1970-1979 Potted History

Information sourced from A Jubilee Retrospective by Robert Ewins and CHESS newsletters 

Under the leadership of Principal Joan Essex, a number of much needed changes were implemented. New subjects, electives and extra-curricula activities enhanced the learning opportunities during and after school. Unfortunately, there was a rise in anti-social behaviour, and little commitment to the House system, competitive sport or team activities. The Monday morning Patriotic Ceremony was disbanded.


  • The school had a new classroom block, assembly hall and library.
  • Student numbers increased to 845 because local central schools closed down.


  • Lack of specialised staff, poor quality and/or incompetent teachers in the junior school, overcrowding, a decline in respect for authority and willingness to accept discipline and direction were challenges addressed by Joan Essex.
  • Enrolments continued to climb with 956 students: 556 boys and 400 girls.
  • Despite having no curtains or lights, the school hall was used for the drama productions for the first time. 7 plays were staged.


  • A government scheme brought three teachers from the United States.
  • A 5 period day was introduced with new electives: First Aid, Pre-driver education, orchestra. Boys did cooking, girls did metalwork and woodwork.
  • The musical The Boyfriend was staged along with 7 other plays.


  • The new experimental community school opened with 100 students from Forms I-VI. There were 8 teachers, 18 ducks, 5 chooks, a rooster, goat and 5 black sheep. Students enjoyed more freedom and were allowed to smoke.
  • Trial by Jury was staged in addition to 8 other plays.
  • A Combined House Report stated: “house spirit among the masses is dead.”


  • Because of the lack of respect shown by students towards prefects, a nine member “General Committee” was put in place. It lasted one year.


  • The school held its first Open day and over 1,000 people enjoyed displays, demonstrations, sport, drama and representative cultural activities.
  • By the end of 1975 the experimental community school closed.
  • Trial by Jury and 11 other plays were staged.


  • An old car was bought for students to work on.
  • An enthusiastic production of HMS Pinafore was staged.


  • David J. Collins became the 6th Principal and remained there until 1987. He addressed vandalism, thoughtless destruction of furniture and foul language.
  • Teams began entering the Victorian Schools Debating Competition.
  • The Mikado and The Admirable Crichton were produced.


  • New parents, students and staff were invited to the Year 7 Sausage sizzle.
  • The Pirates of Penzance and The Big Men Fly were staged.


  • Each week students had 12 periods of English, French, Mathematics and Phys. Ed. Electives included graphic communication, metalwork or sex education.