Character is not cut in marble... it is something living and changing


‘Character is not cut in marble – it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing.' [George Eliot]

*The Oxford Character Project: See 

Last week (Week 2 of term) I attended the annual UK Boarding Schools Association Conference for Heads of School, in London. 250 delegates attended the full programme, focused on the Conference Theme – ‘Character’ – with state and independent boarding schools sharing best practice and latest research. In addition to a report on the ideas driving The Oxford Project, by BSA researcher and former Head of Eton College, including the work of Heckman and Kautz (2013) about *cross-cultural ‘valued character traits’, highlight presentations for me were those by the current Head of Eton – on the character research they are undertaking with Edinburgh University - and by the Head of Gordonstoun - on the outcome of their review of a longstanding commitment to the ‘Out of Classroom Learning Experiences' curriculum.

Inspirational also was a presentation by the Head of Christ’s Hospital School (established in 1552) where more than one third of students are funded almost entirely by the School’s Foundation – owing to a major commitment to the enrolment of vulnerable children. This presentation prefaced an important and confronting sub-theme of the Conference about ‘safeguarding’ of students (what we call Child Protection in Australia).

Boarding Schools' Association

Through our membership of the BSA since 2001, as one of 82 international members from all around the world, we benefit from professional connection to colleagues in schools like-minded in their commitment to boarding, and to delivery of a curriculum that is all-encompassing - well beyond the 8.30am-3.30pm ‘school day’. The universality of our educational goals can be summarised as our deep interest in finding the essence of each student and seeing them ‘flourish’ at school.

*The Oxford Character Project: See 

Each year, Oxford and other world-class universities produce leaders and thinkers who go on to have significant influence and impact around the world.

The Oxford Character Project seeks to help talented students develop key virtues of character which will prepare them to be the wise thinkers and good leaders the world so desperately needs.

Our research explores virtues and themes that are essential for personal formation and moral leadership, including institutional incentives and biases, the relationship between leading and following, the place of failure, the nature of service and vocation, and the virtues of honesty, wisdom, gratitude, and humility.

Our practical programmes draw together cohorts of students to develop qualities of life and leadership in diverse and open learning communities.

* * *

School Choice – Year 7 Parent Survey Feedback
I note, with appreciation, the extremely high response rate by Year 7 parents, providing important feedback on factors they considered when making the decision to enrol their daughters at Frensham. The ‘top’ criteria for parents of Year 7, 2019 were: School Values, Character and Leadership Development, Teacher Quality, Personalised Approach, Fitness and Wellbeing, High Expectations of Students, Academic Standards, STEM programmes (Sci/Tech/Engineering /Maths).

Peer Relations – Annual Year 8 Student Survey
Year 8 completed the Peer Relations Survey this week following a discussion with them about our published policy and expectations. Emphasised to the girls was that every member of our community has a responsibility to step forward in the interests of student welfare and wellbeing; if they are concerned about their own or others’ safety at school, we need to know. Having read all responses, I will meet with the year group next week, to share ‘their feedback’ which includes comments they are invited to make about ‘what could we do to improve peer relations?’ One very important area of the Survey is about ‘to whom would you speak?’ if you are concerned – and every girl reported that she does have a person or people she trusts – with her own parents and a close friend or sibling, at the top of her list of options. 

Birthday Celebrations [Further to detailed information emailed and on Schoolbox]

Friday 31 May: The Frensham Schools Service is a celebration of the foundation of our three Schools, recognising Frensham’s 106th Birthday, Sturt’s 78th Birthday and Gib Gate’s 65th Birthday.  This Service is attended by all staff of our three schools and by all students – from our youngest in Preschool to the adult students of the Sturt School for Wood. For parents it is a once-a-year opportunity to experience the sense of community generated in Clubbe Hall, when Gib Gate, Frensham and Sturt sing and participate with gratitude, ‘as one’, in celebration. 

Sunday 2 June: For Frensham’s 106th Birthday Service, attended by all students and staff of the School, I urge all parents to join us.

Acknowledgement to:

  • ‘da Vinci Decathlon’ teams from Years 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 on their highly successful results at the regional competition.
  • The Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CAT) Competition award recipients: Distinction - Bella Cay, Elise Davies, Sarah-Joy Day, Megan Syme (Year 8);
  • MacKenzie Johnson (Year 11) placed 1st in the Open 115-120cm at the CDI Show Jumping Event, SIEC; 
  • Sophie Mortlock (Year 7) for her recent Ice Skating performances, Short Program at the Penrith Ice Palace Trophy - PVFSC Championships and the Sydney Figure Skating Club Trophy Night;
  • Georgia Shakeshaft (Year 10), placed 2nd in the Plain English Speaking Award, Illawarra and South East Local Finals;
  • Gib Gate Year 6 Southern Highlands Water Polo Association U12 Representative Team for their Championship award;
  • Gib Gate U12 Girls, placed 2nd in the Southern Highlands Basketball Association Championships;
  • Isabella Barber (Year 6) qualifying to compete at the CIS Cross Country Carnival;
  • Sebastian Atra (Year 4) competing at the Welsh Alpine Championships in Champerey in Switzerland, placing 1st in the U10 Grand Slalom and 2nd in the Under 10 Slalom;
  • Tempe Arnott, Isabella Barber and Arabella Whitehead (Year 6) for selection to trial for the CIS Primary Girls Hockey Team and Arabella also for CIS Primary Basketball;
  • Frensham and Gib Gate Equestrian students for their achievements at recent events. (See: Faculty News.)

Alexandra Inglis at the Aquis Champions Tour  

Julie Gillick
Head of Frensham

Head of Frensham Schools