Principal Ashleigh Martin talks with optimism about the themes that underpin our approach to the 2023 School year
in the June edition of Labora

Pride, Quality and Belonging are themes that underpin our approach to the 2023 School year, with a palpable and renewed energy and optimism. 

Resetting a sense of pride in all we do as a school is a major focus this year. It is vital that our students understand they are part of 142 years of history, never losing sight of what’s gone before us, while ensuring we are a school that meets the needs of young people in 2023.  This is an artful balance. If you live in the past, you become irrelevant. And if you don’t respect and understand your history, you can lose your purpose.  

Legacy events, the ‘rite of passage’ moments that define a student’s experience at Caulfield Grammar School, keep us connected to our purpose. 

Our senior students are leading with passion this year and having an important impact on the younger cohorts. They are modelling that, at Caulfield Grammar School, you are a part of something more than yourself, and what you put in is what you will get out of your time. Daily interactions that will become treasured memories, evoking Caulfield Grammar’s admirable House spirit, partaking in activities that aren’t in your comfort zone, accepting other perspectives, and daily interactions with passionate teachers, all build School culture and this has been tangible throughout 2023. 

Our Secondary School Learning Program changes this year have led to a more effective use of time in the school day, and a clear delineation between academic learning and our enviable co-curricular programs. Our investment in providing teachers with more space in their week to prepare engaging lessons, give point-in-time feedback, and focus on relationship-building are all having a positive impact.

Our new Community Life curriculum is a key component of our CaulfieldCARES approach to promoting wellbeing. Our School proudly structures the day to prioritise time for our students to understand their sense of self, how they learn, and foster their passions. At Caulfield Grammar School we are authentic when we say we want to educate the whole person, and our approach to the school day validates this. 

Ahead of welcoming students for the 2023 school year, our staff community gathered for an impactful day of Professional Learning. Not only did it herald the start of a new school year, it also ended the 1,102 days that had passed since all staff from across our School were able to be in one place. It was an emotional day and reminded me of the importance of all staff, from all campuses, coming together in person, no matter our size. The theme for the day was ‘Our Commitment to Reconciliation’. We were privileged to have Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO deliver her Welcome to Country. Throughout her inspiring words, Aunty Joy shared a simple sentence from her father many years ago that helped frame her life’s commitment to reconciliation in Australia: “No one is more important than the other.”  

Caulfield Grammar School believes strongly that we need to be having conversations, feeling discomfort, and educating ourselves alongside First Nations people to support understanding and perspective. The biggest risk in our Country’s desire for reconciliation is ignorance. We are proud to be normalising conversations relating to Australia’s history and we will continue to foster an environment where our students, staff, and our community are prepared to step into vulnerable interactions where we listen and learn.  

Good education is discomfort in a safe place. 

Our Year 9 Kakadu Program in Jabiru is becoming a cornerstone of who we are as a school. In a short time, already more than 800 students have been immersed in an on-country experience that places them outside their comfort zone. Our young people spend time learning with local students from the Jabiru Area School, partake in activities to learn more about the history and tradition of the traditional owners, work and reside on a cattle station in Katherine, and spend moments of solitude in the stunning World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.

To show our commitment to this program, we have 16 Caulfield Grammar staff who permanently live and work in Jabiru to lead our programs and also involve themselves in the local community. While our presence in Jabiru is mutually beneficial, we will always be there as guests on the invitation of the Mirarr people, Traditional Owners of the land. This is something we take seriously, as do all our students and staff that have experienced our Kakadu program.  

We have to listen. We have to learn. More than that, we want to listen and learn.  

Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is an important step in our learning journey – one defined by actions. And we can already see our students, our staff and our broader community reflecting on their place and sense of belonging.