It has been an absolute treat for me to watch Ashleigh Barty win the French Open. What a fantastic role model for all young people in Australia. She is such a wonderful Sportswoman – a fantastic tennis player and a gracious, down to earth young woman.
There have been other examples, too, of other female athletes at the top of their game – the Matildas, Women’s Rugby 7s, Women’s AFL... There are so many great role models in Australia for women and sport. And a little closer to home, in an earlier edition of Behind the Green Gate, we acknowledged the achievements of Old Girl and current SCEGGS Netball and Cross-country coach Amy Parmenter. Amy is a member of the Giants Super Netball team (Sydney’s premier Australian league team in the Suncorp Super Netball competition) and was voted MVP in a recent match. It should be inspiring for all the students here at SCEGGS – I hope they are seeing what can be achieved with talent and hard work.
On this note, you might like to read this article about the captains of four English women’s teams in cricket, netball, football and Rugby Union: English women's teams.
On a different but related note, there is a great deal of research about the importance of Sport and Physical Activity for all young people. All the research points to the fact that young people who participate in sport and organised recreational activity enjoy better mental health, are more alert, and more resilient against the stresses of modern living.
If you are interested in more, here is an article on this topic: importance of Sport and Physical Activity.
Co-curricular activities at SCEGGS have always been important, and I want our girls and young women to participate in a broad range of activities. I want them all to be accomplished, well-rounded young women - active, contributing, healthy, flourishing. Being involved in sport and physical activity (either inside school, outside school or both) is an important part of that.
We have been reflecting on this at SCEGGS, and how we can strive for an even better Sports program. There will be three prongs to this drive for further improvement.
Firstly, we want a renewed emphasis on the importance of commitment to participation when a girl signs up for an activity. I wrote about this in last week’s Behind the Green Gate. We want to ensure that there are clear expectations of turning up to all matches and training sessions and that girls consistently meet those expectations with 100% attendance, save in exceptional circumstances.
We also want to help girls not to be over-involved – to make careful decisions about their activities so that they can effectively manage all their commitments and make a good contribution to each.
We also want to work on the consistency of our sporting program, ensuring that the quality of coaching is as good as possible. We will employ some additional specialist Sports coaches who will oversee the development of a cohesive and coordinated program across all the grades and years of schooling, working with the coaches to improve their work with all teams and provide a more specialised and refined skills program.
Finally, we want to give a higher profile of Sport in Assemblies, particularly in the Primary School, giving greater recognition to sporting achievements and celebrating successes. I want to give a higher profile to Sport in our publications, profiling some high achievers (students, Old Girls, coaches, etc) and also promoting the broad range of Sports offered at the School, and also some of the other Sports which our students participate in outside of the School.
I want our girls to enjoy sport and physical activity – to be proud of representing their school, to strive to be the best they can be – individually as athletes and sports women and as team players, and to celebrate their own and others’ achievements in this arena. I want all girls to think that Sport is important and that SCEGGS does really well in this area, as much as academic studies, and cultural pursuits such as music and drama.
As always, please do give me a ring or drop me a line if you have comments or questions about this, or just to share your ideas.
I hope you all have a happy School holiday.
Head of School
Commitment to Co-curricular Activities at SCEGGS
We have been having some discussions about co-curricular activities at SCEGGS, and how better to help girls understand the importance of commitment, reliability, teamwork and dependability in activities at School, and in life generally. We have become increasingly concerned about students who feel that they can sign up to activities, but turn up to two-thirds of trainings, rehearsals and practices (and indeed sometimes only to the actual game, performance or concert).
Why is commitment important? We all want SCEGGS girls to be accomplished, confident, competent, compassionate and ready to make a difference in the world – women of strength and character! We want them to be responsible, dependable, reliable, collaborative, good team players and people who can be counted on by those around them. Even when it means going out of your way or putting the needs of your team first, we think people of strength and character are people who follow through on the commitments they have made.
In the co-curricular program, we want girls to understand that, when they sign up to a group activity or a team, it is no longer just about them as an individual! They are making a commitment to fulfil their obligation to their teammates, to the staff running the activity and to the School. We want them to understand that it is important to follow-through because others are counting on them. We want them to understand that there are obligations which flow from agreeing to participate in something because “their word” actually means something and that a sense of commitment and obligation is important. And it is important to have grit and determination to push through when something gets difficult or you are tired or distracted.
We also think it is really important for the girls to learn that you can’t do absolutely everything in life – sometimes you will have to choose between two things you’d really love to do. And this means that sometimes, you will miss out too. We all have to help kids learn to make these sorts of tricky choices – and then be OK about missing out on other things. We also have to help them learn that how you do things matters - it is better to do a few things well, than a whole lot of things badly, half-heartedly or superficially.
From now on, there will be a change of rules and expectations for all School co-curricular activities. If a girl puts her name down for some activity, she will be expected to fulfil all requirements of that activity - 100%! We expect girls not to sign up for something if they already have another conflicting commitment, unless some arrangement is agreed between the staff involved beforehand.
We will be doing our “bit” too! We are working towards a better method of scheduling activities, particularly in the Secondary School, to try to avoid some clashes. Now there is so much on at SCEGGS that we won’t be able to do this entirely. Students will regularly have to choose between two or more activities (often times when they really want to do them all!). But we will be looking for ways to reduce clashes. We are also looking at some ways that might co-ordinate and centralise student choice and the method of enrolling in all the co-curricular activities at SCEGGS, so that students can see which activities are offered at the same time and understand the choices that they are making when they sign up to something. I’ll keep you informed about this initiative.
Now, we do understand that sometimes something completely unavoidable comes up – a funeral of a close relative, or an urgent medical appointment, for example. We expect that parents will request permission for any such Leave from Liz Cumming or me, in the same way that you would ask for a period of time for Leave from the ordinary school day. There will be a range of consequences for girls who don’t fulfil their obligations unless arrangements have been negotiated beforehand. I do want to make it clear that we will not give permission for girls to miss a prior commitment for a friend’s birthday party, or to celebrate a friend’s Bat Mitzvah or to go “trick-or-treating” for Halloween.
In our co-curricular program, commitment matters. And in life and work, we know just how important it is for our girls to learn how to be a reliable, dependable member of a group or team. We do expect parents to support us in this regard and ensure that their daughters understand the importance of their commitment to any team or group or activity they sign-up for, to give it 100% and to be a person of character who can be counted on by their teammates.
Head of School
Merry Christmas to all our community
A number of girls are leaving us at the end of the school year - you go with our best wishes and genuine desire for you to stay in touch with us. We care about you and your journey after SCEGGS deeply and will always want to hear how you are going.
Once a SCEGGS girl, always a SCEGGS girl!
Also a number of staff members are leaving at the end of the year – either to go to different teaching positions or on different types of Leave. We wish them all the best and thank them for the contributions they have made to the School while they have been with us.
I hope you all have a restful and relaxing holiday and a blessed Christmas. My best wishes to you all, too, for 2019, whatever that might bring. See you next year.
Head of School
Message to all in the SCEGGS Community
There has been some media coverage about the Bill in the Senate to remove exemptions from the Discrimination Act and the Fair Work Act for schools on the basis of their religious affiliations and beliefs. There is also attention on a quite different debate – consideration in the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney about the use of church property for a range of activities.
I think it is important to let you know what I think are the implications of these things for SCEGGS. I want to make it clear first of all, that I don’t want SCEGGS to have any exemption from any Discrimination Act or the Fair Work Act based on our religion. I believe that all people are made in God’s image and are loved by God, regardless of their sexuality and identity. SCEGGS welcomes all - regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or religion.
SCEGGS is operated by a company, SCEGGS Darlinghurst Limited. We are, however, proudly an Anglican School, and we have always had excellent relationships with the Diocese of Sydney. I expect that to continue. The Anglican Church is, and has always been, a broad Church, and there is a great diversity of views within it. I expect that we will be able to negotiate any issues with the same sensitivity and strength we have shown when controversial issues have been raised in the past. SCEGGS has always demonstrated an ethos which includes acceptance, respect, love, inclusivity, social justice, equal rights, courage.... We will continue to do so.
I know that we have students, staff, parents, and alumni who are members of the LGBTIQ community. Who they choose as their life partner, who they fall in love with, is a matter for them. They are warmly welcome at SCEGGS. I know we have students who are dealing with issues relating to their gender identity. They will be loved and supported. And I know there will be others in our community who view this differently – coming from a different interpretation of the Scriptures, a more traditional, evangelical outlook. We acknowledge and value their beliefs too. And of course, there are those within our community who are still trying to work out these sorts of issues for themselves! To everyone in the school community, we offer our hand in friendship. We will continue to encourage and support students who want to examine controversial questions, and to take a stand on important current issues. We will continue to encourage our girls to talk, to listen, and to learn from each other, to come to a greater understanding on the whole range of complex issues raised in the evolving society of today. We will continue to maintain our ethos of open-mindedness and inclusivity.