At the end of last week I presented at a conference for Heads of Independent Schools on the topic “What inspires you?” In the session, my co-presenter (Principal of St Michael’s – Ms Terrie Jones) and I shared things that we had read and listened to over the last 12 months that had provided insight, nourishment or sustenance as we navigated the challenges of lockdown. Our colleagues then shared their own inspirational texts and everyone walked away with a list of things to read or watch that may be uplifting and encouraging and relevant to our work leading schools.

One of the texts I spoke about was David Attenborough’s recent book, A Life on Our Planet, which I found to be a source of great inspiration, but also great challenge, when I read it last year. It is a cogent summary of the ways in which life on earth has evolved over time and a salient precis of the factors that have led to changes in our climate. I found it informative without being boring, technical without being pretentious and passionate without being preachy. But I do need to confess that I am a long time Attenborough fan! 

This week, there will be marches around the country to promote positive climate action as more and more individuals, especially young people, become more informed and more passionate about intervening to sustain healthy life on our planet. At the Raymond House and Blinkbonnie House Science Fair today, I was inspired to see how many girls had taken up scientific investigation or experimentation related to sustainability or climate. The relation of science to food production was an excellent provocation of the girls’ thinking and they enjoyed hearing from the Senior School Food Studies students about the ways in which they have explored ideas such as sustainable food use in their subjects. This term, a new staff and student Sustainability Committee has been formed to consider the ways in which the School can pursue and promote sustainable practices relating to energy, waste and travel. The Lowther Hall Green Travel Plan has been reviewed and we are working with the Moonee Valley City Council to re-invigorate the Walking School Bus and to implement the Active Pathways program. It continues to be inspiring to work with our community to ensure that we take responsibility for caring for the world in which we live. 

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes