Last weekend, Head of Boarding, Stacey McCarthy, and I drove 15 of our girls home for the Boarder Long Weekend. While they enjoyed their time with their families, we took the opportunity to visit the Central Highlands region, a part of Queensland that is home to around 30,000 people.
Over the weekend, we visited the communities of Emerald, Capella, Sapphire and Rubyvale, experiencing a number of areas from where many of our girls come. As we drove from town to town, we were very heartened to see evidence of so much rain, and we heard firsthand from our agricultural and horticultural families the difference this makes, not just to them but to the various businesses in the region. We also drove past many of the mines and visited Middlemount and Dysart, two of the mining towns which are home to some of our girls.
During our meet and greet sessions, we spoke with a number of our current families, as well as Old Girls we met along the way and residents of each of the communities. The Central Highlands is a beautiful region but many families are seeking the opportunities that come from education in a larger regional centre, so we enjoyed discussing the benefits of choosing Rockhampton Girls Grammar School.
Our discussions with Old Girls revealed many fond memories of Girls Grammar and provided evidence that our school educates strong, successful women. The Old Girls discussed the skills and education they obtained and how they had gone on to succeed as businesswomen, community leaders and confident, engaged members of their towns and regions. Girls Grammar’s rich history of educating successful women is very apparent in its graduates.
We also highlighted the many benefits that can only be achieved by attending a single-sex school. Benefits for girls include the elimination of stereotypes and gender-based assumptions. Research out of the University of Queensland shows that girls are less confident in mixed-sex schools and, crucially, equally as confident as males in single-sex environments (Fitzsimmons, Yates and Callan 2018). This has flow-on implications for universities and workplaces as does the improved “self-esteem, psychological and social wellbeing in adolescent girls” who attended an all girls’ school (Cribb and Haase 2016). Girls Grammar provides an aspirational environment that focuses on teaching girls what they can achieve in the world.
Just as important for wellbeing is community and Girls Grammar values engagement, belonging and inclusiveness. Recent events, including those outlined in last week’s newsletter, reflect our vibrant community and the many opportunities we facilitate to bring our community together. We very much enjoyed our time talking to current families and we were so pleased to hear their daughters are enjoying their experience at Girls Grammar. We also acknowledge that the more time we spend getting to know each other, the easier it is to work together in partnership when there are concerns.
As this was our boarders’ long weekend, it was also timely to discuss our boarding community and the many and rich experiences that our boarders, and their families, bring to our school. Graduates today need to be confident, global citizens who have strong intercultural understandings. They are going to engage in interconnected societies to solve world problems that don’t currently exist. Choosing a boarding school with a mix of rural, regional and international boarders provides both boarders and day students with an advantage by building their cultural knowledge and understandings, better preparing them for the diverse cultural world they will one day lead.
Visiting the Central Highlands also highlighted the importance of providing opportunities for a holistic education. The size of many communities in the Central Highlands means that families either can’t access sporting and co-curricular opportunities or they have to travel long distances to participate. Girls Grammar wants our girls to have a quality learning environment where they are supported, challenged and extended. However, we equally value their social, physical and moral development and therefore we encourage and support our girls to engage in leadership, service, sport, The Arts, public speaking and enrichment.
The recent drought highlights the importance for all families of providing a quality education for girls at an affordable price. Both day and boarding fees at Girls Grammar are lower than other similar independent schools and significantly lower than girls’ boarding schools in Brisbane (for boarding students as much as $16,000 per annum less). This year Girls Grammar froze fees to ensure that girls, both in the Rockhampton region and in regional Queensland, can attend a wonderful school dedicated to attaining excellent outcomes for girls.
The right school is so important for the young women our girls will become. I am so proud to be part of a lovely community that values the education of strong, confident, empowered girls and seeks opportunities for them to learn, grow and shine. I look forward to continuing to meet with parents, current students, Old Girls and potential families to talk about ways that Girls Grammar can continue its tradition of providing a satisfying and enjoyable education for our girls.
Mrs Deanne Johnston