Headmaster's Introduction

If you think you might like to come to Grammar, it's natural that you will want to know something about the School. Your parents will want to know too. This website should give you and your family a sense of the School's character and the range of activities that goes on here.

Your main reason for wanting to come here should be because you are intellectually curious. You may enjoy science, or English, or mathematics, or history, or you may like the idea of learning another language. We teach modern languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin) and ancient languages too, including Classical Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. Sydney Grammar School is known—among other things—for the quality of its teaching and for its academic results. If you have curiosity, energy and a desire to do well, this may well be the place for you.

Music is another good reason for wanting to come. The opportunities for music-making at Grammar are almost limitless. We also place a special emphasis on the visual arts and drama. Our debating programme has given many a successful politician and public figure a good start in life. And if you enjoy sport, you will be happy here. Grammar is a member of the Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools (GPS). We participate in the GPS competitions, fielding teams in all the major sports and are involved in other competitions outside the GPS in a variety of less well-known sports. There is an active boatshed and the School has well-maintained playing fields at Rushcutters Bay.

The physical facilities here are very good, but many independent schools have good facilities. What sets Grammar apart is the high quality of its teaching staff, and its focus on a carefully balanced preparation for university study.

I am often asked about my 'philosophy of education'. Few things in modern life invite more argument, yet the philosophy of Sydney Grammar School is simply and easily expressed. We exist in order to provide our boys with a liberal, humane, pre-vocational education.

The word 'liberal' comes from a Latin root meaning 'free'. Our curriculum is liberal in the sense that it is not based on the idea that you must 'learn how to earn'. There's time for that later. It is humane in the sense that our traditions stem ultimately from the classical tradition, and its subsequent reinterpretations both in the Judaeo-Christian context of the European Renaissance and in the context of modern scientific knowledge. And pre-vocational in the sense that we aim to give you a solid physical, intellectual and moral formation in order to prepare you for the specialized vocational training most of you will receive later in life. In practice, this means that we reject attitudes that belittle the importance of being human.

Dr JT Vallance

About Dr Vallance

Dr John Vallance was born in Sydney, went to North Sydney Boys’ High School and then the University of Sydney. He won a scholarship to St John’s College Cambridge and graduated with starred First Class Honours in Classics. He subsequently took his MA and PhD at Cambridge and was elected to a Fellowship and Tutorship at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge followed by an Affiliated Lectureship in the Faculty of Classics before returning home to Sydney.

The author of a book on ancient medicine and many articles in the Oxford Classical Dictionary and the Enciclopedia Italiana, he has published extensively on ancient philosophy and science, and lectured at universities in the United States and Europe. Dr Vallance has also worked as a musician and takes a close interest in developments in art, especially sculpture. He has served as a member of the Library Council of NSW, as a Trustee of the State Library Foundation, and is currently a Director of the National Art School. He is also an Honorary Professor at the University of New South Wales.

He is married with two sons.

Dr JT Vallance