ACT News

Canberra Grammar School slams knighthood decision as 'inappropriate' and 'undemocratic'

The principal of Canberra Grammar School has described Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to appoint Prince Philip a Knight of the Order of Australia as "inappropriate" and "undemocratic".

Justin Garrick, whose school provides students with the option of completing the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, said Tony Abbott's captain's call risked tainting the program in Australia.

The principal of Canberra Grammar School, Justin Garrick, at the school in Red Hill.
The principal of Canberra Grammar School, Justin Garrick, at the school in Red Hill. 

"It is at odds with the spirit of the Order of Australia and it demeans the achievements of so many more deserving figures who have genuinely and personally contributed so much in lifetimes of selfless service to the health, welfare and education of Australians," he said.

"Its overwhelming rejection by the Australian public also risks tainting the reputation of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme itself, which is a great shame.

"As far as I am concerned, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme is admirable and its participants are entirely to be applauded."

Canberra Grammar School's Duke of Edinburgh Award leader Rosie Carlson said about 15 to 20 students enrolled in the program each year.

"The boys who see the program through really learn much about leadership, organisation, planning and the value of service to the community and others," she said.

More than 22,000 Australians aged between 14 and 25 participate in the scheme each year, with about 66,000 taking part worldwide.

"It requires them to complete a minimum of three months, maximum of 12 to each activity, so long-term commitment is encouraged rather than a whole series of random, unconnected events," Ms Carlson said.

Ms Carlson said many Canberra Grammar students had participated in the program from an early age.

"We currently have five year 12 boys working at achieving their Gold Award and it is really pleasing that many of them ...have worked their way up through the earlier levels before reaching this point," she said. 

Students from a number of Canberra schools were recognised for their community service as part of the awards last year, including Canberra Girls' Grammar School, Dickson College, Erindale College and Gungahlin College.