A school of belonging
As a South African, Methodist Church School we commit ourselves to becoming a more diverse school in terms of both our student and teacher bodies. We strive to be a school where each individual feels welcome and affirmed, and where each one is encouraged to explore and develop their cultural and religious identity as South Africans and as global citizens and leaders. Within our College we want to develop students who celebrate diversity and who are comfortable with debate and discussion, because the College provides a safe space within which we can all explore difference, experience dissonance and recognise our common humanity.
St Stithians Girls’ College believes that the first step to a fulfilling school career is that every student feels a sense of belonging. Truly belonging means being able to be your authentic self at the GC, and to be celebrated and loved for all parts of your identity. At GC we value diversity and know that our differences make us stronger. Our students grow into strong young people who understand that the world is a better place when we work actively against racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other structures of exclusion.
The College has created a variety of platforms for staff and students to raise matters linked to transformation and diversity. There are many opportunities for students, staff and parents to volunteer to serve on our Council Transformation sub-committee, parent support groups in each school and student committees. These spaces provide opportunity for debate, engagement and topical discussion.
Students’ Rites of Passage
Rites of passage are important traditions in the life of each student at the Girls’ College. These are central to the essence of belonging in our school. Various ceremonial events and occasions mark significant moments in the College journey of each of our students.
In Grade 8, our students start the year with a sunrise ceremony and picnic with their Matric mentors. They attend a two-day leadership orientation camp run by staff and Grade 12 leaders. During the first week of school they are involved in an orientation programme where they are assigned lockers and go through the procedures at the College with their Seriti and Grade Directors. The rites of passage events for the first week include the Labyrinth Journey and the Commencement Service, where they take part in a blazer ceremony and individually ring the Friendship Bell at the Bell Tower, marking their entrance to the College. On the Round Square Discovery Day our Grade 8 students get to experience the building blocks of our Character Education Programme. As the year progresses, they continue to expand their skills, knowledge, values and attitudes, culminating in the completion of their Saints Spirit of Service at the end of the year.
We invite our parents to a commencement party which is attended in house groups. Grade 8s have the advantage of being assigned a mentor in Grade 12 who has the responsibility of looking after them in the tutor group and for the whole year. At the end of the year the Grade 8s attend the Matric Sunset Service, which is part of the Matric farewell week.
In Grade 9 our students attend a unique three-week Kamoka Bush School Experience and follow a significant personal growth course. Kamoka Bush School is an outdoor education facility, owned and operated by St Stithians College. Our Grade 9 students attend the Kamoka Bush School in two groups for a period of approximately three weeks during the course of the year.
Our Careers Development Coordinator presents workshops and activities to prepare students for choosing their subjects for Grade 10–12. This is also the year in which they can apply for an international exchange through our Round Square organisation in their Grade 10 year.
In Grade 10 we celebrate the fact that our students are Halfway There with the celebratory High Tea function with parents and teachers on the day of the winter solstice. It is the first year in the FET phase and students enjoy taking subjects that they have chosen for Matric. This is also the year when they can apply to participate in the Round Square International Exchange Programme. They will also elect to join a leadership committee, which marks the foundation of their formal leadership at the College.
In Grade 11 it’s all about the leadership handover, fundraising events, the key ceremony and the lighting of the candles. The departing Grade 12s hand over the leadership keys to the new Grade 11 leaders at the Valediction service. Grade 11s take over the leadership of the school from the Matric students in the third term of the year when they are inducted at a special chapel. Grade 11s have a special leadership lesson once a week on their timetable that is led by the Leadership Director. They are also involved in their four project committees: The planning and organising of the Matric dance; the Grade 11 fundraising dinner committee; the Matric gift to the school and jacket committee and the Valentine’s function and Matric Dance Invitation Committee.
In Grade 12 we say farewell to our students as they attend their long-awaited Matric dance, the Sunset Ceremony and the Valediction Service. They fill their “time capsules” with memories and deliver this to the OSA (Old Stithian Association) ready for opening in 20 years’ time! Matric students enjoy their privileged space of a leadership office with an adjoining kitchen.
Notions of belonging - our pastoral care system
There are multiple areas in our school where we have systems and structures in place to support our community in creating various spaces and opportunities for belonging. Adolescents permanently interact with the context they belong to. Family and peer group are considered as two main influential contexts for adolescent girls. Belonging is a core focus of our work as a school in that children who feel comfortable and authentic in a space are more likely to flourish and thrive.
OUR TUTOR PROGRAMME
A tutor group consists of three students from each grade and a teacher in charge called the Tutor Teacher. All the students are in the same house. The tutor teacher is the “parent” at school and the first port of call for any contact with the school or any issues requiring support for the students, be they administrative, scholastic, social, or personal in nature. Please take note of your daughter’s tutor teacher’s name and contact details.
The role of the Tutor Teacher is to be the main port of call for the students and their parents in their tutor group. Tutor Teachers are responsible for registration, they follow up on absenteeism, prepare the student reports and are in loco parentis at school.
Grade Directors monitor the overall wellbeing and development of the grade group from Grade 8 through to the end of their Matric year at the Girls’ College. The Grade Director focuses on communications to the grade group, group trends and support needed on a group level. These may pertain to the grade as a whole, groups of students, or individuals. The Grade Director assists with mediation and conflict management, and conducts disciplinary investigations along with disciplinary committees, when required. The Grade Directors have the students’ overall wellbeing and the optimal development of the grade group at heart.
Cambourne, Kenwyn, Stratton and Trewen are our four houses. Each of these house groups has a teacher in charge called the house facilitator.
The four Tutor Directors have a more senior role than the four house facilitators as they are responsible for the ten Tutor Teachers in their house. These members of staff support the tutor teachers and assist with the report process.
Our support department is made up of a team of five experienced and enthusiastic professionals, who work together to provide various forms of support, and to promote overall wellbeing and wellness at the Girls’ College, and across campus where possible. They provide the following services:
COUNSELLING AND THERAPY
Our educational psychologists, offer individual, small group, parent and family sessions for anyone who is referred to the Acacia Place, or who approaches us of their own accord. A Positive Psychology approach is predominantly adopted, in which the focus is on short-term, solution-focused work that aims to assist the client in maximising existing strengths and supports, building inner resilience, and developing effective coping mechanisms to handle presenting challenges and experiences. These sessions are conducted free of charge as part of the school support services. Clients are assisted with appropriate referrals when necessary or for longer term therapeutic work.
Our counsellors facilitate group discussions and personal development workshops with all Grade 8 and Grade 9 students. They also facilitate workshops and interventions with the grades at times and consult with Grade Directors regarding overall group well-being. They attend part of the Bush School programme with the Grade 9 students, as well as the Grade 8 and Grade 11 camps. We also have a wellness lesson facilitated by our Counsellors called S4W, where our Junior grades engage in wellbeing practices.
Our team is also involved in staff development and offers support within the school system. We provide psycho-education and training, workshops, and consultations on relevant issues for various stakeholders within our school and across campus, including parent workshops.
Our staff sit on the Campus Psychological Services Committee and the Campus Academic Support Committee.
Affiliations and Membership
The Girls’ College is a South Africa School that is both locally and globally affiliated to a number of organisations:
- Alliance of Girls’ Schools – Australasia
- Independent Examinations Board (IEB)
- Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA)
- International Coalition of Girls’ Schools (ICGS)
- Round Square International
- South African Girls’ Schools Association (SAGSA)
The Old Stithian Association
Upon completion of Grade 12, our girls automatically become part of the Old Stithian Association. This is an incredible network with over 11 000 members worldwide. There are a number of global chapters located in London, New York and Sydney. Each year reunion events are arranged with our London and Cape Town gatherings frequently being the most popular! Our network of alumni are valuable members of our community, supporting our current students as role models and mentors. Higher Ground is the official home of our Old Stithians Association, where One and All are welcome.