This story was first published in the annual Flinders The Investigator magazine, 2013 (pages 6-9)
Anthony Vincent has left an indelible mark on Flinders.
When Anthony Vincent came to Matthew Flinders Anglican College in 1999, Flinders was about to head into its second decade with enrolments of just over 1100.
During a tenure which spanned 15 years, Flinders’ second principal saw the College reach full enrolments of more than 1300, oversaw more than $30 million worth of development and established Flinders as one of the top schools in Queensland, with an outstanding academic and co-curricular record. He has left an indelible mark on Flinders.
Anthony Vincent was appointed Acting Principal in Term 4, October 1, 1999, the 10th year of the College’s operation.
“Anthony has assumed the reins with composure and a competence which bodes well for the Year 2000,” Dr John Stevenson, Chairman of College Council declared in his annual report.
In his address at the 10th Annual Awards Night, as Acting Principal Mr Vincent spoke of how Flinders was arming students with “qualities of optimism, self belief and a moral confidence that will positively impact on society and improve the world we live in. …we hope to impart vision and the call to leadership.”
With a school population of just over 1100 students, after a decade of growth, the College was ready for two new classrooms adjacent to the Sports Centre for HPE and Agricultural Science, followed by the opening of the turf wicket in March.
With the advent of computer technology, Flinders was considering recommendations for in-servicing of staff in the use of computers in the teaching process and recommendations on the internet delivery and intranet facility, and the establishment of pods of computers in selected subject areas.
At the start of 2000, Mr Vincent was appointed Principal for a period of one year under the provision that the College would advertise externally for the position. In April, his application for the position of Principal was successful but he would not be officially appointed until 2001.
At the Awards Night, Mr Vincent spoke of the value of teachers: “At Matthew Flinders, each teacher is vitally important to not only each child’s academic progress, but also the College’s raison d’etre.
“It is the quality of our teaching staff which translates into the quality of our College.”
Flinders was looking forward to Stage 1 of the Building Master Plan, which promised a new Design Technology workshop, an upgraded Music area, a new Drama and Theatre area, an extended Secondary School Library, an upgraded Primary Library, new Primary Computer Laboratory and Primary Administration Block, as well as construction of the long-awaited roundabout outside the Secondary carpark.
As Mr Vincent wrote of the building plan: “It will be a fitting physical signpost of the start of a new millennium and this College’s second decade.”
At the end of 2000, the College bid farewell to Foundation Chairman, Rod Forrester, after 10 years of service on the College Council, and was about to officially welcome its second Principal, Anthony Vincent.
“It is the quality of our teaching staff which translates into the quality of our College
On January 1, 2001 – significantly 01.01.01 – Anthony Vincent was officially appointed Principal of Matthew Flinders Anglican College.
His official commissioning as Principal by the Most Reverend Peter Hollingworth, Archbishop of Brisbane took placed on February 21, 2001. He was presented with symbols representing the diverse and comprehensive nature of the College: textbooks, musical instruments, sporting equipment and the College’s mission statement, as well as a new Bible, endorsed by both the Archbishop and Dr Stephen Phillips, Chairman of the College Council.
In his words of address to the assembled College community, Mr Vincent spoke of the honour he felt in accepting the position, and the excitement and enthusiasm he felt for the bright future of Matthew Flinders Anglican College.
Bright it was … with the release of the 2001 OP results, the Sunshine Coast Daily declared: “Matthew Flinders Anglican College has come of age as the Sunshine Coast’s super school.”
With pride, Mr Vincent applauded the 20.5% of students who received OP 1-4 (compared to the Qld average of 11.2%), and the 63% who received 1-12 (Qld average of 48.82%), – as well as the eight OP1 students.
Enrolments were on the move, expected to grow to between 1150-1160 in the following year.
In the 13th annual report, Mr Vincent wrote about the College’s vision and values:
“Our Vision propels us to strive for excellence in all that we do. Our Values situate that pursuit of excellence within a Christian context and as part of a community. To consciously strive for excellence is not easy in our society: indeed it has never been easy. There is a terrible gravitational pull towards mediocrity, which we must be determined to overcome.
“Our vision at Flinders is to give ‘each student an inspiring education’.”
With this as a foundation, the College was forging ahead with its technology program, with the aim to move towards a target in Secondary of one computer for every four students. (Flinders would move to its 1-1 Learning Program in 2011 with the program extended to Years 5 and 6 a year later.)
Flinders was also embarking on another stage of its 15-year Master Building Plan. This involved a complete refurbishment of the Primary Library, a new Primary classroom and Art Centre, Secondary Art extension and a new Pastoral Centre.
“Our Vision at Flinders is to give each student an inspiring education.
The next few years would see Flinders turn its attention to Middle Years education, focusing on students in Years 7, 8 and 9. With Prep introduced at Flinders in 1995 (Prep was not formally introduced across Queensland until 2007), comprehensive research was being undertaken into the idea of moving Year 7 to Secondary. By 2008, Year 7 as the first year of Secondary had become a reality at Flinders, a move that would not be followed by the State Government across Queensland until 2015.
On the academic front, the Sunshine Coast Daily declared: “A new benchmark of Year 12 achievement on the Sunshine Coast: Ten OP 1s from one school!” Within the next decade, Flinders’ Year 12 graduates would achieve the lofty result of 10 OP1s another three times, and also an amazing 11 OP1 in 2005.
A milestone was reached this year with the Old Flinderians Association’s first 10-year Reunion held in June.
The year also saw the introduction of the Principal’s slogan, which fittingly was about “open doors” in 2004.
“It is important that we recognise and celebrate our journey, but it is also vital that we use our achievements to motivate us to seek continuing success; to open new doors and to embrace opportunities,” Mr Vincent declared in his end-of-year annual address.
In 2004 the College had set out to “build”, he said. “The theme of ‘building’ was directed not to physical structures, but to personal and community development – a growth of self, of academic standards, of pastoral care for others, of co-curricular activities, of faith and belief – we focused on our special energy of achieving excellence.
“We have been busy building character at Flinders in 2004.”
In 2005 Mr Vincent reiterated what the College community knew and loved about Flinders. “Matthew Flinders Anglican College is a ‘people business’ – the development of people is our raison d’etre and people are our most important resource.”
He quoted philosopher F Langbride: “Two men look out through the same bars; one sees mud – and one sees stars.”
“At Matthew Flinders Anglican College we want to see stars,” Mr Vincent said. “We try to manage a mielieu that makes for this kind of positivity, optimism and sense of personal control – no matter what the circumstances may be.”
In 2005, the revised Master Plan was passed by the then Maroochy Shire Council, allowing the College to move forward with its 10-year Building Plan, which included the Flinders Early Learning Centre, Primary Carpark and Ballinger Road improvements, the Chapel, and the proposals for new Middle schooling buildings.
Mr Vincent wrote in the 17th annual report: “Schools are dynamic places. They are dynamic because they are “people” places with unique individuals connecting and making meaning of their lives.
“The pursuit of excellence is evident in all we do at Flinders.
“What some call our ‘culture of learning’ at Flinders, is nothing more than all of us consciously thinking positively. Most importantly, we affirm one another by celebrating others successes. One of the beautiful things about Flinders is that our students are genuinely pleased when one of the peers does well. We ride to success here on the backs of one another.”
In 2006, Flinders bid farewell to the College’s Chaplain, Rev John Paul Kavanagh and welcomed Rev Lynette Neil as its new chaplain.
The year also saw the commencement of another major building program, which would extend over the next three to four years. The Flinders Early Learning Centre on Ballinger Road was due to open in early 2007, turning the page on another new chapter in Flinders’ story.
“The pursuit of excellence is evident in all we do at Flinders
In 2007, Mr Vincent proclaimed in his annual report: “We are now poised on the point of spreading out in our journey like the river as it enters its delta – we’re mature now in our operation, we’re not rushing, we’re confidently following our strategic 10-year and 15-year plans to hone our operation to a pinnacle of perfection as we approach our 20th year in 2009.
“In our Flinders journey, this year, the year 2007 will be remembered as a year of building.
“In attempting to master a mixed metaphor, after a hiatus of a few years, the College has come around the bend to sprint to the 200m building finish line; with the understanding that this is an ongoing race and that the 400m event has already started, and furthermore that our strategic eyes are already lifted to the conclusion of the 800m after that.”
The Flinders Early Learning Centre was officially opened in 2007, major extensions were carried out in Main Administration and Secondary, and all was in place for the move of Year 7 to the Secondary in 2008.
The end of 2007 marked another special milestone in the College’s growth with the consecration of the Flinders Chapel by the Archbishop of Brisbane, the Most Reverend Peter Hollingworth. The Chapel was a long-held dream for the College.
2008 was a year of change – not just in the remarkable physical improvements to the campus with the doubling of the Sports Centre, but also organisational changes in the form of the introduction of Year 7s to Secondary.
Year 7 co-ordinator Mr Brent Timms, reported that the new Year 7s has “embraced the culture of high school and their placement and exposure to many rich experiences in academic, cultural and social domains has certainly contributed to raised levels of maturity and expectation.”
In 2008 Mr Vincent was awarded a scholarship to study at the Centre for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs in the USA, and took his sabbatical to complete the program, Leadership at the Peak.
Flinders celebrated the College’s 20th year with a Gala Sports Day, Whole-Staff Reunion, David Campbell Concert featuring Old Flinderian Patrice Tipoki, and the Voyage of Celebration Dinner which showcased all students from Primary to Secondary and included over 100 Old Flinderians in the musical performances. A special segment was the entire Year 7 cohort playing African drums.
Federal Government funding from the Building the Education Revolution program saw the College receive an unexpected windfall of $3million, which was swiftly used to build three new classrooms, a new music block and the Primary Pavilion, affectionately referred to as the Big Red Shed in the Primary School.
Flinders was working through the National Curriculum, which had followed on from the adoption by the College of Brain-Based Learning and Dimensions of Learning.
In its 21st year, Flinders embarked on the building of the Performance Centre – “the last main campus project of a $29 million building program over the last few years.”
In 2010, Flinders’ academic achievements were acknowledged again. Flinders was one of only nine Queensland schools to be ranked among the nation’s top 100 schools by The Weekend Australian, through analysis of 2009 NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) results for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. In 2010, Mr Vincent’s slogan was “Adsum – I am present”.
This year saw the birth of the new National Curriculum; the 1:1 Laptop Learning Program at Flinders; the adoption of a formal approach to Wellbeing across the College; and the completion of the Performance Centre, the most iconic building on campus, which, for the very first time, hosted the Secondary Awards Night.
As Mr Vincent said: Life at Flinders ‘is not a stable state’, but it is a very full life; interesting, exciting, and great to be part of!”
In 2011, Flinders was again named as one of Queensland’s top schools for OP achievement with an impressive 40.29% of Flinders graduates achieving an OP 1-5 (State average 19%), and a massive 95% achieving an OP 1-15 (State average 75.7%) – the College’s best ever results in these OP bands.
2012 saw the development of the College’s first Academic Plan outlining the strategic direction for teaching and learning at Flinders over the next five years.
Across the College, works included air-conditioning of Primary classrooms, building of the main carpark shelter, installation of the rugby scoreboard, and a gift from the Old Flinderians’ Association to the College – a purpose-built 15m x 6.5m learn to swim pool.
The College’s first Dux, Clinton Fookes was guest speaker at the Awards Night, and 10 students again were rewarded for their hard work with the ultimate result, an OP1.
In May 2013, Anthony Vincent announced he was stepping down from the helm at Flinders due to ill health.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mrs Carolyn Bradbury, said the College was indebted to Mr Vincent for his “inspirational leadership” over the past 15 years.
“We have the greatest admiration for Anthony Vincent – he has left an indelible mark on our College,” Mrs Bradbury said. “We can stand tall upon his shoulders in taking Flinders into the future, which is a future filled with enthusiasm and great promise.”
Mr Vincent’s final slogan for his final year at Flinders seemed extremely fitting: “Inspiration is all around you.”
With the tenure of Anthony Vincent coming to an end, inspiration had truly been all around Flinders, from 1999 to 2013.
Written by Debbie Southern