The school had endured a number of problem years (which saw the development and failure of its associated school at Doncaster) and confidence was needed for its long-term future and its ability to prepare students for a changing world, employment and technology.
Rev Herbert (Bert) Stevens was installed as principal of Kingswood College in July 1990 and set about to reassure the school’s community that its financial position had stabilised, enrolments were increasing and that staff, students and parents were committed to an educational program that offered a strategic approach to learning.
Rev Stevens had been principal at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School for 25 years and was working as an educational and management consultant until 1989 when the Uniting Church approached him to consider a management position at Kingswood College.
His brief was to restore confidence and to build on the school’s strengths including its reputation for being innovative.
During Stevens’ term, the college had an open-enrolment policy and its senior school continued to operate as a transition between school and tertiary study. Students in Years 11 and 12 were not required to wear uniform and were supported by a number of additional advisory groups.
Students were also encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own learning – a philosophy that extended across the school through a program of strategic learning developed by their own methods and progress.
Stevens said at the time:
“When I was working as a management consultant I realised that by and large most people don’t know how to go about learning or how you learn to learn. People want to become skilled but don’t know how to go about it.”
He believed that by helping each student understand how she or he learns, a practical framework could be constructed for the acquisition of skills and knowledge.
Stevens reinstated ‘speech nights’, introduced food technology into the curriculum (and established a centre to accommodate it) and oversaw the development of the Early Learning Centre.
At the end of his term, Rev Stevens had completed what was required of him: he had restored the school’s financial viability and – importantly -confidence for the future.