It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living. ― David Attenborough
Welcome back to our Grammarians and a warm welcome to the new families who have joined our community. Over the break there has been much travel and we all return to a Melbourne winter that has turned on some of the iciest days in our first week back.
I return from sabbatical leave rested and inspired. Sabbatical leave has been a time to represent the School, build networks, engage in individual and organisational learning as well as personal time. I have been afforded the most wonderful opportunity of time to step out of our beautiful School in Term 2 to visit many impressive Australian and global schools, reconnect with our international sister schools, host alumnae events, study at The University of Cambridge, attend an international conference on girls’ education and enjoy personal time walking Hadrian’s Wall as well as spending time with my family. I am grateful to our School Council for providing this time for reflection and rejuvenation and feel valued in the trust they have given me that I have used the time wisely. I thank Mrs Lynn Broadway for stepping in as Acting Principal and Miss Sarah Gill and Mr Luke Francis as Acting Deputy Principals in my absence. The School has been in steady, responsible and experienced hands, and my time away has allowed others to ‘step up’ right across the School.
I am so happy to be back and have enjoyed greeting our Grammarians at the gate each morning and engaging in conversations regarding their learnings in Term 2. I watched from afar many shiny moments including Matilda, Seussical Kids, winning the GSV AFL competition, Medieval Day, the Henley Royal Regatta representation, The Global Academic Challenge, the up-cycling terrariums initiative, Arnhem Land Excursion, Reconciliation Week and many, many more! I have so many stories to tell, so many adventures have been had. I have met interesting people and connected MGGS with some great opportunities. It has been truly fabulous meeting our alumnae in London and New York. I am feeling reinvigorated and enthused to have returned and know that there is much work to be done. I have been writing a lot and will share my sabbatical learnings in upcoming Messengers, assemblies, and at public events.
A very special mention to our wonderful Merton Squad and the accompanying staff who wrote themselves into the history of the School as the first MGGS team to compete at an international sporting event, The Royal Henley Regatta. The team set two records for the Prince Phillip Challenge, and although they were narrowly defeated in the quarter final, they proved themselves to be fine sportswomen and ambassadors of our country. Many of this team were Year 12s who committed to balance their academic study with serious rowing training. The whole MGGS community got behind this team to fundraise and we all witnessed MGGS at its best. Congratulations Alex, Lola, Hannah, Zoe, Olivia, Isabelle, Ellie, Amelie, Georgie and Bella. Deepest gratitude to our supporting staff, Angus Sellar, Sally Bailey, Anthony Bruhn, Alex Hagan and John Kloufetos and our fabulous MHRC and parents for accompanying the team.
As the School community is aware, Melbourne Girls Grammar developed its Strategic Plan 2020-25 early in my tenure as Principal. It supports our vision for the School to be recognised as an exceptional educator of girls through the development of innovative and research-led curriculum. Our vision for the future of girls’ education at MGGS is centred around the individual and involves the creation of an eco-system encapsulated by our culture and values, a learning mindset, and a belief in the importance of environment and the strength of community. A focus on innovation and excellence underpins this vision.
We are proud to announce that after considerable consultation, investigation and assessment, and prior to my departure on sabbatical the School was successful in its tender for the property at 466 Punt Road, Glenhope. This is a strategic acquisition, providing enormous flexibility pivotal in enabling the School to “unlock the campus” and provide considered learning, teaching and recreational spaces at both the Anderson and Caroline Street campuses. The acquisition sets us on the path to achieve our long-term vision for MGGS.
The usage of Glenhope, an historical building in the style of some of our Merton Hall campus buildings is currently being discussed with the Stonnington City Council. It is not intended that our academic program will be conducted from this site. Rather, the School has identified administrative functions and services that would be enhanced by relocating to this property. It is envisaged that this will also aid easy access for our community to these services during working hours. We are also currently assessing with our strategic design partners, ARM, the flow-on benefits this will afford in unlocking the Anderson Street campus for further academic programs and student support services.
The Principal’s Office team and I will remain on the Anderson Street campus where our focus will remain firmly on the education of our Grammarians. While it is not intended that academic programs will be conducted from this site, Glenhope enables administrative functions and services to be relocated to this property. This will free up space on the main campuses for enhanced learning and teaching and will create easy access for our community to our parent-facing services during working hours.
This acquisition is a milestone in our School’s history and a key to unlocking the future of girls’ education at MGGS.
At present our students in the Senior Years are beginning to select their subjects for 2023. At MGGS we invite our students to select a personalised learning plan with subjects that will challenge and engage them in preparation for their future. Life in this century is fast paced; interconnected, globalised, and competitive graduates need to be future ready. This requires critical thinking skills and an international perspective and our Grammarians learn to understand this as soon as they are introduced to the culture of the School. Our VCE curriculum is designed to build on the foundations established in Years 9 and 10. The VCE Handbook has been designed to inform students and parents/guardians on the range, content and intended outcomes of the studies on offer to students in Years 11 and 12 in 2023.
Selecting subjects for the Senior Years is important and should be a collaborative process between the student, the family and the School. Subject selection should be approached carefully and thoughtfully. Counselling, advice and assistance regarding subject options are available and students should seek this support. We remind students that when choosing subjects for VCE that they:
- Focus on a personalised plan
- Select studies that reflect personal tertiary/vocational aspirations
- Not be in a hurry to finish Year 12
- Select studies that they enjoy and that interest them. Consider subjects that they feel motivated in and that reflect their learning strengths
- Plan for personal best and keep the journey about self and not be swayed by subjects that friends may want to do
- Be aware of pre-requisite studies
- Take studies that complement each other
- Keep in mind that Language pathways have advantages in the VCE, and it is best to keep Language as an option wherever possible.
In closing, we are still facing COVID-19 and winter illness and our community continues to work collaboratively, as it has over these past difficult years. As a School, we are working hard to minimise the disruption to our Grammarians’ learning. We are currently strongly encouraging the wearing of masks inside and remain vigilant in our focus of social distancing, hand, and respiratory hygiene.
Hope to see you at The Navy Blue Dinner!
Yours in learning
Dr Toni E. Meath