St Catherine's School, Sydney
An Independent Day and Boarding School for Girls
St Catherine's School, Sydney offers AIEF Scholarships for boarding students.
St Catherine's School, Sydney – 2020 Report
Dr Julie Townsend, Headmistress
2020 was an eventful year for St Catherine’s. As many of our plans were placed on hold due the C19 outbreak, we explored alternative methods by which we could continue to foster Indigenous culture within our school.
At the core of our commitment to the program is high academic expectations. Any students who require assistance with curriculum content are assisted through the use of tutors in the boarding house and the expertise of past students who come in weekly. This support has allowed the students to be better prepared for assessment tasks and to build a more positive attitude to learning.
NAIDOC Week brought students and teachers together to celebrate, explore and internalise the year’s powerful theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’. Given global events and the current social climate, we shone a much-needed spotlight on ‘casual racism’, an issue that touches many of our girls. Throughout the week we examined and discussed the importance of respectful conversations. Students completed a range of activities demonstrating the necessity of cultural sensitivity, appreciation of history and the power of words.
All students from K-12 celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with a themed mufti day, where students covered themselves in a flag of inclusion by proudly dressing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colours. The proceeds from the day are being invested in the Indigenous scholarship fund, providing further opportunity for Indigenous students. Our 2007 Indigenous Old Girl, Ariane Dozer, discussed the power of productive protest. Emphasising education, conversation and ‘unlearning and re-learning’ as the ultimate tools of true, change-making protest.
St Catherine’s is proud to announce our involvement in the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) Waratah Project. St Catherine’s is one of 60 schools participating in NSW and the ACT. The project provides schools with the opportunity to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students developed with academic project partner Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at the University of Technology. Since our involvement in this wonderful project, we have measures in place to accurately measure and track the performance of our Indigenous students through psychometric and academic testing. This data will be used to help our staff support the individual learning needs of our students. St Catherine’s is working towards improving literacy and numeracy outcomes for Indigenous students and engaging staff with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
As we move towards 2021, we will continue to reflect on and adjust the program to try to achieve the best outcomes for students and their families. We aim to see the program continue to grow in strength and we are committed to fostering our strong relationship with the Nowra and Wreck Bay area, the local community and other independent schools. We have started to develop a network group amongst all the eastern suburbs girls’ schools and hope the gatherings, which may include some cultural activities, will become a regular event each term. So many of the students feel the stress of distance from their families and many lack an understanding of their own culture. These meeting we hope will be a way to bridge some of these gaps. Our Indigenous AIEF Scholarship Students are a diverse and dynamic group who are an asset to the school community.