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This article contains information that is for general information only and should not be used for the basis of making any decisions regarding education or anything else. It is solely the writer’s opinion of the writer’s experience of one open day at the school and the writer’s interactions with the people present on that day. The writer’s article is purely subjective. Facts and information may or may not be complete, accurate, reliable or valid reflection of the school in question.

I encourage you to personally tour the school and meet the educators and students, form your own opinion and leave a comment here.

Best of luck with your search for the perfect school!

Kingswood College Tour Details

Tour was a small group tour of about 20 guests

Tour started off in the senior library where we were greeted by admin staff and the Principal 

Principal gave a talk to the group at the start of the tour 

We were then taken around the school in one group by several staff including Head of Middle School, Principal, Registrar and several admin staff plus four years 8 and 9 students 

The tour ended up in the dining / kitchen area where staff and students hung around to chat to guests and refreshments were served.  

I was lucky to get a bonus tour of their kitchen gardens at the end by Chrissy their food tech teacher 

Vibe at Kingswood College

Kingswood College is located on busy Station St in Box Hill.  Driving past, you would never realise how large the grounds are on the campus.  The school has around 20 acres and several large open green spaces including a full size AFL oval giving the campus a calm, expansive feeling which is surprising since they are not far from the busy Box Hill Central.  

The school only has around 600-700 students on quite large grounds so it feels spacious and not over crowded.  

My overall feeling is that Kingswood go out of their way to make the school an inclusive, supportive environment for both students and staff.  They named specific ways that they try to make the school as comfortable and inclusive as possible including the new “wardrobe”, the way the buildings are designed, to supporting individual interests outside of school.  

The tour focused a lot on how they consider and support the wellbeing of the students rather than buildings or facilities.  In fact the tour didn’t even visit some of the facilities such as the new basketball courts or the auditorium ( which I heard they have ).  Grounds are clean, spacious and green.  Buildings and environment are pleasant but not overly showy or large.  

What I found interesting and impressive was when staff were mentioned, they were invariably named and spoken about as a person.  One of Kingwood’s strengths they mention is knowing every student.  Hearing teachers spoken about like they were actual people with particular strengths and characteristics felt like the staff were valued and known.  I get the feeling that appreciation of individuality is ingrained into the culture.  

I was lucky to chat individually to Lisa, Head of Middle School, after the tour.  She told me a couple of stories that illustrate the school culture.  

  1. A student wanted to do VCE philosophy. This subject isn’t offered at Kingswood, but a staff member has a PhD in philosophy was able to organize for this student to take the subject while offering her tutoring after hours.  
  2. Another student is a competitive skier who is away from school two months in the winter every year.  Kingswood was able to tailor the timetable for him so he could study while we was away and still participate in competitive skiing. 

Kingswood College principal’s address

Kingswood College’s Principal is Chrissy Gamble who started in the job around the beginning of 2023.  Chrissy greeted and made a point to speak with every family that was arriving at the tour.  She had a lovely way with the small child on the tour and didn’t seem to have the reservation or stand offishness that I’ve often seen with Principals.  

view full photos here

Chrissy was an impressive speaker giving an engaging half an hour talk without any slides.  Her impassioned talk gave an overview of Kingswood and the philosophy behind the school.  Chrissy has an impressive record of leadership including being a female leader in an all boys schools at Scotch College in WA.  

I believe the main messages that she wanted to convey were that 

  • Kingswood is a place where they value authenticity.  What they say they do – things that are written on their website aren’t just platitudes – they will actually be implemented and embedded into every day life at the school 
  • Kingswood is a place where “your voice matters”.  They value individuality and wellbeing of the students and this helps them thrive and achieve 

There were four points that she explained underpinned the philosophy of the school: 

1. Belonging 

She said belonging is not something that has been well advertised, however she believes that people won’t engage if they don’t feel like they belong, so helping students feel like they belong is a major priority.  She said that in the modern era, disconnection is common.  School is important as a place students are engaged and become passionate about learning. 

2. Togetherness 

“Togetherness” is integral.  To “have a place where you can shine, and you are known”.  You “can’t belong if you are not known”.  Chrissy said Kingswood is a place where each student is known and embraced for their individuality.  

Chrissy says she is driven by evidence based practice and that it’s “vital that people aren’t segregated by gender.”  

She’s a passionate believer in co-education and asked us to consider what messages are we sending by separating out students by gender at all boys schools and all girls schools.  She said ( paraphrased ) “When girls schools or boys schools talking about their VCE results, consider that there is no data to compare these results with co-ed schools, so the data is flawed.” 

I presume this means you can’t compare how the same cohort would achieve if they went through a co-educational school. 

Gender balance at Kingswood is 47% girls to 53% boys. 

3 and 4.  Thrive and achieve 

Chrissy said students are encouraged to be academically ambitious.  Not just “do alright” but “thrive and be ambitious”.  However what excelling academically looks like may be different for each student.  She believes in individualized learning and teaching skills and learned behaviours so that students can thrive and achieve.  

Wardrobe / Free dress at Kingswood College

From ELC to year 9, Kingswood has introduced the concept of “wardrobe” rather than uniform.  From what I understand, students have a selection of wardrobe items to pick from to dress themselves to be comfortable each day.  There are no blazers or ties and most of the wardrobe looks like comfortable t-shirts, pants, shorts, wind jackets rather than a formal uniform of most other private schools.  

The wardrobe concept was introduced so that students feel comfortable in their clothes and rather than wearing “scratchy blazers”, they are dressed so that don’t need to change to do physical activity.  In this way, physical activity is encouraged and less time is wasted changing from one uniform to another.  

The wardrobe is considerably less strict than a traditional uniform and Chrissy said she’d rather teachers focus on teaching rather than correction of uniform.  

In years 10-12, there is no wardrobe or uniform and students are in free dress.  Chrissy said this is common European practice and “not alternative”.  She believes that free dress improves wellbeing and therefore improves learning.  

Enrolment at Kingswood College

I spoke with Lisa about enrolment.  She said it’s best to confirm enrolment details with the registrar, but it isn’t a school where you need to be on the waitlist from birth.  

She mentioned it may be easier to get in in younger years and year 7 may be more difficult.   

Class sizes at Kingswood College

In primary school there are one or two classes per grade.  In year 7 there are three classes of 22 students and there is another class being added next year.  

Diversity / Neurodiversity at Kingswood College

Neurodiversity wasn’t explicitly spoken about on the tour, however I asked Lisa about it when chatting.  She said that they do cater for neurodiversity students, however the culture at Kingswood is such that all students feel comfortable being themselves.  

She says the calm environment and the casual wardrobe are two things that already allow some neurodiverse kids to feel more comfortable.  There is also the Links program which is a learning support program which can be done instead of language.  They are also accommodating of aides in the classroom as well as other requirements some neurodiverse children need like headphones, time away etc.  

Sport at Kingswood College

Kingswood is part of the EISM network which means they don’t have Saturday sport.  Students do PE and Sport during school hours and part of that is competitive sport against other schools.  They may also train one night per week after school.  

There is a policy of Daily Physical Activity ( DPA ) which means on the day they don’t have PE or Sport, they have DPA which is an activity of choice – choices include walking, table tennis, basketball plus others.

The wardrobe uniform here allows greater flexibility for daily activity as there is no need for students to change to do physical activity.   

view full photos here

Music at Kingswood College

We didn’t go into detail about the music program on the tour, but they did mention that in year 7 all students learn an instrument.  Most students have never learned an instrument before.  When they are good enough, there are ensembles to participate in.

Academic Extension at Kingswood College

The academic extension program is called Seek.  Seek is for gifted and high achieving students.  There is no test to get into the program, more of a referral basis by teachers and parents. 

Lisa advises that only truly high achieving students will benefit from this extension.  There is extension in English, engineering and even art which is unusual.  What kind of extension is based on what the student requires.  

Wellbeing at Kingswood College

Lisa said “Wellbeing is a way of being.  It’s the way the school is.”  From what I can understand from the tour, it’s the culture of the school to honour the individuality of students .  Rather than focusing on the programs or scheduled wellbeing classes, it seems like wellbeing is the core of the culture at Kingswood from their uniforms, to building and grounds designs and catering to individual needs.  

It was mentioned that they don’t believe in the punishment model, rather the restorative practice model.  

view full photos here

Mobile Phone Policy at Kingswood College

Mobile phones aren’t allowed in classrooms, but students can use them during lunch and recess.  Use of mobile phones is discouraged but the policy seems quite relaxed. 

Student comments 

“What I like most about the school is there is no Saturday sport.  I do competitive fencing so I can do that on Saturdays”

“What I like most about the school is that I got to try a lot of things in younger years.”

Bonus Tour

On my way out, I was lucky to bump into Chrissy Collins –  the staff member who looks after Food Tech.  She was incredibly enthusiastic and went out of her way to show me more of the school. 

While she introduced me to the school chicken, Daisy, we chatted about the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program at the school.  Chrissy then kindly took me on a tour to the primary school gardens and senior school veggie gardens, both of which were lovely.  

Final words 

The tour at Kingswood really focused on the culture and the underpinning philosophy that guides the school’s decision making rather than programs or facilities.  There was an emphasis on providing a comfortable, inclusive, flexible environment for students evidenced by the lack of formal uniform and the stories that were told. 

One of the main ideas is being “known”, thereby helping students feel like they belong and supported in their achievement.  I thought this was beautifully illustrated in practice on the tour by how the teachers are “known” – referring to teachers by name and character. 

Kingswood seems like an environment where staff and students alike are empowered to bring their individuality to school and supported to make the most of their strengths.  

Do you have any experience, questions or comments about this school? Let our community know and add a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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  1. Hi Crystal, I have a child who started in Yr10 at Kingswood 2023 and my youngest is starting in Yr7 2024. You have definitely captured the aspects of the school I value. New principal Chrissy is terrific, as was the previous Elisabeth Lenders (retired). Every member of senior staff we’ve come into contact has been exceptional. The focus is on treating your child as an individual in the truest sense – doing their personal best, working to strengths, creating relationships, creating a sense of personal and school pride. Lots of schools talk about pastoral care, but until your child needs great care you don’t know if your school provides it. I can tell you from a family who needed it, it’s been terrific, and the learning just goes alongside with wellbeing. Uniform works well so that kids can focus on being comfortable and active. The facilities are pleasant and plentiful, but I’m glad that I can see my fees are being invested in people, rather than ostentatious facilities, because your teenagers need the care of people, not buildings.

    1. Avatar photo Crystal Wong says:

      Hi Bonnie, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I’m so glad to hear from a current parent and to confirm that what they present on the tour actually is carried through day to day at Kingswood. So great to hear that they catered for your child’s individuality. Sounds like you found your perfect school!

  2. anonymous says:

    phones are now strictly banned at recess and lunch

  3. Well written Crystal, describes the school very well.

    It also has a great music dept with amazing choirs.

    Just an update – A no phone policy has been introduced in 2024.

    1. Avatar photo Crystal Wong says:

      Thanks Melinda! Thanks for the extra info about music and choirs too. Good to hear the update about mobile phone policy in 2024.

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