Despite the disappointing news that lockdown and as a result, remote learning, is to continue to the end of term, the publication of the 2021 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results this week provided reassurance that the global COVID-19 pandemic has had no significant impact on students’ literacy and numeracy achievement at Lowther Hall. In addition, the long-term trend data reveals a steady improvement in most literacy and numeracy outcomes, with a number of year levels and domains showing a gain in learning that is well above state averages. These results correlate with our VCE results and our internal data to confirm that the remote learning programs we have in place across the School, whilst draining for teachers and students, are ensuring that academic growth is continuing and that girls are developing the important skills they need in reading, writing, grammar, spelling and numeracy.

As a community where we value the education of the whole person, I have also been delighted to see many cocurricular and leadership experiences continuing this week. From success in the Tournament of Minds, to early morning fitness sessions, virtual visits by Year 8 mentors to younger girls during home rooms and online celebrations in performing arts, the rich life beyond the classroom is continuing, albeit not quite in the “usual” way. I have also been thrilled to see so many girls across the School sending in photos of their Lowther bears engaged in various activities, as we prepare to finish the term with a celebration of our Kindergarten to Year 12 community.

With Father’s Day approaching this weekend, I have been prompted to reflect on the important role dads have in the raising of daughters. My own dad, though not living at home with me and my mum from the time I was 7, has played an important part in my development. As a child and adolescent I looked to Dad to provide an alternative view of the world to that provided by my mother and was keen to test my ideas and thinking with him when I spent time visiting his place on weekends. During our time together he fostered my love of nature and my appreciation for the outdoors and this week during assemblies I shared with many of the girls my memories of a particularly memorable bushwalking trip I shared with Dad as we hiked the Overland Track in Tasmania when I was 18.  Now, as an adult, I still enjoy hearing Dad’s perspectives on the world (he likes to engage in passionate dissertations about the evils of global warming) or to accompany him on a walk in the country. I hope for each of our girls that she has a male role model in her life who can perhaps provide similar enrichment for her and I encourage the dads, uncles, brothers and males of influence to embrace the opportunities they have to play an active role in the development of curious, resilient, confident young women.

Of course for some, Father’s Day is not an easy time. Earlier this year my Dad gave me a scare when he had a health issue and ended up in hospital for a while. He is now recovered and is back to regular bushwalking adventures, but the event made me particularly remember that some girls are perhaps navigating a challenging time in relation to their fathers. My thoughts are particularly with those in our community who might be managing these situations. This year, also, COVID lockdowns and restrictions will mean that many, like me, will not be able to see their dad’s on Sunday and this will bring an additional layer of complexity for many families. No matter what your personal circumstances, however, I hope that on Sunday you can celebrate those in your life who provide fatherly advice, offer you protection or provide for you as a father figure.

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes