Co-curricular

Beyond a girl’s academic pursuits, she has many opportunities for personal development, social interaction and to explore new interests.

Our Co-curricular program offers wonderful opportunities for girls to try out new activities and further develop current interests throughout their school life. From Chess to Debating, the School’s Co-curricular offering allows girls to make new friends, bond and further their range of interests.

Our range of Co-curricular activities on offer can change from year to year, depending on the girls’ interests. Some of the activities currently available include:

  • Chess
  • Computer Graphics
  • Debating
  • Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Australia
  • Film
  • Mock Trial
  • Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA)
  • Robotics
  • Shakespeare
  • STEAM Club
  • Tournament of Minds

Houses

Houses form an important part of School life from Year 3. Fiona has three houses: There are three Junior School Houses: Coolac, Waree and Bunya. Bailey, Carter, Glenrock, Street, Wallis and Whitehead make up the Houses in Senior School.

Regular interhouse competitions and activities help promote School spirit, strong relationships and opportunities for leadership. Fiona girls compete for their House at the Swimming Carnival, in House Debating and Cross Country. Senior School girls compete at the school’s Swimming and Athletics Carnivals, as well as the annual House Festival and Interhouse Debating and Public Speaking Competitions.

Music at Ascham

It is honestly the case that at Ascham, there is Music for every girl.

Catherine Wilson, Head of Music at Ascham

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instruments on offer to learn.

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performance opportunities available across P-12.

At Ascham, there are many opportunities to encounter and appreciate music in a wide variety of forms and styles. We encourage girls at all levels to participate actively in the musical life of the School, in a range of vocal and instrumental ensembles working towards performances in assemblies, recitals and formal concerts.

We aim to contribute meaningfully to the musical, emotional and intellectual development of the girls, offering a program with musical integrity. The Kodaly methodology ensures girls receive stimulating and enjoyable music lessons while teaching them as a whole in a logical manner.

We offer many opportunities to encounter and appreciate music in a wide variety of forms and styles, and encourage Hillingdon girls of all levels to participate actively.

Year 2 Choir

Girls in Year 2 attend a weekly choir rehearsal which is linked to their Classroom Music program. Year 2 Choir performs at Final Assembly at the end each term, the Annual Ascham Choral Concert and the Hillingdon Strings Concert which is held at the end of the School year.

Instrumental Tuition

Learning a musical instrument is a challenging and rewarding undertaking for a young child, and to maximise potential we offer lessons in violin and cello from Preparatory and piano and double bass from Year 1. Half-hour private lessons and half-hour group lessons for cello and violin are also offered on a weekly basis.

Performance Opportunities

Hillingdon musicians have number of opportunities to participate in performances and all girls are strongly encouraged to take advantage of them.

Soirées and Concerts

Hillingdon Soirées are held each term and enable Hillingdon Music and Speech and Drama students to give performances in a positive and supportive setting.

Twilight Concerts are held each term and are open to musicians of all abilities. Twilight Concerts are a wonderful opportunity to hear girls from across the School playing in the same concert.

String Program

Hillingdon girls who learn a string instrument also participate in a weekly group lesson with a focus on developing ensemble playing skills, sight reading skills and to further enhance their playing posture and technique. Girls who learn a string instrument outside school are strongly encouraged to participate in this program.

Poco Ensemble

Poco Ensemble is an orchestra open to advanced string players from Kindergarten to Year 2. Entry is by audition in which players need to demonstrate some competence in note reading skills, intonation, rhythm and tone.

Music Camp

Music Camp is held at Collaroy for two days and one night in Term 2. All children in the Junior School who are in the orchestras, auditioned choral groups and instrumental groups have the opportunity to attend.

Open Day

Open Day in the Junior School is held at the end of Term 2. It is a day when parents and any interested friends may visit the school and see the childrens’ work.

Year 3 Instrumental Program

Music in Year 3 is divided into three distinctive sections involving a 30-minute choir rehearsal, a 30-minute classroom lesson and a 45-minute group instrumental lesson. The Year 3 Instrumental Program forms a core part of the Music curriculum. The aim of the program is to give every girl the experience of playing an orchestral instrument and participating in a musical ensemble. Playing an instrument provides each girl with the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained during classroom music lessons.

Girls who are already learning a string instrument have the option of participating in the Year 3 String ensemble which rehearses at the same time as the other instrumental group lessons.

Instrumental tuition

Ascham is fortunate to have a large number of excellent instrumental and musicianship teachers. Fiona girls are offered private lessons in Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double bass, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, French horn, Percussion and Guitar.

Special Events

Many other learning and performance opportunities are available to girls at Ascham. Visiting conductors and performers are often invited to work with an orchestra, choir or ensemble. Girls participating in choirs and instrumental ensembles attend the Annual Fiona Music Camp in Term 2, which culminates in the first major concert of the School year. Other performance opportunities include twilight concerts, soirees and class assemblies.

Music Camp

Music Camp is held at Collaroy for two days and one night in Term 2. All children in the Junior School who are in the orchestras, auditioned choral groups and instrumental groups have the opportunity to attend.

Open Day

Open Day in the Junior School is held at the end of Term 2. It is a day when parents and any interested friends may visit the school and see the childrens’ work.

Ensembles – Strings

  • Vivaldi Strings is an orchestra open by audition to good string players from Year 3 to Year 6.
  • Corelli Strings is an orchestra open to competent string players from Year 3 to Year 6.
  • Kreisler Ensemble is a chamber string orchestra made up of advanced players and the repertoire undertaken by this group of musicians is more challenging.

Each rehearses weekly and girls auditioning will need to demonstrate appropriate reading skills, intonation, rhythm and tone.

  • Ascham Grammar: The School participates in a combined string orchestra with Sydney Grammar Preparatory School. This is an advanced ensemble and entry is by audition each November, with a high standard of musicianship required. The Ensemble participates in a chamber music weekend each year in April and in concerts at both Ascham and Sydney Grammar Preparatory School throughout the year.
  • Year 3 String Ensemble: is an orchestra open by audition to string players in Year 3 and is designed to develop basic ensemble skills. Girls in this ensemble are welcome to audition for the Corelli, Vivaldi and Kreisler Ensembles.

Ensembles – Brass and Woodwind

A number of group programs are available to girls who are either starting out or proficient in brass and woodwind instruments. Most rehearse weekly, with the more advanced groups open by audition:

  • The Fiona Training Band is for girls who are beginners on their instruments.
  • The Fiona Concert Band is open to girls who have been learning for 1–2 years.
  • The Fiona Wind Symphony is an auditioned ensemble at a level of approximately Grade 2 or above.

Choirs

In addition to our regular Grade Choirs, Fiona offers auditioned choirs which rehearse twice a week:

Larks: choristers are selected by audition, from girls in Years 3 and 4 who are competent singers and interested in singing in a choir. Girls are given the opportunity to widen their choral repertoire in various styles, while developing vocal technique, music reading and choral singing skills.

Nightingales: similar to Larks but for more competent singers in Years 5 and 6 who are interested in singing in a more advanced choir.

Performance opportunities

Performance opportunities abound at Ascham with large formal concerts in the Packer Theatre, Soirees, lunchtime recitals, less formal Twilight concerts, through to assemblies and performances at various functions.

An annual residential Music Camp is held in both Fiona and Senior School. Alternating annually between Junior and Senior schools, a musical production is presented. Some are extravaganzas with a large cast; many senior productions are combined with neighbouring boys’ schools.

Each year Fiona girls combine with girls from Brisbane’s Somerville House in a Junior Music Festival that alternates between Sydney and Brisbane. Fiona string players also have the opportunity to audition for a chamber orchestra combined with boys from the Sydney Grammar Prep school.

Senior School offers many opportunities to encounter and appreciate music in a wide variety of forms and styles. We encourage girls at all levels to participate actively in a range of vocal and instrumental ensembles, working towards performances in assemblies, recitals and formal concerts.

Senior Classroom Music (academic)

The classroom music program places a strong focus on participation in performance, singing and group work. Music literacy is progressively acquired and internalised. Courses are streamlined to meet the girls’ needs.

Instrumental Ensemble Program (co-curricular)

Students learning an instrument or voice at Ascham are encouraged to participate in an ensemble. The program aims to give every student the experience of playing or singing with others.

Instrumental Tuition

Private lessons are offered in an extensive range of instruments including: piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, french horn, percussion and guitar.

Special Events

Many other learning and performance opportunities are available to girls at Ascham. Visiting conductors and performers are often invited to work with an orchestra, choir or ensemble. Girls participating in choirs and instrumental ensembles attend the Annual Senior Music Camp in Term 2, which culminates in the first major concert of the School year.

Other performance opportunities include an annual Strings, Brass and Woodwind and Choral Concert, twilight concerts, Vocal Recital and chamber concerts. There is also a biannual Senior Musical involving visitors from other boys’ schools.

Ensembles – Symphony Orchestra

The symphony orchestra is an auditioned ensemble that consists of the more advanced players from many of the other ensembles in the School.

Ensembles – Strings

Ascham Strings and Sinfonietta are open for entry by audition in which players need to demonstrate competent reading skills, intonation, rhythm and tone.
Camerata is a chamber string orchestra, made up of advanced players and with a more challenging repertoire.

Ensembles – Guitar

In Guitar Orchestra girls are able to develop their ensemble skills by playing a wide range of music. The ensemble uses different types of guitars including Bass and special Treble instruments. They rehearse one morning every week.

Ensembles – Brass and Woodwind

Concert Band is a large ensemble that rehearses one morning per week. The group consists of more a range of intermediate to advanced wind and brass players.

Ensembles – Chamber Music

Ascham also offers a vibrant chamber music program for a large range of instruments and will create an ensemble for a particular combination of girls if required. We encourage our pianists to join in chamber groups to broaden their ensemble experience.

Choirs – Junior and Senior Choirs

We offer all Senior girls the opportunity to participate in Junior Choir (years 7-9) or Senior Choir (years 10-12). Auditions are held for voice placement only and all students are offered a place. These choirs often participate in the annual Sydney Eisteddfod.

Choirs – Junior, Intermediate and Senior Madrigal

Ascham offers three auditioned chamber ensembles for voice. These girls perform at a high level and frequently perform in concerts and eisteddfods. Girls in these ensembles are also members of Senior or Junior Choir.

Choirs – Chamber Choir

This is an auditioned ensemble that consists of dedicated choristers from Years 6–12 who commit extra time to their vocal work. This group is regarded as one of our flagship choral groups which enters eisteddfods and has toured overseas.

Performance Opportunities

Performance opportunities abound at Ascham with large formal concerts in the Packer Theatre, Soirees, lunchtime recitals, less formal Twilight Concerts, through to assemblies and performances at various functions.

An annual residential Music Camp is held in both Fiona and Senior School and a Musical production alternates annually between the Junior and Senior Schools. Some are extravaganzas with a large cast; many senior productions are combined with neighbouring boys’ schools.

Ascham girls distinguish themselves in the Performing Arts in the wider community. Girls are often nominated for the HSC Encore concert and our vocal groups regularly win prizes in the Sydney Eisteddfod.

Our musicians often take part in many special functions and charity events such as Jambodia, a rock band fundraiser for our village schools in Cambodia. Our girls regularly attend concerts at the Opera House and have performed at the City Recital Hall, The State Theatre and Sydney Town Hall.

Sport P-12

Participation in regular sport and or physical activity is scientifically proven to enhance physical, social and emotional well-being.

Stuart Hanrahan, Head of Sport at Ascham

Participation in sport is an integral and enjoyable part of our girls’ daily lives. Our comprehensive sporting program aims to instil discipline, focus and integrity, whilst also promoting the importance of teamwork, commitment and lifelong physical activity to personal growth and development.

We offer a range of competitive and non-competitive sporting opportunities, allowing girls to select sports based on their personal interests. Our whole-of-school sporting philosophy ensures continuity of skill development and game play across Year groups. Over 1,000 girls participate in structured sport and physical activity at Ascham every week.

The Hillingdon Sports Program is supported by a highly experienced team of Head coaches and coaching staff who provide girls with the opportunity to participate and develop as players in a safe and enjoyable sporting environment.

There are a number of co-curricular sports offered to the girls in Hillingdon before and after school, including Swimming lessons, Tennis lessons, Dance, Gymnastics, Diving (Year 2 only in Term 4) and Football (Soccer Years 1-2).

Supporting our house system, every girl participates in swimming, athletics and cross country carnivals. Girls have the opportunity to represent their School and progress to state and national competitions in their particular strength.

As the emphasis is on participation and the development of options for future sporting opportunities, girls can choose to participate in a different sport each term. These include: Basketball, Football, Sailing, Hockey, Netball, Touch Football (Years 4-6) and Tennis (Years 4-6). Years 5 and 6 students interested in Water Polo may participate in a Flippa Ball competition.

In addition girls can participate in Snowsports, Athletics and Cross Country. Regular tennis, swimming and gymnastics classes are well-supported by Fiona girls.

Senior girls can select sports that suit their personal interests as well as their busy schedule. Whilst the majority of sports offered are played in the Saturday morning IGSSA competition, girls can also participate in a number of local competitions and carnivals.

Students play one Saturday morning sport each Term, as well as participating in additional mid-week competitions or programs as they fit within their schedule. Sporting opportunities offered include:

  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Diving
  • Equestrian
  • Fitness
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Hockey
  • Netball
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Snowsports
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Touch Football
  • Water Polo

The School also offers Triathlon. Each year Ascham enters both individual and teams into the Annual NSW All Schools Triathlon event, held in March. All girls are welcome to participate.

Speech and Drama

All the world's a stage...

William Shakespeare

Speech and Drama lessons are a popular Co-curricular activity that allow our girls to gain greater confidence, improve performance technique, develop independent thinking, strengthen their communication skills, expand literary appreciation and, of course, have fun.

Girls can study a wide range of areas including voice, drama, public speaking, social communication, storytelling, stage craft, text interpretation, mime and improvisation.

Throughout the year there are many opportunities for girls to showcase their talents. Girls can take part in eisteddfods, concerts, public speaking competitions and the AHIGS Festival of Speech. Girls may sit examinations with Trinity College London and in Years 11 and 12 they may present for a Performer’s Certificate or Associate Diploma. Of course, some girls prefer to study Speech and Drama simply for the fun of it, and to share in performance with their friends.

Lessons are individual or small group classes and an initial two-term (one semester) commitment is required.

Public Speaking

Ascham prides itself on producing articulate and capable young women who are ready to use their skills and knowledge to improve their world.

Fiona

In Fiona, debating skills constitute an important part of student learning in each year group as girls develop their talking and listening knowledge and skills. This is taught as part of the English syllabus and refined with in-class debates held by Years 5 and 6 classes and inter-house debates that give girls the skills to form and sharpen their arguments. Girls in Fiona also have the opportunity to participate in the Independent Schools’ Debating Association competition, the IPSHA Debating Gala Days and in other inter-school debates with local schools.

Senior School

Girls in the Senior School have access to a range of interschool public speaking competitions, such as the prestigious Plain English Speaking competition, the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award, the Rostrum Voice of Youth competition, the UN Youth Australia competition and the AHIGS Festival of Speech.

Performances and productions

Theatre develops our skills in critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and connection through an imaginative and kinaesthetic exploration of what it means to be human. It is an honour and a delight to be involved in the development of young woman as they begin to explore their role in the wider world.

Kelly Young, Head of Drama at Ascham

Performing on stage is one of the highlights of school for many girls. We put on over 16 productions every year across Fiona and Senior School and girls have the opportunity to try their hand as both performers and stage crew. From the exuberance of a large musical to the intimacy of the Year 11 Student Production, there is something for everyone.

Students from Years 7 to 12 have many opportunities—through the curriculum and by audition—to participate in productions both onstage and backstage of the 700 seat Packer Theatre that features a revolving stage. Professional directors and designers contribute to the creative team and are ably supported by our teaching staff.

Senior Musical, Junior and Senior productions are performed every two years. Lunchtime and after-school clubs are offered for improvisation and film making.

Smaller performances, such as the annual Year 11 student production, provide a wonderful opportunity for girls to produce one-act plays under the guidance of their Drama teachers and technical staff.

The Years 8–10 Drama Showcase is an opportunity to showcase the best works from each Year group, while girls in Year 11 are also able to be part of the annual Year 11 play. Year 10 students devise and perform a cabaret show as part of their studies of Weimar cabaret.

Debating

Ascham prides itself on producing articulate and capable young women who are ready to use their skills and knowledge to improve their world. Debating is a stimulating, fun and popular activity that allows girls to develop the confidence to use their skills well.

Girls in Junior and Senior School are encouraged to develop their speaking and critical thinking skills, their ability to sustain an argument and their knowledge of current affairs and social issues so that they can present their ideas clearly and concisely to others.

In Fiona, debating skills constitute an important part of student learning in each Year group, as girls develop their speaking and listening skills.

This is taught as part of the English syllabus and refined with in-class debates held by Years 5 and 6 classes and inter-house debates that give girls the skills to form and sharpen their arguments. Girls in Fiona also have the opportunity to participate in the Independent Schools’ Debating Association competition, the IPSHA Debating Gala Days and in other inter-school debates with local schools.

In the Senior School, speaking skills continue to be a significant part of student learning and engagement. Girls can participate in interhouse debating competitions that combine vibrant and entertaining ideas with professional eloquence.

The Debating program is available to all girls in the Senior School as part of Ascham’s Co-curricular Program. Interschool debating competitions, including the ISDA and Archdale competitions, give girls access to expert training and skills.

Girls in the Senior School also have access to a range of interschool public speaking competitions, such as the prestigious Plain English Speaking competition, the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award, the Rostrum Voice of Youth competition, the UN Youth Australia competition and the AHIGS Festival of Speech.

Students in Years 10 and 11 have the opportunity to enter the Mock Trial competition. Girls are also able to participate in the Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA). These allow girls to develop problem solving and inter-personal skills to deal with conflict, such as active listening, self-awareness, questioning, analysing, empathising and creative thinking.

Overseas tours and exchanges

We provide a number of opportunities to broaden the awareness and imagination of our girls and allow them to be part of the wider world. These international tours offer rich, immersive experiences that go beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

Overseas Tours and Programs

Girls have been involved in a wide variety of overseas tours, and have included Orchestra tours to China, History tours in Europe, Sports tours to Canada, Language and Art tours to various countries, and community led volunteer tours. Whatever the program, girls return with a much deeper understanding of the cultural, social and historical aspects of the host country.

We run Language study tours to China and France, a World Challenge Tour to China, a ski trip to Whistler and our annual Cambodia community service tour.

A number of our elective Chinese Language students have toured China, while Art students have toured the many museums and galleries of London and Paris.

Girls have also experienced a Social Science study tour to Nepal, the Cambridge University Summer School, a Cultural Study tour to Italy, an Art Tour to New York both organised by the Art and History departments, and our first ever Choral Tour to Finland.

Exchange Program

The opportunity to go on exchange and live with a family or in a boarding environment on the other side of the world gives girls a unique opportunity to see the world for themselves and learn about its many complexities. To experience another culture firsthand allows girls to challenge their perspectives and broaden their understanding.

Ascham’s International Student Exchange program has been running successfully for many years and allows girls to experience a different culture and education system, and to form relationships with students and families from other countries. This experience allows participating girls to gain a wider perspective on education, different communities and international issues.

Currently nine schools from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada, USA and Argentina participate in the exchange. The program caters for a broad range of girls’ passions, interests and abilities. In general, two to four girls go on exchange with students from each destination school and their equivalent number spends time at Ascham. These exchanges happen throughout the year and range from four to eight week stays.

UK Summer School Trip

During the June/July holidays, girls have the opportunity to participate in a substantial educational experience at either the Oxford Royale Academy’s Summer School or the St Andrew’s Summer School.

If timing allows, students may have the opportunity to participate in a brief cultural tour prior to the summer school. Not only do students expand their understanding of cultural elements of the United Kingdom and Europe, but they also experience an university style education complete with lectures, tutorials, seminars and activities.

Girls are accommodated in College accommodation and participate in a full and rewarding program that runs from 8am to 11pm each day. As part of the broader cultural experience girls also visit local sites such as Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court.

Ascham School