Perth Modern School
|Perth Modern School|
French: Savoir C'est Pouvoir
Knowledge is Power
|Subiaco, W.A, Australia|
|Type||Selective, Boarding School, Public, Co-educational, Day school|
|Enrolment||932 (20 Feb 2012)|
|Colour(s)||Blue, Yellow & Red|
The school, established in 1911, caters for students with high academic ability.
Students of Perth Modern School are called "Perth Mods" or "Mods" for short. Former students are called "Modernians".
Perth Modern School was the first government high school in Western Australia . The school opened in 1911. Students were prepared for the University of WA which commenced in 1913. The school charged a comparatively minimal fee of £6 a year. Demand for places at the school was high. Students came from all over Perth and Western Australia, many staying with relatives or boarding as near to the school as possible. In 1912, the school inaugurated a system of scholarships designed to encourage students of ability to attend regardless of the financial situation of their parents. Students studied comprehensive science and modern languages as part of their courses, in addition to classical subjects.
Central to the establishment of the school was Cecil Andrews. As a young man, Andrews was Inspector General of Schools in Western Australia and he had the honour of naming the school and of directing the school curriculum. The first Principal of the school, FG Brown, helped the school off to an excellent start and he was succeeded in 1912 by Joseph Parsons who led the school until 1939.
The school was founded on scientific principles, and throughout its history the school has been at the forefront of education. Perth Modern School pioneered two modern and entirely new concepts in Western Australian education. One was the concept of co-education and the other was that there was to be no corporal punishment, no detention, and no punishment arbitrary or authoritative.
The first concept provided co-education granting young women and young men access to the same higher education pathway. When Perth Modern School opened, it was rare to find women participating in the same endeavours on the same playing field as men. Prior to Perth Modern School, the only high schools in Western Australia were eight independent schools. These schools were sectarian, unisex, high fee paying schools, and only three of the eight schools catered for young women. The school educators helped raise the consciousness in generations of students who were ready, willing and able to advocate change for justice and equality based on merit, as they entered the world and pursued their careers.
The second concept charged each student with the knowledge the school would offer no discipline except self-discipline. Worldwide, it was accepted teachers would use arbitrary and often violent punishments to force students to conform to the will of authority. Perth Modern embraced a new motto, Savoir C’est Pouvoir (Knowledge is Power), and the Sphinx, representing knowledge and wisdom, was adopted as the school emblem. By recognizing and raising higher reasoning in each student, the school educators imparted the gift of education as the key to future success, and this was the motivation for each student to work hard and to achieve the highest results possible.
In 1958 Perth Modern School became a comprehensive five year high school. In 1968 music became a focus of the school and the first of the music scholarships were awarded to 36 first year and 19 fourth year students. By 1970, the school orchestra was formed and the Joseph Parsons Memorial Library opened.
The Graduate College of Dance was founded in 1973 to provide a dance and academic education to Year 12 talented dance students. Previously, students at this level had to go interstate. In 1999, the College was incorporated into Perth Modern School.
The old Thomas Street Primary School, administered by Perth Modern School, became the home of English as a second language in Western Australia in 1990.
In 2005, the Premier of WA, Mr Geoff Gallop, announced the proposal for the school to once again become one of academic excellence. Funding was allocated to turn Perth Modern School into a selective school for academic excellence to serve WA’s most brilliant high school students.
The school reverted to its original concept of a fully selective government school in 2007, recognising that gathering students of high ability in one school encourages students to “be themselves” with like-minded peers, which allows opportunity for the development of higher-order thinking skills and meets the social, emotional and educational needs of gifted students. The gifted program is based on Francois Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent. In 2011, the centenary year, all students were once again academically selected.
West building and main hall (now Beasley Building)
By December 1907, the Western Australian Parliament allocated funds to build the first government high school on a site near the Thomas Street School in Subiaco. However, debate continued for some time, and it was not until 1909 that the west building and main hall contract was tendered.
The new school was built on land which was formerly part of the northern common in Subiaco. The land was set aside for education purposes. The site, of over 4 hectares (10 acres) in area, was located between Roberts and Mueller Roads, west of Thomas Street in Subiaco. On 30 July 1909, S B Alexander was awarded the building contract for £11,637. The contract for the west building and main hall specified eight classrooms, art room, library, chemistry and physics laboratories, lecture rooms, as well as cookery and laundry classrooms. These facilities were grouped around the 27.4m by 14.3m (90 ft by 47 ft) central hall. The building was designed by Hillson Beasley, Principal Architect of the Public Works Department, Western Australia. By 1911 the building was completed for the sum of £18,974.
Beasley’s design of the west building and main hall comprised three parallel two storey wings facing north and south with a courtyard to the west. The building was typical of Beasley's mixture of formality and informality, with interesting interiors serving ritualised assemblies and examinations. The building reflected many key characteristics of Federation Arts and Crafts architecture. It was constructed in red brick with a stone base facade. Decorative exterior features included white painted cement rending to all framing, quoins, and copings. The design and construction also featured a central landmark clock tower with a battlemented parapet, a tapering roof lantern and dormer windows. The roofs were designed and built with steeply pitched parapeted gables covered in tiles, and with prominent eaves and exposed ends to rafters. The main hall was set two storeys high with a jarrah ceiling. Carved sloped roof rafters were designed to give the interior of the building an ecclesiastical feel. The gallery was built spanning east and west on the first floor level with staircases at each end.
Other notable details of fine design and craftsmanship of west building included the stained glass transom windows and fanlights executed in Art Nouveau style at the north side of the building and inside the entrance foyer.
The west building was refurbished during the late 1980s and the work was recognised by several awards. The building is a leading venue for chamber music and general ensemble performance in Perth. The west building is linked by a covered walkway to the third heritage listed wing which houses society and environment classes
The west building and main hall were interimly registered by the Heritage Council of Western Australia in 1992 and it entered the State Registry of Historical Places in 2001. The building was included on the bases of aesthetics and of the number of notable Australians who hailed from these doors. 
The Old Modernians War Memorial was unveiled in 1922 to commemorate the service of ex-students in World War I. The outbreak of WWI saw 148 Modernians enlist, 23 of whom lost their lives. The memorial was designed by William Hardwick, the Principal Architect of Western Australia in 1920, and it is located at the oval-side front door of the school.
East building and gymnasium (now Andrews Building)
The east building and gymnasium were built after the Second World War. Both buildings have been listed as well sited bearing a functionalist aesthetic. The design and construction have been recognised as fine examples of post-war International style. The new administration building joins and provides lift access to the east building.
The school has a rich history and incorporates many rituals to help raise the consciousness of each student. The most notable and oldest ritual is the ringing-of-the-bell by each leaver.
The school is demarcated by the following buildings and centres -
Andrews Building (previously east block)
- administration building
- east building
- physical education office (formerly gymnasium, metal & woodworking rooms, and the old canteen)
Beasley Building (previously west block)
- formerly the old performing arts theatre, and the old photography, physical fitness, & ballet studios
- west building and oval (original Perth Modern School, 1911)
- drama theatre
- The Graduate College of Dance
Embleton Music Centre
- music classrooms
Gardham Building (new school)
- design and technology
Mills Building (new school)
- visual arts, home economics, languages, ICT
New school, built 2009
- art, photography, & home economics building
- library & cafeteria (replaced Joseph Parsons Memorial Library, demolished 2009)
- new performing arts theatre
Stokes Building (previously Thomas Street Building)
- home of English as a second language in WA (original Thomas Street Primary School, established 1904)
City Beach Residential College
Students coming from regional, rural, remote and international areas attending the school can board nearby, at City Beach Residential College, located in Bold Park next to the ISWA (the International School of Western Australia). It contains 72 beds and was funded by a grant from the government. Students have their own large rooms, in 6 bed units, each with 3 bathrooms, a kitchen and recreation area with TV.
The school has preformed consistently well in the WACE school rankings and is often the best performing amongst all of the public schools in the state.
|Year||% +75 in WACE[i]||State ranking[ii]||% +65 in WACE[iii]||State ranking||% graduation[iv]|
- Based on the number of Stage 3 course enrolments in the school where a WACE course score of 75 or above was achieved
- Ranking of school compared to other schools in the state
- Based on the number of Stage 3 course enrolments in the school where a WACE course score of 65 or above was achieved
- Percentage of Year 12 cohort that graduated with a WACE certificate
Perth Modern School hosts the Graduate College of Dance, from which a number of acclaimed high profile dancers have graduated. The Graduate College of Dance is one of leading vocational dance schools in Australia. In conjunction with the Department of Education and Perth Modern, the College prepares talented dancers aged 9 to 17 (year 5 to 12) for the dance profession. The College comprehensive curriculum combines professional dance training with an academic education to tertiary level.
The music programme at Perth Modern School encompasses the Kodály methodology in its teachings. Most aural and theory concepts are taught with the aid of the philosophies of music by Zoltán Kodály, in which hand signs are used as a way of representing musical notes by holding the hand in a certain position for each note.
The music programme places an emphasis on singing. It is a requirement that all students in the programme are in at least one vocal ensemble. The school also has four wind orchestras, three standard orchestras (two string and one symphony) and two classical guitar ensembles as well as various other instrumental groups, chamber choirs and jazz ensembles.
Perth Modern is the host campus of the Western Australian Music Festival (ABODA), which is normally spread over two days; where schools, various orchestras and music groups from Western Australia come to perform to the public. The event is held in a competition format where groups are adjudicated by professional musicians who provide feedback through a detailed report.
Perth Modern School was excluded by the WA private schools from joining established interschool sporting competitions. In 1915, Mr Parsons separated the school into Red, Blue, Gold and Sphinx Factions to promote sporting rivalry.
In 2007 Perth Modern School introduced a new house system to provide competition and recognition of achievement. The houses were named after the first four school principals with each house represented by the following colours:
Perth Modern School alumni are known as Perth Modernians. They have received more top Order of Australia honours than the alumni of any other school in Western Australia. Fifteen Perth Modernians have won Rhodes Scholarships from the University of Western Australia. Notable Perth Modernians include:
- Education Department of Western Australia, Alphabetical List of Western Australian Schools
- Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its awards". The Age. p. 11..
- "Western Australian Rhodes Scholars" (doc). University of Western Australia. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "Perth Modern School West Building including Main Hall". Australian Government, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- "Perth Modern School History and Tradition". Australian Government, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
- Higher Order Thinking
- DET WA Gifted and Talented
- NSW AGTC: Francois Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent 
- Borrello, Eliza (16 February 2011). "Perth Modern returns to its roots". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
- "Perth Modern School" (PDF). Register of Heritage Places - Assessment Documentation. Heritage Council of Western Australia. 14 December 2001. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- "Year 12 Student Achievement Data". Government of Western Australia. 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Year 12 Student Achievement Data". Government of Western Australia. 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Year 12 Student Achievement Data". Government of Western Australia. 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Year 12 Student Achievement Data". Government of Western Australia. 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its awards". The Age. p. 11. The hard copy article also published a table of the schools which were ranked in the top ten places in Australia, as follows: (1st with 19 awards) Scotch College, Melbourne, (2nd with 17 awards) Geelong Grammar School, (3rd with 13 awards) Sydney Boys High School, (equal 4th with 10 awards each) Fort Street High School, Perth Modern School and St Peter's College, Adelaide, (equal 7th with 9 awards each) Melbourne Grammar School, North Sydney Boys High School and The King's School, Parramatta, (equal 10th with 6 awards each) Launceston Grammar School, Melbourne High School, Wesley College, Melbourne and Xavier College.
- Sphinx Foundation (2005). Perth Modern School: The History and the Heritage. Cottesloe, WA: B+G Resource Enterprises; Sphinx Foundation. ISBN 9781920715953.
- Woodman, Alison; Staaden, Ross (2011). Past, Present & Future: Celebrating 100 Years of Exceptional Education at Perth Modern School (1911-2011). Subiaco, WA: Perth Modern School P & C Association. ISBN 9780646557847.