St Michael's Grammar School

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St Michael's Grammar School
St Michael's Grammar School
25 Chapel Street
St Kilda, Victoria 3182
Coordinates 37°51′34″S 144°59′28″E / 37.85944°S 144.99111°E / -37.85944; 144.99111Coordinates: 37°51′34″S 144°59′28″E / 37.85944°S 144.99111°E / -37.85944; 144.99111
Type Independent, Co-educational
Motto Latin: Pro Ecclesia Dei
(For the Church of God)
Denomination Anglican
Established 1895
Chairman Fiona Mead
Principal Simon Gipson
Staff 225
Enrolment 1,194
Colour(s) Blue, Red, White               
Slogan "Diversity Opens Minds"
School fees $17,208-$27,000

St Michael's Grammar School is an Australian co-educational independent day school located in St Kilda, Victoria.

The school was founded in 1895 by the Community of the Sisters of the Church and remains in its original location on a single campus. The school is a member of the Association of Coeducational Schools (ACS) and is associated with the Anglican Church of Australia.

The school provides a comprehensive education from kindergarten to the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). All Year 12 students study for the VCE as the VCAL and IB Diploma Programme are not offered.



In 1870, Mother Emily Ayckbowm founded a new Anglican religious order in England - the Community of the Sisters of the Church. The order had been invited to Australia to further educational work for girls and St Michael's was one of six schools established in different parts of Australia. They also founded schools in England, New Zealand and Canada. On 23 April 1895, the sisters opened St Michael's in a converted 1870s mansion.

"Marlton" (now St Michael's House), an 1870s mansion which was purchased in 1892 during the depression and served as a boarding house between 1905 and 1975

Twentieth century[edit]

In 1972, the sisters transferred the management of St Michael's to a school council and the school was incorporated. In the early 1980s the school was close to bankruptcy. With the appointment of a new headmaster, Anthony Hewison,[1] the decision was taken to admit boys to all levels of the school, thus making it fully coeducational, and to embark on modernising the school.

In 1985 the school became a company limited by guarantee. Since that date the sisters have retained their interest in the school but no longer play a part in its governance. The school is managed by a Head who is appointed by a board of directors.

Twenty-first century[edit]

With the arrival of the current headmaster, Simon Gipson, the administration adopted new approaches. The changes related to:

  • traditional terminology (i.e. "Headmaster" to "Head of the School", "homework" to "out of school work", "first form" to "Year 7".[2]
  • removal of corporal punishment.[3]
  • introduction of a new school uniform.[4] The uniform was launched with a professionally choreographed catwalk display.[5]
  • introduction of a six-stage building plan (including the recently built "Sisters of the Church Learning Centre" and the new playing surface for the oval).[6]


St Michael's offers a wide range of subjects including core mathematics, science, English, IT, LOTEs (Languages Other Than English), arts and humanities courses. At primary level, students all study basic subjects including mathematics, English, science, history, Japanese, music and sport. A major focus of the school is drama.[7]

Masonic Hall in Crimea Street, built in 1876 as a Baptist church, was acquired by the school in 1995

Performing arts[edit]

Drama has one of the highest voluntary participation numbers among students of any department of the school. St Michael's is well known for its drama program. Each year the school performs a large number of productions, including Years 10 to 12 senior musical; the Years 7 to 9 musical and play; Dance Fusion (a contemporary dance production); a student production; a house drama festival and three yearly senior plays. The 2010 senior musical, 13, was the Australian premiere of the musical and won Best Production at the Victorian Musical Theatre Guild awards (the fourth St Michael's musical to do so).[8] The senior musical in 2011 was Parade.

St Michael's also conducts an annual compulsory house singing competition, in which all five of the school houses perform a musical item. Many other musical ensembles perform regularly throughout the year, including the 7-12 Harrison Choir, which each year performs a large choral work, and the Grigoryan Orchestra (named for school alumnus, guitarist Slava Grigoryan).

Other programs[edit]

Great Barrier Reef project[edit]

The Great Barrier Reef project involves year 10 students studying VCE Unit 2 biology in Far North Queensland, participating in a month of research on the Great Barrier Reef. Activities include daily snorkeling from St Michael's Orpheus Island Research Campus.

Originally the program ran for a duration of one month, but has since been extended to include days in Townsville, Paluma and Tully to study Indigenous culture.

Exodus program[edit]

When St Michael's student body was much smaller, the entire senior school went on school camp together; this was the first "Exodus"."Exodus" camps have for many years been split between year and house groups for students in Years 7 to 11. Each student from Year 7 to Year 11 experiences a minimum of five days of outdoor education each year, with the programs run by the Outdoor Education Group. Junior school programs mainly involve staying in cabins (although part of the Year 6 Exodus involves sleeping in tents) and participating in various activities.

Senior school programs are quite diverse, ranging from bush walking in Year 7 to choices including rafting, kayaking, rock-climbing, tree-planting or cycling in year 11. Year 10 students may also have great choice in their Exoduses, including Hattah Solo, a popular program involving students spending 24 hours out of the week-long program alone (albeit in close proximity to other students and supervisors) for the purposes of reflection and learning self-sufficiency. Exodus for each year level is slightly more challenging than the last, and there is a different theme for each year level.

"Kosciuszko to the Coast"[edit]

Every year students in year 11 have the option to take part in the Kosciuszko to the Coast program in lieu of the year 11 Exodus (School camp). This is a challenging 20-day expedition where students travel (through various methods including snowshoeing, hiking, white-water rafting and canoeing) from Mount Kosciuszko to the coast of Victoria, camping along the way.

St George's Presbyterian Church. Leased by St Michael's Grammar since 1990.

European Tour Choir[edit]

The European Touring Choir consists of boys and girls in Years 8-12, and the group travels to Europe to compete in international choir competitions and perform on world stages biannually. Past tours have travelled to Rome, Carrara, Pisa, Venice, Vicenza, Nördlingen, Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Berlin, Leipzig, Hagen, Cologne, Voorburg, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Florence, York, Croissy, Munich, and Vienna, and performed at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales.


St Michael's has student exchange programs with schools in Japan and France.

The Japanese exchange with Keio Shonan-Fujisawa Junior & Senior High School in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture has been operating for over 10 years.

The French exchange began in 1999 and takes place every two years, with Le Bon Sauveur in Paris. The St Michael's students usually go to France for five to six weeks during their summer holiday (December–January). The return trip to Australia by the students of Le Bon Sauveur usually happens in July–August of the following year.

Community engagement[edit]

St Michael's has an Admissions and Community Engagement team whose responsibilities include raising awareness of the school, processing and monitoring student applications (local and international) and enriching educational programs by supporting community engagement[9] and contributing citizenship programs.[10]

Social service and charity work[edit]

The school is involved in social service, working to raise money for various charities.[11] Once or twice a term a "Community Action Day" (previously called "Casual Clothes Day") is held, organised by the social service captains of each house, to raise money for a diverse number of charities, ranging from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre (Sarum House) to a sponsor village in Bali (Mitre House). Every year in May, a prefect-organised program, entitled the "Merry Month of May", is held to raise money for social service. Activities such as a "Battle of the Bands", barbecues, dress-up days, movie viewings, novelty races, great debates and theatresport contests are held each day. Also in conjunction with the Merry Month of May, the school participates in the "World's Greatest Shave" for the Leukaemia Foundation, in which participants shave their heads to show solidarity for leukaemia sufferers, raising money through collecting donations. In 2016, the Merry Month of May raised a record sum of $30,678. The school leadership teams in both the senior and junior schools in 2011 also raised money for relief for the Christchurch earthquake, Japanese tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster and the bushfires in Victoria and Queensland.

House system[edit]

The junior school houses (Years K-6) are Moss, Woods, Marlton and Cintra.

The senior school houses (Years 7-12) are Mitre, Sarum, Hughes, Kilburn and Breen. Mitre, Sarum, Hughes and Kilburn are the four original school houses and were all created in 1922, all significant for their own reasons. When the school started to grow a fifth senior school house, Breen was created in 1987. The pastoral care system is based on a house structure which deals with all matters relating to a student's wellbeing or curriculum needs. Each student is placed in a house tutorial group which is overseen by a house tutor. There are five houses and therefore five house tutorial groups at each year level. A house contains students from Years 7 to 12. Each house is led by two co-heads. The members of each house are led by co-house captains and co-vice-captains. The houses meet on a regular basis.

The house tutor and heads of house work as a team to monitor the academic and personal progress of each student in the house tutorial group and house. Generally, the house tutor is the first and main point of contact between the parent and the school.

The Astor Theatre building[edit]

On 6 December 2007, St Michael's purchased The Astor Theatre building in St Kilda.[12] The cinema continued to operate as usual, with films screening at nights and on weekends, while the building was often used by the school for assemblies and events on weekdays.

On 24 August 2012 the school announced that it had sold the building to Ralph Taranto.[13][14]


Hewison House, a former 1860s mansion was acquired by the school in 1988 and named after a former headmaster.
  • Sister Hannah CSC (1895–1903)
  • Sister Adele CSC (1903–1912)
  • Sister Mildred CSC (1912–1925)
  • Sister Persis CSC (1925–1933)
  • Sister Dora Beatrice CSC (1934–1939)
  • Sister Eudora CSC (1939–1944)
  • Sister Karina CSC (1945–1949)
  • Sister Shirley CSC (1950–1952)
  • Sister Gabrielle CSC (1953–1954)
  • Sister Patricia CSC (1955–1963)
  • Sister Scholastica CSC (1963–1966)
  • Sister Gabrielle CSC (1966–1967)
  • Sister Scholastica CSC (1967–1968)
  • Sister Elizabeth May CSC (1968–1970)
  • Sister Scholastica CSC (1971–1972)
  • May Vicars Foote (1937–1946)
  • Dorothy Benson (1963–1965)
  • Margaret Thomas (1965–1979)
  • Anthony Hewison, AM (1980–1999)[1]
Head of the School

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 'An enlightened headmaster', The Age, 14 October 2010, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Homework bound", The Age, 19 March 2007, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  3. ^ 'Schools likely to accept corporal punishment ban', The Age, 13 February 2005, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  4. ^ 'School goes for the wow factor', The Age, 22 August 2005, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  5. ^ "The hard sell", The Age, 22 September 2005, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Building boon", The Age, 28 August 2006, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Acting the part in St Kilda", The Port Phillip Leader, 11 June 2011, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  8. ^ Music Theatre Guild of Victoria Awards Presentation 2010, Stage Whispers, 5 December 2010, retrieved 3 August 2012.
  9. ^ 'St Kilda students on a mission to help', The Caulfield Glen Eira Leader, 14 July 2012, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  10. ^ 'St Kilda school shows perfect time of year for sharing and caring', The Port Phillip Leader, 18 December 2011, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  11. ^ 'Students lend a helping hand to Uganda', Herald Sun, 18 November 2011, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  12. ^ 'School snaps up historic theatre', ABC, 7 December 2007, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  13. ^ 'Sale of The Astor building', St Michael's Grammar School, 24 August 2012, retrieved 24 August 2012.
  14. ^ 'Cinema lover saves St Kilda's Astor Theatre', Stonnington Leader, 24 August 2012, retrieved 24 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Simon Gipson to finish as Head of the School at end of 2017 - St Michael's Grammar School". Retrieved 19 July 2016. 
  16. ^ 'Hester, Joy St Clair (1920–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, retrieved 6 August 2012.
  17. ^ 'Etude brother? Siblings slay them in the aisles', The Age, 12 September 2009, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  18. ^ 'From shy to shining', The Age, 22 February 2007, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  19. ^ 'The rise of Asher Keddie ', The Australian, 14 April 2012, retrieved 2 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Anna O’Byrne: A living doll", The Melbourne Times Weekly, 25 April 2011, retrieved 2 August 2012.

External links[edit]