Brian Grimes, Principal of A B Paterson College on the Gold Coast credits a grilling by Year 12 students as having “cemented in my mind that I had made the right choice when I moved from Perth.”

He says: “I went along on a Year 12 camp with the intention of introducing myself to the 120 seniors, but as I stood up to speak, I realised that making the usual teacher-to-student speech wasn’t going to work, so I said, ‘This is your chance to ask anything you want to know about me.’” 

“The first question was put by a girl, she asked, ‘What skill sets can you bring from Perth to our school’? After that first challenge the students ‘interviewed’ me for 45-minutes. Later, 60 or more came up to me individually and shook my hand.

“It was a memorable introduction to a remarkable school.”

A B Paterson College, named after Banjo Paterson, was established in 1991 by a group of Gold Coast parents who wanted an independent school that would provide an excellent education from Prep to Year 12 that emphasises Australian culture and heritage. In keeping, the school’s four houses are named Mackellar, Wright, Lawson and Dennis, while the multi-purpose centre, officially opened in December 2011, honours Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop.

It is structured as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and is governed by a Board of six elected directors and up to four co-opted directors. The current enrolment is 1400 in Prep through Year 12 and 100 infants attending the Early Childhood Centre.

The school’s teaching and learning program, introduced in 1999, is based on the Teaching for Understanding (TfU) framework developed by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, which seeks to ensure that students not only understand what they are taught, but can expand upon and apply this information in new and real life contexts.

Richard Worsey is Director of Teaching and Learning. He is a TfU international coach and moved to Australia from the UK in 2010 to join the College as Head of Sciences. He mentors a team of curriculum leaders engaged in developing the schools’ teaching and learning program.

In tandem, a three-year plan to expand and upgrade the school’s ICT capabilities has been developed by Brian Grimes, Assistant Principal Marie Perry, Richard Worsey and the newly recruited Director of ICT Services, Iain Moore.

“With TfU we had the pedagogy right,” Grimes says “but our ICT was not allowing teaching to go the next level… it was hindering high level learning.”

The ICT part of the plan integrates the school’s intranet with new laptops, tablets and HeuLab smart tables, six of which have been installed in a brand new Collaborative Learning Centre and two in the Early Childhood Centre.

Acknowledging the current debate about BYOT/BYOD as an alternative to every student having the same machine, Grimes says that the pros and cons of both approaches were researched and evaluated.

“Our project team investigated what schools in Australia, in Singapore and the UK were doing. We wanted a robust ‘child-proof’ device that could enhance and meet the learning needs of our students.”

“We also looked for a supplier who shared our educational values. Learning should not be confined to the classroom – students should be able to learn in the school grounds, at home …anytime, anyplace.”

Finally, Grimes says, it came down to one supplier and Samsung emerged as the winner, with the Korean company signed on to supply 1400 ATIV Smart PC Pro machines running Windows 8.

“We selected the Samsung Windows in the Classroom solution as our objective was to deploy an outstanding ICT platform and a range of devices that would complement our teaching and learning framework.

“We particularly liked the detachable keyboard dock because it gives the user the right device for the task at hand… a PC or a Slate. In the classroom, open PCs create a visual barrier between students and teacher.

“By using the Slate and S-Pen in class, students can handwrite notes and draw diagrams directly into MicroSoft OneNote 2010 and store the information in their PCs to save time-wasting copy typing during study periods or homework.”

The plan calls for the school’s existing fleet of 1230 laptops to be replaced progressively as leases run out. To prepare for the first stage of the roll out, teaching staff received their PCs and training towards the end of Term 4 last year. The College has invested in developing staff capabilities and has introduced new positions within the school to support this ICT strategy. These positions include the Head of the Collaborative Learning Centre and four e-mentors within the College, in addition to a review of current ICT staff roles and responsibilities.

Years 4–6 students received Slates at the start of Term 1 this year. Next year, Years 7–12 will receive PCs and the program will be completed in 2015 when Prep–Year 3 students receive Slates (and possibility PCs for the older juniors). If all goes as Grimes expects, tablets may become a feature in the Early Childhood Centre too. 

For Samsung, the A B Paterson project is one of four ‘lighthouse’ schools that will showcase what can be achieved by combining its hardware with Microsoft educational software. Also in the group are Prince Alfred College in SA and two more schools to be announced in the near future.

Andre Obradovic, Director for Enterprise and SMB with Samsung emphasises the value for money benefit of the combined PC and tablet offering. At around $1300, including the S-Pen, it’s substantially less costly than buying a comparable PC and a tablet separately, he says.

Samsung Smart PCs

Combining the functions of a notebook PC with the convenience of a tablet, the 11.6” Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro with Windows 8 is designed to deliver a fully integrated 1:1 learning experience. A B Paterson College is the first school in Queensland to instal this technology.

The Smart Pro PC features a detachable keyboard-docking system that allows users to switch between clamshell and table format and comes with the highly intuitive Samsung S-Pen for a real writing and drawing experience.

With intuitive touch-screen and S-Pen capabilities, it enables students to hand write notes, comments and equations directly into MicroSoft OneNote 2010 note taking and collaborative software.

Career path Brian Grimes

Brian Grimes was born in Glasgow and raised in Perth. He earned his BSc at UWA and his MEd at Edith Cowan.

The opportunity to become Principal of A B Paterson College came along when Mrs Dawn Lang, Principal since 1994, retired at the end of 2011. He joined the College at the start of the 2012 school year.

His first teaching position was as a chemistry teacher at Hale School in Perth where, over a 15-year career, he progressed through the ranks to become Head of Chemistry and Head of the Boarding House.

In 2008 he was appointed Principal of Swan Valley Anglican Community School, a co-ed P-12 with an enrolment of 910 students. The school is located 30 km north east of Perth’s CBD in the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine growing region.