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 – 2021 Report
Dr Julie Townsend, Headmistress
2021 was an unpredictable year where students all over the state faced various challenges with online learning. Despite these challenges, our Indigenous girls persevered and stayed connected to school life.
We acquired local community members to help tutor the girls and help maintain their connection to their classwork. This enabled the girls to smoothly transition from online learning upon their return to the school grounds. All students returned to face-to face learning from 25 October. The students transitioned well and settled into the boarding house and returned to their school routine rather easily.
We engaged in some outstanding members of the local Shoalhaven community like Mr John Dyball (nominated for Australian of the Year 2019) to help support our students during lockdown. John helped facilitate additional support to the families of our students by negotiating with key stakeholders in local communities to ensure engagement of our students to their school work.
Although there were some hurdles to overcome, it was overall an exciting year for Indigenous education at the school. For Reconciliation week, our students ran their first student-led assembly sharing insights into their family background, cultural practices and totems. The girls led this assembly with pride, consulting with community elders in administering ochre to members of staff and students. The girls processed into assembly to “Amazing Grace” sung by Geoffroy Gurrumul Yunupingu which was a fabulous introduction to the students’ individual presentations.
St Catherine’s was one of the 25 schools participating in the AIS Waratah project in 2021. In this project, we aim to track and monitor academic performance of our Indigenous students collated from various testing including Wisc 5 and psychometric tests providing essential information to teachers on how to best support our students in achieving their best.
St Catherine’s recognises the important role that sport and service education have in developing an all rounded student. Sport develops physicality and builds camaraderie and friendships both inside and outside of the school community. All the students in 2021 played in one or more school teams enjoying sports such as netball, softball, touch football and basketball. AIEF Students Joy and Agnus played touch in Term 1 and Term 2 where their team made the finals. Sport has been a motivating factor that has engaged the girls to balance the demands of school as well as their physical education.
AIEF Students Eden and Mae demonstrated outstanding leadership in 2021. Mae was awarded the Boarders Award at the graduation assembly for her contribution to the boarding house and Eden consistently has shown her enthusiasm to represent the school in corporate events in presenting the Acknowledgement of Country. Eden also featured in The Weekend Australian with her mentor Irene Fong highlighting the importance of AIEF Mentoring to students and their development.
The school continues to recognise our Indigenous heritage through celebrations such as a Sorry Day Assembly and NAIDOC in July. It was exciting to welcome Isaiah Dawe, CEO and Founder of ID Know Yourself, to our NAIDOC assembly where he shared his story of being a young Indigenous boarder and shared the challenges he faced as a student. He also shared some wonderful insights on how to stay positive during times of adversity and when dealing with culturally sensitive topics. We are also in communication with Isaiah to continue to work with his foundation to help facilitate yarning circles and service opportunities for St Catherine’s students.
We look forward to the exciting opportunities 2022 brings to our St Catherine’s Indigenous community.