Anglican Schools Commission (ASC)
The Anglican Schools Commission is the incorporated body which owns the School. The ASC has delegated much of the governance of the School to the School Council through a Constitution. The School Council delegates the operational management of the School to the Principal. The Principal works closely with the ASC Chief Executive Officer.
Anglican Schools Commission schools are co-educational communities of excellence and educational centres of caring. Most offer a comprehensive Kindergarten to Year 12 education. They deliver excellence in education, with an emphasis on high achievement in traditional academic subjects, balanced by comprehensive co-curricular and vocational programs. These programs are underpinned by core Christian values and teaching in the Anglican tradition.
Pastoral care and social justice are central to each school’s outworking of the Christian faith within its respective community.
Growth, A message from CEO of the ASC,
The Reverend Peter Laurence - December, 2020
What a difference a year makes. We entered 2020 with devastating bushfires in pretty well every state and territory of Australia. Cobram and surrounds were not spared, with some of Australia’s worst fires on your doorstep. The region was shrouded in smoke on many days, with that eery orange or dark sky during daylight hours. Terrifying.
But that was only the beginning of a year no-one expected to pan out as it has, with what was to become a once-in-a-century global pandemic. For a period of time earlier this year, approximately 98% of students in Anglican Schools Commission (ASC) schools in the three states of Victoria, NSW and WA were 'learning from home’ using technology to connect with their teachers. The first half of the year was a ‘dry run’ for what was to become a term of ‘lockdown’, with Cobram Anglican Grammar School students spending pretty well all of Term Three learning from home. This meant teachers, students and parents/carers were using sophisticated educational software to deliver the curriculum. It also meant using web-conferencing software for teachers to connect with their class. For some, it meant ‘hard-copy’ packages of work being accessed by students who studied under their teacher’s supervision and direction.
'Zoom’, ‘Sector’, ‘See-saw’, ‘Teams’, ‘One Note’ – these became the buzzwords of 2020 in our schools. Home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic became the norm. CAGS teachers and support staff adapted to this new world in an incredibly short period of time. In early March we were 'on campus' in the usual way. By the end of March and for most of Term Three, Cobram AGS was ‘using remote or online delivery, with those few students attending the physical school campus each day also ‘learning remotely’ under adult supervision.
‘Adding insult to injury’ as they say, many Cobram AGS students had the complexity of ‘the border’, with barriers between Victoria and NSW in place, at times seriously restricting movement to and from school. Crossing the river between Barooga and Cobram – usually a simple task - became a barrier not seen for 100 years in Australia.
Term Four saw students return in the first couple of weeks. And it was so terrific to see students and staff returning to face-to-face, resuming some degree of normality in their interactions, even if large gatherings are prohibited. For regional Victoria, easing out of restrictions was a slow and steady process.
As you look back on 2020, there will be many unexpected learnings from being ‘forced’ into this new way of teaching and learning… new ways of ‘being a school’. For sure, the social interactions we missed greatly whilst everyone was learning from home. We are ‘social creatures’, even if being social now requires us to appropriately ‘socially distance’. This is not a bad thing. But come late 2021 or 2022 or 2023, when COVID-19 is behind us, schools will not just go back to the old ways of doing things. They will move forward to new ways, much of which will be as before, some of which will be new expressions of teaching, learning, pastoral care and worship.
Amidst the pandemic, Mr Stephen Gale retired as Principal after almost 9 years of outstanding leadership. Mr Gale came to Cobram AGS in 2012 as Principal and oversaw the School’s development through the ASC’s acquisition of the former ‘Christ the King Anglican College’ in 2014/15 and its expansion since. His leadership was instrumental in securing and shaping Cobram AGS, bringing together a capable leadership team and dedicated teachers and support staff.
On his retirement mid-year, Mr Gale left Cobram AGS in a great position, with almost 400 students enrolled from Foundation to Year 12. Of course, Mrs Rhonda Gale was an exceptional English teacher, inspiring many CAGS students over the years, through to VCE English. I wish Mr and Mrs Gale well in their retirement.
In July we welcomed Mr Keith Willett as the new Principal. Mr Willett is a well-known school leader in the region, having spent the past six years as Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School at sister ASC school Cathedral College Wangaratta, just over an hour ‘down the road’ from Cobram. Mr Willett has spent all his teaching career in North East Victoria, some thirty of those years in Wangaratta. In welcoming Mr Willett to the role, I commend him in taking it on with enthusiasm amidst the challenges of lockdown. Until mid-October, there were few days when Mr Willett had seen the Cobram AGS students face-to-face. Yet the school has not missed a beat, with many stories of the quality of teaching, learning and care continuing through the time of severe restrictions in Victoria. Congratulations to Mr Willett and all the staff, for your generous care of the students during the pandemic.
Every year the Cobram Anglican Grammar School staff work hard and with each child’s best interest at heart, but 2020 required that extra bit of energy, creativity and commitment. The Cobram ASGS community is blessed to have such dedicated professionals who truly understand their calling to one of the greatest vocations of all…educating the young.
This year ‘the unexpected’ brought out in our people what we have come to expect – that is, their very best. Anyone connected with Cobram Anglican Grammar School over the years will know that this expectation is ‘the norm’ here. Often we talk of the joy of ‘unexpected surprises’, but at CAGS these are everyday experiences. Someone going the extra mile to ‘do good’ for another person.
We saw a new Chair of School Council commence this year, in Mr Malcolm Kerr. I take this opportunity to thank Mr Kerr and all members of the School Council for the careful and responsible local governance of CAGS on behalf of the ASC. Mr Kerr took over from Mr Trevor Noonan, who so capably led School Council from the School’s early days. Mr Kerr had no small shoes to fill. He has done an outstanding job in this challenging year.
2020 was both a year to remember and a year to forget. But not for our Year 12 students graduating this year. For you amidst the challenges, it is the greatest year of your schooling, one that by your very resilience you have left an indelible mark on the School. A huge ‘thankyou’.
Who knows what 2021 will bring? We look forward to it in hope and expectation of great things. But for now, I return to this edition of the Cobram Anglican Grammar School Yearbook, which tells the story of 2020. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the School grew in all ways.
May God bless you and all close to you at this time and in the year ahead.
The Reverend Peter Laurence
CEO of The Anglican School's Commission
ASC News is the Anglican School's Commission quarterly newsletter covering news and events occurring in the wider Anglican School's Commission community.