I appreciate the opportunity to recap on what has been another successful, energetic and action-packed year for Somerset College. Whilst our mission statement rolls off the tongue quite easily, the key to the success of Somerset College is the team effort that goes behind implementing our Strategic Plan and driving towards achievement of our mission statement.
Hello Somerset College!
At Scholars Day last year, we unveiled the new Strategic Plan, Our Future. That Strategic Plan continues the aim of Somerset College to, “develop engaged global citizens, aspiring to excellence, demonstrating integrity and valuing difference.”
2018 has seen our Head, Craig Bassingthwaighte, our COO David Thornton, the College Leadership Team and indeed all of our teachers and staff embrace “our future” and embark upon implementing the strategic goals which have been set for the next four years.
The strategic goals identified by our Strategic Plan to deliver personal success to all our students are as follows: -
• Dynamic learning;
• Inspired teaching;
• Community wellbeing; and
• Organisational sustainability.
As Chair of the board I am very proud of what has been achieved in driving towards our strategic goals already in 2018.
When my children first came to Somerset College many, many years ago the only “criticism” that was ever aimed at Somerset College was that the academic excellence that was achieved by Somerset College was a reflection of a focus purely on academic results. Nothing could however have been further from the truth and as the years rolled by the true story of Somerset College is a commitment and an aspiration to achieving excellence in all areas of our students endeavours.
Clearly, the framing of the Strategic Plan goals demonstrate this commitment as indeed do the physical expressions in the facilities and buildings that we have created and continue to create for the personal success of our students.
Our masterplan for building works in the future is clearly programmed and budgets set already for well beyond the next five years.
As you can see, we are now engaged in the significant refurbishment (perhaps more correctly “rebuild”) of the Performing Arts Centre which will be completed in June of 2019.
Another very exciting new building we are creating is the Design Centre. This will house flexible learning spaces to encourage innovative programmes and further excellence in learning. This building will be completed as well by June of 2019.
We can only plan for innovation in curriculum and learning techniques and for the building of buildings on the back of careful economic management of the business of Somerset College.
I am proud to report that this year will see another successful financial year of achieving budget forecast and profit goals to allow continued investment in the education and wellbeing of our students.
Let me pay tribute again to the expert leadership of Somerset College by our Headmaster Craig Bassingthwaighte. Craig is an inspirational teacher and a wonderful business leader. It is pretty hard to get this combination to run a business as large as Somerset College. Craig manages and works with a great team of people. I want to thank our COO David Thornton particularly for his leadership of all of the business projects and financial management. David is supported by a great team and indeed David and Craig are supported by a very strong and committed College Leadership Team. Indeed, the success of Somerset College is based upon the people at Somerset and we are truly blessed with wonderful teaching and administrative staff and I thank and I appreciate all of them for their service on your behalf.
The board's commitment is to not only provide the best in facilities, teaching staff and resources but also to do so, whilst minimising fee increases. It is a fact of life that the cost of living increases yearly and the cost of education, the very best education, also significantly increases on an annual basis. The most significant influence on our budgets is salaries for our teachers and our teacher aides which accounts for 55 per cent of our total expenditure. Those costs have justifiably increased by just over 5 per cent in the past year. The board's direction and guiding philosophy to our Headmaster is to continue to seek only the very best staff and deliver on the commitment of Somerset to encourage and develop every student’s own personal success. Notwithstanding increases in expenditure and on the back of the very careful financial management by Craig Bassingthwaighte and David Thornton, the board has been able to approve a minimum fee increase of 3 per cent for the next school year.
Somerset is served by a very enthusiastic and committed board bringing a very effective and varied skill matrix to the table. All board members give their time voluntarily and with passion. At the start of the year a Somerset parent, Mark Sowerby, joined our board. Mark and his wife Heidi have two sons at our College, Lachlan and Patrick. Mark brings strong business acumen to our board and in particular, Mark is the driving force behind the development of our Entrepreneurship Program and our Celebration of Entrepreneurship. Mark was appointed by the Premier of Queensland as the first Queensland Chief Entrepreneur.
At the AGM of May this year, Terry Herbert stepped down as Deputy Chair of the board and Peter Trimble was announced as the Deputy Chair who will in time succeed me as Chair. Terry, will be resigning as a board member at the end of this year. Terry is to my mind one of the real heroes at Somerset College over the last 20 odd years. Terry and Julie had two children attend Somerset, Anthony and Katy. Anything that has been needed to be done at Somerset, Terry has done it all. He is a hands-on committed worker, whether it be to organise balls, dinner dances, cocktail parties, entertainment, behind the scenes and in front of the scenes for the Celebration of Literature. He has served on the board since 2003 and has served as my Deputy Chair since 2012. Whenever any fundraising appeal is made, Terry is the first to put his hand up and always contributes generously and significantly. The wisdom that Terry has given to our board with his successful business experience is invaluable and will be missed. It is fitting that there be a long-lasting tribute to the contribution of Terry Herbert to Somerset College.
Thank you to the board of Somerset College, thank you to Terry Herbert, Peter Trimble, Chair of Finance; Belinda Simmons, Chair of Governance; Penny Thurnwald, Chair of the Foundation; Bede Young, Jason Cordner, Chair of Storyfest; Louise Davidson, Catherine O’Sullivan and Simon Chan.
Thank you Somerset College for the privilege and honour for allowing me to serve as your Chair. I am committed to continue to do everything within my power to deliver to our students every support, encouragement and facility to allow them to earn their own personal success.
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