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The start of the School year is always an exciting time, and this week has been no exception. There have been times when the buzz around the School has been almost deafening as friends and colleagues have reconnected to share events, news and stories. There have also been times of quiet reflection as our new student leaders have committed to their roles and considered the responsibilities they are taking on.

We do know that the excitement has sometimes been tinged with a flurry of other emotions: hope, anticipation, and a little bit of worry, particularly for our new students (and staff) as they wonder: Will I be able to find my way around? Will I find new friends? What will the teachers be like? Will the work be hard? Will it all be ok? All of this is 100% normal and healthy and adapting to change does take time, but if you are finding that worry is really overriding the sense of hope and excitement for your child please reach out to their teacher or tutor sooner rather than later so that we can provide support. We know that a sense of belonging at school is critical to the wellbeing of our students, and that in turn, a keen sense of wellbeing underpins great learning. We want to help our students develop a strong sense of belonging at Ivanhoe Girls’ as quickly as possible so that their learning can soar.

One of the wonderful things about schools is that this opportunity for a fresh start and a new beginning comes around fairly frequently at the start of each new school term, but even more so at the start of the year. As 1 January 2023 ticked over, you may have made some resolutions for the new year. We will be encouraging our students to set some goals for the School year too. Goals help to give our students routine, identity, a sense of purpose, and a sense of clarity and help them to prioritise how they spend their time. Interestingly, research has found that successful ‘goal striving’ is a predictor of wellbeing, with the endpoint being not as important.

Goals are supported by habits and the start of a new year is a wonderful time to focus on developing new habits to support our goals and look to break some of the habits that are not serving us well. It takes a long time to form a new habit (the average time is 66 days – or a school term) so persistence is important, both for us with those 1 January 2023 resolutions, and for our students with their goals for the School year. A great habit to focus on for all of us is getting enough sleep, a crucial strategy in maintaining our health and wellbeing, and one which can really go ‘out the window’ during the school holiday period as bedtime has crept later and later.

This week I have been using the metaphor of how we approach a swim in the ocean, encouraging our students and staff to ‘Dive In’ to the School year rather than either standing on the edge of the water watching everyone else have fun, or taking so long to slowly advance in that they miss out of some of the exhilaration of being in the water. I encourage you to ‘Dive In’ to all the opportunities on offer to connect with the School and each other, so that we build a supportive community around our students as they journey through 2023.

Ms Narelle Umbers