Particularly in these uncertain times, educational institutions need to readily demonstrate the flexibility and innovation necessary to meet changing market needs. As much as our focus is primarily on our students and their individual learning journeys, we also need to consider the needs of our parents and the pressures they face in securing and maintaining the best possible education for their daughters. We recognise the needs of our different families – boarding and metropolitan, dual income workers, Aboriginal and international. We appreciate the importance of open dialogue, in staying tuned to our families’ priorities to make sure the Penrhos learning and community experience meets and exceeds their ever-evolving expectations.
Penrhos College is proud of its diverse community; we value the mutual support we share through times of unprecedented change and challenge. We acknowledge and embrace the need to consistently benchmark, measure and review our College proposition so we can be sure it continues to deliver on promise.
Last year, we reinvented our Early Learning Centre (ELC) under the leadership of new Head of Junior School, Wayne Revitt – we talked to parents, prospective parents and staff, we reviewed alternative providers and we then adjusted our offering to make sure it completely aligned with our families’ expectations. We more clearly articulated what makes Penrhos special from the start by re-calibrating our messaging to focus more clearly on the emphasis we place on growing a genuine sense of love and belonging to complement our holistic approach to learning. We also revised our pricing structure to promote earlier entry, with the objective of giving as many young students as possible the full benefit of a Penrhos education - from the earliest years. I am delighted that we are now full in classes Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Pre-Primary for 2022 and building waitlists for extra classes as we continue to feel demand grow, supported by positive word-of-mouth parent advocacy and the testimonials that continue to flow steadily in.
We have further plans to extend the school day with a range of complementary co-curricular activities next year, which will both enhance our students learning experience and help support our working parents. I am personally committed to getting out into the community to talk to our working parents in their day-time environments – my monthly coffee meetings will start next month and the first, in the CBD, is already completely booked out with a wait-list. My vision is for Penrhos to grow ever-more warm and welcoming, with a calendar packed full of events to suit everyone – for parents to feel as much a part of our community as their daughters, for each family to feel connected and supported in every possible way.
We know there is often some natural anxiety around going away from home to boarding school. In order to make the transition as smooth as possible for our boarders, we introduced a comprehensive transition program for incoming Year 7s. The academic component focuses on literacy, numeracy and digital technologies through the six months prior to entry; incoming boarders regularly connect with Penrhos staff including our Literacy Learning Enhancement teacher and our Mathematics teacher / Boarding House tutor. Knowing the important academic preparation box is already checked is a real plus for most of our incoming boarding families. Throughout the transition program, we host the boarders and their families at various events which are designed so the girls can begin to form friendships and connect with our boarding staff. Throughout the year, we attend Field Day events and host Regional Roadshows to meet future, present and past Penrhos families. We love heading out to promote boarding at Penrhos - and life in Perth! – also, to demystify the transition process and help make sure regional families have the right information. Our destinations are typically based on current student and alumni data, indicating areas in which Penrhos has strong connections. I am also keen to travel further afield and to explore new opportunities – I am especially proud to partner with the Madalah organisation in providing an increasing number of Secondary School Scholarships for Indigenous students from remote, regional and metropolitan areas in Western Australia.
Whilst international travel is not generally possible at present, we are proud to have this year become the only girls’ school in WA to be a member of the Round Square network, with the support of the Penrhos College Foundation. This international collection of almost 220 schools across 50 countries offers cross-cultural and collaborative experiences that build character, competencies and life-skills in our students. We are starting small, within the borders of WA, but the potential is huge and we are tremendously excited about what the future may hold.
Of course, pastoral care is always a priority for parents in uncertain times and we are keen to be responsive to our families’ needs in this respect also. The Penrhos Full Circle program is another initiative supported by the Foundation, established by College psychologists to support parents, caregivers and staff, in providing the best possible care for our girls from Kindergarten to Year 12. Groups of parents and carers are invited to work with program psychologist Tracy Hart – both face-to-face and via technology – to help support the wellbeing of their daughters, as a unique extension to our pastoral care offering.
The work of the Penrhos College Foundation is fundamental to supporting those exciting, ‘stretch’ initiatives that define Penrhos and bind our community still more closely together. I am particularly pleased to be working with both the Foundation and our College Alumni Committee on a range of exciting initiatives to further enhance relations with our network of 10,000+ Old Girls so that we may together bring to life the benefits of always being part of the Penrhos family.
The Penrhos learning and life experience is designed to empower each girl to be true to herself, kind to others and bold in the pursuit of her dreams. We are proud that our College brings together people of diverse backgrounds in a vibrant community that supports each student on her individual journey; together, we strive for the highest and become the best we can be.
I warmly invite you to discover Penrhos.