Harkaway Hills College

I have been involved in school education for 40 years. My wife, Virginia, and I worked in State schools, Catholic systemic schools and independent schools in our first years of teaching but we both saw that a key ingredient, that was often missing, was always parents. Early on, we had the opportunity to work in schools in Europe that put parents first and so began our lifes’ work in schools of the PARED Foundation in Sydney.
There we, together with parents and other educators, have established 4 Foundation to Year 12 schools. I have been privileged to be the foundational Principal at two of them. In 2012, we were jointly given Life Membership of the Australian Parents Council for service to parents. This was the same year that I lost Virginia. That loss made me available for the next great adventure – a return to my home city to be foundational Principal one more time.
For some time, young parents had been lobbying the PARED Foundation in Sydney to start a school in Melbourne. A company was formed, PARED Victoria, and Harkaway Hills College opened last year with just 13 students. We have established the school in a beautiful site in Narre Warren North that has plenty of room for expansion.
We began with Foundation and Year 1. This year, we added Year 2 and we now have 30 students. We will be adding one year grouping each year up to Year 12. So, next year we will be Foundation to Year 3 with over 50 students.
The school is open to children of all faiths but the founders desired a catholic environment and chaplaincy.
This school is built around parents using a mentor system. Each child is allocated from the staff a mentor and I like to think of that educator being the parents’ agent in the school. Parents are responsible for the development and education of the whole child through to adulthood and school can cooperate most effectively in that process if the parents take their role seriously.
All authority of schools and teachers is delegated by parents. Schools can help parents in their educational role. Academic development is delegated by parents substantially but in all other areas of development, physical, psychological, spiritual, growth in virtues and character, growth in the affections etc., the task rests with parents and schools can support and reinforce what parents are doing at home. When the whole child is considered and not just the academics, one can see that schools can scarcely make up for what parents don’t put in, no matter how hard they try.
Our Mentor system is an mechanism to have home and school working together for each child. So, it is individualised and integrated. Mentors chat one on one with each child frequently and mentors meet a minimum of every term with the child’s parents. Usually a mentor would work with any siblings at the school also. Both the mentoring session and the termly meetings with parents could be seen as a friendly exchange of information about progress at home and school and a goal setting exercise. For example, at school a child might be encouraged to get to class on time, to get out their books to start work quickly and at home to do their chores and homework on time without being reminded. The goals can vary widely depending of each child from learning to do up shoelaces or reading the home reader up to how many hours study a night are needed for the VCE.
This has been my calling in life – to help parents be the best parents they can be and to invest in our country’s future by helping parents build strength of character and virtue in their children.
The catch cries we use in marketing: “Educating for Character” and “Partnering with Parents” summarise it nicely.
Principal profile
Mr Frank Monagle