It is our duty to infuse joy into the lives of the young

Posted 7 May 2021 12:45pm

Canberra Girls Grammar School has a long and rich history that is frequently referenced and celebrated, but never more so than on our Founders’ Day. In this edition of the eNews I will take you back to the origins of the school to give you a glimpse of how CGGS began and how its inception coincided with the beginnings of Canberra as Australia’s capital city. 

The school owes its existence to The Community of the Sisters of the Church founded by Mother Emily Ayckbowm in England in 1870. Mother Emily, an Anglican nun, who possessed both energy and courage made it her mission in life to save souls through tending to the spiritual needs of the poor as well as their physical wellbeing. Above all she believed that people needed to experience love and compassion if they were to comprehend God’s love.

A practical women, Mother Emily’s work in education began with a Sunday School and when she found that the local undernourished children were reluctant to attend she enticed them with hot tea and currant buns. Mother Emily’s Sunday Schools became so successful that she and her fellow nuns branched out into more formal educational activities adopting the maxim: ‘It is our duty to infuse joy into the lives of the young.’

By the early 1890s the Sisters had schools in London that catered for more than 6,000 students as well as schools in Canada and India. Australia followed suit in 1892 when seven sisters arrived in Hobart. Over the ensuing years, and with money from London as well as local support, the sisters established schools in Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and in 1926 they established St Gabriel’s in Canberra. St Gabriel’s became Canberra Church of England Girls’ Grammar School and then Canberra Girls Grammar School.

On Founders’ Day we share the story of Mother Emily and the Community of the Sisters of the Church and each student receives a currant bun. Our School has grown and prospered over the years and today we enjoy an international reputation for excellence. However, it is comforting to reflect each year on Founders’ Day and see that the important Anglican values of Inclusion, Courage, and Integrity, that were so evident in the Sisters, continue to shine through in all that we do.

Ms Angela Whitaker
Deputy Principal (Head of Junior School)