BATHURST’S St Stanislaus’ College has rejected speculation that the appointment of a woman as head of school is the first step towards becoming a coeducational facility.
However, college president Father Doug Akehurst admits it is impossible to predict what decision makers will do in the years to come.
“I can’t comment on what may happen down the track,” he said. “There’s all sorts of options. I don’t have a crystal ball.”
Questions surrounding where Stannies is headed has been the talk in the old boys’ community since earlier this month when the Vincentian order appointed Dr Anne Wenham to replace John Edwards in the top job.
Old boys’ president Lachlan Sullivan said he’d been asked on many occasions what it means for the college to move away from tradition for the first time in its long history.
“Some people have said it’s a courageous decision,” Mr Sullivan said.
“The response has been mixed to say the least. There’s all sorts of speculation as to what this means. I can’t answer any of those questions.
“All I can say is that Dr Wenham has outstanding credentials as an educator and presents the college with an opportunity to step up to another level. A new face brings new ideas.”
Stannies president Father Doug Akehurst told the Western Advocate that at no stage during the process to appoint a new head of school was there talk of moving towards becoming coeducational.
“Let me make it perfectly clear it wasn’t on the agenda and hasn’t been on the agenda,” Father Akehurst said.
“However, what happens in years to come is something the decision makers of the day will have to make. For now we’re staying the way we are as an independent school under the governance of the Congregation of the Mission that is the Vincentian order.
“Clearly, there are exciting times ahead for the college which is entering a new chapter.
“The appointment of any new head, be they male or female, brings new ways of seeing and looking at things.”
Father Akehurst said the fact a woman has been chosen for the role is an indication of the changing times in which we live.
“Dr Wenham’s appointment was based solely on merit. She is very highly qualified and has great experience in the classroom and with teaching boys,” he said.
“I do note though that within the education system in Australia you will find very few single sex boys’ schools have a woman as the head of school.
“However, there has been many males as the head of girls’ schools. For example the former principal at MacKillop College was a male, Steve Todd. The fact Dr Wenham is a woman has added a certain note of interest to the appointment, especially as this is a first for Stannies.”