From The Principal

29 April 2022

This first appeared in Queenwood Weekly News on Friday 29 April, 2022.

At the end of Year 12, students and parents are asked to complete an exit survey. We learn a lot from this feedback, and it is invaluable as we seek to improve year on year. One of the questions we ask is ‘What is your fondest memory of school?’ and the most common answer is ‘when we all came together like at the House Music Festival or the carnivals’ (to quote one of our leavers from last year).

These are the things that have been missing longest since the start of pandemic so it was an absolute delight to enjoy the return of the swimming carnivals in Term 1 and see the Senior School explode with joy at the House Music Festival on the last day of term. (Congratulations to School House!) The photos are probably inadequate to convey the energy in the Astra Theatre, but you’ll get some sense of it here. The return of camps, another frequently nominated highlight, will be wonderful, too.

Time is the fuel for relationships. You can’t sustain a family or a friendship without spending regular time together, and the same goes for school communities. The Director of Wellbeing, Mrs Kerr, wrote last term about The Importance of School Connectedness and that explains why we attach such a high priority to these events. For many girls, these events are the best day of the year so we don’t have to persuade them they should attend. But even if an individual girl doesn’t love the event in question, she plays a role simply by being there. The athletes and musicians deserve to share their big moments with the whole school, and it’s not uncommon for the girls who might not have turned up voluntarily to get into the spirit of the day anyway. In fact, it’s quite hard to avoid getting carried along with it!

The long hiatus imposed by COVID-19 has only emphasised the importance of these events to the life of our school and to the girls’ sense of connectedness and wellbeing. This explains why our expectations on attendance are so high. In a sense, it should be obvious: we expect every girl to attend school from the first day of term to the last. But there is a temptation for families to cut corners – shaving off a few days at the beginning or end of term for travel and events. I don’t mean to suggest that such requests are always frivolous. Family time is important, and we don’t always control the circumstances. But such absences are treated as absolutely exceptional for important reasons.

Viewed in isolation, they all seem reasonable. An extra 24 or 48 hours seems innocuous, especially if there are no major assessments on. The problem is the cumulative effect of multiple individual requests. One person taking a shortcut across the grass does no visible damage, but a hundred will destroy the lawn and leave a bae patch of dirt. One girl absent from the carnival or music festival would not be noticed but these events would lose their power quickly if too many were missing.

We need your daughters at school. We need them to spend time together in order to feel connected and fuel the tank of social relationships for the rest of the year. We also need to remind them that sometimes life is not all about you – it’s also about being there for others. Being present for each other is a gift and we want our girls to grow in this form of generosity.

We are looking forward to a wonderful term together!