Inspiration: Character in Action

As we head towards the halfway point of Term Three, we thank all families for their patience, encouragement and support over this difficult period. A student remarked to me last week that she thinks that times of challenge are when the Frensham community ‘shines’ – and we are seeing many examples of this spirit from staff, students and families alike as we work to remain connected despite circumstance and distance. We are thinking of students and teachers in Greater Sydney and we are currently working through our plans for a return to face-to-face teaching on campus in the coming weeks. We continue to encourage girls to return to campus if they are able to do so. Overwhelmingly students report that even though they are still learning online, being on campus helps to keep them feeling connected to their peers and teachers and the routine of the school day helps with their focus.

Students have been engaging very well in online learning overall, and staff have been working tirelessly to design and deliver engaging learning experiences. Mrs Fawbert has included information for parents in this newsletter – also on Schoolbox for students – to assist you in supporting your girls to participate meaningfully in their learning whilst online. It is a very common challenge, during periods of uncertainty and during COVID-19, to remain in the present, to focus our minds and to avoid our ‘monkey minds’ running away from us – catastrophising, getting stuck in negative thinking and the “what if” trap. This uncertainty can be difficult for most adults, and can lead to anxiety and a sense of hopelessness in young people. We need to remain sensitive to our young people’s emotional wellbeing and to try to shift the focus from what we cannot control to what we can. Routine and structure – whether at home or at school – bring comfort, stability and reassurance. Getting adequate sleep, maintaining regular sleep patterns, eating well and being physically active each day are simple but very effective foundational pillars of health and wellbeing.

Of course, the Olympics are proving to be a wonderful digression from the COVID news and are providing us as a community with some fine examples of character in action. The Australian team have achieved some wonderful successes, wins, personal bests and record-beating performances. Alongside these are numerous instances of resilience, tenacity, compassion and generosity which have been quite moving to watch.

One example is Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar. They were locked in first place after a tough few hours of competing in the High Jump on Sunday. The two athletes, who are also good friends, were then given the option to settle matters with a jump-off – but decided instead to share the gold medal, the first time this has occurred in 109 years. This really is the Frensham value - of the unselfish pursuit of excellence - writ large.

The efforts of our girls playing Table Tennis in the Gym at last week’s Friday night activities were admirable, and their enthusiasm commendable, but their form was nothing like Jian Fang Lay representing Australia in table tennis. The 48-year-old player is competing in her sixth consecutive Olympic Games — one of only two Australian women to do so. Her grit and determination, not to mention her speed, coordination and instinct, are quite joyful to witness.

What a memorable Olympic Games Tokyo 2020/1 will be for us all and no doubt each of you will have your favourite moments of the Games, an example of an athlete exhibiting strength of character and living the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship. I found the words of swimmer Cate Campbell, interviewed after her incredible performance in the final leg of the Women’s 4X100m relay, very uplifting as she spoke of the mindset and attitude she took towards what may be her last swim in an Olympic Games:

“That is an incredible effort by everyone. I think that obviously I was a little bit disappointed with my 50 freestyle earlier, but I just kind of told myself that you find out what you’re made of in the times when things don’t go your way, not when things go your way, not when things are working well for you. And I took that mindset into this race and I just thought, ‘You have to be brave and get back out there.’”

Parent Information Sessions

Over the coming weeks, we will be conducting Zoom meetings with parents of each year level. Please note the dates and times below as we hope to see as many parents on the screen as possible.

  • Year 11 – Parent Plenary (usually part of Year 11 Weekend) – Thursday 5 August 6:30pm
  • Year 10 – Planning for Senior Studies (usually held on Year 11 Weekend) – Wednesday 11 August 6.30pm
  • Year 7 – Academic and Pastoral Focus – Tuesday 17 August 6.30pm
  • Year 8 – Academic and Pastoral Focus – Thursday 19 August 6.30pm
  • Year 9 – the time of this session is to be advised  


Although the number of girls in Boarding over the last week has been smaller than usual, the sense of community has been very strong.

While Year 12 students have been highly focused on their studies over the course of the HSC trial examination period, their support of each other in Bryant McCarthy House has been in evidence daily. Year 11 boarders demonstrated their thoughtfulness by baking brownies for Year 12 and junior girls supported with smartie cookies and cupcakes to sustain the older girls over the examination period.

With Year 12 students studying, Year 11 has stepped up and taken on the responsibility of maintaining connections with junior girls. They have been achieving this through visits to Hartfield House, organising afternoon activities for junior girls and supervising the Friday night activity, including last week's Olympic-themed table tennis tournament. In addition to their regular afternoon sport activities, junior girls have also had the opportunity to enjoy the additional afternoon activities of modern dance and tennis fun.

The spirit of friendship is one that is certainly thriving amongst our girls on campus, as they find creative and collaborative ways to make the most of all our school has to offer in COVID-19 times. It is clear to see through their interactions that: 

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be. Winnie The Pooh, A A Milne

Character Education/ Pastoral Care

A Character Education/ Pastoral Care page has been added to Schoolbox. The link can be found on any year group page.

The page is updated regularly and has information about useful websites and apps to support student character, growth and wellbeing. We hope you find this tool useful.

Online Learning Guidelines for Parents

Schoolbox is the base for all student learning and everything students will need is linked through Schoolbox.

The day at home will follow the same timetable as the day at school, please note times have been adjusted to incorporate exercise throughout the day.

Online lessons in real-time will be via Zoom and links to each lesson will be posted on Schoolbox.

Establishing Routines and expectations
Establishing routines and expectations are critically important for students during online learning. Routine allows focus on the correct mindset - learning will occur just as it did in face-to-face teaching.

Establishing clear expectations also helps understanding the need to be organised, respectful, productive and considerate.

Start of the Day
Students begin the day at 8.25am joining the Prayers ‘Zoom’ link, which is emailed every morning. They are then expected to participate in the form programme. This involves a year meeting on Mondays with the year Co-ordinator and Character, Wellbeing and Pastoral care programmes with the Form tutor for the rest of the week.

Being ready and organised
Students should set up a place to work from, desk or table, not on a couch or bed, ‘Zoom in’ to each lesson, take notes and complete all classwork.Sports Uniform is to be worn every day - the wearing of uniform helps create the right frame of mind for learning. Mufti days have been scheduled to allow for casual clothes of a specific colour or theme to be worn.

Being considerate, productive and respectful
Students have been asked to contact their teachers directly if they cannot attend a class. Subject teachers are checking in with girls every lesson and considerate notification of absence is appreciated.

The aim is to be productive, getting the most out of each online session. Girls have been asked to remove any distractions that could impact on their learning - movie streaming, emails, music, games and chat apps.

Respectful online communication is of the utmost importance. Girls have been asked to have their cameras on and are muted, when beginning a lesson. Questions can be asked through the chat bar or directly, the raise your hand function can also be used. Students are asked to speak online in the same way they would in a classroom, respecting the point of view of others and contributing positively to class discussion.

Being active
All girls are encouraged to get up and move when they can. There has been extra time given for movement between each lesson and fitness lessons have been incorporated into the timetable for Years 7-10. Exercise time should be spent away from the screen and outside if possible. A few minutes walking outside can have a positive impact on learning outcomes. Stretching the back, neck, arms, and doing squats or lunges will also help with screen fatigue.

End of the Day
The school day will end at 3.35pm. Years 7-10 will only be required to complete prep for English and Mathematics. Years 11-12 will have prep from all subjects as normal.

IGSA Sport Lockdown Tournament – Years 7-12
Provided by NetFit, this is a five-week programme, with a 35-minute workout followed by 15 minutes of Inspire time. The fitness session will be Olympics-themed, with Inspire time composed of chats around mindset, wellbeing and leadership. Sessions will run from 9.30am-10.20am, with a Zoom link being distributed to schools each week.

After the first round of the tournament, Frensham was in first place. We are looking forward to seeing even more girls participating online this Saturday.

Mrs Wendy Fawbert, Director of Character Education and Planning



“Do you know the difference between a mentor, coach, and a teacher?”

A mentor is the person who can show you the way because they have been there. For instance, if you want to be the greatest talk show host of all time, Oprah could be your mentor. Oprah would be able to give you a clear outline of the steps that she took, let you know what her motivations were, and also give you an idea about obstacles you may face along the way. The interactions could be informal or formal depending upon how well you know your mentor. I would also like to add that people can be mentors from a distance…you have never met them in person, or even spoken to them BUT you study their work. 

Teachers help you build a skill set. An excellent example of a teacher is one who gets you to a certain destination or to achieve a skill. That’s what teachers do – they help you build skills. The goal of coaching is to boost confidence and/or manage anxiety to improve performance. The coach is there to help you change your mindset around your goals.

Coaches can sometimes help with a very specific skill, but really they are there to answer questions and anticipate mental setbacks before they occur. Tony Robbins is one of the most well-known, transformational coaches. And, in some cases, this person doesn’t necessarily have to already be equally or more successful than the client. However, this does not mean that you need one coach, one mentor, and one teacher. But sometimes you might need the help from a mentor, teacher, or a coach.

This semester, the Mathematics Coaching Programme continues whilst online learning. The coaches are available during the school day for Seniors (scheduled during study lessons) and during some lessons or after school for Juniors (scheduled session times) and during Prep for all year groups (booked weekly on a rotating schedule). Students may like to have a permanent booking or an occasional help session. The programme is managed by the Mathematics Faculty (Ms Allison and Mr Selby) and the coaches include Mr Tarik Jeffcoat and Miss Mahime Watanabe, new to us from University of Wollongong. Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information or to request a coaching session for your daughter.

Ms Joanne Alison, Head of Mathematics

Careers - Important Notices & Key Dates

Students are aware of the following information via ‘Tertiary Thursday’ meetings and the Careers Page on Schoolbox  (Click on ACTIVITIES tab and then the CAREERS tab).

Early Entry CLOSING dates:

  • University of Wollongong: Friday 13 August
  • Charles Sturt University: Tuesday 31 August
  • University of New England: Friday 17 September
  • University of Sydney: E12 application via UAC: Sunday 19 September (online session: Tuesday 17 August)
  • Schools Recommendation Scheme (Early Entry for a number of institutions): Sunday 19 September
  • UAC: Early bird admissions, Tuesday 28 September

General reminders and information:

EXCITING NEWS: University of Technology Sydney (UTS) – just announced a new Early Entry Scheme: OPENS Tuesday 10 August; CLOSES Sunday 12 September. Please follow this Link to the UTS Early Entry information page.

Open Days: Many institutions have virtual tours and some are still going ahead with physical Open Days. Please see the Schoolbox Careers page for dates.

College: If not undertaking a Gap Year, it is time to start applying to university colleges online.

Scholarships: Are now open. Please go to the Careers Schoolbox page and click on the individual university, then click on Scholarships. Please note, there are many industry-based scholarships and college scholarships for consideration. Please encourage your daughter to make an appointment with Mrs Harris, if she requires assistance in completing early entry, UAC application, scholarship or college application.

Mrs Merrilee Harris, Director of Jamieson Programme, Activities and Careers

Jamieson Programme

Usually, I would be reporting on the highlights of Year 9 Global Forum. We were disappointed to have to postpone the event, Mrs Gallagher had organised a wonderful three-day residential programme with a special array of inspiring speakers and a trip to Sydney for a cultural tour. We do intend to reschedule this important event.

However, we were able to hold one of the Global Forum activities. We secured a private viewing of the documentary, Rosemary’s Way. The documentary celebrates the remarkable Rosemary Kariuki (Australian of the Year – Local Hero 2021) and the group of vulnerable migrant women of suburban Sydney whose lives she helped transform from isolation to connection, so they can better participate in Australian life. Over the course of the year, we witnessed Rosemary reaching out to isolated migrant women from cultures as diverse as Iraq, the Congo and Peru. Referred to by these women as a ‘charismatic change-maker’, our students and teachers were moved and inspired by all that Rosemary has achieved through her individual initiatives. We witnessed intimate revelations as women shared their experiences with other women.

After the film, students were able to engage in an interactive Q & A session with Rosemary. We, and Rosemary, were impressed by the quality of questions posed by the girls. Our hope is that the documentary will help to create empathy and understanding of migrants and that it might stimulate our students to think about what they themselves can do to make migrants feel welcome. It certainly promoted a deeper understanding of the nature of ‘multiculturalism’ in Australia and the various layers of which it is comprised.

Year 9 students are completing their Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives Independent Research Projects. They have been participating in Fitness programmes with Mr Green, remotely and on campus, and have been pursuing their Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Community Service activities in a variety of ways. Individualised knitting kits have been sent home to willing students and I know the Nursing Home residents will enjoy a lovely surprise at Christmas with their beautifully knitted hand-warmers and scarves – never mind that it will be Summer!

Mrs Merrilee Harris, Director of Jamieson Programme, Activities and Careers

Teaching and Learning at Frensham: Professional Learning

Peer-to-Peer Learning and Sharing

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people. – Steve Jobs
And schools are no different.

In the modern world you might think that Google, YouTube, or formal training programmes would be the place where most people start. But no, peers are our first port of call for most adults. When people want to learn a new skill, more people turn to their peers first (55%) than any other group and this is second only to asking their boss (Palmer & Blake, 2018). Using your peers to learn new skills is called Peer-to-Peer Learning.

Peer-to-peer learning is powerful because it builds skills, improves connection and community, and taps into the expertise that already exists in the organisation. It is also uniquely well suited to the way we learn because it allows us to gain knowledge; practice by application; obtain psychologically safe feedback; and reflect - all within context in which the learning will be used. 

And so, this week at Frensham our amazing team of teachers who always work together to develop new skills constantly, are focussing on online learning.

We have turned to our own experts to make online learning more effective and to give our staff the opportunity to add skills to their teaching. We have used the challenge that is COVID-19 to create unique learning opportunities for staff and students. So, thank you to the staff who have offered their time to share their skills with others and a thank you to those wanting to learn new skills to make the learning for our students even better.

We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn. – Peter Drucker

Dr Ruth Phillips, Acting Director of Teaching and Learning and Coordinator of Professional Learning

Acknowledgement to:

  • Frensham’s Year 8 Debating Team of Penelope Cay, Lauren Fox, Skye McLelland, Lucy Rouse and Sophia Windsor, competing in the AISNSW/NGS National Virtual Debating competition, for their recent top division achievement and progressing to the quarter finals, to be held in September. 
  • Australian Mathematics Trust Maths Challenge participants - High Distinction: Sarah-Joy Day (Year 10), Sophie Goodisson, Georgina Lewis (Year 8); Distinction: Bella Cay (Year 10), Anna Fagan, Sophie Hanrahan (Year 8); Credit: Sidney Wheeler (Year 9), Isabella Barber, Hannah Day, Amelia Hartnell, Camilla Ranken (Year 8).

Ms Sarah McGarry
Head of Frensham

Head of Frensham Schools