A Message From The Principal

Wendy Johnson

Glenunga International High School inspires every student to develop their potential as an internationally minded, critically thinking, responsible citizen.

Welcome to our website! I am privileged to be Principal of Glenunga International High School, a school that is on an improvement journey from being a good 20th Century school to being a great 21st Century school defined in terms of students’ learning and wellbeing outcomes.

We are the largest single site secondary school in the South Australian public system with students who currently come from 76 different countries of birth. Our school has very high academic standards and offers specialty programs in IGNITE (for Students with High Intellectual Potential) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Senior School as well as the Australian Curriculum in Years 8 – 10 and Vocational Education opportunities in Year 10 – 12. We also cater for approximately 70 fee-paying international students.

Please take your time to explore our site and to discover what makes Glenunga International High School such a special place. Review our excellent SACE and International Baccalaureate results and examine our wide range of co-curricula offerings under the banner of Student Life and Sports. If you have questions that are not answered by the website you are warmly invited to contact the school by email at glenunga@gihs.sa.edu.au, by phone using our Contacts page or contact me at wendy.johnson@gihs.sa.edu.au.

Our world-class standards were verified in 2012 by the Council of International Schools’ (CIS) accreditation and the International Baccalaureate Organisation in 2014 which recognizes us as an IB World School.

In mid 2010 every student in Year 8 – 11, their families and staff were involved in a process facilitated by Governing Council to establish what our school stands for and, in particular, to reaffirm our School Values in the context of a 21st century learning community. We continuously review the School Values.

As part of this process school leaders predicted that our community would identify Values such as international mindedness and excellence although students defined this latter Value in terms of each student achieving their personal best. We were delighted by our students identifying two other important Values – harmony and opportunity – that they believed characterised our community.

They saw Harmony as enabling students from diverse backgrounds to develop the skills to work and play together in a peaceful safe environment and to celebrate each others’ differences as well as our common humanity. In the students’ eyes Opportunity is delivered through our wide range of curriculum options, a rich Student Life and Sporting program, and an environment that enables students to discover who they are as adolescents and who they wish to become as adults thriving in the exciting and challenging global community of the 21st Century.

Our school motto – labor omnia vincit (work conquers all) – comes from our 1918 heritage when we were the Adelaide Technical High School. In 1963 our school moved from North Terrace in the city to its current site and in 1974 it became Glenunga High School in recognition of the suburb in which it was located. With the introduction of the International Baccalaureate in 1990 and the international fee-paying students’ program we became known as Glenunga International High School. In the 21st century we understand our motto to mean everyone striving to achieve their personal best and to discover what they are really capable of achieving together.

In 2008-10 we were selected from schools across South Australia as the Learning Technologies Secondary School. We worked with academics and researchers from Flinders University and University of South Australia to better understand how learning technologies can be used to enrich face-to-face teaching. This experience increased our staff’s understanding of how to better use technology to personalise learning for students so that they are challenged and engaged learners. We see this as reflecting 21st century life in the world beyond school where personalisation is part of everyday life and students will need well developed skills to thrive in a globally competitive and uncertain future. Our Wednesday morning late start for students which enables staff to work on developing their technology-rich curriculum and our Year 8 to 12 One-to-One Laptop Learning Program have developed as part of this research project. Even though the project concluded in 2010 our university partners have continued to work with us to support our improvement journey.

Each year for the past six years as part of this research we have surveyed all our students about the characteristics of good lessons and the role technology plays in their classrooms. Students have identified the most important characteristics as: effective explanations, useful feedback, passionate committed teaching, enjoyment of working with adolescents and deep subject knowledge. Then they have identified how often they have experienced these characteristics in their classes. Students have reported that they feel they are being challenged to improve their learning outcomes, that staff are well prepared and approachable, and that classes are well organized. Staff have used students’ feedback combined with John Hattie’s research on exceptional teachers to continuously improve their classroom practice. This is a courageous undertaking that demonstrates staff commitment to being the best they can be for their students. Student Leaders have reported the results of the survey back to staff and teachers have also undertaken a version of the survey in 2010 and 2014. This enables comparison of student and teacher perceptions – the similarities and differences.

In 2011 our school introduced a revamped Pastoral Care Program with a working title of Program X. Students in Years 8 – 11 meet with their Home Group teachers twice a week for 50 minutes to undertake this program which draws its curriculum framework from 21st Century skills, the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile, the student capabilities articulated in the Australian Curriculum and the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), and Art Costa’s Habits of Mind. Students in Year 12 are involved with their Student Advisory Teachers in an age appropriate program designed to equip them for the transition from school to the world of work and university or further education. In 2012 and 2013 we have refined Program X to also focus on developing resiliency and student wellbeing. In 2014 we again refined the program based on three years’ teaching experience to focus on four themes related to 21st Century skills: learning how to learn; improved wellbeing; responsible citizenship; and futures thinking (environmental sustainability, problem solving and entrepreneurialism). For 2017 our newly appointed Psychologist worked with our Assistant Principal for Wellbeing to redevelop the wellbeing strand. During 2017 the program’s conceptual framework will be revisited and other strands redesigned. 

As a school we could not offer such high quality education and such rich diversity of programs if it were not for our passionate teachers and leaders who are highly committed to getting the best outcomes possible for each student. Our teaching staff devote many hours and boundless energy to continually improving their curriculum delivery and to our Student Life and Sporting Programs. We are lucky to have a staffing mix of highly experienced and early career teachers. They are supported by an equally committed and skilled team of paraprofessional staff who focus on delivering high quality service to students, staff and families as well as 21st Century work practices.

Throughout 2013 our school was a construction site as our new $10 million building housing the Learning Hub, Year 12 Centre, International Services and Student Services took shape. New Music and Drama Studios, purpose-built Art and Multi Media Studios and three new Physics and General Science Labs were opened while the Administration Area, Staff Room, Maths and Science offices and two laboratories were refurbished. A master plan for our school grounds has been developed in consultation with students, staff and families. Now a subgroup of Governing Council is exploring the findings of this major redevelopment. 

We are very fortunate in terms of the support we enjoy from our community of families who value the rich educational opportunities provided by our school for their sons and daughters. In return they contribute their skills and financial support as well as enthusiastic participation in school events as diverse as parent information evenings, student-parent-teacher conferences, hosting international students and fund-raising activities. Our community is represented by our highly skilled Governing Council, which meets monthly and monitors our school’s progress against our strategic priorities and delivery on our budget goals as well as our accreditation responsibilities to the Council of International Schools and International Baccalaureate.

At Glenunga we are really committed to continuous improvement: we welcome your feedback and invite you to browse our website.