Week 5 Term 3
Friday 13 August 2021
In this issue:
- Lessons from home-based learning
- The Gun marks 100-year milestone
- Backyard BGS Track and Field training
- Student feature: Lessons from a Legend - Ron Cochrane
Lessons from home-based learning
Last year, we used learning and wellbeing data collected over the five-week lockdown to guide an evidence-informed approach to home-based learning.
Two weeks ago, we were hurtled into quarantine and we quickly drew on our 2020 experience, reactivating the same data collection process. The Learning Organisation Team responded to the unexpected situation, collecting and analysing feedback from teachers, students, and business and service staff. We shared the data and analysis with school leaders, who responded quickly to wellbeing and academic needs.
Key themes have emerged in our students’ responses, providing useful information about how they are coping, their developing learning dispositions and the ways they have adapted to change. Overall, students across all year levels have made positive comments about the quality of the home-based learning experience.
The data collected has been profoundly important. We asked a series of questions about how boys are coping (how they are feeling, their level of exercise, sleep quality and learning productivity) so we can track how they are travelling. If an individual student responded in a manner that was of concern, his responses were immediately flagged with his Head of Year so that they could make contact to check-in and provide support. Form Tutors have also made use of student wellbeing data in their daily Tutor Group conversations with boys, and during formal check-ins in student wellbeing lessons.
Our younger students have been worried about their loss of social contact, and the impact of the current COVID outbreak on their families and their peers. They also miss being outside and engaging in physical activity.
Our older students have been understandably concerned about upcoming assessment deadlines and don’t want to fall behind. They too miss the social contact and are challenged by the length of time spent online/on screen, and the distractions presented at home.
Pleasingly, we read wonderful responses from students who commented on their levels of self-regulation, either sharing they were successful in keeping on top of their learning, or indicating it was an ongoing challenge. Regardless, the awareness of either is a marker of their progress toward ownership of their learning.
Our teachers have been very generous in sharing their experiences over the past two weeks. They were asked to rate how well they and their classes had adjusted to home-based learning in the first week with 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) possible score. The average of the reported scores was 4.0, reflecting both the teachers’ effort and the student body’s positive response to home-based learning.
When asked what they were most concerned or confident about for the students, the most common responses focused on teachers’ belief in the boys’ abilities to handle home-based learning, supported by observed levels of motivation. This was balanced with widespread concern for students’ wellbeing due to the loss of social connection and the effects of extended periods of time online.
A very strong theme to come through from our business and service staff was their belief in themselves to do their best and the confidence in their colleagues to handle this challenge. They valued the strong sense of community on display throughout this time and indicated their commitment to be their best in the given circumstances. An indication of the strong community spirit, some business and services staff expressed their concern for teachers and students as they navigate the challenges of home-based learning.
As we transition back to on-campus learning, we are again guided by the evidence in front of us. Next week, teachers will have Professional Learning Team meetings to reflect on this experience and consider lessons for the future.
As occurred last year, our evidence-informed approach ensures we prioritise staff and student opinions in our decision-making. This is a key strategic priority of the School – to develop as a learning organisation, improving our practices through internal evidence that we analyse and apply.
Centenary of the installation of The Gun
On 11 August 1921, the Governor-General of Australia, Lord Forster, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the installation The Gun. Captured in 1918 by the 3rd Light Horse Brigade commanded by Old Boy, Brigadier-General Lachlan C Wilson (1885), The Gun is one our most well known and beloved landmarks. It has been located on the pedestal in the main driveway near the Great Hall for 100 years.
The Gun was secured through the Australian War Trophies Commission by Wilson with the help of another Old Boy, Lieutenant Colonel Donald C Cameron (1895). Cameron had commanded the 5th Light Horse in Palestine. At the unveiling Lord Forster said of The Gun:
“… it stands as an emblem of the victory which was won in the most stupendous struggle that the world has ever seen. It will serve not only to remind you of the victory won, but also of the great part played in that struggle by Australia.”
The BGS Magazine of November 1921 recorded that the Governor-General spoke of the determination and courage of those who served, and the spirit of service displayed by BGS Old Boys in Gallipoli, Egypt, France and Flanders. Loud applause greeted those sentiments. Students from BGS and BGGS lined the driveway to welcome His Excellency and a guard of honour was formed by student cadets on the tennis courts (now the Centenary buildings). ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ were sung, and Brigadier-General Wilson told the story of the capture.
It began with General Allenby’s plan to capture the Turkish Army in Palestine. After infantry attacks, the cavalry would ride their hardest to capture all the fords over the River Jordan, cutting off the Turks’ communication. During this campaign, Wilson’s 3rd Light Horse was stationed at Jenin where they rounded up 8,107 Turks. The BGS Magazine went on to recount that on the day the gun was captured, General Wilson, Lieut. Hammond and Trooper Higgins were riding around the outskirts of the town when they came upon 40 Turks who promptly surrendered, thus capturing the gun. The guests responded with great laughter and applause to the story.
The Gun was originally allocated to Bombay as a ‘war trophy’ before coming to BGS. It was built in the Skodawerke at Pilsen, then part of the Austrian Empire, in 1917. The Qld War Memorial Register notes that The Gun is a rare and significant barrel transport vehicle, known as a Rohrhinterwagen, made for the 10.4cm Skoda M1915 field gun that sits on top. Because the original field gun was too heavy for a standard six-horse team to pull very far, the barrel was detached and pulled on its own vehicle. The Gun is a unique piece as it is the only surviving Rohrhinterwagen with a Skoda barrel in the world.
The Gun was restored between 1993-96 in a joint initiative of the School and the Old Boys’ Association. Today it is part of our heritage register plan and will undergo repairs to the wheels and metal plating, ensuring that future generations will be able to say, ‘meet you at The Gun!’
Return to campus
I have been delighted with staff and students’ efforts during home-based learning, but I am looking forward to returning to campus on Monday. After two weeks of quarantine, Monday may feel like returning after a mid-year break. Students will need guidance at school and at home to recreate routines and manage the rigours of school life. Please talk with your son about sleep patterns, gaming, and making time for homework, assignments, and revision.
Monday is the start of Week 6, which means boys may need a haircut. I would appreciate all boys to have appropriate haircuts by the end of next week. Thank you for ensuring your son meets the School's expectations and returns dressed appropriately.
We spoke to students about our return to school plan at the assembly today. Much of the day will be the same, with some changes to create a safe environment for staff and students. Interaction with parents will either be by phone or Teams meetings. This will be mandatory practice until Queensland Health advises the School of changes to the current restrictions.
Most importantly, students and staff are required to wear masks at School. I ask that you speak with your son over the weekend about how masks are an important protective factor against COVID-19. The School is taking a strong stance with regard to this expectation. As adults, we understand the importance of wearing masks. The boys may have a different view, but we will be enforcing this rule for all students.
Director of Boarding
We survived and thrived
As we finish the second week of quarantine, and a welcome release from the confines of 89 Gregory Terrace, I reflect on what a surreal experience this has been. More significantly, I have seen great growth in the boarding community.
The camaraderie between the boys has been fantastic. At the start, we recognised that group activities would be crucial to get through quarantine. Our evening treat tasks brought the boys together for a variety of challenges – all for the honour of victory, bragging rights, and a packet of Tim Tams. To their credit, the boarders have also completed less reward-laden tasks with a real sense of unity and service. From bringing in our delivered meals in contactless fashion to emptying bins and cleaning surfaces, they have been first rate in taking collective responsibility. I wonder, when they meet up in 50 years’ time at an Old Boys' Association event on the Boarders’ Lawn, if they will reminisce about that fortnight in 2021 when they all lived together in 89 GT?
I also want to celebrate and thank the staff who have done so much over the past fortnight. Our four residential tutors – Ms Davies and Mr James, Mr Lawford and Mr Scott – have all generously cared for the boarders with great empathy. I also acknowledge the work that Mr Byron, Mr Power and Mrs Power have done in leading our program and remaining in contact with boarding families in Harlin and Griffith Houses. They have made an incredible contribution and I thank them on behalf of the wider boarding community.
Of course, our focus now shifts to the return to Boarding and what will be a very different school environment. We will be putting new safety measures in place that protect students and staff while maintaining a sense of community. Wearing masks in classes and boarding common areas won’t be easy (especially for those of us who wear glasses), but I am confident we will overcome this hurdle if we look to the collective and work for each other.
Fostering creativity at home
Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones. —Bruce Garrabrandt
Do people outgrow their creativity and imagination as they age? Young children are naturally creative and imaginative. As we get older, too often we may doubt our creative abilities, believing art is an impractical pursuit and not for us.
However, creativity is experiencing a ‘second Renaissance’ with the rise of STEAM education. Practitioners in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics acknowledge the benefit of thinking creatively and imagining the impossible.
Henry Ford gave people automobiles instead of faster carriages. Similarly, Elon Musk is working on an underground tunnel system with car elevators and a hyperloop, instead of improving ground transportation. Inventions like this require much more than technical ability; they require imagination, creativity, and a sense of belief in making the impossible possible.
The process of creating fosters a sense of connection and understanding of what it means to be human. Brainstorming art ideas, the practical process, and a finished product is often the perfect recipe for great personal satisfaction. Art during home-based learning gives our students feelings of accomplishment and pride. After lessons, Visual Art teachers have received thanks from students, many drawings and artworks, and requests for more tasks or extension activities.
Creativity also infuses life with a different sort of depth and richness. It is said: “To be creative means to be in love with life.” Intrinsically we are all enriched by creating or appreciating art in all its forms.
In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, “We have to recognise that human flourishing is not a mechanical process, it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”
Even in the uncertain times of home-based learning, our young men have continued to enjoy a rigorous, fun Visual Art curriculum. Our youngest boys have used their pets as ‘sitters’ while learning the stylisation techniques of Pete Cromer.
Our Year 11 students have created experimental installations featuring their packed suitcase for imaginary destinations. As Edward de Bono says: “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
You can follow the home-based learning activities on Instagram @grammarart.bgs.
Brisbane Portrait Prize is proud to be again running a youth prize in 2021. This competition is about celebrating Brisbane portrait artists while encouraging public engagement with the arts. Brisbane Grammar School students from Year 10 and those who belong to the Omega Art Club are encouraged to enter this competition. Year 9 student Lachie Elliott drew this beautiful portrait created in graphite.
This week has seen the boys continue with home-based learning. We have been very impressed by the boys’ adaptability and resilience, and we very much look forward to welcoming them back to campus next week. I have been delighted to hear about the high levels of student engagement as well as the creative strategies employed by our teachers in their online classrooms.
Heads of Year have been communicating closely with Form Tutors to monitor the boys’ wellbeing and academic progress. Should you have any concerns about your son’s transition back to school, please do not hesitate to contact his Form Tutor or Head of Year.
During today’s assembly period, our Form Tutors shared some important updates in preparation for our return to school on Monday. Key points to note include:
- All Middle School students will be required to wear masks
- Boys will need to provide their own water bottle
- Access to the BGS campus is limited to staff, students and approved visitors
- Early departure sign-out arrangements have temporarily changed. Parents should continue notifying Absences of early departures and then phone 07 3834 5301 upon arrival in the drop off zone. Boys will be signed out by MS Reception staff.
- Years 5 and 6 Supervision will continue to operate.
- Tuckshop facilities will remain available.
I wish to thank all parents for the messages of support we have received over the past two weeks. Our thoughts remain with those who are directly affected by COVID-19.
Middle School boys are enjoying finding new books to read as part of the Middle School Library Bookopoly challenge, which started last week. Each Friday, the dice are rolled and Form Classes receive a new challenge. These include reading books with five words in their title, books by authors they have never read before, and books beginning with their first initial. During the quarantine period, boys have been accessing books online via the BGS Library platform. Parents are encouraged to engage boys in conversations about books to help foster a love of reading and support boys’ literacy skills.
Nothing stops BGS Track and Field
Throughout the week, I trained in my backyard, using dumbbells and other plyometric exercises as a supplement to sprint training. Thanks to the coaches, we used a home-based training program that ensured we remained active and fit, ready to return to training once quarantine ends. But nothing beats training on the track with the rest of the Track and Field squad and luckily some of us were able to meet up online via Teams. It’s nice to reconnect with the squad even if it was only online. Hopefully, we are soon running faster, throwing further and jumping higher once the 2021 Track and Field season truly gets underway.
Basketball First V stays in touch
During this two-week quarantine period, the First V basketball team have continued to stay connected with teams calls every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. During this time boys have gone through their ‘take 10’ which is answering specific questions to get to know each other better and have a bit of fun in the process. We have also continued with strength and conditioning sessions, which were adjusted by Mr Cope to help people with limited with gym resources. Lastly, I would like to thank all staff and coaches involved who are constantly trying to make us better though this difficult period.
Lessons from a Legend
BGS is all about tradition, history, culture and community. These factors create our identity and are exactly the things that makes this school so unique.
Things change over time. But these are constants.
And there is arguably no one who knows BGS and its identity quite so well as our very own Mr Ron Cochrane.
This week, I had the privilege to interview one of the School's most legendary figures, gaining an insight into the various experiences and stories he accrued over decades of involvement with BGS.
It all began back in 1970, where Mr Cochrane was a boarding Housemaster at Rockhampton Grammar School. The BGS First XV would visit Rockhampton for preseason matches, which enabled him to develop lifetime friendships with former BGS Headmaster Brian Short and former rugby union footballer Alec Evans.
But little did he know, his time would begin with us in 1980.
For 20 years he was the Senior Housemaster at BGS, where he maintains that, "the boarders were the pulse of the School."
Being a staff member at the School for 40 years, Mr Cochrane has grown to have a special admiration for the vast opportunities that BGS provides for everyone.
"BGS is a school of opportunity for boys and staff. If you are prepared to work hard with a growth mindset, plus loyalty to the BGS motto, nil sine labore, you will have a rewarding experience."
These opportunities have enabled everyone to fit into the school community, which is precisely why we are such a tight-knit fraternity.
"There is a place at BGS for every boy, and whatever the boys commit to, they are acknowledged equally and rewarded for their effort."
When asked what made BGS so unique, it was no surprise what Mr Cochrane put it down to.
"It can be argued then that a big draw to the School is the traditions. Traditions are what make BGS unique."
And he's right.
Our buildings are steeped in tradition. Our core values are very traditional. The light dark blue is perhaps the most prominent representation of our traditions. It's quite clear how important tradition is at this school.
Mr Cochrane went on to coach the First XI cricket team and First XV during his tenure.
He speaks very highly of the BGS Rugby Program in particular.
"In the 70s and 80s, BGS led the way in the coaching of not only schoolboy rugby, but was the template for Australian Rugby. BGS Old Boys were appointed Coaching Directors for Rugby Australia, Queensland and the Wallabies. BGS has the reputation of being the scrum factory, and I am pleased that the school rugby program has never neglected this aspect of the game."
Of course, having coached multiple flagship teams, Mr Cochrane is not short of stories.
He recalls one story from 1992 – a premiership-winning season for our First XV.
"In 1992 the First XV, captained by David Davies, scored four tries to defeat NC. Two of the tries were from a set play, that we called 'apple pie'. The next week, the final round of the season, the First XV had to defeat BSHS to claim the premiership. In the closing moments of the game, behind on the scoreboard, BGS had a scrum 25 metres out running towards the Science Blocks. The crowd were chanting 'apple pie' and they were rewarded with a try on full time from this set play. Martin Robinson converted, which resulted in BGS claiming the 1992 First XV premiership."
More recently, he also recalls our last premiership in 2012 as another moment in BGS rugby folklore.
"In 2012, Sam Greene’s First XV defeated NC on the Ross Oval to be crowned GPS Rugby Premiers. It was one of the great rugby matches and one of the great days in GPS Sport. Thousands of Old Boys wearing their school blazers formed a tunnel for the team. Sam’s performance and that of the Vice Captain Jack Cornelsen are the stuff of legends."
While Mr Cochrane officially retired a couple of years ago from his position as Director of Sport (which he held for 20 years), he remains involved with the School in an informal capacity, always popping his head in at Northgate and at trainings for both cricket and rugby.
As such, he's always on hand to provide some stellar advice for those in the BGS Rugby Program.
For the coaches, his advice is, "to focus on how we’re coaching as opposed to what we are coaching; adjust our focus to the how and to whom we coach, rather than the specific content, or focusing solely on technical, tactical and strategic aspects."
And for the boys? "Don’t be the same player that you were yesterday. Be a better version. Success in rugby and in life depends on the quality of your preparation."
Mr Cochrane really is an icon. His continued connection to the BGS community is what has made him such a much-loved figure. He has always shown respect to those he's come across.
It was a privilege to be able to write about him, to acknowledge his immense contributions to the School.
Without a doubt, Mr Cochrane is a true BGS legend through and through.
- Volunteer Roster
- Fencing - Musketeers AGM
- Year 9 Father and Son Breakfast postponed
- Year 12 Senior Formal – Parent Function
- BGSOBA Business Breakfasts
- Upcoming Events
- BGS150 History Book
- 2021 Calendar
Tuckshop +61 7 3834 5229
Grammar Shop +61 7 3834 5347
Roster Secretary Wendy Smith - email@example.com
Grammar Shop hours
Weekdays 7.30am – 11.00am
Weekdays 7.00am – 2.00pm
Due to social distancing, we can only have three volunteers for breakfast and six volunteers for morning tea and lunch.
Musketeers Support Group AGM | Thursday 26 August at 7.00pm
The Musketeers BGS Fencing Support Group invites you to attend our Annual General Meeting to be held on Thursday 26 August at 7.00pm via Microsoft Teams, followed by a short Ordinary meeting.
All voluntary positions on the support group committee will be declared vacant. Nominations for President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer must be received by Thursday 19 August 2021.
Please consider nominating for these positions as the committee is essential to providing whites hire and fundraising for our fencing boys.
To make a nomination please email a completed Position Nomination Form or Ordinary Membership Form to Musketeers Secretary Jen Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org. These forms can be found on the MyGrammar Fencing page.
To RSVP to the Teams Meeting, please email Fencing Director Melanie Chin at email@example.com and a Teams invite will be forwarded to your email address.
For more information about the Musketeers Support Group or the AGM, please contact the Musketeers President, Julia Lim on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Year 9 Parents and Guardians,
I hope you and your families are doing well given the current COVID situation and our thoughts are with those in our BGS community directly affected.
As the BGS community is continuing to navigate the current challenges of COVID-19, it has been decided to postpone our Year 9 Father and Son Breakfast.
I will be in touch with you again soon to let you know of a revised date.
Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to coming together again soon.
Take care and stay safe.
Year 9 Parent Representative
Don't miss the next two BGSOBA Business Breakfasts following the first event being sold out!
The BGS community is invited to join the below upcoming BGSOBA Business Breakfasts at The Grove Rooftop, 480 Queen Street Brisbane. Community members are encouraged to invite their peers and business associates from beyond the BGS community for this networking opportunity. Join the below events to hear from reputable speakers in the field:
- Entrepreneurship in the Digital Economy | Wednesday 15 September, 7.00am to 8.30am. Panellists include Brett Clark '85 (ePharmacy) and Steve Baxter (entrepreneur, investor, and ‘Shark’ on Shark Tank Australia).
- The Business of Sport | Thursday 11 November, 7.00am to 8.30am. Panellists announced shortly.
Light Dark Blue: 150 Years of Learning and Leadership at Brisbane Grammar School is available for purchase. The beautiful 500-page hardcover book updates the BGS story with previously untold anecdotes, rare photographs and illustrations. With a limited print run, it is sure to become a sought after collector’s item. Standard edition and limited editions are available.
Click here to view all BGS150 merchandise – limited stocks remain.