What is ‘IGSness’?

‘Unity through diversity’ is not just a motto at International Grammar School. It defines who we are and what we stand for.

Here is what a selection of people in our community had to say about ‘IGSness’.

Paul Galea (Director of Advancement): Everyone knows that at IGS you can “be yourself!” But what does that mean? It means showing up to school everyday as who you are, and who you want to be. And knowing that no matter what that looks like, you will belong.

But that is only one side of the equation. Because it is only as a strong, cohesive and united community that all these individual people can feel safe, nourished, cherished and celebrated. ‘IGSness’, that elusive, hard to define, hard to quantify and all important part of our school has two sides. One is; be yourself. Two is; be part of our broader community while being yourself. This can be as simple as wearing our very flexible uniform correctly, or by being a positive force in class, or by being an involved and respectful contributor to special events. ‘IGSness’ also means being open minded, even towards someone who has a different viewpoint to you or a different way of expressing their ideas.

Never forget that at IGS, community is everything! That by being a united community of accepting and positive individuals, all of our individuals can be themselves.

Shauna Colnan ( IGS Principal): ‘IGSness’ is a term of endearment. It alludes to the uniqueness of our school. There’s a certain X factor about the place that’s hard to pin down and is more about how the place makes you feel. The ‘IGSness’ is about the culture and the community. Most of all, it’s about our amazing kids. 

Michelle Weir (long term staff member): The students and my colleagues give IGS its ‘IGSness’! Working with people who support and respect one another, regardless of your role or department. We are all here for the same reason, the students. Having taught in the school for 35 years, I can recall many stories. But my absolute favourite is one which captures the essence of the IGS student.  A Year 1 student wanted to buy flowers for her parents for their anniversary. Obviously not allowed to leave the school, she told her Year 4 buddy her dilemma. Year 4 buddy told her Year 9 buddy who mentioned it to a Year 11 student in his tutor group. The Year 11 student went up to Broadway and bought the flowers and back down the chain it went. When the mum collected her Year 1 daughter in the afternoon, she was presented with the flowers. Baffled as to how her daughter managed to buy the flowers, her daughter told her the story. This is what ‘IGSness’ is! 

Lyndsay Brown (former IGS parent): ‘IGSness’ to me is encapsulated in the school motto ‘Unity through diversity’; IGS actually encourages diversity (rather than just tolerating it), recognising that difference makes the world an even more interesting and creative place to be, love, live and work. This philosophy creates a welcome and inclusive school environment where students can study and socialise as their authentic selves, and where (most) students finish Year 12 motivated not by the self-referential question, ‘What about me?’ but instead the social and progressive question, ‘What about them?

Ava Wilkin (Year 12 student): ‘IGSness’ is giving up your recess to talk to your favourite Year 3s outside the ‘Bib’ about the latest dramas in their overly complicated little lives. 

‘IGSness’ is singing happy birthday to your teacher in the middle of an English lesson and surprising your friends with flowers on their birthdays. 

‘IGSness’ is dancing and sunbathing with your friends in the middle of Mountain Street and not caring what everyone thinks.

Hayley Dean (Parent and PTF President): ‘IGSness’ to the PTF is about community.

It’s what sets us apart from all other independent schools and is in fact, the reason we as parents chose this school.

It means embracing the different, supporting others, laughing with, not at.

IGS is strong enough to stand up for the minorities and celebrate everyone.

IGS is the village raising our children together. The parents are as much a part of the school as the kids. We help to keep the wheels turning.

Lucy Howard-Shibuya (long term staff member): There is no doubt in my mind that the foundation of ‘IGSness’ lies in the school’s beginnings and its deep commitment to languages and appreciation of diversity. 

People around me speaking so many languages, kids were vibrant and open to so many learning experiences. The people, the cultures, the languages and the depth of peoples’ lives and experiences make it a joyous place to be. This then creates an atmosphere of community. Community builds connections and builds trust and builds friendships… and that fosters happiness. That trust and sense of belonging then translates into incredible relationships between staff, between students and between students and staff. A key factor to this in the High School is without doubt the vertical tutor group and student care system. Older kids look after younger kids. Staff connect with kids and this continues into the classroom and learning spaces. We have International Day and ArtsFest. ArtsFest is truly the IGS songsheet… kids can be whoever they want to be and the atmosphere is always electric. Creativity, spirit and competitiveness. But the camaraderie is what counts. When Year 12s take Kindy kids to the zoo and Year 7s cry at the House farewells for Year 12 kids, it all makes sense. 

My kids were raised at IGS. They embody what ‘IGSness’ is; open minded, accepting, and feeling a sense of belonging and a joyful approach to life and a strong sense of community. It’s magic potion that should be bottled.

Ruari Foster (Year 12 student): IGSness’ is a hard concept to encapsulate because I don’t think it comes from only one thing, but If I had to pin it down, I think people would agree with me when I say that everyone respects each other here. At IGS we celebrate each other’s differences in real, tangible ways like ArtsFest or International Day and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, we genuinely care about each other, and that’s ‘IGSness’.

Tim Bishop (parent): Good leadership spills into the day to day that all our young perceive. When you walk in the feeling is warm and everyone is happy to see you. You know people love being here. The teachers are invested and it’s not just because it’s an Independent school. It’s much more than that. All my kids’ teachers are so lovely, the door is always open, nothing is ever a problem. And that really means a lot. My mum and dad instilled the value of education in me and the same values are here. Language is at the heart of culture and to be at a school where language is a core component of what makes this school different and is in line with our family values.