Ensuring our future

Ascham has long held a place as a leader in high quality girls’ education, and we apply strong governance and effective management across all aspects of the School to ensure we remain on this path.


Like many independent schools, Ascham is a not-for-profit company limited by the guarantee of its members.

The Company’s members elect the School Council of Governors, which oversees the direction of Ascham. Those on the Council bring expertise from many different fields and give generously of their time, knowledge and wisdom in support of the School.

The Council works with the Head of School and Senior Leadership Team to determine Ascham’s strategic objectives and key initiatives, monitoring financial performance and risk, and approving key policy changes and the annual budget, which includes major investment decisions related to property, information technology, and long term contracts.

In consultation with the Head of School, the Council’s role is to:

  • establish, evaluate and uphold the mission, vision and philosophy of Ascham
  • develop policies and strategies consistent with these
  • protect and enhance Ascham’s financial viability, making provision for the resources necessary to implement policies and strategies.

The members are people who have a long-term connection with Ascham. Currently there are about 250 members of the Ascham Company. They have been appointed because they have demonstrated and share a continuing interest in, understanding of and dedication to Ascham as an institution. They include former students, parents, governors and senior staff.

Members are appointed by the Council of Governors. The Nominations Committee of Council gathers input widely, including from the Head of School and the Ascham Foundation Board. Members are proposed by the Nominations Committee and approved by the Council. There is no term on the appointment.

The Ascham Company members are not shareholders, in the sense that they are not entitled to share in the revenue or capital of the School. As members and guarantors they would be obliged to make a small contribution if the Company were ever wound up. Members receive the Company’s annual report and attend and vote at general meetings.

The School Council of Governors oversees the direction of Ascham. The Council works with the Head of School and the Senior Leadership Team to determine the School’s strategic objectives and key strategic initiatives. The Council monitors financial performance and risk and approves key policy changes and the annual budget, including major investment decisions related to property, information technology, and long term contracts.

The Head of School, Andrew Powell, reports to the Council of Governors and is responsible for all operational decisions related to the day to day management of the School and its staff and students.

The Business Manager and Company Secretary of the School reports to the Head of School and also to the Council.

There are currently 14 Governors who have a variety of skills and experience: five are currently parents at the school, six are former parents, and four are old girls. Seven are women, including the Chair of the Ascham Council of Governors Ms Sophie J Gilder. Our Governors all act in a voluntary capacity.

Each year there are nine regular Council meetings and another two strategy meetings. There are additional formal or informal meetings when required. Items considered at the Council meetings during the year include monthly operational reports from the Head of School and the Business Manager, and reports from senior staff on aspects of the School and its operating environment, including financial and annual reports, policy issues, capital projects and major commitments.

Governors are encouraged to attend School functions, including the annual Mid-Year Forum with parents, arranged by the Ascham Parents’ Association.

The Head of School and the Business Manager/Company Secretary attend all formal Council meetings. Council regularly invites others to attend and keep Council informed broadly on key matters.

The Council expects open and full participation of Governors and School leaders in its discussions. To ensure its recommendations and decisions are evidence-based, debate and transparency are encouraged.

In line with standard corporate practice, the Chair meets regularly with the Head of School, and the Honorary Treasurer meets regularly with the Business Manager and Company Secretary. Governors are always available to assist staff when their expertise of experience is required.

The Council conducts an annual review of its performance and uses the information to improve its effectiveness.

Governors may be appointed by the Council, at the recommendation of the Nominations Committee of the Council, but must stand for election/re-election at the next general meeting of the Company. All Governors must be members of the Company. New Governors must be, or become, a member as part of their appointment.

The aim is to balance the need to keep the Council appropriately skilled, diversified and refreshed, with the need for corporate memory and experience in a long-term institution. Governors must therefore normally be expected to serve for a minimum of nine years. All Governors are expected to represent the interests of the whole school. They are not selected to represent specific constituencies.

The constitution requires at least three Governors to be Old Girls. Three Governors a year (including one Old Girl Governor) must stand down but may stand for re-election.

Selection of the Chair of Council is a transparent process involving all current Governors. The process is led by the Chair of the Nominations Committee. It is expected the Chair of Council will hold the role for a minimum of six years.

Chair of the Ascham Council of Governors

B Law (Hons), BEc

A Director of the Company since 2017, Sophie is Head of Blockchain and Digital Assets at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. She is responsible for leading new blockchain and digital asset related initiatives. The role includes the design, development and scaling of digital products, as well as the development of strategy, partnerships and business models to realise these opportunities. She has extensive experience in advisory and structured finance through a number of roles in investment banking in Europe and Australia, as well as experience founding her own start-up. Sophie has been a Council appointed Director to Ascham Foundation Ltd since 2019. Sophie is an Old Girl of the School and has three daughters at Ascham.

Honorary Treasurer

BComm, BA

A Director of the Company since August 2019. Harvey Carter is Co-Founder of Point King Capital, an investment firm with a focus on opportunities in the financial services and global consumer sectors. Harvey led the Mergers & Acquisitions team at Westpac Banking Corporation for 11 years from 2007-2018. Harvey is also a director and the Deputy Chairman of the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation. Harvey holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne.


Dr Birrell holds degrees in veterinary medicine (USyd), PhD (medicine) and MBA (AGSM). She is also a member of CEW and the Australian Institute di Company Directors (MAICD).  Alex has worked in senior management roles in the healthcare and technology sector for over 25 years including 12 years as CEO of an advanced high growth technology ASX company.

Previously she worked a PricewaterhouseCoopers in advisory and financial services in healthcare, renewable energy and technology. She held senior management roles a Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in the areas di research delivery and was a member of the University and Central Sydney Area Health Service research ethics committees for 7 years. Dr Birrell was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the Applied Arts and Sciences (which includes the Power House Museum and The Observatory) from 2016 – 2019.

Alex co-founded Apropela (formally Heads Over Heels), a not-for-profit organisation that curates an influential network to accelerate growth of women-led scale up technology companies. Dr Birrell is a previous winner of the AFR Women of Influence Awards and a Chief Executive Women (CEW) Scholarship.  She currently sits on 2 not-for-profit boards, Apropela and Insulin for Life.


BEc, FCPA, FTIA, Dip Fin Serv, GAICD

A Director of the Company since 2015. Hugh is Managing Director of Roundhouse Property Trust, Director of Binowee Developments Pty Ltd and was formerly a Director in the Commonwealth Public Sector. Hugh holds a Bachelor of Economics from Sydney University and a Diploma in Financial Services and has lived and grown up in rural NSW. He has had extensive experience in agricultural business providing advice to cropping and grazing corporates throughout eastern Australia. Hugh is married to an Old Girl and his daughter is an Old Girl of Ascham.



Professor Patricia Davidson joined Ascham Council and Company in December 2022. Professor Davidson is the Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Wollongong. She has been a registered nurse for four decades, and has clinical, teaching, and practice expertise in cardiovascular science and the care of at-risk populations, particularly those with chronic and complex conditions. Prior to joining the University of Wollongong she was Dean and Professor of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Professor Davidson is strongly committed to advancing equity and social justice through education. Professor Davidson’s daughter attended Ascham in her senior years.


Adj Prof. Pat Garcia is the Group General Manager and General Counsel at St Vincent’s Health Australia. He is a lawyer, policy expert and political strategist who has worked in all three levels of government including as the Director of Policy in the Office of the NSW Premier and as a Senior Adviser in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Pat sits on the board of CatholicCare Sydney and the Trustees of Catholic Aged Care Sydney. He has previously sat on the boards of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Society of NSW, the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, SHINE for Kids, and Youth Action.

Pat is an Adjunct Professor in Politics and International Relations at the University of Notre Dame Australia, a Life Member of Coogee Surf Life Saving Club and a retired Australian Army Legal Corps officer. He has degrees in Law, Finance & Marketing, Public Policy, International Law and Security, as well as postgraduate qualifications in health administration, military law and legal practice.

Married to an Ascham old girl, the son-in-law of an old girl, Pat has three girls currently at Ascham.


B Arch (Hons), ARAIA

A Director of the Company since 2007 and Chair of the Property & Building Taskforce. Angela Kent is an Associate of the Australian Institute of Architects and has been a director of Kenstrom Design Pty Ltd for over 30 years. She was a Director of Ascham Foundation Ltd from 2003 to 2013. She is an Old Girl of the School and both her daughters attended the School.


Bcomm, MAppFin, CA, AICD Member

Grant has more than 20 years’ financial markets experience in New York, London and Sydney culminating as the Head of Fixed Income at UBS Australia. Then from 2012 to 2015, Grant was the Chief of Staff to Hon. Joe Hockey (Shadow Treasurer and Commonwealth Treasurer). Until recently he held the position as the General Manager of Government and Regulatory Affairs at the ASX. He is also a Director of Quest for Life and Treasurer of the Story Factory. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of NSW and a Masters of Applied Finance from Macquarie University. Grant has two daughters attending Ascham.



A Director of the Company since 2016. David has practiced as a lawyer, specialising in Resources and Energy Law, for over 40 years. He is a Director of companies in the Greymouth Petroleum Holdings Ltd group; a former trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW Foundation, a former Chair and current Council Member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a former Director of World Wide Fund for Nature Australia and Kaldor Public Arts Projects, and a former Member of the Council of Wesley College, Perth WA. In 2013, David was made a Member in the Order of Australia for services to the arts and the law. His daughter is an Old Girl of the School, having spent all of her School years there.



A Director of the Company since 2021. Antonia has over 25 years’ experience in corporate communications and project management. Currently, Chief of Staff to Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page. For over ten years her role has included responsibility for the Company’s advocacy for increased profile and investment in Australian women’s sport, as well as recognition of the contribution of women in rural and regional Australia. Previously, she was the founder and Director of a specialist communications agency, advising clients across banking, retail, media and sport. Prior to that, Antonia held senior production and management roles within the Seven Network Olympic Unit, working across four Olympic Games and major events. Antonia has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney and is currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Psychology at UNSW. Antonia is an Old Girl of the School, has been a member of the Ascham Parents Association Executive since 2019 and has three daughters attending the School.



A Director of the Company since 2019. Deborah is a hospital-based general paediatrician with an additional focus on child protection as part of a multidisciplinary team that provides forensic, medical and counselling health services. She is a member of the NSW/ACT Child Protection Special Interest Group, and Child Protection Paediatric Society of Australasia. She has completed a Master of Forensic Medicine through Monash University. Deborah is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and serves as an Adjunct Clinical Senior Lecturer in the School of Medicine at The University of Notre Dame and Conjoint Associate Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. She is involved in the supervision of junior medical staff, training of colleagues, and in teaching and examining medical students. She has one daughter who attends the School.


BA/LLB (Hons) Grad Dip App Fin

A Director of the Company since 2014. Karen is a Non-Executive Director of ARB Corporation Ltd and Omni Bridgeway Ltd and was previously a Non-Executive Director of Magellan Financial Group Ltd. She has over 20 years’ experience in investment banking, advising top Australian companies on their capital management strategies. Karen was previously a Managing Director and Head of Capital Management Advisory at Citigroup and a Managing Director at UBS Australia, establishing and leading its Capital Management Group. Prior to joining Citigroup, Karen spent 12 months at ASIC as a Senior Specialist in the Corporations group. Karen has a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Sydney and is currently a member of the Takeovers Panel. Karen has been a Council appointed Director to Ascham Foundation Ltd since 2015. Karen has one daughter attending the School.


B.A. (Mod.) Legal Science, M.A., GAICD, CFA

A Director of the Company since 2016. Nicola Swift, a law graduate from Trinity College Dublin, enjoyed an international career in the funds management and securities industry, followed by Non Executive Director roles in Australia. She is the ex-CEO of Apropela Pty Ltd. Nicola was a Council appointed Director to Ascham Foundation Ltd (2016-2021), having previously been an elected Director of Ascham Foundation Ltd (2013 to 2016). Nicola served as Chair of the Ascham Duntrim Capital Campaign (2013 to 2016) and as Ascham Parents’ Association President (2009 to 2011). She is the mother of two Old Girls.

Strategic Planning

Ascham has long held a place as a leader in high quality girls’ education, and remains firmly committed to continuing on this path.

While we can celebrate the successes of the past and present, it’s important that we also have a clear vision for our future, a roadmap for documenting how our girls and the School will live and thrive. We review and formalise this roadmap every five years, in the shape of our Strategic Plan, setting out our focus and priorities and how we will execute them accordingly.

Our new Strategic Plan, ‘Towards 2030’, sets out our commitments and priorities, aligned with our values and ethos within the Dalton framework. We’re excited to share it with you.

Blueprint for our future

Our future is ambitious.

Blueprint brings a greater sense of belonging and togetherness through reimagined spaces.

We will advance our vision in stages. The campus is landlocked, so each project will unlock the next stage in a domino effect.

Committees and task forces

While our School Council has overwatch for the operation of the School, we also run several separate Council committees, each focusing on a specific area. Council Governors sit on these formal Committees, and will meet about four times a year:

Chaired by the Honorary Treasurer, Mr Harvey Carter.

This Committee has non-executive responsibility to the Council for overseeing all areas of financial and risk management, investment strategies, budget preparation and management, capital works programs, financial statements including annual report preparation, internal control systems and internal and external audit. It supervises the preparation of the School’s budget for submission to the Council and monitors performance against the budget.

Chaired by Mrs Angela Kent.

This Committee works with the Head of School and School Council to identify optimal current and future use of the School’s built environment. The Committee recommends appointment of external consultants, reports to Council on capital works budget and contract administration, oversees briefing and terms of engagement of building consultants, assesses potential property acquisitions, oversees significant construction jointly with a member of the School executive and provides appropriate advice and recommendations to Council.

Chaired by Mrs Nicola Swift.

The Nominations Committee develops policies and strategies for managing Company and Council membership, nominates and reviews candidates and recommends potential Governors and Company Members for Council approval.

Special task forces are formed to provide additional support to the Head of School where detailed research is required and Governors can contribute relevant expertise.

and reports

Ascham produces a range of publications and reports throughout the year, covering most aspects of operation. We include the most relevant here for reference.

2022 Ascham School Constitution
2022 Annual Report

School policies

Ascham operates successfully and efficiently by adhering strictly to a range of policies and procedures. From safety and security, to privacy and respecting our School values, we ensure all aspects of the School are documented and followed closely.

Our Child Safe Policy demonstrates the strong commitment of the School to child safety, and aims to keep our students safe, including from abuse or other harm.


This procedure applies to Ascham in handling complaints made in respect of services provided by the School or against staff members, which includes employees, contractors and volunteers. This procedure does not extend to personal grievances between parents, guardians or other members of the School community.


The Privacy Policy details how we protect your privacy and how we comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act and the 13 Australian Privacy Principles, as well as the requirements of the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW).


Complaints about “child safety incidents or concerns” that are alleged to have occurred on School premises or at School events are managed in a different way to other complaints received by the School.


This policy applies to Ascham to ensure individuals who disclose wrongdoing in relation to the School can do so safely, securely and with confidence that they will be protected and supported.


The social media policy provides a framework and guideline for students, members of staff and employees, parents and guardians, and third-party contractors, for the appropriate use of social media at Ascham, to ensure duty of care.


Places at Ascham are offered at the discretion of the Head of School, and only after the prospective Student and her Parents or Guardians have attended an interview with the Head of School.


Ascham seeks to develop a culture of positive discipline by setting clear expectations of students and encouraging positive behaviour.


Bullying is not tolerated at Ascham, and we recognise our duty to students to provide a safe and positive learning environment.


Pastoral care is the support given to students for their development as a person. It relates to the total care of students and involves tending to both the academic and non-academic needs of girls, including their spiritual, emotional and social wellbeing.


Payments made to Ascham, Ascham Parents’ Association, Ascham Old Girls’ Union and Ascham Foundation are not refundable unless this is specifically indicated in relation to a particular activity. For more information, please email Ascham School Finance Department.

When making payment to Ascham, Ascham Parents’ Association, Ascham Old Girls’ Union and Ascham Foundation, your financial details are processed through a secure Commonwealth Bank payment gateway known as BPOINT. All payments are authenticated via EMV 3D Secure (3DS 2.0) and card details are tokenised securely through the BPOINT gateway. BPOINT further protects the details of your transaction via high-strength 128-bit encryption. If you have any questions regarding our security policy, please email the School.

Ascham transactions are in Australian dollars (AUD) and include GST (Goods and Services tax) where applicable.

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Live and learn in an exciting, vibrant environment that nurtures self-confidence, resilience and participation. Begin the enrolment process now or find out more about our approach.

We look forward to welcoming you.

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CRICOS: 00380E