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The real power of an education in a single sex environment is that every member of that community has the ability to play a role in normalising the right behaviours, pathways and attributes of both learning and relationships for every student. It is an enormously powerful opportunity to cast away community stereotypes, foster creativity and build a culture of respect. At the same time it is an equally important responsibility; we must get it right. We must at all times ensure that we are active in reinforcing the right behaviours, pathways and attributes of relationships and learning.

When asked about this issue by a prospective parent at a recent Open Morning I used the example of the sextet of flautists that performed in Memorial Hall some months ago. The point is this, if playing the flute is your thing, here at St Peter’s College it is not only possible, it is a normal thing to do.

If you haven’t already viewed the recent Four Corners program on the ABC regarding St Kevin’s College, I wish to draw your attention specifically to the first 25 minutes that suggests that a “boys’ club” is normalising and encouraging all the wrong behaviours. I compelled both my teenage sons to watch it with me (without a device in hand). I also paused it occasionally so that we could discuss what was taking place. If your son is 12 years or older, I would encourage you to do the same. In my family, the program sparked important conversations about the impact of a pack mentality, the harmful nature of misogynistic behaviour, how to speak up against the poor behaviour of the majority, and how to support friends when life-changing events occur.

By raising this matter I am in no way implying that St Peter’s College has finished its task of normalising the right behaviours and attributes of learning and relationships. We will continue to work closely with all students. As a School, we will also hold students to account for their actions and interactions.

Our values of truth, respect and service guide our behaviour and the moral code of staff and students; whether they are in uniform or not. Our values clearly encapsulate a culture of acceptance of others, mutual respect for all, being true to oneself and others, and working for the greater benefit of everyone in the community. All students, staff and parents should feel able to call out behaviours that contradict our values and to contact me at any time.

The mission of the School is defined in the School Prayer which provides a very clear outline of how to test if a behaviour, interaction, communication or relationship is appropriate in our School community. Truth, righteousness, beauty, order and reverence give all of us an accessible framework to measure our relationships and behaviour. When we are looking for a definition of masculinity it clearly outlines that our boys and young men must present a balance of strength and love concurrently. Our framework is clear and concise and my high expectations of our students has been plainly made.

Please know that any and every member of our community is encouraged to feed back to the School or make contact with my office at any time regarding our culture and habits.

In other news: congratulations to Anuk Kariyawasam who graduated last year and was awarded the Economics Teachers Society of South Australia Excellence Prize at the SACE Merit Presentation day on 5 February. This is the top prize for economics students and Anuk was a truly deserving recipient of this prestigious award, given the passion and engagement he displayed during his studies of economics.

Tim Browning