What are the dispositions, skills and values we are looking for in our next generation of women? What do we want our graduates to leave education equipped for?
As a leader in girls’ education, these are the questions I ask myself - and they are the questions I asked Penrhos staff on my first day in my new role as Principal. What did our word cloud look like?
Brave. Compassionate. Confident. Curious. Empathetic. Independent. Kind. Resilient. Strong.
Our girls graduate into an unknown future, and it is our mission to prepare them for it. They need to be authentic, to know themselves and have the confidence to not only problemsolve, innovate and be leaders, but also to embrace kindness and be true to who they are.
So how does Penrhos deliver its mission? Firstly, via infrastructure. We recently invested $21m in our new state-of-the-art Science Innovation Centre, a fantastic example of an inspirational learning environment - an exciting space designed to promote innovation and spark creativity in both our teachers and our girls.
The space is not only designed to support teaching curriculum, but to strengthen our girls’ interpersonal skills - through problem-solving and teamworking in open spaces, breakout rooms, laboratories and maker spaces. It is ultimately designed to promote and underpin those diverse lifelong learning skills which are fundamental to their future success, happiness and wellbeing - so that our graduates may go on to work, learn and live better, both personally and for society.
In this new facility, our girls will be immersed in STEM experiences, with wonderful opportunities to explore, inquire and collaborate. Some will enjoy and appreciate their learning; others will discover passions and interests which will steer their forward paths towards the STEM workforce agenda that is increasingly recognised as critical to our global future.
To keep up with technological advancement, our global future will demand even more workers to fill STEM-related jobs. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning is not just focused on curriculum - the term also extends to encompass the essential skills students develop by association in terms of problem-solving, creativity, inquiry-based approach, engineering-design thinking, critical thinking and collaboration.
The Science Innovation Centre is a space in which we will continue to shatter stereotypes, challenge convention and open doors to future opportunities for our girls. We are looking for our students to not only tell us they want to become doctors or lawyers when they grow up, but we look forward to hearing them say they would like to be data scientists, computer network architects, mathematicians, website developers, astronomers, chemists, epidemiologist, geneticist, biophysicist or engineers.
Research tells us that half the jobs for our next generation have not even been invented yet. In such a fast-changing, increasingly complex world, we need to strengthen our girls' ability to embrace their curiosity and use it to become powerful learners. We will help them develop the strong foundations that will future-proof them for the world of tomorrow, with adaptable skill-sets suited for work in any STEM-related field - or wherever their passion and ambition may lie.
The Penrhos ethos is grounded in the free, open and safe setting we provide - where our girls can explore who they are and who they want to be, in an environment where they have a sense of belonging. From this secure, happy base, we encourage our girls to look beyond the status quo and confidently pursue their dreams, to have the confidence to take risks, work hard and stretch outside of their comfort zones to reach their goals an achieve their personal best.
We constantly ask ourselves how girls can develop their future ambition in the context of a future they can’t yet even imagine? For that reason, we invite mentors, role models and future thinkers to engage with our girls, to progressively bring our ethos into our physical environment with images and artefacts that are inspired by our girls, and which in turn inspire our girls to achieve in an ongoing cycle of creativity and innovation.
The symbol of Penrhos is the red dragon, which symbolises our strength and passion. Part of being a red dragon is being a trailblazer; our learning environment is designed so that our girls can stretch their creativity and disrupt the norm, to use their imagination to reach beyond convention and status quo. We want our students to be bold in their approach, to explore new ways of thinking as they pioneer new exploration and discovery – the Penrhosian does not automatically conform, she is always curious as to what can be changed for the better and improved upon. Our girls are change-makers, they do not judge and they need not fear judgement.
My goal is to work with our teachers, staff and parents to unleash our girls' potential so they can leave us as balanced, inspired, resilient and confident young women, who are at the same time caring, compassionate and empathetic. A Penrhosian not only believes in her ability to do good in the world, but she has the confidence to make it happen.
At Penrhos, we lead strong, so our girls can learn strong. This is how our girls learn to ignite the power of their inner dragon, to strive for the highest, achieve their personal best and become the extraordinary young women they are destined to be.
Principal of Penrhos College