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At Ivanhoe Girls’, we care as much about developing the character of each student as we do about their academic achievement.

It is through the nurturing of a positive and friendly school culture, as well as great attention to the pastoral care of our students, that leads to their wellbeing, engagement and happiness, which we know are fundamental precursors to them achieving their academic best.

To provide exemplary pastoral care and opportunities for the personal development of each student, Ivanhoe Girls’ has implemented specific strategies, including:

  • High and clear expectations of students in all aspects of school life
  • A whole-school approach for the pastoral care and personal development of students
  • Promoting inclusion and diversity and the development of compassionate and respectful relationships
  • Embracing a positive attitude towards failure to encourage confidence and participation
  • Encouraging a model of bravery to build resilience and determination
  • Nurturing a broad and inclusive community to encourage a sense of school belonging.

On any one day in our school we can see examples of these strategies in action. Some of the many highlights of 2019 included Wellness Week, the House Performing Arts Carnival and the final debates in the House Debating Competition. I mention these activities in particular, as it was evident to any and all casual observers, how strongly connected our students are to their school and their sense of school belonging.

The House System at Ivanhoe Girls’ certainly encourages this sense of connectedness. From the rowdy chants and raucous applause at the House Performing Arts Carnival, it was evident that students feel both passion and pride for their House. This year, students have been further building House identity by defining individual House values and a new crest to go on House banners. 

In the Junior School we also see wonderful daily examples of students connecting strongly to our school. Joyous examples include the Years 5 and 6 performances of the musical, Peter Pan Jr., held in the Performing Arts Centre. For many of our students, especially those at such a young age, performing on stage takes a special kind of courage. It was so heartwarming to see students putting any personal challenges aside, in order to fully immerse themselves with such enthusiasm, commitment and passion in their musical performances.

Our Junior School students were able to do this, in part because they feel known, valued and safe at school – they feel as though they belong. Nurturing such a sense of belonging is not formulaic and nor is it something that can be achieved in a short space of time. Providing a learning environment that fosters a sense of belonging in our students comes organically over a long period of time. I am proud to say that it is culturally embedded in the values of our school, in the way we relate personally to students, in the traditions we uphold, and in the level of individual care and attention provided to our students by all members of our teaching and professional staff. As a direct result of this coordinated approach to the pastoral care of our students, we witness year on year the developing characters of young women we will always be proud to say have come from Ivanhoe Girls’.

Dr Deborah Priest