Why we should all be Creative Writers

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll “Jabberwocky”

So many of us remember from childhood the magic and beauty of Carroll’s poem. Perhaps most baffling is that despite being nonsensical, the reader is offered a clear picture of this heroic battle of a “beamish boy” against “The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame.” Sound patterning and the characteristics of a heroic narrative create familiarity in Carroll’s playful poem, however his invented language represents this battle of boy and beast in a new and engaging fashion.

As the young writers in the Primary and Secondary Schools develop their creative skills, I am hopeful that they are also inspired by a sense of inventiveness, wonder and play. As an English Department at SCEGGS, we are fortunate to teach so many students with a passion for literature and a love of writing; students who write poetry late into the night, who are happy to experiment with new hybrid genres of “Creative Non-fiction” and who win national and international writing competitions.

What does Creative Writing look like?
There is no doubt that the art of creative writing continues to evolve. For the first time this year, under the guidance of SCEGGS English teachers - Dr Cook and Ms Hawkins, two of our Year 12 Extension 2 students composed “Creative Non-fiction” works. This genre enabled them to explore political and literary topics in an inventive and imaginative fashion; blending reflection and literary conceit in their work. In Advanced and Standard English the new “Craft of Writing” Module also encourages students to experiment with “discursive” writing, a form that again allows them to blend personal reflection, imagery and analysis.

One of the prescribed texts for this module, Zadie Smith’s Lecture “That Crafty Feeling,” reflects powerfully on the way that all writing is part of a larger discourse. She asserts that “much of the excitement of a new novel lies in the repudiation of the one written before. Other people’s words are the bridge you use to cross from where you are to wherever you’re going.” Her beautiful metaphorical image of the “bridge” offered by “other people’s words” is a perfect example of the way that creative imagery can enable us to understand and imagine the interrelated nature of literature and the process of writing in a new way.

As Smith’s Lecture clearly addresses, the work of a creative writer is rarely completely “new” and “original.” She imagines the life of Romantic poet John Keats, of him “slogging away, devouring books, plagiarising, impersonating, adapting, struggling, growing, writing many poems that made him blush and then a few that made him proud.” There is a popular TEDx talk by Austin Kleon “Steal Like an Artist” in which he traces the genealogy of his own creative “blackout poems,” acknowledging that “nothing is original. All Creative work builds on what came before”. He evokes a quote from Picasso, “good artists copy, great artists steal.”

While Carroll’s “The Jabberwocky” is inventive and new, the debt it pays to the Arthurian Legends and ballad poetry is clear; it is a nonsense poem which builds upon, and parodies, texts that have come before. The Year 11 Extension English course requires students to trace the way that classic fables, myths or religious tales have been appropriated over time. They also creatively appropriate and rewrite a classical tale, subverting or shifting the values in the original tale to contribute themselves to this literary discourse.

What if I am not naturally creative?
Reading or listening to any writer talk about their craft, it usually becomes clear that it is practice, the “slogging away” of Keats in Smith’s lecture, the experimentation discussed in Kleon’s TEDx, which builds a writer. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers he unpacks the notion of “genius and IQ” tracing success at an elite level to opportunity and practice as much as to innate talent, “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” After some rough calculations it appears to me that students will spend about one thousand hours in an English classroom during their high school career; a long way off Gladwell’s ten thousand, but hopefully still enough time to develop valuable skills and confidence!

Smith’s Lecture develops the conceit or extended metaphor of writing a novel as being like building a house, she explains that “building a novel you will use a lot of scaffolding.” In an English classroom we often try to develop students’ writing with similar “scaffolding”; explicitly exploring how symbolism or pathetic fallacy might develop a setting, how narrative perspective and focalisation can develop a particular kind of relationship with the reader, for example.

The creative writing components of each of the new HSC courses requires students to both experiment with different types of writing and to be able to reflect on their own writing. This process of reflection is a crucial way of helping students to evaluate their own work; to recognise its strengths and weaknesses and to acknowledge the way that, as Kleon notes, they have “built on what came before.”

As English teachers, we want our students to take risks with their writing, to experiment and try new things as they find their own voice. I don’t think it is an accident that two texts placed on the prescribed text list for the new Year 12 Standard “Craft of Writing” module are about creative pioneers who failed before they found success. One of these texts is J K Rowling’s speech to Harvard graduates, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.” In this speech she declares dramatically that “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

While I don’t think that any English teacher would wish “rock bottom” on their students, I think that most of us are keen to ensure that “fear of failure” is not preventing the inventiveness and experimentation that will enable a young writer to discover their own voice and talents. While we may provide Smith’s “scaffolding” to help students with their creative writing, Smith also warns that while scaffolding can “hold up confidence when you have none” you mustn’t forget to “dismantle it later.”

What role might Creative Writing play in the future of education?
In all the discussion about how technology and Artificial Intelligence will change the workforce, it seems clear that creativity is one of those attributes which super computers and algorithms may never be able to fully replicate. At SCEGGS, we were privileged to have academic Erica McWilliam visit and prompt discussion on what classrooms of the future might look like. In her reading, she quoted Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class and his argument that the young people thriving in the conceptual age are those who exhibit attributes like “risk-taking, self-criticality, a “seriously-playful” approach to problem-solving.” I would argue that today’s world needs readers and writers more than ever, and that for all students creative writing is a skill that will help them to build empathy and understanding. JK Rowling’s speech celebrates imagination as “the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

Looking at the NSW Curriculum Review Interim Report it identifies “Creative Thinking” as one of the skills integral for any future curriculum. The report also highlights the importance of Major Projects, like the Extension 2 English Major Work, and the ability of assessment like this to develop engagement, deep learning, research and evaluation skills. While this is already done to a certain extent throughout the English Curriculum, I imagine that future courses will offer students even more opportunities to conceive, plan, research, draft and evaluate their own creative work.

I feel fortunate to work in a school that has Creative Writing within its traditions and DNA. We have many published writers within our community and the School is willing to devote time and resources to encouraging extracurricular opportunities for keen writers, and to invite professional writers and performers into the school to interact with our students. This is such a wonderful way of breaking down the mystique that sometimes surrounds creative writing and of encouraging our students to envisage themselves as writers.

At each annual Speech Night at SCEGGS there are five prizes awarded for specific creative writing projects; each commemorating a teacher or student of the past – three of them influential English teachers – Ms Edith Badham, Ms Enid Miller and Ms Gwen Cockell. Over the last week in the English Department we have been reading entries for these prizes and it is a joy to see the insight, perception and play in these pieces.

I have just read, written by SCEGGS students, an Elegy to a Broken Umbrella, “Forced to hang upside-down/ like a bat in the airless hallway” and A Retelling of Persephone who runs “Trampling green tendrils of grass as I go, my feet fall heavy on the ground and I become a cataclysmic earthquake.” These are pieces of writing which are playful, and which are powerful. Just like the magic of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, it is so inspiring to see the imaginative ways that these young writers are envisaging and understanding the world around them.

Jenny Bean
English Teacher



We all have moments where we feel worried. This is a natural response to different factors and events in life. However, helping young people to understand why they might feel anxious or worried is an important step in preventing the cycle of anxiety that can arise when we avoid or ignore what is causing these thoughts in the first place. So, I wanted to share with you a beautiful article I recently read which encourages young people (and the people who care for them) to reframe anxious thoughts by asking some simple questions:


Bethany Lord
Director of Pastoral Care



Nelson Mandela said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. In my nine years at SCEGGS I have constantly been told to question the world around me because by asking questions, we learn about the world in which we live.

Climate change will be the greatest threat to my generation. What scares me most is that the majority of people struggle to understand exactly what climate change is. It is an idea plastered across the front pages of newspapers and thrown around by politicians, but what exactly is it and why should it concern me? I will be voting in the next Federal election along with 60% of current high school girls. Why and how should I consider climate change when casting my ballot and how do I balance the need for jobs and economic security? We ask these questions because, as one of the teenage activists at the UN General Assembly so aptly said, “adults are having a party with the environment and the next generation are stuck with cleaning up”.

I am not the only girl at SCEGGS asking these questions, from the Maailma Environmental Club to the lively debate surrounding the climate strike, we want answers! So, we decided we would start to change the world from inside the Green Gate asking questions to an incredible panel of speakers from a range of different environmental backgrounds on topics ranging from youth’s role in the climate crisis to western moralising.

Jillian Broadbent AC – she received her AC for being a climate fighter and a trailblazer for women. She is an economist who was the inaugural Chair of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Reserve Bank Board Member and is on the boards of Woolworths and Macquarie Bank. We were inspired by the way in which she advocated a gender-neutral response to the climate crisis and so clearly laid out strong economic arguments for facing into the challenges.

Lara Olsen – an engineer and energy executive, who has just returned from working with Tesla Energy, California. She works in renewable energy and was involved with the big zero emissions battery in South Australia. We were astounded that only 13% of engineers are women. After hearing from such an amazing role model as Lara, there are lots of girls now seeing engineering as a great career option.

David Haslingden – Chair of the Australian Geographic Society and WildAid, a conservation organisation. Previously a senior Executive with News Corporation globally and has run the National Geographic channels. He owns and runs a production company that makes natural history and wildlife programs that are shown globally. I think the loudest cheer was when he announced that we must be "revolutionaries" and take charge of our futures.

Martijn Wilder AM – is the founder of Pollination Capital Partners and Chairman of WWF Australia. He is recognised as an international expert in tackling the world’s most pressing environmental issues through the use of innovative legal and financial models. Martijn discussed the idea of fake news, in a world where we have information at the tip of our fingers and anyone can be a journalist, we must be careful of the media we consume, particularly when it comes to understanding and discussing climate and environmental issues.

Hearing from these amazing speakers was an invaluable experience. I would like to thank Ms Allum for her support in helping us address climate change. As SCEGGS girls, we will continue to ask questions, looking for the answers we need, to help change the world, both inside and beyond the Green Gate.

Zoe Brenner
Year 11



Anglicare Toys and Tucker
Every girl in the School is asked to contribute towards providing a Christmas gift for a child of a certain age group which will be collected at our School Christmas Service on Monday 2 December. Most of these gifts will go to Anglicare who will then deliver them to families struggling with poverty in our city. This always brings a lot of joy to the children as well as the parents. Some parents feel ashamed that they cannot provide a gift for their children due to their circumstances and our donations help them to have something to celebrate during Christmas. Form and class teachers will help the students to plan and prepare for this activity over the next few weeks.

“Mr Lee-Lindsay needs new undies”
For those new to our community I would like to introduce you to our socks and undies drive. There are a number of welfare organisations that are always asking for NEW socks and undies for their clientele. This is a serious issue amongst the homeless in terms of hygiene and good foot care. This is a whole school activity and because we want to get a variety of sizes this is how we would like the different year groups to donate:

(Kindergarten, Year 1, Year 2) – Girls Socks and/or Undies for 3 to 7 year olds.
(Years 3 and 4) – Boys Socks and/or Undies for 3 to 7 year olds.
(Years 5 and 6) - Socks and/or Undies for 8 to 12 year olds.

Year 7 – men’s medium undies and/or socks
Year 8 – women’s medium undies and/or socks
Year 9 - men’s large undies and/or socks
Year 10 – women’s large undies or socks
Year 11 – men’s or women’s small undies or socks

Students are welcome to leave their donations in the basket outside the Chapel for collection, like what we do for harvest festival (only we will not decorate the chapel with the items!) I will distribute our collection to local organisations in the last week of Term 4. Thank you in anticipation.

Rev. Garry Lee-Lindsay
School Chaplain



Congratulations to Grace Barr, Grace Campbell-Avenell, Emilia Doohan, India Hobbs, Sascha Richards and Mia Robson from the HSC Class of 2019, on receiving nominations for their Major Design Projects in "SHAPE 2019"; the annual exhibition of a selection of exemplary Major Projects.

All the students developed challenging and innovative projects addressing genuine needs and opportunities in the process. Grace Barr created a functional shoulder brace for tennis and other sports that assists with on-court stabilisation and support. Grace Campbell-Avenell designed a History study game for students who are social learners and to help with anxiety and stress. Emilia Doohan designed and created a colourful versatile backpack that could be used as a conventional backpack for students, as well as a specialised camera bag. India Hobbs designed a range of contemporary homeware pieces for the dinner table to bring families together without the distraction of modern technology. Sascha Richards' “Stilla” is a flexible modular shelving system which maximises space and minimises sound integrating sound diffusion creating a customisable and creative solution. Mia Robson’s aim was to create contemporary garments attempting to use 100% of the material with no excess pieces, reducing textile waste, with the use of CAD to create zero waste patterns.

Congratulations to all these students as well as the entire Year 12 Design & Technology 2019 cohort on their extraordinary endeavours and an innovative collection of projects.

Caroline O'Sullivan
Head of TAS



Congratulations to Grace Apted, Georgia Brogan, Grace Guthrie and Ava Lacoon-Robinson who have all been nominated for ART EXPRESS. We wish them luck with the selection process. 

BTGG 2019 11 14 Art Guthrie

Grace Guthrie

BTGG 2019 11 14 Art Apted

Grace Apted

BTGG 2019 11 14 Art Brogan

Georgia Brogan

BTGG 2019 11 14 Art Lacoon Robinson

Ava Lacoon-Robinson

Katrina Collins
Head of Visual Arts



Primary News

NSW PSSA Athletics Championships
Congratulations to Coco Espie who competed on Wednesday 31 October and Thursday 1 November in the multi class Discus, Shot Put and 11-13 years 100m. Coco gained a first place in the Shot Put and second place in the Discus.

BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport Espie 100m BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport Espie Discus

Congratulations to our Primary Senior relay team of Stella Argyrides, Abigail Grace, Isla Hootman and Stella Manos who competed at SOPAC on Thursday 1 November. The girls came 10th overall in the semifinals. They missed out by one spot to run in the finals. They ran beautifully in very hot conditions.

BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport relay team 1 BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport relay team 2

This was an outstanding achievement for all the girls.

Years 4-6 IPSHA Basketball, Tennis and Year 3 Football
The basketballers, football and tennis players are having a great season. Parents please ensure your daughter has a large water bottle for both training and Saturday games. We ask that the girls arrive 30min prior to the start of the game to ensure an adequate warm up is undertaken. It has been very pleasing to see excellent sportsmanship from our girls, particularly those teams who have needed to play the "Mercy rule".

BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport basketball 1 BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport basketball 2
BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport basketball 4 BTGG 2019 11 14 Sport basketball 3

Sue Phillips
Primary PDHPE and Sport Co-ordinator



Assembly Performance
Well done to Olivia Papadakis in Year 9 with her performance of “Andantino” by Niels (Wilhelm) Gade. The work was performed by Olivia for the processional and recessional items at assembly. Thank you and well done, Olivia!

AMEB Flute and Oboe Exams
Congratulations to the following students who have achieved the following grades in their AMEB exams:

Eva Ancher    Grade 3 Flute
Amelia Whelan    Grade 3 Flute
Josephine Jarvie    Grade 4 Flute
Olivia Jarvie    Grade 6 Flute
Zoe Moyes    Grade 3 Oboe


This is a wonderful achievement and testament to the hard work by these students. Thank you to Ms Kellie Grennan and Ms Zoe Sitsky who have carefully prepared these students for their examination. Well done, girls!

Secondary Brass Concert Tuesday 12 November
Congratulations to the following students who played in the Secondary Brass concert on Tuesday lunchtime in DB1; Maggie Harper, Lily Helene, Charlotte FitzSimons, Sarah McNaughton and Uma Volkmer.

Thank you to the Brass teachers Ms Louise Horwood and Ms Alex Silver who have prepared the students for the performances. Well done girls!

Twilight Concert Thursday 14 November, 5:00-6:30pm, Great Hall
The Music Department would like to invite members of the School community to our final concert for 2019. The Twilight Concert will take place on Thursday 14 November. The concert will feature performances by the Bands, Strings, Percussion and Chamber ensembles. All performers will need to be at the Diana Bowman Centre by 4:30pm on Thursday afternoon to tune and warm up before the concert.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Does your instrument require a service?
A reminder for some families who are currently hiring an instrument through the Music Department. It would be helpful for the Music Department to know whether your instrument will require a service and a clean over the Christmas holiday period. The holidays are a great opportunity to do this so that your instrument is ready for the new year.

If you would like this for your school instrument, could you please contact our Music Administrator, Ms Stephanie Holmes before Friday 22 November in Week 6 for us to check what needs to be done. The instruments would then need to be handed into the Music Department by Monday 2 December in Week 8.

Upcoming performances and events in Term 4:
Twilight Concert – Thursday 14 November, Great Hall 5:00pm

Studio Concert of Ms Kylie Bailey – Monday 18 November 1:10 – 1:40pm DB1

Pauline Chow
Head of Music



Theatre Excursions - School Of Rock & War Horse
We have secured a limited number of tickets to two exciting theatre events that will take place early in the 2020 school year. Registration of participation is now open.

“School of Rock” is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is based on the film of the same name. The show features many talented young musicians in the cast. This show plays the Capitol Theatre in Haymarket. We will attend on Thursday 6 February at 7pm (Term 1, week 2).

“War Horse” is the theatre juggernaut that originated at the National Theatre in London. It is a masterwork of theatricality, cleverly employing puppetry and stagecraft to transport us to another time and place. The play is based on the popular novel by Michael Morpurgo. It is not to be missed. We will attend on Thursday 27 February at 7:30pm. The show plays at the Lyric Theatre at Star City in Pyrmont.

These theatre excursions are open to all girls across Years 7-12 in 2020. Permission letters are now available and may be obtained from Mr Eyers.

Year 7-10 cast and crew will present Saving SCEGGS by Linden Wilkinson from Thursday 21 November to Saturday 23 November at 7pm. There will also be a matinee on Saturday 23 November at 3pm. Bookings are now open from TryBooking.

BTGG 2019 11 14 Drama poster

BTGG 2019 11 14 Drama rehearsal 1

BTGG 2019 11 14 Drama rehearsal 2

BTGG 2019 11 14 Drama rehearsal 3

Theatre Terminology
To strike the set means to take down the set and make way for the next production. On a smaller scale, you can strike an object from the stage, as in “strike that ladder,” in order to remove it from the stage. This is actually one of the dozens of dictionary definitions for the word “strike,” meaning “to haul down; to dismantle and take away.”

This ‘pack-up’ stage of production is also known as the bump-out.

“There are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.” Robert Evans – Hollywood Film Producer.

Peter Eyers
Head of Drama



P & F Events
Sunday 24 November
Year 3 Parents & Girls End of Year Party
Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club
Wolseley Road, Point Piper
Adults $35
Children $15
Siblings welcome
Online Booking
Refer to invitation for TryBooking link
Friday 15 November 
Friday 29 November
Year 7 End of Year Cocktail Party
The Tilbury Hotel 
12-18 Nicholson St,
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Per head (for food) $35
Drinks can be purchased at the bar
Online Booking  
Via TryBooking link;
Simon Hallgath-Jolly or Year 7 Class Parents
Go to the Parent Portal for contact information 


Penny Gerstle
President of the P&F Association