P & F Events
Saturday 2 November
Year 11 Father/Daughter Camp
Port Hacking Conference Centre - Telford
168 Rathane Rd,
Royal National Park NSW 2232
A BBQ Dinner is included on Saturday night
You are all very welcome!
Andrew Lowe and Anne-Valerie Slater Saulnier
Sunday 24 November
Year 3 Parents & Girls End of Year Party
Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club
Wolseley Road, Point Piper
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
Via TryBooking link;
Simon Hallgath-Jolly or Year 7 Class Parents
Go to the Parent Portal for contact information
President of the P&F Association
SCEGGS Religion and Ethics
Have you ever wondered how SCEGGS incorporates its Anglican tradition into the daily life of the School? How SCEGGS teaches about other religions or what Year 10 ethics classes cover? Come along to hear from Jenny Allum, Garry Lee-Lindsay and Julie McCrossin as they answer these questions and more, in an open forum for discussion. For parents and staff of all faith backgrounds, or no faith, please join us for what promises to be a frank and important discussion about our school.
|Tuesday 5 November|
|Drinks and Canapes from 7:00pm|
|Panel and discussion from 7:30pm|
|Where:||Joan Freeman Lecture Theatre|
|Parking:||Joan Freeman Car Park|
This is a free event but for catering purposes, please RSVP to https://www.trybooking.com/BFWMM
Class Parents 2020
We have received lists from most year groups for Class Parents for 2020, but if you would still like to volunteer as a Class Parent for 2020 please contact one of your Class Parents for this year and they will add you to their list. Class Parents, all lists to me by Friday 8 November please.
There have been cases of head lice reported in the Secondary School. Head lice are very common in schools, and it is important that all parents check their daughter’s hair regularly and follow the necessary procedures if needed. For further information, please refer to the NSW Health Department: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/headlice/Pages/default.aspx.
Our children’s sleep patterns and habits are under threat in our current technological environment.
Young children require sleep for healthy brain development and to allow their developing bodies time to recuperate.
Growth hormones are released during sleep. While awake, children’s brains take in a flood of new experiences and make sense of them, simultaneously. However, while asleep, our brains shut out new input and process what has already been seen and experienced. Pruning of synapses and consolidation of information occurs during sleep and quality and length of sleep is essential for these processes.
Primary school children require 9 to 11 hours of sleep, pre-teens and teen require 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, in the new era, digital insomnia is a modern health epidemic and children are chronically tired. Even mild sleep deprivation (1 hour less) could impair a child’s cognitive functioning, particularly language skills. One hour less sleep at night is equivalent to reducing their cognitive ability by two grades (Year 4 student deprived of one hour sleep will perform at the level of Year 2 student – study published in Developmental Neuropsychology).
There are theories that attribute hyperactivity to chronic tiredness. Technology/screens caused displaced sleep, overstimulated brains as the blue light hampers melatonin production and the scary content seen on screens can cause night terrors which happen in the first two or threehours of sleep. Nightmares occur in the second half of sleep and are a normal part of development, as a child learns to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Children under 10 are susceptible to experiencing intense fear after seeing images of intense violence or devastation out of context.
Given that the use of screens and digital devices before bedtime seriously and adversely impact children’s sleep patterns, parents need to manage the situation so that children get the required amount of sleep.Here are some tips to achieve this:
- Screens should be avoided in the 90 minutes before bedtime. This needs to be done gradually by increasing devices from sleep time, until you reach no devices for 90 minutes before sleep.
- Establish a screen-free bedtime ritual and introduce alternative non-screen activities into sleep routine,such as a massage, a puzzle or reading a book.
- Make bedrooms tech-free zones by removing digital devices; specify tech landing zones.
- Monitor the content that your children are exposed tp; avoid violent or age inappropriate programs. It is important to play and watch the online content with your child, so that you can discuss the content and be a part of her world. Experience your child’s view of the world.
Reference: Goodwin, Kristy, 2016, ‘Raising Your Child in a Digital World’
Primary School Counsellor
Navigating the ups and downs of modern life is a challenge for us all, the girls at SCEGGS included. Every girl, throughout her school journey, will experience a raft of challenges and will manage them in various ways. Living with two teenage children of my own and witnessing the trials and tribulations of their daily lives, I am aware of many of the pressures that make being a 21st century teenager so fraught with angst.
Your daughter will inevitably have her own worries about homework, exams, relationships with friends and others. Very often it is these struggles with relationships that we teachers witness and have to deal with constructively. Our girls want to be different, to be individuals but at the same time fit in and be accepted by their peer group. Peer-related stress can be one of the main sources of stress for our girls. They often face pressure from peers, parents and things they learn online to behave in a certain way or to feel accepted and valued by those around them. Research has shown that nothing is a more significant determinant of our psychological well-being than the healthy nature of our closest social bonds.
At SCEGGS, we regularly observe the impact of a friendship breakdown on our girls’ emotional wellbeing, self-esteem and achievement at school. Having a conflict with a friend or not being invited to a party are a couple of examples of the daily challenges our girls encounter. They are affected deeply by these experiences as they place a great emphasis on interpersonal connectedness.
Girls may receive unrealistic messages about how friendship looks and feels. Films and television shows oscillate between two extremes: mean girls (think Clueless) and best friends forever (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants). We adults may not always be the perfect role models, either. The result is a steady stream of “friendship myths” – the idea that one has to find a “best friend” and keep her forever or that a good friendship is one where you never fight and are always happy, or the idea that the more friends you have, the cooler you are.
Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter all play an important role in our everyday lives, but they can also be a major source of stress for teenagers. They can even be a place where bullying happens. The first detailed study of how social media affects the mental health of young people, carried out by researchers from Imperial College and University College London, shows that social media does damage the mental health of teenage girls. It suggests that the harm is caused indirectly — through cyberbullying, sleep loss and reduced physical activity — rather than directly by affecting brain development. It also found that the psychological distress girls experience is twice as impactful than in boys.
Adolescence is hard work on the body and mind. During the teenage years, hormones are on the rise and so too the levels of anxiety and depression. Hormonal fluctuations affect each of our girls differently. I am sure the parents of any teenager would tell you that over-emotional adolescents can negatively impact a family dynamic from time to time. Rapid growth spurts, the onset of periods and acne can all contribute to a girl feeling overwhelmed and out of control. It’s no wonder that by mid-adolescence girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder than their male counterparts.
Research has also shown that many girls feel ashamed of their body, with imagery of “idealised” bodies on social media driving their insecurity. Some of the girls I speak with have told me they sometimes feel enormous pressure to behave and look a certain way. It’s disturbing that so many young girls think their appearance is their most important attribute. Others aspire to some level of perfection. Concerns about body shape can spiral out of control into eating disorders or mental health problems without the right support.
So how can we support our daughters through these difficult times? How can we strike the correct balance between allowing them space to feel and experience stress during a difficult time, and yet to resist the temptation to swoop in and deny them the opportunity to resolve an issue in their own way?
Turn up the positivity and turn down the drama
Some girls seem to be readily drawn into friendship dramas and get caught up in other peoples’ business. Listening without judgement to your daughter when she describes a bad day or a difficult time with friends can be the hardest thing to do, especially when you know she is really hurting. Controlling that "mum face" (or equivalent!) is key in getting them to share the right information with you. Staying calm and encouraging them to maintain some perspective in a crisis is paramount. As a teacher and a parent, I have found value in role-playing a difficult conversation with a friend. It may help them to step into someone else’s shoes and understand a situation from another point of view.
A good sleep can be a cure for most things
Sleep is absolutely vital for our physical and mental wellbeing. I am sure we have all had nights where worries and stress keep us awake in the small hours. If your daughter experiences poor or inadequate sleep, this can impact mood and has consequences for handling relationship difficulties. Encourage your daughter to talk about or write down their worries before bedtime and do something relaxing in the hours before lights out to help her mind settle. Social media should be avoided for as long as possible prior to lights out.
Promoting a healthy body image
Our tweens and teenagers are bombarded with images in the media and the 24/7 availability of social media can put additional pressure on young people. Remind your daughter that she is much more than just her body and help her understand and celebrate all the amazing and unique qualities that she has. Conversing with your daughter about realistic and healthy bodies versus heavily edited and airbrushed images that show the curated highlights of people’s lives, may help your daughter to understand that some of the images they see on social media are not a true representation of how most people live their lives. Eating together as a family each night can be a great way to connect. Improving communication during family meals gives teenagers an opportunity to talk about their day and for parents to help them build their self-esteem, resulting in overall improved body image. Do not ignore warning signs such as a sudden fussiness around food or rapid weight loss. If you are at all concerned that body image worries are an issue for your daughter, seek professional help from your GP.
21st century mobile phone users
A mobile phone can be a helpful tool for your teenager to achieve independence. Keeping mobile phone use out of the bedroom will be a helpful way to monitor how much time your daughter is spending on her phone. Less time on screens is going to mean less time absorbing inappropriate content, advertising messages, inane celebrity gossip, bullying and sexualisation. Negotiate and put a screen curfew in place and be bold enough to stick to it. Phone use disrupts sleep. Messages from friends “ping in” until late at night and the blue light from the screen is proven to impact sleep. You may have noticed that there always seems to be someone within your daughter’s circle of friends who is still awake and posting past 11pm!
One of the most important protective factors that buffers against stressful and challenging times is social support from close relationships. Close relationships with parents, siblings and peers in adolescence are a critical part of our girls’ development. We must do all that we can to ensure they become a healthy opportunity for our young people to develop. Supportive relationships are associated with widespread benefits for physical and mental health throughout one’s life. When it comes to parenting, research suggests that authoritative rather than authoritarian parenting, which balances warmth and love with clear expectations and support, encourages a young person’s growing autonomy and independence. Authoritative parenting is the leading driver of positive outcomes for children and teenagers.
Science Teacher and Year 11 Coordinator
“Social justice” is a term that has become commonplace in our public discourse. But what does it mean? To me – a mother of four - social justice in an aspiration for a fairer, more decent and empathetic society, where the fortunate use their privilege, opportunities and resources for the greater good.
We’ve tried to promote these values to our son and three daughters and I know I’m supported by schools like SCEGGS, which embrace the values of fairness, kindness and humility. We’re confident they will continue these values throughout their lives.
I think the School’s understanding of social justice partly stems from its unique location in a diverse part of Sydney. Our daughters have been exposed to a cross-section of Australian life. At one end of the spectrum, you’ll find Sydney’s powerful institutions in politics, business, medicine, law and the Arts, surrounded by gentrified terrace homes, fancy cafes and boutique fashion stores.
Alongside this privilege however, are communities experiencing acute disadvantage – the working poor, the homeless community and of course the LGBTQI+ community, who have toiled for decades in these streets just to gain the most basic tenet of social justice – acceptance.
It’s hard for SCEGGS girls to ignore these contrasts and histories. They underline an important lesson – that our society is not equal, life can be truly unfair and that it doesn’t take much for a person to fall through the cracks: a bad relationship, a trauma, a lost job, addiction, family breakdown, bad health or discrimination based on race and sexuality.
Understanding one’s privilege and considering these life experiences of others is the first step to achieving a more just society.
We’ve encouraged our children to become involved in social justice initiatives through school. Our daughters have been fortunate enough to go on school trips to Uganda, Cape York and soon, to Cambodia. They’ve also been involved with Community Service at Wayside Chapel, Rough Edges, Our Big Kitchen and delivering meals in surrounding streets. They’ve learnt that simple acts of kindness and modest donations of time can make a substantial difference.
Once school is done, I’d encourage parents to talk with their children about considering taking time to become involved in a social justice initiative. After the HSC, our three eldest travelled and volunteered in far flung places from Cusco in Peru to Kathmandu in Nepal. They taught English, provided manual labour in rural schools and assisted in health clinics. The experience exposed them to new cultures and languages and helped to broaden their understanding of the world.
Back in Sydney, we’ve encouraged our children to use their skills and passions in their local volunteering efforts. Our son’s strength is writing, so he volunteered once a week through “Sydney Story Factory”, working with marginalised students at Plunkett St Public School in Woolloomooloo. It taught him patience, compassion and the value of elevating those children’s voices.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that our children have pursued public service in their studies and careers. Our son works for a public broadcaster in Regional WA, providing a critical service during emergencies; our oldest daughter is a Registered Nurse providing compassionate care to patients in ICU at their most vulnerable times. Our middle daughter is a passionate advocate for the rights of women and the protection of the environment. She’s pursuing post-graduate studies in public policy, volunteering at a domestic violence refuge in Sydney and is very involved in grassroots work for action on climate change – the greatest social justice challenge of our time.
My own parents are still very generous in supporting causes they are passionate about including medical research, overseas aid, the Guide Dogs and educational scholarships (including SCEGGS). This has influenced how our family understands society and what we can do to help make a difference.
Most recently my daughter, Georgi in Year 11 and I fulfilled one of my dreams to visit Kenya and see first hand the work of “So They Can”, a charity which was established 10 years ago by two mothers in our local suburb. Our family have followed the growth of the school they created in collaboration with the Kenyan Government. The primary school now has 1080 students. We have been exchanging letters with the students we support at the school for some time, so to finally visit them was amazing! To learn first hand how our sponsorship contribution has made a difference to a group of “Internally Displaced People” will stay with us forever. These families fled for their lives due to political unrest and were left with nothing. Many children ate food from the local tip. They had became refugees in their own country. Now the children are educated and given two nutritious meals a day at school. We gained a better understanding of how education is the best route for sustainable change for children. It has a ripple effect that is felt by women, their children and whole communities. The school is now well run by the local Kenyans, so the charity is branching out to other areas in Kenya and Tanzania.
We learnt first hand that empowering and educating women has a wonderful cascade effect for families and communities. In addition to its school operations, the charity trains women in business skills and provides a small loan to enable their enterprises to get off the ground. We met four resilient, optimistic women whose lives had been transformed with this micro-finance. One woman, who had HIV, used her loan to buy a goat, some chickens and a rainwater tank. She was so positive about her future. Another has set up a successful little shop in the local village and now employs three people. Her entrepreneurial ideas were inspirational. Our group had 14 teenagers who will never forget their experience.
Getting involved in social justice pursuits is a win-win for all. Participants develop a fuller undertsanding of the world in which they live and marginalised people are afforded the basic dignity, respect and love they deserve. There are so many ways we can make a difference and it can all start at our doorstep.
Our three sponser kids at Abardare Ranges Primary School - Nakuru, Kenya.
We bought kids much needed new uniform items! A local Kenyan man makes the shoes by hand, so the money is kept in the community.
Geogi doing a maths lesson at a Kenyan high school.
Old Girl and current parent
In this edition of SchoolTV - Internet Addiction
In today’s digital environment, the internet can be a valuable tool for education and research, but it is also a key mode of entertainment too. Young people today tend to go from one screen to another, so how much is too much? Of course, each family will have different rules and expectations about this, but it is important to discuss what feels right for you. Time spent in the "screen world" has parents concerned that their kids may be missing out on real life experiences and we know that especially for girls their connections on social media can, if not monitored, become all-consuming. Therefore, it is vitally important to a child’s wellbeing for parents to regulate a child’s internet use.
Internet addiction can cause significant psychological and social problems for children in years to come. The true effects on future generations is not yet known, but there are strategies that parents can implement now. In this edition, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg discusses what causes internet addiction, who is most at risk and what parents can do to regulate the amount of time their kids spend online each day.
Here is the link to the Internet Addiction edition of SchoolTV : https://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/newsletter/internet-addiction
We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this edition of SchoolTV and we always welcome your feedback. If you have any concerns about your child, please do not hesitate to contact the School for further information.
Director of Pastoral Care
“I’m so stressed!!”
This is a comment I hear many students make, particularly when coming into an exam or an assessment period. Something I find helpful in my sessions with students is to remind them that stress is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, stress is a normal reaction that we all feel as human beings towards situations that are challenging. Not enough stress in life can result in boredom, apathy, low mood and ultimately a lack of working to one’s potential. However, too much stress also costs our performance by creating distress, and can result in fatigue, physical ill-health and anxiety. Our aim at SCEGGS is to facilitate students to experience an optimal amount of stress. This is when students are pushed out of their comfort zone and rise to that challenge. Optimal stress can have a range of benefits including an increase in energy and focus, a sense of pride and can lead people to accomplish things they never thought they could. This idea is backed by research that suggests short term moderate stress for a few hours, like an exam or speech, primes the brain for alertness resulting in better learning and memory (Jaret, 2015).
So how can you as parents make stress more beneficial for your daughters?
Stay calm and connected
It's normal to feel stress coming up to exams, big assessment periods or waiting for results. But, stress as an emotion can be catching. You may have noticed this in your own household. If one person is stressed this feeling may go through the entire household and before you know it everyone’s heart is racing!
Regular communication during a shared activity like going for a walk or driving in the car or doing something they like to do can be helpful. Get a good understanding of your daughter’s study routines and plans so that you can help them balance out schoolwork with time for fun, family and friends in an age appropriate way. Communicate regularly with your daughter in a calm, non-judgmental, non-blaming way, as this will encourage them to speak honestly with you about how they are feeling. And if you do notice yourself, or your daughter, beginning to become distressed, one of the most effective things to do is to take a few deep breaths and stay calm. This breaks the cycle and helps contain and regulate emotions.
Encourage helpful thinking
It’s important for us all to help your daughters keep things in perspective. To remind them that you and their teachers are here to support them. Tell them that while there their exams or assignments are important, their value as human beings and the value of their education is not reflected simply in a mark. Thinking inflexibly about situations or jumping to the worst possible scenario is not going to be helpful in keeping them at the optimal level of stress, which is where they learn and perform best. We need to help them to think in a balanced way, recognising that they will need to prioritise tasks and develop the resilience to deal with minor setbacks and disappointments.
In order to do this, you can ask things like:
- Is that a helpful way of thinking about that situation?
- What is a more helpful way of thinking about it?
- Is that the only possible explanation?
- What are some other ways of thinking about this situation?
It is so important that you try to ask these questions rather than react to your child’s worry in the moment and try to fix things for them.
Nurture a healthy lifestyle
Often when I first meet students, I ask about their sleep, diet and level of exercise. I talk about this being the foundation of our emotional house. If our foundations are rocky, our emotions too will be more susceptible to extremes and more likely to be unstable.
Encourage your daughter to not forget the simple things like sleeping. According to the Student Wellbeing survey we conducted last year over half of our High school students (60%) report waking up feeling quite exhausted or exhausted. According to experts’ school aged children 6-13 years old require 9-11 hours of sleep per night and young people aged 14-17 need 8-10 hours of sleep (Sleep Connection, 2019).
Remind your daughter to go to sleep at a regular time and remove phones before bed. Good sleepers usually take 30 minutes to fall asleep at night and may wake a few times throughout the night. It is unrealistic for your daughter to expect that she will fall asleep straight away. Encourage your daughter to engage in a non-screen activity in bed 30 minutes to 1 hour before sleep time to help your daughter unwind and prepare for sleep. As a household you may consider turning off main lights and using just lamps 1-2 hours before bedtime. Low lighting helps the release of melatonin which encourages human bodies to sleep.
Keep a watchful eye
The most commons signs of too much stress is when you see changes in your daughter's emotions (for example agitation, anxiousness or sadness), behaviour (this may include withdrawal from activities they normally enjoy or too much socialising and not enough studying), physicality (such as headaches, or a gain or reduction in appetite or weight) and cognitions (difficulties with memory, inability to focus and negative perspective). It’s important to point out that most young people leading up to an exam period or an assignment period are going to show signs of stress and this is perfectly normal. But if changes are intense, frequent, persist for more than two weeks and are not easily explained or alleviated by an external stressor such as an exam period there may be something more going on.
If you do notice changes in your daughter that you find concerning, telling your daughter what changes you have noticed in their behaviour, without nagging or blaming, and asking them whether they have noticed changes too, can be helpful. You can also contact their Year Co-ordinator, Form Teacher, Director of Pastoral Care, one of the School Counsellors or speak to your GP. I have also included a few apps that you, and your daughter, might find helpful in managing stress at the end of this article.
Jaret, P. 2015, The Surprising Benefits of Stress Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkeley, viewed 4 Sept 2019, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_surprising_benefits_of_stress
The Sleep Connection, Sleep for Children and Teenagers: Amount of Sleep Required, viewed 4 Sept 2019, https://thesleepconnection.com.au/sleep-for-children-teenagers/#2amount
Apps to help manage stress
- Reachout Breathe
- Reachout worry time
- Smiling Mind
- Raising Children’s Network
- Reach Out
Dr Melissa Saxton
A Teacher’s Perspective
Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous: They all love what they do. It is not the hope of achieving fame or making money that drives them; rather, it is the opportunity to do work that they enjoy doing.
Two personal experiences
In 2001 I had to prepare for a recital performance. The brief: present a 45–50min programme on my chosen instrument, the saxophone. To put this into some perspective, it is worth noting that up until this point I used to get extremely nervous about performing. Every time I did so my legs would shake, I would overly sweat and generally the experience was not an enjoyable one - yet I loved playing the saxophone. In preparation for this recital I was putting in approximately six hours of practice a day, which involved a range of activities from technical preparation through to learning the music in detail, as well as working with my chosen accompanist. Throughout this preparation I was honing my skills through the repertoire in order to be as fluent as possible. One day, I was speaking with my accompanist, and it was interesting when he said how enjoyable playing the repertoire that I had chosen was and that for him, that the music was so challenging also made the experience a rewarding one. And, as we continued working together, he actually said, “you might actually come first you know!”. I scoffed at this but carried on regardless. In my mind, it was impossible that I would come first and indeed it wasn’t even something I was aiming for.
The time came for the performance and I distinctly remember waiting in the green room to go onstage. After my performance, I came out smiling. In my mind I had done what I had set out to do - and then I suddenly realised that, for the first time, I hadn’t had any nerves throughout the performance whatsoever and – while I didn’t come first - I was really happy!
What had just happened?
Engineers and chemists, writers and musicians, businesspersons and social reformers, historians and architects, sociologists and physicians – and they all agree that they do what they do primarily because it’s fun.
Ordinary man, extraordinary event
This year I took part in what is widely known as the World’s Toughest Footrace. What I realise now is that the experience had many similarities to that of my recital many years earlier. The preparation was different but no less arduous. The time I invested in preparing every detail, from physical training to understanding how my body reacts to strain and stress; preparing and understanding nutrition, putting together my kit, as well as the mental preparation and balancing all of this with a busy role as a teacher was all part of the challenge.
Each day in the Sahara Desert brought new challenges, whether traversing the many kilometres over sand dunes (as many as 21kms at one point), climbing a mountain, dealing with an injury, food deprivation, heat exhaustion, foot preparation, sand storms, sleeping conditions (the desert floor is like a sea bed and within your assigned bivouac it feels as though you’re packed in like sardines - compromising all personal space) – it all combines to make an incredibly tough experience.
What impressed me most, however, were other people in the race with far more difficult challenges ahead than me: the lady with a prosthetic leg; the elderly man with scoliosis. These people were an inspiration. And they were, daily, proving that anything is possible.
On reflection, I realise that in both scenarios – recital and ultramarathon - I had learnt to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. To exist and even thrive outside of my comfort zone. And that this is something we can all learn from. That rewarding experiences, achievement and success are not easy, and that good and personally satisfying experiences come only from careful preparation of both body and mind. Failure at both of these events didn’t even register in my mind; it was not an option because I had prepared.
In order to achieve, a person must take control of, to "own", the goal. Learning to normalise difficult and intense situations, whether this be examinations, presentations or performances is integral to achievement. By taking oneself to an extreme situation we can begin to learn to normalise difficult situations. For example, in order to complete the ultramarathon, I first had to be comfortable achieving a marathon and it is worth noting that in Googling "top 10 life goals", you will more than likely come across articles that tell you to complete a marathon – and I was ticking this off purely as part of a bigger goal!
If one does these things a certain way, they become intrinsically rewarding, worth doing for their own sake.
The best things in life do not come easily. Achievement in any activity or subject requires dedication, practice, endeavour, resilience, concentration, self-belief and above all enjoyment. We live in a society where we have become obsessed with assessment. Assessment is just a means to end. If I had thought for a moment that my recital was worth 25% of my entire university degree, you would’ve had to drag me into the recital hall kicking and screaming and the experience would have been dreadful. If I thought about where I would place in the ultramarathon, I would have lost sight of the achievement of just doing the event. If you aim for your best with careful and thorough preparation, results will follow.
To quote Mark Strand, the flow state can be considered as "[when] you lose sense of your time, you’re completely enraptured, you’re completely caught up in what you are doing."
But, interestingly, you often don’t realise that you have been in the flow state until you come out of it and evaluate the situation.
I wouldn’t consider myself to be a "spiritual" person per se, but the "flow state" I achieved on both the fourth day of my race and throughout my recital have since taken on an almost spiritual significance. I went through the check points, up and down the mountain, and I didn’t even notice there was pain in my knee. When the finish line was in sight, I began to feel almost overwhelmingly emotional – followed by the elation of knowing I had completed it.
It is more important than ever that we teach students to enjoy doing things that are challenging, whether it be problem solving, maths, poetry, music or science – or any subject. It is far too simple to find pleasure in things that we find we can do with ease.
And, while I cannot tell anyone which co-curricular activities to join, I can say this: whatever you do choose you must do so for the right reasons, and undertake it with commitment, passion and determination.
There has been a confirmed case of Influenza A in the Secondary School. Influenza A is highly contagious, so please pay attention to any flu-like symptoms and see your GP as soon as possible if you are concerned.
Winter is the peak time to catch the flu, and in places like schools it can spread between children easily. It is passed from person to person by the droplets produced by coughing or sneezing and can also be picked up from touching surfaces that these droplets have landed on.
You and your child can help prevent this spread in several ways. If your child is unwell, keep them away from school or other activities, encourage them to cover their mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing and throw tissues straight in the bin, and make sure your daughter knows to wash her hands thoroughly and often, especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing her nose.
For further information see the fact sheet below:
Helping Students in the Early Years of School
Over the last couple of years, I have noticed an increasing number of articles and reports about what we as parents and educators can do to help our children grow into confident, resilient and productive adults. It’s given me cause to reflect on the changes I have observed in how children are parented and in how we provide for their learning at school. There is no doubt that our girls are part of a more challenging and complex world than their parents experienced as children. What then can we, as parents and teachers, do to support them on their journey to adulthood?
At SCEGGS we aim to provide the girls with an education that builds their confidence and the skills to be part of this rapidly changing world. The girls now in their first years of school are still ten or more years away from leaving SCEGGS and we can only imagine what the world will be like for them as adults. Nevertheless, the staff here are committed to doing all they can to support their academic, emotional and social development.
One of the most dramatic changes that takes place in the first few years of school is the huge shift in independence demonstrated by the girls. Many arrive at school having had to make very few decisions for themselves. They are quickly encouraged to take responsibility for their belongings, their learning and make decisions about a whole range of things, from who to play with, what to eat at recess or lunch and how to look after their belongings. We encourage this independence and support the girls to take responsibility for their actions and their choices.
We understand that effort is key to success, and that making mistakes encourages a commitment to keep trying, building grit and resilience. Both effort and mistakes are applauded at school, because we understand that risk taking is an integral part of learning. Only by taking risks, making mistakes and continuing to struggle will the girls develop the mindset that things may not always come easily, and that reward may not be immediate. When faced with challenges in class, we encourage the girls to say, “I can’t do it...yet!” This supports students to believe that, with practice, they will master a concept or skill.
There is much talk in the media about the increasing prevalence of anxiety and depression in young people. At SCEGGS we are quite aware that we have a role to play in supporting the wellbeing of our students. The Head of Wellbeing in the Primary School provides leadership to teachers and support for students with emotional concerns, friendship or family issues. As well, many teachers include mindfulness in their form programs. In the early years we provide sessions on topics such as understanding emotions, staying calm and remaining attentive. The intention is that these skills become part of the natural behaviour of the students.
At home, too, there are things you as parents can do to support your daughter in her learning and more generally, as well. Over the last few years I’ve observed the changes our girls face and have some ideas about the ways in which I believe girls in their early years of school can best be supported by their parents. I’ve included a few of them here.
Allow time for free play, or even boredom! Nothing encourages creativity more than allowing the time and space to explore. By not overscheduling children they are able to engage in play, both alone and with others. It is considered to be one of the most important things we can do to promote health and wellbeing, as well as school success.
Alongside time for free play is limiting the amount of screen time – sometimes easier said than done, I know! I see families out at dinner where the young children are entertained by a phone or iPad. Encourage the kids to be part of the conversation. At home or in a restaurant, instead of a screen I suggest providing your daughter with a colouring book and pencils, or a pile of books to read.
Allow your daughter to take risks and make mistakes. Children who avoid all fearful situations don't have the opportunity to face their fears and don't learn that many of them are manageable. Anxious kids worry about things not working out as they should, things not being quite perfect. At school we see students who need to do everything perfectly and who have difficulty giving things a go because they might make a mistake. Perfectionism is the antithesis of a growth mindset, so celebrate mistakes and praise struggling to do difficult things.
Get into nature. Earlier this year I took my Year 1 class on an excursion to Vaucluse House. One of the things the girls loved most was playing in the long grass. They hid, they ran, they made things with the grass. It was so rewarding for me to see them in this lovely natural setting, but I was also aware that for a few of them it was an uncommon experience.
Have meaningful discussions. Ask questions. I love to hear a child’s perspective and am often amazed at what they know and how they perceive the world. They don’t learn these things in a vacuum and we at school are just a part of the whole learning process. Teach your daughter to confidently articulate her feelings and share her ideas. Girls who have the opportunity to experience the world – a train ride, art gallery, or farm for example, or who have a rich view of the world through discussions and books bring that to their learning at school.
Encourage routines, doing chores and taking responsibility. If possible, stick to regular bedtimes during the week, including Sunday night! So often I see girls on Monday morning who look like they need a weekend! Lack of sleep really does impact on learning and I feel sorry for students who are so tired at school their brain doesn’t work properly. In addition, gradually increase the amount of responsibility your daughter has for getting herself ready for school. I often suggest a class timetable on display at home so that together you can see what she needs for the next day.
A final word - be less worried about comparison with peers and more concerned with progress. If there’s anything I’ve learnt over the years about how children grow and learn it’s that they really do all learn at different rates. I’ve seen students who’ve required academic support for reading or Maths in the first year or two of school achieve at a high level in later years. It’s much more important that a love of learning is instilled in the girls and that we do all we can to develop this love both at home and school. We really are in this together!
Year 1 Teacher
Tonight, SBS will release The Hunting, a new four-part series which explores the impact of a nude teen photo scandal. As stated on the SBS website, “Tackling themes of misogyny, privacy, sexuality and sexualisation, online exploitation, toxic masculinity and gender, the series uses this singular event as a way of exploring some of the most pressing issues of our time.”
Whilst you may not yet have given your daughter a mobile phone or let her access a computer in an unsupervised environment, we thought it was a timely reminder that discussions around appropriate use of technology, healthy relationships and consent should begin from a young age, both at home and at school.
We know that the series will be uncomfortable viewing for some. You may choose to watch this with your daughter, but this might be something which you choose not to do due to the sexually explicit content. However, regardless of whether you decide to watch it as a family or not, it is important to take care how you respond to the issues the show raises, as judgement or interrogation will quickly shut down any opportunity to have a discussion in an open and healthy way.
And we hope that you do have conversations with your daughter about the different topics raised (of course in an age appropriate manner). Should your daughter watch The Hunting, please also observe her response and take seriously any behaviours you notice, as the series may leave her worried about an incident in her past, a current relationship, or a friend’s behaviour. No matter what, remaining calm and listening without judgement will show your daughter that she can talk to you about the difficult things which she experiences, now and in the future.
If you watch the show, you might have more questions, concerns or simply want to understand why young people might choose to engage in ‘sexting’ and other risky online behaviours. The SBS website offers a viewing guide to parents, as well as some interesting interviews and articles related to the series which will help you to reflect on the content. You will also find the following websites will give you some more information:
• Office of the eSafety Commissioner https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents
• Think U Know https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/
• Reach Out Parents https://parents.au.reachout.com?/
• Youth Law Australia https://yla.org.au/
You might also like to access the SchoolTV edition on "Sexting" which can be found here https://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/newsletter/sexting
There is no doubt that technology has changed the way that relationships are conducted, but it doesn’t have to impact how we teach young people about trust, communication, consent or any other aspect of a healthy and loving relationship.
Director of Pastoral Care
10 Things We Can Do Right Now To Be A Better Indigenous Ally
On Thursday July 18, more than half a million people stopped to watch the film The Final Quarter (available to watch on 10 play,) which documents the final three years of Adam Goodes’ playing career. Hosted on Channel 10 by Waleed Aly, he invited the viewer to reflect where, as a nation we go from here; “the question now really is whether it can become a productive national conversation. And the answer to that question rests with each of us.”
In the wake of the film’s release I read the voice of many prominent Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers to try and deepen my understanding of the “conversation” that needs to happen. This reading strengthened my already held position that it is not up to Indigenous people alone to continue to carry the weight of our nation’s last 250 years – it is vital that non-Indigenous people listen and act on what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been saying for so many years in so many ways. In her article How to be a Good Indigenous Ally Summer May Finlay, a Yorta Yorta woman, academic and writer, urges all non-Indigenous people to be a useful ally to Aboriginal people: “We need good allies. We are only three per cent of the Australian population. We can’t raise the profile of issues affecting us without our allies.”
But what does a good ally look like? What can we do in our roles as teachers, friends, daughters, parents, mentors and community members to be a better ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?
Inspired by Summer May Finlay’s article as well as a recent article by Shannan Dodson 8 Things you Can Do Right Now to be a Better Indigenous Ally, I’ve created a list for the SCEGGS Community, outlining some actions we can take to stand with and be an ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
1. Read the Uluru Statement from the Heart
Read the statement aloud at a meeting, or show this short video by Blackfella Films to better understand its history and meaning. Talk about it to your friends, parents, children and students.
2. Say something when you hear inappropriate speech about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Summer May Finlay says;
“If you hear someone say something racist, reinforcing stereotypes or being dismissive about Aboriginal people and culture — say something. Not saying something means condoning their attitudes, making you as bad as them.”
3. Request a cultural tour in our local area as part of your professional learning
Then make the effort to remember at least one interesting fact to share with your friends, family and students. As an example, on a recent tour of Centennial Park, I was taken to a special site and told that the fresh groundwater made it a safe and clean place for Gadigal women to give birth. I later shared this fact in an Acknowledgment of Country.
4. Regularly Acknowledge Country
Traditionally, Acknowledgement of Country protocols have been used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as part of a process of ensuring safe passage while on Country. It is an honour for non-Indigenous people to continue this ritual and is a clear and obvious way to show respect and reconciliation.
5. Listen to Indigenous voices
Watch, read and learn from the Koori Mail, IndigenousX and NITV to better understand and represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.
6. Support Indigenous business and local Indigenous creators
Economic participation is a significant indicator of self-determination and engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-owned businesses is a simple way to be a better ally. From graphic designers to small and large catering businesses, Supply Nation is Australia’s database of verified Indigenous businesses.
7. Attend Indigenous events in our community
Search out at least two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events in our community and invite your friends and family to them. Some ideas are Bangarra, Blak Markets, Aboriginal Arts Market at Carriage Works, Stan Grant and Adam Goodes in conversation at the Art Gallery of NSW.
8. Volunteer or donate to local Indigenous organisations or causes
Mudgin-Gal (which means “Women’s Place) is an organisation I connect with and support. Located in Redfern, it offers support for women, girls and their young families through drop in, in-home family support, legal, medical and accommodation referral and educational and vocational support programs. Other organisations include The Tribal Warrior Association, Redfern Foundation and WEAVE Community Centre.
9. Share the voice/perspective of Indigenous people with solidarity and respect rather than with a saviour mentality
This point speaks for itself.
10. When teaching about Aboriginal perspectives, wherever possible teach with an Aboriginal person
In Kindergarten I feel honoured to teach about the Stolen Generations with Renee Cawthorne, a Wiradjuri woman and educator. We write the lesson together, teach it together and reflect on it together.
There are many more actions we can take as individuals to be more effective Indigenous allies, but these few points are a start. If you can add to this list, don’t hesitate to let me know. Let’s work together.
The SCEGGS Reconciliation Action Plan is committed to listening to and teaching Indigenous perspectives, celebrating Indigenous culture and developing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. I look forward to sharing its vision with the SCEGGS Community in future articles.
Sarah Kearney teaches Kindergarten at SCEGGS. She leads the SCEGGS Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which aims to make Aboriginal histories, perspectives and culture more visible across the School.
As Semester 1 draws to a close and the girls look forward to a well-deserved break, I thought it timely to offer some advice about engaging with the feedback offered by teachers in the end of semester report.
There is a great deal of information contained in both the Primary and Secondary reports. However, too often the achievement grade or mark becomes the sole focus of both girls and parents. Yes, this data is very important, but the report contains so much more information that is designed to offer feedback and to guide the student in the best way forward to see improvement in their learning. How can you as a parent assist your daughter to unpack the content of her report and help in the development of learning goals for the second half of the year?
Parents of girls in Kindergarten to Year 10 will be receiving an email next week to let you know that your daughter’s report is available to be accessed on the portal. Once you receive this message, I think it is important to sit down with your daughter and read through the report together. By taking the time to do this, it gives you the opportunity to assist your daughter to ask a number of questions that will help her to analyse the information from the report. This could begin with an initial reading of the report with a focus upon questions such as:
• What are three things of which you are most proud in this report?
• What are three areas that you think need further development?
By commencing with these types of questions it will allow your daughter to not only consider what some of the positive things that come out of the report feedback but also encourages her to start to consider the areas that require some attention to see an improvement.
A more detailed reading of the report comments could follow to fully unpack the feedback provided in each subject comment. May I suggest a very useful strategy to do this, one that I use in my teaching of essay writing, that I think can be applied to the reading of report comments to enable the identification of the key messages of the comment. Take three different coloured highlighters and a printout of the report. Who does not enjoy an exercise that involves multicoloured highlighters! Read through each comment again. As you read, highlight in a different colour each of the following:
• Suggestions about what has gone well
• Suggestions about what has not gone so well or needs improvement
• Advice or strategies in order to see improvement
By identifying these things in the comments, you can then have a discussion with your daughter about what the report suggests are the main areas for development in the coming semester. This is a strategy that we use regularly but by starting this conversation at home it will give you the opportunity to discuss with your daughter some possible goals that she can set for herself as a learner in Term III. In the Secondary School, activities such as this will happen early in the new term but if your daughter has gone through the process at home first it will give her a chance to really consider the main pieces of advice and what she wants her focus to be in the coming semester.
These are just some suggestions to help you and your daughter to get the most out of the feedback in their semester report. Of course, as always, if you want to discuss any of the feedback in the report do not hesitate in contacting the relevant class teachers or other appropriate staff member.
Director of Curriculum
Intermediate Inter-House Speaking Challenge Results 2019
Congratulations to the girls who took part in the challenge. You engaged us with some very individual interpretations of the topics.
Co-ordinator Public Speaking
Firstly, I wanted to share two great resources – not individual articles or podcasts, but whole websites with a mine of information to help you through a range of topics!
1. You might have noticed some advertising in a variety of media outlets from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner about keeping kids safe online. There are a variety of resources for parents and carers which you might find helpful:
2. The Parents Website, published by Independent Schools Victoria, has a range of articles and other resources for parents of children of all ages. There will be something for you there for sure!
Secondly, we are interested in knowing what you might want from this section of our Newsletter. What ideas would you like us to talk more about (or less about!). Are there topics you are interested in, or resources to help you more than we could locate and share? Please let us know! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good week, everyone!
Head of School
School Photograph Day
School photographs will be taken over two days: Secondary School individual and Year Group photographs will take place on Thursday 6 June and Primary School Individual and Year Group photographs and all sibling photographs will take place on Friday 7June.
Semester 1 Co-curricular photographs will take place over both days.
Orders for photograph packages can be placed securely online at www.advancedlife.com.au using our school’s unique 9 digit Online Order Code. Sibling photographs must be pre-ordered online up until midnight the day before photography.
The Online Order Code is located on the ordering envelope or on the Details page of the SCEGGS Parent Portal.
All girls in Years K-12 will have received an ordering envelope. Online portrait and group package orders are due by June 5.
At SCEGGS we recognise the benefits of exchange and immersion experiences not just for students but for teachers too! One such experience was undertaken by Drama teacher Vivienne Rodda to the Nightingale Bamford School in New York. In this issue of Behind the Green Gate, Ms Rodda writes about the community behind the "Blue Door".
I had the tremendous good fortune late last year of being selected to visit The Nightingale Bamford School in New York. This was a wonderful opportunity to engage with the teaching and learning in a like environment, in an international city, and be a fly on the wall to the similarities and differences in pedagogy and our 21st Century learners.
The Nightingale Bamford School is located on the Upper East side on the corner of Madison Ave and East 92nd street, adjacent to Central Park, and right around the corner from The Guggenheim. While being slightly smaller, enrolling approximately 650 students between its Lower School and the Upper Schools, it is remarkably similar to SCEGGS; just as we have the Green Gate, through which our girls enter, the Nightingale students all come through their "Blue Doors", an entry way on 92nd Street. The Blue Doors is also coincidentally the name of the regular publication Nightingale produces just as we have our own Behind the Green Gate!
The building in which the school operates is, like SCEGGS, a combination of the old and the new, with a beautiful, expansive, Edith Wharton-like window that provides picturesque views from their library. It is very old New York, and part of the original 1920 school building. In more recent years, several modern buildings and additions have been integrated with the original block, and the school now occupies approximately seven floors of its building, with each year group or stage occupying a floor.
In my two weeks at the school, I was fortunate to have a wide variety of experiences, attending an excursion to a glass blowing factory in Brooklyn with Year 8, serving lunch in a soup kitchen on a visit with the lower school, attending a PE class in Central Park, and seeing the school production of Noises Off among many other things, all of which were routine when you are as well located as Nightingale.
It was fascinating to learn of the differences in subject and course selection and how a school creates a program of study in an Independent New York School. The school follows no approved or endorsed program or curriculum and are permitted to create their own. This provides a great deal of freedom in the devising of courses and the programs set for study. Some subjects such as English are mandatory until Senior Year. Staff and Heads of Department (Chairs) write course proposals, which are submitted and approved, before they are offered to students. An elective English course in a Senior Year of study may include an intensive analysis of a poet or playwright or be more thematic covering a topic such as New York City Literature or Shakespeare’s Tragedies.
Nightingale was very proud of its strong focus on student-centred learning, and its belief that the school’s role was to prepare students for a largely unknown future. Everyday Nightingale timetables a half-hour for the entire school community, called "Enrichment time", simply designed to allow the students the freedom and independence to pursue whatever they best felt fit. This was used variably, covering everything from meeting with teachers, completing homework or study, playing in the playground, or spending time in one of the student lounges with friends.
Many of my observations and experiences at Nightingale came from informal discussions with staff during lunch, as well as sitting in formal meetings and discussions where people were very generous and willing to share their thoughts about their school community. A topic among some long-standing staff was their disgruntlement at the direction in which the school was heading, particularly around things such as the allocated half an hour for enrichment, which they felt lacked efficacy. Accompanying this pursuit of student freedom also was the reduction of formal assessment tasks and formal reporting. Staff were both thrilled and baffled to learn that we held formal assessment blocks, where students were assessed, graded and reported upon formally twice a year.
Additional to the organisation of their secondary school, I further developed an understanding of tertiary entrance requirements, which were, again, vastly different to our own. As we have seen in the recent College Admissions Scandal, university entrance in the U.S.A. can be skewed towards those from more advantageous backgrounds, and as such, the system lacks the equality available in our own university entrance schemes. Without a prescribed syllabus to follow, courses taught at a high school level have a depth and breadth available to them in terms of choice, but also seem to have the pressure of making decisions as to what and how to prioritise the courses that students must include for the various requirements needed for entrance to their preferred university.
Accordingly, to prepare for college there is no standardised test like our HSC that significantly determines admission. American students do sit for their HSC equivalent, the SATs, but primarily there is a deeper, more complex process of essays, references, community involvement and submission of academic reports and GPA scores that are submitted for consideration. I was privy to numerous discussions amongst staff about the system of college entrance and the drive of students to appear to have achieved a well-rounded educational experience through numerous participation in extra-curricular activities, clubs, volunteering for a school newspaper, or being involved in community outreach programs, and the careful preparation and writing of the all-important college essays which were being taught in the junior year class I sat in on for a few days.
When I wasn’t at Nightingale I was absorbing all that New York has to offer and of course spending plenty of time on Broadway. The opportunity to see (and meet!) Bryan Cranston in Network, Daniel Radcliffe in The Lifespan of a Fact, Jeff Daniels in To Kill A Mockingbird and the exceptionally fabulous production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was all wonderfully inspiring and enriching.
My learning and observations can only be touched upon in this article, but it was a tremendous opportunity and I look forward to supporting further collaborations between SCEGGS and the Nightingale Bamford School ahead. Their Head of School Paul Burke and Director of Global Operations Damaris Maclean were wonderful hosts and supported an experience that was enriching and impossible to forget.
The Power of Play
Is child play and “free-time” frivolous and something no longer needed or valued in our world? In our fast-paced lives, do our children even have time to play?
I recently attended a forum led by Pasi Sahlberg, Professor of Educational Policy and Deputy Director at the Gonski Institute for Education School of Education. The discussion centred on the differences between the philosophy and culture behind educational practices in Finland and here in Australia. Professor Sahlberg highlighted a few key differences but one struck a chord with me; the power of play. Educational policy in Finland stipulates that children have the right to 15 minutes of play in each hour of learning, additional to Recess and Lunchtime. Play in Finland is generally outdoor play, despite freezing temperatures, and is always child led. It seems to me that children often aspire or are encouraged to grow up quickly and to therefore dismiss play as something superfluous and not conducive to real learning. Professor Sahlberg’s concept of children having a “right” to play inspired and challenged me to reconsider the function of play for children.
As someone who grew up in the 1970s, unstructured play both indoors and outdoors was very much part of my everyday life. As an educator and a parent, I have often queried how much time this current generation of children dedicate to simply playing, and whether the decreased focus on play is something that negatively impacts their development and wellbeing. Play was something I took for granted as a child and yet I wonder if children today have the same experience or feel the same sense of entitlement. According to research by the American Psychological Association, children today spend more time on competitive sports, additional academic pursuits and screen-based entertainment than any previous generation. Whilst these are meritorious experiences for children, I also wonder if we are risking the elimination of a child’s natural predisposition to exercise their curiosity and creativity by limiting their chances of unstructured play? Having listened to Professor Sahlberg and having read the latest research from around the world, I think the answer is a resounding yes!
Current research shows that play is a powerful tool in the social, emotional and even educational development of a child. It therefore concerns me to read statistics arising from a study of 1,000 students conducted by University College London’s Institute of Education which show that just 1% of Secondary School students now have down-time in the afternoon compared to 41% of students 30 years ago. A child growing up in Finland experiences a shorter school day than their Australian counterparts and the Finnish Primary School child has a guaranteed 15 minutes of play in each hour. By the time a child within the Australian education system is 15 years old they have had the equivalent of 5 extra years of face to face teaching than their peers in Finland. As a teacher, I know how much thought, time and effort teachers invest in planning and delivering learning opportunities for students. Yet despite the additional years of teacher instruction, Finland has, according to data from the OECD’s international PISA tests, outperformed Australia in terms of results in literacy, Maths, Science and problem-solving as well as subjective measures like student happiness and positive wellbeing for the past two decades. The emphasis on wellbeing through play in Finland is deeply embedded in their education system and has been for several decades. Whilst it is no simple thing to change government policy, the correlation between a focus on play and improved results academically and emotionally is something I believe is worthy of discussion in our schools and homes.
There are many different types of play; imaginative, physical, sociodramatic, symbolic to name just a few. What these all have in common is that they have a positive impact on a child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. Children develop and practise social skills as they learn to respect one another through the rules they make and break through their collaborative games. I find it hard to keep up with the ever-changing versions of traditional chasing games in the playground, but the girls are quick to adapt to these rule changes and the joy each girl feels as she charges around the playground connecting with others is palpable. Play enables children to build social connections and it also fosters confidence and resilience as the girls learn to negotiate the rules and inevitable challenges to those rules!
At the end of Term I, I worked with a group of Year 6 leaders to review our Primary School House Families and to seek their ideas for activities in Term II. The girls enthusiastically shared their ideas and I admit I was surprised by the number of girls who requested the inclusion of traditional games such as Cat’s Cradle and Elastics. They also wanted time to “invent” games and dramas within their Family groups. The fact that they felt the need to ask permission to devise their own games made me stop and think. Are we guilty of trying so hard to engage our children in learning activities that we are in danger of overlooking the power of spontaneous, unstructured play? The games the girls requested had a distinct lack of “rules” and so, by their very nature, offered endless opportunities for imaginative thinking. This is the power of play. Unstructured play allows children the chance to explore, invent and think creatively and critically; all skills which are critical for the world they will enter once they complete their education.
Research suggests that play promotes self-initiated learning and offers a child agency over their learning. I only need to spend a few moments on the playground to see how true that is. At any given playtime there are girls involved in active collaborative play whilst others are building worlds with wooden blocks, some are quietly tracking native stingless bees in the flowers and others are testing their superpowers in fantastical worlds. This led me to reflect on the wise words of Sir David Attenborough who is, amongst other things, the Learning through Landscapes Patron. Sir David suggests that “outdoor environments can offer a very special kind of learning experience: the opportunity for discovery and learning through touching and feeling, the chance to explore and take risks, the stimulations of the fresh air and limitless skies. And yet, we are steadily depriving our children of these wonders.”
It seems to me that play enables children the chance to step outside the world we structure for them. Play offers children the chance to think boldly, to see and explore limitless worlds at their own pace. The power of play is simple; it helps children to show us and themselves what they are capable of. As we all aim to empower our girls and equip them with skills to take out into their world, perhaps play is something we should focus on as a superpower in their learning toolkit. Play can be a way of liberating thoughts, of embracing change, building resilience and forging social connections, all of which encourage a positive sense of self. Therefore, it seems to me that play and learning are inextricably linked and in the busyness of our world more important for children than ever before. Perhaps through their play, children can teach us all lessons on how to see the world and ourselves.
Head of Student Wellbeing K-6
SPECIAL REPORT: Parenting Styles - What type of parent are you?
There are so many different opinions offered on how best to parent. Raising children can bring parents and caregivers great joy- even when learning ‘on the job’- but it can also raise many questions about how best to support your children as they grow and change. However, children will always flourish in a warm and loving environment, supported by clear guidance.
In this Special Report, parents and caregivers can gain a greater understanding of the four defined parenting styles. It can guide parents towards deciding which style they wish to adopt and the effects it may have on their children. You can also take a quiz to give you information on your own parenting style too.
Here is the link to the latest SchoolTV: https://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/wellbeing_news/special-report-parenting-styles
We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this Special Report, and as always, we welcome your feedback. If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school for further information or seek medical or professional help.
We also know that Junior Exams are fast approaching and it may be worth looking back at the past SchoolTV issue on ‘Exam Jitters’. In this edition, a range of psychologists and educators answer some common questions parents have about how best to support your child before, during and after an assessment period.
The issue can be found here: https://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/newsletter/exam-jitters
Director of Pastoral Care
Order your School photographs online or by ordering envelopes
School photographs will be taken over two days: Secondary School individual and Year Group photographs will take place on Thursday 6 June and Primary School Individual and Year Group photographs and all sibling photographs will take place on Friday 7 June. Semester 1 Co-curricular photographs will take place over both days.
Orders for photograph packages can be placed securely online at www.advancedlife.com.au using our school’s unique 9 digit Online Order Code, or by returning the Advanced Life ordering envelope. The Online Order Code is located on the ordering envelope or on the Details page of the SCEGGS Parent Portal.
All girls in Years K-12 will receive an ordering envelope next week (Week 4). These envelopes can be used if you wish to pay by cheque or cash. If you are using this method, please return your envelope to the School by Friday 31 May.
Online portrait and group package orders are due by June 5.
Sibling Photographs will also be taken on Friday 7 June. These photographs may also be booked online or via a Sibling Order Envelope which can be collected from Student Services in the Secondary School or from the Primary Office.
I recently read an interesting article published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley titled “How to live a more courageous life”. The article outlined a number of areas which were key to this, and creating community was paramount. Research shows that feeling connected to a community is one of the most important protective factors against mental illness and important in building resilience. It is also a key factor in improving academic performance too! This is one of the reasons why schools encourage students to participate in everything from camp to extra-curricular activities. House events, such as the Swimming Carnival or House Drama are also such fabulous opportunities for a sense of belonging to be formed and solidified. So, when I sat down to think about what I would contribute to "In this together", I kept coming back to the Prefects’ theme for 2019, "connection".
I remember sitting with the new group of Prefects last year and listening to what they wanted for the students of SCEGGS. They expressed a desire to see stronger relationships within and across year groups, to hear the buzz of chatter across the playground at lunch times rather than girls looking at their phones, and increased participation in House and Co-curricular activities; in other words they wanted everyone to feel like they were part of a community. It was so heartening to hear these young women express how much they wanted to encourage these connections, and how important SCEGGS was in their lives.
It got me considering the importance of having strong connections between families and the School. I believe that a strength of SCEGGS is the sense of community that exists, not just in the student body, but the community as a whole - students, staff, parents, and Alumni. I have seen moments where families are in real crisis and have marvelled at the way that staff and students at SCEGGS offer support with such care and openness. In the coming weeks we have a musical soiree where a number of Old Girls will be performing, and at the end of last term SPAN hosted another fabulous event that was attended by parents and students, past and present. How wonderful to be part of a community that is enriched by the strong, supportive connections that have been fostered.
Therefore, it saddens me to see stories in the media about "bully parents" or "concierge parenting", because it suggests that the relationship between home and school is one that, in today’s society, may not be valued as highly as it was. What a shame it would be to see this relationship disintegrate or become one of tension, when both school and home want the young people for whom they care to be flourishing emotionally, succeeding academically, and feeling supported socially. This is not to say that each and every day will be a positive one, or that there will not be moments where your daughter feels disappointed by a grade or let down by a friend. However, how we work together to assist your daughter to navigate these moments greatly impacts on their ability to develop the necessary skills to become a resilient young woman.
I particularly liked the idea raised in the Greater Good article that, “As humans, we make meaning out of our experiences by telling stories to ourselves about how the world operates. But here’s the important part: Those stories might not be objectively true. They are more like your personal lens on life, colouring your experiences just as if you were wearing sunglasses.” Not only is this a good reminder for us as adults, but it is also important to teach to young people. There is no doubt that it is difficult to face a school day when your friendships are changing, or you have received a disappointing mark, but it also isn’t the end of the world. Instead, we want to help young people learn the skills to reframe negative narratives that they might tell themselves when they feel overwhelmed, lonely or anxious. Another important factor to consider is the correlation between strong social support, optimistic thinking and a significant reduction in stress. This in turn reduces stress in the home too - something I am sure that many parents would heartily welcome as your daughter faces the different challenges that growing up brings.
This is where having a strong connection between the School and families can be so helpful, as if the message young people are hearing is consistent and empowering, what a difference this can make. Fear, feeling rejected or like a failure are natural and normal feelings, and a very important part of learning, but they do not have to control the way that young people respond to the events in their lives. Instead, as the title of this section of Behind the Green Gate suggests, we are in this together, and together can continue to engender a culture of courageous thoughts and actions here at SCEGGS.
Swoboda, K., “How to live a more courageous life”, Greater Good Magazine: Science Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, UC Berkley, October 10, 2018.
Director of Pastoral Care
Thoughts on the new Stage 6 English Syllabus by Dr Nina Cook
In our second instalment of "Thinking Allowed", English teacher Dr Cook takes us on a journey to New York and back as she explores the philosophy behind the new Stage 6 English Syllabus and demonstrates the new, discursive style of writing students may be asked to employ.
The advent of a new syllabus is always an opportunity for reflection and reinvention. The introduction of the new Stage 6 English syllabus has come at a particularly opportune moment, as it has coincided with our ongoing departmental conversations about student wellbeing and technology, a concern about the difficulty of sustained and concentrated reading, and a renewed understanding of just how foundational good reading is in developing emotional intelligence and empathy.
These discussions prompted me to reconsider some of the key readings that have influenced my practice and approach to teaching English over the past decade. The first is a very dry sounding study I read in 2010: “Changes in Disproportional Empathy in American College Students Over Time: A Meta-Analysis”, from the Personality and Social Psychology Review. This University of Michigan study shows that college students demonstrated 40 percent less empathy than they had 40 years ago, with much of the drop having occurred since 2000. (The study’s authors see the decline in empathy as related to the prevalence of social media, reality TV, and hyper-competitiveness). I was reminded of this study when I heard Neil Gaiman’s 2013 lecture at the Barbican Centre, London about the importance of libraries as foundations for good reading. Gaiman stated explicitly that “the thing fiction does is to build empathy”. For Gaiman:
Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.
You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it's this:
THE WORLD DOESN'T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS. THINGS CAN BE DIFFERENT.
If we are losing this vital capacity to be compassionate and insightful won’t we lose what it is that makes us most human?
In David Denby’s 2016, book, Lit Up: One reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-Four Books that Changed Lives, Denby argues that:
Everyone agrees that establishing reading pleasure early in a child’s life is a monumental achievement (and you do it, the paediatricians say, with books not with screens); and everyone also agrees that the gap between those children who grow up loving books and active conversation and those who don’t – with troubled school performance and restricted career opportunities likely for those who don’t is a gap that sets in early and may be hard to close.
Denby then goes on to ask a crucial question that I felt the new syllabus needed to address: But what about high school? How do you establish reading pleasure in busy, screen-loving teenagers – and in particular, pleasure in reading serious work?
This question seemed particularly apposite when I encountered an article by Jean M. Twenge in The Atlantic, September 2017 issue, sent to parents by Jenny Allum, called, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” Twenge persuasively argues that “there is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy. You might expect that teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not”.
She references “The Monitoring the Future” survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which found that “teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on non-screen activities are more likely to be happy”. The question thus becomes, how can we use the new syllabus to address some of these issues?
What we are particularly excited by, as a department, is the Reading to Write and Craft of Writing common modules. The rubric for Reading to Write, the transition module to Senior English, states:
Central to this module is developing student capacity to respond perceptively to texts through their own considered and thoughtful writing and judicious reflection on their skills and knowledge as writers.
Both this module, and its companion module in Year 12, The Craft of Writing, offer the opportunity for students to reflect deeply on what they have read and to respond to texts in their own voice in a discursive form. This emphasis on reflection and, on texts helping students to develop insights into the world around them, deepen their understanding of themselves and the lives of others, and enhance their enjoyment of reading, seems directly linked to the challenges my readings posed.
All this was on my mind when on a coldish day in January I found myself standing outside the Lego store on the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 23rd Street in New York. I was waiting for a guide from the Art Society to take me on a walk of Edith Wharton’s New York. My vision of Mrs Wharton’s Gilded Age had always been of whispered conversations behind fans, plundered rich Rococo furniture and deep velvets, the click of horses’ hooves and their steaming nostrils, the redolent whiff of a coachman’s blanket. There are always shadows in Wharton’s world, conversations are opaque, shimmering, unable to survive the glare of the electrical globe. Standing outside the garishly primary-coloured Lego Emporium, looking across at a Starbucks and a nearby Pret a Manger, nothing could have seemed further from the assertive and seriously subjugating brownstones of Wharton’s youth.
The guide walked us all of five paces and stopped opposite the ubiquitous green sign. He pointed to a tiny red plaque just beside the entry door:
Edith Wharton 1862-1937. This was the childhood home of Edith Jones Wharton, one of America’s most important authors, at a time when 23rd Street marked the northern boundary of fashionable New York.
I looked up.
There was the drawing room window where the narrator of Wharton’s short story, “New Year’s Day” stood watching the married Lizzie Hazeldean and her lover Henry Prest trying to sneak out of the Fifth Avenue Hotel after it most inconveniently caught fire. I remembered the opening line: “She was BAD ... always”. The outrage and glee of that assertively capitalised BAD! I loved it. The way it jumped with the force of Wharton’s condemnation at the small-minded cruelty of her society. The ultimate insider wielding the pen as sword against her oppressors.
The lovely theme driving the new Reading to Write module that the departmental working group had come up with was ”Beneath the Surface”. I had been thinking about the word “palimpsest” (a manuscript upon which earlier writing has been later overwritten), which I had just been relishing while re-reading Margaret Atwood’s "The Handmaid’s Tale", the core text for the unit, and here it was in front of me, the visible traces of an earlier form. The present overriding the past, but the past waving its hand vigorously, signalling its presence. Taxis honked and pedestrians bustled, taking the short cut through Madison Square to the East side.
Both Edith Wharton and Henry James had spent their childhoods with that square at its centre. Although James was older, I imagined them passing each other as they were hustled by their nannies to Grace Church. Wharton wrote in her autobiography A Backward Glance that she had spent “a childhood and youth of complete intellectual isolation”. I wish she and Henry had been able to stop and speak then. She recalled that when she first actually spoke to James, she was “still struck dumb in the presence of greatness” But it wasn’t long before it was as if they had always been friends, and were to go on being, as Henry wrote to Edith in February 1910, “more and more and never apart”. I was reminded of a recent survey: “About the Mental Health of Children and Young People" by the NHS, released in November 2018. This study reveals that “about one in six (16.9%) of 17 to 19 year olds in the UK experienced a mental disorder in 2017. Girls were over twice as likely to have a mental disorder than boys at this age (23.9% and 10.3% respectively). Emotional disorders were the most common type of disorder reported, experienced by 14.9% of 17 to 19 year olds. Nearly one in four (22.4%) girls experienced an emotional disorder”. Edith’s intellectual solitariness and sense of otherness was relieved in part by reading. It sustained her until she found her tribe, Henry James and the other writers and artists, who made her feel less lonely and strange. What we could offer our students was a way to bear loneliness and vulnerability by helping them to be good readers and to find the solace that Edith found.
There was another highlight from Wharton’s adolescence that stuck in my mind from that tour. The French had sent the Statue of Liberty piecemeal to America. They had delivered the arm with the torch first. The City of New York had placed it in Madison Square to raise money for the pedestal it would need when it was finally assembled. The New York Times had written in 1876:
Finally, our eyes were gladdened by the actual receipt of a section of ‘Liberty’. Consisting of one arm, with its accompanying hand of such enormous proportions that the thumb nail afforded an easy seat for the largest fat woman now in existence.
Standing at the apex of Madison Square I could see Edith delightedly joining the happy throng outside her doorstep, paying her penny and sitting in that thumbnail surveying all that was familiar to her with the bird’s eye of the born novelist. She viewed the world through books. They were the building blocks of her identity.
Having been deposited back at the Lego store I walked uptown to meet friends for dinner. I paused opposite 597 Fifth Avenue as the pedestrian light turned red. Glancing across at a Sephora, I looked up and there was the insignia Charles Scribner’s and Sons, Wharton’s first publishers. They had moved uptown from 24th Street in the 1940s and it was from here that Max Perkins had had a visit from F Scott Fitzgerald with a manuscript called The Great Gatsby and Earnest Hemingway had popped in with The Sun Also Rises. As I crossed and walked on I imagined that elegant store with its beautiful carved staircase, mahogany bookshelves filled with titles and occasional tables with The Beautiful and the Damned piled high.
I thought of Neil Gaiman arguing so persuasively that:
When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world, and people in it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.
Dr Nina Cook
Some holiday reading and listening for you all over the school holidays...
I thought you might like to see a few different articles we have come across over the past few months.
Perhaps one or two of them might be interesting for you over the school holidays?
1. On perfectionism.
2. A fun, but serious article from The New York Times that we can ALL learn from!
3. Some good practical tips to parents for managing screen time.
4. Interested in the digital detox trend in restaurants?
5. Helping teenage girls reframe anxiety and strengthen resilience.
6. And lastly, a podcast from The Harvard EdCast – “Overparented, Underprepared”.
Wishing all our parents a lovely school holiday time from all of us at SCEGGS, when we get there!
Head of School
Congratulations to all the students who participated in this year's Inter-House Speaking Challenge. I am pleased to share the following results:
|3rd Equal:||Sylvie Stannage
Co-ordinator of Public Speaking
It was with immense sadness that I saw the news last week about the tragedy in Christchurch.
The loss experienced in such an horrific event is so profound and something which has far-reaching impact. It is impossible to understand why such events occur, and your daughters may have many questions, but sometimes events such as these can trigger other worries. This can include concerns for a family member or friend who may be unwell, or remembering somebody they know who has passed away. I think, too, of the individuals and families in our community who may be coming to terms with their own loss. Grief and loss, in whatever form, can be a distressing experience.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It might be the loss of a loved one, relationship or even a pet, or it may be that grief is experienced through empathising with the loss of others such as the recent events in Christchurch. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief is likely to be.
Children and adults grieve differently due to their developmental stage, and sometimes this can prove difficult for parents to understand and navigate. Young children fluctuate in and out of the stages of grief rapidly, as they may not comprehend the permanency death; they express their grief more physically. Teens on the other hand may not know how to express their grief and will need some space and time to process their loss. Some may choose to grieve alone, not wanting to stand out or be seen as not coping, whilst others may be much more comfortable expressing their feelings and worries.
In this edition of SchoolTV, parents can learn how to acknowledge their child’s feelings and the best way to support them through experiences of grief. Click here for this month's edition.
We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition and we always welcome your feedback. If you have any concerns about your child, please contact the School.
Director of Pastoral Care
We are proud to introduce our new "Thinking Allowed" section to Behind the Green Gate. Here, staff will share their thoughts and ideas about contemporary educational issues. We are pleased to present our first article by our Head of Visual Arts, Katrina Collins.
What can a study of Visual Arts offer young people in this rapidly changing world of the 21st Century?
All the skills that are needed to be adept critical thinkers, imaginative, empathetic, flexible and resilient are learnt in the art classroom.
In 2016, the World Economic Forum listed the 10 skills for people to thrive in the 21st century. The 10 skills are: complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, co-ordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgement and decision making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility. These skills are the foundation stones of an art education, exercised daily as students explore their creativity, work collaboratively and take risks to create artworks and to express and communicate ideas.
A study of art teaches students to harness their imagination, to think laterally, to take risks and to solve problems. It also enables them to explore and examine history, culture and aesthetics. It is a place where students learn the skills to express their unique selves both visually and through writing and stimulating discussion. In an art classroom, students learn to listen and to appreciate other points of view, to develop empathy and to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and their place in it.
Visual Arts develops skills necessary to think and work in adaptable, flexible, imaginative ways.
Students observe and interpret their world and to communicate their ideas to an audience. Making art is a great and rewarding challenge. Art students explore materials and techniques, harnessing these to make artworks that can express their unique selves - their feelings, responses and ideas. Designing and constructing an artwork involves critical thinking, planning, collaboration, dexterity and patience! It is risky and students learn from their mistakes to be resilient, picking themselves up, starting again, learning to persevere, to concentrate, to refine and resolve.
Creativity is a vital part of human existence e.g. we can draw before we learn to talk.
One of our strengths as a species is our ability to perceive the visual world in clarity, depth, motion and colour. Much of our brain’s processing ability is specifically concerned with making sense of this world. Visual Arts engages and exercises these very sophisticated skills, sharpening our instincts. It helps us to develop skills in observation and the reading of visual clues, essential in all walks of life and indeed in understanding the actions and feelings of others.
There are infinitely more visuals in the world than there are words in the English language.
Art is a subject where students learn about the visual world and an ability to communicate visually and to understand what is being communicated is empowering. A study of art enables students to decode, decipher and interpret the multitude of imagery that they encounter every day on the internet, social media, advertising etc. An art student can see what is really being communicated - to understand how an image is constructed, to look beyond what they can see for the deeper meaning and the hidden truths.
Most importantly, art encourages young people to notice and to see the beauty in the world - an open sky, the sounds of the city or bush landscape, the smell of rain approaching. It teaches us all to slow down, to look and to appreciate what is around us. Making art can offer quiet contemplation, silencing the outside world as we focus in on our thoughts and vision.
An engagement in the world of art develops young people to be creative, critical thinkers, empathetic and capable of dissecting and interpreting the complexity that surrounds them. It rewards young people with the enviable ability to see the beauty and to find the quiet in a noisy, chaotic world.
Head of Visual Arts
What is your favourite tip or guideline to help your daughter have a good night’s sleep?
Thank you to all the parents who submitted a sleep tip last week – we had a fantastic response and have many great words of wisdom from lots of different families across the school. So a big thank you to you all!
The tips covered all sorts of different strategies and included ideas about the importance of exercise and natural light during the day, having consistent routines, managing technology well, using different relaxation strategies, thinking about the quality of the sleep as well as quantity, making sure games and activities get quieter as the evening goes on ... and much, much more!
As I heard a teacher say to a group of students last year, “Do you want to do better at school, be a better learner and feel better in yourself by doing absolutely nothing at all? Then go to sleep!” So how do we help kids do this? Here are your top tips for 5-18 year olds:
1. Consistent routines really help
- Consistent routines help us make sleep a priority
- Have a consistent routine prior to a consistent bed time – even on the weekends when you can!
- Make sure the girls are organised and not procrastinating about homework, so that they can go to bed at a consistent time
- We’ve made our mornings calmer for everyone by getting things organised the night before – and we try not to have any late nights as a family during the school week.
2. Winding down on device time
- At least an hour of "screen free time" before bedtime on week nights. We are doing this too and it makes such a difference!
- No phones at the dinner table – ever!
- No devices at least an hour before bedtime – this really makes a difference to the quality of sleep we are all getting.
3. "Tech free" bedrooms – no matter what!
- No technology in bedrooms after a set time (eg 8pm) – and don’t fall for the excuses like "I need my phone to listen to music or to use as an alarm clock" because they don’t! This works much better for us than any software that limits access to Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube or anything else.
- No screens or phones in rooms overnight – no matter what!
- Have one place in the living area to charge phones and request that phones are in the charging area from a certain time (eg 7pm or 9pm). This ensures phones are out of the bedroom for study and sleep times. If they need to use the phone they must come to the charging area (eg in the living room).
- All devices (phones, school tablets etc - including the parents' devices) must be charged in a central spot downstairs overnight. We aim to have the phones there from dinner time onwards.
4. Food and drink – the right amount at the right time
- Ensure dinner is quiet, calm and healthy – being too full or hungry makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep.
- No caffeine for my older daughter after lunch – and I’m using this rule too to try and be a good role model!
5. Calm your brain by doing something relaxing before bed
- 20-30 minutes of reading in bed each night before lights out.
- A calm bath at the end of the day does wonders!
- Read a familiar bedtime story, one they have read many times before, keep the conversation quiet and calm.
Thank you again to all the families who submitted a sleep tip last week! And if you missed the opportunity to participate this time, perhaps it is a question you could ask the parents of your daughter’s friends sometime ... what sleep time tips do they have that might work well for you too?
Deputy Head of School
Junior Inter-House Speaking Challenge
Congratulations to all speakers. The standard was very high with the results in the first round extremely close.
Public Speaking Co-ordinator
A Good Night’s Sleep
“In partnership with the School, it is essential that our parents are empowered with the knowledge and skills to help them navigate their daughters’ educational and social growth.”
Our Path Ahead (SCEGGS Strategic Plan)
For our parents, that knowledge can come from many different places – articles, family members, SCEGGS staff, news, blogs, friends ... the list goes on! There is a lot of wisdom amongst the parents within the SCEGGS community too! And from time to time, we use "In This Together" to share tips and advice submitted by your fellow SCEGGS parents that might help you navigate each of your daughter’s growth in the years ahead.
We all know how important a good night's sleep is for adults and children alike! Sleep enhances our wellbeing overall and when we get enough sleep, we tend to:
- stay healthier
- be more creative, think of new ideas and solve problems more easily
- be able to pay attention, concentrate and remember things more easily
- be in a better mood
- get along better with friends and family
... and many other things too!
At several Parent Information Evenings recently, we have heard parents sharing their tips with each other about how to help their daughter have a good night's sleep - limiting screen time before bed, keeping regular routines, exercise during the day and many more.
So what is your favourite parenting tip to help your daughter have a good night's sleep? We’d love you to hear from everyone who has a favourite tip or guideline to share using this quick survey link.
This short survey will close on Monday 25 February at midday ... and we will share a sample of your feedback in Behind the Green Gate next week.
Deputy Head of School
|2nd||Beck||15 points (countback)|
|3rd||Langley||13 points (countback)|
“There is a reason we were given two ears and one mouth..."
Whatever the age of your daughter, keeping the lines of communication open is so important. Whether you have a quiet and shy child, an outgoing pre-teen or a moody teenager who is monosyllabic at best, here are some ideas to help.
Firstly, three tips:
|Be curious... about her life, her opinions, her ideas.|
|Tip #2:||Don’t push it. If the time isn’t right and she doesn’t want to chat or tell you what’s worrying her, let it be...
|Tip #3:||Let her know you are always there to listen. That you care about her, that you are easy going and accepting, that you won’t be judgemental...|
Keep trying to find the right sort of questions which will encourage your daughter to talk. It might be music or sport, or something else she is particularly passionate about. And do persevere... but gently. She will see that you are open to talk, that you care, that you are interested, even if it doesn’t prompt a deep conversation at the time. You will get there!
Don’t ask closed questions – where the answer is can be given in one or two words. Don’t ask probing questions – it shouldn’t feel like an inquisition. Ask curious questions – about what she thinks, what she feels, what she is worried about. The aim is to get to know your daughter better – and to show you are interested in her, her life, and her views on the world.
You might try to schedule specific times you could start a conversation – over the dinner table, Sunday morning breakfast, or Friday night movies and pizzas. Regular, predictable and comfortable family routines encourage good conversations. But it doesn’t really matter how you start a conversation – what topic you choose. Be alive to what is happening around you, and what your daughter is interested in, thinking, or doing.
Now sometimes it is really tempting to tell her all about what you think! The moment she tells you about a problem or issue she is worried about, you know what she should do. (And of course, you are probably right – you are so much more experienced than her). Trying to resist the urge to solve her problems, to be bombastic or opinionated, but gently encouraging her to find the solution to problems herself, to work out for herself what she thinks ir right or important – it is a far better process in the long-run.
Learn to be quiet! I started by noting that we have two ears and one mouth. Listen more than you talk. Be comfortable with silence. It might take her time to process what she is feeling or wants to say. It might be taking her time to build courage to say something. Or she might be just thinking... Give her the time and space to think, and, just maybe, she might talk.
If you try to start a conversation, and she isn’t responsive, don’t push it. Just shrug and walk away, or drop the subject, or go back to something else you were doing. The time has to be right for her. Don’t push it – if she isn’t ready, let it go. End with something like “I am always ready to listen, when you are ready to talk something over...? Remember – I am always on your side... I always have your back.
The most important thing you can do is to tell her, with genuine love, softness and deep caring in your tone, that you love her. Every child needs to know that they are loved – even when their behaviour is not at all lovable. She needs to know that you love her, even when her behaviour is bad, even when she knows herself that she is being unreasonable and difficult. Smile at her and tell her you love her, write her a card or send a text, find lots of different ways to tell her you love her. Let her know that you are always there to talk or help if she needs it – that you will always be there for her, that you “have her back”.
Find every opportunity to notice good behaviour – and praise her explicitly for it so that she knows you know! Be as specific as possible. “I noticed the way you particularly got ready tonight for school tomorrow – with your bag packed up and ready to go. That is so good! I really admire your commitment to start the day well by being prepared the night before. I am so proud of you for doing that without being asked!”
If you ask a question to which the answer is either yes or no, you will probably just get that – and not a lot else. Practise asking questions like: “What do you think about...?” Or “Why do you think she did that...?” Or “How does that make you feel?” Or “What would you do differently next time?”
None of the advice above (or any other strategy you try) is going to make your communication with your daughter always constructive and friendly. But it might help, in some small ways. And remember – it will get easier, over time. I know this will be the case, without a doubt, even if it doesn’t feel like this is possible, right now. So hang in there!
Head of School
This month on SchoolTV - school transitions
Whether it is starting school for the first time, moving up to a higher grade or embarking on the journey to secondary school, there is no doubt that any school transition for children and parents can be a time of mixed emotions. However, as parents the way that you respond during this period can make a world of difference to how your daughter experiences the different challenges that she may face.
This edition of SchoolTV provides a range of helpful resources, articles and tips to help you and your daughter to manage the transition. You will find information on topics such as starting high school, helping your daughter manage homework, and beginning at a new school. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered here and we always welcome your feedback. If you do have any concerns about your child, please contact the School.
To access the School Transitions edition of SchoolTV click here.
Director of Pastoral Care
Girls in the Secondary School who are awarded a blazer ‘Pocket’ for excellence and outstanding achievement in a co-curricular activity are able to have their blazers embroidered only during holiday periods.
Awards will be announced at Final Assembly on Wednesday 5 December. Blazers may be left at the Student Services Reception on either that day or Thursday 6 December or otherwise no later than 1:00pm on Monday 10 December.
Students with previous awards not yet embroidered can also leave their blazers at this time, however blazers cannot be accepted after the cut-off period on Monday 10 December. Any late submissions will need to wait until the next school holidays.
Embroidery and dry cleaning will be done during the holidays and the cost will be charged to your daughter’s account.
These holidays, Audrey Collingwood and Aneka Henshaw from Year 10 will visit their French host-sisters and their families in Lyon as part of the French Exchange. They will live in that beautiful city for six weeks and go to school there as well. This is a wonderful opportunity for both students to practise the French that they have learnt in authentic contexts and to experience French culture first hand.
Bon voyage Audrey et Aneka!
Head of Languages
This year over 70 students from Years 7 – 10 entered the Betty Behan and Gwen Cockell writing prizes. The English Department were delighted to read so many powerful short stories and poems. Students should look out for their work in the Lux magazine released next year as we were able to include extracts from a number of the pieces.
We had so many good entries that we have also Highly Commended students in each competition. The prize winners will be awarded at speech night.
The Betty Behan Memorial Short Story Prize – Junior was awarded to Mathilde Leys in Year 7 for her vivid story “Danse Macabre.” Mathilde drew from her study of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” to create an ethereal representation of the Dance of Death. Lucia Gelonesi and Mary Williams, both in Year 8, were Highly Commended for this prize.
The Betty Behan Memorial Short Story Prize - Senior was awarded to Jedda Thorley in Year 10 for her short story “Saltbush.” Her poignant coming-of-age story focuses on Ethan, a young man coping with his mother’s serious illness. Claudia Hunt in Year 9 and Phoebe Masnick in Year 10 were both Highly Commended for this prize.
The Gwen Cockell Prize for Creative Writing was particularly hotly contested. We congratulate Lucia Gelonesi who has been awarded the prize after submitting three of her evocative poems. We have also Highly Commended Laura Davies in Year 7 as well as Kate Brenner and Emily Wu, both in Year 8.
Thank you to all of the students who shared their work. We are very proud of all of our writers.
Head of English
As part of our on-going commitment to reducing waste in the school, it is timely to celebrate the efforts of the kitchen staff in the dining room. Johan, Mel and Lee have worked tirelessly to eliminate waste going to landfill from the kitchen. The talented team is sending the equivalent of a lunch box full of waste into the red landfill bin each day. This is a phenomenal effort and shows that each of us can make a difference with just a bit of effort. Congratulations to Johan, Mel and Lee.
Susan Zipfinger and Angela Pizzinga
Maailma Environment Club Co-ordinators
As the year draws to a close, the P&F would like to thank Class Parents for all their hard work during 2018. We have seen a wonderful mix of picnics, parties, coffee mornings, community events, movie nights and family sporting activities during the year and all have been organised by our dedicated Class Parents. We cannot thank them enough for all they do to continue the SCEGGS tradition of warm and inclusive community get-togethers. We have a full contingent of Class Parents for almost all Year groups for 2019 too and we look forward to more fun in 2019.
2019 is of course a Festival on Forbes year and work to organise the Festival is well underway. If you would like to join the organising committee, we still have plenty of roles to fill so please email me at email@example.com or call me at any time on 0408 29 11 96.
Finally and most importantly, the P&F would like to thank the wonderful teachers and staff of our School for all their hard work during 2018. A SCEGGS school year is always so busy and staff across SCEGGS put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort to ensure our students have every opportunity to participate and learn. We hope all the staff have a restful break over the summer holidays, and wish you all a merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years. Till next year, with deepest gratitude,
One year ends, another begins…
It’s been another exciting and successful year of Expeditions, Residential Projects, Skill, Recreation and Service, with the girls busily and (usually) efficiently progressing toward that magical, sought-after Duke of Edinburgh's badge. We would like to congratulate them all for their dedication, hard work, selflessness and fun approach throughout the year, and look forward to them returning next year, relaxed and revived. We encourage them to continue their activities throughout summer if possible – the surf patrols, shifts at the Vinnies store and tennis tournaments can continue to build their hours.
Please be aware that this year’s Duke of Edinburgh video is available on Clickview, so parents can get a small idea of what the girls see and do on their Expeditions.
We both wish everyone the best possible Christmas and summer, with maybe even a bit of bushwalking or camping thrown in to keep your mind and soul grounded.
Joanne Bower and Doric Swain
D of E Co-ordinators
A Chorus Line
Congratulations to those girls who have been cast in A Chorus Line, the SCEGGS Musical in 2019. Thank you to the many girls who auditioned as the standard was very high.
Female roles have been allocated and we will be allocating roles for boys at the beginning of next term.
|Bebe Benzenheimer||Olivia Reed|
|Cassie Ferguson||Teya Phillips|
|Connie Wong||Lara Feller|
|Diana Morales||Marie Karantanis|
|Jude Turner||Hannah Mavrakis|
|Kristine Urich||Nathalie Wilder|
|Maggie Winslow||Bonnie Harrington|
|Michelle Costa||Millicent Fairlie|
|Sheila Bryant||Zara Rubinsztein|
|Val Clark||Charlotte Barnes|
|Male (roles to be allocated in Term 1)|
Head of Drama
Congratulations to members of the Bugles Band in the Primary School. Last Tuesday was a lovely chance to celebrate some of their achievements. The day began with an open rehearsal, where they shared some music with parents and Year 6 students were recognised for their contribution. We also recognised four students who had 100% attendance for the ENTIRE year: congratulations to Mia Costa, Hannah Guest, Julia Richards and Alexandra West! At lunchtime the band performed in the Primary School. They added a little Christmas cheer to the playground and Baby Shark was a popular piece to move to!
Well done to the 23 students from the studios of Jonathan Whitting, Kathryn Crossing and Dominique Gallery who achieved very pleasing results in their AMEB examinations last Friday.
Great work those students who recently performed at the Suzuki graduation concert.
Head of Music
On Saturday Olivia Kibble rode in the 108km Letape Cycle Event in Jindabyne - run by the Tour de France. She was the sole junior female rider and rode for just over 5 hours. She conquered the Beloka Climb coming 32 out of 201 females and 153 out of 941 out of all the riders, in a ride which was described in the SMH as “brutal”. Well done Olivia on this remarkable achievement.
|Results from Easts Touch Grand Finals|
|Junior Grade B||SCEGGS 7 defeated Wenona 11||8-2|
|Year 7 Grade B||SCEGGS 14 lost to Loreto Kirribilli 8
|Junior Grade G||SCEGGS 10 defeated Ascham 11||3-2|
|Senior Grade G||SCEGGS 5 lost to Ascham 5||2-4|
|Senior Grade E||SCEGGS 3 defeated Ascham 4||6-2|
IGSSA Water Polo
Well done to the SCEGGS 2 team who finished equal first in Grade S06 in the IGSSA Water Polo competition. SCEGGS 4 were also runners up in Grade J07.
Hornsby-Kuringai District Tennis Association
Congratulations to SCEGGS 2 who finished in 1st place in Grade S7. SCEGGS 3 also finished 1st in Grade S8. Well done to all players!
Well done to SCEGGS 1 Futsal team who were narrowly defeated in Senior Division 1 grand final by Kincoppal Rose Bay on Friday evening. The match a very even with the score 4-5 at the completion of the game.
Good luck to our U’18 Indoor Hockey team who play in their grand final on Wednesday evening.
Director of Sport
IPSHA Years 4-6 Football 2019
On Saturday 2 February, we will have our first training session for the 2019 year at Moore Park Turf fields (Near the cnr Robertson and Lang Rd). We will also be trialling some of the girls who have had injuries this year and will decide final teams in Week 2 of Term 1.
|Time:||Year 4: 8.00am-9.30am and Years 5 & 6: 9.30am-11.00am|
|Wear:||SCEGGS sports uniform, shin pads, long SCEGGS socks and trainers or boots|
|(Football boots are not compulsory)|
|Bring:||Large water bottle, sunscreen|
|Wet Weather||In case of wet wether please check SCEGGS twitter|
The first Tuesday training session will be on Tuesday 5 February at Moore Park Turf Fields (Near the cnr Robertson and Lang Rd). The girls will catch the bus from SCEGGS and can be picked up at 4.50pm at Moore Park or approximately 5.20pm outside the Sports Hall in Forbes Street.
Please ensure your daughter has a healthy snack, i.e. fruit or cheese and biscuits, no chips etc. and a large water bottle.
Year 3 Basketball 2019
Year 3 Basketball will start with two weeks of training and learning the rules of the game.
Training Dates: Saturday 2 Feb and Saturday 9 Feb in the SCEGGS Sports Hall from 8.00am – 10.30am.
Matches will commence on Saturday 16 Feb at SCEGGS.
Tuesday 5 Feb will be the first after school training session in the SCEGGS Sports Hall. The girls will be collected from their classroom at 3.10pm and taken to the Sports Hall. They will have a snack before commencing the session. Please ensure your daughter has a large water bottle as well.
Wear: SCEGGS Sports uniform and sport shoes
Bring: Large water bottle and healthy snack, i.e. fruit or cheese and biscuits, no chips etc.
Primary Sport and PDHPE Co-ordinator
This month on SchoolTV - Mindfulness
Over the last decade, mindfulness has been slowly rising in popularity with many individuals practising it on a regular basis. Evidence based research has found that there are many benefits to mindfulness. This year, a team of interested teachers from the Primary School have been working together to implement a mindfulness program across K-6. Through this program they aim to empower the girls through mindfulness to gain self-awareness, confidence, skills for self-regulation and resilience. In the Secondary School, students learn about mindfulness through the Form program and our School Psychologist, Dr Melissa Saxton, has also run mindfulness mediation with students.
Mindfulness can be described as attention training for your brain, enabling you to focus on something without judgement and to stimulate curiosity. Mindfulness can be practised in a number of ways and is something that can be done by everyone - no matter what your age! It has been practised by many cultures around the world, but it is not exclusively affiliated to any particular philosophy or religion. Mindfulness helps improve memory, engagement and performance. Its positive effect on the brain can improve immunity, mental wellbeing, learning ability, emotional health and even time management. It is especially important in this era of information overload as our attention is constantly being pulled in many directions making us more distracted.
In this edition of SchoolTV, parents can learn the best way to introduce mindfulness to their children, implementing it into their daily lives to have an overall positive impact on family relationships. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition and we always welcome your feedback.
Here is the link to this month’s edition.
Director of Pastoral Care
There have been cases of head lice reported in both the Primary and Secondary School. Head lice are very common in schools, and it is important that all parents check their daughter’s hair regularly and follow the necessary procedures if needed.
For further information, please refer to the NSW Health Department: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/headlice/Pages/default.aspx.
Director of Pastoral Care
This week, I wanted to share a few interesting articles which you might find worthwhile. Just some valuable reading when you have a spare moment!
How to help teenagers embrace stress. An article from the New York Times.
How to help kids manage sleep, schoolwork and screens.
And an interesting article from The West Australian about helping young people with resilience.
Please do let me know if you see good articles anywhere which you think might be good to share with others. We are all In This Together!
Head of School
Helping your daughter make the most of feedback
This week, the Secondary School is filled with the distinctive sounds of the Semester 2 exam week for Year 7-10 and Year 12 sitting more HSC exams. While this is an important week in the school calendar, in some ways the week after this is an even more important one for our girls in Year 7-10. Why you might ask? Next week is when they will start to get their exams back – and with that process comes a whole range of comments, activities and discussions which are all designed to help the girls identify those areas that have gone well and those that they haven’t quite mastered yet. This feedback step is a pivotal part in all learning – the step that can make all the difference in the future - but making the most of feedback isn’t always easy! So how can parents help?
What does good feedback look like?
Imagine the Tennis coach who says: “You won 12 of the 18 games today”. This sort of comment doesn’t do anything to help a young tennis player grow and learn. Similarly, if you only ask your daughter about a mark or grade, then you miss the opportunity for a much more helpful conversation at home.
What might a more helpful coach say? “Your first serves were spot on today – accurate and powerful. I think it’s your backhand shots that seemed to let you down – only half of them landed in. What might we do about it at practice next week?” I think this is a great example of useful feedback. Why? It identifies strengths, it highlights one area to work on (not listing every mistake), it is timely and it offers the opportunity for the learner to think about how to improve. As our girls mature as learners, we want every student to be able to look at an assessment and the feedback they have been given to be able to articulate similar insights about their academic work.
How can parents help their daughters make the most of feedback?
|1.||Help her notice what she might need to work on
Don’t just ask her about a mark or an average, but help her to observe and take notice of other important information too. For example, you might consider:
|2.||Help her think about how she might improve in the future
There are lots of possible cunning plans your daughter can devise here! Sometimes she might need to do more practice; other times, she might need to practise under different circumstances (eg start a little earlier, or work more quickly, or organise things in a different way); sometimes she might just need to keep going the way she is and let increased experience work its magic. Sometimes your daughter might need some help to think through these options.
Naturally, there will also be times when it isn’t clear to your daughter what the best strategy might be – in which case your advice to her is always “why don’t you ask your teacher about how you might be able to work on that for next time?”
|3.||Help her be realistic about effort
"I put in sooo much effort this time and I still didn't do as well as I wanted!" We have all heard statements like this reflecting the disappointment that comes from trying, perhaps really hard, but still not achieving what we hoped for. For some children, the claim of putting in "so much effort" sometimes means "so much more than I did before", with an implied hopefulness that this new burst of energy will achieve remarkable and instantaneous results. As our kids grow up, it is important to help them learn that some things take time. None of us learned to walk overnight; it took time and perseverance and yes, a few bruises along the way. Similarly, the effects of increased effort happen over time, not overnight!
Equally important is the idea that effort is only powerful and effective when it is focused and targeted on the right things. A student who is practising the piano for five hours a week, but only playing the parts they can already play is not going to improve those tough four bars at the end! Sometimes parents can help by sitting quietly with their children to help them see that it might take a few more attempts with different amounts of effort focused on the right things before a goal is achieved.
|4.||Keep your results in perspective (& keep extrapolation and dramatisation to a minimum)
A mark or grade on any assessment may say something about your learning in that one specific subject ... but it tells us very little about the individual who achieved that grade! It does NOT measure the character, wit, ideas, passions, intelligence, sense of justice or compassion and everything else that makes each of us the unique individual we are. We all have a role in not over-extrapolating and not giving assessment results any broader meaning than what they actually have. Getting 40% in a History test just means you haven’t quite mastered that part of History ... yet!
Equally, a disappointing result in an English exam does not mean an individual is worthless or destined for disasters of epic proportions in the future. So parents, please help your daughter not to overdramatise. History is filled with examples of people who didn’t get things quite right the first time, but with perseverance and determination, these same individuals went on to achieve many great things. Learning to manage your own emotional response is a really important life skill for us all ... and let’s face it: getting 70% when you were really, really hoping for 80% is not the end of human civilisation as we know it!
So as your daughter talks to you next week about how her exams have gone, take the opportunity to dig a little deeper than just asking about a mark or a grade. Help her to identify her strengths in each subjects and a specific area to work on, help her think about how to improve – and help her keep it all in perspective too!
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.
SchoolTV: Exam Stress - Special Report
Keeping things in perspective for students and parents alike can help prevent everyone getting overwhelmed during examination periods. Whether this be during the HSC, or in Year 7, having some simple strategies to support your daughter can be extremely helpful. Parents can provide support, not only emotionally, but also practically by keeping their child well-nourished and encouraging physical activity. There are also many strategies that students can implement to help themselves.
Whilst this special report of SchoolTV is specifically focused on the HSC, parents will find useful tips to support their child which can be applied to any examination period. This can often be a stressful time for students and parents, and it is vitally important that a student's mental health is looked after as well as their physical health. Therefore, knowing and implementing these helpful tools as early as possible in your child’s school journey will help everyone keep assessments in perspective and better equip them to deal with the pressures of the HSC when that time comes.
We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered here and we always welcome your feedback. If you do have any concerns about your child, please contact the School for further information.
Here is the link to your special report http://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/wellbeing_news/year-12-exam-stress-special-report.
Director of Pastoral Care
How to deal with perfectionism in your daughter
The suggestions in this article are only applicable if your daughter really is a perfectionist, so it is important at the start to outline what perfectionism is and what behaviours indicate perfectionism.
If your daughter:
- wants to do well,
- works hard and strives to improve,
- worries about up-coming examinations and doing well,
- is hard on herself when she doesn’t do well, and is miserable or frustrated when she doesn’t perform at her best,
these are great attributes and you have nothing to worry about! High standards are important, and those behaviours are signs that she cares about doing well, and understands that important achievements come from hard work. This is all great!
None of those attributes above signal perfectionism.
A perfectionist person might be seen to do the following, regularly and repeatedly:
- Spend many hours on a task designed to be done in 20 minutes or so.
- Agonise over every tiny detail of a task until everything is perfect; excessive checking and the like.
- Start again if a little mistake is made – unable to accept the slightest flaw. Even the look of the document is important, whilst that will not be particularly important to the teacher.
- Be unable to hand an assignment or piece of work in to the teacher unless they think it is perfect – she might prefer to get zero for a task than to hand in something less than perfect and get, say, 8 out of 10.
- Be overly and unrealistically down on any mark less than perfect, or any constructive criticism from the teacher. Take the slightest less-good mark as a sign that they are a complete failure.
- Be overly anxious and worried about examinations, reports, tests and assignments that they are incapable of a normal, healthy life.
- Often procrastinating – unwilling to start something unless they know exactly how to do it perfectly.
- Sometimes they actually give up easily – the goal of a perfect mark in a piece of work seems so daunting and impossible, they just give up very quickly – often before they start.
The above behaviours of perfectionists are actually symptoms of anxiety. A perfectionist is an anxious person – a person consumed by their own inadequacies, worried about what other people will think of them.
So, here are some thing you can do:
|1.||Show that you are accepting of mistakes which your daughter makes. If she brings home a piece of work to show you, upset by a mark which was less than what she wanted, or with a critical comment from the teacher, or whatever, look for the positive things in the work. Praise those behaviours you want to reward – like the effort to get it done; about how you value the good things in the work; that you think she has done a good job; and you are proud of her even if the mark isn’t perfect. You love her for who she is, not for her marks.|
|2.||Normalise mistakes. You will help your daughter be accepting of her own mistakes if you help her to see that others (including you yourself) make mistakes, that it is part of being human, and that people are OK with making mistakes from time to time. It is good to quietly observe when others make mistakes. It’s good to reinforce that you see mistakes as opportunities to learn.|
|3.||Make sure your rules reinforce good, non-perfectionist behaviour. For example, don’t let her stay up all night getting everything perfect on an assignment or project. Have a “homework time is over” rule, and stick to it. When enforcing that rule, make it clear that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Of course she could do a better job on an assignment if there were 28 hours in the day! But there aren’t. And so she can only do as much as she can in the available time. Balance in life is important, good sleep is important too, as is a good social life and positive family time. So say quietly: “Homework time is over now. I know you haven’t finished, but your teacher will be happy with what you have done so far. It’s time for bed now”.|
|4.||If your daughter is panicking over work and her inability to do it, talk quietly to her, giving calm coping statements like: “You are doing fine, darling”, “Let’s just stop for a minute and collect our thoughts”; “We love you whether you do well in your maths test or not”. “Let’s take a break while you are panicking. You can’t think straight in that state of mind. We will come back to it after a little break”. Help her to breathe regularly and deeply. It would be a good idea to do something else – have a shower, go for a walk, and then come back to the work later.|
|5.||Reinforce good behaviour. “It was great to see you persist, even when it got really hard”. “I noticed you kept calm and asked for help in a quiet voice. Well done”. Or “I noticed that you made a mistake but kept on going, rather than starting again. I am really proud of you for that”.|
|6.||Praise effort, not grades. If your daughter thinks that getting really high marks is important to you, then she will focus on that. If she thinks that the effort she puts into something (within reason) is important to you, then she will focus on that. Effort is more important than the final mark.|
|7.||Be patient. It takes a long while to help a teenager overcome unhelpful perfectionism. Being calm and accepting yourself is such an important first step, but it will take a long time until you start to see some improvement. So be patient!|
If some of the symptoms of perfectionism are extreme, or if they persist for a long time, you could consult a specialist – talk to your daughter’s classroom teacher or Year Co-ordinator, one of our School Counsellors, or your GP. She may need more professional help.
Good luck and best wishes for the new term!
Head of School
What tips or advice would you give our girls for all the adventures that await them beyond school?
Thank you to all the parents, staff and Old Girls who submitted a tip last week – we had a fantastic response and have many great words of wisdom from lots of different families across the SCEGGS community. So a big thank you to you all!
The tips included lots of very practical tips like get a Medicare card, clean your room, finally get your driver’s licence, learn how to load the dishwasher ... and thank your parents for all that they have done for you! Many replies also included more philosophical words to help our Year 12s as they tackle the diversity of possibilities in the years ahead – university, TAFE, apprenticeships, travel, first jobs, promotions, leadership roles, relationships, family and so much more! We also know that each and every girl will have a different journey, take different opportunities, celebrate different successes and also face diverse challenges and obstacles along the way.
So what were some of our favourites?
- Know yourself, listen to your inner voice, have the courage to follow your heart and pursue your passions.
- The best opportunities sometimes come from the most unexpected places – keep your eyes and minds open to the possibilities around you.
- Be open to meeting new people in whatever you do next year and make an effort to keep in touch with old friends.
- Eat well, sleep well and look after your health – and drive safely.
- Know that you are well supported and support others.
- As you enter the workforce, whether part-time or full time, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to tolerate bad behaviours like sexism. Try to change the adult world where you find it unsatisfactory!
- Whatever job you are doing, do it well.
- Treasure your sense of adventure and don’t be afraid to try something new – even when you’re 95!
- Keep things in perspective – the celebrations and the times when things go wrong - and keep your sense of humour. A laugh and a smile go a long way in life.
- Give it a go – surely a hundred passionate SCEGGS girls from the Class of 2018 could certainly give any glass ceiling a nudge?
- Don’t live your life in a silo – actively engage with lots of different people in life, old and young, near and far, and be enriched by what you learn from them all.
- You are you, you are unique: be yourself, enjoy yourself and make the most of you. Whatever you do, don’t waste time living someone else’s life.
- Sometimes, just stop for a moment to be thankful for all the best things in life – your family, your friends, love, health and everything else that we are so lucky to have.
Thank you again to all members of the SCEGGS community who contributed their ideas last week. We also enjoyed the reminders to listen again to the words of advice that originally came from an essay published in the Chicago Tribune more than 20 years ago, called Wear Sunscreen, and which were also released as a song by Baz Luhrmann. Take a moment to listen again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI.
We wish all the girls in the Class of 2018 the best of luck for the HSC and all their adventures beyond the Green Gate ... and remember, once a SCEGGS girl, always a SCEGGS girl!
Deputy Head of School
As we come to the end of Term III, we also approach the time when we say farewell to the Class of 2018. Although it can be a little scary for the girls to think about life beyond classrooms, bells and school uniforms, it is also a really exciting time for them as they consider the world of diverse possibilities ahead – university, TAFE, apprenticeships, travel, first jobs, promotions, leadership roles, relationships, family and so much more! We also know that each and every girl will have a different journey, take different opportunities, celebrate different successes and also face diverse challenges and obstacles along the way.
So as our girls embark on their own adventure, we’d love to hear from lots of different members of the SCEGGS community: what tips or advice would you give to our girls in Year 12 as they walk out the Green Gate? You might like to give them some:
- practical advice about university or starting your first job
- a reminder about the most important things in life
- an inspirational quote or saying that has served you well
... or any other general words of wisdom!
We’d love to hear from everyone who has a tip to share. Please just email your contributions to Holly Gyton (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Monday 17 September... and we will share our collective advice for the Class of 2018 with the whole school community in Behind the Green Gate next week.
Deputy Head of School
This month on SchoolTV - Sleep
Students today have extremely busy schedules, with ever increasing responsibilities at school and at home. Many kids, especially adolescents, are going to bed later and later and are at risk of sleep deprivation. This affects three areas of a child’s development: psychological, physiological and psychosocial. All three are essential to a child's growth, learning ability and overall wellbeing. Sleep is vital to a child’s overall health and is as important as diet and exercise.
Sleep also strengthens a child’s immune system and supports their ability to function properly on a daily basis. Children who do not get enough sleep show increased levels of aggressive behaviour, are less attentive and are much less active. Trying to catch up on sleep on weekends is not the answer and can still lead to severe sleep deprivation.
In this edition of SchoolTV, parents will learn about the importance of sleep and how sleep deprivation can have adverse effects on a child’s health and wellbeing. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition and we always welcome your feedback.
Here is the link to this month’s edition http://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/newsletter/sleep
Past editions on the following topics are still available for you to revisit at any stage:
- Body image
- Eating disorders
- Physical activity and exercise
- Diet and nutrition
- School transitions
We hope that you have been finding the SchoolTV resources helpful. If you do feel at all concerned about your child, please do not hesitate to contact the School.
Director of Pastoral Care
Here are a few interesting resources which you might find helpful:
|1.||A 6-minute Ted talk on grit – the power of passion and perseverance:
|2.||A podcast on parenting, featuring Carol Dweck, Stanford Professor of Psychology, which examines mindset, motivation, and parenting tips in the context of her recently receiving the Yidan Prize. (if you are time poor, the “tips” begin at around the 10-minute mark...)
|3.||Despite the title of the article below, it’s less about technology and more about how caring for each other is an antidote to the rapid increase in anxiety among our kids and in our culture in general. It’s a nice reminder to calm down, slow down and keep mindfully moderating and restraining ours and our kid’s use of screens.
|4.||A short, interesting article on Why Stepping Back Can Empower Kids in an anxious world
Head of School
Helping your Daughter with Friends
Some of the hardest lessons children learn at school are about friendships. As adults, we know that just about all friendships have their ups and downs, and through our life experiences we have learnt how to deal with the disappointment we have all felt at some time in our relationships. But for children it can be really tough, and we know it can be heartbreaking for parents to hear their little girl talk about friendship problems she is experiencing. Instinctively, parents want to jump in and save their daughter by fixing things for her. But this could be doing more harm than good, because you can’t always be there! Parents need to be guiding their daughter through their friendships, empowering them with the confidence and skills they need to deal with things on their own.
The teachers and I regularly work with parents, helping them navigate their daughters through friendship issues. I’ll share some of our tips with you:
How to help your daughter make new friends
Not all children make friends easily, and even for those who do there will be times when her friendship circle will need broadening. Encourage your daughter to have a wide circle of friends, rather than one ‘best friend’. Few best friends last forever, and it can be gut wrenching for children when a best friend moves on.
- Encourage your daughter to be pro-active in making friends, not wait for others to come to her. Encourage her to approach others and ask them to play or join an activity. Give her tips on what to do when meeting new people: to smile, maintain eye contact, introduce herself, ask questions. Practice with your daughter opening lines of conversations she could have when making a new friend; an opening line can be as simple as ‘What did you do on the weekend?’
- Read stories to your daughter about making new friends. There are many available online, or speak to one of our librarians who’ll be able to help you.
- Encourage her to be herself. Children will often adopt personas or certain characteristics hoping these will make her more attractive to new friends. It rarely works! What will attract new friends are honesty, respect, loyalty and kindness – encourage your daughter to embody these characteristics and when you see her displaying these, recognise it.
- Encourage her to join co-curricular activities, after school or at lunch times. These activities provide children with a focus, at the same time as opportunities for social interaction, enabling children to make friends with others with similar interests. Team sports are a wonderful option, but there are also Music groups, and Art, Science and French clubs the girls can join at school.
- Organise play dates after school, on weekends and during the holidays. While friendships can be made at school, many are fostered outside of the school day. But try and organise a mix of ‘free play’ and activity based play dates – a lot of pressure can be put on the ‘host’ child if activities aren’t organised, especially if she is struggling with friendships. And avoid having group play dates if the aim is to foster a new friendship; group play dates can backfire if sub groups form and the host can even end up feeling left out.
How to help your daughter when she’s struggling with friendships
There are all sorts of reasons why children struggle with friendships: a friend might say something mean, a child may feel left out of a group or a game, and friends move on and no longer want to be a child’s friend.
- Help your daughter understand that no relationship is perfect, and that friendships change and that’s ok! These are messages the girls have heard through the UR Strong Friendship programme at school too.
- Sometimes children’s struggles come from a place of jealousy – when a friend plays with someone else, when a friend achieves something your daughter hasn’t. Help her understand how she is feeling and why.
- Listen to your daughter’s problem, and ask her questions to clarify exactly how she is feeling and why. Resist giving advice straight away! Ask her what options she has, problem solve together.
- There are always two sides to every story; if appropriate to the situation encourage her to see things from both sides.
- Help her learn how to recognise the difference between intentional and unintentional mean behaviour. Sometimes the girls can be over-sensitive! Help her understand that sometimes friends don’t realise their actions could be interpreted as being unkind. Teach her how to verbalise how she is feeling to her friends, in a calm way, so that they know how she is feeling and hopefully it won’t happen again. Role playing this conversation with your daughter can help.
- Don’t make the decision for her (because she probably won’t take your advice if you do!) but help her recognise when a friendship may be negative and it’s time to move on and make new friends. Ask her if she feels comfortable with the friendship, if it makes her happy, if she can just be herself.
- Please don’t contact the other child’s parents if there has been an incident or something has gone wrong with a friendship – this can make things worse! Always talk to us at school.
- Encourage your daughter to talk to her teacher – they will be able to help her too!
Having positive friendships is so important for the wellbeing of children and we want all our girls to have the skills, confidence and independence to ride out the stormy aspects of friendship and enjoy everything good friendships bring. Please, do come in and talk to me, or any of your daughter’s teachers, if your daughter is ever struggling with her friends. We are here to help you, as well as your daughters!
Head of Primary School
Resilience vs Rescue
I am sure that you, like us, want your daughter to leave SCEGGS as a resilient person - someone able to face challenges, solve problems and accept and learn from their mistakes. However, girls live in a world where opportunities to develop these skills can often be hard. There is no ambiguity in the lives of adolescence instead there are answers at the click of a button. If something goes wrong, they can be in contact by phone in an instant. If they are unsure of an answer, Google will help. Therefore, opportunities where problems arise and a simple Google search won’t provide the answer offer such value. Sometimes, though, it can be very difficult to ignore our desire to rescue and allow these opportunities to rise to the surface - to allow an opportunity for your daughter to develop greater resilience.
There is no doubt that in order to become more resilient we need to actually face disappointment, anger, rejection, worry and fear. However, when we rescue someone from experiencing these emotions-emotions which are a normal part of the human experience- we take away something much more valuable than the short-term emotion they feel. It is extremely empowering to solve a problem, to have moments of reflection on our successes and failures, our challenges and triumphs. These learning opportunities provide growth, build our sense of self-efficacy and ultimately help us to become more resilient in the future.
When your daughter is feeling anxious or worried, a ‘rescue’ response can often override other possible solutions. However, whilst allowing your daughter to have a day at home or giving them a chance to avoid feelings of discomfort may ease the anxiety momentarily, it can often do more harm in the long run. Anxiety is a natural (and important) emotion and failure, whether real or perceived, is unavoidable. I would also ask, what safer, more supportive place could you find to experience disappointment or failure? Of course, if your daughter’s level of anxiety is prolonged or feels disproportionate to the event, we would always encourage you to speak to us here at school.
Sometimes our desire to rescue is a response to our own distress or concern. Remembering that we have a choice how to respond and when to respond is actually very powerful. Having a series of questions you can ask which prompt your daughter (and sometimes yourself!) to develop their resilience and try to solve problems themselves first can be so helpful. For example:
- What are three other possible outcomes?
- How could you approach that conversation? We can role play this together if you’d like?
- If your friend was experiencing this, what advice might you give them?
When our immediate response is to rescue someone, unconsciously we are also saying that we don’t have faith in their ability to solve the problem themselves. You do not have to respond immediately when you receive a message or phone call from your daughter. It can be hard to ignore, but remember that if there was a serious issue, the school would be in contact immediately.
Even as teachers, sometimes our initial response is to try to solve the problem a student brings to us! And whilst this is sometimes the right thing to do, we do a disservice to the young people we care for when we don’t give them the opportunity to try solve an issue themselves.
So, whilst we understand how hard it can be not to respond to that initial urge to rescue, remind yourself that resilience is something that grows with every challenging experience. By encouraging your daughter to practise resiliency it allows them to be courageous, independent and strong, and what amazing qualities to possess.
Director of Pastoral Care
Subject Selection – an opportunity to help your daughter with her ability to make decisions
The ability to make wise and informed decisions is something that does not come naturally to most young people. It is a skill that is developed through a range of experiences, both good and bad. In order to assist our girls in the development of their ability to make well informed decisions, we need to look for opportunities to have conversations with them about what a good decision making process might look like. We need to help them identify the type of questions one should ask when trying to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation or when trying to decide which option one might take when presented with a particular problem or issue.
Next week, in the Secondary school, it is Orientation Week. Students currently in Year 7 through to Year 10 will be asked to decide upon what elective subjects they would like to study in 2019. For students entering Year 8 it will be the first time that they are given an opportunity to have some say in what they are going to study, whilst students going into Year 11 will for the first time be asked to decide upon their entire pattern of study. Some girls will be very confident and definite in the choices that they wish to make. Whilst others will struggle with the decision because they are very unsure about what to do or they will worry about the consequence of making the wrong decision.
It is my opinion, that this process of subject selection presents an opportunity to have conversations with your daughter about how to reach a decision that feels right for her. It provides the perfect platform upon which to model for your daughter the need to ask questions in order to assist in the making of a good decision. What subjects do I enjoy? What am I good at? What might I like to learn more about? are some questions she should consider in trying to reach a decision about what electives to select. Additionally, other advice you could give your daughter might be for her to consider what other information she needs to gather or who she might talk to in order to find out more about particular subjects.
Making decisions about a future pattern of study may also provide you with the chance to have discussions with your daughter about making choices that are right for her, rather than for others. That is, ensuring that she is selecting a subject because it is something that she wishes to study rather than making a choice because her two best friends are selecting that subject. Discussing with your daughter, what options are right for her may provide you the chance to remind her that in some instances as young a person she will feel pressure from others to do something that she might not be comfortable about and that she should always remember that she should stick to what she feels is right for her rather than give into the pressure she might feel from those around her.
Therefore, when chatting with your daughter about what subjects she might like to study in 2019 or having this discussion at some point in the future, remember to think about using it as an opportunity to provide her with the tools to make decisions for herself. In this instance it is a safe and structured situation where there is a great deal of support for her to reach a decision with which she is comfortable. However, it might just also help develop within her the skills to make wiser decisions when she may be faced with more challenging and significant choices at some point in time.
Director of Curriculum
Another very good edition of SchoolTV for parents to view centres around body image in teenagers. A recent study highlighted that body image is one of the top three concerns for Australian youth. Over half of girls in high schools have tried to lose weight. One-third of teenage boys wanted to be thinner and another third wanted to be larger. Children need to understand that their body shape and size is not a reflection of their health or success. Parents and schools need to work together to help kids understand that everyone is born with their own ‘body-suit’.
In this edition of SchoolTV, parents will learn how to encourage their child to have a positive body image and why it is so important to their mental health. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition and we always welcome your feedback.
If you have any concerns about your child, please do not hesitate to contact the School.
Here is the link to this month’s edition http://sceggs.nsw.schooltv.me/newsletter/body-image.
Director of Pastoral Care
Importance of Going to School Every Day
Making sure that young people attend school every day is so vital – both to their social development and their academic progress. Remember that is the law of every Australian State and Territory that children go to school every day, and for good reason!
Regular attendance at school is one of the best predictors of academic success. The better the attendance, the better the school achievement! If you allow your daughter to miss around just one day a fortnight, over the course of their school career that amounts to more than a year’s schooling! Of course she is going to do less well than her regularly attending counterparts with that sort of attendance record. But every single lesson is important; vital work is missed - an explanation, a reference, a fact or idea... every single lesson!!!
Regular attendance at school helps your daughter to make and keep good friends. If your daughter is away from school, her friends will find others with whom to associate. And things happen at school - things which her friends will be talking about, laughing about, sharing stories and memories. If your daughter is not there to share these experiences, she might feel “left out” and excluded from that time, from that conversation, from that experience shared. She missed out...
Regular attendance at school raises feelings of confidence and self-esteem. You gain a sense of belonging to a community by feeling comfortable and at home there. That sense of belonging also impact a young person’s feelings of self-worth – through inclusion in a community, support from others, approval from those around her. And this sense of inclusion and support doesn’t come as easily if you are only there in a part-time capacity.
Regular attendance at school helps young people to understand how to be a good citizen, how to fulfil obligations, how to take responsibility for their own actions. Not every day is going to be a good day. When you go to school, even if there is something you are not looking forward to, or if you are feeling slightly “below par”, you learn about your own inner strength, and you develop a little more resilience. As a parent, you want your daughter to be adaptive, resilient, community minded. You want her to know that, even if she is a bit uncomfortable or unhappy, she is strong enough to get through it, maybe even with a smile....
Here are some thing you can do to help your daughter to attend school each day:
|1.||Talk positively about school. Talk about the importance of it, and your expectation that she will go to school every day. Do this as a matter of routine from the earliest times that she starts to think about school. Do this in an encouraging way – generating excitement and anticipation about the great things about school – opportunities to learn, to have good friends, to experience new things, of belonging to a social and caring community.|
|2.||Help your daughter around school routines when she needs it – particularly in the Primary and younger Secondary years. Help her to be organised the night before, to get up early, to be ready to leave when she needs to.|
|3.||As your daughter gets older, talk to her about her dreams and aspirations – a career, a university course, an ultimate goal. Even if she has no idea about what she will finally end up doing after school, making sure that she understands the importance of a good end-of-school qualification, a good school reference and a good set of report cards. This may help her to see the relevance of going to school each day.|
|4.||Everyone needs medical appointments, dentist and orthodontist appointments, and other such arrangements from time to time. Demonstrate your commitment to school attendance by trying all you can to schedule these outside of school hours – early morning or after school, or in the school holidays. Of course this is not always possible, but you communicate a great deal about your values and your commitment to schooling by trying to do this where you can. Similarly with family activities, travel and the like. Do all you can to reinforce the importance of going to school every day by not taking your daughter out of school unless it is absolutely imperative.|
|5.||Make sure you do all you can to keep your daughter healthy – you know the importance of a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, getting sufficient sleep and so on. Allow your child to stay home only in the case of a contagious or severe illness.|
If your daughter doesn’t want to go to school, you need to make a judgement:
- Is she actually really sick and should stay home?
- Is she just being a little lazy and would prefer a day at home? This is perfectly understandable – we all feel like that from time to time! It is just that adults push through this and get up and go to work anyway. Do you need to help her find that inner strength to overcome those feelings of lethargy and indifference to school?
- Or is there something more worryingly wrong at school – is she being bullied, finding schoolwork overly difficult, or is she having trouble making friends? If your daughter frequently says that she doesn’t want to go to school, find a quiet time to talk through the issues which may be confronting her, or things she is feeling uncomfortable about. If she isn’t forthcoming, talking to someone at school – her class teacher or someone on the pastoral team might help to shed some light on what the school is seeing and help you to devise some strategy to help her feel more comfortable at school.
We always welcome conversations with parents about this sort of matter – if you are worried or not sure how your daughter is experiencing school. We want her to be happy and flourishing too! Do give us a ring if would like to chat about how to help your daughter get the most out of school and attend, every single day.
Head of School
Wellbeing apps for young people (and maybe grownups too!)
While there is more and more compelling research to indicate that there is a direct and causal relationship between excessive screen time and compromised wellbeing in young people, it is equally important that we find ways to use technology to its full advantage. It is a delicate balance! There are a number of wellbeing apps designed for regular use to help young people establish and monitor healthy habits, as well as apps to support young people with good strategies in tricky times. You might like to check them out too!
|ReachOut Breathe: This app helps with controlling your breathing and heart rate and increasing your sense of calm and ease, particularly if experiencing panic attacks.|
|ReachOut Worry Time: This app helps to manage your stress levels, feel more in control of your anxiety or stress, develop a regular and effective method of dealing with day-to-day worries, and feel less overwhelmed.|
|Recharge: This app helps you establish a good sleep/wake routine that includes regular exercise and early daylight exposure to help improve your mood, energy and general health and wellbeing.|
|Smiling Mind: Smiling Mind guides you through simple meditation exercises to get you started on your mindfulness journey. Just as we eat well and stay fit to keep our body healthy, meditation is about mental health and looking after the mind.|
|Headspace: This app offers guided meditation and mindfulness.|
|MindShift: This app is designed to help you cope with anxiety. It can help you change how you think about anxiety. Rather than trying to avoid anxiety, you can make an important shift and face it.|
|The Check-In app: This app is for anyone who wants to check in with a friend who they might be worried about but is concerned about saying the wrong thing or making the situation worse.|
|MyMoodTracker: A tracker to help you understand what causes your emotions to change and to become aware of your emotional state over the course of a day.|
Director of Pastoral Care
Here are three articles from a great website – that of the Raising Children Network. We think these three might be helpful for different issues in bringing up your daughters and communicating well with them.
Active Listening: A Skill to Promote Communication with your child:
Staying connected: you and your teenage child:
Privacy, monitoring and trust in the teenage years:
Head of School