Teaching What Matters Over the long weekend, I attended a conference led by a group of educators from the Harvard Faculty of Education and, in particular, enjoyed the keynote address given by “Project Zero” guru, David Perkins. In his lecture, Perkins reminded the audience about the “Expanding Universe of Education” and the challenge for schools and teachers to equip young people to be able to make a worthwhile contribution in a world that is increasingly knowledge rich, connected and fast paced. He challenged us to think about the learning that really matters. At Lowther Hall this is a question which we consider regularly. We are fortunate in Australia, to now have a national curriculum that, whilst overcrowded, is mostly concerned with relevant questions and which focusses on the acquisition of skills and dispositions. The units of work that are taught from our very youngest year levels all the way to Year 12, are framed around big ideas that we consider important for the girls to wrestle with and consider, and which we hope they will find transferable to the world beyond school. As well as the subject based curriculum, we are also conscious that we impart to the girls, a curriculum of values, attitudes and qualities which in many ways are the most important. Some of these are articulated in the Australian Curriculum as “personal and social capabilities” – including self-management, self-awareness, social management and social awareness. These are addressed through the Personal and Social Development classes as well as through pastoral time and assemblies. Encouraging each student to develop the Qualities of the Lowther Hall Girl, also assist her in the acquisition of intra and interpersonal skills. Running through all the learning of the girls’ learning experiences, should also be the development of their capacity to think critically and creatively. Creative thinking is something that parents can support at home through the provision of experiences that allow an imaginative response – such as a trip to the beach to build sandcastles, the creation of an original recipe or the posing of a household problem that requires a solution. Similarly, critical thinking can be supported by asking “why do you think that?” or “why do you think that happened?” I am confident that this term, our students have once again engaged in a great deal of “learning that matters” and I encourage you to continue to assist the girls to reflect on their learning as they move into the Easter break.

As we celebrated International Women’s Day this week on Tuesday, I shared with the Senior School girls some of the reasons that I believe it is important for them to develop a thoughtful approach to matters such as gender equality and the role of women.

The Lowther Hall uniform has seen many changes and evolutions since our school began 96 years ago. The uniform is an important means by which our student community can feel connected to each other and it fosters a sense of belonging.

We are flying the French flag at the front of Lowther Hall this week in celebration of the arrival of students from our sister school in France! The girls and boys are currently being hosted by Senior School families and their visit is providing wonderful opportunities for our girls to practise their French!

​This week I am proud to announce that Lowther Hall will be partnering with St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne to provide the first girls’ cathedral choir in the southern hemisphere. The choir will be comprised of 18 girls from across Years 4 to 10, who will be selected by audition.

2016 is off to a flying start at Lowther Hall! Welcome back to all of our returning families and a special welcome to all of the families who are new this year. The girls have embraced the new year with confidence and enthusiasm and it has been lovely to see their excitement.

​The 2015 VCE results for Lowther Hall are outstanding and a cause for much celebration with 51% of graded assessments being an A or an A+! The class of 2015 embraced every aspect of School life with energy and vigour and we are proud of each student and all she has achieved during her journey.

​I am certain that all girls and families who were at St Paul’s Cathedral for our annual Carols Service will agree that we are truly blessed to have a school capable of producing such beautiful singing and creating such a special occasion. The girls, as always, made me incredibly proud as they lifted their voices together in song with great enthusiasm. An enormous thank you to everyone who contributed to the service, particularly our Director of Choral and Voice, Ms Joanne Carroll, whose repertoire choices and training of the choirs are always thoroughly well advised!

​Our Service of Lessons and Carols at St Paul’s Cathedral, Thursday 3 December, 7.00pm, is for all students in Years 4 to 11, their families and other members of the Lowther Hall community. An inspiring service of reflection on and celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.

This week the events in France have given reason to stop and reflect on life and to be grateful for every day that we have to enjoy. Our thoughts as a community are with all those touched by this tragedy, and particularly with our friends at our sister school La Malgrange. At School this week I have enjoyed visiting the Year 10s on their camp, hearing the rehearsals for the various Christmas services, seeing lots of wonderful learning in Junior School and the relief of exams being finished or nearly finished for Years 7, 8 and 9 girls. Next week the Junior School girls will “move up” for the morning of the 25th and Senior School girls will commence their 2016 classes. I hope that this will be a time of optimism and positivity as we look forward to everything that the new year will bring.