I am radical about the extent of change underway – it will be massive – but I am cautious about what you can do about it in the here and now.
Emeritus Professor Stephen Parker AO
In establishing and building a great school, there is no one defining event, no grand opening or show-stopping moment. The school maintains a resilient presence, a judicious purpose, is part of the community and retains a strong brand within the education sector. Canberra Girls Grammar is such a school. Our annual Board Strategy Day was recently held under the theme Looking back, drawing on the wisdom and oversight of those who have gone before us, and recognising the opportunities that lie ahead. The Board and the Executive, in their role as leaders, understand that leadership of such an institution is closer to stewardship than control. And stewardship enables a nuanced, modest and high-integrity growth mindset that is enduring.
Our provocation was delivered by Emeritus Professor Stephen Parker AO, who encouraged a lively debate about the future of schools and the future of education. In Professor Parker’s words, “I am radical about the extent of change underway – it will be massive – but I am cautious about what you can do about it in the here and now”. He spoke of the importance of understanding the forces in the past and present that shape education, in order to understand the drivers that will shape us into the future. Once the forces were defined, the strategic directions that will future-proof CGGS into the next iteration of the school were endorsed.
Of great interest was the struggle to clearly define the forces that are shaping education now, including the pandemic (noted as a symptom of climate change). Other forces included technology, the global re-balance of power, equity, and demography and the 100-year life. Although COVID-19 has impacted all industries differently, in broad terms for education it has “accelerated the future and the urgency of confronting it”.
The importance of education as a tool to future-proof children and young women is clear. As a school, although we may need to reimagine the modes of some of our offerings, we are in a growth industry and a strong, purposeful and relevant sector. Humankind is in a time of transition within each global community and across a global power rebalance. In situations of change and instability, women and children are most vulnerable and face disproportionate consequences. Who better than an enduring, stable and purposeful school to lead the way?
As Professor Parker noted “one needs to change what isn’t working well, whilst carefully strengthening what is, and continually developing the capabilities to adapt”. Education will take a role in shoring up our kids’ futures, and our nation’s, and help us, possibly through them, to contribute globally. The importance of quality teachers has never been in such sharp focus. Canberra Girls Grammar School will take education and quality teaching incredibly seriously, as it always has done. Always with the aim to provide, what Professor Russel Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Melbourne University, describes as “education not to earn a living but to live well”.
Our graduates are our testament.
Mrs Anna Owen
Photo at top: Photo taken at the recent Board Strategy Day held at Yhuuramulum.