He joined the School in 1982 following an 18-month stint in Cairns as a dive instructor. This passion for the outdoors has been a major part of the varied roles he has held at Christ Church.
Neil spent his first two years at the School as a mathematics and science teacher and also assisted the Residential Community in Walters House. He then moved to Kooringal as Assistant Director, followed by three years as Director.
Since moving back to the Claremont campus, Neil has been working as a mathematics teacher, alongside numerous other roles. He was Head of Craigie House for three years, followed by more than 11 years in the Residential Community as Head of McClemans House, including four years as Director of Boarding.
Neil has now been Head of Wolsey for four years. He is also Teacher in Charge of Hockey, swimming coach, Staff Association President and is heavily involved in Pilgrimage of Hope (POH). He is also the facilities co-ordinator for Sony Camp, which is a camp for disabled children, held in Walters House every December.
Neil currently teaches two Year 12 TEE classes, plus a Year 10 and Year 8 class, but this varies from year to year. For many years he has co-ordinated one of the TEE mathematics subjects, which involves setting exams and assessments and dealing with moderation and the Curriculum Council.
With an obvious passion for his subject, Neil said it was a difficult time for mathematics teachers at the moment, with a new Year 11 course this year and a new Year 12 course set to be implemented next year. “I don’t really see any improvement with the new courses,” he said. “They (Curriculum Council) have just created as many problems as they have dealt with. I think it will take some years to sort out.”
As for Mathematics as a subject, Neil said it was a very important part of the school curriculum. “It would be fairly unusual circumstances for boys to get by in life without doing some sort of maths,” he said. “Out in the community there is always the need for problem solving. In maths, we’re trying to get the boys to look at something and figure out a number of different strategies to solve it. It’s about having a crack, having a go, and if it doesn’t work, it will help lead to something else. It’s about trial and error. Maths and science, and even some of the social sciences provide this.”
While Neil loves teaching, he finds the most satisfying aspect of his job is pastoral care and the contact he has with the boys through his Head of House role.
“I watch the kids come in as quiet and unsure Year 8s and see them graduate as fine young men. During that growth I like to think I help them with their problems and give them the idea they can stand on their own two feet. In Wolsey we try to give them guidelines as to how to live with people and how to conduct themselves in any community. We try to be great role models. It’s the old scenario: The school is a box. The boys come in at one end, and walk out the other end. What impact do we have on them during that time, as a school and as Wolsey House? I think we have a massive impact and you can see the CCGS imprint!”
Neil said he particularly enjoyed working with the prefects and giving them autonomy. “One of the most exciting things is when they come to me with an idea, like last year when the prefects suggested doing a ‘Wolsey wax’ and they saw it through from start to finish.”
Neil also hopes that his involvement in various other aspects of school and community life, such as being involved in POH, has an impact on the boys. “Kids walk in my office and see little bits of these things, little messages, and they see how I deal with things. A large number of Wolsey boys go on POH. It might be because I engender in them a passion for others and a healthy respect for service and what it can do for you as a person.”