Closing the Opportunity Gap

The sphere of educational leaders across top independent schools in Australia is an intimate one. Fortunately for Principals…

The sphere of educational leaders across top independent schools in Australia is an intimate one. Fortunately for Principals this is a very collaborative and supportive network of passionate educators who, both independently and collaboratively, are shaping education in Australia.

This week I had the opportunity to attend the commissioning of a dear friend and past colleague who recently commenced his journey as Principal at a leading boys school on the east coast. This event signified the start of a new chapter for their school community. A chapter filled with hope for what lies ahead for students, staff and the broader community as new ideas, initiatives and ambitious goals are shared.

After the commissioning, I reflected on the learnings, hopes and dreams that I shared with the St Hilda’s community just over three years ago when I was entrusted with the leadership and care of the school. My beliefs and vision remain the same. I still believe that you cannot go a single day without having an impact on the people around you.

What we do each day matters.  

What we do each day makes a difference.  

We all need to decide what kind of difference we want to make and commit to making it happen.  

I remain passionate about closing the opportunity gap for girls and young women and believe that this needs to begin when our girls are young. The possibilities are endless for young women at this critical juncture of global social change. I believe that girls and young women need to recognise their intelligence, strengths and ambitions, beginning when they are developing their understanding of who they are, what they believe in and the values they align with.

As females, many of us are fortunate to have strong relational abilities, influential communication skills, empathy and emotional intelligence. We need to use these innate attributes to our advantage. They are significant players in the modern world. If a girl can achieve top academic results, but can’t manage her emotions, practice conflict resolution, collaborate, and communicate well, her ultimate success will be impacted. We are committed to developing these skills in our girls so that each girl can be who and what she wants.

A focus on closing the confidence gap is a priority on our agenda so that our girls can leverage their influence in society, collectively, to empower each other and develop a true understanding of their individual strengths. Self-confidence is the best outfit a girl can have.  The development of self-respect and teaching our girls to be brave and not perfect, is imperative.  It all begins with self-belief. If a girl can believe in herself, she can achieve extraordinary things.

Our school’s purpose which is to inspire inventive and adaptive thinkers with a curiosity to learn, together with our school’s values of Excellence, Authenticity, Belonging and Imagination motivate and guide us in achieving our hopes for the girls in our care.

It is an absolute privilege to serve the St Hilda’s community. I am energised and motivated to continue my work with the School Council and school community for another five years, so we can together, continue to spark extraordinary futures for our girls.


Fiona Johnston