NEGS riding high

Field day … For girls who love horses, there’s no place like NEGS. Credit: NEGS

Situated in picturesque Armidale, NEGS offers young women an excellent education in a healthy country setting.

Founded in 1895, the school’s 50-hectare campus is a vibrant mix of heritage architecture and new facilities, including state-of-the-art science laboratories, two undercover Olympic-sized arenas, a working farm, and a national-standard Equestrian Centre.

As an Independent Anglican school, NEGS offers a safe, progressive environment embodying Christian values. Its Positive Education ethos supports every student’s wellbeing so she can reach her own level of personal and academic achievement.

Amongst its proudest accomplishments, is the school’s outstanding equestrian program having produced national and Olympic champions.

 

Unique opportunity … NEGS hosts Australia’s only Polocrosse Academy for girls. Credit: NEGS

This year, NEGS has attained a new milestone, fielding its biggest representation ever at the Australian Interschools Championships with 10 students in the country’s foremost children’s equestrian competition.

NEGS girls will represent New South Wales and the Northern Territory, competing in every discipline: jumping, dressage, eventing, combined training and show horse riding, as part of the largest team in the national contest.

The school credits its recent appointment of Olympic Equestrian Imtiaz Anees as a driving force behind NEGS’ success. Since 2015, he’s been building on the school’s customised training programs for horse and rider to produce ever greater outcomes.

Working with fellow coach, elite equestrian Rachelle Hirst, Mr Anees has implemented a coach mentoring program to support all the school’s riders to realise their full potential competitively and recreationally.

“The selection in these teams is a credit to the hard work the girls have put into their riding to rise above the thousands of other students in their states,” NEGS principal Mary Anne Evans said. “It is also a testament to the dedication and commitment of our coaches.”

“A number of students come to NEGS with aspirations to become competitive riders on a state and national level, and NEGS aims to nurture their ambitions through our state-of-the-art training and fitness programs and extensive competition schedules,” she said.

Best of both worlds … NEGS offers cutting edge facilities in an idyllic country setting. Credit: NEGS

With Australia’s only girls’ Polocrosse Academy as well, riding sports of every ilk are championed at NEGS as are horse management skills and animal welfare.

Beyond sport, opportunities for extension and enrichment are offered in all subjects. Students in the Year 9 and 10 Scholars Program can study an area of interest in greater depth, working both independently on chosen projects and with teacher guidance. Where students need extra attention the school offers one-on-one and small group learning support.

Senior students can select from a broad range of academic and vocational subjects, providing a solid foundation for post-school opportunities.

An all-round education is central to the NEGS philosophy and the school has found that its keen athletes tend to bring the same discipline to class work with excellent results.

As the school says of its Polocrosse Academy: “Horse and rider fitness, health, welfare and resilience training sees the girls working together and individually before and after school. The structured schedule enables students to focus on their academic studies and grow as a player. Each student in the program has reported a marked improvement in their academic performance since commencing the training program at NEGS.”

As the saying goes: healthy body, healthy mind. At NEGS, girls are given every opportunity to achieve peak performance physically and intellectually.

To learn more about NEGS visit the Hills School Expo on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, 2017.

Staff from NEGS and many other independent schools serving the Hills area will be available to answer all your questions and offer you a deeper insight into their schools’ unique qualities.

This is an unrivaled opportunity to find the right school for your child.

The Hills School Expo
Where: Federation Pavilion, Castle Hill Showground, Showground Road, Castle Hill
When: Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, 2017
Time: 10am to 4pm both days
Cost: Free admission
Parking: Parking is free and plentiful at Federation Pavilion
Contact: Dorothy Willoughby on 0412 233 742

Beyond Hogwarts: the real-life benefits of boarding

Extended family … Cranbrook School offers boarders excellent pastoral care in a supportive environment.

If you didn’t attend a boarding school yourself, your impressions of residential schools have probably been formed, at least in part, by Hollywood.

It seems that every decade produces an era-defining tale set in a boarding school. From the 60s counter-culture touchstone, If, to Australia’s own haunting 70s classic, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dead Poets Society in the 80s, and, of course, the Harry Potter blockbusters of recent times, there is no shortage of movies that centre on the intrigue and exhilaration of adolescent communal living.

Reality is usually a little more mundane than the big screen version but that hasn’t slowed the resurgence of Australia’s boarding schools.

Boarding is well and truly back in vogue with more than 25,000 students nation-wide choosing to live at their school — an increase of 25 per cent over the last decade.

Many of these students come from rural and regional areas where boarding is often a necessity but changing family dynamics are seeing more city-based and international students opting to board.

In families where both parents work full-time, the close supervision and access to extracurricular activities that boarding provides makes it an attractive option. In the senior years, students are increasingly choosing to board so they can concentrate on their studies free of the distractions of home and the time-drain of commuting.

Living at school offers students many unique advantages including:

Academic support and extra tuition
When you live at school a teacher is never very far away to lend a hand with a sticky problem or read through a draft essay. Allocated study periods ensure that students have adequate time in their days to get through their homework and no excuses for not doing it.

A structured environment
Boarding is characterised by routine and stability. Students learn good habits early on and for busy parents working long hours, the inbuilt structure of boarding environments is a boon. At schools such as The King’s School in Parramatta, fully a quarter of boarders are Sydney-based; boarding not out of need but because their parents want them to benefit from the “boarding experience”, the school says.

Extracurricular opportunities
Living at school means never missing footy practice again. Even better, it allows students to participate in everything on offer and try new sports and activities. Most boarding schools emphasise physical activity to help promote resilience and teamwork and keep their students fit and healthy, but creative and intellectual opportunities abound. Meanwhile, regular excursions, entertainment and social events keep students busy and engaged with life outside of school. Boarding is rarely boring.

Self-reliance
By its nature, boarding promotes independence and self-management; skills that prove useful throughout a lifetime.

“Boarders develop resilience and independence at an earlier age,” says Wenona principal, Dr Briony Scott. “It’s not that they grow up quicker but they definitely do become more independent.

“Boarders learn to look after themselves really well. They learn to look after their things and take responsibility for their time.”

Kate Obermayer, a Cochlear executive and former Wenona boarder agrees, telling the Weekly Times: “Boarding gave me an inner dependence on myself, which continues to help me on a daily basis in my role — no one is cracking the whip except me.

“I have to be proactive. I have to think about all angles. I have to be organised. I learnt all of that at boarding school.”

Lifelong friendships
Close-quarters living promotes tight bonds between students that often carry through their whole lives. Schools with a significant international boarding cohort like Cranbrook in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs offer students the opportunity to make “friends from all corners of the globe”, the school says.

This view is supported by research conducted by the University of Adelaide. A 2004 survey of boarding school students revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents had formed “intense, enduring” friendships at boarding school with fellow students from around the world. The report author concluded that for these students boarding “was a significant factor in fostering independence and embracing cultural diversity”, which helped to “prepare them for life in an increasingly global world”.

Overall, the respondents viewed boarding with fondness and appreciation. As one survey respondent wrote: “For all Grammar’s faults, I wouldn’t exchange this experience for anything in the world!”

Hogwarts may be a fantasy but it seems that, for many students, boarding does, in fact, add a touch of magic to school life.

References:

Boarding schools appealing to the city as much as the country — Emily Parkinson, Australian Financial Review, May 6, 2016
http://www.afr.com/news/special-reports/boarding-schools-appealing-to-the-city-as-much-as-the-country-20160503-golmnt

Wenona alumnae explain how boarding at the North Sydney school has shaped their lives — Weekly Times, November 1, 2016
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/country-living/education/secondary/wenona-alumnae-explain-how-boarding-at-the-north-sydney-school-has-shaped-their-lives/news-story/760604de5f5f2811d3e8a98a739c3753?nk=71c909cf3ea5cdff59e0c34f1859f415-1495110031

An Australian co-educational boarding school as a crucible for life: a humanistic sociological study of students’ attitudes from their own memoirs — Matthew A White, PhD Thesis, School of Education, University of Adelaide, 2004
https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/2440/37957/8/02whole.pdf

Wenona: where girls grow into Renaissance women

“I have 49 sisters whom I love and I’ve developed unique relationships with each of them,” says Lily Collins, a Year 12 student at Wenona on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.

Lily arrived at Wenona from Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley two years ago. Close quarters living came as a shock at first, she says: “I felt like I was constantly stimulated with people always around and after my first term in boarding I was exhausted.”

But as strangers became friends, Lily came to realise that she loves

Renaissance women … Wenona Year 12 students Charlotte Doughty and Lily Collins.

communal living. Being surrounded by girls who know and care for her is a great source of support and the best aspect of boarding is that “there is always someone to talk to when you’re feeling a bit sad.”

With new friends, come new experiences. Getting to know her extended boarding family has been eye-opening, Lily says.

“Hearing their life stories and perspectives really challenged my initial way of thinking when I started at Wenona and helped me grow as an individual.”

Flourishing through friendship is a common theme at Wenona with fellow Year 12 student Charlotte Doughty reporting a similar experience.

A day girl since Year 5, Charlotte says she was immediately won over by Wenona’s special spirit.

“From the first day I started, I fell in love with the school and the girls,” she says. “There’s something within our community, which I believe is really quite unique, that has really influenced me.”

Charlotte says Wenona has made her a more “positive and spirited” person thanks to the wonderful relationships she’s formed there and the school community’s exuberant compassion.

“A couple of years ago when Dr Scott had a health scare, our entire school came together to make a music video for one of her favourite songs and theme from the previous year, Brave. Everything else seemed insignificant, while we all banded together to sing for our principal to express our love and hope for her.”

Both girls nominate the school’s Renaissance Studies class as their favourite subject. Developed to encourage critical thinking, the course sees students consider a range of ethical, political and religious matters as they pertain to contemporary life.

Thinking deeply about global issues and questioning their own beliefs is surprisingly exhilarating, the girls find. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to engage with life beyond school in a situation where we are treated and challenged as adults,” Charlotte says.

Studying different belief systems is fascinating, Lily says, and considering one’s own problems in a global context, helps to “put your stress or fears in perspective”.

Wenona’s focus on the bigger picture is seen throughout the school, Lily says. From teachers urging students to read newspapers on a daily basis to the varied backgrounds of her fellow boarders, “everything contributed to my increasing awareness of the world around me and now I love to know what is playing out on the world stage, actively making myself aware of global events so I can engage with the other girls on a different level than just social conversations,” she says.

Next year, Lily is looking forward to studying a Bachelor of Science degree while Charlotte thinks she may take a gap year to travel and do volunteer work overseas. On her return, she hopes to study Economics or International Relations at university with the ultimate goal of working toward the betterment of society.

“I’ve always been interested in International Relations,” Charlotte says. “I believe it could lead me into a place that I find interesting and where I can make a meaningful contribution through my work.”

Spoken like a true Renaissance woman.