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A school to raise women’s voices

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If Canberra Girls Grammar principal Anna Owen could nominate the most important value her school imparts to students as they complete their education—it’s that they find their voice and use it.

While the school has a strong history of delivering among Canberra’s best academic results, Anna believes it moves beyond just education—helping to shape each girl’s character and lighting a fire under leadership potential.

“For me, this school teaches its students to be unapologetic for their gender and to find their voice.”

And at a time when gender discrimination appears evident across all areas of Australian life, Anna believes a good education is the best inoculation against inequality.

Since taking over from the previous head last year, she has made a point of encouraging student voices at all levels—including making it a regular practice to encourage students into her office to discuss matters of school life, including the things they like and the things they don’t.

Principal Anna Owen with school leaders.

It is in these meetings that Anna embeds another core skill—listening.

“We teach our girls to be good listeners, but we also teach them to dig down and ask those questions and actually stay in the conversation until they understand what they’re being told and then to make a contribution. We teach them the value of a voice with substance.”

Anna believes that the conversations that take part between teachers and students, and students and students, form a valuable part of the Canberra Girls Grammar experience.

And as part of its mission to contribute to strong female leaders of the future, the school offers ten bursaries each year for students from outside the school who may not be able to afford a private education.

The Gabriel Scholars’ Bursaries program opens for students entering Year 10 and supports them financially through to the completion of Year 12.

The bursaries provide subsidies of up to 50 per cent of school fees, subject to students meeting a minimum B grade and demonstrating commitment to leadership and school life.

It is an opportunity for high-performing, all-rounders who may not have thought an education at Canberra Girls Grammar was attainable due to financial reasons.

According to Anna, these new students are “game-changers” – girls with gumption, grit, determination, conviction and the potential to lead.

The former Brisbane Girls Grammar School Deputy Principal, who also holds a Masters of Science Degree, says the bursaries are aimed at the Year 10 intake as “we find that in Year 10, our students are really starting to hone their subjects and start to focus on Years 11 and 12. We want them ready to hit the ground running in Year 11, having already made a good transition in Year 10.”

Year 12 school captain Lily Hall loves the idea of a bursary opening up her school to other future leaders.

“There are so many leadership opportunities here, and they start from a young age, so you get to Year 12 with a lot of confidence, and you’ve developed some of those leadership skills and ability to connect with people.”

The budding entrepreneur—Lily and her sister have started their own honey business, Majura Valley Honey which sells through Pialligo Estate—is likely to study business at university next year.

“I feel it’s been really good to have developed confidence and leadership ability throughout school, rather than have to develop them while I am tackling university. I know I am fortunate to have received an education at Girls Grammar and it is great to think that that opportunity is being opened up for others too.”

If you want to know more about opportunities to attend Canberra Girls Grammar school through a Gabriel Scholars’ Bursary, click here.

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