Why Melbourne Girls Grammar Fosters Independence

Why Melbourne Girls Grammar Fosters Independence

Henrietta Cook wrote an article published in The Age in April this year about the rise of helicopter parents at Australian universities {i}. Evidently, more parents are not only attending university open days and being active participants in course entry, but they’re also continuing their involvement with the educators long after their child has commenced their tertiary studies.

The article included comments from lecturers and university faculty members who said that the rise in helicopter parenting meant that they were spending more time than ever fielding calls from parents regarding grades, tutorials and rising HECS debt.

Because of our history as a leader in women’s education, Melbourne Girls Grammar has always focussed on challenge and choice for our students, giving them ownership of their studies and opportunities to develop real world skills. As a result, our Year 12 graduates are undoubtedly more than prepared for life beyond the red brick walls.

However, overseas the pressure seems to be even worse for students embarking on study. In China, more than 1000 parents set up camp at Tianjin University to help their children settle, and in the US an App feeds parents information about grades and financial data to keep them informed. The recent backlash of parents caught bribing officials at elite US universities shows the reality of the pressure to enter prestigious academic establishments, and the lengths parents will go to ensure their child succeeds, on their own merits or not.

Apart from the obvious issues regarding this behaviour, micromanaging young people may lead to them being unable to cope with the independent nature of university life, and subsequent mental health concerns. A paper published in the Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association in 2017{ii} states that 25 per cent of young people will experience a mental health issue in any one year. However, international research has found a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety among university students than for the general population of young people aged 18-24.

The Wellbeing Coaching Model has been in place at Melbourne Girls Grammar since 2017, resulting with our recent graduates being appropriately primed for university life. By highlighting the values that support the ongoing confidence that comes with being self-aware, Melbourne Girls Grammar focusses on success for the whole girl and being more than just grades.

Every student has access to weekly, one-on-one wellbeing coaching to support and balance mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. For the four years within the Senior Years Program, the coaches play a key role as our Grammarians prepare for life beyond school.

By making wellbeing a very open and authentic conversation throughout the School, we remove stigmas around asking for or needing help. Grammarians are given the time and space to say what they need and want to say with adults whose sole purpose is to help them facilitate a way to achieve their goals.

In an article by Madeleine Heffernan for The Age {iii} Melbourne Girls Grammar Year 11 student Charlotte Flood talked about how the wellbeing coaches take an active interest in our Grammarians wellbeing.

“When there’s someone who cares about your general self, it’s helpful, and just having someone to have a conversation with, whether it’s about how you’re feeling or what you’ve been doing,” Charlotte said.

The holistic education at Melbourne Girls Grammar supports parents to foster independence and confidence in their daughters so that when the time comes for our Grammarians to move on to universities, our parents can step back and watch what happens when life lessons are scaffolded from an early age.


References

i: Cook, H. (2019, April 28). The rise of the helicopter parent at Australian universities. The Age. Retrieved from: https://www.theage.com.au/education/the-rise-of-the-helicopter-parent-at-australian-universities-20190427-p51hrt.html  

ii: Browne, V., Munro, J., & Cass, J. (2017). Under the radar: The mental health of Australian university students. Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 25(2), pp. 51-62. DOI: 10.30688/janzssa.2017.16

iii: Heffernan, M (2019, October 6). ‘The conversation has 100 per cent changed’: Mental health in schools. The Age.
Retrieved from: https://www.theage.com.au/national/the-conversation-has-100-per-cent-changed-mental-health-in-schools-20190924-p52ua2.html?cspt=1573527441|4a41be555aa940b94126dc46638d0653