St Michael's Grammar School

For other schools named after St Michael, see St. Michael's School (disambiguation).
St Michael's Grammar School

Latin: Pro Ecclesia Dei
For the Church of God
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
Denomination Anglican
Established 1895
Chairman Paul Orton
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

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

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


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

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 school performed The Crucible in 2009 and was the only school in Australia to legally have the performance rights. 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. In 2011 Venus and Adonis by John Blow was performed during the senior drama festival, while the Years 7-9 drama festival during mid-October saw the performance of The Music Man Jr. and an original play, The Sadness of Mr Saisson.

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

Great Barrier Reef project

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

When St Michael's student body was much smaller, the entire senior school went on school camp together; this was the first "Exodus". As of 2005, "Exodus" camps have 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"

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

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

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

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.

School uniform

St Michael's Grammar School, like most private schools in Australia, requires students to wear school uniforms. The uniform for male and female students is different and there are two varieties - both summer (Terms 1 and 4) and winter or formal (Terms 2 and 3, but required to be worn on all formal occasions).

The female school summer uniform consists of a dress to be worn with white socks, while the winter uniform is a red and navy skirt, white shirt, red and navy tie, navy woollen sweater and navy blazer, all to be worn with navy tights or white socks. The boys' uniform consists of navy pants, white shirt, red and navy tie, navy sweater and red and navy striped blazer, with an optional red and navy checked shirt for summer. School prefects (school captains, school vice-captains and house captains) wear a tie with the school logo printed on.

The school captains and school vice-captains also wear a different blazer pocket with the school logo embroidered in gold and also gold embroidered writing to indicate their leadership position. All leaders in the school also wear relevant badges on their blazer lapels.

The school sports uniform consists of a number of different parts relevant to the sport being played, all in the school colours of red and navy.

Jewellery and makeup are forbidden, with the exception of appropriate wristwatches, religious necklaces (usually crucifixes or crosses) and charity wristbands.

House system

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. Sarum house have dominated sport in recent times and have been house athletics champions from 2002 to the present every year and in 2012 Sarum house won the "triple crown" of house swimming, house athletics and house cross-country. Kilburn house are successful in areas such as debating, chess and dancing with the staff. Breen house have a reputation for coming a close second in the majority of house events while Mitre and Hughes tend to place third or fourth in most house events. 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

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.
Head of the School

Notable alumni

See also


  1. 1 2 '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 2016-07-19.
  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.
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