Know thy Friend: Esther Hill

Peter Jones, Tasmania Regional Meeting

Esther with her daughter Eliza and dog Eric.

Esther Hill is the new principal at Friends School since January, having moved from Perth.

Esther was born in Kirkby Lonsdale, the heart of the Quaker 1652 country, but the family moved to Yorkshire and then emigrated to Australia when Esther was ten. She commented that they had originally wanted to go to New Zealand but as the family had six children, it was over the limit permitted at the time, so they ended up in Western Australia. Her father was an architect specialising in restoration work but Esther obtained a music scholarship to Perth Modern School as she loved singing. At university, she followed two of her passions, English and Philosophy, then became a teacher as she needed an income, following her active involvement in forest protests around Pemberton (the Giblett Block) which culminated in an end to native forests logging in Western Australia.

Early on in her career in education, Esther soon found her passion, even when taking up difficult posts at “hard to staff schools”, but then moved on to work with “gifted children” back at her alma mater, Perth Modern. Her interests led her to travel and work at another “tough” school near Brighton in England before returning to Perth to take up a position as Head of English and Director of Pedagogy and Professional

Learning. From there, she moved to All Saints Anglican College, where she was attracted by the appeal of “independent schools enabling more freedom to innovate and respond to the needs of young people and the world”.

Here her interests focused on “teaching children how to think” which she attributes to her father’s socialist convictions and her mother’s Quaker beliefs. As well as developing critical thinking, Esther also felt a strong need to emphasise the individual, leading her to start up what became known as The Studio School, Fremantle. Her time at All Saints gave her the chance to research and visit like-minded projects in China and the USA before setting up the fast-growing Studio School in Fremantle, which emphasised community engagement as well as individual learning.

Esther and her family are now enjoying the cooler climate of Tasmania, exploring wild places. And Esther has joined a choir. 

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