I would like to start by thanking the many families and Old Guildfordians that have offered the School their support, comments and feedback in relation to our transition to co-education to date.
A lot of work has been done on various aspects of the transition this term, and we are seeing some significant progress in the delivery of our project plan. I am excited to share the information below with you.
We are thrilled with the recent level of interest in the School and can confirm that at the time of writing, 34 female students are enrolled to commence in the Senior School in 2018. These students are distributed across the three intake years for 2018, with 12 in Year 7, 10 in Year 8 and 12 in Year 11. In addition to these confirmed enrolments, a further 42 female students are at various stages of discussions with our Registrar and her team. Our most recent tour, held on 15 June, was attended by over 190 people with interest across all year groups, from Kindergarten to Year 12.
The extension of co-education has also resulted in an increase in the number of boys enrolling in the Senior School. This year we have 82 Year 7 students. Given the information currently available, we estimate that there will be 105 students in the same cohort (including new students) entering Year 8 in 2018. At the time of writing, 118 students are enrolled for Year 7 in 2018 – boys and girls. As I am sure you will understand, these numbers will change as new and current families finalise their decision around enrolment at the School, so we will keep you posted with updates in Terms 3 and 4.
STAFFING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
During Term 2, Ms Jennyfer Leah commenced in the role of Co-education Transition Coordinator, and Ms Janine Finnie joined the School as the Director of Girls’ Sport. Both have settled into their roles and are leading the development of their respective programs.
We had the first in a number of expert speakers visit the School in June, when Ms Margo Halbert spoke to our Senior School staff on our professional development day on the topic of conscious and unconscious bias. This presentation provided our staff with some important food for thought.
During Term 2 our school counsellors and nursing staff completed a number of courses on medical and mental health issues that may be relevant to new female students entering the Senior School.
We conducted a staff survey in May, asking our staff to share their beliefs and feelings regarding the co-education decision and transition. The results clearly indicated that the vast majority of staff felt that the School had made the right decision in extending co-education in 2018. The majority of our staff also indicated feeling excited
when asked to nominate their predominant feeling about the decision.
Looking ahead, we have arranged for Ms Natalie Charles to speak to school staff in Term 3. Natalie is the current Head of Senior School at Carey Baptist Grammar School and has previously worked at Melbourne Grammar School. She has recent experience working in an all-boys environment and has transitioned to an exceptional co-educational school. As such, Natalie has a wealth of personal experience to share with us.
CURRENT STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
During this term, students and staff have been discussing a number of factors that are associated with the transition to co-education. Recently I had lunch with a number of Senior School students, who had a range of questions for me, and who provided me with valuable feedback on the decision. The Head of Senior School has met with all House Captains to discuss the use of House spaces, and Ms Jennyfer Leah, Co-education Transition Coordinator, has spent time with the Head of Preparatory School and our girls in Years 4 to 6, answering questions and receiving feedback. Senior School student leaders have been involved in the uniform design process and have provided valuable feedback. New families commencing in 2018 and beyond have started visiting the School and meeting with Ms Jennyfer Leah, our Co-education Transition Coordinator.
Heads of Houses and Mentors will keep our current Senior School students informed of our transition plans and will share detailed information with them about what they can expect at the start of 2018 when the new female students arrive.
A number of the newly enrolled girls who will commence in 2018 have established family affiliations with particular Houses and it is our intention to honour these affiliations. Students with no family house affiliation will be allocated to Houses consistent with our current practice.
In addition to the pastoral care provided through our House system, the School will provide access to additional support for our Senior School female students whilst they are small in numbers. Female students will spend one mentor period per week during Semester 1 with girls from other Houses in a dedicated common room. This common room will be co-located with the office of the Co-education Transition Coordinator and will provide a socialisation area for girls in addition to their House area, enabling staff to provide an extra layer of pastoral support and ensure their transition is as smooth as possible. We will review the group’s needs after Semester 1, with a view to the female students fully integrating into the existing pastoral care system.
A Catalyst Information Evening will be held on Tuesday 22 August for all new students commencing in the Senior School in 2018. Consistent with the School's current practice, the Head of Catalyst will contact the families of students who will be in Years 8 and 9 in 2018 to discuss the selection of Catalyst subjects.
Modification work continues on the Senior School bathrooms and this is expected to be completed before the first day of school in 2018. We are finalising the location of a new change room block and work is expected to commence on this in Term 3. Modifications to the Medical Centre, adjusting for operational requirements associated with co-education, are scheduled for the Term 3 school holidays.
Those of you that are regular visitors to the School may have noticed progress on the installation of a new playing surface and goal rings/baskets for the courts behind junior boarding. These courts will be available for multi-purpose use for sports such as basketball and netball. Improvements to this surface will be completed before the start of Term 3.
Following the announcement to extend co-education, the School has sought advice on an update of our Master Plan. This update was provided to the School Council last week. The plan includes a proposed for future boarding facilities for both our male and female students. The School Council will take some time to review the plan, suggesting alterations and considering the significant financial implications that are associated with the construction of new facilities. Once the School Council has finalised and approved the Master Plan it will be communicated to staff and the School Community.
The School has engaged an architect and interior designer to assist us with some plans to improve our interior (houses) and exterior socialisation spaces to benefit all students. Last week we received a first concept design for one of the Houses and an outdoor space. We will now undertake a costing and planning exercise that will enable us to set some time frames for the proposal. It is important to note that we expect that this work will be staggered over a period of time. Students and staff will be involved in the development of the plan and work will be scheduled to minimise disruption to students and activities.
Our Uniform Design Committee has met a number of times to consider a full range of garment samples and are close to finalising the designs. Click here to see some artist sketches of the academic uniform.
The girls will have the option of:
- A dress or shorts and shirt for summer
- A skirt or pants and shirt in winter
- A cross tie or regular tie with shirts
- A house badge with the summer dress
All students will wear our navy blazer. We are in the process of sampling hats for boys and girls and plan to make these designs available as soon as we are able.
You may notice in the images a couple of changes to the Senior School boys’ uniform. These are in response to comments made by parents in our uniform design survey and enable us to provide the boys with the same modern fabrics as the girls:
- The knitwear is a new modern fabric – the three options in the range are unisex and will be worn by boys and girls.
- The summer shirts are a slightly different shade of blue and include a school crest.
- The winter pant fabric is slightly darker and we are trialling a variety of summer socks without the fold over.
The uniform for Kindergarten to Year 2 is in the process of being reviewed by the Uniform Design Committee. In line with comments made by parents in the uniform survey and feedback from our staff, we are considering some modifications to the current uniform to provide our youngest students with the best opportunity to fully engage in and enjoy their learning. We will provide parents with clear information about any modifications to the uniform by the end of Term 3. Any changes will be phased in over time, giving parents and students the opportunity to purchase new items when they are available and needed.
We are very conscious of the current economic climate and as such current students will be able to buy new uniform items as they become available and when they need them. The School will continue to sell second hand items through our Clothing Shop, both current (for approximately 2 years) and new, (as soon as available) as we appreciate that this is a valuable service. We expect that this will result in a period of time where students will be wearing current and new uniform items together, but the committee has ensured that the changes are minimal and both versions will look smart. Whilst there will be some variation we will still maintain the strong classic Guildford Grammar School look during the transition period.
We have received designs and samples of a range of sports uniform items such as track pants, polos, shorts, swimwear and other sports specific playing outfits. Some of our current students will be pleased with the introduction of ‘jammer’ swimwear and new House shirt designs. These will be made available in 2018 and may be purchased as needed. Current items may be worn until families decide that a replacement is required.
Planning is well underway on the development of a broad and inclusive girls’ sports program. Our program will utilise the existing expertise and relationships within the School to ensure our girls can participate in sport at all levels, with targeted strength and conditioning programs complementing technical skills coaching. New student interests have been an important consideration in the development of our program.
The incoming cohort of girls will be able to choose from a range of team and individual sports across the winter and summer seasons. We have so far confirmed the following sports:
- Winter - hockey, netball, rowing and cross country;
- Summer - track and field, swimming, tennis, cricket and triathlon
In addition, we are working to establish opportunities across the 2018 year for students to experience competition in the following sports:
Football (AFL); soccer; touch rugby; rugby union (7’s); softball; volleyball; basketball; badminton; surfing; water polo.
Our plan is to provide a holistic program to complement the competitive sports and provide all students with an opportunity to experience fitness for mind and body.
The sports program for the Senior School boys and Preparatory School students will remain largely unchanged, although some new opportunities may emerge during the planning and implementation of the girls’ sports program. As advised in previous communications, our involvement with the PSA and JPSSA will not change.
As mentioned in our Term 1 update, the School has established a working group to explore the development of an equestrian program. We will be taking the first step towards establishing a representative equestrian team to compete in next year’s WA State Interschool Championships in the next few weeks, by seeking expressions of interest from current and future students. We also hope to run a Ready Steady Trot program in the Preparatory School in either late 2017 or early 2018, providing our students with an introduction to horses through classroom activities and a visit to a riding school or the State Equestrian Centre. In Term 2 we completed research into how the equestrian programs at Geelong Grammar and New England Girls School were run. We also investigated long-term infrastructure opportunities, and established working relationships with Equestrian Australia and Equestrian WA.
Old Guildfordian Aaron Beach (Ha 92-96) was, until recently, the Executive Director of professional dance company Co3. He recently secured a role at the renowned Belvoir St Theatre Company in Sydney. Just prior to taking on this role he provided us with an introduction to Co3, an amazing contemporary dance company. We are pleased to advise that we are working on a long-term partnership that we expect will grow over time to provide all of our students with various opportunities to explore dance at the School. More information about Co3 is available on their website. We look forward to sharing more information about the development of dance at the School as the year progresses.
Feedback and ideas from parents, students and Old Guildfordians is always welcome. If you would like to share your thoughts, you are encouraged to contact Ms Kristy Teo, Project Manager or Ms Jennyfer Leah, Co-education Transition Coordinator, on 9377 9222, email firstname.lastname@example.org
, or use the feedback button on the School’s website
to provide us with comments or feedback.
Once again, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support, feedback and suggestions during this period of transition. I hope this communication provides you with some insight into our plans for a strong future. As we reach the mid-year milestone we are confident that we are well prepared to provide all of our students, both girls and boys, with a warm welcome in 2018.