Principal’s Update – One Day,Two Futures

I express my sincere thanks and appreciation in acknowledging the remarkable response from our School community for their strong financial support of our second annual Giving Day. An outstanding achievement with over $210,000 being raised in a 24-hour period.

The generous response from our community has enabled St Catherine’s to provide an uninterrupted and continuing education for students, now and into the future. This generosity will support families who would otherwise not have been able to provide their daughters a St Catherine’s education, for this I am deeply grateful.

I also acknowledge the generosity of the members of the Foundation Board, with new Chair Mrs Sally Joubert and many volunteers, who gave up much of their time this week to facilitate the success of Giving Day, including reaching out to our community through many phone conversations; their support has been greatly appreciated.

I also thank Ms Jacqueline Williams, Director of Advancement who, with her team – Ms Meredith Taylor and Ms Liza Spear – have worked tirelessly in the lead up to Giving Day. Their organisational ability has been highly valued. Jacqueline’s background as a passionate fundraiser reflects her belief that giving is the best expression of any relationship. Jacqueline has dedicated most of her career to securing philanthropic support for the arts and education sectors. She is a wonderful advocate for the importance of girls’ education.

Whilst our 2021 Giving Day secures educational opportunities for future St Catherine’s girls, this year St Catherine’s also looks to our past, celebrating 125 years of educating and empowering young women. St Catherine’s Academic and Wellbeing Programs are intentionally girl-centric and tailored to the specific needs and interests of girls.

This week, I was interested to read fresh research from the UK concluding that girls who attend single-sex schools are generally more confident and emotionally in control than girls attending state and independent coeducational schools.

AQR International’s ‘Mental Toughness’ Report also indicates the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated gaps and differences that already exist between students – with girls who are mentally tougher having an advantage when dealing with the pandemic – compared with girls who demonstrate less confidence and emotional control.

Chief Executive of AQR International, Mr Doug Strycharczyk, shared this research with school principals in the UK, commenting these findings will have significant implications for much of the UK’s population, during and after the pandemic.

Strycharczyk’s research demonstrated that girls who attend single-sex schools are more effective at dealing with challenge, opportunity, stress and pressure and less likely to be anxious or depressed.

Undoubtedly, developing young people’s mental toughness is an investment made towards creating a more resilient society of the future; one that is capable of managing new challenges with a positive outlook.

The Report adds to a growing body of research which speaks to the resilience of students who attend all-girls schools. Earlier this year, the Mission Australia’s National Youth Survey 2020 found girls at single-sex schools fared better than the national average during the pandemic.

From our perspective at St Catherine’s, this is an extremely positive demonstration of the power of all-girls schools and reveals the impact of single-sex schooling on girls’ confidence and emotional resilience. It serves to reaffirm the decision made by parents and highlights that grit and resilience are characteristics of girls in our school. This also further validates the emphasis we place on a strong wellbeing program highlighting the value of perseverance.

Certainly, providing a learning environment where girls are free from gender-weighted scrutiny and are encouraged to take risks, be competitive, challenge gender stereotypes and associate failure as a part of their learning all contribute to their mental toughness and will benefit them both at school and in life beyond the Heyington Gates.

Mrs Michelle Carroll, Principal