The Power of Connection: How Knox Grammar’s Math Teacher Engages Students

The Power of Connection: How Knox Grammar's Math Teacher Engages Students

Knox Grammar School’s math teacher, Ian Bradford, shares the secret to his students’ exceptional performance in the HSC math exams.

In the world of education, where technology and innovative teaching methods often take the spotlight, one teacher at Knox Grammar School in Sydney has proven that the key to student success lies in a more fundamental skill – the ability to connect with students. Ian Bradford, the acting head of maths at Knox Grammar, believes that regardless of the latest gadgets and tools used in the classroom, the true power of teaching lies in forging meaningful connections with students. This article explores Bradford’s insights and the remarkable achievements of Knox Grammar’s math students in the recent HSC exams.

The Performance Mode of Teaching

Bradford emphasizes that teaching is not solely about knowledge or expertise in a subject. Instead, it requires teachers to be in “performance mode” when standing in front of a class. According to him, the teaching profession is about connecting with people and engaging them, whether it is in 1993 or 2023. This understanding forms the foundation of Bradford’s teaching philosophy at Knox Grammar.

Knox Grammar’s Exceptional HSC Results

This year, Knox Grammar School, an all-boys private school located on the upper north shore of Sydney, achieved outstanding results in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) math exams. In the Herald’s league table, Knox Grammar surpassed renowned James Ruse Agricultural High School, ranking third in the state for advanced and extension math courses. Impressively, 77 percent of Knox Grammar’s math students scored 90 percent or above in the subject. Overall, the school secured the 11th position in the state for HSC performance.

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The Importance of Connection in Teaching

Bradford’s success at Knox Grammar can be attributed to his emphasis on building connections with his students. He believes that when students feel a genuine connection with their teacher, they become more engaged, motivated, and willing to put in the effort required to excel academically. By creating a supportive and inclusive classroom environment, Bradford fosters an atmosphere where students feel comfortable asking questions, seeking help, and taking risks in their learning.

Strategies for Building Connections

Bradford employs several strategies to establish connections with his students. Firstly, he takes the time to get to know each student individually, understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This personalized approach allows him to tailor his teaching methods to meet the unique needs of each student. Additionally, he creates a positive and respectful classroom culture where students feel valued and heard. By actively listening to his students and providing constructive feedback, Bradford demonstrates his investment in their growth and development.

Going Beyond the Curriculum

To further engage his students, Bradford goes beyond the traditional curriculum and incorporates real-life examples and applications of math concepts. By demonstrating the relevance of math in the real world, he helps students see the practical value of their learning. Bradford also encourages collaborative learning, fostering a sense of community within the classroom. This approach allows students to learn from and support one another, enhancing their understanding and retention of mathematical concepts.


Ian Bradford’s success as a math teacher at Knox Grammar School highlights the transformative power of connection in education. By prioritizing meaningful relationships with his students, Bradford has created an environment where learning thrives, resulting in exceptional HSC math results. His approach serves as a reminder that while technology and teaching methods may evolve, the human element of teaching remains essential. As educators strive to prepare students for the challenges of the future, the ability to connect with students on a personal level will continue to be a crucial skill for success in the classroom.

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