Since its foundation in 1918, the aim of the Great Public Schools’ Association of Queensland has been to provide exceptional opportunities for participation, to encourage the pursuit of excellence and to nurture a spirit of fellowship, through its extensive sports and activities program.
The GPS was founded as World War One drew to a close. The first secretary was Norman Connal who served from 1918 until 1928. The first GPS school communities were filled with optimism, much like today, and were eager to play their part in the burgeoning State with its bustling river port city, with thriving markets, busy wharves, and booming dance halls and theatres.
The opportunity to take part in sporting and cultural activities between the nine GPS schools has always been important, as being part of a school team and playing matches against another school instills teamwork, loyalty, leadership and service. These fundamental values have always been central to the GPS and served its community well when the devastating effect of the Great Depression of the 1930’s was felt by all.
The Second World War took its toll, and many of the boys who attended GPS schools were called to serve, some giving their lives for their country. For those who returned, life was forever changed, and we honour them all.
Through every period of history, we have seen enormous challenges and exciting opportunities. The GPS schools remain as committed today as they have always been to preparing students for the challenges and adventures that await them when they leave school, whatever they may be.
More than one hundred years since the foundation of the GPS, there is still much to be learnt and much to be done. The GPS continues to promote the power of opportunity, the pursuit of excellence, teamwork, service and leadership. These qualities are brought to life through outstanding coaches, teachers and members of the wider GPS community who are equipped with the skills and experience to nurture and inspire our young people.
It is important to take time to reflect on what being part of the GPS means to each school community and each generation, and to celebrate so many outstanding students who have grown into remarkable people. It also important to celebrate the the GPS spirit of fellowship and the bonds that are formed that go well beyond the school gates, and often last a lifetime.
There is enough GPS history to fill many books, and fascinating books have been written about the GPS and its member schools. In the preface to his book, The Queensland Great Public Schools, T Max Hawkins sums up the purpose of GPS schools. “To me the important factor in a GPS school is the aim not so much at tremendous scholastic achievements or fine sporting prowess, but to fit youth to take a proper place in society in adult life. Educators should be seeking the overall good qualities of a student, not merely looking for brilliance, intelligence and ambition. Leadership, integrity and co-operation are some of the most valuable factors which should be brought out”.
When we look through the records of the GPS member schools, from the early days until today, it is evident in generation after generation, the ideals of an “overall education” remain central.
Each of the nine member schools has a unique story of its own development, but the shared values GPS brings provide an enduring and unifying bond which will last well into the next century and beyond.
The Timeline Gallery brings GPS history to life with snapshots from each GPS school through the decades