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News > From the Archives > From the Archives: Miss Hudson's Courageous Leadership

From the Archives: Miss Hudson's Courageous Leadership

Miss Mavis Hudson (second from left) with official guests at the opening of New Mosley House, 1971.
Miss Mavis Hudson (second from left) with official guests at the opening of New Mosley House, 1971.

When Miss Mavis Hudson visited in August, she was amazed at what our Junior Campus had become. Commencing in 1966 as Headmistress and our Years 5 and 6 classroom teacher, her seven-year tenure was a period of enormous growth and change for our school. It was under her wise and courageous leadership that Arden became the school we know and love today.  

There were only 43 students enrolled from Kindergarten to Year 6 when Miss Hudson held her first assembly on the lawn outside Nelson House, where our Pre-School playground now stands. The development of Pre-School had been approved by our School Council the year prior but was yet to officially commence. The buildings consisted of Nelson House in Wongala Cresent and the original Moseley House at 67 Beecroft Road. There was a narrow right of way linking the two properties.

The 1960s was a period of great change in schools across NSW. The Wyndham Scheme brought major changes to secondary education, including increasing the leaving age, whilst in primary schools, the overhauled curriculum was being introduced. Mathematics was the first subject to undergo review with the new curriculum being taught at Arden for the first time in 1967. The following year, a short documentary aired on Channel 10 which featured our students utilising a range of new teaching aids for Maths. This television appearance, and subsequent newspaper articles, were great publicity for the School. It cemented Arden as innovative, with its staff at the forefront of teaching and learning practices. Crucial to this was ensuring all staff had appropriate qualifications and training.

Miss Hudson and students experimenting with the new teaching aids, 1968. 

By early 1968, classroom space was at a premium. Our School Council sought to overcome this by purchasing surrounding properties, and so began a period of physical expansion. This allowed for the construction of New Mosley House, which now houses our Years 3 and 4 classrooms. Opened in 1971 by the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler, Miss Hudson reflected on the impact of the new building in her Speech Day address: “We have a lovely school, a big school, a very practical school, a modern school. We have large and adaptable classrooms, a library, an audio-visual room, a staff room… We have ample space for wet weather… We have toilets laid on. We have a tuck shop, a wonderful equipment room. I have a magnificent office with a gold carpet and beautiful curtains…We are very fortunate.”

Beyond buildings and the curriculum, Miss Hudson implemented a range of other initiatives. Our Godparent program, whereby a Kindergarten student is buddied with a Year 6 student, was introduced in 1966 and has been a memorable part of an Arden education for generations of students since. The rivalry between the Houses only intensified in 1970 when Jenolan House was added, albeit purple in colour at that time. A choir, under the baton of Pat Coster, was established and a musical production involving every student was held annually. Our yearly school magazine was first published in 1967 – a tradition that continues to this day.  After a long and tedious registration process, the Pre-School finally commenced. Licensed for 52 students a day, it ably prepared students for Kindergarten and remains an important part of our Junior Campus.

In 1972, Miss Hudson resigned, believing that her brief to raise the academic standards of the school had been accomplished and the role of the principal needed to be separate from that of a classroom teacher. Arden had transitioned from being an old-fashioned dame-school, to a viable educational institution, with 206 students enrolled and 13 staff. Her contribution and impact was best summed up by our School Council shortly after her departure: “Council wishes to record its appreciation of all the work done, and the fine contribution made to the progress of Arden School, by Miss Mavis Hudson, Headmistress from 1966 to 1972. During her period of leadership the School roll almost doubled. Many improvements were affected, both professional and material. The reputation of the school was enhanced by the results she achieved, and by the high level of concern shown for the welfare of each child under her care.”

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