinced us to give Macarthur Anglican a try.
I must say, I was a bit skeptical at first. I was a product of the public-school system and my education at Menai High School has served me well. Up until that point, we had our children at a Manly West Public School and we were very happy with the job they were doing. In fact, I doubted a school could get much better than what we had already experienced. By the end of our first week at Macarthur I could already see just how wrong I had been. One incident during that first week stands out in my memory.
I turned up at the end of day two, to pick up the kids. After gathering three of the four we made our way to my daughter’s Year-3 class room. Her teacher, whom I had not met at that stage, greeted me warmly at the door and then proceeded to address each of my other three children by name, asking them how their first week at school was going. I was blown away!
Now, maybe we just got lucky with the right teacher. This was Mr. Wood after all (I’m not sure if Mr Groves could have pulled that off), but actually this incident is indicative the high level of care and support the students of Macarthur receive from the teaching and the non-teaching staff. I am continually amazed, and delighted, by the dedication of the Macarthur Staff. They get to know each student individually and they work hard to ensure that each one thrives – not only academically – but as whole person. Macarthur truly excels at helping students to build confidence, to develop character, to gain wisdom, to grow in emotional maturity and of course to rise to their academic best.
The safe and caring environment provides a secure platform from which students can venture out into unknown territory and try something new. The many extra-curricular activities provide a steady stream of opportunities for students to step outside of their comfort zone, to discover new interests and develop new skills. Whether it is a Musical performance, or a Duke of Ed hike, or representing the school in a sporting team or sharing their faith on a mission trip, one thing is for sure, no student graduates from Macarthur without a breadth of life-skills and experiences that will serve them well throughout their adult years.
I am confident that those graduating today, can each look back on the multitude of ways that they have grown and matured during their years at Macarthur. Tonight, we celebrate that growth as we send them out thoroughly equipped for the journey ahead.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge one more exceptional achievement. Tonight, marks the completion of 10 years as Headmaster for Dr. Nockles, and this is on top of seven years before that as Deputy Headmaster. As a school we are very fortunate to have a man of such conviction, character and capacity at the helm. Dr Nockles’ educational insight, his genuine pastoral care of staff and students, his organisational skill, his innovative vision and his godly example are all evident on a weekly basis.
The wonderful culture that we enjoy at Macarthur hasn’t come about by chance. Dr. Nockles has cast a vision of what the school could be, and he has called upon students and staff to rise to that high standard. He has spent countless hours educating the educators and working with his executive team to improve every aspect of school life.
- Allow me to highlight for you some of the improvements that Dr Nockles has overseen during his time as Headmaster…
- Firstly, Macarthur’s academic success has gone from strength to strength. Over the last 10 years the number of Macarthur students who matriculate to university has risen from 68% to over 90% annually.
- There has been a revival of House and School Spirit. Prior to Dr Nockles becoming Headmaster, sporting carnivals were competitor only events. His vision for vertical House groups and the elevation of Heads of House saw a major turnaround in this area. A Macarthur carnival is now truly that…a carnival! Go Heber!
- The introduction of ‘colours’ was a major shift in philosophy as it sought to recognise the broader achievements of the students outside of academic performance...including sport, co-curricular activities and service. Students eagerly seek ‘colours’ and wear their blazers with pride.
- Dr. Nockles has been instrumental in shaping the educational philosophy of Macarthur, which enables students to develop a deep understanding of the concepts they are learning about. An understanding that will endure beyond the next exam, and thus equip them to thrive in the rapidly changing world of the 21st Century.
- This forward-thinking was reflected in the transformation of the School Library into the new Innovation and Research Centre. The IRC has been a vast improvement, allowing for new modes of learning not afforded by a traditional library.
- The initiation of Exploring Tree has expanded Macarthur’s provision of educational services to the community and has helped ensure the flourishing of Junior School enrolments.
- Dr Nockles changed the focus of Headmaster’s Assemblies providing senior students the opportunity to address and lead their peers, and in so doing, build a strong culture of participation and success.
- Dr. Nockles has overseen a significant expansion of the International Student Program. We have doubled the number of international students that call Macarthur home and in so doing broadened the cultural experience and horizons of our own students.
- This year saw the launch of the inaugural STEM tour to the USA.
- And there are some very significant initiatives in the pipeline for 2019, which I’m sure Dr. Nockles will tell you about shortly.
Friends, that is an impressive list. Until you get close, it is hard to grasp the sheer scope of the Headmaster’s role at a school like Macarthur. The responsibilities are vast, the pressures are constant, the problems that need to be solved are complex, the critics are many (and often ill-informed); and the volume of work would overwhelm most people. I was going to do a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation of Dr. Nockles’ hours as well but I couldn’t find an envelope large enough!
I thank God for the capacity and resilience he has given our Headmaster and for the immeasurable support David receives from his wife, Rose. What would knock most of us for six, Dr. Nockles takes in his stride; he keeps leading with enthusiasm, relating with a generous heart, innovating with fresh vision and serving the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our school is flourishing, and we are well placed to make it even better in the years ahead. It is an exciting time to be part of Macarthur Anglican School. Would you please join me in thanking our Headmaster for a decade of exceptional service as we welcome Dr. David Nockles to the microphone.
Rev David Barrie
Chairman of Council