Outside the classroom

Beyond a girl’s academic pursuits, she has many opportunities for personal development, social interaction and to explore new interests, through Ascham’s extensive co-curricular program.

A fulfilling life outside the classroom.

An extensive program

Right across the School, girls are immersed in an comprehensive range of music, sports, performances and productions, speaking and debates, trips and tours.

There are plenty of avenues to be explored through our broad co-curricular program that fuel a girl’s interests and balance her academic studies with creative and physical activities.

Sport, Music, Drama, Debating, Clubs, trips and overseas tours… there are numerous opportunities for girls to further their interests or discover a passion for something new. Along the way they can make new friends, develop a positive mindset and learn how to cope with challenges.

Music for all

At Ascham, quite simply there is a musical outlet for every girl. We place great importance on its value right across the School, offering over 18 instruments and 62 performance opportunities for all age groups. 

Our music program doesn’t just stimulate fruitful musical careers; it also provides holistic benefits for all students that serve their wellbeing and shape them for life as well-rounded, empathetic and kind citizens. This ‘Music for All’ philosophy is supported by numerous programs from Prep to Year 12 that allow for regular reflection and consistent application.

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

An annual Music Camp is held in both Fiona and Senior School and many senior productions are combined with neighbouring boys’ schools.

instruments on offer to learn.
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performance opportunities available across P-12.

“Ah, music… a magic beyond all we do here!”

— Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling.

Music feeds the Hillingdon soul! It stimulates creativity and encourages participation, and our young learners have plenty of opportunities to be part of the musical life of the School. We provide music lessons as part of classroom activities and there are School performances including ensembles, recitals and formal concerts.

For those keen on exploring further, there is private instrumental tuition available for violin, cello and piano, as well as the Hillingdon string program for those learning a string instrument.

Hillingdon Classroom Music draws upon a variety of approaches to music teaching with a focus on singing, movement and instrumental performance.

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 of each term, the Annual Ascham Choral Concert and the Hillingdon Strings Concert which is held at the end of the School year.

Violin and cello lessons are available for all Hillingdon girls, while Piano lessons are available from Kindergarten. We encourage parents to speak to their daughter’s classroom music teacher to determine the readiness of their daughter to begin private instrumental lessons. Lessons are offered on a weekly basis and are 30 minutes in duration. 

All girls who learn an instrument are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the many performance opportunities offered to them, including participating in instrumental ensembles and performing at assemblies, recitals and formal concerts.

Twilight Concerts for instrumentalists from P-12 are held each term, while the Hillingdon Soiree in Term 3 provides Hillingdon girls with a more informal solo performance opportunity.

Hillingdon girls who learn a string instrument also participate in a weekly group lesson with a focus on developing ensemble and sight-reading skills, while further enhancing their playing posture and technique.

“Music can change the world because it can change people.”

— Bono

We offer lots of opportunities for Fiona girls to extend their creative abilities through music in a wide variety of forms and styles, including choirs, chamber ensembles, instrumental tuition, special events, music camps and open days.

Our many excellent instrumental and musicianship teachers provide private lessons in an extensive range of instruments while the instrumental program in Year 3 provides every girl with the experience of playing an orchestral instrument and participating in an ensemble.

The Instrumental Program in Year 3 provides every girl with the experience of playing an orchestral instrument and participating in an ensemble. Music is divided into a 30-minute choir rehearsal, a 30-minute classroom lesson and a 45-minute group instrumental lesson.

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, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Euphonium, French horn, Percussion and Guitar.

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. Other performance opportunities include twilight concerts, soirees and class assemblies.

Music Camp is held over two days in Term 2 and every girl in Fiona has the opportunity to attend.

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

Girls who learn a string instrument are encouraged to join one of the Fiona String Ensembles including string orchestras, guitar ensembles and rock bands. These groups perform regularly throughout the school year and cater for all levels of proficiency. 

Girls who learn a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument can join one of two concert bands as well as a Jazz Band. These groups perform regularly throughout the school year.

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.

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
 Albert Einstein

Where do we start? Music is so much a part of life in Senior School and the list of opportunities and options is almost endless! From the classroom music program to private tuition, joining a choir, ensemble or band, and taking part in assemblies, recitals, concerts and musical productions, there is an avenue—and an instrument—for every girl to explore, to stretch her creativity and develop her musical ability.

The classroom music program places a strong focus on participation in performance, singing and group work and draws upon a variety of approaches to music teaching. Elective Music is offered in Years 9 and 10. Music 1 and Music 2 are offered in Year 11 and 12. On approval, students can study Extension Music in Year 12.

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

Many other learning and performance opportunities are available to girls at Ascham. Girls participating in choirs and instrumental ensembles attend the Annual Senior Music Camp.

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 and the Australian Combined Schools Music Festival for students who perform at a high enough level.

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

Girls who learn a string instrument are encouraged to join one of the Senior String Ensembles. These groups perform regularly throughout the school year and cater for all levels of proficiency. Placement auditions are held for these ensembles. There is also a prolific string chamber ensemble program.

Guitar Orchestra is open to guitar students who have a secure level of sight-reading. This ensemble enables girls to develop their ensemble and performance skills.

Girls who learn a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument can join one of two large concert bands. Girls are placed in these bands by audition. There is also a stage band and rock bands as well as a prolific wind and brass chamber ensemble program. These groups perform regularly throughout the school year.

We offer all Senior girls the opportunity to participate in a number of Choirs, Chamber and Madrigal ensembles on offer. Auditions for large choirs are held for voice placement only and all students are offered a place. Madrigal ensembles and Chamber Choir are auditioned ensembles.

Sport P-12

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

Alex Butt, Head of Sport at Ascham

Over 1,000 girls participate in structured sport and physical activity at Ascham every week. Participation in regular sport enhances physical, social and emotional wellbeing, and our philosophy is to ensure continuity of skills development and game play across all Year groups. 

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 and Football.

Girls can participate in swimming, athletics and cross-country carnivals and have the opportunity to represent their School and progress to state and national competitions in their particular strength.
As our emphasis is on participation and the development of options for future sporting opportunities, girls can choose to participate in a different sport each term which includes:

  • Year 3: Basketball, Football, Minkey and Netball.
  • Years 4 to 6: Basketball, Cricket, Football, Sailing, Hockey, Netball, Touch Football and Water Polo.

In addition, girls can participate in Aerobics, Athletics, Cross Country, Dance, Diving, Gymnastics, Swimming Lessons/Squads and Tennis Lessons throughout the whole year. Interested skiers and snowboarders also have the opportunity to represent the school in its Snowsports team during winter.

Senior girls can select sports that suit their personal interests as well as their busy academic schedule.

Whilst the majority of sports offered are played in Saturday morning IGSA competitions, 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 range almost from A to Z and include: Athletics, Basketball, Cross Country, Dance, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey and Indoor Hockey, Netball, Rowing and Sailing, Snowsports, Swimming, Tennis, Touch Football and Water Polo.


Ascham offers a complimentary Active@Ascham program to senior girls that encompasses fitness, health and wellbeing options, including core and functional Fitness sessions, Cycle ‘Spin’ classes, Pilates, Strength and Conditioning workouts and Yoga classes.

Speech and Drama

All the world’s a stage…

William Shakespeare

Speech and Drama encompasses a wide range of disciplines including voice, drama, poetry, public speaking, social communication, storytelling, stage craft, text interpretation, mime and improvisation.

Whichever options students choose, they develop greater confidence, improve performance technique, strengthen their communication skills, expand literary appreciation and of course, have fun.

Girls can take part in eisteddfods, concerts, showcases, public speaking competitions and the IGSA Festival of Speech, and can also choose to sit examinations with Trinity College London. Of course, some prefer to study Speech and Drama simply for the fun of it, and to share in performances with friends.


Theatresports encourages creativity, lateral thinking and spontaneity in thought and action, developing improvisation skills and building trust in themselves and others.

Competition teams represent Ascham at the Theatresports Schools Challenge, where teams challenge each other to a variety of scenes and games. Each game has a time limit and is judged on its narrative skill, entertainment value and improvisation technique.

Public Speaking

We encourage every student to use their voice to impart opinion, exchange ideas and help others, and through this grow into articulate and capable young women who are ready to use their skills, knowledge and voice to improve their world.

Public speaking at Ascham gives our girls the opportunity to improve their verbal and non-verbal communication skills, speech writing ability, critical thinking and self-confidence.

Girls have access to a range of interschool public speaking competitions, such as the Plain English Speaking competition, the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award, the Rostrum Voice of Youth competition, the UN Youth Australia competition, Sydney Eisteddfod and the IGSA Festival of Speech. Girls can also study Communication Skills.

There are also Public Speaking Soirées where girls can showcase their talents, as well as the highly anticipated inter-house public speaking competition.


Debating is a stimulating, fun and popular activity that allows our 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.

and productions

“Participation in the Performing Arts can illuminate our inner lives and enrich our emotional world. Besides the fact that its fun and challenging, the performing arts builds appreciation of ourselves and others, and ways to weather the joys and the misfortunes of life. It hones our creativity and intelligence, fosters compassion, and brings a higher understanding of humanity.”

Lynda O’Brien | Head of Drama

Performing on stage is one of the highlights of school for many girls. We put on a number of productions every year across Fiona and Senior School and girls get to try their hand and develop their abilities as performers and stage crew.

Students from Years 7 to 12 have many opportunities to participate in productions in the 700-seat Packer Theatre, both onstage and backstage. 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. 

Ascham School – Wicked 2020

Overseas tours and exchanges

Travel broadens the mind so the saying goes, and we provide a number of overseas opportunities to expand 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.

Girls have been involved in a wide variety of tours, including Orchestra tours to China, History tours in Europe and Sports tours to Canada. Whatever the program, girls return with a much deeper understanding of the cultural, social and historical aspects of the host country.

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.

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.

Currently nine schools across 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.

Ascham School – 2018 Vietnam Service Learning Tour

Ascham students deepen their understanding of the Vietnamese culture and participate in a humanitarian project, exemplifying all our school values.

Take a look at our virtual tours
Since 1886, Ascham has continually evolved to suit the changing demands in teaching and learning for the 21st century.

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