Meet the Head of School

‘I am absolutely delighted to introduce you to Ascham. Since its foundation in 1886, Ascham has continued to be a centre of excellence for the education of girls and young women, and we uphold this standard proudly. An Ascham girl will be prepared both academically and personally to meet the demands of the 21st century and former students can be found the world over using this preparation to lead incredibly varied and distinctive lives.’

Through the Dalton Plan and with the encouragement of teachers, her learning will be enriched, new passions discovered, she will be challenged and if she falls short, she will be supported.

Andrew Powell, Head of School

Education in action

Ascham is a school known for outstanding academic results as well as providing an inclusive, warm, inspiring environment for day and boarding students who benefit from so much on offer, not least an exceptional academic program. This environment will provide your daughter with every means to become an independent learner and develop into a self-reliant, confident, compassionate young woman with a sense of purpose in the world.

Her days will be filled with interactive and challenging learning together with opportunities to develop her talents within our wide range of co-curricular activities, including a broad choice of Sports, Music, Drama, Debating and more. From international exchange programs and tours, school-based leadership and support programs, to House and Sister networks and community projects, her resilience will build as we help her develop the confidence to stretch herself and give her the security to stumble.

I believe passionately in the education of young women and I have had the great pleasure of seeing our staff and students alike truly epitomise our motto, vi et animo—with heart and soul—in their teaching and development.

Combining this ethos with the commitment of our staff, parents and Ascham Old Girls, creates a nurturing, exciting atmosphere in which your daughter will grow. We are united in our aim of furnishing our girls with the qualities necessary to make a significant difference in the world.

I look forward to welcoming you and your daughter to Ascham.’

Andrew Powell, Head of School

The Dalton Plan

One of the biggest benefits of the Dalton Plan is that you have so many opportunities to talk to your teachers one-on-one. Talking to my teachers right from Year 7 and getting to know them so well is one of the best things about being at Ascham. Over the years I have had so much interaction with my teachers and we have ironed out little problems along the way.
A great aspect of the Dalton Plan is working to deadlines. Each Tuesday I am given my work for the whole week. This really helps me organise and plan around my co-curricular commitments, as I work to deadline the following Tuesday.

Ascham is the only school in Australia to use the Dalton Plan and it sits at the heart of our teaching and learning. This unique Plan provides girls with an extraordinary skill set, not only for school but also in preparing them for life beyond the School gates.

The Dalton Plan is a highly flexible structure based on three pillars: Assignment, Lesson and Study. It is valuable for girls of all abilities. It suits the very able student who can use studies to extend her knowledge and interests; it suits the average student who needs the steady consolidation of skills; it suits the weak student who needs particular support and who often needs more time to understand and to practise the key skills she is learning.

Junior School

From Prep to Year 2, the concepts of independence and responsibility in completing tasks are continually reinforced. The girls team with learning buddies in order to collaborate and reflect on their work and their learning approach is informed through the Spalding Method.

By Year 3 we have introduced the Diary, with students actively learning how to plan their week. In addition, the girls reflect on their own work and then discuss this with peers.

By Year 6 the girls have study sessions, where they work independently as well as collaboratively. They are required to make decisions about how they will best use this time to complete tasks, revise topics, or seek teacher assistance.

Senior School

By the time girls reach Senior School, the Dalton Plan manifests itself in the timetable. The girls receive clear and direct feedback on the work they hand in on a weekly basis. The teachers mark it, and then the girls are asked to act on these corrections.

The strength in this system ensures that teachers know every girl’s strengths and weaknesses and are able to support her individually.

The ‘Assignment’

Girls have access to the whole unit of study for every subject ahead of time. Deadlines for assignment tasks are set out in advance and are due on Tuesdays. The benefits of the Assignment include excellent understanding of the goals of the topic and the ability for girls to work at their own pace in conjunction with the Lesson and Study. Assignments have options and differentiated tasks so girls are working at their level while being challenged by the curriculum.

The ‘Lesson’

Lessons are stimulating experiences for girls, delivered by teachers who are passionate about their subject area. Girls have about two thirds of the number of lessons that are taught in a conventional school. Teachers will cover the elements required to complete the Assignment and continue with additional curriculum requirements.

The ‘Study’

This is the core of the Dalton Plan. Each girl has classes in her timetable where lessons are not scheduled. In these Studies, girls go to a teacher to continue their Assignment. The teacher’s timetable also has many slots where Studies are scheduled over Lessons.

It is crucial that each girl timetables her own Studies for each subject—she chooses the time, she sets the agenda. As a result, the amount of one-on-one time that an Ascham girl has with each of her teachers, each week, is exceptional. It is the Study which teaches each girl how to be responsible for her own learning: how to organise her time to choose the best Study to see a teacher; how to plan an agenda for that Study; how to ask questions in the language of that subject; how to debate and test ideas; eventually how to develop her own language of learning and understanding.

Long after their final school roll call, an Ascham old girl continues to reap the benefits of the Dalton Plan. The sense of organisation of time and of taking responsibility for each task is a secure foundation for university and for a professional life. Ascham girls enjoy a reputation for being organised, for showing initiative, and as skilled negotiators. That process of taking responsibility, learned in the classroom every day while at Ascham, becomes a mark of each girl’s personal and professional maturity.

The Dalton Plan:

The foundation of an Ascham education (part one)

The Dalton Plan in action:

Ascham students and Old Girls (part two)

Our approach to
academic excellence

Our teaching philosophy mirrors that of the Dalton Plan and focuses on four key principles — collaboration, responsibility, reflection and independence.

This way of learning stays with our girls beyond School, sustaining their tertiary studies and onward into their careers, whatever their abilities and aspirations.

Ascham presents each girl with personal challenges so she can explore her academic potential and begin to become all she hoped for—and more.

We work in partnership with parents, staff and Old Girls to create an exciting atmosphere in which each girl can learn and grow effectively.

We seek to build resilience by helping each girl develop the confidence to stretch herself and stumble. We believe that self-confidence comes from effort leading to real achievement, and that learning to bounce back from setbacks is an integral part of this process.

Strong values

We are committed to building a positive culture that encourages girls to develop core values, attitudes and behaviours that lead to a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. Specifically, we actively encourage our girls, our staff, our parents and our Old Girls to display:

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    Respect and Kindness

    Treat others as you wish to be treated. Display warmth, friendliness and generosity.

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    Collaboration and Community

    Be both leaders and team players. Understand that the world is interdependent and seek to help others.

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    Courage and Resilience

    Step forward to support what you believe is right. Treat setbacks as opportunities to learn and move forward.

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    Acceptance and Responsibility

    Celebrate diversity and provide an environment that is supportive and inclusive. Own your own actions and recognise their potential influence.

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    Show enthusiasm and appreciate challenge by setting goals.

We are a school that:

  •  is non-selective yet consistently achieves outstanding academic results for girls of all abilities
  • has a unique learning environment based on the philosophy of the Dalton Plan, where girls form close relationships with their teachers as they manage their own timetables to suit their individual study needs
  • offers a tertiary-oriented academic curriculum while encouraging girls to participate in a wide range of activities including the arts, community service, leadership, sport and overseas experiences
  • is without religious affiliation and is committed to developing confident, healthy, socially responsible girls with strong values and a sense of purpose
    cherishes the diverse individuality of each girl and encourages her peers to do the same
  • offers P–12 on a single campus close to Sydney’s CBD, with a strong boarding program comprised largely of girls from rural areas
  • values the benefits of a supportive community network, not only while girls are at School but also in their careers and personal lives thereafter
  • attracts and retains teachers who inspire and innovate

Our People

The expertise and commitment of Ascham’s teachers are just two reasons why Ascham girls achieve such success at school and in later life.

Ascham attracts and retains high quality people, experts in their fields who are dedicated to supporting girls in their academic and wider endeavours. The Dalton Plan fosters rewarding and strong relationships between teacher and student, and every member of staff has a positive and proactive approach to their work and a willingness to participate in School life.

Consistently strong academic results are clear evidence of our quality of teaching and commitment to excellence. Ascham girls leave the School regarding their teachers as partners on their educational journey.

Staff wellbeing is paramount to the School, and we provide appropriate care and professional development programs to ensure all staff can contribute positively and successfully to the School.

Our Senior Leadership Team leads a passionate team of teachers and administrators in delivering academic excellence and upholding the Ascham values.


The girls’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us and integral to the learning process. Girls who are socially, emotionally and physically well have a positive outlook and are able to engage fully with their learning. We maintain a School-wide supportive framework to foster this, based on strong and caring relationships.

Addressing Student Wellbeing at Ascham is an important component in the development of our girls’ physical, moral, spiritual and academic competence. Student Wellbeing is integral to the learning process and students who are socially, emotionally and physically well are optimistic, have a positive outlook and are able to engage fully with their learning.

The Student Wellbeing program draws from our values and the four main principles of the Dalton Plan: Independence, Responsibility, Collaboration and Reflection. The Program’s framework is organised around seven strands—the result of combining the five social and emotional learning skills of the ‘Friendly Schools Plus Program’ and the personal and social capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. The seven strands are:

  • a healthy lifestyle
  • self awareness
  • physical and emotional safety
  • social decision making
  • relationship skills
  • social awareness
  • self management.

The Wellbeing Program also incorporates other important areas:

  • Transitioning and Orientation
  • Critical thinking iThink Program
  • Cybersafety
  • Study Skills
  • Service Learning
  • Camps and Activity Days

K–12 Digital Citizenship Program

Our Digital Citizenship Program aims to raise awareness of and teach girls to counter the inappropriate use of technology, from an early age. Girls from K–12 are engaged in lessons that aim to promote responsible, ethical and accountable online behaviours.

Wellbeing in Junior School


We strive to provide a happy and caring environment where each girl feels secure. The principles of trust, respect, co-operation and concern for others are engendered amongst the girls and are included in our Personal Development classes and Social Skill programs. Courtesy and good manners are expected at all times.

Student wellbeing programs focus on developing confident learners, encouraging positive social skills and building community bonds through PDH lessons, social skills lessons, learning buddies and service to others through charity days and sponsorships. The You Can Do It! program explicitly teaches the skills of confidence, persistence, resilience, cooperation and organisation.


We encourage each girl to respect herself and others, be honest, work with others co-operatively, take responsibility for her actions and join a wide range of activities so that her friendship circles are broad.

Extending on the You Can Do It! program introduced in Hillingdon, each girl belongs to a POD, a group of girls from each Year, who meet with their POD teacher fortnightly. Girls remain in the same POD for their Fiona years. The girls in Year 6 lead the activities in each session and these range from discussions about friendships and developing useful strategies to the writing and performing of plays as a group. The girls develop a strong network of support across their primary years and into the future. Regular Class Chatterbox sessions help students support one another and find solutions if there are problems being experienced by their peers.

There are a number of opportunities for the girls to be leaders in Fiona. From Year 3 each term, girls are elected to the position of Class Captain and Vice-Captain. These girls form the Student Representative Council and they meet fortnightly to discuss and plan solutions for issues in Fiona. In Year 6 all students take on a prefect role with each girl responsible for her own portfolio.

Wellbeing in Senior School

The girls’ wellbeing is of paramount importance to us and integral to the learning process in Senior School. Girls who are socially, emotionally and physically well are optimistic, have a positive outlook and are able to engage fully with their learning. We maintain a school-wide supportive framework to foster this, based on strong and caring relationships.

Girls are assisted from an holistic perspective, covering social engagement, charitable activity, leadership and peer support.

Workshops, guest presenters, information evenings, camps, the PDHPE course and specific programs are tailored to the girls’ developmental needs throughout their years with us.

Diversity in thought and culture

Ascham is independent of any religious affiliation. The School seeks to help girls develop strong moral and social values including a sense of connection with and responsibility for others.


Our Academic Enrichment Program is a way to ignite the intellectual spark and foster a passion for lifelong learning. Girls are extended through Enrichment experiences allowing them to take risks, immerse themselves in something they are passionate about and discover new and challenging ideas.
These experiences are many and varied and include:

  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) challenges and coding
  • Creative entrepreneurs
  • Challenges and consultation with industry professionals
  • Enrichment courses in the Humanities, Maths and Sciences
  • Entry in the ‘Philosothon’: a competition based on an evening of moderated philosophical discussion, judged by university academics
  • Engagement with visiting academics who speak on a range of topics designed to stimulate intellectual engagement


We want Ascham girls to be resourceful and proud of their role in the world, becoming the leaders of tomorrow and helping shape the society they live in. To prepare them, Ascham aims to build a culture of leadership where girls are trained in the necessary skills.

Our girls develop leadership skills throughout their time at Ascham. Every girl is encouraged to understand the importance of each individual and to discover that diverse perspectives brought together create better outcomes. They learn to become role-models for younger Years and for each other.

Girls take part in a variety of workshops, camps and other programs to develop their personal skills of resilience, communications, confidence, self-discipline and teamwork. In addition, the girls attend workshops in areas such as resilience, leadership, empowerment and study skills.

Hillingdon offers girls the chance to carry out a Leader or Monitor role. Girls look forward to fulfilling their responsibilities and are excited to be developing a range of leadership skills at this early age. This commitment helps to foster independence as well as team spirit.

There are a number of opportunities for Fiona girls to be leaders, including Class Captain and Vice-Captain, part of the Student Representative Council. In Year 6 all students take on a prefect role and responsibility for a portfolio taken from various areas.

A Service Learning Program operates from Year 7, through which girls explore different dimensions of leading through commitment to a cause. From Year 9 girls can participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

In Senior School, girls can nominate for leadership positions from Year 7 with the Student Representative Council, as well as Form Representatives. There are then increasing opportunities in each Year. Girls are also encouraged to take on informal leadership roles in areas where they have passion and purpose.

Ascham School