Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School

Mr Jeff Symms

Our Campus’ History

Last week I wrote about the official opening of the Preparatory School Campus and shared some photographs of the construction of it, but not many people know that prior to the whole primary school becoming based here in Lupus Street, the early years of Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 had already set up home in the Cribb building, a purpose built early learning centre that was the talk of educational circles on the Gold Coast for some time.

Ivor Cribb who was the Master of the Preparatory School at the time and His Grace the Archbishop of Brisbane, The Most Reverend R.B.R. Grindrod K.B.E. presided over the cutting of the ribbon on the new facility in October.

The TSS Junior School spent many  years located on the Senior School campus, where the Centenary Sports Centre and swimming pools now stand.  Prior to the development of the Preparatory School, the Stevenson Building (now our visual arts classrooms and staff facilities) served as the main building for the Junior School and the School  Store.  Arranged around an attractive courtyard, the traditional timber buildings served the community of the Gold Coast as a school for boys aged 6-12.  As you can see from the photographs, it was an almost ‘bush school’ setting and I’m sure the boys loved it.

Trusting our children with some freedom

A topic that often comes up when I am conducting my walking tours of the Prep Campus for prospective parents is that of resilience and independence.  Parents will sometimes ask what the school does to support the boys development in this area.

I, of course, can talk to a number of programs that our teachers employ to provide developmentally appropriate challenges that help the boys to ‘push the boundaries’ a little.  The outdoor education program is one of these and it is interesting to note the increasing numbers of boys for whom simply attending the camp is the first big hurdle, not to mention participating in the activities on offer.

One of the ‘measures’ of parents willingness to trust their children and provide a good way for them to develop some independence is the number of children walking, using public transport or riding bikes to school. Over the past 15 years the rate of children being driven to the school gate and then picked up has increased tremendously.  Our school bike rack now has, on a good day, maybe two or three bikes in it.  I remember the days (at a previous school with similar enrolment) when the bikes would number close to a hundred.  Back in the day, I either walked or rode to school, many of my friends did the same – it was great social time and even though we sometimes stopped along the way to explore the creek, we made it home safe and sound, learning along the way to make wise decisions that kept us that way.

Times have changed and it is often the case that students are carrying a lot more equipment than we used to.  Perhaps it is harder to walk or ride to school while carrying a laptop, school bag, musical instrument, cricket kit and so on.  I think if this is the case, it is reasonable to think that walking or riding are not the most suitable ways to get to school. But I see many boys walking into school with nothing more encumbering than their school backpack and some of these complain about walking up from the drop off zone!  Sometimes I see them leading their parent up to the classroom, with mum or dad carrying their backpack for them.   That’s the life!  In an era of concern over childhood exercise and obesity it might be a good idea for parents to stop the car a few hundred metres away and let their son enjoy a morning walk into school if only for a short distance.

Michael Grose, parenting expert says that deep down we all know that giving children more freedom is good for their overall development and he writes about his in this book ‘Spoonfed Generation’.  He talks about how climbing walls, exploring drains and building cubbies out of scraps of wood, are what shapes a child’s development.  Much more so than the safe, sanitised activities that are often offered up to children today.  He points out that it is the unpredictable environments that teach a child about being resourceful, assessing risks and confronting their fears.  Too often, we today step in and help our children avoid their fears rather than confront them.  This of course does them no favours in the long run.

Of course, we all want our children to be safe and so no-one is advocating permitting them to run free without parental guidance and support.  But when I visit Sydney or Melbourne and see quite young primary school children navigating their way across these cities on public transport – successfully changing trains/buses at interchanges, I am struck with the sense of self-confidence they exhibit and wonder how children who do not get these opportunities will learn the same.

Please take a read of his full article – insight-let-kids-off-the-leash-for-greater-confidence-and-resilience

Parent THRASS workshops

Two workshops will be conducted before the end of term to introduce parents to a deeper understanding of THRASS and how we use these resources to give the boys an understanding of the orthography of the English language.  First timers and repeat visitors are all welcome and the sessions are ‘hands on’ learning experiences.

There is a choice of two sessions:-

Wednesday March 14:- 9.00am – 10.30am

Thursday March 22:-    6.00pm – 7.30pm

Registration is necessary and completed by clicking here.

Honours Program

Parents are reminded that if they wish their son to sit the Honours Program entry exam with a view to him joining the program, or if they wish him to sit the Honours Scholarship examination, registrations are now open through the school’s website.

The timeline for this process is:-


There is also a FAQ section on the website which may answer any questions about the program parents have.  A parent information session will be held on Wednesday May 2, 6pm.

School Closure

Parents will have received the Headmaster’s email regarding the school being closed for three days in the final week of term.  There will not be any classes conducted on March 26,2 and 28.  There will also not be a vacation care program conducted on Thursday March 29, but the vacation care program will run as normal for the school holiday period, only closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

These three missed school days will be caught up throughout the year with the cancellation of three staff development days, ensuring that the full academic program is covered.  GPS sport round for Saturday March 24th will go ahead as normal and junior football rounds are all unaffected.  For updated information regarding sports fixtures and changes due to weather or schedules, parents are reminded about checking

Queensland Health have been working with the school for some weeks now and while more than happy with the way this has been managed, and acknowledging that infections had decreased, recommended that school classes be suspended for the last week of term as a means of providing an opportunity to break the cycle and provide time for more anti-viral cleaning to occur.  The decision has been a collaborative one with Queensland Health the welfare of the boys and wider community  as the guiding principle.

Dogs on Campus

Teachers are reporting a growing number of parents bringing dogs onto the school grounds.  Unfortunately dogs on campus are not permitted for health reasons and so I ask that they be left at home at pick up and drop off time.

A dog visiting the classroom as part of show and tell is of course acceptable – new puppies are always a welcome addition to the day, but a number of dogs have been attending weekend sport fixtures or training sessions on the ovals and been in the school grounds of an afternoon at pick up time.  The issue of course is the health issues surrounding dog faeces and of course the danger of a bite to a child.

Preschool Enrolments

Families who may be looking into enrolling their son into Preschool for 2019 are advised to complete their applications as soon as possible.  Mrs Humphreys, Preschool Co-ordinator, has commenced the interviews for available places.  Fulltime and part time places are still available, but filling very quickly.

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