A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 7 - 2023

I recently had the opportunity to hear the Deputy Chief of Navy address a group of young leaders graduating as Navy officers. As he spoke congratulating and guiding the graduates on their future careers, he said something that many of us would not associate with the military. It was something that resonated with me and our Westminster values. Vice Admiral David Johnston AC RAN said: Leadership is an exercise in humanity.

These seemingly simple words are often forgotten by adults, let alone children. For some, leadership is about popularity, about being popular and maintaining it. Others strive for leadership, seeing it as an indicator of their success or prowess, while others almost stumble into leadership. It may be something to which they aspire but they’re not relentlessly chasing it, rather they ‘fall’ into it as an outcome of their usefulness, actions, relationships, kindness and diligence.

As educators, we aspire to create a generation of these ‘accidental leaders’. Those who rise gently into leadership in life through their emotional intelligence, quiet determination and with a capacity to see what others don’t. These leaders seem to live this quote by Simon Sinek: Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.

Schools are places to learn and at Westminster, we strive to ensure that all students are not only learning the curriculum, but also learning all the soft skills necessary to become ‘accidental leaders’. All too often learning is about failing and learning from your mistakes, and we are all capable of making mistakes (sometimes I wonder if some leaders are just people prepared to make more mistakes).

When mistakes are made, all too often they are made in social contexts. Students can be unkind and unthoughtful in their actions and interactions, leaving us, as adults and parents, feeling incredulous. We struggle to comprehend ‘the why’ behind their actions. Likewise, our children can struggle to explain why they did what they did. We need to encourage them to reflect on their actions and learn from them. We need to take care of them, even when we are instigating sanctions for their actions. We need to be leaders exercising humanity and taking care of those in our charge. All of them. We are all capable of making mistakes and we all need to be gentle with each other when mistakes are made.

Coming up in Term 2….

We have some big projects and events in Term 2.

Giving Day, Thursday 15 June 2023

You may have just received a posted invitation to take part in our Giving Day on Thursday 15 June (the brochure can be downloaded here). This year our focus is on the Sturt Grove Farm, our 4.5 hectare on-campus working farm, to broaden its use for all students from Early Learning to Year 12. We are reimagining our farm to suit future learning in Agriculture, a place where world-class agricultural and other learning experiences take place at the heart of a thriving community. The Sturt Grove Farm has been synonymous with Westminster for more than 50 years. It is a unique asset of Westminster that has been built with the community’s help across time. Our goal is to raise $500,000 and we are asking for your valued support to help us make this visionary new facility a reality.

The new vision for the Farm will incorporate:

· Three multidisciplinary classrooms
· Outdoor learning and community spaces
· Well-equipped wet labs
· Facilities for viticulture, agriculture, and aquaculture
· Produce processing area and farm kitchen
· Shearing facilities
· Washdown zone
· Community Farm shop

The new Sturt Grove Farm will proudly continue to be a place for teaching students the importance of sustainable agriculture, and how technology, science, and design support this industry, while fostering a sense of connection to the land. It is the first project that has been given a priority green light as the second chapter of our Campus Masterplan is being developed.

Sturt Grove Farm

Our New Strategic Plan

A new Strategic Plan is under development with a goal of being in place, ready for 2024. We have a day session planned for which we are looking between 20 and 30 parents and caregivers to attend as a workshop with students and staff on Monday 29 May at School, 9.00 am to 3.30 pm (lunch provided). If you are interested in taking part, please email ws@westminster.school with a subject of ‘Strategic Plan’, your name and a mobile phone so that we can be in touch to provide further details.

Styles Centre for Inquiry and Innovation

On Wednesday 10 May 2023 the School recorded a major announcement that now stands as a significant moment in Westminster’s history. At a special Senior School Assembly, the Inquiry and Innovation Hub was formally rededicated as the Styles Centre for Inquiry and Innovation. The rededication was announced by Chair of School Council Craig Need (’86) in recognition of the outstanding service, spanning some 50 years, to Westminster School of Life Member of School Council and Chair Emeritus, Phillip Styles (’66). The building now has a new nameplate facing into the Boomsma Plaza. Inside, you are welcome to view the Styles Centre for Inquiry and Innovation storyboard as well as the Official Opening (2021) and Rededication plaque in the Level 1 foyer.

And finally, a farewell…

Gillian McBey, my Executive Assistant, is retiring on Friday 19 May 2023 after 27 years of loyal service to Westminster School.

Being the Principal’s Executive Assistant is both a complex and rewarding role, dealing with many stakeholders, matters and enquiries at any given time. Gill is the utmost professional, always discrete, respectful and mindful that she has been entrusted with a great range and depth of information about Westminster and our community. In addition to being my Executive Assistant since my appointment in 2017, Gill has fulfilled the position of Principal’s Executive Assistant to four of Westminster’s other five Principals. She was employed in 1996 by Westminster’s third Principal, David Hone, and continued in her role to assist Westminster’s fourth Principal Bradley Fenner for around 10 years. Then came fifth Principal Steve Bousfield and Acting Principal Grant Bock, to account for the next six years before my arrival.

Gill is well-known in the School community for her friendly and caring nature, and has a soft spot for Boarding families, counting some through the years as amongst her best friends. We know Westminster will never be far from Gill’s thoughts as Gill won’t be from ours. On behalf of the School community, I thank Gill for brilliant career and contribution to Westminster School and wish her the very best for her future.


Simon Shepherd