I am so excited to be welcoming everyone back for the start of the 2021 school year! This is one of my favourite times of the year – I love to chat to people as they return, see the girls after the long break, notice how much they have grown and watch their joy as they see their friends and their teachers after their long summer break. The school comes alive again with the return of our girls and it is wonderful to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy their interactions and excitement.
Another reason I love the start of the school year is because this is when we welcome all our new students and their families. This year, we have 75 new students and we hope that they very quickly feel at home, as valued and important members of our community. We are looking forward to getting to know each of the girls, hearing their aspirations, supporting them in their talents and contributions and celebrating their successes. I wish each one a wonderful Girls Grammar journey and encourage families to make contact with us if there is ever anything we can do to support their daughters as they transition into the school.
I’d like to thank those families who were able to join us for our Boarders’ Parent meeting and our New Families Induction session, both held on Wednesday. We hope both sessions were informative and helpful.
Whilst it was regrettable that we weren’t able to host our traditional family barbeque this year, we are nonetheless keen to find opportunities for our parents to connect with the staff, other parents and our community. COVID regulations for schools were updated recently, and parents are now welcome within the school grounds. Parents no longer need to register their attendance, but they are asked to follow the school’s COVID-safe practices, including maintaining a 1.5m distance from other adults.
Throughout the year we have a number of parent events calendared, including the Long Lunch on 21 March, our Mothers’ Day Luncheon on 7 May, ELC events for Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, the P&F Trivia Night on 15 May, and a P&F Meet and Greet morning each term. Parents are also invited to attend our P&F Association meetings, held the first Thursday of each term. The Race Day Committee is planning the Girls Grammar Race Day for 19 June and the P&F are looking forward to once again hosting Bulls ‘n’ Barrels in October. Our calendars hold the details of all of these events, and others, and I look forward to the wonderful community days I know these will be.
Whilst parent involvement in school life is very welcomed and an important part of our community, I would also like to encourage parental engagement in the girls’ learning. This is proven to maximise educational success and there is much research to highlight the important influence of positive, productive home/school relationships on students’ learning. This week the teachers have sent home welcome emails to their classes and I know they are looking forward to forging effective partnerships with every student’s family. Some of the best ways parents can support the school and influence their daughter’s learning include talking with them about their learning, reading with them, encouraging good study habits, creating a stimulating home environment and reinforcing and connecting learning in the classroom with everyday activities at home. We encourage parents to attend our Feedback Conversations and various information sessions which are scheduled throughout the year, as these are valuable ways of working in partnership to support the girls’ learning. Our teachers will also continue to communicate regularly throughout the year to offer suggestions for building capabilities and learning outcomes.
Capital Works over the holidays
Over the Christmas break, the school has been a hive of activity as we have worked to prepare for the girls’ return. Our Uniform Shop has now relocated to Paterson House and, with so many new students, as well as current students seeking uniform requirements, it has been a very busy little shop over the last two weeks. More of our classrooms have also been refurbished with fresh paint, new carpet, modern furniture and various other improvements. These rooms are bright and airy and provide ideal spaces to promote 21st century learning skills.
Jackson House, home to our younger boarders, has also received some attention, with all rooms repainted and fitted out with new furnishings and air conditioning units. This has brightened and cooled the living spaces for our Years 6 to 8 students. With 89 boarders, our boarding facilities are currently at capacity and we have a waiting list for girls wanting to join us. Over 2021, we will refurbish another floor of Jackson House, ready to extend the number of girls who are able to call Girls Grammar their ‘home away from home’.
The CAB is also undergoing a major refurbishment – the kitchens are being replaced and the textiles room will be relocated to the ground floor, allowing all Food and Textiles classes to be located on the same floor. Our music rooms are also being renovated with new paint, new carpet and new equipment.
As a result of hail damage last year, our building roofs are also being replaced, with major works commencing on 8 February. This will be a significant undertaking, stretched over several months, and the girls will see fencing around buildings, restricting access for safety. As the repairs move from building to building, our Facilities and Services Manager will communicate with the girls so that they are well prepared for any movement restrictions or requirements.
The pool repairs were also completed in January and our pool is once again ready for students to enjoy. During Term 1, primary students will have their scheduled swimming lessons and secondary students will enjoy water-based physical education lessons. At the conclusion of the term, the pool will once again be emptied so that major refurbishment of the pool and surrounding area can be undertaken. We are currently tendering for the pool change rooms project and will endeavour to have this work carried out in the winter months. It is hoped that the pool area and change rooms will be completely refurbished for the commencement of Term 4.
Plans are also underway to commence work on our multipurpose court as soon as the works to the roof replacements are finished. We will update families on this further as soon as we are able.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Facilities and Services Manager, Kasey Mitchell, and her maintenance and grounds team, catering and cleaning staff, for all their efforts over the last two months. They have been determined to complete the works before the girls returned and they have done a wonderful job of what is a very large and complicated capital works project.
In December I communicated the pleasing results of our 2020 seniors and we are pleased to say that all those students who applied for university placements will soon be commencing their tertiary studies. We wish them well as they engage in studies in medicine and surgery, optometry, biomedical science, nursing, politics, podiatry, physiotherapy, astronomical and space sciences, business, education, public health, international studies and IT.
On assembly this week, we welcomed back the girls who attained ATARs of 90 and above. This was a good opportunity for the school community to congratulate them for their achievements, but also for the younger girls to see the benefits of working hard at school and pursuing opportunities that arise. The seniors all spoke of their excitement at commencing their studies and their stories were aspirational and encouraging for our younger students.
We welcome parents once again to join us for assemblies, which will be held in McKeague Hall. This year, our assemblies will be held every fortnight, with primary assemblies noted in the calendar.
Queensland Rural and Remote Area Fund (QRRAF)
I would like to take this opportunity to bring to our families’ attention the Queensland Rural and Remote Area Fund. This fund awards tax free scholarships and bursaries to persons who normally reside in Queensland and at least 150km from Brisbane for the purpose of assisting them in their education and/or training at an approved educational facility. The objects of the fund are to provide students in need with assistance regarding their educational costs so that they can achieve their schooling or university goals. The fund specifically looks to provide assistance to students who intend to use their qualifications (once obtained) for the benefit of rural or regional areas.
The fund is particularly interested in providing assistance to boarding students whose families may be considering withdrawing their children due to financial stress.
If you would like to learn more about the fund, please request an application pack from:
Queensland Rural and Remote Area Fund
C/- Rees R & Sydney Jones Solicitors
Attn: Melanie Findlay – Secretary
Level 1, 55 Denham Street, Rockhampton Qld 4700
I would like to wish all our students and families a rewarding year ahead. I am looking forward to working with our families to cultivate an environment where girls can be their best and to supporting our teachers to ensure they have the necessary skills to provide a curriculum that is not only engaging, but underpinned by the skills, dispositions and attitudes necessary for academic success, not just during the school years, but also throughout life.
I would like to encourage all parents to contact their daughter’s Care Teacher (secondary) or classroom teacher (primary) with any concerns or questions. Please also do not hesitate to provide us with any information which may assist us to facilitate a strong start to the year for your daughter or that may allow us to better support her to meet her goals.