Teaching and Learning
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Girls Grammar is committed to discipline-specific, faculty-based learning.
Teachers are recruited on the basis of subject expertise as well as their approach to teaching and learning. Generally, staff teach in one discipline area and are esteemed as experts in their field. In turn, students are provided with rich and dynamic learning experiences commensurate with discipline depth. Such an organising principle is fundamental to the long-established cultural capital on which the School’s educational philosophy is based.
This is not antithetical to the concept of 21st century interdisciplinarity. The School’s commitment is to deep, faculty-based learning in classroom contexts where thinking is visible—from both teacher and student perspectives. Promoting the concept of visible thinking is fundamental to our approach to effective teaching and learning. Learning environments celebrate tried and true teaching and learning practice in a spirit of collaboration, teamwork and genuine pedagogical relationship.
The School’s Academic Program is divided into the following eight faculties:
The study of English is a cornerstone of academic success, life-wide learning, and informed citizenship.
At Girls Grammar we give girls the skills they need to read and listen critically and perceptively, and write and speak with accuracy, fluency and confidence.
The English texts we study balance age-appropriateness with a degree of challenge. Whether studying Shakespeare or modern advertising, we want girls to enjoy the texts, to relate to them and also be stretched by them, learning new words, sentences, techniques and concepts.
The six-year English course is built around four genres: analysis; persuasion; creation; and reflection.
When a text is approached, girls investigate how it sets about achieving its purpose—how it tries to persuade us, for example, evaluating how well it does so. This helps girls to craft text with purpose.
Our program develops skills through a carefully sequenced, evolving process. Year 7 girls complete tasks that require analysis. They then add in new analytical skills when they encounter the same genre in Year 8. In Year 9, the analytical task reinforces the skills already developed, and this method continues through to Year 12.
The School encourages girls to read or perform their work. Skilled communicators shape what they write or say according to their audience, and as such girls learn the technicalities and nuances of using different styles of English when they speak and write, and to tailor the tone, familiarity or formality to the context.
Literature is offered in addition to compulsory English, and can be studied from Year 10 onward. It caters specifically to girls with a love of reading and writing.
Each year, girls complete two analytical and two creative tasks, exploring their own and others’ creativity, and developing their analytical faculties in much greater depth. Girls interested in creative and emerging technologies also have the chance to combine older texts with new ideas and media.
By reading and writing creatively, Literature students understand, empathise, and engage with new cultures and ideas through literary texts. This helps to prepare them to enter the world beyond school as informed and competent thinkers.
At Brisbane Girls Grammar School we employ teaching methods designed to engage and develop mathematical curiosity, while encouraging mastery of foundational mathematical concepts. Across all year levels, teachers encourage girls to think like mathematicians, and to explore the ‘how and why’ as they develop and build on a deep understanding.
In our classrooms and via an active co-curricular program of Mathematics competitions, girls work regularly with authentic problems, and become confident using mathematics to analyse and solve them.
During class time, students share their thinking with teachers and peers and to examine alternative problem-solving strategies. Students experiment with their ideas in a safe, intellectual environment that values error as a powerful learning tool. As the girls progress through the years, they develop abstract, logical and critical thinking, which equips them with the skills and attitudes necessary to progress on to further studies in Mathematics.
As girls study Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability content strands within the Australian National Curriculum, they progressively build and apply their knowledge.
Our carefully constructed curriculum supports the progression of each student’s academic independence and confidence. Additionally, girls are encouraged to further develop their mathematical reasoning by participating in external and interhouse competitions, and our unique Mathematics camp, held at the School’s Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre.
In Year 10, girls embark on one of two defined routes: General Mathematics or Mathematical Methods, which enables them to prepare effectively for their senior studies in Mathematics.
The General Mathematics course is a non-calculus course designed to ensure students acquire a strong foundation of mathematical skills, appropriate to further education and employment in the non-scientific fields of business, commerce, education, finance, IT, social science and the arts.
Incorporating aspects of Finance and Investing, Applied Trigonometry, Algebra and Matrices, Univariate and Bivariate data, Earth geometry and Networking, topics increase in levels of sophistication, complexity and connection, and use a variety of supporting technologies.
Students develop their approach to problem solving and interpreting mathematical results and their significance. They learn to evaluate their solutions, justify procedures and the decisions they make, and to communicate their process clearly. The course aims to develop a positive attitude towards mathematics that encourages enjoyment, fosters confidence and promotes enquiry—all of which contributes to further learning.
Mathematical Methods is a calculus course designed for students who may wish to pursue future careers in science, mathematics and statistics, computer science, medical and health sciences, and engineering.
Topics include Algebra, Functions, relations and their graphs, Calculus and Statistics. Calculus is essential for understanding the physical world, while Statistics are used to make sense of the uncertainty and variation present in data-focused environments. Students use both domains to create models of the real world and solve familiar and unfamiliar problems.
Through Mathematical Methods, students learn to effectively communicate their mathematical reasoning, justify their solutions and evaluate their reasonableness. They learn to apply critical and creative thought processes as they use Mathematics to interpret and solve real-world problems.
Specialist Mathematics gives students an appreciation of the true nature of mathematics, its beauty and its power. They develop confidence in their mathematical knowledge and ability, and view themselves as competent mathematics learners. The course is designed for students who have an interest and aptitude in mathematics, and who may wish to pursue careers in science, mathematics and statistics, computer science, medicine, engineering, finance or economics.
Students who undertake Specialist Mathematics must also study senior Mathematical Methods. The major domains of mathematical knowledge in Specialist Mathematics are Vectors and Matrices, Real and Complex numbers, Trigonometry, Statistics and Calculus. Topics build on functions, calculus, and statistics from Mathematical Methods as vectors, complex numbers and matrices are introduced.
Children are innately curious. From an early age, they test their scientific theories about the world around them by ‘performing experiments’, ‘collecting results’, and ‘analysing data’. As these avid researchers mature, they become more receptive to developing the necessary understanding, skills and attitudes that refine their scientific capabilities.
In Science classes, students enjoy a well-resourced eLearning environment that exploits innovative teaching practices, contemporary educational science technology, and online assets tailored to developmental stages, as they make sense of key scientific concepts.
Students can also access transformational experiences beyond the classroom to develop their agency as members of the global science community, including programs at the US Space and Rocket Centre, internships in research facilities, and science-based tournaments.
Physics is the most basic and fundamental science with a simple goal: as intellectual explorers, physicists seek to better understand the world that surrounds us. However, their endeavours also give rise to many of the technological, social and cultural changes that revolutionise our lives.
The Brisbane Girls Grammar School Physics curriculum aims to explore the universe from the quantum to the cosmological—from the unbelievably small to the unimaginably large—revealing the physical and mathematical beauty of many aspects of the universe. Physicists are problem solvers and need to be creative, adaptable and versatile. As well as strengthening quantitative reasoning and problem-solving strategies, studying Physics hones skills that are considered increasingly valuable in our rapidly evolving world.
Biology is the study of life, its diversity, and how it evolves, interacts and functions. Investigating biological systems and their interactions—from processes at the cellular level, to dynamics at the ecosystem level—enhances our knowledge and understanding of the fascinating natural world.
Engaging research-based investigations enable Biology students to explore and explain everyday observations, find solutions to real-life contemporary health and environmental issues, and understand processes that contribute to change over time. The girls’ experimental work closely examines the structure, function, interactions between, genetic differences, and genetic modification of organisms.
As scientists, biologists develop skills that enhance their ability to research questions posed, collect and analyse data, evaluate claims, justify decisions and make future predictions. Biologists interpret scientific and media texts critically and use reasoning to construct scientific arguments and communicate findings using appropriate modes and language.
As chemistry is central to virtually all areas of modern science, the study of Chemistry at Girls Grammar prepares students for many different areas of intellectual pursuit beyond our School environment.
Since the inception of modern chemistry, chemists have used the technique of classification to bring order to their discipline. As such, the design of our Chemistry curriculum uses this technique to explore the properties of matter and its transformations. Developing problem-solving and research skills, and experimentation, are also fundamental components of this subject.
We aspire for our students to use their chemical knowledge to inform evidence-based decision making and engage critically with contemporary scientific issues.
The Humanities explore important ideas about what makes us human, how we should live our lives and how we should conduct our society. These issues are of equal importance to both the individual who seeks to find their place in the world, and to the broader community that benefits from the cultivation of a deeper understanding of the challenges we all face.
The Humanities at Brisbane Girls Grammar School has a long and rich tradition. Aligned with the goals of a broad-based, liberal education, our pedagogy focuses on developing wisdom, and deep and critical thinking skills. The Humanities classroom fosters girls’ curiosity about the world. It is a dynamic place where accepted knowledge is contested and ideas are challenged. Rich learning emerges in the interactive spaces between student and teacher, and student and student.
The Humanities Faculty is united by a common goal to equip our students with the skills to make sense of an increasingly complex world, to formulate original and innovative ideas, and to express them articulately and with clarity.
Humanities students are equipped with research, writing and analytical skills that will serve them well in future academic pursuits and careers. The most significant legacy for our Humanities students relates to their understanding of the humanity they share with others, regardless of time and place.
Accounting introduces students to the architecture of financial solutions in business. They develop an understanding of real-world digital technologies that enable real-time access to financial information. The critical analysis, interpretation and communication of financial information is now the task of accountants as multi-disciplinarians.
Accounting is for students with a special interest in business, commerce, entrepreneurship and the personal management of financial resources. The numerical, literacy, technical, financial, critical-thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills learned in Accounting also allow students to develop an understanding of the ethical attitudes and values required to participate more effectively and responsibly in society.
Economics students at Brisbane Girls Grammar School undertake guided inquiries into contemporary economic issues and policy making that is relevant to their everyday lives. Through this process, girls develop analytical and critical thinking skills while shaping their independent views on important policy matters.
The senior Economics program studies human choices and explores how individuals and societies choose to allocate limited resources. They examine how we respond to incentives, make trade-offs, weigh up costs and benefits, and how we decide what is efficient and fair.
Our goal is to help shape future thinkers who can address the challenges of an increasingly digitised and globalised world. Students have rich opportunities to engage in important discourses with economic experts, and begin to solve problems beyond the classroom.
Geography is a diverse discipline that engages with a variety of important contemporary issues affecting people and places on a local, regional and global scale.
Inquiry-based learning that encompasses fieldwork and the use of spatial and communication technologies provides authentic opportunities for students to apply geographical skills and collaborative learning experiences.
Geography students are required to think critically about the fragile interconnections of the human and physical environment. Throughout their studies, girls are empowered to engage in a sustainable way of life.
Ancient History prepares students to navigate the issues facing modern society, and to contribute to their resolution. Ancient historians produce historical narratives and syntheses of the ancient past that not only convey universal truths about the human condition, but also help us to understand the legacies modern societies have inherited from our forebears.
Through Ancient History, girls learn to question and challenge contestable views of the ancient past, which can be used to empower certain peoples and groups in the contemporary world, at the expense of others. They learn to pick apart those arguments that are politically divisive, distorted by prejudices, and dangerous for the modern world.
History in the Junior School follows a chronological approach. It spans all the great epochs of history including ancient history, medieval history and modern history. Students learn to apply context to their lives and making connections between the past and the present. History poses big questions for students to investigate, and equips them with valuable skills, including research, critical thinking, and written and oral communication skills. History, through a study of humanity over time, broadens outlooks and enriches lives.
Modern History provides context to the contemporary world. In doing so, it helps to explain why things are the way they are, and what might be. Modern History examines humanity’s recent past, spanning the late 18th century to the present. It focuses on the ‘big’ ideas and progressive movements that have shaped the modern world, and the experiences of individuals, groups and nation-states, nationally and internationally.
Students gain valuable skills, particularly critical thinking, written communication, and research. Modern History students not only understand the complexity of the world in which they live and the challenges facing humanity, but also have the knowledge and skills to shape their own lives, now and into the future.
While Health and Physical Education has been referred to in many ways throughout Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s history—gymnastics, drill and callisthenics—the School has always valued equality for girls in this area of learning. Girls Grammar was one of the first schools in the country to insist upon compulsory physical education classes for its students.
The knowledge and skills taught through Health and Physical Education enable students to explore and enhance their own and others’ health and physical activity in diverse and changing contexts.
In the younger years, students study key components of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education, developing their physical, intellectual, social and emotional capacities. This provides the foundations for the Physical Education senior syllabus and builds toward increasingly complex courses of study in the senior years.
In Health and Physical Education girls experience rich and diverse learning and physical activity. Girls develop key 21st century skills, including critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, personal and social skills, collaboration and teamwork, and information and communication technologies skills.
Health and Physical Education is a core subject for students in Years 7 to 10, and includes the Year 10 Physical Education elective. Studying junior Health and Physical Education and Year 10 Physical Education provides the foundational knowledge, understanding and skills for students to select senior Physical Education in Years 11 and 12.
In Health and Physical Education, students learn about, in and through movement contexts. They engage in theoretical content such as anatomy, biomechanics and exercise physiology, as well as physical activities such as athletics, lifesaving and rhythmic movement. Health and Physical Education also aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to allow students to access, evaluate and synthesise information that will encourage them to take positive action to protect, enhance and advocate for their own and others’ health, wellbeing and safety.
In Physical Education, students engage in a range of physical activities to develop movement sequences and strategies.
Students optimise their engagement and performance in physical activity, and learn to see how body and movement concepts and the scientific basis of biophysical, sociocultural and psychological concepts and principles are relevant to their engagement and performance in physical activity.
Physical Education is developmental and becomes increasingly complex across four units of study. The discipline fosters an appreciation of the values and knowledge within and across disciplines, and builds on students’ capacities to be self-directed, work towards specific goals, develop positive behaviours and establish lifelong active engagement in a wide range of pathways beyond school.
Global trade, cultural, tourism and technological connections will require today’s students to operate in a range of languages and cultural spheres, and to value the associated economic, human and cognitive impacts of each.
At Girls Grammar, language learners develop communication skills that enhance their capacity for problem solving and divergent thinking, and learn to appreciate and empathise with varying viewpoints.
At Girls Grammar, we value direct teaching, interaction, guided practice and communicative competence in a range of real-world contexts. Listening and reading comprehension, speaking and writing ability, and understanding culture and perspectives, equips learners to immerse themselves in authentic texts and contribute to group communication activities. A range of contemporary print, online and media resources support Language learning in the classroom.
Students of modern languages aim for proficiency in listening, reading, writing and speaking. Our courses also highlight the history, literary traditions and cultural contribution of the people who speak, or spoke, these languages.
Chinese Mandarin is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, and competency in speaking the language is an important skill for the future. Students at Brisbane Girls Grammar School learn about ancient Chinese wisdom integrated within a dynamic modern language program.
Beginning in Year 7, Chinese lessons introduce students to the fundamentals of the language through culture, storytelling and creation. Students learn about pronunciation, tones and sounds, and are introduced to basic characters.
During Years 8 and 9, students further emphasise communication in speaking and writing. In the senior years, students analyse and exchange information in Chinese on a range of current topics and texts—from lifestyle and leisure to current affairs within China and Chinese-speaking communities.
Chinese classes are interactive, and through language excursions and small group sessions with the Chinese Language Assistant, students have many opportunities to express themselves in Mandarin. Students also have the opportunity to participate in optional Study Tours to China.
The French curriculum is designed to equip students with linguistic competence and lifelong language acquisition skills.
In junior French, students learn language fundamentals around family, schooling, food, leisure, travel, and lifestyle themes. Classes are interactive and focus on engaging activities in French.
As the girls progress, grammatical structures are reinforced, vocabulary extended, and communication encouraged through class discussions and in small groups with the French Language Assistant.
Senior French allows students to develop further autonomy with the language and gain understanding, reasoning and intercultural competence. The study of authentic texts and cultural activities improves students’ proficiency and deepens their understanding of French cultures. We also offer immersion activities and an optional French Study Tour.
Learning German at Brisbane Girls Grammar School is not only fun and engaging, but also broadens the girls’ minds and increases their career prospects.
In Year 7, students learn and respond to questions about themselves and their family life. Through games, songs and interactive activities, students very quickly discover the many intersections of German and English language and culture.
In Years 8 and 9, topics such as shopping, giving directions, hobbies and travel, are introduced. The girls focus on learning correct grammatical sentence structure and spelling and also identify the similarities and differences between life in Australia and Germany.
During Years 10 to 12, the girls explore topics relevant to young people, such as travel, school, and the future. To support their learning and communication skills, students interact regularly in small groups with a native German Language Assistant, and may choose to participate in an optional Study Tour to Germany.
As Japan is one of Australia’s closest neighbours and trading partners, the decision to study Japanese is a popular one among students.
In Year 7, students learn the first of three character-based alphabets through a competitive and fun Hiragana Karate Belt system, which teaches basic sentence patterns while introducing Japan’s unique culture.
During Years 8 and 9, students focus on developing their verbal and written communication skills. By Year 10, students read, listen to, and express their opinions on a variety of topics, including family structure, education, travel and societal roles and responsibilities.
Japanese classes are interactive and encourage communication via many group-based activities. Students develop skills that will not only assist them in Japan, but also as citizens of the twenty-first century. Highlights for most students include interacting with a native Japanese Language Assistant, visits from our Affiliate School students, and the opportunity to participate in the biennial Japan Study Tour.
Latin at Brisbane Girls Grammar School equips students with a unique set of perspectives and cognitive skills for the modern world, founded upon the rich legacy of Classical Rome.
Students in Years 7 to 9 gain the linguistic skills necessary for an understanding of elementary Latin, and an appreciation for Rome’s influence on contemporary language, ideas and society.
Year 10 and 11 students work with texts by significant Classical authors, learning to think critically and to communicate about literature. This learning culminates in Year 12, with an in-depth study of Vergil and Cicero, whose writings continue to have a profound impact upon many aspects of modern society.
During their studies, students enjoy a number of cultural experiences, including preparing and tasting authentic Roman cuisine, handling replica clothing and weapons, and investigating genuine artefacts. Students can also participate in a biannual study tour of significant Roman sites in Italy and Britain.
At Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Technologies integrates two distinct but related subjects: Design and Technologies; and Digital Technologies. Our curriculum immerses students in computational and design thinking practices to generate and produce designed solutions for authentic needs and opportunities.
For as long as humans have desired to create solutions to improve their quality of life, technologies have been integral to society. They have the power to deeply impact people and communities, transforming, restoring and sustaining our world.
Students build adaptive and agile thinking strategies to create a vast range of innovative solutions to design briefs. Our Technologies classrooms are fully equipped with 3D printing, robotics, laser cutting and the latest technologies to generate virtual and physical prototyping.
The teaching team comprises specialist teachers with real-world industry expertise in the fields of design and digital technologies. Specialists from industry and tertiary sectors regularly work in residence with students and staff to provide professional guidance, knowledge, and practical skills to develop our courses.
The practical nature of the Technologies learning area engages students in critical and creative thinking, including understanding interrelationships in systems and teams when solving complex problems. A systematic approach to experimentation, problem solving, prototyping and evaluation instils in students the value of planning and reviewing processes to realise ideas.
This subject applies design thinking to envisage creative products, services and environments in response to human needs, wants and opportunities. Designing is a complex and sophisticated form of problem solving that uses divergent and convergent thinking strategies. Designers are separated from the constraints of production processes to allow them to appreciate and exploit new and innovative ideas.
Students are introduced to the concepts of design in practice, commercial design, human-centred design and sustainable design. The subject provides a firm foundation for students interested in the fields of architecture, digital media design, fashion design, graphic design, product design, interior design and landscape architecture.
In Digital Solutions, students learn about algorithms, computer languages and the design of user interfaces as they generate digital solutions to contemporary problems. Girls gain an understanding of the personal, local and global impact of computing, and the issues associated with the ethical integration of technology into our daily lives, while also understanding the need to encrypt and protect data.
Brisbane Girls Grammar School embraces the arts and values the intellectually engaging intersection of lateral thought and practice it inspires.
Through carefully sequenced programs in Drama, Visual Art and Music, students interrogate the human experience—they challenge ideas and seek to deepen their understanding of their place in the world. Grammar girls engage with teachers-as-artists who provoke alternative ways of seeing, thinking and doing.
By selecting a combination of Creative Arts subjects in an academic program, girls can develop a suite of skills that are applicable to a range of professions in their lives beyond school.
The rich performance traditions of Drama allow students to look to the past with curiosity, while developing a unique artistic voice to express powerful ideas. Our approach to teaching and learning reflects contemporary theatre practice and sees students innovate, create and perform.
The Junior Drama course builds confidence and effective communication skills. It also encourages a healthy attitude to creative risk-taking as students develop foundational performance skills. A range of theatrical styles and dramatic conventions are progressively introduced, teaching students to manipulate dramatic elements to communicate with meaning.
In Senior Drama studies, students employ technical and digital literacy skills and experiment with performance technologies, including sound, lighting and contemporary staging. Students also develop analytical and higher-order thinking skills as they view and respond to professional live theatre.
Drama at Girls Grammar also provides unique industry links for students through artist-in-residency workshops with both local and international professionals. As more organisations value work-related creativity and innovation, drama processes and practices will help girls develop skills for a range of career pathways.
Visual Art fosters curiosity and imagination, and teaches students how to generate and apply creative solutions in various problem-solving contexts.
The curriculum progresses from a teacher-directed format in the early years, to student-directed in Year 12. During Year 7, girls acquire an understanding of visual language and knowledge of artworks while developing key skills and techniques, including drawing and construction skills.
In Year 8, painting and digital photography and video are undertaken and built upon in Year 9. In Year 10, students broaden their technical skills, and are introduced to deep analysis and artwork appreciation in preparation for the senior years. The courses of study in Years 7 to 10 are stand-alone, and may be taken by any student with an interest in visual art.
Over time, students are exposed to different two-dimensional, three-dimensional and time-based approaches to art, including digital photography, sound and video. Contemporary in focus and scope, the Year 12 course allows students to pursue their own pathways within the structures of the syllabus and prepares them for artistic pursuits beyond school life.
Music class captures the many facets of what it means to be a musician. Students are exposed to the science and rigour of music, and the creativity and physical practice of making music on instruments and with voice. Through listening and inquiry, girls also explore the humanity of music.
Students become well-rounded musicians who understand music deeply and have the confidence to create music of their own. A variety of learning experiences are offered, including singing, playing on instruments in small ensembles, and writing and recording contemporary and classical music.
As girls hone their performance, composition and analytical skills, they will also discover the storytelling power of music and how historical events impacted composers. As their artistic understanding broadens, the girls’ enthusiasm for ongoing learning and global citizenship also grows.
Brisbane Girls Grammar School is committed to deepening knowledge and promoting wisdom. Our model of deep, faculty-based learning realises individual potential through critical inquiry, supportive encouragement and respectful relationships.
The fabric of the School is woven from rich, faculty-specific expertise, best practice teaching strategies and innovative approaches to learning, as everyday practice.
These shared beliefs underpin four Cornerstones of Classroom Learning: