Since our humble beginnings in 1988, Bacchus Marsh Grammar has become a leading Independent school boasting an excellent reputation for the way we foster individual difference and diversity, and facilitate personal development, academic growth and pastoral care.
With a founding motto of “Doctrina Vitae” (Education for Life), we have grown from a single campus with approximately 300 students to one with three campuses and more than 2600 students, Our community is drawn from a large and diverse catchment area in the outer west of Melbourne and towards Ballarat and Geelong.
To celebrate our 30th anniversary, we are compiling an extensive collection of material to stimulate a greater sense of pride in our school history and all that has been achieved in such a short space of time. We have much to be proud of since those early years and the ambitious and challenging road that has been negotiated to become the successful school we are today.
Bacchus Marsh Grammar commenced operation in 1988 under the leadership of Foundation Principal, Mr Graeme Blyth.
Supported by a small and determined group of families, Mr Blyth had identified the pressing need for an Independent school in the growing township of Bacchus Marsh and surrounding areas. Their shared vision was for a school that was non-denominational and not tied to any particular faith or the teaching of any particular creed or doctrine.
The school first operated from a site in Halletts Way, central Bacchus Marsh. The early years were particularly tough due to a lack of government funding and difficulties in attracting and maintaining enrolments. Totally committed, the School Council, under the leadership of Peter O’Day, provided unwavering support, and so too did many of the school’s hard working original families. Mr O’Day was subsequently honoured with Life Membership of the school for his contributions. His involvement has been a lifelong family affair – his wife Elizabeth was a long-term member of the teaching staff and Senior Deputy Principal up until the beginning of 2022 and their grandchildren now attend our School.
Driven by vision and ambition, a “land swap” was negotiated in 1992 to enable the school to move to our current location in South Maddingley Road, just south of the Bacchus Marsh township. The site was previously the administrative hub for Maddingley Brown Coal. Local landowners, Bill and Jill Wilson, were instrumental in achieving the land swap and were later awarded PFA Life Memberships for their efforts.
In 1994, Mr Blyth resigned as Principal due to the tensions inherent in operating an Independent school without appropriate government funding. Mr Kevin Nicholson was interim Head of the School until Mr Baxter Holly was appointed as the school’s second Principal (1995 – 1998). Mr Holly had been Head of the Knox School and before that, a senior member of staff at Scotch College.
Mr Holly’s main task was to secure funding. After significant lobbying by Mr Holly and the School Council, this was achieved in 1998 when the school joined the Victorian Ecumenical System of Schools. In the July of that year, Mr Holly left Bacchus Marsh Grammar to become Head of Kingswood College in Box Hill.
During these formative years, the PFA made an enormous contribution. Raelene Hawkins and Marcia Gage, in particular were the driving force behind raising money for the day-to-day operations of the school.
In 1998, Mr Andrew Neal who had been Director of Curriculum at Trinity Grammar, Kew, was appointed our third Principal. One of his priorities was to establish a sound curriculum and secure a strong enrolment base. This involved major changes to ensure the school could offer a curriculum and resources that would attract students from across western Melbourne.
Such change is not easy but Mr Neal was able to progress with support particularly from School Council members Peter O’Day, Sheryl Tunnecliffe, John Cooke, Andrew Dickson, Andrew Conolly and Bruce Marshall. An almost entirely new School Council resulted.
In 2001, work commenced in earnest to develop an achievable Strategic Plan to help move the school forward. Mr Neal‘s endeavours were supported by a new management team comprising Deputy Principals Elizabeth O’Day and Kevin Richardson, Business Manager Greg Gough and the School Council. The process was further assisted by the enormous contribution made by the Principal’s Assistant Michelle Graham.
The results were soon seen with significant improvements to curriculum policy, a more expansionary outlook, together with the consistency and a confidence that come with stable management and a united School Council.
Ongoing curriculum consolidation, development, and innovation have been made across the Senior, Middle and Junior schools. This has been supported by substantial growth in the school’s infrastructure and resources, the size of the Maddingley campus and a flourishing co-curricular program. The process of growth has continued with the establishment of a campus on 200 acres at Staughton Vale and a Prep to Year 8 campus at Aintree/Rockbank.
Academically, the school is proud of its reputation. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of students achieving at the highest levels and we boast one of the most extensive Year 12 programs in the State.
In many respects, Bacchus Marsh Grammar has come of age. This has been thanks to the enormous effort and hard work of many people including long-serving staff and parents committed to the moral and philosophical foundations of our school.
The best still lies ahead. It is with great confidence the School is embarking on the next exciting phase of development to underpin its long-term future.