In 2020 Melbourne Girls Grammar launched to the School community a vision for a future that sees the empowerment of young women to take action, to embrace challenges, and to have the ability to harness the ever changing landscape of their future. Last week we announced the appointment of our Principal Design Consultant – architects ARM. Together we have embarked on envisioning the future defined by our Strategic Plan and are focused on creating an exceptional educational environment that is highly functional, deploys sustainable practices, and is of aesthetic excellence. This is a story of collaboration, vision, and capability. The future will be a campus that defines the essence of MGGS, the strength of its community, the future of education and a celebration of its history. Through the articulation and curation of our spaces we will encapsulate the culture of the School today, and inspire generations to come.
We know that the history of Melbourne Girls Grammar runs parallel to the history of women and girls in Melbourne and Victoria. The School has evolved over time, responding to the constraints and opportunities facing women and our ethos is almost 130 years rich. MGGS has a definite personality and character of its own. Our historian and Old Grammarian, Pip O’Connor (Farrer, 1965) has been educating our youngest Grammarians of the School’s fine and colourful history. The Caroline Street campus has been a hotbed of creativity and action in response with our Morris Hall students following the in footsteps of former Grammarians in acting out being suffragettes!
Culture can be defined as ‘the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.’ MGGS has a distinctive culture, which is visible in the day-to-day actions of our community. It is what we do, what we accept as normal, appreciate, value, and give importance to. To enculturate is the verb meaning ‘to cause to adapt to the prevailing cultural patterns’, and this phenomenon presents itself at its most potent level at the end of the academic year. As our students transition to their next year’s level, their discussions have centred around how daily life is here at School. Yes, our vision, mission, and values are integral to our culture and, as Principal, I am constantly searching for confirming evidence and proof points of lived culture. I have personally reflected on what are the tangible signs of our culture. It appears to me in the following six ways:
- there are high expectations and a pursuit of excellence in academic rigour
- a sense of inclusiveness and respect of individual difference
- the deep belief of responsibility to serve and to lead
- a commitment to being industrious and doing
- a genuine love of learning, and
- a remarkable sense of fun and optimism.
Being back on campus, happiness is highly visible amongst our Grammarians and this truly epitomises our culture. Over the last fortnight, I have delighted in watching our Morris Hall students fully engage in Book Week, our Wildfell students venture further and further into the Merton Hall campus, our St Hilda’s students step up as they are about to enter the Senior Years and, finally, our older Grammarians with a quiet sense of confidence owning their spaces and maximising their opportunities. It is essential that our classrooms are trusted spaces where our students can be themselves and take risks in their learning. Our teachers are well practised at ensuring that our Grammarians are supported to reach their potential.
It’s always enlightening to hear the perspective of someone new to the School in regard to the culture and personality. In a recent discussion with our Executive Director-Research and Innovation, Ms Lauren Sayer – who arrived at MGGS in early January – she described our Grammarians as “brave, robust and resilient”, and the culture of the School as “energetic, with a reverence for history and a generosity of spirit”. I think that sums us up well!
This was reflected last week as we honoured Remembrance Day with respect. As a whole School we paused for one minute of silence to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country, those who returned home injured or ill, and those who bravely serve our country today. Our students discussed how the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marked the moment the guns fell silent on the Western Front after the bloodshed of World War I and how over the past century, this moment has been adopted across the world as a time to remember those who served and sacrificed in all wars and conflicts. Our geographic closeness to the Shrine of Remembrance is a constant reminder of the sanctity of peace and how fortunate we are to live in Australia.
The global pandemic is not over yet and as experienced recently, there is a strong likelihood that the School will experience some incidence of COVID-19 within our community. Communications and instructions on how families and their daughters should address those incidents will be made by our Executive Directors of Sub Schools, Deputy Principal Mrs Lynn Broadway or myself. We have recently hired an additional Health Officer to support our wonderful MGGS Registered Nurse, Jacqui Jones, in managing COVID-19 and other health matters at our School. COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests were recently approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The School now has a supply of these tests and they will be administered by our School Health Officers to asymptomatic staff and students in certain situations. Rapid Antigen Tests help detect positive cases of COVID-19 in a very short time frame, although they need to be followed up with more rigorous testing if a positive result is received or symptoms remain. Currently, Rapid Antigen Tests are only available for asymptomatic staff and students (aged 13 and above). It is recommended that even fully vaccinated individuals be tested if needed. The School has also ordered additional tests to be provided to students for administering at home under specific circumstances as directed by the Department of Health. These are expected to be used by unvaccinated students, primarily those aged under 12, who are primary close contacts as a result of a positive case at the School. The testing will be added to our already existing comprehensive health and safety strategy against COVID-19 and assist in the early detection and isolation of those who test positive and reduce the risk of spreading the virus amongst staff, students and the broader MGGS community.
The VCE Examination period is now complete, and we look forward to our students receiving their results on 16 December. Thank you to our VCE Coordinator, Ms Grace Gibbons, our Executive Director-Senior Years, Mr Luke Francis, and the Senior Years leadership team for a smooth and successful examination period. Congratulations to our Years 11 and 12 students for approaching their exams with diligence and excellent preparation. We look forward to sharing the 2021 VCE results with the community.
In closing, I have just heard that the 2021 Navy Blue after dark dinner, which is being held on 4 March 2022, has sold out in record time. We are hoping to open some more seating when our COVID-19 restrictions ease. A huge thank you to Ms Sylvia Ma and Ms Tammy Read and the Navy Blue Committee for their outstanding planning for this calendar highlight. The Parents Association does so much for our School and, most importantly, it brings us all together and helps us develop lifelong friendships. I encourage you to support the Navy Blue Raffle. As always, our Grammarians are the recipients of your involvement. This time, the Parents Association, true to our strategic focus on sustainability, are keen to support the installation of a full solar panel system at Morris Hall.
Enjoy the final weeks of Term 4 and please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions or need support for your daughter, especially transitioning to the 2022 academic year.
Yours in learning,
Dr Toni E Meath