We are hearing a great deal in the media at the moment about student disengagement and student discipline. There is a growing concern across the country that students are behaving badly, lacking discipline and  becoming increasingly disconnected from school. In fact, if you listen to the news at the moment, it sounds as though Australian children are some of the worst behaved in the world! This perception is supported by data, for example, in the 2020 Australian Gallup Student Survey, 51% of students surveyed said that they were disengaged with school. Similarly research undertaken by Dorothea Dumuid and her colleagues in South Australia, looking at trends in wellbeing among youth in Australia, has shown that student engagement and wellbeing have been declining over time. I am delighted that at Lowther Hall, this is not generally our experience. Our girls remain deeply invested in their learning and, on the whole, extremely engaged. At the recent Learning Conferences across the School this term, I have heard from girls across Years 5 to 12 who have reflected on how they are actively participating in their classes, investing in subjects that they enjoy and taking steps to drive their own learning. Similarly, in my lunches with the Year 12 girls, they have identified the active study techniques they are using before and between classes in order to embed and master the knowledge and skills that they need. There are many ways in which our staff work intentionally to foster engagement and active participation amongst the girls. This week, for example, our Year 7 Science teachers led the girls through the dissection of a squid! The class that found the two small fish inside their squid were extremely engaged! A curriculum centred around big ideas and interesting questions, as well as relevant knowledge and skills, is a cornerstone for engagement, but is no guarantee of it. In addition, teachers need to help girls know how to learn, to create relationships with them and to provide supportive environments in which the students can take risks in their learning, ask questions, seek feedback and set and achieve goals. With these things firmly in place at our school, I hope that like me, you observe your girls as highly engaged and part of a positive, respectful and orderly learning environment that supports them to flourish!

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes