Professor Peter Gronn

  • CHS 1961 – 1964
  • Member of CHS Athletics team 1964
  • Attained First Class Honours in Modern History; Second Class Honours in French. Awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship 1964
  • Secondary teacher Victorian Education Department 1970-74
  • Appointed Professor of Education Monash University 2003
  • Professor of Public Service Leadership and Management at Glasgow University
  • Professor of Education Cambridge University

Peter attended Camberwell High School from 1961 to 1964. He graduated BA (Hons) in 1968, after undertaking a joint honours degree in History and Political Science at The University of Melbourne. He completed a Diploma of Education in 1969.

In 1970-71 he was employed by the Education Department of Victoria as a Humanities teacher at Shepparton Technical College, then transferred to Ferntree Gully Technical School for 1972-3. In 1974, he accepted an appointment as a Lecturer in Politics at the newly-established State College of Victoria (Burwood). Post graduate studies included a Bachelor of Education degree, and a PhD at Monash in 1979. In 1980, he was appointed Lecturer in Education in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Subsequently, while a member of the Faculty, he was promoted to Senior Lecturer (1985), Associate Professor (1995) and then to a personal chair appointment as Professor (2003). He was part of the Faculty’s senior leadership group for a number of years, and on two occasions held Associate Dean portfolios.

After 28 years at Monash University, Peter took up the position of Professor of Public Service Leadership and Management at the University of Glasgow. He then became Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Hughes Hall. From 2011-14, he was the deputy chair of governors of the University of Cambridge Primary School, working with a team of colleagues to open the new primary school, which will form part of a new University development project in the north-west of the city. In 2015 Peter returned to Australia and is now an Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Education at Monash University.

Peter writes: In my time at Camberwell High School, there were four humanities teachers who were highly influential in shaping the subsequent course of my life: Robert Ewins, Don Gibb, Denis Grundy and Joe Rich. In years 11 and 12, especially, they introduced us students to many of the intellectual controversies of the day, recently published books and debates, and they kept us spell-bound. I regard it as an extraordinary privilege to have been taught by them, for which I remain exceedingly grateful, so much so that my recently published biography of Sir James Darling is dedicated to these four wonderful teachers.

I recall my CHS years with fondness. I was fortunate in making numerous friends, with some of whom I have managed to remain in contact. There was always lively engagement and discussion, and the classroom experience was enriched by inter-house and inter-school sport, the inter-house choral festival, interesting excursions and visits. Long after leaving school, I retained some links with CHS. In 1991, I was a member of the Jubilee Committee that was chaired by another ex-student, Professor Kwong Lee Dow. At that time, I was also a member of the school council and shortly afterwards became council president. I was also a member of the fund-raising committee that oversaw the building of the sports hall which replaced the original gymnasium. 

I returned to Melbourne from Cambridge when I retired in 2015, after spending nearly nine years living and working in England and Scotland. I now have an honorary appointment with my former university, Monash, and I continue with my academic research and writing. Currently, I am writing a life of Professor Peter Karmel, a noted education policy leader who introduced needs-based funding of Australian schools, and oversaw the expansion of Australian higher education during the 1970s and 1980s until his retirement in 1987.

In such spare time as he has available, Peter’s interests include reading, writing, listening to music (he is catholic in his tastes, but adores Bruckner), art gallery crawling (especially for Abstract Expressionism, and paintings by the likes of Arthur Boyd, John Olsen, Brett Whitely and Sidney Nolan. He is a strong Europhile―probably as a result of the powerful influence of the history teaching of Robert Ewins and Joe Rich in 1963-4. His current sporting interests include following cricket, Aussie Rules football and rugby. He was actually in Melbourne in 2010 and attended the “G” to watch his beloved Collingwood smash the Saint’s on the first Saturday in October that year. To relax he enjoys watching Scandinavian “noir” television crime drama.

Addendum In this video, the head of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education, Professor Peter Gronn, is being interviewed by Heather Fearfield about the challenges of taking on school leadership.
Updated 2020

Return to Alumni profiles