Meet the Director of Senior Years

In 2023, Mrs Alison Cassidy, commenced a new role as St Catherine’s School’s Director of Senior Years. With over 15 years’ experience as a leader in education, Alison shares her insights into the value of girls only education, student leadership and the important role parents play in their children’s education.

How long have you been an educator?  

For over 15 years, four of which have been at St Catherine’s School. 

What is your background/qualifications? 

I began my professional journey as a Graphic Designer, earning a Bachelor of Design.  

Although I found the work rewarding, I quickly realised it was not enough to satisfy my creative appetite and decided to pursue a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.  

After graduating, I began my teaching career, combining my knowledge of design with my passion for education. Over the years, I have worked in all three educational sectors, teaching students of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Early in my career, I was lucky to be offered leadership roles and had wonderful mentors to help me continue learning and growing professionally.  

What is your leadership experience?

Throughout my years in the education sector, I have held various leadership positions in most areas of a school.

With over eight years experience as a Head of Faculty in the Arts, I am well-versed in curriculum, coaching, and processes.

My expertise in teaching has been acknowledged, and I have been coaching staff on pedagogical practice and leading PLT teams in numerous schools.

I have also had the opportunity to work in a number of wellbeing roles, which I have found to be extremely rewarding.

My first introduction to this field was as a Pastoral Care leader, for which I was later acknowledged for my strengths and subsequently appointed as an Assistant Sub-School Leader, managing over 150 students from Years 7 to 12.

Most recently, I have held roles as Head of Year and the Dean of Academics at St Catherine’s School.

What do you see are the benefits of girls-only education?  

In my experience, girls in single-sex settings are more likely to take risks, take on leadership roles, and take ownership of their learning.  

Girls-only schools provide an invaluable learning opportunity by creating a safe and supportive environment that encourages girls to explore their own identity and develop their independence. With tailored lessons designed to meet their specific needs and the absence of gender-based competition, girls are more likely to feel empowered and confident in their learning. 

In comparison to co-educational settings, girls-only schools provide a unique opportunity for girls to reach their full potential, both academically and socially. From my many years of teaching in both single-sex and co-education, it is clear to me that girls-only schools are an optimal learning experience for young women. 

The student voice and leadership are important aspects of a St Catherine’s education. What do you believe are the values of student leadership? 

It allows students to become more self-reliant and to take ownership of their own learning and development.  

I believe when a student takes an active role in their education, they become more engaged and invested in their learning, which can lead to better academic performance and growth.  

Student leadership and agency also provides students with the opportunity to develop their social and emotional skills, as well as their communication and collaboration skills. By taking on leadership roles, students can learn how to work as part of a team and how to develop effective relationships with others. These skills are invaluable for their future success, both inside and outside of the classroom.  

This year you commenced a new role at St Catherine’s as the Director of Senior Years, can you provide some insight into what this entails?  

In my role as the Director of Senior Years, I am responsible for the overall academic, social, and emotional wellbeing of students in Years 10 to 12.  

This includes working with teachers, administrators, careers practitioners, psychologists, parents, and community members to ensure all students have the guidance, tools, and resources to achieve success.  

The Director of Senior Years is also responsible for developing and implementing programs that support the wellbeing and academic success of our students and creating a safe and engaging learning environment at St Catherine’s School. 

Why is a positive partnership between school and home so important for student success?  

It is important for schools to work alongside parents because it helps to ensure that the best possible educational support is being provided to our students. 

Parents are the primary educators of their children and can provide valuable insights into a student’s strengths, challenges, and interests. This insight is not something teachers can learn on their own. Working alongside parents helps schools better understand each student and tailor their educational experience accordingly.  

Up next