NAPLAN, QDU, Grammar Women and QCS

This week we were delighted to learn that, following the release of the 2019 NAPLAN results, BGGS has once again been ranked number one in Queensland (secondary schools). There has been some very positive press as you will no doubt have seen and while we are pleased to see that it appears to be representing the School authentically, as Dr Sally Stephens said to the girls this week, ‘It’s not even what we do best’.

We would be naïve and irresponsible not to pay sensible attention to our rankings in such external testing, where the results are publically available and carefully scrutinised. However, I consider these excellent results to be an affirming ‘by-product’ of a rigorous, naturally, but also expansive approach to education. For it is just as important to focus on who we are and what we represent as it is to focus on what we do and the results we attain. In every academic decision that we make, we consider what is the philosophy or ethos that underpins the broad, liberal Grammar School education we seek to deliver. It is not just about the activities we provide and the skills we develop, but the attitudes we develop in our girls—the confidence we inspire and the willingness to contribute to, and advocate for, a more just society.

At our Grammar Women event—Leaders and Game Changers—at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute on Wednesday night, Dr Alison Todd (1974) and Ms Manuri Gunawardena (2010) were the perfect embodiment of Grammar Women using their intellect and their education to advocate for societal change. Coincidentally, on the night our 2010 Debating Captain, Manuri, was speaking at Grammar Women, the formidable 12.1 Debaters— Sophia Gradwell (12E), Anna Hammett (12B), Ela Noble (12M), Shevani Pothugunta (12O), Portia Ward (12W) and Emma Wheeley (12W)—convincingly won the QDU Grand Finals and BGGS emerged as the Champion School.

A very thorough analysis of our NAPLAN results is always conducted with a primary focus on understanding what they represent—not so much about the performance of particular whole year cohorts, but about the academic progress of each individual girl. And, while we are very proud of this ranking, we are equally proud of the integrity of our approach. The results are a wonderful endorsement of our teachers and I hope that they will provide a good dash of confidence and affirmation of their practice at this challenging time for educators, as we prepare for the new system in Queensland with our first ATAR students graduating in 2020. It is a monumental task our teachers are undertaking—the greatest endeavour in our School’s work of the last four decades—and such sheer hard work. Everything that is familiar has undergone change and the future remains uncertain. However, we continue to negotiate the pragmatic reality of balancing the expectations of a world where leagues tables and a fascination with narrow data gathers pace, with what we believe to be a balanced and authentic education for the girls.

Next week we shall see the end of an era when our Year 12 girls sit Queensland’s final QCS Test. They have worked hard, been well prepared and each will do their best.

Ms Jacinda Euler