Thank You from the Perth Modernian Society

thank you published as an Ad in The West Australian at 17th June.

The Perth Modernian Society Inc, representing the alumni and former teachers of Perth Modern School, welcomes the announcement on 13 June 2017 by the Premier Hon Mark McGowan and Ministers Hon Sue Ellery and Hon Rita Saffi oti that Perth Modern School is to remain on its existing heritage site in Subiaco as Western Australia’s only fully selective academic government school.

We are grateful that the McGowan Government has decided not to change Perth Mod’s role and that this decision has been managed in a respectful and timely manner. It is very rare for any government to reconsider an election policy and the McGowan Government’s decision to change the Education Central policy after a preparedness to listen to the community’s concerns, is gratefully recognised and we thank them. This school has an international reputation for excellence and this decision is resonating very widely.

Perth Mod opened to students in 1911 and was to pioneer a modern education where the sciences and modern languages were to be on an equal footing with classical education. In 1912, the school introduced entrance examinations in response to the high demand for places. In 1959 Perth Mod lost its selective entry status and this was not restored until 2007. In 2017 Perth Mod’s supporters stood up to be counted, and were heard. We recognise and thank YOU for all your magnificent efforts.

The parents of the existing 1300+ Perth Mod students were concerned about maintaining continuity of quality education for their children. Alumni and others involved in preserving Perth Mod were concerned about its heritage and outstanding record for producing students who excelled in many fi elds of endeavour of national and international significance. But more broadly there was a groundswell of people who wanted to support the history and heritage of the first Government co-educational senior secondary school in Western Australia.

‘Save Perth Mod’ became a very public cause, and the Society extends its profound thanks to everyone who supported Mod in its hour of need. They wrote a never-ending stream of Letters to the Editor, and they very willingly signed our petitions – in fact over 10,000 persons did so from Port Hedland in the north to Albany in the south. This reinforces our view that Perth Modern School has earned the unique position of being held in the highest regard across Australia as a school which is merit based and provides students regardless of their family background or personal circumstances with the highest quality public school education to allow them to achieve their potential.

14,000 Modernians across Australia and around the world commend the McGowan Government for having listened to concerns about the ‘Education Central’ proposal and taken the widespread community feedback into account in developing a revised direction that leaves intact the wonderful institution that is so well recognised that it is fondly called ‘Perth Mod’ or just ‘Mod’.

The Perth Modernian Society also thanks the many Members of Parliament from all sides, and City of Subiaco Councillors, who listened to the students, their parents, the P&C Association, the Perth Modern School Board, and Modernians and the general public. We are eternally grateful to the journalists and editors of the print and electronic media who saw it as their professional responsibility to shine a light on the issues about which the Perth Mod stakeholders were so concerned.

The McGowan Government’s welcome announcement to save Perth Mod was not only an important victory for democracy, but importantly, allows Perth Mod to continue its tradition of exemplary education for high-achieving students, who come from all corners of this State to be educated in a Government school which is open to all students regardless of circumstances. It also means that the valuable support services that the Perth Modernian Society and the Sphinx Scholarship Fund provide to Perth Mod will continue stronger than ever, for the benefit of our state, our nation and the global community.

The Society records it’s thanks to the public and the State Government most sincerely. We look forward to supporting the Government in the pursuit of quality public education in WA.

May I encourage and welcome all former students and staff who are not already  registered to join the Perth Modernian Society.

Peter Farr, President
c/o Perth Modern School, 90 Roberts Rd,
Subiaco, Western Australia 6008

Enquiries: Telephone: (08) 6189 3690

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Grateful and relieved!

NEWS:  Perth Modern to stay as is!

Parents of the Perth Modern School Campaign Group are extremely grateful, delighted and relieved that the McGowan government and Education Minister, the Hon Sue Ellery have listened to our concerns. It’s an excellent outcome for both the students of WA and the school community.

We trust Perth Modern School will continue to serve the people of WA for generations to come!


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Parents hopeful, thankful for Ellery’s support of fully selective academic schools

Perth Modern School Campaign Group

Press Release: June 12, 2017

Parents grateful and hopeful, for Perth Modern School to continue as is, serving WA, and thankful that Sue Ellery supports fully selective academic programs

The parents that organised the 13,000 strong petitions and large protest in May 2017 are delighted that the McGowan government and Education Minister, the Honorable Sue Ellery MLC are reconsidering the Education Central proposal announced before the election.

We have two statements to make in regard to the The Sunday Times articles this weekend:

  1. We are very grateful for what we have and want Perth Modern School to continue exactly as is in the current location.
  2. Other decisions on new school locations should be evidence-based, transparent, made through a comprehensive process, and only after consultation with all affected groups first.

Furthermore we thank Sue Ellery for her statements in support of fully academic schools in the Legislative Council on May 24th:

“I go one step further and say that we have to recognise the benefit of fully academic select schools and we have to continue to provide them. We have only one completely academic select school right now in Western Australia; I think we need more.

… fully academically select schools are the appropriate way to ensure highly gifted and talented students thrive.”

As parents, we agree that WA needs a fully selective academic school (or two) because the dedicated teachers are so valued, the customized accelerated pace matches children’s needs, and we feel the social support and culture is every bit as important as the academic opportunity. We also appreciate the stewardship, wisdom and financial support for low income students that is provided by Modernians and the community of the historical site in Subiaco.


Parents of Perth Modern School Campaign Group

REFERENCES: Additional quotes from Sue Ellery in Hansard May 24th 2017$FILE/C40+S1+20170524+p451e-470a.pdf

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Liberals, Greens defend Perth Mod in Parliament

UPDATE: Come to Parliament on Weds 14th June at 1pm to see this continue!

Wednesday May 24th: Donna Faragher, (Lib, Shadow Minister for Education) moved a motion to stop the Education Central policy and leave Perth Modern School as it is. A large crowd of parents, students and Modernians were in the Legislative Council to support her. Alison Xamon of the Greens also spoke in support. Debate is expected to continue on Wednesday June 14 at 1pm (put it in your diary). Watch Peter Collier, former Education Minister, below. He was superb in his fight to #saveperthmodern. Thank you to the Liberals and the Greens. Colin Ticknell from One Nation, with three elected MLC’s has also indicated he will support this motion too.

There are two houses in Parliament in WA. This issue does not need upper house approval to be put into action but it surely is a good thing if one of those Houses votes against the idea of ending Perth Modern School as we know it, and speaks against the idea of skyscraper schools without ovals and trees.
Click to watch Peter Collier in Parliament...

TRANSCRIPT : 24 May 2017 / p451-470. [PDF Copy: Hansard.]

Petition tabled: Government’s Education Central plan for Perth Modern School (6479 signatures)

All petitions tabled in WA Legislative Council in 2017.

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Walk to Parliament House Thurs May 25th!

The Peaceful Public Walk!

We will be leaving from Mueller Park hopefully as close as possible to 3.30pm. We expect to arrive at Parliament House by 4 to 4.10pm at the very latest. Timing will be tight at Parliament House due to question time commencing at 4.30pm.

We also have four student speakers who will share their thoughts and represent others students for the first time on the steps of Parliament House. The student speakers are our main speakers and we do think they will be very powerful and effective, as we saw at the City of Subiaco. A big thank you in advance to the students and their families, such a proud moment.

Why: To support the presentation of our 6000 strong Save Perth Modern School petition to the Legislative Council by the Hon Donna Faragher MLC, Shadow Minister for Education, and the issues the petition raises.

Parking at School: You can park in the two lower parks on the East side of the basketball courts (entrance off Subiaco Road) if the boom gate is not open for the basketball courts or around the streets nearby. Please allow enough time as parking can be difficult and the road works are not helping.

Parking at Parliament House: Limited parking is available opposite the main steps of Parliament House, and there is a parking area as you drive in the main entrance off Harvest Terrace. The overflow parking is on the right and is an old tennis court. There is also paid parking in Parliament Place, Harvest Terrace and surrounding streets.

Other things to Consider:
1) School bags. A number of us will be walking back to school so you may like to leave bags at school. If you are going straight to the city or catching public transport afterwards bring them with you.
2) You may like to bring a percussion instrument (cow bells, maracas etc) to add to the atmosphere.
3) Don’t forget water bottles and snacks.
4) We will have a number of signs (40 to 50) to share if you haven’t had a chance to make your own.
5) At all times please listen and stay together in a very orderly fashion – safety is paramount. We do have a number of Safety Marshals and First Aid Officers to assist in achieving this.
6) Lastly all students will need an adult supervisor, so one suggestion is for parents who can make it to supervise a few of their child’s friends who parents can’t.

Please see route map attached. . #saveperthmodern

Ask questions at the Save Perth Modern Facebook page, or join the private Save Perth Modern Facebook page.


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Petition, 6000 strong, calls for Perth Modern to stay

The West Australian, AAP
Leader of the opposition in the upper house Peter Collier and opposition spokeswoman for education Donna Faragher on Tuesday received a petition with 6000 signatures opposing the relocation of the school.

Mr Collier said the state government did not have a mandate for Perth Modern School and the idea “smacks of arrogance”.

The former education minister added it was not the issue that won Labor the March election.

…the premier is refusing to budge.

Read it all at The West.

Perth Modern School Campaign Group – Press release

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The key points

The new government in Western Australia wants to close Perth Modern School as we know it and move children aged 10 – 18 to the top of a high rise building. In theory it will be 16 to 25 stories tall, without outdoor space apart from the roof.


The policy appeared without warning or consultation six weeks before the state election.

The Education Central  PDF

Unlike other public schools in Australia, there will be no ground access, no ovals, no green space and little prospect of trees. The building will be shared with other organizations, hundreds of thousands of visitors, and will not be owned by the Education Department, but built by a private developer and leased. Access for 1,500 students will be through lifts.

The proposed site is between the CBD and Northbridge, over the Perth underground Bus Port. It is one of the busiest sites in Perth.  Northbridge has high crime statistics and drugs.

The state government is $33 billion in debt (p19); this ambitious project is untested, yet is planned to be built in 2 years and 7 months for use by Jan 2020.


Parents and the broader school community are opposed

The P&C are overwhelming against this move. They remain worried about the effect on physical and mental health, the loss of school history, heritage, and a strong community which donated generously to support low income students and provide buildings.

Students without access to green spaces and natural daylight or outdoor areas are at increased risk of permanent eye damage, vitamin deficiencies,  mood changes and behavioural difficulties. “Green exercise” even changes heart rate patterns 12 hours later.

Perth Modern School serves all West Australians.

Perth Mod parents just want the same thing every parent wants, access to eduction that is appropriate to their childrens needs with recreation facilities similar to most schools.

They are grateful for the current school.

What you can do

No High Rise Schools. Save Perth Modern.

Join the Facebook Page.

Sign the petition: Academic Excellence stays at Perth Modern – say ‘NO’ to a high-rise school.

Get in touch with us. Contact your parent social coordinator through email, use the contact page here, or leave a comment here or at the facebook page.

Write letters to your elected representatives.

To make it easier we’ve assembled a Guide for writing letters. 

See the Key-points you may want to discuss.

Please CC us:

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Medical research raises questions about increased risk of myopia, asthma, depression, anxiety.

UPDATE: Some readers are missing that many of the links here are to peer reviewed medical research. Please follow the links to the Medical Library references.

Medical research shows children (and adults too) need natural spaces and full spectrum light.

A skyscraper school is unhealthy

Light coming through windows is not the same as outdoor light. Glass filters out some wavelengths and the intensity is just 0.5% of midday sunlight. Office lighting is around 500 lux, but outdoor direct sunlight is 100,000 lux. There is no way to recreate the same effect indoors easily. Human tissues respond to these differences. Natural full spectrum outdoor light is associated with better vision, better mental health and better sleep. In office workers, natural elements (greenery) and sunlight increase job satisfaction, commitment, improved mood and lower anxiety.

Less outdoor activity means more myopia and the need for glasses. UV B exposure in teens and young adults is associated with better vision. It turns out it’s not books that cause short-sightedness, but a lack of time outdoors that matters. And there may be life long effects; children with myopia grow up to have a higher risk of glucoma, retinal detachment and cataracts.

An indoor lifestyle means more vitamin D deficiency, and an increased risk for many chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases, asthma, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes. This is especially important in students with dark skin (and Perth Mod has many kids with every kind of skin). Chidlren are often low in Vitamin D even in sunny countries. Sixty eight percent of children in Ethiopian cities were vitamin D deficient. City children were three times as likely to be deficient as rural ones. Vitamin D deficiency is a public health problem.

There are only 200 school age children who live in the inner city of Perth. It’s not a high density kid zone. It’s the CBD.

*Headline edited 30-3-2017

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Do we need an Inquiry into Education Central?

In a media statement of May 15, the Government announced a Commission of Inquiry to investigate financial mismanagement of the previous government.

So how would their own Education Central proposal stand up under the terms of reference proposed for the inquiry?

The inquiry’s terms of reference have been published.

1. Their financial consequences – including any ongoing liabilities and obligations (intended or otherwise), and whether those undertakings represented value for money.

Helen Pederson, former President of Engineers Australia (WA chapter) stated in The West May 6-7 that Education Central was likely to cost about double that to build a regular school.

2. The adequacy of the decision-making processes leading to the awarding of the projects, including the adequacy of their supporting business cases and assessments of risks to taxpayer funds.

Sue Ellery, Minister of Education, has visited an Eastern States inner-city vertical school. Before committing to this project: no advice was obtained from the Education Department. Since the election, no business case has been released and no assessment of risks to tax-payers’ funds; and no assessment of the ability to achieve educational outcomes. Yet the Minister persists with the policy and refuses to consider other less-costly alternatives.

3. The adequacy of their procurement processes.

No doubt, the procurement processes for construction will be undertaken in accordance with the usual government procurement practices – but what of the original decision to commit to this project as the solution to over-crowding in western-suburbs schools. There was no expert or Departmental advice on the suitability of the proposal as a solution to that problem and the proposed catchment area for Perth Modern general in-take does not include the suburbs with the apparent growth issues.

4. Whether reasonable value for money outcomes were achieved.

Helen Pederson, former President of Engineers Australia: “This project does not appear to be viable financially …” Ms Pederson also expressed concerns that the proposed timeline for the project was not feasible (The West 6-7 May). No business case has been formulated for this project.

5. The validity of the use of ‘commercial in confidence’ reasons to justify non-disclosure to the public of contract information and whether that justification was valid (in the public interest) in the particular circumstances.

There has been no meaningful consultation with the Perth Modern School community and despite repeated public and private requests, the Government has failed to answer concerns or to release further details of the proposal. No reason to justify the non-consultative approach and non-disclosure has been advanced.

The terms of reference then asks the inquiry to include in a final report to government:

“Any measures that should be introduced by the State Government to ensure greater rigour and transparency in decision-making and procurement processes to ensure the highest value for money outcomes from government programs, projects and contracts.”

How about? Consult, gather evidence, consider expert advice, prepare a business case and risk assessment, assess all reasonably available options, choose the best option for the entire community based on measurable costs and achievable outcomes.

Alana Dowley
Building & Construction Lawyer
Concerned Parent, Perth Modern School
16 May 2017

We could build two schools for what it costs for Education Central

Rush to put Perth Modern school in Northbridge ‘not viable’

Bethany Hiatt, The West Australia, May 6th, 2017

Rushing to build a high-rise public school in the city would be an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money on a project that may not be financially viable, a chartered professional engineer has warned the State Government.

Helen Pedersen, an engineer with more than 20 years experience and a past president of Engineers Australia WA Division, said her analysis of the Government’s preliminary plan for the multi-storey school rang alarm bells.

“The project could cost double what an equivalent school would cost, has less than a third of the open space of an equivalent school and holds very, very high commercial risk.”

Ms Pedersen, who has a daughter at Perth Modern School, said the cost to build a new school in a built-up area was around $2000 per square metre, but Education Central was likely to cost more than $4000/sqm.

“The State could build two schools for what it will spend on Education Central,” she said.

McCusker blasts Perth Mod plan

Don’t mess with best in West

It is said our state is “drowning in debt”… we have overcrowded prisons. Police, teachers and nurses should be paid better… Shouldn’t the government give priority to these, and other pressing needs, over spending millions on a project which is so strongly opposed and risks ruining such a successful school? — Malcolm McCuskers full Opinion piece here. 

There is an article about that: Bethany Hiatt, The West Australian Saturday 29th April


“Former WA governor and respected lawyer Malcolm McCusker has accused the new State Government of risking students’ health and safety with its plan to transfer the State’s brightest pupils from Perth Modern School to a high-rise school in the city.

Mr McCusker, who graduated from Perth Modern in 1955, has broken his silence on Labor’s plan to convert the academically selective public school to a regular high school and establish a new selective school on the top floors of a multi-storey building by 2020.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the new school would have outdoor spaces, an auditorium and modern science facilities and would continue to produce outstanding results. “While I can appreciate Mr McCusker’s right to express his opposition to a decision to relocate a school, I do find it offensive that he or anyone would suggest that this Government would put students’ health or safety at risk,” she said.

REPLY from a concerned parent: The Minister for Education appears to be unaware of the extensive medical research that shows too many hours indoors and in built up environments is associated with eye damage, sleep and circadian rhythm disorders, mood, motivation, anxiety and depression. Children need sunlight and natural green space, not a rooftop in the city. See the Health tag. We are just getting started.

Gloves off: Time for Action

We’ve just heard that despite all the lobbying by dedicated supporters behind the scenes that Sue Ellery, Minister for Education, is still determined to push ahead with the plan to close Perth Modern School as we know it. It’s time to ramp things up.

Education Central is an experimental model, untried anywhere in Australia. It’s disruptive, rushed, poorly planned, and badly sited. It’s a flagrant expense we don’t want or need. The state is deep in debt.

There’s been no communication at all from the Minister of Education with Perth Modern School families. The Department of Education has announced the school will be local intake from 2020, but hasn’t bothered to notify families in Year 7 – 9 that their children will not be graduating from Perth Modern School.

Fed up? Let’s get cracking.

We’re getting organised to make sure it doesn’t happen. Don’t let them put eleven year olds in a skyscraper in a congested, noisy zone designed for business and adult entertainment.

It’s urgent: Write those letters!

We understand State Budget preparations are underway. Right now the Government is making decisions about what election commitments will be funded.  So it is imperative we speak up.  Your letters do matter and must be replied to by the Government. If we are silent, there is no pressure to change plans. Leave the politicians in no doubt of how risky and unwanted this project is.  There are better choices to solve overcrowding.

We’re only asking for the same facilities as any other parent in the state — an oval, green space, trees and outdoor areas, and cricket pitches in the sun. Space for children to play.

Don’t let politicians take risks with your children’s health and education! Speak up!

To make it easier we’ve assembled a Guide for writing letters. 

See the Key-points you may want to discuss.

Please CC us:

Get involved.  Let’s nip this unrealistic idea in the bud.

No more waiting for someone else to solve this. It’s up to us now, for the sake of our children.

Teens who exercise get higher IQ scores

“We have also shown that those youngsters who improve their physical fitness between the ages of 15 and 18 increase their cognitive performance, says Maria Åberg, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy and physician at Åby health centre. “This being the case, physical education is a subject that has an important place in schools, and is an absolute must if we want to do well in maths and other theoretical subjects.”

The study involved 1.2 million Swedish men doing military service who were born between 1950 and 1976. The research group analysed the results of both physical and IQ tests when the men enrolled.

The study shows a clear link between good physical fitness and better results for the IQ test. The strongest links are for logical thinking and verbal comprehension. But it is only fitness that plays a role in the results for the IQ test, and not strength.

If the link between fitness and intelligence were entirely due to genes and upbringing, the researchers note, they wouldn’t find an association among pairs of identical twins. However, the correspondence between cardiovascular fitness and intelligence scores remained strong. Thus the link between fitness and intelligence appears to arise mainly from environmental factors.


Aberg et al. (2009) Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905307106

Research news: Retinal cell discovered that is overstimulated in indoor light, may lead to myopia

Too much time spent indoors may cause “aberrant over-growth of the eye, leading to myopia” according to Associate Prof. Greg Schwartz, Northwestern University.  New research has uncovered a specific retinal cell that is highly sensitive to daylight and controls “how the eye grows and develops”. Indoor light has a different spectrum and strength to outdoor light.

Image of the newly discovered call called “ON Delayed” retinal ganglion cell.

““More than a billion people in the world have myopia, whose incidence is rising and is linked to how much time people spend indoors as children,” Dr. Schwartz said.”

If the ON Delayed cell instructs the eye to grow too long, images fail to be focused on the retina, causing nearsighted vision and a lifetime of corrective glasses or contact lenses.

“The eye needs to stop growing at precisely the right time during childhood,” Dr. Schwartz said.

“The indoor light spectrum has high red/green contrast, which activates these clusters of photoreceptors in the human eye, creating the equivalent of an artificial contrast image on the retina,” he said.

“It’s likely the human version of the ON Delayed retinal ganglion cell would be overstimulated by such patterns, causing aberrant over-growth of the eye, leading to myopia.”

— Northwestern University

This new research underscores parents concerns that a high-rise indoor environment will prevent normal eye development in students, potentially leading to long term eye damage.

H/t JR

1. Mani A, Schwartz GW: Circuit Mechanisms of a Retinal Ganglion Cell with Stimulus-Dependent Response Latency and Activation Beyond Its Dendrites: J Current Biology; Feb 2017.

Year 8 Perth Modern School students come from far and wide

The year 8s at Perth Modern School come from Mandurah to Yanchep, and as far east as Mount Helena and Gidgegannup. There are also two students from homes near Bridgetown and Denmark in country WA. (Boarding facilities exist in City Beach for country students).

Perth Modern School serves all of Perth.

Perth Modern Students come from all over Perth. (Just the Year 8s visible here)

Let’s keep the opportunity open to all students in Western Australia.

Click here and open the map in another window to see a larger area.

Perth Mod Year 7 students come from all over Perth

There are baseless claims that Perth Mod is full of “rich kids”. These accusations are not connected to reality.  One parent created a google map of the year 7 address list. The map says it all, except it doesn’t show at least five children who come from even further away.

Thanks to HP. Open this link in a new tab to enlarge.

Map, Perth Modern School, Student addresses, Map, Geographic spread

The map does not contain all homes, for privacy reasons some addresses are unknown. Continue reading “Perth Mod Year 7 students come from all over Perth”

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