Brisbane Boys’ College: New school of thought

Based on the vision of its founder, Brisbane Boys’ College continues to encourage every student to realise his potential. While respecting the values of its past, it also embraces new ways of thinking to prepare boys with the confidence and capability to succeed in a modern world.

When Brisbane Boys’ College Founder Arthur (Barney) Rudd arrived in Brisbane from Melbourne in the early 20th century, he despaired at the shortcomings of the education system at the time.

“Education is the key to human progress and, if we compare what is with what might be, educational improvement is depressingly slow,” he said.

Mr Rudd believed that there was a better approach to education; one which focussed on encouraging each student to realise their potential – both as a scholar, and an honourable and principled leader – so they could in turn play their part in progressing society as a whole.

It was an educational philosophy that broke the mould of the structured and less flexible syllabi used by schools at the time. It was ‘A New School of Thought, A New Way of Thinking’.

In 1902, Mr Rudd welcomed the first four boys who would be educated under his vision. In the intervening 117 years, Brisbane Boys’ College (BBC) has continued to shape boys from around Queensland and regional Australia, and indeed some from the far reaches of the globe, into men who have the confidence and capability to change the world.

The College has endeavoured to frame men of character and integrity to serve their communities. It has educated its students to be successful in their business and professional endeavours. But most of all, it has sought, throughout the century, to follow Rudd’s example of encouraging each student to realise his own potential.

While the BBC of today upholds those same fundamental principles and values, it is by no means captive to past practices. Like Rudd, current Headmaster Paul Brown is profoundly aware the College needs to be open to the world and new ways of thinking in order to equip each and every young man with the skills, knowledge and understanding to reach their potential in today’s modern world.

“The pace of change in society, and the world of work, is accelerating and the influence of digital technology is profound,” says Mr Brown, acknowledging that many of the school’s youngest students will graduate into jobs and careers which have not yet been created.

“At BBC, we are acutely aware we must ‘future-proof’ our students by developing young men who not only have strong foundational knowledge but who are also critical thinkers, creative, collaborative and have agile and flexible minds.

“To do this, we must embrace new ways of thinking and be open to change,” he says.

Recognising that knowledge-based learning is no longer enough, BBC has adopted an integrated approach to education that marries best practice teaching and learning with the science of wellbeing.

Mr Brown explains that by placing a student’s wellbeing at the heart of the College’s decision-making, BBC is preparing boys for a lifetime of fulfilment and ultimately, success.

“We are adopting evidence-based teaching and learning practices and marrying them with the science of wellbeing to deliver a positive educational experience that focuses on assisting each and every boy to achieve to their potential and beyond, building both competence and confidence.”

He says the College can be confident of its students becoming successful adults if it not only provides them with knowledge but gives them the power and agency to apply knowledge in a variety of contexts and constructs.

“We must teach them foundational literacies: numeracy, scientific literacy, language literacy, ICT literacy, cultural and civic literacy; as well as key 21st century competencies such as critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, communication and collaboration.

“We must also build their character qualities such as curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, leadership and social and cultural awareness so that they can move confidently into the world and make a positive contribution to society, just as Rudd envisaged more than a century ago.

“It is new way of thinking about the way we teach and learn, and at BBC, we refer to this as ‘A New School of Thought’,” says Mr Brown.

He adds that the embedded focus on wellbeing enables staff to effectively connect and engage with each boy through the different stages of their development, positively impacting on their academic outcomes. “We know there is an inextricable link between wellbeing and achievement. Through implementing intentional, experience-based wellbeing initiatives, we foster resilience, engagement and ultimately an optimal environment for academic success,” he says.

The College’s academic results and tertiary outcomes demonstrate its commitment to the highest academic standards and reflect the importance it places on supporting all boys to reach their goals. “We are immensely proud of our boys and enjoy celebrating their ongoing achievements long after they leave the College,” says Mr Brown.

Brisbane Boys’ College is an independent GPS school for boys from Prep to Year 12 with boarding available from Year 7.

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