From the Chair of School Council
2016 was a particularly challenging year for Hills Grammar. The loss of long serving Principal Robert Phipps to illness was difficult for students and staff. The challenge for Michael Smith (who was Acting Principal for the whole of the year) and his leadership team, was to ensure our students continued to be well supported educationally and emotionally and that the School remained ‘on track’ in implementing its ambitious agenda. The School Council is very proud of Michael and his leadership team and the School community is fortunate to have staff who embrace their mission to provide Hills Grammar students with an outstanding education.
As the “Board of Trustees”, the School Council sets the direction, governs and monitors the School’s performance to ensure Hills Grammar remains relevant to our students and is sustainable today and in the future. Apart from the range of regular monitoring, performance review and compliance activities, Council’s focus over 2016 was on the following:
- Recruitment of a Principal. After advertising and undertaking a search (for which Council engaged a specialist executive search firm) we undertook a rigorous shortlisting and interview process which resulted in the appointment of Michael Smith as the School’s fourth principal. We received applications from well qualified and experienced national and international candidates and it is a credit to Michael that he was regarded by Council as the strongest applicant. Michael, who has been with the school for eighteen years, was appointed as Principal on 1 January 2017.
- Strategic planning. The new strategic framework was established in 2015 and during 2016 the strategic plan was launched. During 2016 Council assisted the Executive in refining the strategies and in monitoring implementation progress. Strategic planning as a process is never complete, and we will continue to devote substantial energy to ensuring our strategies enable us to achieve to our ethos which is centred on student wellbeing and excellence.
- Educational model. In the 2015 annual report I explained the work which had commenced in reviewing and revising the school’s educational offering. This work continued throughout 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2017. The educational review, being led by the Principal, is far reaching and will have significant consequences for most, if not all, of the school’s operations.
- School campus and facility works. The school commenced work on a Campus Masterplan, the development of which will be completed in 2017. This will guide the enhancement of facilities over the coming decade. We also completed the capacity expansion of the Early Childhood Education Centre and undertook many refurbishment and upgrade projects. Works to enhance student amenity and the quality of the teaching and learning environment will continue throughout 2017.
- Council Governance. During 2016 School Council revised its approach to governance and decision making. In order to ensure Council remains a high performing governing body, we refined Council’s committee structure and developed and revised a range of policies.
I sincerely thank Hills Grammar’s new Principal Michael Smith, along with his Executive team for their dedication in leading Hills Grammar in 2016. It takes sustained determination, energy and commitment to build and maintain the strong momentum which is essential for the school and its students to succeed. I also want to acknowledge and thank my fellow volunteer Council members for the valuable contribution they make in their role as trustees and governors. It has been an honour and privilege to have had their support as Chairman.
Charles Denes | Chair of School Council