Principal's Blog

  1. I was having a mildly philosophical conversation with a friend the other day about what gets us out of bed each day to come to work - what motivates us and keeps us going in our busy and demanding roles.

    Teaching - never dull and always rewarding – 1.12.17

    I was having a mildly philosophical conversation with a friend the other day about what gets us out of bed each day to come to work - what motivates us and keeps us going in our busy and demanding roles.

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  2. As our Year 12 students come to finish their examinations and celebrate their Formal and Graduation Dinner, I would like to thank them for all they have done for Girls Grammar over their years here.

    Farewell to our Class of 2017 – 16.11.17

    As our Year 12 students come to finish their examinations and celebrate their Formal and Graduation Dinner, I would like to thank them for all they have done for Girls Grammar over their years here.

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  3. Our Boarding House is old and quirky. You find stairs in unexpected places. The three floors all have their own character. It is rich with wood panelling, fire places and Tudor-style windows.

    The spirit of Boarding at CGGS – 2.11.17

    Our Boarding House is old and quirky. You find stairs in unexpected places. The three floors all have their own character. It is rich with wood panelling, fire places and Tudor-style windows.

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  4. I am often asked by prospective parents why I am so passionate about single-sex education for adolescent girls. I talk about my own daughters, the choices I made for them, my experience as the only female science teacher in a boys’ school that took girls into Years 11 and 12, and my observations over many years of teaching and while being Principal of four different schools.

    Equipping girls for the future – 19.10.17

    I am often asked by prospective parents why I am so passionate about single-sex education for adolescent girls. I talk about my own daughters, the choices I made for them, my experience as the only female science teacher in a boys’ school that took girls into Years 11 and 12, and my observations over many years of teaching and while being Principal of four different schools.

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  5. I always think of the bible story when I hear the word ‘foundation’. You remember it, I’m sure:

The wise man built his house on rock and the foolish man built his house on sand. The inevitable happens and the foolish man’s house collapses while the wise man’s house stands firm.

    A firm foundation for our School – 21.9.17

    I always think of the bible story when I hear the word ‘foundation’. You remember it, I’m sure: The wise man built his house on rock and the foolish man built his house on sand. The inevitable happens and the foolish man’s house collapses while the wise man’s house stands firm.

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  6. In this edition of eNews you will both watch and read about our students learning. These are exciting projects that encourage students’ higher level thinking. We ask them to be inquisitive, to research and to suggest ways to solve problems. These are skills that will serve them well in the future.

    How many marks does this carry? – 8.9.17

    In this edition of eNews you will both watch and read about our students learning. These are exciting projects that encourage students’ higher level thinking. We ask them to be inquisitive, to research and to suggest ways to solve problems. These are skills that will serve them well in the future.

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  7. Have you considered how often we experience STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in our lives? 

Science is our natural world: the sun, moon and stars, lands and oceans, weather, natural disasters, animals (large, small, microbial), plants and food, the fuel that heats our homes and powers transportation. The list is almost endless.

    Why STEM is important to all of us – 10.8.17

    Have you considered how often we experience STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in our lives? Science is our natural world: the sun, moon and stars, lands and oceans, weather, natural disasters, animals (large, small, microbial), plants and food, the fuel that heats our homes and powers transportation. The list is almost endless.

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  8. Canberra Girls Grammar School is pleased to announce the launch of The Green Room.

    Introducing The Green Room – 28.7.17

    Canberra Girls Grammar School is pleased to announce the launch of The Green Room.

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  9. Why do we celebrate Founders’ Day? For us at CGGS, it is an opportunity to remember the Sisters of the Church who founded the School 91 years ago and to value their legacy. It’s also a chance to celebrate community as we welcome our alumni back to school to be together and share memories.

    Celebrating tradition as we look to the future – 1.6.17

    Why do we celebrate Founders’ Day? For us at CGGS, it is an opportunity to remember the Sisters of the Church who founded the School 91 years ago and to value their legacy. It’s also a chance to celebrate community as we welcome our alumni back to school to be together and share memories.

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  10. “An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.”

    Decisions, decisions – 18.5.17

    “An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.”

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  11. On Wednesday we enjoyed hosting our Year 6 students and their parents for a morning in the Senior School. Each year I see Year 12 students preparing for their transitions from school to university or a gap year. I believe we haven’t done our job properly if they are not ready and eager for the next stage. In the same way, Year 6 becomes ready for the next adventure – the Senior School and new horizons.

    Preparing our girls for the next stage – 5.5.17

    On Wednesday we enjoyed hosting our Year 6 students and their parents for a morning in the Senior School. Each year I see Year 12 students preparing for their transitions from school to university or a gap year. I believe we haven’t done our job properly if they are not ready and eager for the next stage. In the same way, Year 6 becomes ready for the next adventure – the Senior School and new horizons.

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  12. Dom Thurbon is the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Karrikins Group, a growth focused consulting firm in Australia, New Zealand and North America. Dom’s work on quality teaching and school leadership has contributed to both Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA).

    Good intentions – 6.4.17

    Dom Thurbon is the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Karrikins Group, a growth focused consulting firm in Australia, New Zealand and North America. Dom’s work on quality teaching and school leadership has contributed to both Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA).

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  13. Those of us who are parents are well used to little children’s favourite question: “Why?” Their curiosity about the world is endearing, sometimes challenging and keeps us on our mettle.

    Curiosity at every age – 23.3.17

    Those of us who are parents are well used to little children’s favourite question: “Why?” Their curiosity about the world is endearing, sometimes challenging and keeps us on our mettle.

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  14. We want our students to have every opportunity, not just equal opportunity, so celebrating International Women’s Day is a fixed date in our calendar. If you haven’t seen the film ‘Hidden Figures’ yet, I do recommend it. It’s a true story of three African-American women who worked at NASA in the 1960s.

    How do we prepare our daughters to be resilient and face the world of work? – 8.3.17

    We want our students to have every opportunity, not just equal opportunity, so celebrating International Women’s Day is a fixed date in our calendar. If you haven’t seen the film ‘Hidden Figures’ yet, I do recommend it. It’s a true story of three African-American women who worked at NASA in the 1960s.

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  15. On Sunday I attended a Commencement Service for the Anglican schools in our Diocese. Our Gabriel Singers had been asked to provide the music. Their singing was exceptional, one colleague from another school texted me later to say, “I thought the girls sang beautifully today, I just closed my eyes and enjoyed it.”

    How do you get to Carnegie Hall? – 24.2.17

    On Sunday I attended a Commencement Service for the Anglican schools in our Diocese. Our Gabriel Singers had been asked to provide the music. Their singing was exceptional, one colleague from another school texted me later to say, “I thought the girls sang beautifully today, I just closed my eyes and enjoyed it.”

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  16. We all know that a rich, broad education involves much more than writing an essay, solving an equation or researching a topic of interest. In fact, we are reminded regularly that we are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist. So, we need to encourage student’s attitudes, engagement and innovative thinking in order for them to be successful in the future.

    Giving our students a rich, broad education – 10.2.17

    We all know that a rich, broad education involves much more than writing an essay, solving an equation or researching a topic of interest. In fact, we are reminded regularly that we are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist. So, we need to encourage student’s attitudes, engagement and innovative thinking in order for them to be successful in the future.

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  17. WEEK ENDING 2 DECEMBER 2016 – 5.12.16

    As teachers we are always encouraging our students to focus, to persevere, to work hard and to use their maximum effort. All good things to say but no one can sustain this all year round, including adults. We all need down time. Time to think and imagine. Time to relax and recuperate after a season of hard work.

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  18. WEEK ENDING 25 NOVEMBER 2016 – 28.11.16

    On Wednesday I attended the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) Awards Dinner in Canberra. ACEL actively supports the development of leadership capabilities across Australia through its national and branch initiated professional learning activities, international conferences, publications, online programs and other partnership activities in leadership development.

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  19. WEEK ENDING 18 NOVEMBER 2016 – 21.11.16

    How do we learn? When I was at school (many years ago) we listened to our teachers and wrote down what they told us. There was little independent research by students, although we were encouraged to ‘read around the subject’. Learning was seen as a developing chain. A bit like a baby crawling, then toddling, then walking and running.

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  20. WEEK ENDING 11 NOVEMBER 2016 – 14.11.16

    Teachers know that young people have a strong sense of social justice and they also want autonomy, to be independent and do things in their way. In an interesting study researchers asked a group of young teenagers to read a typical health article on eating a diet low in sugar and fat with colourful pictures of fresh food.

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  21. WEEK ENDING 28 OCTOBER 2016 – 1.11.16

    ‘Discernment is the ability to see things as they really are, not as you want them to be’. - Anon. At one of my previous schools, we offered groups of students the chance to volunteer to present a story or dramatic piece for Assembly. This had to have an ethical or moral message but they had free range in which topic they chose.

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  22. WEEK ENDING 21 OCTOBER 2016 – 24.10.16

    This week we have been finalising our elections for our Senior Council team for 2017. This has made me think, again, about how leadership characteristics and qualities can be seen very early in a student’s career. One of those characteristics is the ability to see things differently; the importance of vision instead of short-sightedness. If this is coupled with determination to pursue this vision, then it becomes a powerful driver.

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  23. WEEK ENDING 14 OCTOBER 2016 – 17.10.16

    The psychologist Katherine Phillips gave murder mystery problems to students who were put into groups of four and given dossiers with information about the crime. The groups task was to figure out who committed the crime. Some of the groups were four friends who knew each other well. In other groups three friends were joined by a stranger.

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  24. WEEK ENDING 23 SEPTEMBER 2016 – 27.9.16

    It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. Albert Einstein

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  25. WEEK ENDING 16 SEPTEMBER 2016 – 19.9.16

    This week Roald Dahl was born 100 years ago. I don’t know about you but I love his stories. I didn’t know that Dahl had a life full of tragedy. His father died when Dahl was four years old, he didn’t enjoy school because he was non-conformist and a practical joker. He was often punished for that. He became a fighter pilot in the second world war and suffered severe injuries to his skull, spin and hip as a result of crash landing. He was hospitalised for a long time.

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  26. WEEK ENDING 9 SEPTEMBER 2016 – 12.9.16

    Students were shown a picture of someone lying in bed with their eyes closed. This person’s hand is stretched towards an alarm clock on the table next to the bed. Through the window you can see the early morning sun. As part of a research project, the students were asked to recount a story about the picture. Some told a story about someone who has a busy day ahead with lots to do, friends to see, a day full of possibilities. Others imagined the person didn’t want to get up, they would prefer to turn over and go back to sleep. Sometimes they imagined it was a Saturday and they were going to enjoy a lie-in.

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  27. WEEK ENDING 2 SEPTEMBER 2016 – 5.9.16

    Recent research has shown teenage girls are much more likely than boys to drop out of playing sport. This was more likely in a co-ed environment where girls’ embarrassment about their changing bodies, inadequate changing facilities, and the need for advice about good, supportive sports underwear were all factors that turned girls off.

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  28. WEEK ENDING 26 AUGUST 2016 – 29.8.16

    “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. John Dewey I was talking to one of our teachers last week and she said, with a beaming smile, “I just love learning”. If you have had any conversation with a young child recently you will know that one of their favourite words is “why?”.

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  29. WEEK ENDING 19 AUGUST 2016 – 22.8.16

    I am sure you will have read the disturbing reports this week about a pornographic web-site posting naked photographs of school-girls where school boys and young men are rating the girls bodies, trading them between each other and stalking their targets who they know personally.

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  30. WEEK ENDING 12 AUGUST 2016 – 15.8.16

    For the first time since we began this online Weekly Update, I have not written to you for the past three weeks. This is because I have been on Sabbatical leave in England, spending my time doing some research, visiting schools and educational trusts and reading articles. I have been following four threads of enquiry – digital strategies for schools, innovation, how schools use libraries in a digital age and performance review of staff. I had a busy but rewarding time and am presently writing a report for the School Board.

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  31. WEEK ENDING 24 JUNE 2015 – 24.6.16

    I have always enjoyed visiting other schools and seeing the variety of ways that schools can approach quality teaching and learning.

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  32. WEEK ENDING 17 JUNE 2016 – 17.6.16

    For me, lunchtimes at school are often filled with meetings of various sorts. Yesterday was a wonderful exception.

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  33. WEEK ENDING 10 JUNE 2016 – 14.6.16

    ‘To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.’ Albert Einstein.

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  34. WEEK ENDING 3 JUNE 2016 – 6.6.16

    ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.’ C S Lewis I am sure you have seen the footballers who score a goal and turn to their teammates to thank them for their help. Conversely, we have also seen the players who score, then run around pointing at themselves and asking for attention and applause.

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  35. WEEK ENDING 27 MAY 2016 – 1.6.16

    We had a wonderful Founder’s weekend to celebrate the schools 90thbirthday. Starting with the Night Markets on Friday night, the whole weekend was filled with friends, conversation, good food and plenty of memories. We rugged up for the Night Markets and enjoyed a wide range of food, wine and stalls selling a variety of goods from pearls to gourmet treats. There were activities for younger children, entertainment from our school musicians and several kilometers of fairy lights. I do thank the P & F for all their work in making this evening so enjoyable.

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  36. WEEK ENDING 20 MAY 2016 – 1.6.16

    90 years ago an intrepid group of Anglican nuns made the difficult journey from England to Australia to establish some schools for girls. This weekend we celebrate Founder’s Day and because it is our 90th birthday we have a full weekend of events. Please join us, starting with the Night Markets tonight (Friday).

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  37. WEEK ENDING 13 MAY 2016 – 1.6.16

    I read an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review recently entitled “What Kind of a Thinker Are You?” by Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele. They are emphasizing the importance of understanding how people think as we build teams or as we learn. They developed a simple three step process to help people to communicate and collaborate based on how they think.

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  38. WEEK ENDING 6 MAY 2016 – 9.5.16

    I have talked with three women, on separate occasions this week, who have impressed me with their generosity and desire to help others.

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  39. WEEK ENDING 29 APRIL 2016 – 2.5.16

    During my career I have taught in a boys’ school and several co-ed schools as well as girls’ schools. I have been intrigued about the different ways students respond in those different classroom environments and I wrote a little about this in my recent opinion piece published in The Age and the Canberra Times.

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  40. WEEK ENDING 1 APRIL 2016 – 4.4.16

    Lisa Damour, a US psychologist and the Director of Laurel School’s Centre for Research on Girls, has written a new book called ‘Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood.'

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  41. WEEK ENDING 18 MARCH 2016 – 21.3.16

    ‘We judge ourselves by our intent and we judge everyone else by their impact.’ Dom Thurbon, AHISA Conference, 15 March, 2016.

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  42. WEEK ENDING 11 MARCH 2016 – 17.3.16

    International Women’s Day has marked the achievements, concerns and struggles of women for more than a century. It’s theme this year is ‘Pledge for Parity’ and the official International Women’s Day website is calling on everyone, men and women, to take the pledge to achieve gender parity in areas such as the economy, education, health and politics. Much has been achieved since the days of the suffragettes but, around the world, there are many issues still to be addressed.

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  43. Week ending 4 March 2016 – 7.3.16

    On the 1st of March it was World Compliment Day. Did you know? When I was young, my parent’s generation were very wary of paying their children compliments. I overheard them say, on more than one occasion ‘Oh, don’t tell her that, it will only make her head swell.’

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  44. Week ending 26 February 2016 – 3.3.16

    Sometimes it’s only when unusual things happen that we see how mature and praise-worthy our children are. Over the past years at CGGS, I have seen students support each other when their parents or siblings are ill. I have seen them get together to make a huge card for a sick classmate.

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  45. Week ending 19 February 2016 – 24.2.16

    I was talking to the grandfather of a six year old today. He told me that she had been appointed to her Student Representative Council at school. Her reaction? "Oh, there’s so many meetings and all people do is talk, talk, talk!" Welcome to the adult world!

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  46. Week ending 12 February 2016 – 15.2.16

    I read the following short piece this week. Sometimes, someone expresses, very cogently, an approach that you agree with. It’s always good to get that ‘aha’ moment. I make no apologies for including this extract below, exactly as I read it, with acknowledgements.

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  47. Week ending 5 February – 8.2.16

    And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. Rainer Maria Rilke

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  48. Week ending 4 December 2015 – 7.12.15

    ‘Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability’. Sam Keen

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  49. Week ending 27 November – 30.11.15

    We are almost at the end of the school year and it’s time for celebrations and reflections. Celebrations because we want to mark the achievements and activities of our students during 2015.

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  50. Week ending 20 November – 23.11.15

    All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered. - Kenneth Graham, The Wind in the Willows.

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  51. Week ending 13 November – 23.11.15

    This week I have been thinking about memories, reminders and our consciousness of the past. This is because we have had three school reunions of Grammarians over the past two weekends and we have also held Remembrance Day services on both campuses.

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  52. Week ending 6 November – 9.11.15

    The race that stopped the Nation also made headlines this week as Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.

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  53. Week ending 30 October – 2.11.15

    Thank you all for your many emails saying how pleased you are that Girls Grammar is remaining a school for girls. You have encouraged us by commending our school community, our culture and our partnership with parents.

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  54. Week ending 23 October – 26.10.15

    At a Grammarian’s reunion some time ago, two Grammarians were telling me the story of how they met at a social event.

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  55. Week ending 16 October – 19.10.15

    In recent years we have seen much research into what makes a good teacher: education, content, knowledge and student test scores to name a few.

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  56. Week ending 18 September – 21.9.15

    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle

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  57. Week ending 11 September – 14.9.15

    At our Alumni Reunion in London in July one woman told me that her time at Girls Grammar was ‘seminal’ and ‘changed her life’.

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  58. WEEK ENDING 28 AUGUST – 31.8.15

    In a few short years, every student in our schools will be from the 21st century and no teacher will be.

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  59. Week ending 14 August – 17.8.15

    I was talking to a three-year-old girl (not from our school) last week and noticed the big sticker on her jumper.

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  60. Week ending 7 August – 10.8.15

    One of the things I love about my job is the sheer variety of tasks and events I am involved in each week.

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  61. Week ending 31 July – 3.8.15

    What makes you cross? However even tempered we are, there is always something that ‘presses our buttons’.

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  62. Week ending 24 July – 28.7.15

    I hope you all enjoyed a refreshing break over the three week winter holiday.

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  63. Week ending 26 June – 29.6.15

    Are you easily discouraged? When you set your mind to a task, how little does it take to stop you accomplishing it? How much can you take before you give up?

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  64. Week ending 19 June – 22.6.15

    It’s great to come across a good news story about social media in schools.

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  65. Week ending 12 June – 15.6.15

    It’s our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

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  66. Week ending 5 June – 9.6.15

    It’s never too late to be who you might have been.

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  67. Week ending 29 May – 2.6.15

    Resilience – power or ability to return to original form or position after being bent, compressed or stretched.

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  68. Week ending 22 May – 25.5.15

    On the whole, girls love to talk.

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  69. Week ending 15 May – 18.5.15

    Did you hear about the man who reported about the progress of the UK election in a delightfully low-tech way?

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  70. Week ending 8 May – 11.5.15

    A huge thank you to all of you who signed up for Team Girls Grammar to run or walk the Mother’s Day Classic.

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  71. Week ending 1 May – 4.5.15

    I found it very moving to watch the Dawn Services and the Sydney march marking the Centenary of Anzac Day.

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  72. Week ending 10 April – 13.4.15

    Every month or so we have an Open Morning to enable prospective students and their parents to have a tour of the School.

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  73. Week ending 3 April – 6.4.15

    Easter is nearly upon us; does anyone else feel, as I do, that the years seem to pass more and more quickly?

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  74. Week ending 27 March – 30.3.15

    There has been a number of articles in the press about NAPLAN recently.

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  75. Week ending 20 March – 23.3.15

    I am writing this week’s message in Japan. Over the next few days our Director of Curriculum, Heidi Vellnagel and I are visiting Tokyo, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

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  76. Week ending 20 February – 23.2.15

    He that loves reading has everything within his reach. - William Godwin

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  77. Week ending 13 February – 16.2.15

    Both in the Senior School and the Junior School we are in camping season.

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  78. Week ending 6 February – 9.2.15

    Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -Francis of Assisi

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