March 13, 2020

It has been an extremely busy two weeks with many events and of course preparations for our Centenary Performing Arts Festival.

In addition to all of this has been our planning and management of the impact of Novel Coronavirus Pandemic and I would like to thank students, staff and parents for their support.

We have been regularly reminding students and staff of hygiene protocols and also this week, reminders about students and staff not attending school if they are unwell. We ask for your continued vigilance in this area.

We have significantly reduced educational activities outside of the school and postponed key Centenary events and international tours. This morning Girls Sport Victoria also cancelled the Swimming and Diving Carnivals in the next few weeks.

There has been significant development over the term in online learning programs, particularly in Senior School as we work to ensure continuity of delivery of programs for all students, but in particular our VCE students in the event of a school closure.  Parents will be receiving communications from Paul Donohue (Head of Junior School) and Cathy Poyser (Deputy Principal/Head of Senior School) today with more details about delivery of programs if the school closes.

Some of the strategies that were implemented earlier in the term when students had a delayed start to the year included:

> Videoconferencing was used through platforms such asWebex and Zoom.

> Using the screen record function on an iPad or laptop (such as QuickTime) short instructional videos were created for students to access at their convenience.

> Collaborative online tasks and activities allowed students to connect and interact with each other (both in real time and asynchronously)

> Padlet was used for brainstorming and mind-mapping

> Presentation applications (such as Google Slides or PowerPoint) were made editable and accessible online.

> Curriculum resources were made accessible to students through our Learning Management System

Since then we have also tested online discussion platforms, such as ‘Yammer’ that are used to foster and create interactions between teachers and learners. Teachers and students can share resources, post announcements as well as pose and answer questions.

I am very grateful to our teaching and learning team for their work in this area.

From our experiences earlier this term, online delivery was particularly successful for those students who continued to ask questions of their teachers during this time and who had set up productive working spaces in their home. The mindset that you are still ‘at school’ but in a different location was very important.

Whilst it has been a challenging term so far, there has been some fabulous learning and celebrations.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




February 28, 2020

Learning Community

At our recent information evenings, key educational leaders at CGGS have shared the work that we are undertaking with external experts to shape the learning opportunities for our students. Understanding current thinking and developments in education beyond our school is vital as we challenge ideas and engage our staff in wide-ranging professional learning.

We are delighted to continue to partner with a number of national and international experts to ensure that our work is supported by the best research.

A few examples of our projects include:


> Early Learning Centre:  Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) Pilot 2020
Led by Angela Follacchio (Early Learning Leader), our Early Learning Centre (ELC) has been selected as one of fifty preschools to take part in the 2020 ELSA Research Project (University of Canberra). The ELSA project is a play-based digital learning program to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) practices and concepts.  The curriculum presented will have both hands-on and digital activities and the activities encourage children to ask questions, make predictions, experiment and reflect on what happened and why.

> Curriculum Connections Project (with Ann Beck)

Led by Emma Hinchliffe (Deputy Head of Junior School) and Charlotte Forwood (Director of Learning Design and Development) with consultant Ann Beck, teachers will continue to develop curriculum across all year levels, with a particular focus on literacy, numeracy and inquiry units.
In 2020 embedding of STEAM within inquiry units continues to be a focus.  Under the leadership of Charlotte Forwood, a number of Junior School staff will join Senior School staff in this year’s ISV and Harvard Making Thinking Routine Project in order to broaden the use of thinking routines across the curriculum.

> Idea into Action Project (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

As part of Camberwell Girls Grammar School’s involvement in the Idea Into Action Project with Project Zero at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and ISV, teachers have been using bespoke tools to engage with and sustain changes in curriculum design and implementation. Project Zero researchers, Dr Flossie Chua and Professor David Perkins have been using feedback from CGGS staff to further develop these tools with the aim of providing them to educators globally. Charlotte Forwood and Emma Hinchliffe will be presenting our work at the Education that Matters Conference presented by Harvard Graduate School of Education in Melbourne in May 2020.

> Reading Program

Emma Hinchliffe, Charlotte Forwood and Lisa White (JS Learning Enrichment Coordinator) have worked with Foundation – Year 2 teachers in redeveloping the reading program to reflect a strong research base and current pedagogy. Our recently launched program ensures that oral language underpins our teaching and learning. Learning to read involves the development of language comprehension skills as well as word recognition. These are the two core elements of The Simple View of Reading which informs our teaching and learning practices. There is a strong focus on systematic, explicit instruction in the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Parents interested in learning more about best practice in reading instruction may find the following website useful:


Senior School

> Year 8 Healthy Minds Program (with Dr Tom Nehmy)
The Healthy Minds Program was developed by an award-winning clinical psychologist Dr Tom Nehmy from Adelaide in South Australia. After working as a clinical psychologist in government, corporate and private practice, he became concerned about the number of clients (both children and adult) who exhibited signs of unhelpful thinking and behavior that could have been prevented.

Dr Nehmy’s observations developed into his PhD research project at Flinders University that has subsequently given rise to the Healthy Minds Program. Published in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Research and Therapy,Healthy Minds teaches the skills of effective emotion regulation, helpful decision making and balanced thinking.  Healthy Minds was awarded the Flinders University Vice-Chancellor’s Prize and is developing an international reputation in health and education as a highly effective program.

Supported by Nirvana Watkins (Deputy Head of Senior School – Wellbeing Curriculum and Programs), Dr Nehmy will deliver the program to the Year 8 students during two special conference says on 23 April and 25 May. Further information will be explored in the students’ health and wellbeing lessons and parents will also receive a module to outline the ideas and skills examined.

> Year 9 Cognizance Project with Jared Cooney Horvath
Led by Nirvana Watkins in 2019, we piloted the Cognizance Project through Independent Schools Victoria and University of Melbourne researcher Jared Cooney Horvath. In 2020 we will again take up this program.

“Cognizance” is a term referring to an awareness and appreciation of knowledge, in terms of human perception of our own understanding. We sometimes use the term to refer to our consciousness as learners and how our own knowledge is shaped. There are elements of both metacognition and neuroscience captured the term.  The project aims to teach students the fundamentals of metacognition, the ability to control thought processes, and to give them the tools to take charge of their own learning. Our goal is to teach students how the brain works so they can use this knowledge to impact both study and life.

Students engage in a series of lessons titled ‘Hacking the Brain’ that look at understanding the importance of stories, the basics of neuroplasticity, how the brain deals with errors and the role of memory.

> Point: Development of Senior School Programs using the CGGS ‘By design’ learning framework
Led by Kate Manners (Deputy Head of Senior School – Teaching and Learning) and Charlotte Forwood (Director of Learning Design and Development) with consultant Summer Howarth, classroom opportunities have been developed to actively promote collaboration, connection to the real world and use of a range of digital tools for creation. In Years 8 and 9 our core and elective subjects enable students to create high quality work that reflects not just their knowledge of subjects but show their understanding of these within authentic real- world contexts.

Nurturing mindsets where the focus is on growth, not perfection is something that we work exceptionally hard at, so that our students value and enjoy a lifelong relationship with learning, not just the result that they might achieve.

At Year 9, students undertake an exciting ‘seasonal’ learning series including”

– A Dignity Conference as part of their Service Learning program

– Two days exploring the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) through multiple lenses, and completing the AI For Good Challenge, a collaborative initiative of Microsoft open to students across Years 7-12.

– A city experience conducted under the theme of ‘You, Me & Us’. Art and design are the basis for the creation of collaborative installations that are then displayed at CGGS. Students also utilise a design thinking process, submit a proposal to Melbourne City Council on how to improve the liveability of Melbourne, informed by the different perspectives they explore.

– Our World of Work program. These two days have a specific focus on introducing students to the CGGS Careers Program. Students purposefully explore #myfuture and the mindset and actions that will enable their successful transition to the future of work. They have the opportunity to identify and foster a variety of transferrable skills and create resumes, establishing an e-portfolio and practice interview skills.

– Making Thinking Routine Project – (ISV and Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Under the leadership of Charlotte Forwood, a number of Senior School staff will join members of the Junior School to engage in this year’s ISV and Harvard Making Thinking Routine Project, in order to broaden the use of thinking routines across the curriculum.

Whilst I have outlined some of the projects for this year, there are many other department priorities that are also continually reviewed and developed. I will share further developments throughout the year.

We are so fortunate to have such a highly motivated and engaged staff at CGGS!

Warm regards,

Debbie Dunwoody






February 14, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I warmly welcome you all to a new school year at Camberwell Girls Grammar School – our Centenary year. There is certainly an excitement in the air as we can now enjoy the many celebrations that we have been planning for almost two years!

Whilst we are excited about this year, I also want to acknowledge that it has been difficult both in Australia and overseas over the last few months. The impact of the bushfires has been, and continues to be extensive on our communities and our wildlife. I know that many families and individuals have supported relief efforts and we are planning to continue this support as a school. 

The reality is that many communities may take years to recover and with this in mind we are gathering the ideas of our students and staff to prioritise some projects that may require our support over an extended period of time. It is important that we don’t forget the work that still needs to be done when these stories are no longer being reported. We will certainly keep you informed of how these plans progress.

In recent weeks the Novel Coronavirus has also become a part of our everyday discussions.  The global impact has been significant as we have seen the implications of this virus unfolding. I want to thank so many CGGS families for their support as we have managed, and continue to manage, the staggered start to the year for a number of our students. I am also very grateful to our teachers for their care and support through their regular communication to their students.

Whilst the commencement of each school year is always special, this year, and on the 11 February, our formal start was extra special because we marked the date that our school commenced as St Mark’s Church School in 1920. We started in St Mark’s church hall with eight students and one teacher, Miss Dorothy Collier. It was a great privilege to welcome Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria and her husband, Mr Anthony Howard AM QC as our special guests at our Centenary Commencement Ceremony.  Bishop Genieve Blackwell officiated and Murrundindi conducted a Welcome to Country. 

The Governor generously spoke to all groups in our community, starting of course with our students. She acknowledged the importance of our school in the community and the significance of reaching such a milestone in our history. The Governor highlighted our commitment to service through our school motto Utilis in Ministerium, encouraging girls to take this commitment into their lives beyond school. In educating our girls to respond to a changing world, the Governor acknowledged the complexity of the future of work and organisations. She also acknowledged the work of those who volunteered their services to the important role of governance and laying strong foundations for the benefit of future generations, just as our forebears did.

I would like to thank the numerous staff, both teachers and professional services staff who ensured our Centenary Commencement Ceremony, led by Revd Helen Creed and Mrs Kate Daffy was such a success. In addition, I am very grateful to all of the parents who were able to share this special event with us.

This year we have welcomed a number of new teachers with extensive experience and interests to CGGS:

Mr Micah Wilkins (Head of Digital Learning and Innovation)
Micah is a very experienced teacher, VCE Assessor and leader in the digital space. In this new leadership role he will work across Ormiston and Senior School. Micah joins us from MacRobertson Girls High School.

Ms Rachael Miller (Head of Art and Design)
Rachael is a very experienced teacher, VCE Assessor and department head in art and design. She joins us from Patterson River Secondary College.

Ms Melinda De Haan (Senior School Learning Enrichment Coordinator)
As an experienced English and Learning Enrichment teacher and coordinator, Melinda joins us from Oxley Christian College.

Ms Leanne O’Doherty (Science and Mathematics Teacher)
Leanne is a highly experienced Science, Biology and Chemistry teacher and former department head who worked with our girls in their VCE Enhancement Program in recent years. Leanne joins us from Balwyn High School.

Ms Nikki Fowkes (Art and Visual Communication and Design Teacher)
Nikki is a highly experienced Art and Visual Communication and Design teacher and former department head who joins us from Korowa Anglican Girls’ School.

Ms Sally Spencer (JS Library Teacher)
Sally joins us as an experienced teacher from Bulleen Heights Special School.

Mrs Michelle May (JS and SS Learning Enrichment Teacher)
Michelle is a highly experienced Learning Enrichment teacher and has been a casual replacement teacher at CGGS in recent years.

We were also delighted to welcome back from leave Revd Helen Creed, Mr Ian Lyell, Ms Eleanor Wood, Mrs Jane Bergamin, Ms Peipei Liu and Ms Jessica Huggett. I would like to welcome Miss Cassandra Semple, Miss Jacqueline Harrington and Mr Jordan Smith as our Deakin Associate Teachers for 2020.

In addition, we welcome a number of new staff to the reception locations in our school. Ms Cathy Horskins is the morning receptionist and Mrs Pauline Sistanis is the afternoon receptionist for the main Senior school reception. Ms Samantha Bullen covers the Student Services Coordinator role in Senior School.

Ms Angelina Rizzuto has commenced as Laboratory Technician and we welcome the following music tutors – Mr Jordan Keily (Percussion), Ms Heather Pisani (Flute), Mr Joel Sena (Clarinet and Saxophone) and Ms Emily Uhlrich (Voice).

I am also pleased to report that during the holidays we have completed the renovation of our Biology and Chemistry Laboratories and preparation rooms, refurbished the Administration Bathrooms, constructed new changerooms and offices in Senior School, completed extensive landscaping at Ormiston, painted the front gates and completed planned and preventative maintenance.

During the holidays we also installed 96 high efficiency solar panels at Junior School and the Early Learning Centre. In addition to this installation, preliminary works also commenced at Senior School for the installation of 272 high efficiency solar panels. We are expecting that the Senior School installation will be completed over the Term 1 holiday period. In working with our supplier, Gippsland Solar, we have been fortunate to procure 400w panels and it is predicted that the solar installation will reduce our C02 emissions by 4.05kilotonnes over a 25 year period. This is a very exciting project and has been very well received by our students.

In 2020 we give thanks to the Founders of our school who dreamt of a school, particularly for girls whose hearts, minds and spirits would be nurtured. A school based on enduring Christian values and a motto that articulates our commitment to service. Throughout the decades this vision has been realised by the members of Council, Life Governors, Principals, staff, students, parents and grammarians who have contributed to this community to build the school that we have today. 

What a great privilege it is to lead such a remarkable school.

With best wishes for the year ahead.

Debbie Dunwoody


Australian Government Collection Notice
We wish to inform all families that the Australian Government Department of Education and Training is conducting its annual collection of student residential addresses. The school is required to provide this information to the government to inform Commonwealth school education policy and funding.

Please be advised, that the school will provide student residential addresses to the Government, however names are not provided.

For full information related to this data collection, click the buttons below.




December 10, 2019

During recent weeks we have had some wonderful events to celebrate the conclusion of the 2019 school year and Christmas season. These have included our final assemblies, Blessing of the Gifts Service at Ormiston (prior to the gift collection from Anglicare), Carols at Camberwell, the Carols Service at St Marks and the Year 6 Graduation Ceremony and Lunch.  To finish off our celebrations we also have the Years 7-9 Presentation Evening tonight.

We have had so much to celebrate in 2019 across all of our year levels and as a community.  We have also experienced our ups and downs and it is our preparedness to work through these that enables us to learn, grow and embrace the new challenges that lie ahead.

It is at this time of year that we also farewell some staff who are leaving.

Mrs Maxine Ewens is leaving CGGS to pursue a career outside of the classroom as Child Link Policy & Practice Officer with the Department of Education & Training. Maxine joined CGGS in April 2012, as the Head of Learning Support and she also held the position of Year Level Coordinator from July 2012 to the end of 2017. Maxine was instrumental in the development of our Mentor program and worked alongside the School Mentor Captains. We wish her all the very best in her new role.

After six years at Ormiston Miss Michelle Kalus has resigned to travel to the UK to live next year. Since 2017 Michelle has coordinated many Service Learning projects such as the Winter Warmth Appeal, World Vision sponsorship of a child, and the Christmas Gift Giving Appeal. However, one new project that Michelle introduced was for the Year 2 students to visit Hedley Sutton, a local aged care centre. We wish Michelle safe travels.

We also farewell Mrs Jenine Caruso who came out of retirement for a term in 2016 and stayed for over 3 years. During her time at CGGS Jenine took on the position of Year Level Coordinator from the commencement of 2018. Jenine has made a significant contribution to the lives of our Year 7 students having made this area of transition her specialty. Her common sense approach, and her excellent communication with all the students and their parents has ensured she has been the perfect in the role. Since introducing drama club and theatre sports activities at Year 7, the number of students undertaking drama at both the House and School level as a co-curricular offering, has grown significantly. We wish Jenine every happiness as she settles into her own next chapter.

We also farewell Mr Brent Woodlock who commenced at CGGS in January 2018, initially as Acting Head of Mathematics and then as Head of Mathematics from the start of this year and has been a much-valued teacher of Mathematics in Years 7-10 and Maths Methods at VCE. We wish Brent all the best as he who continues his career back with educating boys at Scotch College.

During her short time at CGGS, Ms Kirsten Dunsby has enjoyed getting to know her students as Head of Taylor House and in the classroom. She has made a significant contribution to the English Department, however she has the opportunity to return to Brighton Grammar which is much closer to home in a leadership role.  We wish Kirsten all the best for the future.

Having commenced at CGGS this year Ms Emma Harrison has built a strong rapport with the students in her Tutor group, her Year 7 English class and her Language and Learning class as well as with the students she supported individually. Emma’s nurturing and kind nature made these connections easy to form and she was particularly concerned not to be able to see the full year out supporting each of these groups. We wish her all the best for the future.

I would also like to acknowledge Mrs Miranda Jackson who is now on Parental Leave and wish her well.

In addition, I thank the following staff who are concluding their contracts – Ms Stephanie Leslie – Music & Flute Teacher, Year 8 TG Teacher, Mrs Sabrina Zhu – Chinese Teacher, Year 8 TG Teacher, Ms Emily Hui – Y7 Maths teacher, Mrs Alma Tooke – Art Teacher, Ms Ginetta Chiodo – Art Teacher, Ms Annalise Gehling – RE Teacher. Our Deakin Associate teachers – Ms Sophie Brugliera, Ms Harriet Cooper and Ms Monica Clarke, Ms Kim Yeomans – JS Library Teacher, Ms Marianne Rigby-Black – JS Music Teacher and Ms Jeanette Acland – JS RE Teacher.

The theme of our Year 6 graduation this year was ‘The future belongs to those who are inspired by beauty in their dreams’. The Christmas season is a time we reflect on the things that are important to us, and maybe beauty is one of those things. Let me share with you an excerpt from my speech.

“Beauty inspires us to count our blessings, for blessings we have in abundance in this lucky country and school of ours. It’s important  to remember we only have one life to live and that we should cherish it and make of it the very best. As humans we may be different, but we have the same dream and aspiration… to find meaning and purpose in our lives. My hope is that in being deeply grateful and appreciative of what our school community has, and stands for, that we will all capture the desire to make a difference… to work as one… staff, parents and students… in helping to create the future, not being satisfied just by walking step by step towards it”.

On behalf of the Staff at Camberwell Girls Grammar School we wish you and your family the gifts of the Christmas Season – peace, hope, joy and love.

Have a very happy and safe holiday and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2020.

With best wishes,
Debbie Dunwoody




November 29, 2019

With the festive season fast approaching and our Carols at Camberwell event happening tonight, it is my delight to welcome Head of Religious Education, Dr Rev Duncan Reid to share with you a Christmas reflection in this weeks CamNews.

The Prince of Peace: a Christmas Reflection

‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and on Earth – Peace’ (Luke 2:14). In these words, according to Luke, the angels greeted the shepherds on that hillside outside of Bethlehem, one cold night, a long time ago. Several hundred years earlier, Isaiah had predicted the coming of the Messiah as ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). So peaceseems to be a bit of a theme with this baby, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time. In the time of Isaiah, and many centuries later, when his prediction finally comes true, peace was something people desperately longed for.

And for us, in our time – not a lot seems to have changed. We also find ourselves to be in need of peace. We hear of conflicts in the Middle East, and of great world powers jockeying for position in our part of the world, and the continued stockpiling of nuclear weapons around the world. Usually we think of peace, and our need for it, as peace between human beings. Everywhere we look we see lack of peace, between nations, between ethnic and religious communities, between political positions, between individuals. The Prince of Peace puts a question mark to all this.

In addition to these obvious instances of conflict and preparedness for conflict, we need to consider a more hidden scene of conflict, that between humankind and the Earth itself. Ever since the early modern scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626), made explicit our human quest to interrogate nature, we human beings have been doing just this. We have forgotten that Bacon also said we ‘command nature by obeying nature’; or rather, we have tended to emphasize the commanding at the expense of the obeying. We have often resorted to the most invasive means of interrogation at our disposal, and we have been very efficient at what amounts to this attempt to command the Earth and its creatures, both human and non-human. We have been far less effective at sitting quietly and listening to what the Earth, and nature itself, have been trying to say to us.

Furthermore, this quest to interrogate and command Earth has been driven by the perception that conflict – the ‘law of the jungle’ as we sometimes call it – is the natural state of living things. We have presupposed that something other than peace is the default position for mutual human interaction, and human interaction with the Earth. Yet now we are slowly learning that maybe, just maybe, it is co-operation – between species of plants and animals, for example – that is nature’s preferred way of operating. The real law of the jungle may in fact be one of cooperation, and of symbiosis. Maybe this is what the Prince of Peace has been trying to tell us all along. And we are waking up to this reality far too late.

So what might the Prince of Peace be saying to us, now, after so long and so damaging an attempt to command nature? He may be saying, as he did at the start of his ministry: think again! we need to change our behaviour (Mark 1: 15). We are not meant to be in conflict with the Earth. It is time to start listening, quietly – to Earth itself.

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM, a Christian Ngan’gi woman from Northern Australia, reminds us that Australian Aboriginal people have always known the value of listening, ‘an inner deep listening and quiet still awareness’, as she puts it. ‘We could not live good or useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn – not by asking questions.’ This includes listening to Earth and its creatures.

This is not so far from the wisdom Jesus would have listened to as he grew:

Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people without strength, yet they provide their food in the summer;
the badgers are a people without power, yet they make their homes in the rocks;
the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank;
the lizard can be grasped in the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.
(Proverbs 30: 24-28).

Maybe, we need to listen again to God’s advice to Job, and should stand in awe of the natural world:

Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer?
Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars, and spreads its wings toward the south?
Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes its nest on high?
(Job 39: 1; 26-27).

Look and listen, and be aware. Jesus was to go on and offer this sort of wisdom himself: ‘Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap…. Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin’ (Luke 12: 24; 27). Look and listen, listen deeply, to what these creatures have to say to us, on their own terms. Maybe this is the Christmas message we need to hear, for our own times.

In the 19th century, the Jewish Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) offered an interesting new interpretation of the ‘us’ in Genesis 1: 26, where the Lord says: ‘Let us make humankind in our image.’ Hirsch suggested we might think of it as God speaking to all the created beings that had already been brought into existence and given life. Because human beings, the late-comers on the scene, might develop the capacity to change and even endanger the Earth, God consults them, Earth and its living inhabitants, to ask if they approve of bringing such a creature into existence. God listens to their opinions.

For Christians, the Prince of Peace has come among us at Christmas, the child of God. But all creation still ‘waits with eager longing’ (Romans 8: 19) to see us living as the Prince of Peace would have us live, as real children of God, children who will live at peace with Earth. Let’s think of this as we contemplate the traditional Christmas crib this year, and notice not just the shepherds and wise men, but also the sheep, the oxen, the donkey, and all the other non-human creatures gathered so peacefully there.

Duncan Reid
Head of Religious Education


Chair of Council Report

Each year the Chair of Council presents a report at the Year 10-12 Presentation Evening.
Please find the 2019 report attached below for your information.

Kind regards

Debbie Dunwoody




November 15, 2019

In August I enjoyed writing to you about the diversity of the CGGS community. I acknowledged that we have welcomed students born in other countries over many years. Through the arrival of Evelyn Douglas (South Africa), Bridget Allan (England) and Ong Yew Har (China) in 1961 and girls from nine different countries in 1962 including Elsie Paisawa from Papua New Guinea (pictured centre above), we were already valuing our global connections!

One of the recognised strengths of CGGS is the feeling of community and connectedness. In 2019 from our current families, 71% of our students were born in Australia, and 29% were born in 25 countries outside of Australia. As I mentioned in August, when we look at the birthplaces of our students and both parents, we have members of our families born in 59 countries outside of Australia compared to 46 countries in 2016. It seems that we have significantly expanded our global reach in the last three years!

At the same time we have also been building our commitment to our indigenous people and their rich culture. Indigenous students have attended CGGS for many years and in late 2014, we were also very honoured to welcome Murrundindi, the ngurungaeta of the Wurundjeri people to our school and he has since remained a close friend, teaching students and teachers about culture and ceremony throughout each year. 

At CGGS, at the commencement of any key event or assembly, we include an Acknowledgement of Country which is an opportunity for us to acknowledge and pay our respect to the traditional owners of the land – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We also celebrate National Reconciliation Week each year, acknowledge key events and support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

In 2016 the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) first opened its doors to indigenous students from remote communities in Australia. This model was developed by Associate Professor Liz Tudor and her husband Ric Tudor OAM (former Headmaster of Trinity Grammar School) along with the MITS Board.  Twenty-two Year 7 students live in a boarding house on Richmond Hill and walk to school each day, located at the Richmond Football Club. At the end of Year 7 these students transfer into independent and government schools in Melbourne.

The vision of MITS is to create pathways to greater opportunity for indigenous students and their mission is the successful and confident transition of indigenous students from home communities into Melbourne schools.

I am very excited to let the CGGS community know that from next year MITS will be extending their boarding program to students beyond Year 7 and I am delighted that we will be welcoming two MITS graduates into Year 8. Ruby and Rumarlea have already spent a number of days in their transition program at CGGSand are very excited, as are we, about the year ahead. 

We have so much to celebrate at CGGS. Education is about learning, but it is also about relationships and valuing others. What an amazing opportunity we all have to engage with our incredibly rich and diverse community as we nurture the compassionate and intelligent young citizens who are and will continue to make our world a place where people feel cared for, respected and valued.

With best wishes, 


Debbie Dunwoody




November 1, 2019

In recent weeks we have hosted two amazing events at our school that were greatly influenced by some of our former students.

In our Shaping the Future event at 6.30pm on Wednesday 23 October 2019, the audience of students, staff, parents, old grammarians and members of the wider community were invited into a discussion with four members of The Outer Sanctum, an all-female group of women who host a weekly football podcast. The group included two old grammarians, Emma Race (1993) a broadcaster and writer and Lucy Race (1987) trainer at the SPJ Football club and business owner, along with fellow podcast members author Nicole Hayes and lawyer and academic Kate Seear.

Throughout the lively and engaging discussion, members of The Outer Sanctum discussed important conversation topics including the voices of women in the AFL, sports journalism and the power of a community of women. We have been so fortunate to have re-connected with Emma and Lucy this year. After seeing our social media posts of our GSV Football team, they came to watch our girls play a game and also joined us for our special presentation of the Reconciliation jumpers and netball bibs during National Reconciliation Week. What an incredible example of our former students supporting their school.

On Tuesday this week we hosted the annual Young Australian Best Book Awards Ceremony (YABBA)at CGGS. Former student and children’s fiction writer Alex Miles (2001) was instrumental in assisting us to be chosen as the hosting school this year. Alex is the author of the Olive Black and Geek Girls Series and has launched one of her books at the school in recent years. We feel very privileged to continue our connection with her.

We welcomed 33 authors and illustrators including Andy Lee (Alex’s brother), Sally Rippin and Terry Denton, along with over 400 students from a range of primary and secondary schools to our school. In addition to the formalities of the ceremony, students were able to meet the authors and speak with them about their books. Isabel Sootoh from Year 6 also received a special award for her invitation illustration.

Throughout the course of the year, Mrs Anne Devenish our Head of Library Information Services has worked tirelessly with the YABBA committee to organise the ceremony. Anne’s enthusiasm and her expertise in children’s literature and in organising large scale community events was invaluable. The President of YABBA, Mr David Linke spoke to me on a number of occasions throughout the day to re-iterate his thanks for all of Anne’s work.

Our Ormiston librarian, Ms Kim Yeomans has also written about the ceremony and the involvement of our CGGS and I share it with you below.

With best wishes

Debbie Dunwoody

Young Australian Best Book Awards Ceremony (YABBA)

Barbara Sutton Hall was buzzing with bookish excitement on Tuesday when CGGS hosted the highly anticipated YABBA Awards Ceremony. It was a fabulous celebration of books and reading and an opportunity to acknowledge some of our favourite Australian children’s book creators.

The Year 5 and 6 VIPs warmly greeted and escorted the YABBA shortlisted authors who were welcomed like rock stars by 500 excited students as they entered the hall. The Vocal Express choir set the tone for a fun morning with their performance of  ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’. There were lots of laughs at the Opening Ceremony at Adam Wallace and James Hart’s crazy attempts to cut the red ribbon. During ‘Squiggle-ology’, talented illustrators, James Hart, Marjory Gardener, Heath McKenzie and the legendary Terry Denton each turned a student’s squiggle into a picture as we watched in amazement. Heath even managed to create a self-portrait from a dot and a squiggle! Budding authors listened carefully as Andy Lee, Sally Rippin, Jacqueline Harvey, Felice Arena and Tim Harris answered ‘Burning Questions’ about their writing. We were very proud of Isabel Sootoh when she was acknowledged for her winning YABBA illustration. Then author, Gabrielle Wang was awarded the Graham Davey Citation for her impact on Australian Children’s Literature and reminded us “Books open our eyes so our imaginations can fly.” 

Cheers erupted as the winning books were announced and there was great excitement as the ever-popular Aaron Blabey and Andy Griffiths appeared via video on the big screen. Congratulations to all of the shortlisted and winning authors and illustrators. These are the winners of the 2019 YABBA Awards:

Picture Story Book:

Seriously, Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee and Heath McKenzie

Fiction for Younger Readers:

The Bad Guys: Do-You-Think-He-Saurus? by Aaron Blabey

Fiction for Years 7- 9:

The 104-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Fiction for Older Readers:

Maybe by Morris Gleitzman

After the formal ceremony, the CGGS gymnasium was filled with readers eager to meet some of their favourite Australian literary idols and have their books signed. Those students who patiently waited in never ending lines to meet Terry Denton and Andy Lee demonstrated true commitment!

Thank you to the book creators who gave their time to attend and to the YABBA committee and our Head of Library, Mrs Devenish for an unforgettable YABBA Awards.

‘The greatest gift is a passion for reading’. (Elizabeth Hardwick)

Kim Yeomans
Ormiston Library Teacher




October 18, 2019

The arrival of Term 4 always signifies commencement of the celebration of important milestones in education – from completing secondary education for our Year 12 students through to the orientation and transition programs for new and continuing students later in the term.

At 3.25pm today the school bell rang for only the second time this year (the first was at the commencement of the Year 7 Welcome Ceremony). Today it was to signify the final day of secondary schooling for our Year 12 students. Whilst some of our girls have already commenced their oral and performance exams, the rest are now preparing for the first of their final assessments. We are very proud of our 2019 Year 12 cohort as they have led with enthusiam and zest motivating teams of students in many areas, as well as working consistently in their academic programs thoughout the year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them all the very best in their final examinations and for all the opportunities that lie ahead.

Last week, Jacqui Wagner who is a member of our School Council opened the VCE Art Show. Jacqui is an architect who has a great interest in Art, Design and Creative Thinking. As a member of the School Council, she also sits on the Property Sub-Committee. Jacqui acknowledged the quality of the work, variety of different media featured and the utilisation of sophisticated technology located in our MakerSpace such as the laser cutter and 3D printers. I am very grateful to our art team for bringing this exhibition together.

At our Years 10-12 Presentation Evening last night, we were able to showcase and celebrate many students and their work. Whilst we celebrated the significant academic achievements, we also highlighted the many citizenship, service, community and co-curricular contributions as well. This is very important as we are committed to the development of the whole person and we value the development of broader competencies, skills and ethical capacities – attributes that we know are integral to their future success.

Last night I was delighted to share that 25% of our 2019 Year 12 cohort have already received offers from the Australian National University (ANU) and LaTrobe University. Entrance requirements into ANU are not solely based on the ATAR but also on contribution to the community in service and other co-curricular interests. This is also common in international university applications and this part of the application has been already satisfied. Through the LaTrobe University ASPIRE program, students again have satisfied these requirements through avenues such as their community service, volunteering for groups, such as coaching sporting teams, participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and other co-curricular programs. At LaTrobe, students accepted into the ASPIRE program can gain entry into courses with a conditional offer ATAR. For example, for entry into Physiotherapy in 2019, the ATAR at LaTrobe was 97. The community engagement component makes up a large part of the selection criteria. For those accepted into the ASPIRE program the conditional offer ATAR was 92. All eleven of our Year 12 students who applied have been accepted into the ASPIRE program, so clearly the strength of their applications has been outstanding. Whilst the girls may still choose different courses, it is significant that they already have considerable options.Next week we look forward to our Leavers’ Service and Valedictory Dinner.

This year our students have been led by 3 incredible young women: Nikki Chen (School Captain), Stephanie Lysikatos (Vice Captain) and Ellie Zhou (Vice Captain). They have served our community with dedication and humility. Nikki, Steph and Ellie have worked in a truly collaborative way with all other captains and leaders, have been mindful of the needs and the desires of both the student body and the school, and have engaged others to create many inspiring and thought provoking activities, presentations and events. Nikki, Steph and Ellie have truly embraced our school values of integrity, commitment, respect, hope and courage in all of their work this year and we won’t forget the NES team’s zest for all they do! I thank them on behalf of our community for their service.

I am pleased to confirm that we will be finishing our Science Laboratory refurbishments over the Christmas break. The Chemistry and Biology Laboratories with associated preparation rooms will be completed ready for the beginning of the 2020 school year. This three year project will see the complete renovation of four Science Laboratories and the construction of a Robotics Laboratory and MakerSpace. I am very grateful to the many members of our community who have supported the important upgrade of these facilities.


With best wishes

Debbie Dunwoody




September 6, 2019

The Gift of Our Time

Being an educator is an incredible privilege and I delight in letting anyone who will listen know that it is the best job in the world.

Educators share with parents the wonderful responsibility of supporting young people to grow and become compassionate young citizens, that understand the responsibility to build a more just and sustainable world. One of the joys of my role is attending events where our students demonstrate their learning, and I particularly appreciate those events where parents are also present.

Our Father’s Day Breakfast each year is a real delight! After a quick breakfast there is the Ormiston Soccer and the Senior School Basketball match between girls and their fathers. There is no end of fun on the court and a perpetual cup to be won. Distractions are sometimes employed like hugging fathers and congratulatory ‘high fives’!

Recently our children loved showing their parents their artwork at the Ormiston Art Show and older girls were so proud when their parents attended the sporting matches and Celebration of Sport Dinner to also acknowledge achievements.

The quality of our music program is also outstanding – influenced by the number and range of abilities of students who participate and the expertise of the staff who enable the presentation of truly outstanding pieces. Our students practice every week to master their pieces for music events.  At our recent Festival of Music concert, all the parents I spoke to indicated that they would happily pay to attend such a high calibre performance and shared with me gratitude for the incredible work of staff.

So why focus on this in my editorial? On many of the occasions I have spoken of, many parents do not attend. Many drop their daughters off at events and return 1-2 hours later to pick them up.

Whilst I know we all lead busy lives, for those who do not engage with their daughters in these events, it is time to reconsider. As adults, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of our time. Our daughters regularly demonstrate their excellence, and in doing this demonstrate their commitment, their struggles and their growth. They show us who they are, and who they are becoming, and it is important as adults that we appreciate this.

As parents we can never get time back. We can never again experience that performance, or that moment that we missed. That sheer joy and connection.

These are the special times in our lives in this busy world. Where better to find joy and meaning in our lives than with our children?

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody



I am delighted to announce that the The Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, accompanied by Mr Anthony Howard AM QC, has accepted our invitation to attend our Centenary Commencement Ceremony to be held on Tuesday 11 February 2020 commencing at 10.45am.  This special occasion will be a wonderful event to launch our celebrations.

All parents and guardians are most welcome to attend. Additional information regarding this event will be sent closer to the date.




August 23, 2019

Senior School Student Wellbeing Curriculum and Programs

During this year, under the leadership of Ms Nirvana Watkins, Deputy Head of Senior School – Wellbeing Curriculum & Programs, we have enhanced a number of our student wellbeing programs, as well as continuing to integrate elements of wellbeing into our curriculum offerings.

The Development of the Whole Person is one of the pillars in our Strategic Plan. We define it as nurturing the spiritual, academic, physical, emotional and social character of each girl to prepare her to embrace opportunities with confidence, resilience and a sense of responsibility for others. We also know that wellbeing and academic achievement are linked, so it is important that if we aim to maximise the potential of each individual, that a focus on wellbeing is also an important component of a holistic education.

A summary of a number of the key programs and approaches offered at each year level is detailed below to give you an understanding of the breadth of some of our programs.

Year 7

In the transition to Year 7, a key facet of the Wellbeing curriculum is to build a “Connected Community”.  In addition to the extensive Transition Program undertaken at the beginning of the year, connectedness is achieved through explicit teaching of friendship strategies, teamwork and inclusion. Additionally, the tutor group model allows Year 7 students to build close connections with their peers and their tutor with a ratio of 12 students to each tutor teacher.

During Term 3, Year 7 students are delving into personal values and connecting these to the CGGS values of Integrity, Commitment, Respect, Hope and Courage. This inquiry culminates in a Poetry Slam competition in which students express their values through the form of spoken word poetry. It is quite amazing to see the development of the somewhat shy and possibly overwhelmed students that walk through the school gates at the start of the year, to the confident, articulate and values-driven presentations that we see at the end of Term 3!

In addition to this school-based curriculum, Year 7 students also benefit from a number of wellbeing incursions throughout the year, such as Project Rockit. Students also develop their personal skills and connections through the Education Outdoors program and their year level camp, which provides age-appropriate challenges in a safe environment, encouraging risk-taking and a growth mindset.

Year 8 Healthy Minds

The Healthy Minds Program was developed by an award-winning clinical psychologist Dr Tom Nehmy from Adelaide in South Australia. After working as a clinical psychologist in government, corporate and private practice, Dr Nehmy became concerned about the number of clients (both children and adult) who exhibited signs of unhelpful thinking and behavior that could have been prevented.

Dr Nehmy’s observations developed into his PhD research project at Flinders University that has subsequently given rise to the Healthy Minds Program. Published in the prestigious international peer-reviewed journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, Healthy Minds teaches the skills of effective emotion regulation, helpful decision making and balanced thinking. Healthy Minds was awarded the Flinders University Vice-Chancellor’s Prize and is developing an international reputation in health and education as a highly effective program.

This year CGGS partnered with Dr Nehmy who conducted this program in Year 8 during Term 2, where he trained staff and students and provided information evenings for parents accompanied by weekly parent modules.

We were delighted to be the first school in Victoria to undertake the Healthy Minds Program and we were very grateful to the Parents and Friends Association for providing the funds to undertake this program and accreditation in our pilot year.

Year 9: Pop-Up Learning, Cognizance Project, Enlighten Education

Year 9 Wellbeing has a focus on ‘Personal Growth’ as the underpinning theme for the year. The three key elements of the wellbeing program are:

Pop-Up Learning

Pop-up learning opportunities have allowed students to explore their passions, their future, and the enriching experience of service through a series of two-day special programs. They focused on blending personal communication and collaboration skills with key thematic explorations.

The Pop-Up Learning opportunities have included:

> Service Learning Dignity Conference

> AI for Good Design Thinking Challenge

> Me, You, Us City Experience and Community Exploration

Cognizance Project

The Cognizance Project is a research program in metacognition, undertaken in partnership with Jared Cooney Horvath (University of Melbourne) and Independent Schools Victoria.
More than 200 parents and students attended an introductory session A Tour Through the Teenage Brain with Jared in July. This term students are undertaking 4×90 minute seminars with Jared, focused on ‘Hacking the Brain’ (the metaphor of the brain as a computer is used):

> Get Your Mind Right (Stories and Errors)

> Master the Hardware

> Gaming the System

> Own your Learning

Cognizance aims to build students’ self-awareness of the process of learning and how they can master thinking dispositions and neuroscience to optimize their learning. Our girls were very enthusiastic after their first session with Jared, in which he challenged their perceptions and bent their brains with optical illusions.

Enlighten Education

For the past six years, CGGS has engaged Enlighten Education to deliver their full-day workshops to Year 9 students. The bespoke workshops are tailored to meet the needs of the cohort and focus on building self esteem, interpersonal skills and resilience. At the end of the workshop one of the students commented in her reflection,“I now know to not feel uncomfortable in my own skin, that we can do anything we put our minds to, to take time for myself, how to be safe and assertive and the value of friendship. I loved everything!”

Year 10: Stress, Study, Success

Wellbeing programs in Year 10 are focussed on preparing students for the challenges of Year 10 and their VCE studies. Form groups have delved into the concept of stress and dealing with the negative outcomes of an increased workload. Students have investigated various strategies in order to overcome pessimistic thoughts as well as developing coping strategies. To compliment the focus on managing stress there has been the focus on building a sustainable range of study skills. As students approached the mid-year examinations, they were presented with a number of techniques to assist in their preparation for assessment. An emphasis on individualisation was a key component as we know that students learn, retain and apply information in a range of different ways.

Term 3 has seen a focus on goal setting and the importance of having a growth mindset. Through the use of vision boards students have had the opportunity to develop, set and visualise their goals for the remainder of this year and into the future. With an emphasis on image, colour and slogans, goals have come alive in a form that relates to each individual student. In addition, pop-up learning opportunities have included a session on the importance of inclusion as well as a collaboration to develop a short-film relating to a significant social issue.

Year 11 and 12 Mental Fitness Training – Study Skills

A series of Mental Fitness Training university-style lectures have been provided to students to cultivate healthy dispositions and proactive approaches to learning. These have been the focus of Mental Fitness Training in Year 11 and 12.

The lectures have been tailored to the context and challenges encountered by VCE studentswith themes such asMaximising Study Potentialand Getting Grit and Being Successful. Topics have included:

> Success Scripts

> Sleep, Devices and Study apps

> Feedback and assertive help seeking

> Effort counts twice

> Passion and Skills

Year 11 and 12 Mentoring and Year 10 Big Sister Little Sister Program

House Mentoring occurs fortnightly with the Year 11 and 12 Captains and Leaders taking on the role as mentors. A preparation session takes place each fortnight and there is also a focus on the development of leadership skills for the student facilitators.

A new initiative led by the School Captains this year was the Big Sister Little Sister Programthat commenced in Term 2 and included 1-2 sessions each term.

In this program, Year 10 students mentored Year 7 students. As the program develops it is intended that student connections will be sustained throughout the older students’ VCE years to ensure every student in every year level has a connection to a big sister or little sister.

In addition, Camberwell Girls Grammar School and Camberwell Grammar School have conducted a number of parent education seminars held between both schools. They have included:

> February: Paul Dillon
Risk Taking:  Why do teens do the things they do?  What can parents do to keep them as safe as possible?

> March: Andrew Fuller
Creating Healthy Families

> April: Robyn Treyvaud
The Parent’s Survival Guide to Children, Technology and the Internet

> June: Maree Crabbe
Pornography, Young People and Sexuality Today

> August:  Michael Gordon
Building Resilient Teachers

This seminar series is run annually, and we will advertise the 2020 series early next year.


With best wishes

Debbie Dunwoody


As part of our ongoing commitment to continuously improving the school, we believe it is critical to seek each parent and guardian’s opinion on a range of issues relating to Camberwell Girls Grammar School. Your feedback is very important to us as we continue to build a successful school and strengthen our reputation as an ‘educator of choice’.

As such, we have again engaged the professional services of MYP Corporation (MYPCorp) to undertake a strictly private and confidential School Results Survey on our behalf. The survey should take approximately 10 – 15 minutes and will need to be completed online between Monday 26 August 2019 and Friday 6 September 2019.

At the beginning of next week you will receive survey instructions and a personalised login to complete the survey. While we encourage you to participate, the survey is not compulsory. If you decide that you do not want to complete the survey, simply click ‘unsubscribe’ in the instruction or reminder email. Thank you for your assistance in helping to shape the future direction of Camberwell Girls Grammar School.