From the Principal: 16 November 2020

From the Principal: 16 November 2020

As educators, we look to use data to inform our practice. One of the metrics we rely on to compare our success with other countries is the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) data. PISA is the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) program for gathering comparative International Student Assessment from 37 countries. Essentially, PISA testing measures 15 year olds ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real life challenges. Recently, additional components of the test have been introduced: collaborative problem solving in 2015, global competence in 2020 and in 2022, creative thinking. Although sometimes these metrics can be unhelpful in creating league tables comparing the growth or decline in individual countries academic measures, when we drill down into the data, insights are gained into equity, opportunity and competition. This link is worthy of a perusal.

A new report commissioned by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia and conducted by Macquarie Marketing Group (MMG) analysing Australian and New Zealand PISA data from 2015 and 2018 reveals that girls attending single sex schools outperformed girls from co-educational schools on academic measures of science, mathematics and reading. Students from girls’ schools also reported higher academic aspirations, more adaptive and flexible teachers, stronger feelings of school belonging, and a significantly lower prevalence of bullying. PISA analysis shows that students from girls’ schools outscore co-educated girls on 72% of academic and non-academic measures. This research has lately received media attention which can be found below:

3AW – Girls are happier, more confident and smarter with a single sex education, study shows

Herald Sun – Study reveals benefits of all-girls schools

The MMG analysis of PISA data from Australia and New Zealand also found that students from girls’ schools scored higher on measures of academic engagement, teacher effectiveness, involvement in science, and enthusiasm for science. In addition, single sex educated girls are considerably more likely to aspire to university education, with 69% intending to complete a university level degree or doctorate compared with 51% of co-educated girls. Additionally, girls at single sex schools are more likely to report committed and passionate teachers who use adaptive and flexible instruction strategies in classrooms. They also report less disruptive behaviour in class and an environment that is more conducive to fulfilling their learning goals. Compared with girls in co-educational schools, students at girls’ schools are more likely to:

  • receive encouragement from teachers to express their opinions (69% vs 64%)
  • receive help from teachers to assist them with their learning (60% vs 52%)
  • benefit from teachers adapting lessons to meet student needs (59% vs 48%)
  • never or almost never experience an English classroom in which they cannot work well (42% vs 31%)
  • never or almost never experience a Science classroom in which they cannot work well (41% vs 29%)

This data confirms our lived experiences in an all girls setting and adds to the greater body of research in this field.

VCE Examinations

This year due to COVID-19 the VCE examinations have been pushed back and have started three weeks later than would be normal. Consequently, the results will also be delayed until after Christmas and all VCE students have been informed of the amended timeline with their VCE results being published on Wednesday 30 December. There will be in place full support from our Senior Years team for our graduating cohort at this critical time. Over the past few weeks, I have been observing students working individually and in groups with their teachers preparing for the exams. Many practice essays have been written, past papers attempted, and all marked and returned with honest and accurate feedback. The trial exams ran smoothly and were great preparation. I am confident that our Class of 2020 are well prepared.

My sincere thanks to our Chief Exam Supervisor, Ms Jenny Turner and her wonderful team of invigilators and the very experienced Senior Years team who collectively ensure that there is a calmness to our exam centres, assisting students to focus on the task in front of them. Many of our invigilators are former MGGS teachers who have been supervising the VCE exams for years. Good invigilators create a special sense of calm and order to the exam setting and create the right tone for exam sitting and the value of this cannot be underestimated.

VCE Assessors

A healthy sign of a scholarly school is the number of teachers who are engaged in outside professional associations, who are invited as speakers to state, national and international conferences and who are examiners and assessors for the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA). Although this year there has been no travel, our educators have continued to represent MGGS at virtual conferences. This dedicated work complements their teaching, contributes to the professionalism of teaching and enables them to be experts in their field. I am very pleased that we currently have more than 20 VCE assessors who are assessing for VCAA this year. The staff include:

  • Aleks Ballarin – Biology
  • Alessandro Micciche – Latin
  • Allison Bray – Geography
  • Annarita Bardeggia – Italian
  • Caroline Foster – Classical Studies
  • Christophe Taylor – English Literature
  • Eleonor Palacio – Spanish
  • Elizabeth Barwell – Music Solo Performance
  • Fenglan Luo – Chinese SL Advanced
  • Florence Melinand – French
  • Hanyu Xu – Chinese Language and Culture
  • Jessica Priestly – Latin
  • Jiwei Xu – Chinese Second Language
  • Josephine Fagan – Art (Exam Writing Chairperson)
  • Lucy Jongebloed – History (Revolutions)
  • Luke Francis – English Language
  • Monica Davis – Specialist Mathematics
  • Monique Sharp – Physical Education
  • Olivia Wilson – Drama & Theatre Studies
  • Peter Iagnocco – Italian
  • Rhys Page – Global Politics
  • Roseanne Tiziani – Global Politics
  • Sheryle Allan – Studio Arts
  • Stephanie Walton – Psychology
  • Tara Ambrosio – English Language

Middle Years Production

This year has been the year of adapting, of which we witnessed in the Middle Years Production – Hating Alison Ashley. Bravo! This production is a remarkable result of creativity, adaptability, tenacity and sheer dedication of our Middle Years students and their teachers. I know that hours of work have gone into this production and it shows. Thank you to our Head of Drama, Victoria Page, the drama department and of course the wonderful cast and crew. Please join me in congratulation the following students on bringing together the 2020 Middle Years Production: Amelia, Amelia, Amelie, Annabel, Ariana, Ava, Brittany, Eloise, Emily, Emma, Esther, Imogen, India, Indigo, Isabella, Julia, Lola, Lucy, Malia, Marnie, Mimi, Nikita, Ruby, Tabitha, Xanthe and Zoi.

Virtual Valedictory

In celebrating our Class of 2020, we held our Valedictory celebrations within our school grounds. This is not our usual forum, however, it was a joyful occasion to see our Year 12 students come together on campus in COVID safe ways to celebrate their time at the School. I trust that their parents watched their daughters with pride, and we look forward to welcoming this cohort and their families back next year for a face to face celebration. I would like to personally acknowledge Emily, the second recipient of the Mary Michaelis Prize for Sport, Study and Service to the School. Unfortunately, this prize was not presented to Emily during Valedictory, to this end I would like to recognise Emily and her remarkable achievement.

End of Year

Preparations for our final events are well underway. Speech Night and Carols are events that we all look forward to and whilst this year they will look different, the School remains keen to share these special events with our community in a COVID-normal way. Please look out for additional information over the coming days regarding how we will celebrate these events. Further information can be found in the Community section of this Messenger. 

As we continue to step towards operating in a fully COVID-normal way at MGGS, we also update our operational processes. We are working in accordance with the advice from the Department of Health and Human Services and the MGGS Return to Campus Plan and adapting where necessary. To this end, please note that in line with the advice from the DHHS, staff members and students do not need to self-isolate if a family or household member is awaiting COVID-19 test results. Self-isolation is only required if a family or household member tests positive for coronavirus. Additionally, if your daughter is showing symptoms or is awaiting a personal test result then they must self-isolate until a negative test result is confirmed.

Our year began with bushfires devastating our Australian fauna. In response, our ELC and Morris Hall students and staff chose the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund as the special group to receive funds raised by our Art Auction. Thanks to the community generosity so far, Zoos Victoria have been able to launch the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Response and Recovery Plan, with this just the beginning of their important work to protect our precious Australian wildlife. A number of very generous artists in our community including staff, parents and Old Grammarians have donated incredible artworks, all featured in our online auction. The auction also features group artworks from each year level, Prep through to Year 4 and all are truly special. The Auction opens on 18 November and you can read more about this in our Community section of Messenger.

Finally, there is a sense of optimism in the air in Melbourne as we slowly come out of lockdown. It is so lovely to see our restaurants and cafes open, vibrancy returning to our gardens and local haunts. I am so proud of our great city as we have turned this pandemic around collectively, collaboratively and conscientiously.

Author

Dr Toni E. Meath, Principal