Frank Dando began teaching as a student teacher in 1948, graduating from Melbourne Teachers' College in 1950. In 1956 he took a year of leave from the Department of Education to travel to Japan where he obtained a 2nd degree black belt for judo.
In 1964, as Principal of a primary school, he was given an Education Department scholarship and finished an honours degree in English and Japanese at Monash University.
The defining moment Frank's teaching career came when he first fully considered the connection between physical and cognitive abilities during a further stay in Tokyo in 1974. During a contest examination for fourth degree black belt he spoke to the head of the Japanese language department in a Tokyo High School who like himself was a judo enthusiast. This is described in the article written for the Educational Magazine in 1978.
By then he was senior teacher in the technical division of the education department in charge of a branch school for underachieving boys (The Clayton Technical School Annex). As part of his duties he became interested in the work of Dr Carl Delacato on the possible connection between physical co ordination and reading ability. This later became part of his masters thesis at Monash.
As an experienced educator he was able to observe the impact of physical education on children’s academic development which became the focus of his Master's degree thesis in remedial education at Monash University. Soon after founding the school he undertook further research at U.C.L.A in 1984 with Professor Bryant Cratty.
Frank always sought to set an example to his students: he is a 7th Dan for Judo and a noted coach, an expert down hill skier, a trained scuba diver and a keen horseman.
Our biggest variation from standard practice is our emphasis placed on Physical Education and the way it is taught. In fact, practical skill in Physical Education is the first consideration when recruiting a staff member. It is assumed that if they can teach a significant sport capably and with control over the class, the boys will transfer their positive attitude into their academics. This is admittedly an unusual educational approach.
When the school began in 1980 the Registered Schools Board inspectors accepted that since the school was a special school for bright underachievers some liberties could be taken with the usual academic prescriptions, They agreed that the schools rather unusual emphasis on Physical Education meant some other subjects such as Science, Music and Art could be regarded as peripheral though in practice they tend to appear and reappear with some frequency. To further add weight to the success of the method, Frank published a thesis in 1981 demonstrating a positive correlation between cognitive ability and physical activity.
The school's current Principal, Ziad Zakharia’s conducted further research in between 2005-2007. His masters degree thesis found that, after a year of this program, the students made a positive personality change and achieved academic, physical well being and sporting success. He decided to test this by a pre-test and post-test of self-image administered by an independent psychologist.
Below are some of the proven strategies and outcomes the current physical education-based program started by Frank Dando and continued by Ziad Zakharia has on students.
All staff members are experts in a variety of sporting fields and lead by example, providing the boys with positive role models.
A large proportion of boys enrolled start overweight, with a small number starting obese. Insistence and education provided with respect to a healthy well balanced diet and eating habits combined with an intensive training regime results in quick weight loss that corresponds quickly to an improvement in self image.
Despondent boys very quickly achieve a degree of success in a physical education activity which they had never achieved academically. This has a compounding effect on their self image and self confidence and quickly translates into their academic performance.
A term of daily martial arts and boxing makes the boys proficient enough to engage in light contest activity, further increasing their self confidence.
A pattern of intensive physical education followed by academic work has a powerful calming effect on distractible boys.
At the completion of the school year, most students achieve a level of literacy and numeracy once thought unattainable in a mainstream setting. Generally most students who reintegrate back into a mainstream setting have jumped ahead of their peers both physically and academically where they were once disengaged and struggling.
Boys will accept a standard of teacher authority in physical education which they would normally not accept in academic subjects. This is particularly true in areas of perceived danger such as skiing, horse riding, abseiling and surf life saving.
The school's physical program also involves intensive swimming, strength & conditioning and four rigorous weeklong camps, the last being the extremely demanding Surf Training Camp conducted with Woolamai Surf Life Saving Club. The boys take with them a continual feeling of success, building self confidence which carries through into all aspects of their life.
Term Dates - 2021
Monday 1 February
Wednesday 3 February
Monday 1 March – Friday 5 March
Labour Day Holiday:
Monday 8 March
Last day of term:
Thursday 1 April
Monday 19 April
Tuesday 20 April
Monday 3 May – Thursday 6 May
Friday 7 May – No school for students
Queen’s Birthday Holiday:
Monday 14 June
Last day of term:
Friday 25 June
Monday 12 July
Tuesday 13 July
Sunday 15 August – Friday 21 August
Last day of term:
Friday 10 September
Monday 4 October
Tuesday 5 October
Cup Day Long Weekend:
Monday 1 November – Tuesday 2 November
Monday 22 November – Friday 27 November
Last day of term:
Thursday 2 December