In November 2012 students, teachers and friends held a forum in Sydney to consider what impact Chiron College's innovative approach had upon their lives and to what extent that approach might be relevant today.


Here's What They Are Saying

Andrew Cappie-wood

“For many people Chiron was an experience that, when you look back upon it, was absolutely critical to what we are today. It was for me. If you look at it just as an educational experiment, and it was very much so, how do we see that as innovation back in those days relative to what we see as education today. Having been through the education system a little bit I’m amazed at what was achieved.”


Chiron Student 1972-73

Secretary NSW Department of Justice. Former Head of the ACT Public Service and Director-General of the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate; Director General of several NSW Government departments, including the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Housing. 

Debbie Trevan

“The most important life skill I developed from a Chiron College education was the realisation that you have it within you to create your reality. You just need to keep checking in with yourself to determine what new reality you may want, or need to create for now. I came to realise that people can easily fall victim to limiting their own life potential by creating scaffolding that may have been useful at a certain point in time, but easily becomes imprisoning once you outgrow it. You need to check in with yourself to assess whether the current structure is still useful, or needs modification, or actually rebuilding.”


 Chiron Student 1971-72

 Teacher Consultant, Intellectual & Learning Disabilities. TAFE NSW


Alison Giblin

“I have some wonderful memories from those times which may bring a smile to your face. Like you and Phillip taking some of us naifs out to a Chinese restaurant and daring us to eat the "sheep’s testicles". They were  of course mushrooms but I am proud to this day that I was brave enough to take the challenge. And watching the sunrise from the lounge on the Indian-Pacific (Arts excursion to Perth hosted by Kerry & Denise  Stokes) while listening too "Here Comes the Sun". Man, that was a great education.

 One of the most eye opening and challenging things I experienced at Chiron was a talk by an aboriginal lawyer.  I can't remember his name but he also took us on a trip to Redfern.  It was my first experience of the pain and injustice faced by the aboriginal people at first hand.”


Chiron Student 1974-75

Anne Gothe

“My HSC results were poor. But the experience was a life changing one! I gained confidence in my self through the environment that fostered and nurtured the individual and their differences which were encouraged. Placing self expression and creativity at the heart. At that time it was such an enlightening place. Learning how to be with ourselves interacting with the students and teachers in social situations with inspiring excursions to artists and friends of John and Philip’s. Most of all it inspired me to write and pursue art and science, which are still a source of inspiration now. I was very lucky to have had such a wonderful opportunity.”


Chiron Student 1971-72

Artist & Writer

Andrew Stanton

“Going to Chiron was a bit challenging in some ways. At the same time it was very stimulating. It was wonderful to be exposed to the initial freedom and to taking responsibility for you own actions which outfitted me to attend university and study and it gave a different perspective on how to approach things through my life since.”


Chiron Student 1973-74
Consultant NFP Boards & Board performance
Former Managing Director, University Admissions NSW & ACT (1995-2014)

Julie Harris

“At Chiron I was valued as a thoughtful and intelligent young person who was considered capable of both evaluating my own needs and the needs of my peers in a way that encouraged us to be the architects of our own learning, guided by the adults and teachers around us but not dictated to by them. The learning environment was thus not restricted to the classroom but incorporated real-life experience and exposure to new people.”



Chiron Student 1975-76

Health Educator, Nurse and Graphic Designer

David Baker

“Chiron was such a watershed year for me and I’m sure for many of us. It’s amazing that we can talk now about a progressive school then that is still progressive today and we’re talking 40 years ago. You can have this connotation of something being progressive as somehow lacking in discipline and rules in fact  I found that Chiron was one of the most challenging learning environments I’ve experienced because you are invited to ask questions and to take ownership of your responses.”


Chiron Student 1973

Business Executive, Former Chairman of The International Grammar School, Ultimo

Cassi Plate

“Chiron was so stimulating. There was a lot of input from the teaching staff to help you develop your thinking. It really encouraged a lot of out of class work. I found I enjoyed studying and research Having gone to Chiron and had these incredible experiences when I went to university it wasn’t like that at all. There weren’t any tutorials happening and there weren’t any class discussions. It felt so dusty and it didn’t feel related to the life you were living.”

Chiron Student 1971-72

Writer, Curator, Local Government Councillor & ABC Radio Producer


Tim Gotterson

 “I believe my experience at Chiron gave me a great sense self control and personal strength. It opened my mind to endless opportunities and different ways of looking at issues. I have always thought that this gave me a huge head start on others who were educated within a more ridged and narrow system. Initially, I found it difficult to embrace this new from of education as I was still burdened with the baggage of the more traditional system. However, after some months it clicked and I was able to understand and involve myself in all the opportunities the school offered”


Chiron Student 1974-75

Barrister, Finance Lawyer and Banker

Katrina Hoffmann

“Unlike a traditional’ high school, Chiron had no uniforms and we could call our teachers by their first names. The teachers weren't seen as the ‘all knowing’ disciplinarians as they often can be at regular high school, but more like facilitators who encouraged us to think for ourselves and express our ideas freely. I was very interested in the arts- particularly visual arts and Chiron really encouraged artistic expression. We had the opportunity to meet artists such as Charles Blackman who was very involved in the school and the artist James (Jim) Willebrandt was one of our art teachers. My old school friends couldn't believe that we had life drawing classes at school!”


Chiron Student 1973-74

Indonesian Teacher at TAFE

Catherine Croll

“I went on to be a teacher and dragged all of the principles that I learnt at Chiron into my own teaching practice so that experiential learning became my main form of teaching . Those kids now seek me out and say I’ve never forgotten you because of the way you taught. And the way I taught was because I went to Chiron.” (Kate has been a respected practitioner in the Community Cultural Development (CCD) and Cultural Planning sectors for over 25 years, sharing her practical knowledge with others through her positions as a facilitator and trainer.)


Chiron Student 1973-74

Founding Director of Cultural Partnerships Australia, Redgate Gallery Beijing.

John Gillespie

“I found my time at Chiron College was a life changing event. Prior to this school I was at a very strict institution where discipline was the most important part of the school. I was fearful during my five years there and spent a lot of energy trying to remain invisible. Chiron allowed me to grow into an individual who had a voice and an opinion. It was a place where students were exposed to a variety of different people from academics to artists. Social life was important; learning to entertain, to communicate and to enjoy people.”

Chiron Student 1973-74

Owner of a painting & decorating business

Sue McMeekin

“Chiron was a fabulous time in my life. I made lots of really good friends, regained my self confidence and was able to make some reasonable decisions about my life. I’d been batted down by rules and regulations and always wanting to push those away. But at Chiron John & Philip said its your life, organize it the way you want. And I did. I never considered what the teachers’ expectations were of me. I was just so happy to be in a community that liked me for who I was.”


Chiron Student 1971-72

Potter, Teacher & Firefighter Volunteer

Neil Fitzsimmons

“The memory I have of Chiron is that it was the beginning of a life of intellectual adventure. And especially since you've reminded me that you were a homosexual high school principal in the 1970's by saying that your partner's name is Andrew. You are (and truly deserve to be) an ethical role-model of my life, John. You are the living proof that sexuality (homo or hetero) is totally independent of moral or ethical quality. I hope that you have a lot of satisfaction that you taught a lot of extremely (painfully in some cases) intelligent students, your values, to their lifetime advantage! I'm sure Rosemary has expressed something similar to you but perhaps having the same sex but different sexuality, I can affirm something about you that she can't!”


Chiron Student 1973-74

Mathematician, Environmentalist & Webmaster

Sam Lambrou

“My first impressions of the school were that traditional student teacher relationships were very different from the public system that I came from. This freedom of expression especially in the art area has had a profound effect on my whole life. The small size of the school also nurtured good relationships amongst students and teachers. Music was a big  part of the 70’s and having music playing in the school was very calming, movie nights created a family feel and the school excursions were very hands on. I also found that the Blackman family had a lot of inspiration for me and the photographic facility at the school sealed my destiny as a photographer, I have worked in the photographic industry since graduating.”


Chiron Student 1974-75

Photographer and Operator of  Frontier Photographic Safaris

Mark Crocker

I completed schooling at Chiron College in 1973. I was self-assured, convinced in my beliefs and attitudes. Chiron helped me develop critical thinking skills and challenged my assumptions of knowledge and art. Students were treated as adults with an expectation of hard work, focus on outcomes and resilience. As a visual artist with learning difficulties then called dyslexia, the teachers gave me confidence and strategies to write and gain entrance to university. Exposure to older people, working in their chosen profession was an essential element of the Chiron experience. We learned the value of developing strategies to maintain our creativity and lifelong learning.”


Chiron Student 1973

Artist, Photographer & Teacher

Marie Anderson

“Chiron was an incredible awakening for both students and teachers. For students it was a liberation from child-like constraints where they were treated as responsible adults who did not need to be clogged with  all the rules inhibiting their behaviour. Through a steep learning curve they realised that the HSC was an inevitable hoop to go through in life. Along the way they were exposed to artists, writers, poets & musicians that were equally as important as the curriculum and which nurtured their imagination. Many testimonials from students at the reunion showed the bearing of such fruit that was this unique educational experiment.”

Marie Anderson ton ed 192

Chiron Teacher 1972-73

Art History & English Teacher

Thomas Shapcott

“The students who attended during the 1970s would no doubt by now fully appreciate the excitement and the stimulus of their education at Chiron. It was John Welch who, as a dedicated and idealistic educationalist, developed the college into an innovative educational institution. Under his direction was provided a unique combination of personal coaching and tutorials, as well as classes from visiting celebrities in a wide range of creative fields. Chiron College achieved outstanding HSC results and University entry for a disproportionately high percentage of its pupils.”


Chiron Board Member 1973-4

Australian poet, novelist, playwright, editor, librettist, short story writer and teacher

Graham Spetere

 “The most important elements were simply trust & respect. The students were shown respect and trusted to act appropriately to a level of fair expectation for their age and they for the most part obliged and grew the more for it. It was a trust that extended to their ability to recognise the value of their education, complete assignments and secure further opportunities for education and employment. The outcomes included their growing in self reliance, independence of thought and action, evident in their HSC results and successes most have enjoyed in their lives since leaving school and going on to further education and successful careers. Respect was mutual, given and returned and inclusive of gender, race, ethnicity and so on to a degree well ahead of it's time.”

GrahamSpetere 130

Chiron Teacher 1975-76

High School Counsellor





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