Spotlight On: Welcome Back

21 July 2023


This article first appeared in Queenwood Weekly News on Friday 12 July 2023.

A warm welcome to Term 3, especially to new families joining Queenwood. We hope you have had plenty of time to rest and recuperate after an eventful Term 2. As a school we have become expert in finishing a term with a flourish, whether it be House Music Festival or farewell events for Ms Stone. These events are wonderful demonstrations of how much we enjoy coming together as a community and they reinforce how important it is to foster consistently quality relationships with teachers, students, parents, and alumnae.

It is also worth noting that the Term 2 calendar of events demonstrates just what an action packed term it was for both Junior and Senior School. Quite apart from the learning and (for the senior girls) the various assessments at that time of year, the school was busy with a multitude of activities including the launch of the Study Skills Program for Years 9 and 10, the Middle School Production of Clue, the inaugural Junior School Athletics Carnival held with Mosman Preparatory School, the Year 6 annual trip to Canberra, multiple representative sports trials for both Junior and Senior Schools, the Mother’s Day breakfast, Balmoral Lectures and Reconciliation assemblies.

One of the highlights was the Music Showcase held at the Chatswood Concourse for the first time. It was an extraordinary display of preparation, collaboration, and musical excellence. The thoughtful and creative programming allowed all performers, from the beginners to the more accomplished soloists, the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and love of music. Our congratulations go to the girls who worked hard and learnt so much. Our thanks go to the staff who taught and rehearsed and led them so magnificently, as well as the many staff who supported the musicians and the girls backstage.

The Junior School Poetry Recitation Competition was also another highlight. It was impressive to see so many Year 5 and 6 girls bravely perform a memorised poem of their choice which was judged based on a number of criteria including their body language, clarity, timing and pacing and complexity. It was a delight to be entertained by their clever, well prepared presentations, and a pleasure to see how much they enjoyed performing for their peers, teachers, and parents.

Last term also saw the completion of an 18 month review process on student leadership. Schools have an obligation to regularly review their student leadership structures to ensure that key concepts of student voice, student participation, democratic schooling and student agency are actively supported. Staff and students were consulted in this process through surveys, multiple meetings and conversations. While the focus was primarily on Senior School, it was clear that many of the opinions and processes were applicable in Junior School. What became clear was that adolescent girls need greater opportunities to practise both formal and informal leadership supported by a whole school leadership program that teaches leadership as a concept across a broad range of leadership styles. The feedback from the girls suggested that Queenwood already provides these opportunities. While we have formal roles in both Junior and Senior School these do not limit the ability of other girls to propose and lead initiatives, speak at assembly or encourage their peers to participate in school activities and events.

The feedback particularly from senior students indicated that they understood that leadership roles are not a reward for services rendered, they are a job for suitable candidates. While the process of choosing these roles can be difficult for some girls to accept, it is an important life lesson for them to understand that by applying they must also commit to accepting the result. The difficult truth is that no process can ever guarantee outcomes or results on which everyone will agree. If girls are not chosen, it might be because there was a better candidate, or it might be because the process for selection was one unique to Queenwood leadership positions. The process can be both reasonable and fair whether or not we agree with the outcome.

As it is at school, so it is in life. Which of us has not missed out on something we desperately wanted, or has felt that a process has produced a less than perfect result? While we know that these experiences may be challenging for the girls that choose to apply for leadership roles, it is our hope that they will accept and honour the final outcome with humility, courage, and generosity.