Ascham School

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For the English preparatory school at Eastbourne, see Ascham St Vincent's School.
Ascham School
Ascham School crest. Source: (Ascham School website)
Latin: Vi Et Animo
With Heart and Soul
Edgecliff, New South Wales
Australia Australia
Coordinates 33°52′42.99″S 151°14′11.31″E / 33.8786083°S 151.2364750°E / -33.8786083; 151.2364750Coordinates: 33°52′42.99″S 151°14′11.31″E / 33.8786083°S 151.2364750°E / -33.8786083; 151.2364750
Type Independent, Single-sex, Day & Boarding
Denomination No religious affiliation
Established 1886
Headmaster Mr Andrew Powell
Enrolment 1000 (K-12)[1]
Colour(s) Navy Blue, Red & Khaki

Ascham School is an independent, non-denominational, day and boarding school for girls, located in Edgecliff, an Eastern Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Established in 1886, the school has a non-selective enrolment policy and currently has approximately 1000 students from Kindergarten to Year 12, including 100 boarders from Years 6 to 12.[2]

Ascham is one of the few schools worldwide to follow the 'Dalton Plan', an educational philosophy created by Helen Parkhurst in 1916. The 'Dalton Plan' aims to produce independent and confident leaders.[3]

The basis of Dalton is an independent, self-directed, assignment-based learning. The aim is to facilitate independent thinking, the development of research skills and creativity. The individualised instruction considers the needs of the student and provides her with a structure to control the pace at which she progresses. Students receive weekly assignments and a proportion of lesson times is spent in 'studies' or conversations with each other about progress in the week's work. It is the study which teaches the students to be responsible for their own learning, how to test ideas and ask questions in the language of that subject. Ascham's Dalton Plan allows flexible timetabling so that any combination of subjects is possible.[3]

Ascham is a member of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools (Australasia),[4] the Junior School Heads Association of Australia[5] the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[6] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association,[7] and the Association of Heads of Independent Girls' Schools (AHIGS).[8]

Ascham is operated as a not-for-profit company. All funds must be used to benefit the school. This function is administered by the school's Council of Governors who are elected by the school's members.


Ascham school was established in 1886 by Miss Marie Wallis, as a private, day and boarding school for girls, in a terrace house in Darling Point. The school moved to its current site following the acquisition of Glenrock estate in 1911. The school was named after Roger Ascham, tutor to Queen Elizabeth I.

The school adopted the 'Dalton Plan' as its method of teaching in 1922.

Ascham became a company, Ascham School Limited, in 1937 under the direction of Headmistress Miss Margaret Bailey. This transferred ownership of the school from herself to ensure the long-term succession of the school.[9]

School crest[edit]

The Ascham school crest was developed in 1911 by Ascham art teacher, Mr Albert Collins. Symbols on the crest were explained in the school's Charivari magazine in December 1911: the dolphins symbolise energy, persistence and the ability to swim against, as well as with, the tide; the wings suggest aspiration and ambition; the lamp and book represent learning; and the combination of the acorn and eucalyptus seed mark the historical union of Britain and Australia.[10]


Ascham is composed of three school areas designed to accommodate for the different stages of the students' educational development.

Infant School

The youngest students, from Preparatory to Year 2, at Ascham are taught in the Hillingdon building which has its own hall, library, classrooms and recreation area. The students at Hillingdon are taught according to the Spalding Method.

Junior School

Students from Years 3 to 6 are housed in the Fiona building. Junior School students have access to a broad range of school subjects and co-curricular activities.

Senior School

The senior school serves students from Year 7 to Year 12. They are taught according to the Dalton Plan. This method gives the older students increased flexibility while placing on them the responsibility to learn and participate in the school's numerous academic and cultural opportunities. In all, the campus hosts the state-of-the-art Packer Theatre, a studio theatre, an indoor heated pool, a gymnasium, tennis courts, playing fields, IT facilities, art rooms, science laboratories and three libraries.

Exchange programme[edit]

Ascham has exchange programmes with the following girls schools; St Mary's Calne, UK; St Paul's Girls' School in London; Havergal College in Toronto; Nightingale-Bamford School in New York; Northlands in Buenos Aires; Durban Girls' College in Durban; Institut de la Tour in Paris, St. George's School, Edinburgh, Scotland as well as with Xi'an University in China.

Old Girls' Union[edit]

The Ascham Old Girls' Union ("AOGU") was founded in 1899 by former students of the school. It now has a membership of over 4,000. The AOGU encourages involvement of all past students in the Ascham community and helps alumnae remain in contact with their classmates.[11] The AOGU also funds bursaries for the daughters and granddaughters of past students. The recipients of bursaries are means-tested and reviewed annually, and also carry an obligation to uphold the ideals and values of Ascham.[11] The AOGU released three publications per year to its members.[11]


  • Miss Marie Wallis (founder) 1886 - 1902[8]
  • Mr Herbert J. Carter 1902 - 1914
  • Miss Margaret Bailey 1914 - 1946
  • Dr Hilda Rayward 1947 - 1948
  • Miss Dorothy Whitehead 1949 - 1961
  • Miss Merrilee Roberts 1962 - 1972
  • Mrs Rowena Danziger 1973 - 2003
  • Miss Susan Preedy 2004 - 2005[12]
  • Mrs Rowena Danziger 2005[13]
  • Mrs Frances Booth (acting) 2005
  • Mrs Louise Robert-Smith 2006 -2012
  • Dr Helen Wright 2013–2014
  • Mr Andrew Powell 2014–present

Notable alumnae[edit]

Some notable Old Girls of the School include:

  • Belinda Hutchison - Chancellor of Sydney University[18] and Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • Tonia Godhard - early childhood education advocat and Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • Elizabeth Stone[19] - Rhodes Scholarship
Entertainment, media and the arts
  • Dr Sandra Anderson - Clinical Professor Medicine and Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • Amanda Bishop - endocrinologist and academic
  • Kate Clark - international archaeologist
  • Judith West[21] - Order of Australia for Services to Botanical Science
  • Joan Grimwade - biochemist and grazier (OBE)
  • Dr Ronnie Harding[22] - pioneering environmental scientist
  • Dr Helen-Anne Manion[23] - Order of Australia
  • Dr Janet McCredie[24] - radiologist and Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
  • Laurie Berg[25] - international law academic
  • Jean Mullin[26] - legal writer and editor (OBE)
  • Katrina Dawson - highly respected Sydney barrister, tragically killed in the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis
  • Patricia Bridges - golf champion (OBE) (OAM)
  • Lavinia Chrystal[27] - Australian Olympian (Sochi 2014)[27]
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) recipients
  • Patricia Bridges - awarded services to Women's Amateur Golf and Chairman of the World Amateur Golf Council Women's Committee
  • Janette Clifton - awarded for service to rural health
  • Melia O’Donnell - awarded for service to youth, particularly through the Girl Guides movement and Ascham School
  • Dr Helen-Anne Manion[23] - awarded for service to the community and to medicine in the field of palliative care, particularly through the establishment of the Home Hospice programme
  • Elizabeth Dawson- awarded for service to the community of Canberra
  • Susan Diver - awarded for service to the community through fundraising for Vision Australia
  • Edith Dowling - awarded for her work with women’s rural organisations
  • Judy Mackay - awarded for service to equestrian sports, particularly in camp drafting, show riding and dressage events
  • Caroline Simpson - awarded for service to the conservation of Australian heritage
  • Judith West[21] - awarded for service to Botanical Science

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ascham Annual Report 2005" (PDF). Retrieved May 25, 2007. 
  2. ^ "School Choice - Australia Choosing a School". 
  3. ^ a b "A Dalton Education". 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Association of Heads of Independent Girls Schools (AHIGS)". AHIGS. 
  9. ^ "Home - Ascham School". 
  10. ^ "The Ascham Tradition". 
  11. ^ a b c "Ascham Old Girls' Union". 
  12. ^ "Grande dame of Ascham back as headmistress resigns". Sydney Morning Herald. 2005-02-24. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  13. ^ "Ascham without a headmistress again as Danziger bows out". Sydney Morning Herald. 2005-03-08. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  14. ^ "CAMILLA - Signature Designer Print, Kaftans, Clothes & Fashion". 
  15. ^ "Helen Newell Bcomms, MBA: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". 
  16. ^ "Australia - Rio Tinto". 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "News". 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Kate Waterhouse - Fashion and Lifestyle Blog". Kate Waterhouse. 
  21. ^ a b "West, Judith Gay". 
  22. ^ "Dr Ronnie Harding FEIANZ". 
  23. ^ a b Administrator. "Dying at Home". 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Laurie Berg". 
  26. ^ "Pioneer with a brilliant legal mind". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  27. ^ a b "Lavinia Chrystal". 

External links[edit]