‣ Disclaimer
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!

Name: The Knox School

Sector: Private

Gender: Co-educational

Religion: N/A

Year 12 Fees: $28,437 ( For 2024)

Location: 220 Burwood Highway, Wantirna South, Vic 3152

Phone number(03) 8805 3800

Website: https://www.knox.vic.edu.au/

Basic facts:

Non denominational

Non religious

40 year old school

Around 600 students 

ELC to Year 12

The open morning at The Knox School started off in a comfortable auditorium with a presentation from the Principal Nikki Kirkup.  I was guided to sit in a row next to a couple of student guides from years 10 and 11.  

At the completion of the short presentation, the audience was split into small groups.  The groups were led by several students and guided on a tour around the school.  

The tours finished up in a central building where coffee was served and the principals and several staff stayed and spoke to guests.  

Overall the open day was well organised, the students had a very positive attitude towards the school, their teachers and towards the guests.  The tour leaders ranged from years 9 to 12. They were generally confident and guiding the tour and answering questions, deferred to their teachers when they didn’t know the answer, were able to take the lead of the group.

Principal’s vision, values and philosophy at The Knox School

The principal is Nikki Kirkup and the vice principal is Melinda Davis.  I spoke with both principal and vice principal individually.  

Both women were personable, warm and approachable, chatting to guests without expectations or airs.  They came across as genuinely passionate and invested in education, the students and the school.  

I got the feeling that they were both dynamic personalities, eager to take action to steer the direction of the school to suit the current climate.  

Importantly, they are of this digital age and have an understanding of the current digital climate and presumably its benefits and its dangers.  

Perhaps it’s because these women are relatively young, but the school’s tone set by them is contemporary and progressive.

Tellingly, I asked one of the students what they thought about their new principal Nikki – he answered with an enthusiasm and excitement that is difficult to fake. ( paraphrased ) “She’s wonderful, she’s really friendly.  She knows the names of all the students at the school.  Sometimes I’ll see her and she asks me how I am.  She’s wonderful.”  I can’t think of a better testament for a principal than that. 

View full gallery here.

Principal’s presentation at The Knox School

Nikki’s presentation was short but impactful. 

The overall message was although ATAR is important, it’s only one part of the journey.  TKS takes a wholistic approach developing students in three main areas 

  1. Academic – TKS is very strong academically ( ranking 16 for top private schools in Victoria and 21 for all secondary schools VIC )
  2. Character – Developing good people – skills such as confidence etc 
  3. Skills – Developing skills that will be useful in the future after school

The development of the students as people is well and truly considered.  

She spoke about how education needs to consider what the future will look like after school.  She believes that schooling is not just the attainment of an ATAR score, but a time to prepare children to face a world that we can’t even imagine at present.  

Prep students in 2022 will graduate in 2034.  What will the world look like then and how can we equip the kids with useful skills when we don’t know what the world will look like then?  These are pertinent questions and honestly questions I thought I’d need to ask, but they were addressed in the presentation right at the start.  

I’m glad that the principals are thinking and planning with this end in mind and trying to come up with solutions based on these questions.   

Nikki went through a graph of which industries currently have skill shortages and how TKS addresses these shortages in their education. 

Importantly, entrepreneurship is also built into the curriculum.  TKS performs strongly in international entrepreneurship competitions with students travelling to the US to visit NASA after recently winning a competition.  This acknowledges that the children will one day be potential employers and business people as well employees.  

In my conversation with her, I asked does all the time and effort and resources that go into  developing kids in areas other than academics detract from academics.  Of course the answer is no.  Her philosophy is that in fact it helps as when kids feel confident and challenged and whole, they learn and do better which actually resonates with my personal beliefs.  

She spoke about how our generation had created problems that the kids of the future will need to solve so we will need to give the kids skills to help them solve it.  

To me, this is the kind of thinking that I’m looking for in a school.  Not just a place churning out robotic employees or aiming for high ATARs for the sake of ATARs.  

“What keeps me up at night is after the kids get an ATAR score and go to university, will they have the skills to cope in this fast changing world?” ( paraphrased ) – Nikki Kirkup

General vibe at The Knox School

Generally the school has a very inclusive, very progressive feel.  Mental health, wellbeing, soft skills, character building are timetabled and scheduled into the curriculum as daily / weekly check ins with mentors and wellbeing session.  

There seem to be many and a variety of clubs available to join, a few mentioned ( or I saw signs for ) were 

  • Entrepreneur club
  • Pride club
  • Knitting club

The vibe reminded me of university undergrad days where diversity and different interests are not only supported but encouraged and celebrated.

Despite being a small school, I get the feeling that kids can be either sporty or arty or academic and their interests will be supported.  

Campus feels spacious with open green areas as well as concreted areas.  Many large gum trees on site give it a comfortable, close to nature feel.  Buildings aren’t as luxurious as some other private schools, but are clean and bright and fit for purpose.

Students demeanour at The Knox School

The students that were there on the open day voluntarily, in uniform on the weekend, so obviously they are a naturally enthusiastic and positive bunch.  

The girls especially were very mature and outspoken, able to lead the group, were polite to the guests and other students.  They answered questions and presented their school well.  

Some of the notable comments made by our tour guide students ( paraphrased )

  • “The best thing about the school is the teachers.  They are all so great, I have never had a bad one and I know I can always go to them if I have a problem.” 
  • “Teachers go out of their way to help, like in their lunch break” 
  • “The careers teacher is an angel.  She helps you pick subjects, tells you about part time jobs available.  She even helps when students aren’t at the school anymore.”
  • “She’s wonderful, she’s really friendly.  She knows the names of all the students at the school.  Sometimes I’ll see her and she asks me how I am.  She’s wonderful.” ( of their principal ) 
  • “I wish there were more girls in my grade.” 
  • “My class size ranges from 8 to 20” 
  • “I like the school because there is a lot of student choice.  We get to choose what subjects we want to do.”

Wellbeing at The Knox School

Belonging, well being and community seem to be very intentional and front and centre of in their how the school operates.  

There is a lot of emphasis on belonging to ( one of their four ) houses and fostering a sense of community through their houses.  

Wellbeing sessions are scheduled in their everyday timetable where they are taught skills such as

  • Respectful relationships 
  • Mental health 
  • Resilience
  • Study skills 
  • Health and fitness

Handling of diversity at The Knox School

The vice principal is very aware of the struggles of neurodiverse kids.  They are aware that the kids need to be supported to carry out the curriculum and have staffing resources in place to aid struggling kids.  Their first steps would be to ascertain a diagnosis and then go from there.  

There is a room dedicated to kids struggling to fit in whether it’s academic or socially.  It wasn’t clear what happens in there, aside from there is a teacher to help.  I’m not certain that it’s a good idea to obviously identify kids that are struggling.  I asked a student about lunch time activities if kids were feeling left out and at a loose end and he didn’t know of any that existed. 

LGBTQI diversity is celebrated with several posters around the school, the school celebrated Wear It Purple day and there is a Pride club set up by the students and supported by the teachers. 

The ratio of boys:girls is approximately 55:45, but the kids mentioned that they feel like there are many more boys at the school.  

The students seem to be culturally diverse.  

How are teachers motivated and kept up to date?

Teachers have weekly timetabled time for further education.  This involves projects and has lead to changes at the school such as the financial literacy program.  

This program was introduced after a project carried out as part of the PD found that in university the skill that students wished they had learned at school but didn’t, was financial literacy.  Topical and important indeed.  

What scholarships are available at The Knox School?

  • General Excellence – sports, entrepreneurship and service 
  • Principal’s Scholarship 
  • Academic Scholarship
  • Music and Performing Arts Scholarship

See more info: https://www.knox.vic.edu.au/enrolment/scholarships/

Other facts about The Knox School

  • No weekend sport or late after school sport so they have time to pursue community sport or music or other interests
  • Financial education elective 
  • Entrepreneurship electives

Would I enrol my child in The Knox School?

Yes I absolutely would!

TKS appears to be progressive, nimble and concerned with educating the whole child for the future rather than solely academics which is important to me.  It is small enough so that the teachers know the students well, but big enough to support diverse interests of a range of diverse students.

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