October 29, 2021

Valuing Student Voice

We believe that student voice is an essential part of a CGGS education, and the culture of an organisation that values ideas and a diversity of perspectives enables this to happen. In valuing the views and perspectives of our students, staff and parents, we all work together towards the best outcomes for all.

Feedback is gained from students in a variety of ways and one of these is our Years 5 – 12 survey. This year we have re-designed our survey using the expertise of an external consultant to ensure that it is robust and built on contemporary research to prompt the most insightful and helpful responses from students.

Our Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing, Kath Woolcock, has overseen this important process and I have invited her to share this with you. We also look forward to sharing the insights and outcomes with you in due course.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

CGGS Years 5 – 12 Student Survey

At CGGS student voice and student agency are essential components of our school culture, and we regularly collect feedback and engage in discussions with students on important and meaningful issues. We do this with a very real understanding of the powerful benefits that listening to, and acting on student voice can have, including increasing engagement in learning, encouraging collaboration between students and teachers, and creating a positive environment and culture.

Across the year students have many opportunities to share feedback, both formally and informally, including through the Student Representative Council (in both Junior School and Senior School), representation on committees such as the Uniform Committee, program specific questionnaires, focus groups, and through the CGGS Annual Student survey.

Over the past 10 years CGGS has conducted a student survey (they have differed slightly across the years) as one of the most important methods of gathering student feedback and understanding student experience at CGGS.  All students from Years 5 – 12 are given the opportunity to complete this survey and through a series of open and closed questions, anonymously share their opinions and perspectives on CGGS culture as well as the academic, wellbeing and co-curricular programs on offer. The open questions provide the opportunity to expand on aspects of their school experience that they feel most engaged in and those of concern.

In 2021, we engaged Dr Bengianni Pizzirani from the Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence, Department of Health and Human Services (Victorian Government), to undertake a review and redesign of the CGGS Annual Student Survey. The purpose was to ensure that the questions and data collection methods reflected current research on student wellbeing and learning and that the survey outcomes and actions drive improvement.

Dr Pizzirani has a background in developmental social psychology and behavioural statistics, and he has conducted research and taught in a variety of healthcare and educational contexts across multiple government departments, leading universities, and NGOs internationally.  As a research consultant, he regularly supports organisations in the use of data analytics and pragmatic research designs to drive informed model and program considerations, implementation and improvement.  We are very fortunate to have secured this partnership with him.

Over a four-month period, Dr Pizzirani reviewed our survey by working through a rigorous process of analysis, research and evaluation. He has spent time looking at past CGGS data and reviewed international student wellbeing and learning studies to reframe our survey framework so that it better reflects validated measures and associated outcomes. In collaboration with the wellbeing team, Dr Pizzirani has now designed a more comprehensive data collection set which allows us to contextually measure against national and international standards or norms, providing insights and recommendations that are specific to CGGS students. Furthermore, while all responses are completely anonymous, the new framework of questions has created more robust criteria and demographic insights within student groupings that CGGS can use for comparisons.  This more sophisticated information and analysis will allow us to better identify changes over time, code and map trends and target specific areas for further focus.

The redesigned survey, maps and includes eight key areas of school life that are linked to wellbeing, school culture and learning, and in 2021, will also include an exploration of the impact of COVID-19. A summary of the aspects covered in the survey can be seen in the image below.

The data from this survey, combined with other methods of feedback, will be used to evaluate current programs, analyse areas of success and to identify areas of the student experience and student learning that are to be celebrated as well as those that require further focus.

As we have done in the past, results of this survey will be shared with our school community through the annual report and at year level presentations, and several student focus groups will be established to provide an important space for students to explore the trends and results, and to create meaningful actions and opportunities for our whole community going forward.

We look forward to sharing more with you later this term and in early 2022, and in the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kath Woolcock
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing




October 15, 2021

We Rise by Lifting Others

I distinctly remember a regular guest presenter to the school describing to me that each time he visits he feels ‘the invisible thread of kindness’ that is woven through Camberwell Girls. I feel very proud that others experience this and that for decades former students, staff, parents and visitors have identified the welcoming and caring community that exists.

‘We rise by lifting others’ is a well-known quote by Robert Ingersoll. It reminds us that when we treat others with kindness, respect and with a genuine desire to help, we too can experience positive mental and physical changes through the release of hormones in our body. The culture of a community is strongly reflected in the relationships of the members of that community. Many visitors to our school will often comment on the positive and respectful interactions they witness between students themselves as well as students and staff – interactions that focus on wanting the best for all. Our student leaders play an important role in continuing to build and honour this culture.

In our Senior School Assembly this week we thanked our 2021 School Captains who rose to the massive challenge to lead during a second year of a global pandemic. It is during challenging times that you witness the integrity and strength of leadership and our team led by Sophia Giagoudakis, Eloise Webster and Ashley Olsen have done just that!

Leadership is about service, and in serving others, leaders are constantly responding to the needs of their community and change. All our Captains have reorganised, re-imagined and initiated many versions of our co-curricular and wellbeing programs to engage, entertain and connect our community, together – apart. The legacy of our 2021 Captains has been far and wide as they have honoured our values of integrity, commitment, respect, hope and courage. As they conclude their tenure, we convey our sincere thanks and we recognised them in our Presentation Evening last night (pre-recorded).

At this week’s Assembly we also announced our School Captains for 2022. I warmly congratulate:

> Teagan Diep – School Captain

> Isabel D’Souza – School Vice Captain

> Charli Lincke – School Vice Captain.

Staff are looking forward to working with and supporting Teagan, Isabel and Charli as they lead their team of Captains to continue to connect our community in this important year ahead and to ‘rise by lifting others’.

I know that you will join me in wishing our Class of 2022 all the very best, as they build upon the work of those who have gone before, and continue to strengthen a culture of inclusivity and kindness, one focussed on our fundamental purpose of service to others.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




September 3, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

In my video editorial, I am focussing on the importance of reducing pressure during this time of change and uncertainty – for children and adults. As always, please make contact with us if we can support you.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




August 20, 2021

The Importance of Self Care

Last week the annual Anglican Schools Conference was held virtually for the first time. With over 200 delegates from across Australia and internationally, the Melbourne Conference Committee created a program around the theme of ‘Intersection’ exploring the intersection of faith and learning. Reverend Helen Creed and I were very honoured to be a part of the organising committee, where our keynote presenters included Major Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army, Brooke Prentis from Common Grace, Scott Holmes from the Diocese of Melbourne’s Preventing Violence Against Women Program and Ambassador Jamie Isbister, Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment. We explored what it means to be an Anglican School and how we can put our Anglican identity into action.

During the conference one of the speakers was talking about the shaping of culture in our schools, and how this work begins with the adults in the organisation, then flowing onto students. To illustrate this, she showed a picture similar to the one below of an adult putting their oxygen mask on in a plane before assisting the child with theirs. In planes we are reminded during the safety check that we need to care for ourselves, so that we don’t limit our ability to care for others.

I later thought about this analogy and the impact of this lockdown on us all. Many of us feel tired, frustrated and a little worn down, but know that we need to persist in doing what is required to move forward. We are also seeing the impact on our children as they are separated from friends and miss their normal routines and involvements.

How our children manage in times of difficulty can often be influenced by the adults around them. We know that our children often watch us to try and gain some insights that will help them make sense of what is happening and how to respond. As adults and role models, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of our own self-care first to ensure that our children see our strength and calmness in managing difficult situations. This will also help our children to feel less anxious.

I realise that this can be difficult – I am also taking heed of my own words! At a time when many of us are working in roles to support others, we must also prioritise our own self-care, and the way that we do this is unique to each individual. Self-care enhances our own wellbeing and assists our children to feel calmer when times are challenging.

As we navigate our way through this latest lockdown, remember you need to put on your own oxygen mask first to effectively help others. We can do it!

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




August 6, 2021

Focussing on Wellbeing

In my video editorial earlier this term, I talked about the skills and mindsets that our students have developed throughout this pandemic that are demonstrated through their ability to think creatively, manage change, persevere and in events like House Music, demonstrate a flexible mindset to achieve their goals.

Rapid changes into lockdown, such as the one that we are currently experiencing, can be very unsettling for our children and ourselves. One way to provide some stability or reassurance is to continue with, or re-consider the things that brought happiness, joy and a sense of wellbeing to our family lives last year. Many people proudly shared experiences such as:

> playing games together, both inside and outside (if possible)

> doing activities together such as cooking or meal preparation

> exercising together

> sharing experiences where you are intentionally noticing things around you, for examples, the texture of trees or beauty of flowers in your yard

> sharing music together, and

> finding ways to show gratitude.

Valuable time with family members is protective for our children. It provides opportunities to talk about things that interest, entertain and even worry us. We communicate and support each other, and through moments of joy we feel more connected and energised.

However, at times of heightened anxiety, such as during a lockdown, it is very common to retreat into our devices (adults as well as children), focussing our attention away from each other and often disregarding our need to disconnect from technology for our own wellbeing. As family time can provide moments of joy to connect and energise us, it needs to be prioritised and planned.

Young people’s dependency on devices to be connected not only in classes and activities, but also with friends online is significant. For many, the reduction of other opportunities during lockdowns also accentuates this time spent on devices. It is important to monitor your child’s use of technology as it is possible that they are accessing a much wider range of sites, and some may not be age appropriate. Typical signs that they need a break from their devices include a determination to be on them, changes in mood, a lack of sleep or disturbed sleep.

Being present and sharing enjoyable family experiences during lockdown is not only prioritising our children’s wellbeing, but our own as well.

Please reach out to any of us if you need assistance during this time.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




July 23, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this edition of CamNews finds you well. I thought that it would be appreciated to share a video this week rather than supplying you with more to read. Yesterday I reflected on how far we have come as a community since entering our first lockdown last year. We have all developed new skills and we now enter each lockdown swiftly and transition with ease. I am so proud of how agile the CGGS community is. I hope that you are able to share some lovely family moments over the weekend and I do hope that we are able to return to school next Wednesday.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




June 25, 2021

It is my pleasure to introduce the lead article for CamNews this week. Our three School Captains – Sophia, Eloise and Ashley, with the support of School and House Captains and Student Leaders have embarked upon their theme “SAIL“ as they navigate the waves of 2021.  Their goal this year is to reinforce the sense of belonging and embrace all that is Camberwell Girls.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all families for their support this term and I hope that you all have time to relax and recharge during the holiday break.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

Following the rollercoaster year of 2020, we – Sophia, Eloise, Ashley (SEA), have been entrusted with the role of School Captains of Camberwell Girls Grammar School in 2021. We stepped into our positions eager to make a difference, while apprehensive of what the year ahead would bring as we navigate through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are excited to host the postponed centenary events celebrating this significant milestone during the school’s 101st year.

When deciding upon our theme for 2021, we wanted to embrace the challenges we have faced whilst also adopting a positive outlook towards the future. Our chosen theme for this year, “SAIL”, which stands for, Support, Authenticity, Inclusion and Love – all values we want to embrace in 2021.

As we SAIL to a brighter future for 2021, we focus on understanding the presence of our strong support network, catching us when we fall and praising us on our achievements and individuality. We give ourselves the opportunity to be authentic, in a safe and encouraging environment with those who support us.

To further broadcast this theme, we have utilised the ‘Wonder Wall’ and the school captain Instagram page. When on campus, we encouraged staff and students to express their permeating gratitude and kindness for other members of the CGGS community through ‘Shout Outs’. When at home, we continually showed support through the virtual ‘Shout Outs Padlet’, to promote the love and warmth characterised by the community. Through SAIL, we discover the best aspects of our school and unite to face any hardSHIPS that 2021 may present.

Term 1 – Support

The letter ’S’ stands for Support, which we focused on during Term 1. We believe support means to always be there for one another and encourage everyone’s endeavours.

Our first initiative as School Captains was coordinating our Valentine’s Day stall. We organised a hand painting stall and a game of “guess the amount of heart chocolates in the jar”. We also offered a ‘rainbow’ painted heart option in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. This initiative helped the CGGS community celebrate the love we have for one another. The colourfully-clad Year 12’s exuded considerable amounts of spirit which bolstered the success of the day.

To introduce the 2021 Student Leadership Team, we produced a video to announce our passionate leaders. Inspired by the introduction of the classic TV show ‘Friends’, the high-spirited video enabled staff and students across all year levels to meet their student leaders. The video was so popular it was also uploaded to the @CamberwellGirls Instagram and Facebook for the wider community to view.

As a new strategy to invigorate staff and students between classes, we created an initiative titled ‘Find the Fish!’. The hidden miniature replica of the Centenary mosaic fish in the CGGS water feature created an engaging hunt, assisted by a cryptic clue sent out to hint at its whereabouts. The influx of photos we received was sensational, illustrating the active participation of the CGGS community.

Term 2 – Authenticity

The ‘A’ in “SAIL” stands for Authenticity, reflecting how we define ourselves and the way in which we choose to live. Our Term 2 theme highlights how displaying your true self and leading your life according to your desires is important, alongside expressing yourself authentically.

Knowing how to listen to the stories of others is just as important as sharing your own. Inspired by this, we implemented ‘CGGS Speaks’ to enable Camberwell staff and students the opportunity to present on a broad range of topics they are passionate about. As a community, we learnt of a candle business, a bread making passion, a fitness journey and even had a teacher become an author over lockdown! We hope that the community has been enthused by these mini speeches at assembly, motivating and encouraging all to have a voice on topics that matter to them.

We heard from Kathy Kaplan from ‘Impact’ during the International Women’s Day breakfast, our inspiration for creating ‘Watch Week’. During this week, students had the opportunity to wear red – the symbolic colour of ‘Impact’ which raises awareness of women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. CGGS was flooded in a SEA of red and raised over $787! A group of staff and students also set the food tech lab alive with their baking skills and the items were sold at the popular bake sale, staff and students had the opportunity to write positive messages on a paper chain as a symbol of solidarity, along with chalk messages to fill the quadrangle with more awareness and love. From this, a further $497 was raised!

During mid-April, we officially commenced our “Soul Siblings” program with a Year 7 and Year 9 student pairing up and taking part in various activities as “siblings”. This initiative aims to help the Year 7 students settle into their life at Senior School, while providing the Year 9 students with opportunities for leadership before entering their senior years. Through collaborative games on campus and via zoom, we hope that these inter-year level friendships are ones to be cherished.

Term 3 – Inclusion

The ‘I’ in “SAIL” stands for Inclusion and is what we have chosen to explore during Term 3. Lady Gaga once mentioned that “[she] believe[s] in a passion for inclusion”, a characteristic we strongly relate to and have worked earnestly to incorporate into our projects for this term.

Given the circumstances of quarantine during 2020, the CGGS community was largely unable to physically connect amongst ourselves or others externally. We are therefore looking forward to resuming the annual CGGS v CGS Netball Match and from this fundraising event intend to donate goods to ‘Impact’. We hope to include as many students as possible in the orchestration of this event to allow girls to have an opportunity to extend their leadership skills.

Throughout this year, we have continued “Season Two” of the ‘2 Cents Podcast’, originally instigated by FL2, the 2020 School Captains. For the podcast this year, we have had the vision to share our ‘two cents’ on a variety of social topics, to engage student voice and yield advice to everyone in our school community. In Term 1, we focused our episodes on our theme of ‘Support’ and created an episode about our theme SAIL, a sleep episode and one regarding stress. For Term 2, we discussed social media and the top ten ways to be our authentic selves. In Term 3, we will invite guest speakers to gain wider perspectives on different topics.

This podcast is a wonderful platform to engage with our peers. We have learnt many new skills from hosting this season and we hope the episodes resonate with many.

Term 4 – Love

Our focus for Term 4 will be ‘L’ – Love. We chose love because we wished to project a positive legacy that embraces the whole school community like that of family.

Ultimately, having compassion and caring for each other is necessary to succeed in orchestrating initiatives and exploring our leadership qualities in the best way possible. Having the ability to play to our strengths drives our achievements and builds upon the loving support network around us.

As a trio, we have been blessed with the opportunity to experience such an amazing leadership role. This journey would not have been possible without the support of our fellow captains and crew mates. We also wish to express our gratitude to Mrs Dunwoody, Mrs Poyser, Ms Woolcock and Mrs Robinson. As our mentors they have taught us so many valuable strategies, encouraged us to work collaboratively and to acknowledge our individual strengths.

Sailing is about exploring your strengths yet moving out of your comfort zone to chase growth. When a Camberwell girl steps on board the CGGS ship and sets sail, it is her opportunity to navigate her own journey. She will recognise and call upon her support network to back her own authentic path, including everyone on her voyage through compassion and love. During our time as School Captains, we hope we have in some way inspired everyone through our theme of SAIL.

Be the captain to chart your own journey and never be afraid of storms. For you, are learning to sail your ship.

With best wishes,

Your 2021 School Captains, SEA
Sophia Giagoudakis, Eloise Webster and Ashley Olsen




June 11, 2021

Being our Best Selves

In November last year, the Dunwoody’s welcomed Leo into our family, a miniature golden Groodle.

I adore Leo, not only because I am his favourite (widely acknowledged in our family) but because of what he gives each day. He greets us every morning with excitement (with a look on his face that says – this is the best day ever!), he demands that I stop my work to play ball – finding different ways to make me if I try to dismiss him, he loves walks and he loves it when I try to teach him new things. Leo helps to bring balance to my life at a time when it is difficult to do so. He helps me to try and be my best self.

Today was one of the best days for a number of weeks as our students returned to school after remote learning. We are so pleased to have them back and look forward to helping them re-establish the normal routines and experiences of life over the coming weeks. I want to thank our staff for their dedication and skill in responding to the everchanging demands and to you as parents, for your continued support.

In her role as Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing, Kath Woolcock works extensively on our student wellbeing programs, often with Emma Hinchliffe from Junior School. Aware of our aim to help young people flourish, Kath has written an article titled Bored and Brilliant where she highlights this, and I attach it for you along with a summary of the importance of play.

I do hope you have received your electronic invitation to attend the CGGS Centenary Gala at Leonda By The Yarra on Saturday 31 July 2021.  This event will bring members from the entire CGGS community together to celebrate 100 years of our wonderful school. With fine food, beverages and great entertainment, I do hope as current parents, you will get together and join me for a magical night of celebration.

Everybody who buys tickets before the Early Bird special closes will go into a draw to win some great prizes. There will be two lucky winners drawn, so I encourage you to purchase your tickets now. There will also be an exciting announcement made next week, so stay tuned. Full event information can be found by visiting:  If you have any enquiries, please contact Kate Daffy in our Foundation Office –

As we continue to face the challenges of our time, I hope that you all have many ‘Leos’ in your life who help to distil the important things in your day so that every day you can be your best self.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

Bored and Brilliant

Recently, my nearly 4-year-old daughter sat down next to me on the couch and said, ‘I’m bored’. I didn’t know what or how to respond, and as I sat there contemplating an answer, she promptly jumped up and ran off to set up a tea party with her toy cat.

This exchange got me thinking about boredom and inspired me to do some research about the purpose of boredom and the links between boredom and play. So, where does this idea of boredom come from? What is its purpose and why is it feared so much?

According to an article published by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie for the Smithsonian Magazine, ‘boredom’ first became a word in 1852 with the publication of Charles Dicken’s Bleak House. She goes onto say that, before that, there are examples of Roman philosopher Seneca talking about boredom as a ‘kind of nausea’, while ancient graffiti on Roman walls indicates that the act of defacing property when there is nothing else to do, is an act that has stood the test of time.

The first study of boredom dates back to the 1930s, when psychologist Joseph Ephraim Barmack examined how factory workers coped with the tedious nature of their day – the answer was “stimulants – caffeine, amphetamines, and ephedrine”. Since this study, considerable research has occurred that explores the causes of boredom, the implications of boredom and the benefits of boredom. Ultimately boredom has a purpose, perhaps an evolutionary one, and is it occurs as result of a number of factors including “a situation that is actually boring” and a “predisposition to boredom”. In an evolutionary sense, it is the feeling of being bored and uncomfortable in a situation that can help us to explore or exploit our environment.

What is equally interesting is how we respond to being bored, and it is perhaps no surprise that in this era of instant gratification, that this has changed over time. With so much passive activity in our day, we don’t often get the opportunity to experience ‘real boredom’ and as such we aren’t able to experience the benefits. In fact, adults and teenagers alike do almost everything and anything possible to not be bored, and as such, we have lost some of the benefits that this uncomfortable situation provides us.

One of these benefits of boredom is creativity.  Dr. Sandi Mann designed a study that explored the impact of boredom on finding creative solutions to problems. Effectively, he asked participants to complete twenty minutes of a meaningless task (copying phone numbers out of a book) before devising uses for two paper cups. The test was then repeated with an even more ‘boring’ tasks – reading phone numbers out of a book, followed by another turn at the creative ideas for paper cups. The results proved his hypothesis and highlighted that “people who are bored think more creatively than those that aren’t” (Zomorodi, 2017).

Further scientific benefits of boredom have been noted including letting you know when something is amiss, links to greater goal setting ability and some studies have found a correlation with improved happiness. In saying that, it is also worth noting that boredom can also be linked to higher levels of the stress hormone too as we grapple to sit with the agitation and frustrating of it. Embracing and engaging with boredom takes time and practice.

The links between boredom and play are strong. The Raising Children Network Director, Associate Professor Julie Green, states “”When children are required to find something to do, they’re forced to use their problem-solving skills, creative thinking and imagination to play”. She continues by exploring how we, as parents, and educators, need to hold our nerve, and allow children to sit in the discomfort of being bored so that children have the opportunity to work through it and to find meaningful activities, games and play based opportunities that fit their needs at the time.

Play is in fact, beneficial for people of all ages and while most play-based activities and play based learning is often associated with children of younger ages, we cannot overlook the importance of play for young adults and adults themselves. Play helps people of all ages relieve stress, improve brain function, stimulate the mind and boost creativity, regulate mood and sleep, improve relationships and connections with others and increase energy (Parrot et al., 2020; Starling, 2011). It is has even been suggested that children who were allowed to play in unstructured ways grew up to be adults who could be leaders in life and the workplace (Berman, 2007).

How is play described?

> Play might look challenging as students grabble with concepts, explore equipment or solve problem. It might cause frustration however enjoyment is a key feature.

> Play might be symbolic or pretend, exploring the ‘what if?’ of a situation

> Play might be active and require action, either physical, verbal or mental engagement with materials, people, ideas or the environment

> Play can be voluntary and spontaneous such as recess or lunchtime activities (Shipley, 2008).

What does play look like at CGGS?

> Play might involve using our outdoor equipment at recess or lunchtime

> Play might involve student-directed learning and choice within lessons

> Play might involve experimenting in the Maker Space

> Play might involve problem-based learning experiences, where students are given real world problems to solve

> Play might involve exploration and inquiry-based learning, with hands on experiences and discoveries

> Play. Might involve free time within lessons to explore something that interests them

> Play might be facilitated by co-curricular clubs where students are creating, collaborating, designing, making and exploring areas of passion

At both Junior School and Senior School we provide opportunity for our students to play, to explore, to create, to question, to be active and to problem solve through curriculum, co-curricular activities and the use of physical spaces. We recognise that making time for unstructured play throughout the day enables students’ to effectively engage in their learning (Burriss et al., 2011). Unstructured play at school is undertaken in physical and social spaces and as such, we have invested resources in tese areas. In addition to our existing facilities such as the maker space, oval, gym and courts we have provided new outdoor equipment in Lower Woodstock at the Senior School and also in Junior School for students to play in an unstructured way, enabling them to be agents of their own play, making choices and negotiating rules and behaviours. We have also added a wealth of games and resources to the Library and Year Level areas to support play at the breaks and afterschool.

For children, play is often used in the context of ‘play based learning’, which is where children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they actively engage with people, objects and representations. This type of learning occurs readily in both our Junior School and Senior School as we recognise the benefits of providing students of all ages with the opportunity to play, explore, negotiate, take risks and create meaning. While the context may be different, the premise is the same, that is, quality play experiences assist in the development of memory skills, language, behaviour regulation which leads to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning (Bodrova et al., 2005).

And so, as we come off the back of the Term One holidays and move into the next phase of structure and routine both at home and at school, it is worth remembering that time that is less rigid has its benefits. Being bored is not a bad thing, in fact, it provides a range of possibilities and opportunities for young people, and older people, to play and ultimately to learn.

Kath Woolcock
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing


Bodrova, E. & Leong, D. J. (2005). Uniquely preschool: What research tells us about the ways young children learn. Educational Leadership, 63(1), 44-47.

Help Guide Org International. (2020). The Benefits of Play for Adults.

KQED, Stavely, Z. (2015). How to Bring Playfulness to High School Students.

Parrott, H. M., & Cohen, L. E. (2020). Advocating for Play: The Benefits of Unstructured Play in Public Schools. School Community Journal, 30(2).

Shipley, D. (2008). Empowering children. Play based curriculum for lifelong learning. (Fourth edn). USA: Nelson Education.

Smithsonian Magazine, McRobbie, L. (2012). The History of Boredom – You’ve never been so interested in being bored.

Starling, P. E. (2011). An investigation of unstructured play in nature and its effect on children’s self-efficacy,Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) Disserations.

Zomorodi, M. (2017). Bored and Brilliant: How Time Spent Doing Nothing Changes Everything. Macmillian Publishers.




May 14, 2021

An Education Worth Having

Our work with The University of Melbourne’s New Metrics for Success: Transforming what we value in schools program has been very affirming this year, as it interconnects with our CGGS …BY DESIGN learning architecture.

Over recent years many provocations have emerged from the education sector questioning the effectiveness of the single ATAR score in understanding the holistic capabilities and aspirations of a young person. As a school committed leadership in education, we believe that a CGGS education must be an education worth having by preparing each student for their future. We all value academic excellence and success, but what if our students’ primary pathway to university was no longer determined solely by the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR)?

To be relevant we must be looking forward. We know that in the coming years we will need more than the ATAR – universities are already beginning to move in that direction. Based on research, we determined the key components of a CGGS education and designed our own learning architecture called BY DESIGN. This architecture allows us to methodically and with purpose, design our learning and wellbeing curriculum and programs, whilst also addressing the requirements of curriculum and government authorities. BY DESIGN enables students to complete their core and elective subjects and VCE subjects, and assists them to develop the values, mindsets and skill sets that are needed now and into the future.

As the ATAR is limited in what it measures and reports, new tools need to be developed that will be widely recognised and warranted by educational, corporate and other organisations. These are the tools or credentials that we, alongside 30 other schools selected from across Australia and across the different sectors are designing and developing in conjunction with The University of Melbourne. In our BY DESIGN learning architecture, they are termed Proof Points. The credentials that result from these Proof Points will be invaluable in providing students with the evidence they will need to demonstrate their success and capabilities.

Most importantly, CGGS educators continue to have a voice at the forefront of these developments and are contributing to this important conversation and action globally. I look forward to providing further updates throughout the year.

Last week we celebrated our Centenary Founders’ Service, With grateful hearts and unafraid, at St Paul’s CathedralAlongside students, staff and old grammarians, The Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne and Murrundindi participated in our service. We were delighted that Reverend Amanda Lyons (Class of 2003) joined us to preach and that former Principal, Dr Barbara Fary OAM was in attendance.

It was a very memorable service, and the Founders’ Choir, supported by The Senior School Centenary Strings sang ‘The Centenary Anthem’ a special anthem based on Micah 6:6-8 with music composed by Dan Walker. I would like to thank Rev Helen Creed for creating such a beautiful and meaningful service to acknowledge this special milestone.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




April 30, 2021

Motivation and Learning 

One of the many positive responses we have seen to the challenges we faced over the last 12 months, is how our students are enjoying and appreciating being at school.  There are of course many influences including friends, teachers, the playground, co-curricular activities, inspired learning – and so much more!

The ‘so much more’ can be found in a community; it’s purpose, rhythm, routine, support and consistency. All of these factors are important to wellbeing, learning and in the development of motivation and building resilience in a person.  They are uniquely human factors, because school communities, like ours, engender a sense of belonging and engagement.

Earlier in Term 1 as we entered a ‘circuit breaker lockdown’ and moved to remote learning for three days, our focus was to maintain consistency in learning for our students. We tried not to make too many modifications to the timetable to ensure some predictability for the students to keep them in the rhythm of their learning; to keep them motivated.

Last year I was invited onto an international webinar panel featuring Dr Bror Saxberg a leader in the research and development of innovative learning strategies. The focus of the webinar was on the way that motivation unlocks learning and I was asked to reflect on Dr Saxberg’s work and how it influenced our programs during lockdown.

Dr Saxberg describes motivation as a cognitive and affective process that influences whether a person

> starts a learning task,

> persists with the task once it is started and

> invests adequate mental effort to succeed.

Challenging times can impact motivation and we continue to live through a challenging time with an undefined end point. It is therefore important to understand the key factors that impact motivation and how we can intentionally design our learning experiences to address them.

Through his work Dr Saxberg has identified four key motivation factors that we need to consider when designing our learning. They are:

> Values

> Self-efficacy

> Attribution factors

> Emotions

Firstly, the factor of values acknowledges that we all have different backgrounds, different identities and cultural histories.  As educators we can assist our students to be motivated to engage and persist with their learning by connecting it with lived experiences.  This of course means knowing our students and building a relationship so that we can personalise their learning experience where possible by connecting it to their lived experience or interests.

Secondly, the factor of self-efficacy is about our belief in our capacity to succeed.  It is important that we can help our students see that they ‘can do hard things’.  A great example is the pivot to remote learning last year with little notice or preparation.  Our students managed the change and learned new technologies, processes and strategies throughout this time.  We build self-efficacy by showing our students what they have done before and share stories about the success of others to help them see possibilities.

Attribution factors are about finding things that get in the way of learning.  This can be anything from lack of time, resources or even the need to blame others when things don’t go to plan.  Again, it is about helping to demonstrate to our students that they have agency and can solve problems.  This can be done in familiar ways like showing them what they have done before, sharing the success stories of others, or by highlighting fundamental strategies like breathing to focus and listening or demonstrating how to look for causes of issues and problem solve.

Finally, a person’s emotions can have a significant bearing on their motivation. Negative emotions including anger, fear, depression and personal anxieties can be approached in a variety of ways from deep listening conversations, through to activities to build community and if needed, professional help.  Professional help can include working with our school counsellors or external health professionals.

As we continue to design our learning at Camberwell Girls and look towards the future, we will develop some asynchronous opportunities that enable choice and personalisation of learning. However, there is no doubt that building motivation to enhance learning is founded in the establishment of authentic relationships through real experiences with our students, so that they feel a sense of belonging to a community and as a result, excitement to learn.

‘A Century of Stories’ Book Launch

Last Wednesday evening, members of the school community gathered in the School Library for the launch of, A Century of Stories – a celebration book produced to celebrate the 100th Birthday of Camberwell Girls Grammar School.

This event was to be held last year, so excitement was certainly in the air as the book was unveiled for the first time.

It was a delight to welcome the publisher, Neil Montagnana-Wallace and author Jacqui Ross as our special guests. Neil and Jacqui shared an insight into the work that they carried out over two years to produce the book. They also spoke of the importance of storytelling.

As a school, we felt a book of stories was appropriate to honour the school’s 100th birthday, as a formal history book was produced for the school’s 90th birthday.

A Century of Stories opens with a short yet comprehensive history and is followed by a series of 100 stories. These stories capture the voices of so many members of our community, conveying the culture, history and values that permeate an education at CGGS. The photographs and light-hearted anecdotes provide a real glimpse into life at CGGS through the decades.

The book truly captures the spirit and essence of our school and most importantly, celebrates 100 continuous years of providing an outstanding education for young women. Designed to be picked up and read as and when you feel like it, or from cover to cover if you so desire – each page illuminates the school’s history in ways that ensure the present makes sense, whilst encouraging us to think a little more about the future we wish to create.

The book is for sale and can be purchased here.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody