Established in 1899, Somerville House is a day and boarding school for girls from Prep to Year 12, and a co-educational school for Pre-Prep girls and boys. The School is made up of three sub schools:
Boarding is available for students from Years 6 to 12 and our facilities, dedicated boarding staff and related programs are renowned both nationally and internationally.
Located in the inner city suburb of South Brisbane, just two kilometres from the city centre and directly opposite South Bank parklands and the state’s pre-eminent cultural precinct, Somerville House offers enviable campus facilities and programs bolstered by highly credentialed and dedicated teaching and support staff, tutors and coaches.
The School provides a comprehensive, balanced educational environment that recognises the importance of academic excellence as well as psychological, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
This is reflected in the School’s rich and varied academic, sporting, cultural and social pursuits and our proud history of developing well rounded, confident and capable students.
Academically, the School stands as one of Australia’s finest. With outstanding facilities for Music, Performing Arts, Cultural endeavours and Sport, combined with one of Australia’s leading technology programs, Somerville House students graduate with a much broader education than can be provided by an academic curriculum alone.
The academic environment of Somerville House is best described as progressive, seamlessly combining traditional values, modern day ethics and technology in a dynamic, supportive and challenging environment.
Somerville House provides each and every student with the framework they require to explore their interests, develop their talents, to strive to meet their goals honourably, and ultimately, to be the very best they can be.
Somerville House is governed by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association (PMSA). The PMSA was established in 1918, and operates four schools and one childcare centre in South-East Queensland. Affiliated schools include Brisbane Boys’ College, Clayfield College and Sunshine Coast Grammar School.
It is my great honour to be the twelfth Principal of Somerville House. I am privileged to be part of a passionate, inclusive and supportive community of students, parents and staff, past and present.
I am inspired by Somerville House’s outstanding reputation as a leader in girls’ education; in academic, in social and in emotional learning. Somerville House’s motto: Honour Before Honours is exemplified through the day-to-day school life.
Christian beliefs and values upheld by the School, and is an approach that is closely aligned with my own. What a privilege it is for us to be part of the Somerville House community. Collectively, we can encourage each student to discover and develop their strengths and to determine what they wish to achieve. Specifically, we can help our students learn to trust their voices, as sources of power and encouragement, to self and others, and to have a fulfilling life that makes a meaningful contribution to society.
I look forward to the opportunity to lead the past, present and future Somerville House community today, and into the future.
The approach adopted at Somerville House acknowledges the Christian beliefs. Respect, integrity and inclusiveness drive the School’s behaviours, exemplified through our School motto, Honour Before Honours.
As part of the PMSA family of schools, our endeavours are underpinned by strong Christian values, which include:
Founded on God’s relationship with us – through love, justice, compassion and forgiveness.
Focussing on integrity, seeking the truth, right thinking and right action.
Encouraging all to fulfil their potential.
Providing a safe environment for growth and development that respects self and the needs of others.
Enabling growth, resilience, learning from mistakes and successes, continuous improvement and self-management.
Recognising and celebrating the achievements of students, staff and the School’s wider community.
Our vision is to remain an exemplary school and a leader in education. The School continually invests in learning excellence, building capacity and proactively engaging with the community. This focus is underpinned by three core planning areas which set the direction across all operations of the School: Learn and Explore, Evolve and Grow, Engage and Inspire.
At Somerville House, we encourage our students to liberate their imaginations, embrace creativity and to value learning as a life-long, enriching undertaking. We seek to cultivate and extend student abilities within a disciplined environment and recognise each learner as an individual and encourage them to produce their best in all circumstances. In this context, pursuing excellence is acknowledged as a primary goal for all.
We acknowledge that parents hold the primary responsibility for a child’s education, with the School, teaching and corporate staff playing an active, supportive role. Ideally, the outcome will be a compatible and collaborative venture between home and School through which each student is nurtured towards the fulfilment of their true potential.
Our Pre-Prep program provides students turning four years old of age by 30 June with the opportunity to experience a high quality early learning program.
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Our Junior School recognises and nurtures every student’s ability in all areas of potential. Opportunities allow for active engagement in a rich and challenging learning environment where explicit and effective teaching strategies balance active student inquiry.
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The Middle School at Somerville House provides a learning environment that is relevant and enriching. Students are challenged by a variety of appropriate learning experiences, by setting high standards and by providing opportunities for them to be responsible and accountable for their learning.
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In 1899 Miss Eliza Fewings founded a school designed to educate young women and equip them to take a leading role in the creation of an emerging nation. The School began as The Brisbane High School for Girls and its first home was the City Tabernacle, on the corner of Wickham Terrace and Edward Street. In 1912, the School moved to ‘Erneton’ in Wickham Terrace, a gracious old home that could accommodate both day students and boarders.
In 1918 ownership of the School was transferred to the newly formed Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association (PMSA) and in 1919 Cumbooquepa, South Brisbane was chosen as the ideal location for the School. It wasn’t until 1920 that the School became known as Somerville House, named to honour Mary Somerville, a distinguished Scottish scientist, mathematician and scholar.
As a result of World War II, in 1942 the School was evacuated from its South Brisbane site and day girls were moved to Drysllwyn at Auchenflower and Queen Alexandra Home at Coorparoo and boarders moved to Moimindah at Stanthorpe. During this time the Vulture Street site was occupied by The United States Army’s East-Asian Command, under General Macarthur. The School’s South Brisbane campus became General Headquarters United Army Forces Far East, United States Army Service of Supply and Base Section 3, until the students returned in 1945.
Since its foundation, Somerville House has epitomised the essential elements of an exemplary school: intellectual rigour, teaching excellence, a caring Christian community, a wealth of opportunities and a stimulating environment fostering innovation and growth.
The strengths and wisdom of the past are retained, while preparing students to be confident and highly capable individuals of the future.
The School crest was designed by Robin Dods, a well known Brisbane architect. It represents wisdom standing upon the book of knowledge holding the lamp of truth over the School motto “Honour before Honours” which dates back to the School’s foundation.
The colours of the School badge are blue, green and white. Blue is associated with loyalty, green is associated with the foliage of a plant, and hence with growth, and white represents purity.
Our School Motto, Honour before Honours, presents a challenge, in a competitive and materialistic society, to maintain the highest personal standards of integrity, and to regard ideals of behaviour and achievement as more worthwhile and important than the applause of a crowd.
The original School colours were yellow and white. These colours were changed to blue and green in 1912, reflecting the symbolism of values to those used in our School motto.
The School uniform was introduced in 1922 and our current students still wear the same style of winter uniform introduced back then. The first summer uniform was similar to the winter uniform in a lighter fabric; the iconic Somerville House green summer uniform was introduced in 1954; and the current style was introduced in 1973.
All six Somerville House colour houses were named to honour outstanding women in Australian history.
Chisholm House is Yellow and named in honour of Caroline Chisholm, a progressive 19th-century English humanitarian known mostly for her involvement with female immigrant welfare in Australia.
Franklin House is Red and named in honour of Jane Franklin, a Tasmanian pioneer and traveller.
Macarthur House is Blue and named in honour of Elizabeth Macarthur, an Anglo-Australian pastoralist and merchant who managed a sheep station and was one of the first to whip merino wool to Britain.
Durack House is Black and named in honour of Mary Durack, a resourceful pioneer pastoralist, surviving all the difficulties of the outback.
Gilmore House is Pink and named in honour of Mary Gilmore, a prominent Australian socialist poet and journalist.
Osburn House is Green and named in honour of Lucy Osburn, an English nurse trained at the School of Nursing founded by Florence Nightingale. She is regarded as the founder of modern nursing in Australia.
Somerville House is one of four outstanding schools owned by the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association (PMSA) along with our sibling schools Brisbane Boys’ College, Clayfield College and Sunshine Coast Grammar School.
Established in 1918, the PMSA is a joint mission of the Uniting Church of Australia, Queensland Synod and the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. The Churches formed the PMSA to purchase Brisbane High School for Girls (now Somerville House) and Clayfield College (now Brisbane Boys’ College) in 1918
More than 100 years on, the PMSA is a financially strong, not-for-profit organisation that plays a vital role in setting the direction of each school and the connecting link between the schools and the two churches. All PMSA schools offer a unique ecumenical learning environment where children learn Christian values common to two churches, not the beliefs and practices of just one church.
The PMSA works together with the Somerville House School Council and Principal to provide:
The PMSA is run by a board which comprises 13 members. Up to five PMSA Board members are each appointed by the Presbyterian Church and the Uniting Church and up to three are directly appointed by the PMSA Board. The PMSA Board is supported by three committees, a School Council for each of the schools and the PMSA corporate office.
Somerville House School Council is made up of up of nine members including two PMSA Board members, up to six independent School Council members appointed from the school’s community, and the school Principal, who is a non-voting member. The Somerville House School Council is delegated the responsibility to govern and administer the performance of the school. The School Council’s role includes:
The school Principal reports to the School Council and is responsible for the daily operations of the school.
For more information about the School Council’s roles and responsibilities, please see the Somerville House School Council Charter.
When positions on the Somerville House School Council are vacant, they will be advertised on the Somerville House website, the school newsletter, the PMSA website, and appropriate websites for board positions available.
Mr Jim Demack, Chairman LL.B, LL.M, A.MUS.A
Jim Demack was appointed the Chairman of the Somerville House School Council in 2017 and is also a member of the PMSA Board appointed by the Uniting Church.
A lawyer and a Brisbane partner of a national law firm, Jim brings his legal skills with experience in major engineering and infrastructure projects, insurance, litigation and commercial law. He has a collaborative approach to problem solving in dealing with the issues that arise for both the Somerville House School Council and the PMSA Board.
Mrs Margaret Berry BA, MSc, MEd (Leadership)
Margaret Berry has been appointed as a Uniting Church representative on the PMSA Board and is currently the Principal at Robertson State School.
Margaret has a passion for the education of young people and has a long career in the leadership of school communities. Her daughter and sisters attended Somerville House and extended family members attend Brisbane Boys' College. Margaret has worked with school councils for over 10 years. She has joined the PSMA Board at a time in her career where she feels she can add value and support to the PMSA's work.
Margaret has more than 30 years experience teaching in both primary and secondary schools. Since 1998, she has held leadership positions of Head of Department, Deputy Principal and Principal of secondary schools and current Principal of a primary school. With a Certificate of Teaching, Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Education (Leadership), and a Master of Science, Margaret brings a wealth of educational experience to the Somerville House School Council and the PMSA Board.
Dr Russell Bird MBBS(QLD), FRACS, FRCS(Can)
A specialist ear, nose and throat surgeon, Russell Bird has a long history with Somerville House. A founding director on the Somerville House Foundation and former chairman, he has been a member of the School Council for 15 years. His four daughters were students and one of his granddaughters is a current student.
Russell is currently the deputy chairman of the WorkCover Tribunal and a board member of Attune Hearing, Australia’s largest full-service audiology company. He brings this experience to the Somerville House School Council.
Mr Con Graves BA Hons (Psych), GDipMan, MEd, AMICDA
With a Master of Education and almost 20 years working as an administrator in post school education, Con Graves is passionate about education. Con has held positions as a corporate services and technology executive leader with the Department of Employment, Training and Industrial Relations, a Director of Information Services at Griffith University and currently sits on the management committee of the Wesley Mission’s RTO. A retired psychologist, Con brings his extensive experience in strategic leadership, change management and innovation to the PMSA Board and the Somerville House School Council.
Mr Peter Thompson BA (Hons)
Peter Thompson was appointed to the Somerville House School Council in 2018. A UK qualified chartered accountant and investment banker, Peter studied philosophy, politics and economics at St John’s College, Oxford. He spent most of his career in investment banking providing financial advice to international companies.
Moving to Australia in 2005, Peter began his association with Somerville House in 2007 when his daughter commenced at the school. Peter is a past treasurer of Somerville House Parents & Friends Association, a director (and briefly chairman) of the Somerville House Foundation. He is a continuing donor to the Somerville House Foundation.
Peter brings his strong finance, investment and corporate finance skills to the Somerville House School Council.
Mrs Kim Kiepe, School Principal MEd (Leadership & Management), BEd, DipT, MACEL, GAICD
Kim’s teaching and leadership experience in both girls’ and co-educational school settings extends over thirty-five years. Appointed as Principal at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls in 2015, Kim’s teaching career has spanned the government and independent school sectors and TAFE settings. Kim has extensive school leadership experience, including roles as Head of Year, Senior Years’ Co-ordinator, Head of Boarding and Deputy Principal.
A strong background in girls’ education within Christian schools has been very rewarding in terms of helping students reach their personal best. An awareness of the importance of a collaborative and professional culture led to postgraduate study in Masters of Educational Leadership and Management. Kim’s interest in governance, compliance, marketing and financial oversight in education has been supported through further study; she is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.
Kim has a great passion for leading staff in supporting the aspirations of all students, by maintaining a philosophy of encouraging girls to strive for personal excellence and develop into happy, confident and connected young women. Her personal belief is based on a commitment to intellectual endeavour, staff development and student wellbeing.
“By creating a rich learning environment, with a strong focus on developing and nurturing of the whole person, my belief is that students can feel self-motivated and empowered to achieve their personal aspirations. Further, a school culture that places emphasis on the growth of quality relationships and a social awareness contribute to a student’s sense of purpose in a global sense.” Throughout her teaching life, Kim has been influenced by Aristotle’s thinking - “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
On commencing as the twelfth Principal of Somerville House, Kim commented “I am looking forward to joining with the School community to celebrate the strong traditions of the past, while building on the School’s vision to provide the support and encouragement for students to become the best they can be. It is my intention to work with the School’s staff to find innovative methods of facilitating learning, while promoting a culture of high expectations.”
All PMSA schools play an important role in educating and guiding young people with values for life. Founded on strong Christian values – relationships, care, ethics, personal development, excellence and celebration – Somerville House and other PMSA schools share these collective values. The four schools work collaboratively to share their knowledge and expertise to enhance the educational experience across all schools.
Somerville House currently employs over 400 staff in various roles across Academic and Corporate Support areas.
At Somerville House, staff members work in an active and vibrant environment, forging close-knit, collaborative working relationships. We are passionate practitioners and lifelong learners. We seek individuals who embrace the School’s Strategic Intent, and who support the open-minded and inclusive environment we are committed to maintaining. We offer all of our staff a competitive salary and benefits package.
The School is located close to South Bank Parklands and is easily accessible to public transport. On-site car parking may be available, but is not guaranteed. Staff are able to access the Murray Evans Sports and Aquatic Centre facilities, Library services, Café and Tuckshop, as well as participate in events organised by the Staff Association.
We are an equal opportunity employer and value the strength diversity brings to the workplace
If you are interested in joining our dynamic and collaborative team, we invite you to follow the below instructions to apply.
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Please submit all applications with the above documentation attached to email@example.com by the specified closing date.