2020 will be a year few will forget! As a community, Girls Grammar rose to the challenges, working together to connect, to grow stronger, and to ‘be our best’. It would be easy to think that the global COVID-19 pandemic defined us in 2020 but that is not the case. We chose to focus on what we can do, not what we couldn’t, adding another proud chapter in our 129-year history of providing quality education to girls.
In Term 2, our students successfully undertook learning from home, diligently applying themselves to the online environment. Our staff provided a high-quality program, prioritising the girls’ learning, as well as their mental health, wellbeing and social needs. Throughout this period, our students were learning for life, gaining understanding that resilience isn’t just about surviving a situation, it’s about learning and growing in ourselves and in our abilities.
2020 also provided us with many opportunities: to reimagine, to recreate and to re-invent. Events such as the athletics carnivals, the Formal, assemblies and House competitions all occurred, albeit in a different format from previous years. The past practice of maintaining a school garden was reintroduced, encouraging girls to bring in some ‘colour after covid’ and the girls embraced this House competition with enthusiasm.
2020 also proved that academic scholarship continues to be highly valued at Girls Grammar. Our Year 12s, as members of the first cohort to go through the new Queensland Certificate of Education, achieved the following outcomes:
· 96% of students attained their QCE compared with 89% of Year 12 students across the state.
· 93.3% of Girls Grammar students attained an ATAR, compared with approximately 52% of students across Queensland.
· Our School Dux attained an ATAR of 99.45 and almost 25% of students attained ATARs over 90.
· 60% of results were an ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade and 95% of all grades were an ‘A’ to ‘C’.
In 2020, our teachers continued to educate the girls to be flexible, creative learners who pursue knowledge and opportunities. We also sought ways to provide greater enrichment and extension including through a new primary enrichment program, and entry into competitions such as Optiminds, where our students won Central Queensland’s Language and Literature section. Girls Grammar has a rich tradition of fostering academic strength and success for girls and the School remains committed to finding ways to challenge those learners who thrive when the boundaries of academic rigour are extended.
All-girls’ schools also provide significant health and wellbeing benefits for students. This comes through engagement, in many forms including through sport, music, art, drama, academic competitions, clubs and committees, all of which are offered to our girls. In 2020, our students had access to over 15 different sports, across a range of competitions. Our creative arts staff provided girls with ensembles, a musical, art camps and a range of other enrichment programs and clubs.
Our Care and Sisters programs continue to provide a valuable forum to reinforce the power, support and connections that occur when girls build positive relationships with other females. The research shows us that this is one of the reasons why girls excel, academically and socially, in an all-girls’ environment. Recent data shows that girls in single-sex schools generally enjoy school more, experience less-bullying, have fewer disruptions in class, make friends more easily, and feel more like they belong than their co-ed counterparts. These aspects are vital for building self-confidence, developing self-cy and supporting social and emotional wellbeing.
Throughout 2020 we commenced many capital works, including the refurbishment of secondary classrooms. Our new furniture is designed to facilitate the development of 21st century skills and to support students to collaborate, communicate in teams and problem-solve. Our classrooms enhance student learning, including for students with needs, by catering for student choice. The implementation of new VIVI screen mirroring technology further supports learning through quality differentiation.
Other upgrades have also included new furniture and flooring throughout Kollar House, our senior boarding facility, renovation of a number of spaces in historic Paterson House, the relocation of our Uniform Shop to Paterson House, Stage 1 of our agricultural garden, and a new alarm and security system across the school. Early in 2021, our swimming pool will be refurbished and we will commence the tender process for our new covered multipurpose sports court.
Foundational to the success of Girls Grammar is our community and, in 2020, our many generous parents and friends continued to contribute to our school through participation in the P&F Committee, by coaching and managing sporting teams, volunteering in the classrooms and attending school events and functions. We undertook many regional visits, meeting with families and Old Girls across Central and Western Queensland.
Our Old Girls continue to engage and serve. Our Old Girls STEM Mentoring program will launch in February 2021, and we look forward to welcoming back more members of our Alum to deliver aspirational presentations and talk with the girls.
My thanks also go to our Board of Trustees who give generously of their time and wisdom to provide wise governance. They are unwavering in their commitment to Girls Grammar’s proud tradition of educating and empowering women.
2020 has required much energy, resilience, and determination. Our staff, students, parents and friends have united to turn the challenges into opportunities and to showcase Girls Grammar’s 129 years of experience in supporting girls to be clever, confident and connected.