A brief history of Loreto College Marryatville
Following the arrival of the Loreto Sisters in Ballarat in 1875, Mother Mary Gonzaga Barry was responsible for founding Loreto schools in most states of Australia. In 1899, Archbishop O’Reilly asked her to come to Adelaide. However, it was not until 1903 that she began negotiations after her friend, Saint Mary MacKillop, told her, “There is work for you to do in Adelaide that no one else will do. Your house there will yet be the most important of all your foundations in Australia.” By 1905, a suitable house was found at Sydenham Road, Norwood (now Wynwood Nursing Home). Mother Gonzaga arrived with Mother Boniface Volker as first Superior and Mother Bertrand on 14 January. By 1907, there were 70 pupils, so Loreto moved to a larger house on The Parade. By 1909, adjacent land had been acquired and a new hall and dormitory opened, but numbers continued to increase. In 1920, after the death of Sir Edwin Smith, his home, The Acacias, became available and Loreto moved to Marryatville. The history of our beautiful grounds was chronicled in a book written by Peter Moore in 2013, titled The Acacias Heritage House and Gardens. Gradually further properties have been bought and new buildings erected, including classrooms, science laboratories, dormitories, libraries, a gymnasium and visual and performing arts centres, to provide for the education of many thousands of students.
Loreto College Marryatville’s structure
Our school is split into three sub schools – Primary Years (Early Learning – Year 5), Middle Years (6-9) and Senior Years (10-12). We also offer boarding for rural, interstate and international students from Years 7 – 12. In both the Primary and Middle Years, the International Baccalaureate is the curriculum framework, however our Early Learning Centre follows the Montessori program of learning. In the Senior Years, the students complete the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) and also have the opportunity to pursue Vocational Education Training (VET). As a non-academically selective school, we consistently achieve outstanding Year 12 results and 97% of our students go on to study at university, with the remainder pursuing technical and further education (TAFE) pathways.
Our values and defining features
Mary Ward values are freedom, sincerity, verity, felicity and justice and these values guide our educational practice every day. Each year, our students gain a deep connection with these values by creating a school theme based around that years’ value, which inspires their behaviour and their outlook on the year ahead. As an example, this year the value of ‘Verity’ was conceptualised through the theme of ‘Seek the extraordinary in the everyday ordinary’. Aside from our values, our College’s tagline, ‘our success is in the woman she becomes’ provides a deep sense of identity. We pride ourselves on providing an education full of opportunities for all, in an environment where girls learn best; where diversity is celebrated and everyone is accepted. It is through these statements that we realise our most significant features, which are explained in more detail below.
Opportunities for all
Offering a variety of opportunities is a hallmark of our Loreto education. While our curriculum allows for diversity in structured curriculum learning, students are also encouraged to actively embrace extracurricular activities to find and explore things they are passionate about. A supportive environment where girls are encouraged to try things without fear or favour enables our students to take part in a variety of activities. For more than 30 years, we have held a Performing Arts Festival, which involves all students from Year 6 -12. With months of planning outside of standard lesson times, each House prepares a schedule of dance, music and drama performances. It is completely student-led, from the planning right through to the performance and it is compulsory for all students to take part. In addition, Primary Years students also get the opportunity to perform in large-scale events through participation in Wakakirri (a national performing arts event) and their own Junior School musical. This is also in addition to a broad performance schedule for Middle and Senior students that also incorporates musicals, cabaret, touring performances and more. Other activities, such as our STEM Club (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Tournament of Minds competition and Oliphant Science Awards, allow our girls to flourish in subjects that might otherwise be traditionally dominated by males. The opportunity to gain a diversity of experiences opens our students’ minds to the many opportunities available to them and broadens their outlook on achieving success. Opportunities for learning are also present through our Social Justice program. Following in Mary Ward’s footsteps, our College is recognised as a leader in Social Justice. We aspire to educate in and not apart from society and to challenge our students to recognise injustices and help others to rise above them. Our Social Justice program is unlike any other and has been used as a model by other schools. Based around the concept of a Social Justice Passport, from Reception our students are involved in fundraising, volunteering and other types of community service throughout their schooling journey. It is through the myriad of opportunities that we inspire our students as we recognise that there is more to learning than academic studies alone.
An environment where girls learn best
From infancy through to adolescence, girls and boys take different paths in their journey to success. This was certainly something Mary Ward believed more than 400 years ago when she established schools for girls; a tradition we continue today. Underpinned and supported by the best and most up-to-date research, we provide a learning environment in which girls flourish and achieve personal success in an all-girls’ school environment.
We know and acknowledge that all-girls’ education is a specialised field. As such, our classes and curriculum are tailored to the way girls learn best. We provide an environment free from the pressures of stereotypes, an environment where girls feel safe and able to confidently explore their identities and take risks in a supportive environment. In a single-sex environment our girls have access to every opportunity. All activities and leadership roles are open to girls: they have the chance to participate, influence and lead. There is no gender stereotyping with subject selection and our students are encouraged to explore a career or future in any area. Developing good relationships is critically important in a Catholic, all-girls environment. At Loreto we foster nurturing relationships and provide opportunities for our girls to learn from outstanding role models including staff, old scholars, community leaders and peers. With seven Loreto independent private schools in Australia, and 150 Loreto schools worldwide, there are endless opportunities for Loreto girls to connect, both nationally and internationally. Our Pastoral Care, counselling and House system ensures no girl goes under the radar. Each is acknowledged and accepted for her own individual talents. We invest time and energy to ensure there is a sense of connectedness and collaboration – listening, helping and accepting others’ points of view. In 2015, a structured Positive Education program was developed by our College Psychologist and incorporated into the curriculum. The Positive Education Curriculum has a tiered, sequential structure, that builds upon skills learnt at each year level. Focuses for each age group allow for formative skills to be developed and then used as each year as they grow and develop. In the younger years, the focus is on identifying and role-playing character strengths to introduce positive education concepts, while from Year 3 onwards, a more structured program takes place. Perspective taking is the focus in Years 3 -5 (e.g. emotional regulation skills and taking action mindfully), connection with the world and others the focus in Years 6 to 9 (e.g. link between thoughts-emotions-behaviour), and authenticity the focus in Year 10-11 (e.g. being true to yourself and future orientated thinking) and Year 12 is the consolidation of all learnt skills.
Celebrating diversity and encouraging acceptance
As both an International Baccalaureate school and boarding school, we celebrate diversity and share various cultures within our community. Tolerance, understanding and acceptance of differences makes for an environment where diversity is celebrated. Among various activities, we celebrate this diversity through special days and weeks. Our two largest days are Pink Day (raising awareness and funds for breast cancer) and Mission Day (which raises money and awareness for Mary Ward International Australia). While on the surface these days showcase great school spirit and felicity, at their heart these events aim to broaden our students understanding and compassion and to engage them in actively supporting those less fortunate. Similarly, structured activities and awareness raising campaigns for Refugee Week, Social Justice Week, Harmony Day, Boarders’ Week – among many others – aims at celebrating what makes us unique. Bonding and learning together is part of what makes our all-girls school special and relationships are critical to our wellbeing and success. Camps and retreats are offered at every year level from Year 5 and are a formative part in developing our students through a structured program that focuses on developing age-relevant, sequential skills for schooling and for later life. Girls have the opportunity to work together and get to know one another outside of the school environment while also participating in activities designed to strengthen their bonds, develop their life skills and gain understanding and acceptance of their differences. Whatever path our students choose, we provide the opportunities, experience and encouragement to help them realise their own success. www.loreto.sa.edu.au