School Chaplain


School Chaplain

April 1, 2021

It has been such a joy to share in the celebration of the Easter story with students and staff in both Junior School and Senior School this week.  Last year at this time, I was learning how to use “quick time player” to send an Easter message to our students! How wonderful to be once again gathering together “in person”.

The Easter message is, of course, about the God who respects “persons” in all our uniqueness, and who wants to bring us to fullness of life, without taking away any of our freedom to choose. This morning I spoke to the Junior School students about what makes Easter Sunday the most important day of the year for those who follow Jesus. It’s the good news that God’s love is the most fundamental reality of life. We trust that nothing will be able to overcome that love in the end.  That does not magic away the hurt that we feel sometimes in our lives. But it does give us the strongest reason to hope.

May I take this opportunity to wish those who celebrate Easter a most holy Easter this year; and to everyone a very happy break.

My prayers over this Easter weekend will be for those who are facing difficulty and sadness at this time.

God bless, and see you in Term 2!

Rev Creed




March 19, 2021

CGGS Dads Group and The Fathering Project

Dear Parents and Guardians,

There was excitement in the air last week as we held our inaugural CGGS Dads Group event, a BBQ in the quadrangle at Senior School which over 70 dads attended.

The CGGS Dads Group is a sub-group of the Parents & Friends Association. Its purpose is to engage dads from Early Learning 3 through to Year 12 so that they can socialise and network with others and attend events, including some with their children. We hope that this group will assist some fathers and father-figures of CGGS students to feel more welcome and engage further with our community and with their children. We currently have 6 fathers on the organising committee who are from both Junior and Senior Schools.

Our group was initiated through our partnership with The Fathering Project, an organisation that aims to improve a child’s developmental outcomes through enabling fathers to better engage with their children. This year CGGS has joined The Fathering Project and they will support us by providing resources, as well as delivering programs and events. We certainly hope to build upon this positive engagement for the benefit of students, parents and the school.

After the success of the first event, we will be offering further events in Term 2 and plan to include opportunities for fathers to learn more about our Respectful Relationships programs, initiatives and leadership, drawing upon our experiences in working with students and leading other schools in this area. We will also be able to share some of our new work with ‘Our Watch’ to initiate change.

Kath Woolcock (Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing) has led our Respectful Relationships programs working closely with Cathy Poyser (Deputy Principal/Head of Senior School) and Emma Hinchliffe (Deputy Head of Junior School) during the last four years. She has summarised some of our key work in the article below, and this information along with other resources will be permanently located on SEQTA for parents to refer to at their leisure.

Next term I will also update parents on our work with Our Watch in further engagement with other schools. Our Watch believes that the voices and experiences of young people are central to this work and they have been involved in research around masculinity and harmful relationships where men bond over disrespect for women. The findings of their research was published in 2019 in their paper titled ‘Men in Focus: unpacking masculinities and engaging men in the prevention of violence against women’. If you are interested, please see the link via the button below.

Please refer to Kath Woolcock’s article on Respectful Relationship Initiatives at CGGS below.

I look forward to our continued engagement next term on this important area of focus.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

Respectful Relationships Programs at CGGS

Following on from the Principal’s communication to parents on 6 March, we will be sharing a range of articles and resources in CamNews. We have also created a dedicated ‘Respectful Relationship’ icon on Parent Engage where materials will be uploaded to provide parents with an overview of our programs and structure across both Junior School and Senior School – and then click on the Respectful Relationships icon.

If you wish to discuss any aspects of our programs, please don’t hesitate to make contact with:

> Kath Woolcock, Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing

> Emma Hinchliffe, Deputy Head of Junior School


Respectful Relationships Programs at CGGS

Respectful Relationships are at the core of healthy relationships, whether that be in friendships, between teachers and students, workplaces, families or within intimate relationships.

As a result of the findings from the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2016, the Respectful Relationships education became a core component of the Victorian Curriculum. Secondary to this, was the establishment of the Respectful Relationships Initiative and for the past four years, CGGS has been a lead school delivering professional learning to a number of independent and government schools across Melbourne’s Inner East including; MLC, Strathcona, Ruyton Girls School, Camberwell Grammar School, Trinity Grammar School, Xavier College, Scotch College, Balwyn Primary School, Boroondara Park Primary School, Camberwell South Primary School and Blackburn Primary School.

The Respectful Relationship initiative aims to equip schools and educators with the skills and knowledge to tackle the issue of family violence and gender equality through a preventative whole school approach. It provides a framework to support school settings in promoting and modelling respect and equality, whilst explicitly teaching how to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence.

The Respectful Relationship Team at CGGS has worked closely with staff and students to cultivate an understanding and appreciation for respect, resilience, rights and responsibilities within and across all types of relationships. We have focused on three key areas to shift the dialogue both our own and the wider community across both the Junior and Senior School:

> Student Voice

> Awareness Raising

> Curriculum and Programs


Student Voice

Student voice has been a pivotal component of ensuring that our students take an active and authentic leadership role in the whole school approach to Respectful Relationships. This has been achieved through the following:

> Establishment of the CGGS Annual Student Survey from Years 5 – 12

> Establishment of Student Wellbeing Captains at both Junior and Senior School

> Student Representative Council at both Junior and Senior School

> Senior School Student Wellbeing Focus Groups

> Establishment of the Student Wellbeing Action Group

> Leadership Focus Groups and workshops at both Junior and Senior School

> Attendance at Student Conferences such as International Women’s Day Breakfast and The School Leaders for Gender Equality and Respect Workshop, yLead workshops

> Engagement in Respectful Relationships collaborative projects at both Junior and Senior School


Awareness Raising

In raising awareness of stereotypes, inequalities, power and control in relationships, the aim has been to create a community environment that is informed, confident and ready to step up, lead and to challenge the people and opinions that perpetuate gender inequality. This has been achieved through:

> The Junior and Senior School Respectful Relationship Badge

> Establishment of our annual whole school Celebrating Diversity Week and Diversity Forums

> Student Gender Equality Assessment Tools at both Junior and Senior School

> Celebration of Harmony Day

> Celebrating strong, successful young women across all aspects of society

> Parent Education Seminars and Student Workshops that focus on creating healthy, happy families and building respectful relationships

> International Women’s Day Celebration events

> National Day of Action Against Bullying activities at both Junior and Senior School

> Safer Internet Day event at Junior School

> Hosting of the Anglican Diocese ‘Preventing Violence Against Women’ Conference on 15 May 2021


Curriculum and Programs:

Curriculum has enabled us to provide opportunities for our students to understand relationships, the law, gender identity and to shape their self-concept, self-efficacy, and self-confidence so that they can develop the knowledge and skills required to reject and overcome the gender stereotypes that may attempt to define them. This has been achieved through a number of curricular and program initiatives including:

> The purposefully designed Year 9 Respectful Relationship Health Unit, that tackles gender stereotypes and challenges the ideas of power and control in relationships

> Years 9 and 10 Health Curriculum that explicitly explores consent and the law.

> Junior School BRAVE Curriculum

> Social and Emotional Learning Units across both Junior and Senior School

> Relationship, empathy, conflict resolution and communication skills developed through Mentoring and Wellbeing classes

> Years 11 and 12 workshops and guest presenters from Family Planning Victoria, Sex Education Australia, Red Frog, Paul Dillon and Victoria Police.


Respectful Relationships Curriculum (including consent)

As part of our work with the Respectful Relationship Initiative, our students explicitly explore consent in an age appropriate and scaffolded manner, using a three-tiered approach to build on prior learnings from year to year. The first two tiers focus on creating a common language, culture and understanding, including being able to critically evaluate messages on and offline, and the third tier is the explicit teaching of content that explores more complex ideas such as consent.


> Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships Curriculum is taught from Foundation to Year 6 and in Years 7 – 10 as part of Health and/or Wellbeing.

> This curriculum was established as part of the Respectful Relationship Initiative and focuses on positive education and social emotional learning, which are the foundations for respectful relationships, positive self-identity and body safety.

> In Years 7 and 8 Health we explicitly teach decision making, safe choices, conflict management, communication styles (assertive, passive styles) media literacy, bystander, support networks, as well as personal boundaries and personal respect.

> In Years 7 and 8 Wellbeing we look explicitly at values, character and personal identity.

Tier 1 lays the foundations for positive relationships and are explored further in Tier 2 and 3 as we move towards more explicit teaching of gender inequity, power and control in relationships, sexual health, intimacy, including consent.



> Years 4 – 8 – Puberty, Personal Identity and Development Units including personal values, families, the human lifespan including reproduction, changing relationship dynamics and strategies to reduce harm.

> Year 9 – Diversity in relationships is explored, including the changing nature of families, diversity and roles in families, gender stereotypes, gender equality and equity, support networks.

> Years 9 and 10 – Values in relationships, including sexual relationships. Understanding power and control, what the law says, rights and responsibilities, healthy and unhealthy relationships, peer pressure and support networks.



> Child Safety Presentations which occur twice yearly to all Foundation – Year 12 students and staff.

> Foundation – Year 8 – scaffolded ‘No, Stop, Don’t’ programs, personal boundaries, body awareness, support networks and trusted adults.

> Year 9 – Sexual Health including consent and law. Power, different types of control and violence in relationships. Imagery and social media and the impact on relationships.

> Year 10 – Sexual Health including the influence of drugs and alcohol on relationships, safety in relationships, the role of pornography, intimacy, consent and the law.

> Years 11 and 12 – Year level workshops and guest presenters from Family Planning Victoria, Sex Education Australia, Red Frog, Paul Dillon and Victoria Police.

When we look explicitly at consent, our teachers and students take time to explore what consent looks like, what it feels like and what it sounds like. Consent must be:

> Explicit

> Mutual

> Freely given

> Informed

> Specific

> Enthusiastic

> Ongoing

> And the right to withdraw consent can occur at any stage


Parenting: Respectful Relationships, sex education and consent

As parents, it can be difficult to navigate the discussion around respectful relationships, sex education and consent; however, research shows us that parental voice is an essential part of children feeling supported and safe in their relationships and the notion of “Talk Soon and Talk Often” is key to this.

The Western Australian Government has produced a guide for parents on talking to their children about sex, including age specific conversation starters, expectations and a detailed section on consent (pg. 81). Parents are encouraged to download the resource and to start or continue the conversations at home. The resource can be found here.

Additionally, it is helpful for parents to have an understanding about the law and the age of consent. Youth Law Australia, which can be accessed here, has prepared detailed information for parents and students which has been summarised below:

> It is never okay for a person to have sex with another person who is under 12 years old.

> If you are aged 12-15 years old, you can legally have sex with another person who is less than 2 years older than you (as long as you both actively agree to it).

> Once you turn 16, you can legally have sex with another person who is also aged 16 years or older (as long as you both actively agree to it).

> Also, a person in a position of care or authority eg. a teacher, parent, step-parent, guardian, counsellor, doctor or sports coach cannot have sex with a person aged 16-17 years old under their care.


Please note that Respectful Relationships resources are now located on the CGGS Parent Portal for reference as needed –  and click on the Respectful Relationships icon.


Kath Woolcock
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing




March 5, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

In recent weeks there has been considerable discussion in the media about sexual assaults of young people and the issue of consent.

Today I sent a letter via email to all parents, and whilst lengthy I ask that you take the time to read it.

If you have any aspect of this communication that you would like to discuss, please contact myself –, Deputy Principal/Head of Senior School, (Mrs Cathy Poyser) –, or Head of Junior School (Mr Paul Donohue) –, or if you would like further information or support, you can contact 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732,

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




February 19, 2021

World Day of Social Justice

The United Nations has recognised tomorrow as the World Day of Social Justice for 2021.

Our tradition and deep commitment to social justice is an integral part of who we are. It is framed by our School Motto, Utilis in Ministerium (Useful in Service) which is grounded in an Anglican Christian worldview.

In 2016, we undertook a review of our Social Justice Program to: review and define the purpose of our program, develop a framework and document the key initiatives. The review highlighted the importance of actions that are based in a learning relationship, not a charity focus. Hence the change of name to the CGGS Service Learning Program that has been developed using the CGGS Service Learning Framework.

In our framework we highlight that service begins with two premises. One is about the nature of the person and the other, the nature of power. Service must always increase the freedom, the autonomy, the dignity and the power of those being served. At its core it is about authentic relationships.

One of the organisations that we have had the great privilege to work with since 2016 is The Green Gecko Project in Cambodia. This project was established to assist families in Siem Reap to help their children attend school rather than commencing work at a young age.  The facility also has an extensive vegetable garden to produce food for members of the community and a program to upskill parents to assist them to earn an income.

For many years (until the pandemic arrived), multiple groups of students have travelled to Cambodia to visit Green Gecko and to work and learn with the students, as well as work in the vegetable garden and learn about the local community. We certainly look forward to the day that we can return.

Last Sunday in The Age, I was interviewed for an editorial about Open Days, however I focused on the strengths of our school and the importance of diversity, in our own community and in the way that we work with others. The article can be viewed here. I mentioned our work with the Green Gecko Project in the article and last night I was incredibly moved to read their response to the article on Facebook which I have included below.

At Camberwell Girls, through serving others, we learn about our local community, the global community and ourselves through commitment to our values in action. We are clearly guided by our Service Learning Framework in establishing and building long lasting connections with others and honouring the most Christian ideal of service. 

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody

Chair of School Council

Dear Parents and Guardians,

On behalf of the School Council, it is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Dr Nikita Weickhardt as the new Chair of School Council.

Dr Weickhardt’s appointment comes following the decision of the incumbent Chair, Ms Christine Cussen, to step down from the role to pursue other professional and personal interests. The School is greatly indebted to Ms Cussen for her leadership of School Council since being appointed to the role of Chair in April 2018. Ms Cussen was first appointed as a Councillor in August 2005 and will continue to serve as a member of the School Council to ensure a smooth transition to Dr Weickhardt.

The selection and appointment of Dr Weickhardt to this important role was facilitated through a formal and comprehensive selection process. I would particularly like to thank Dr Helen Rawson, Mr Sam Page, Mr Tony Cant and Ms Christine Swan for their contributions to this process.

Dr Weickhardt, an engineer and, a current parent of the School was first appointed to the School Council in July 2019 as an Archbishop-in-Council appointment. Dr Weickhardt will be an inspirational leader. She is personable, forward thinking and will be dedicated to the role of Chair. I invite you to join me in congratulating Dr Weickhardt on her new appointment.


With best wishes

Debbie Dunwoody

School Chaplain


School Chaplain

December 4, 2020

The Season of Advent and the God who waits.

The season of Advent (the four Sundays before Christmas Day) has traditionally been a season of expectation:  a time to listen, again, to the promises of God, and to consider what those promises mean for us today. It’s also a time of waiting.  The parts of Scripture that we listen to over these weeks give us a sense of all the people, throughout history, who have waited, often in dark and uncertain circumstances, for  God’s promises to be fulfilled in their time.

We don’t need to use our imaginations much this year to reflect on what it feels like to wait.  In many ways 2020 is a waiting year like no other.  Waiting for the daily briefing by Dan Andrews.  Waiting for the borders to open. Waiting for the election result of a country far away from here. Waiting for a vaccine.

In the midst of all the waiting, 2020 has also been a year when we’ve faced some truths about our human condition, that have, perhaps, not been so clear to us before.  We’ve noticed the fragility of life, and not just human life faced with a nasty virus.  We have also noticed the vulnerability of the planet (remember the bush-fires at the start of the year?)

In many ways it’s been a sobering year, a year when our wings have been clipped.  But I would also say that 2020 has been a time when our sense of what matters has become more fine-tuned.  One of the things I loved seeing during lock-down was families together in parks, mucking around together, “wasting” time together.  I’ve had quite a few conversations  about the beauty of the season, or about how simple are needs really are. I’ve heard students appreciating their teachers in new ways too!

I’d also say that 2020 has been a time when many of us have wondered more about God, and how God is involved with us.  A time when we might have sensed God’s presence in the beauty of the earth:  in Autumn leaves, or sunsets or bird song, or the tranquility of a garden.  And a time when we might have had a fresh sense of how God chooses to be involved with us:  not with grand gestures, pushing aside all that impedes us – but in utter humility.  God walking quietly beside us, helping us to face what is there,  encouraging us in the big and small dramas of each day, inviting us to lean on God’s strength when we have felt incapable of anything much at all . . . and always, always, waiting for us.

So, while we might think about Advent as a time of us waiting for God, there is also much to be said about how God waits for us.  The God whose incarnation we celebrate at Christmas is the God who waits for us so patiently and humbly.  Waits for us to put aside the distractions and the busy schedules that are sometimes a substitute for real life.  Waits for us to open the doors of our hearts to the divine love.  Waits for us to lean in to God’s strength and goodness.  Waits for us to discover that life together – life for the flourishing of every part of creation – is the best kind of life there is, and that we want to play our part.

I hope that as we prepare for Christmas, we hang on to some of what we have learned of ourselves and God this year.  May we approach Christmas with a sense of the fragility and magnificence of life, may be celebrate with light-hearts, and may we revel in the love that waits to change the world.

May God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas.  Those who have lost loved ones this year will be particularly in my prayers on Christmas Eve.

Reverend Helen Creed
School Chaplain




November 20, 2020

Educating our students for their future…BY DESIGN

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Eighteen months ago at Camberwell Girls Grammar School we made a commitment to design a learning architecture that would enable us to distil our purpose and intention in our curriculum and development of programs. In educating young people for their future, we wanted to ensure that our educational offering was designed to reflect this.

At CGGS, we understand the importance of the development of transferable skills alongside discipline-specific knowledge and skills for young people. A worthwhile education must also provide opportunities for the learner to be curious and creative and have the opportunity to apply their learning to new situations. We want them to grapple with new ideas and concepts and not be afraid of making mistakes when challenging new ideas.

In educating the whole person, we also recognise the importance of wellbeing in all aspects of a young person’s development. This includes the development of character through connection, growth, grit and sustainability. It also recognises the importance of how we take responsibility for our relationships and our learning.

Whilst our initial focus in using BY DESIGN has been predominantly in Senior School, this architecture can be used across the whole school. It gives us consistency in our language and approach to curriculum and program design. It will also be invaluable when inducting new teachers into CGGS, as well as helping students and parents understand how and why our programs are developed.

Many teachers have used components of BY DESIGN during the developmental phase, including trialling the BY DESIGN App that we have developed to enable the process of curriculum and program development and documentation to be more streamlined.

At this time last year, Senior School departments used BY DESIGN to focus on their Year 9 curriculum review and renewal, and in the coming weeks they will extend this to other year levels in preparation for 2021. As our Junior School has undertaken a complete appraisal and redesign of their curriculum during the last two years and will now use BY DESIGN for ongoing review.

I am now delighted to share with you our BY DESIGN booklet, to give you an overview of our architecture. I am sure that you will find it a helpful reference. I certainly welcome any feedback from parents.

As a community of learners at CGGS, this architecture reflects who we are, how we design and what we do, honouring what we believe is important in a high-quality education for young people.

I would like to thank all of the staff who have contributed to the development of this important work along our journey including members of the BY DESIGN Development Team: Dr Charlotte Forwood, Ms Kate Manners and Mr James Henderson, as well as Summer Howarth from Eventful Learning Co who has been our strategic assistant and constructive critic from the beginning of the process. Mr Keith Melder, our Multimedia Coordinator has really brought our ideas to life in this booklet so that we can share it with both the CGGS and broader educational communities.

I hope that you are as proud of this work as I am.


Parent Survey

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 30 November 2020 and 11 December 2020.

At the end 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.


School Masterplan 

As a school, we remain committed to providing the very best possible learning facilities by constantly maintaining and refurbishing key areas of both Junior School and Senior School.

Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the school engaged external consultants to undertake the design of a refurbished Barbara Sutton Hall, incorporating a new Music and Drama Centre. This design work has, and continues to, focus on the school’s long-term planning.

In order to have the proposed design assessed, it has been necessary to lodge an addendum to the existing masterplan with Boroondara Council. Part of this process requires Boroondara Council to publicly advertise the school’s planning permit. This advertising commenced on Monday 16 November 2020 and I wanted to bring this to your attention as you may notice signage has been recently placed around the school.

Whilst CGGS remains committed to completing the design and planning permit process, no further decisions have been made as to when the refurbishment project will commence. I will certainly keep you updated on any developments.

Have a restful weekend.


Debbie Dunwoody




November 6, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

A few months ago, I read Julia Baird’s best-selling book, Phosphorescence and found it to be an inspiring book to read in lockdown.

Julia painted beautiful pictures of where we find phosphorescence in the natural world and then used it as an example of our need as humans to ‘find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light’. As I was reading, I also thought of the theme of ‘GLOW’ that our 2020 School Captains developed this year and the idea that we are often drawn to those people who emanate this – people who radiate warmth, a sense of goodness and joy.

Being forced to change our daily routines and practices during lockdown certainly made me think more clearly about my own priorities and I am sure that I was not alone in doing this. I am very energised by people (and particularly young people) and I gain great satisfaction from seeing others at their best; seeing them glow. So what makes people glow?

In Phosphorescence, Julia talks about the four powerful lessons for what makes people glow and they are all integral to our philosophy of developing the whole person at CGGS. These four lessons listed below, are embedded in our diverse programs, size of school and culture of our community:

> Paying attention – the importance of being present in the moment and really experience each interaction and opportunity

> Not underestimating the soothing power of the ordinary

> Seeking awe and nature

> Things like showing kindness, practising grace, embracing friends, imperfection, being bold and having faith

In witnessing the joy of our student and staff community reunite over recent weeks, it has again reinforced to me the importance of school communities and the richness of the relationships that are formed within them. Whilst there has been great debate over many years about the relevance of schools and the possibility of moving to an online mode, this year we have experienced first-hand why this type of change would not be ideal.

School communities are where relationships and shared experiences play a pivotal role in shaping the formation of young people. We value being connected and belonging, and this is not the same in an exclusively remote environment. The experiences gained throughout this year will certainly assist us to develop more blended models of learning, but school communities cannot be replaced. Even as I write this editorial, I am hearing the excited voices of young people outside my office engaging with each other and their teachers.

In both Junior School and Senior School, initially some students were nervous about resuming school onsite, but many have returned with a greater sense of independence and confidence in themselves and have settled well. We know that they have learnt some important lessons in self-regulation and building resilience through remote experiences this year.

Our students have definitely not lost seven months of schooling. Through the two phases of remote learning, we have not only provided continuous access to programs but have also adapted to changes in the learning environment. We have continued to provide rigorous, research-informed literacy and numeracy programs and the necessary resources to enable students to develop their skills. In older students, we have also sought to develop self-regulation skills through evidence-based approaches.We are very pleased with the progress of students across all year levels and have supported individual students as needed.

Some parents have asked about the Tutoring Program that is being financed by the Victorian Government. This program has been set up to support disadvantaged students. This includes students in low SES areas and/or where they have not had continuous access to learning programs. These students may have had limited or interrupted contact with their teachers, resources, internet access and other support.

Our students were fortunate to have had continuous access to purposefully designed learning programs alongside tailored wellbeing support and therefore will not qualify for this funding.

Whilst engaged in their academic programs, we will continue to focus on the development of the whole person at CGGS. The idea of us all being the best versions of ourselves so that we can glow, is an exciting part of our purpose as educators – as is the renewed valuing of connectedness and community in our schools.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




October 22, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

An annual tradition that we have at CGGS is the final school bell for our Year 12 students as they congregate in the quadrangle near the clock tower with others watching on. It is significant because as a ‘bell-less’ school, we only ring the bell twice each year – one for the commencement of the Year 7 Welcome Ceremony and the other for our final Year 12 class.

Continuing to modify our practices in 2020, in early August, as we were entering into the second phase of lockdown, we rang the bell for the Year 12 students as they stood in the quadrangle, unsure if we were able to celebrate this tradition in October. Fortunately, we will be able to repeat it early next week!

Our Class of 2020 have led the school with great enthusiasm and dedication, not easy in such a disrupted year. They have shown their strength of character, ability to adapt and tackle hard things. We are very thankful for their legacy, including as role models for younger year levels. I am also very grateful for the staff who have supported and assisted them in re-designing opportunities.

With courses, enhancement programs and trial exams completed, as well as a number of oral and performance exams already done, our Year 12 students and teachers are now focused on the final examination assessments and final celebrations.

Tonight, our pre-recorded Years 10-12 Presentation Evening will showcase the talents and contributions of our students and their achievements as we reflect on 2020. Next week we look forward to our adapted Leavers’ Service and Valedictory Dinner (we have partnered with Ten Minutes by Tractor, a fine dining restaurant on the Mornington Peninsula for a dining at home experience) connected by technology.

Many staff have worked incredibly hard over months to re-design these important milestone events and I am very grateful to Mrs Poyser and her Senior School Team for their work in this area. In particular I would like to mention Victoria Hargreaves for her oversight of all aspects of each event and Kim Perkins for endless hours of preparing pre-recorded segments and producing final programs, including live feeds and links.  These will certainly be events to remember!

In 2020, our students have been led with great energy, enthusiasm and compassion by three incredible young women, Felicia Spiridonos, Laurya Dang-Nguyen and Loren Palma. It is during challenging times that you see the integrity and strength of leadership. Like their theme GLOW, they have really radiated hope and optimism this year as they redesigned ideas and initiatives and supported others. We could not have asked for more.

As our Class of 2020 prepare for their final examinations, over 23% of the cohort have already received early offers into a number of different universities. This is testament to their hard work as well as commitment to other interests and co-curricular activities including service learning. We wish them well for these final weeks.

Feedback from Parents
In reviewing our remote learning and re-designed programs, we are also looking to the future to see what elements we should continue or continue to refine that enable greater learning opportunities for our students. I invite you to participate in a short survey to share your thoughts and ideas.

In addition, throughout this term we will be working with small focus groups of parents from each year level to gain greater insights into your daughter’s experience during remote learning and opportunities for the future. These focus groups will be facilitated by Mrs Glenda Bushell, our former Head of Junior School via zoom and it is our plan to work with a group of 6-8 parents in each year level from Early Learning 3 through to Year 12. If you are interested in participating in a focus group you will also have the opportunity to indicate this on the survey or email Mrs Bushell directly on

I am so excited about welcoming our Years 8, 9 and 10 students back to school next week. Another significant milestone this year!

Warm regards
Debbie Dunwoody




October 9, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As we emerge from the Stage 4 Restrictions in Melbourne it is vital that our children continue to re-engage with physical activity and connectedness with the natural world around them.

A number of years ago I heard Richard Louv, Author and Chairman Emeritus of the Children and Nature Network (an organisation supporting the international movement to connect children, their families and communities to the natural world) speak about the importance of nature in the development of young people. He asked the audience to think about the special memories that we had as young children growing up – the places that we now find in our hearts.

I thought about those times of freedom, exploring outside after school, on the weekends and during holidays. The times when, with friends and our bikes, we would spend hours outside and return home having experienced a variety of adventures in our local area including parks. I also thought about camping and bush experiences or times collecting tadpoles or fishing for yabbies. He then challenged us to think about whether our children will have these types of places to go to in their hearts and for us to consider the implications of this; the impact on their health, development of creativity and connectedness to the world that sustains us.

We are hardwired to be emotionally connected to nature. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers and had strong connections to the land. Louv spoke about the impact of nature, particularly on young children. Over a number of years, he has brought together work from studies and argues that direct exposure to nature is essential for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development, as well as their ability to learn. Louv has coined the term ‘nature-deficit disorder’, not as a medical diagnosis, but a description of the growing gap between human beings and nature, which he argues has implications for health and well-being of the current and future generations.

Whilst there are still many ways that people can be connected to nature, rapid urbanisation has certainly had an impact on the way this happens. Our children do not have the freedom to play and explore as we did when we were young (less open space and the fear of ‘stranger danger’) and whilst we must always have their safety as a priority, as Louv says, we must be careful not to create ‘containerised kids’. We must also be careful not to make our children fearful of nature. Our local parks connect people with nature and urban nature is just as important as wilderness to give our children the opportunities for outdoor independent play.

In his article ‘Do Our Kids Have Nature Deficit Disorder?’, Louv argues that studies in California and across the United States have shown that schools that used outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education such as camps, saw significant student gains in a number of other subjects across the curriculum. He also stated that researchers at the Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois have discovered that children as young as 5 showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder when they engaged with nature.

Recent studies have also suggested a connection between the decline in outdoor activities and the rise in both childhood Vitamin D deficiency and myopia. Studies have also suggested a similar link with childhood obesity.  Camps and opportunities to learn outside will continue to play a pivotal role in an education at CGGS.

Similarly,we are all aware of the benefits of developing physical skills and fitness through regular physical activity. Research highlights the important links between physical activity and improvement in academic performance. Being active improves blood flow to the brain and oxygenation levels enhancing levels of concentration and the ability to process, store and retrieve information.

The correlation between physical activity and positive mental health is also important when considering a young person’s wellbeing. This can occur by boosting energy levels, relieving stress, improving sleep, improving self-esteem and confidence and building meaningful relationships with others.

As we emerge from a period of significant restrictions due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is important that we prioritise encouraging and supporting our children (and ourselves) to continue to reconnect with physical activity and exposure to nature. Even with our current limitations, there are still many local options for exercising and family connection in our local areas.

In the coming months nurturing our health and wellbeing will continue to be important in our recovery andcan be greatly enhanced by the connectedness to physical activity and the outdoors – in doing so we also connect with the gift of nature that sustains us.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody




September 11, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As the end of the term is now upon us, I want to thank you for your support in this important partnership in education. It is incredible to think that many students have not experienced learning at school for the whole term, yet they have been involved in a wide range of curricular and co-curricular activities.

Yesterday we enjoyed the Ormiston Creative Arts Festival with a morning of Music and Speech and Drama performances from Early Learning 3 to Year 6. We were also able to view the Junior School Art Show in the virtual gallery that was set up by Mrs Gibson. It was very exciting to see so many girls performing, as well as the wonderful art that has been completed during remote learning.

Today, in Senior School we held the House Celebration Day which has included a wide variety of creative tasks run by staff as well as the Performing Arts Festival in the afternoon. Congratulations to our Dance, Drama and Music Captains for their creativity and perseverance in putting together such an inclusive program.

Thank you to the teams of staff who have organised these virtual events to showcase such a broad range of student initiatives and work.  It is a very exciting way to conclude the term.

I would like to acknowledge Mrs Jennifer Sui and Mrs Fiona Gibson, who will be taking Long Service Leave for the whole of Term 4. We hope that they have a well-deserved break and, as the term progresses, enjoy experiences further afield. We look forward to welcoming them both back in 2021.

Today is also the final day for Mr Mark Corrie, our Director of School Operations and VCE Coordinator. Mr Corrie commenced at CGGS in 2013 and has overseen a number of key aspects of our operations including the diary, excursions, emergency teachers and emergency management, as well as teaching Physical Education. We will miss Mark’s friendly and welcoming demeanor and wish him well in his role as Director of Education Operations at Peninsula Grammar.

Last weekend, we were featured in an ‘Innovation in the Classroom’ supplement in The Age. Please click onto the button below for the article.

This week there has been media attention about online safety as inappropriate material was circulating on a number of social media platforms. Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) run a number of seminars for parents and there is one next Monday about online safety for your consideration. Please see the information below:

Online safety – The Parents Website webinar

With the issue of the online safety of young people at the forefront of our minds this week, ISV is hosting a webinar for parents and carers on the subject this coming Monday, 14 September, between midday and 1.00 pm.

Virtual Childhoods – keeping our kids safe online will be presented by Caroline Ellen, a social worker, parenting coach and founder of Stronger Safe Kids. The event is free, but registration is essential. Full details are available on The Parents Website.

This is the latest in a series of webinars presented by ISV’s The Parents Website to support parents, carers and their families during these challenging times.

Even with significant Stage 4 restrictions in place during the holidays, I hope that you are able to have enjoyable moments together as a family. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family as well as time in the garden to unwind, relax and re-invigorate, ready for Term 4.

Take care.


With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody