Welcome to NEGS 2017. A year full of promise and commitment to the “NEGS Strategic Vision:2017-2022 – The Way Forward.”
Typically, the year has started with a flurry of busyness as we all struggle to manage the incredibly hot weather. Of course the girls were able to cool off with our annual bonding-trip, this year held at Yamba. They once again conducted themselves with the class we have all come to expect from NEGS’ young women, and the new students were welcomed and involved in all activities.
I would like to formally welcome the following staff to NEGS: Mrs Sally Spillane & Ms Catherine Nash (Music); Ms Jo Watson (HSIE); Ms Alice Turner (Drama/English); Mr Govind Ahuja & Mr Adrian Buttery (Mathematics) and Mrs Michelle Wilsmore (PDHPE). NEGS is privileged to have you all joining us and we welcome the fresh, innovative and vibrant approach you all bring to your respective subject areas.
I have included for your interest, further confirmation as to “Why you should send your daughter to an all-girls school.” Written by Loren Bridge, Executive Officer of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald 1st February 2017, it acknowledges the importance of choice in education leaving me in no doubt that girls really do benefit from a single-sex-education. I am sure you will agree.
“Millions of students have started the new school year with the vast majority at their local state co-ed school. And so we face the perennial question of which type of school is best. There’s no right answer because every child is different. Despite this some people continue to offer strong opinions that one type of schooling is better than the rest rather than encouraging more options.
Educational choices are increasing for many parents. Some choose the academic environment of a selective state high school; others will favour a school with an outstanding music or sports program. Some will prefer a faith-based school offering small-class sizes or a government school offering technical and trade subjects; others will prefer the supportive environment of a single-sex school where students aren’t limited by traditional gender stereotypes.
In some countries, most notably the US, single-sex education is back in favour and on the rise, while Iceland has been empowering girls through all-girl preschools for 20 years.
In Australia last year, five boys’ schools announced that they would move to co-education and proponents of co-ed schooling were quick to denigrate single-sex schooling as outdated and not reflective of the real world. In particular, girls’ schools bore the brunt of the criticism questioning whether they prepared girls to live in our “co-ed” world.
The reality for girls is that the real world is not yet a fair and gender-equal co-ed playing field. It has been demonstrated in a 2016 British Parliament inquiry that girls in co-ed high schools are the victims of implicit bias by teachers who steered girls away from ‘hard’ subjects like advanced maths, physics and computer science, and that they are subjected to daily sexual harassment (including 29 per cent of girls aged 16-18 who experienced unwanted sexual touching).
In contrast, girls’ schools provide a unique environment where girls don’t have to compete with boys for leadership positions or their teachers’ attention. They thrive in subjects typically dominated by boys, and learn their own worth, beliefs and value without social pressure from boys. Vitally, they provide a safe space for girls to learn to combat the gender bias and sexism that still exists within universities, workplaces and our broader communities – so that when girls leave school they know they are equal to their male peers and will accept nothing less.
Those advocating against single-sex girls’ schools would have you believe there should be just one standard model of schooling, a one-size-fits-all co-ed approach. With the small number of boys’ schools announcing their conversion to co-ed, advocates were quick to suggest a trend. However statistics do not back this up, and definitely not in relation to girls’ schools. In fact, since 2000, only one prominent girls’ school has converted to co-ed, while a handful have amalgamated with boys’ schools or introduced parallel education (where boys and girls are separated for certain lessons and together for others). To put this in context, according to the ABS, Australia currently has 9404 schools, and girls’ schools converting to co-ed or parallel education representing less than 0.1 per cent.
The truth is that single-sex schools change to co-ed for a multitude of reasons: economic; demographic; new leadership; and the pressures of educating increasing numbers of students on existing school sites in our growing cities.
Working with more than 160 girls-only member schools, the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia knows that support for single-sex girls’ education is strong both here and overseas. Girls’ schools are an integral part of the British, Irish, European, Asian and New Zealand school systems and interest in single-sex schooling is growing for both boys and girls.
There will always be voices for and against different types of schools – it can be a very emotive topic – because we have all been to school, and our educational experiences have shaped our lives – some for the better, some for the worse.
For parents, making the right choice for their child can be challenging and pressure filled – it is their child’s future, their foundation, their compass for life. Shouldn’t we be embracing choice?
Meet some of our new staff members:
Welcome to our newest Maths teacher, Mr Adrian Buttery. Mr Buttery has previously been teaching Maths at The Scots College, St Vincent’s College and Moriah College. Here is everything you need to know about Mr B.
What do you love about teaching? Impacting and empowering students.
Favourite sport? Rugby League.
Who do you support? Melbourne Storm.
Favourite color: Purple.
Favourite food: Curry.
What are you looking forward to in your new job at NEGS? Everything.
What do you love about maths? It is a subject that knows no boundaries.
Hobbies? Mountain Biking, official celebrity coach for NRL Fantasy, reading, golf and touch footy. And I am very keen to learn to ride horses.
Mr B is looking forward to meeting all students on their return to school in 2017!
Meet our new Chaplain – Vanessa De Sauty. Vanessa comes from Sydney and enjoyed her first week at NEGS getting to know all the girls and teachers. “I just love going to sleep at night to the sound of birds singing and not the Sydney traffic,” she said. Vanessa, who has been a psychologist for the last six years, loves to run and play touch footy and has a cute little Maltese dog called Mable.
Say hello to our new PE Teacher Mrs Michelle Wilsmore. Michelle has previously been teaching at Abbotsleigh in Sydney and recently moved to Armidale with her husband, who is studying medicine at UNE, and her two young children. Michelle did some casual work at NEGS last year but is now permanent. Michelle will also be the Year 8 advisor.
What do you love about teaching Michelle? The ever changing nature of working with girls.
Favourite colour? Blue.
What do you love to eat? Pasta
Favourite sport? Hockey – I am very passionate about it and can’t wait to get involved with it at NEGS.
Where are you from originally? Grafton.
What are you looking forward too most about starting full-time at NEGS? Getting to know all the great students here and working in a small school environment where all students get the chance to excel.
Michelle is pictured with her gorgeous son Clem, who is 13 months old.
With a BSC Honours in Mathematics, a Master of Science Mathematics, a Master of Financial Mathematics, and of course a Bachelor of Education, Mr Ahuja is a whizz when it comes to all things maths but takes a gentle approach when it comes to sharing his love of maths. The quietly spoken teacher says he likes to treat his classrooms like workshops and tries to give as much individual attention as he can thereby instilling a love of maths in his students.
Mr Ahuja is also a meditative yoga devotee who believes that teaching is his way of giving back to society.