The Domain Review’s ‘Independent Schools Guide 2023’ chatted with Principal Ashleigh Martin about our Secondary Learning program enhancements

Caulfield Grammar School Principal Ashleigh Martin with students

Caulfield Grammar School’s new approach to the school day

It has taken three years to develop, student and staff voices have been taken on board, and it represents a multimillion-dollar investment.

Ashleigh Martin, Principal at Caulfield Grammar School, is confident that the School’s new Secondary Life program will not only continue to deliver great academic success, but will also create broader learning experiences and opportunities for students to thrive.

“With the future of education and the future needs of our learners ever changing, our Secondary Life program takes a smarter approach to what a school day looks like for students,” Ashleigh says.

“This evolution aims to find that sweet spot between academic success and whole-child development for the world beyond our School gates. We want to re-energise the School and focus on rhythm and routine, and pride and passion in everything we do.”

Acknowledging the changing face of teaching, the program has reduced the face-to-face teaching load for teachers, with more teachers being employed to accommodate this.

“This ensures our teachers aren’t overwhelmed with bureaucracy, paperwork and administration, and supports them to be passionate educators in the classroom,” explains Ashleigh.

“For students, there are now four periods in a day instead of six. We’ve intentionally designed a school day where students still have a great breadth of opportunity, but we’ve taken the stress out of their lives by ensuring they don’t have competing demands at the one time.”

The program and School timetable recognise that academic study is paramount but equally value social-emotional learning, wellbeing and connection to community.

Academic classes are supported by experiences that embed deeper learning and life skills. 

Time is designated for students to explore concepts such as their sense of self, respect, emotional intelligence and consent in a new dedicated Community Life daily period.

Academic classes are supported by experiences that embed deeper learning and life skills, such as a 25-day program in the Northern Territory in which Year 9 students live on Country and learn about the culture of the traditional owners of Kakadu.

“They begin to understand their place in our country and work through the adversity of demanding treks and hikes and being away from home. They spend time with traditional owners and hear their stories, they work on a cattle station in Katherine and then go to Darwin and learn the history of Darwin during World War II,” says Ashleigh.

“The contrast of their life at School and the life in the Northern Territory makes for a profound experience. They come back with a greater sense of Indigenous Australia, a greater awareness and advocacy for First Nations people and their history, and they lose some of their naivety.”

In the senior years, the academic rigour required to do well in VCE is a priority, but time is still made for young people to build life skills and connections. The Caulfield Connection initiative allows students to learn everything from how to change a tyre and be a barista, to exploring first aid, financial literacy and critical thinking.

Scaffolding students as they make their way through the School is a robust pastoral care model. To ensure every student is known, two new Houses have been introduced this year – one each at the Wheelers Hill and Caulfield campuses.

The reduction in each House size ensures the Heads of House can build stronger relationships with each student in their care. Caulfield Grammar School is also a proudly open-entry, co-educational school, says Ashleigh.

“We are unapologetically committed to co-education. Boys and girls learning together to prepare themselves for life beyond our gates is a key component of our School. Co-education is at the heart of who we are,” he says.

“Our broad and balanced program means every student can find their pathway with us. We nurture good people who know their place in the world … and they’ve got a very strong sense of what drives them.”