Learning Community

‘Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose moment has come.’ – Victor Hugo

Most of our best ideas come, or are nurtured and take shape when we are exploring them with others and as a learning community, our staff learning is a priority.

At CGGS, our commitment is to provide a relevant education for our girls that will enable them to flourish in a vastly changing world. As a school, we are also heavily invested in the development of compassionate young citizens, who have the opportunity to contribute to creating a more just and sustainable world throughout their education at school and beyond. It is therefore essential that our staff professional learning also provides the support to our staff in their development of the curricular and co-curricular programs to realise these aims.

This year we are undertaking a number of staff professional learning projects and programs at Ormiston and in Senior School and I would like to share some of these with you. We are delighted to be partnering with a number of national and international experts to ensure that our work is supported by the best research.

Some of our projects include the following:

Ormiston Curriculum Connections Project
(with Ann Beck)

Building on the solid foundations of teaching and learning at Ormiston we are undertaking a curriculum project which will further strengthen and offer new insights into our learning environment. This curriculum project is facilitated by Ms Emma Hinchliffe, Deputy Head – Teaching and Learning at Ormiston, Dr Charlotte Forward, Director of Learning Design and Development, and Mrs Ann Beck, an education consultant.

In Term 4 2018 the Junior School teachers began to focus on further developing rich inquiry units which explore big questions in Science, Humanities, Digital Technologies, Health and Physical Education. To ensure that we are offering best practice in teaching and learning we are using academic and classroom-based research evidence from education experts Guy Claxton and Kath Murdoch. This curriculum project will continue to be a priority for the 2019 school year as teachers review and refine their curriculum documentation by using an evidence-based framework to plan for the stages of learning. This includes authentic assessment tasks; key skills and understandings; catering for learning dispositions; and the use of visible thinking routines. Junior School meetings provide opportunities for teachers to share and discuss their work. Through quality inquiry, students will develop deeper knowledge within and across disciplines of how the world works and will develop a set of skills which will enable lifelong learning. The inquiry approach incorporates explicit instruction of information literacy skills, vocabulary, research and organisational skills.

Ormiston Idea into Action Project
(with Dr Flossie Chua, Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Under the leadership of Dr Charlotte Forwood, Director of Learning Design and Development, Junior School teachers are working with Dr Flossie Chua from Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Independent Schools Victoria on the Idea into Action project. Project Zero leads global research into the field of education. Click here for more information about Project Zero.

Junior School teachers are currently developing rich units of inquiry using a pedagogically sound, evidence-based framework which has been tailored to the CGGS context. These units incorporate explicit instruction, use of thinking routines and development of key enterprise skills. Dr Flossie Chua has been working with teachers to consider the interdisciplinary possibilities for their units. The Idea into Action project runs alongside the development and implementation of inquiry units by providing teachers with tools to use to assist with this action. As well as trialling the tools that have been developed by Project Zero, teachers will also be providing feedback about the usefulness of the tools and make suggestions for future tools to be shared more widely.

Year 8 Healthy Minds Program
(with Dr Tom Nehmy)

The Healthy Minds Program was developed by an award-winning clinical psychologist Dr Tom Nehmy from Adelaide in South Australia. After working as a clinical psychologist in government, corporate and private practice, he became concerned about the number of clients (both children and adult) who exhibited signs of unhelpful thinking and behavior that could have been prevented.

Dr Nehmy’s observations developed into his PhD research project at Flinders University that has subsequently given rise to the Healthy Minds Program. Published in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, Healthy Minds teaches the skills of effective emotion regulation, helpful decision making and balanced thinking.  Healthy Minds was awarded the Flinders University Vice-Chancellor’s Prize and is developing an international reputation in health and education as a highly effective program.

This year CGGS has partnered with Dr Nehmy to conduct this program in Year 8 during Term 2, training staff and students, providing an information evening for parents accompanied by weekly parent modules.

At the conclusion of this program Camberwell Girls Grammar School will be the first fully accredited Healthy Minds School in Victoria.

We are very grateful to the Parents and Friends Association for providing the funds to undertake this program and accreditation in 2019.

Development of Senior School Programs and Partnerships
(with Summer Howarth)

A former teacher, Summer Howarth has been instrumental in assisting teachers to lead innovation and change in a range of educational environments including schools, universities and government. She has been recognized on The Educator Hotlists, holds a number of positions on boards, has been an advisor to the UN on Sustainable Development Goals and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for her services to Education.

Summer held the role of Director of Learning Design and Events at Education Changemakers and is now the founder of The Eventful Learning Company. She will be working with teachers throughout 2019 on a number of projects in her role as a strategic assistant. This will include developing opportunities for our Senior School students to connect with organisations beyond the classroom and exploring the potential for collaborations, internships and more. Summer has a broad skillset and considerable connections across business, government and education sectors. We look forward to tapping into her expertise and networks to develop unique experiences for our students.

Mungo Youth Project
(Senior School students and staff)

I am also delighted to announce that CGGS has been invited to participate in the Mungo Youth Project. The project is a student led research program that explores Aboriginal culture and culminates in a four day conference in May hosted by the traditional elder communities within the Mungo/Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area.

The conference aims to create an authentic student-centred approach to learning by bringing together young people with mentors, pastoralists, National Park rangers and scientists to directly engage with history and culture. The students will be immersed in activities to understand contemporary challenges such as reconciliation and climate change, whilst developing an understanding of the Aboriginal connection to the land. Each school invited is limited to eight students and accompanying staff.

Whilst I have outlined a number of our key projects and initiatives for this year, there are many other department priorities that are also continually reviewed and developed. I will share further developments throughout the year.

We are so fortunate to have such a highly motivated and engaged staff at CGGS!

I look forward to seeing you all at Summer Spectacular tomorrow as we celebrate our amazing community.


Warm regards,

Debbie Dunwoody