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Published February 25, 2021 · Academic

Dear Parents

Overall, it’s been a great start to the year by our boarders. Despite the challenges of a lock down before term even started and the fact that for many girls, there were significant delays returning, the boarding house has been bustling with activity. For our large group of new boarders, the transition hasn’t been without a few homesick tears – a very normal part of boarding to begin with. They have all however, shown great resilience and have taken on the rigours of residential living beautifully.

It has been great to watch new friendships blossom and see the girls take part in the many activities on offer both at boarding and at school. I encourage you to ensure your daughter involves herself as much as possible in the full life of the boarding house as well as take advantage of the numerous sports and clubs she’s able to join.

Our welcome weekend activities were well enjoyed by all the girls who by the Sunday night were very happy but tired after a busy few days.

Living with almost 100 girls requires cooperation, compromise and compassion. Whilst the majority of our girls are exercising these qualities daily, I am concerned that a number are behaving less than appropriately towards their peers. I ask parents over the long weekend to go through the boarding code of conduct that parents and their daughters have signed and ask your daughter how she is working towards ensuring that the code of conduct is part of her day to day interactions with others. Is she practising compassion and kindness, have her actions caused upset to others and if so, what can she do to repair any damage? I will be speaking to a small number of girls in the coming days to remind them about their behaviour, including what they may need to forfeit if a rapid change isn’t evident. The Code of Conduct is outlined below

St Brigid’s College Boarding Code of Conduct

At St Brigid’s College Boarding, all girls have a fundamental right to feel and be safe.

As a member of the St Brigid’s Boarding Community at St Brigid’s, each girl understands that:

• She has a right to feel safe and secure at all times therefore she has the responsibility to promote positive relationships and avoid actions that may threaten the safety of herself or others.

• She has a right to expect her belongings to be safe therefore has the responsibility to respect others’ belongings, to label her property and to appropriately secure her valuables.

• She has the right to personal privacy therefore has the responsibility to seek permission to enter another person’s room and to respect their personal space at all times.

• She has the right to well-maintained, clean accommodation therefore has responsibility to keep her room and boarding house clean, neat and tidy.

• She has the right to an education therefore has a responsibility to work quietly and effectively during study time, to follow all rules in place and not hinder her own or others’ pursuit of academic success.

• She has the right to health and well-being therefore has the responsibility to report illness, poor general health or any mental health concerns and to abstain from inappropriate behaviours such as smoking, alcohol or drug use.

• She has the right to access approved leave from the boarding community therefore has the responsibility to apply for leave, inform staff when departing and arriving and to contact staff immediately should there be an issue with maintaining the timings and conditions of the approved leave.

• She has the right to just and fair treatment therefore has the responsibility to treat all staff, students and the rules with honesty and respect.

• She has the right to be a proud member of St Brigid’s College Boarding community therefore has the responsibility to follow boarding rules, and guidelines, attend all compulsory boarding and, co-curricular activities, meetings and Sunday Mass services and uphold the values of our community at all times.

Already, amongst our younger boarders, we are seeing the negative impact of their enthusiasm for social media. Research indicates that social media was not designed younger teens or tweens. Their underdeveloped frontal cortex can’t manage the distraction nor the temptations that come with social media use. While we focus on teaching responsible use of technology now, what can’t be taught is the maturity that social media requires. This comes with maturity.

Social media is an entertainment technology. It does not make young people smarter or more prepared for real life or a future job; nor is it necessary for healthy social development. It is pure entertainment attached to a marketing platform extracting bits and pieces of personal information and preferences from your child every time they use it, not to mention hours of their time and attention.

Social media is an addictive form of screen entertainment and like video game addiction, early use can set up future addiction patterns and habits and it replaces learning the hard social “work” of dealing face-to-face with peers, a skill that they will need to practice to be successful in real life.

Social media can cause teens to lose connection with family and instead view “friends” as their foundation. Since the cognitive brain is still being formed, the need for your daughter to be attached to your family is just as important as when they were younger, especially now that they are boarding and living away from home for long periods of time.

Social media use represents lost potential for teens. Whilst we can argue that there are certain benefits of social media for teens, the costs are very high during the teen years when their brain development is operating at peak performance for learning new things. It is easy for teens to waste too much of their time and too much of their brain in a digital world. We know from many studies that it is nearly impossible for them to balance it all.

Our device free time at boarding, Saturdays from 9:30pm to noon on Sundays, has in part been introduced to reduce time spent on social media and to encourage the girls to spend more real non-tech time together. We also try to run at least 1 if not more, in-house activities during this time to give the girls tech free options.

Online safety is paramount so we do advise parents to follow their daughters’ social media accounts. Nothing is private in the digital world, and so it should not be private to parents. Make sure all your daughters privacy settings are in place and that she understands the seriousness of not adhering to these diligently. It is also important to note that social media is often used by girls to be less than kind to one another. This practice is inappropriate in any setting and may result in girls forfeiting their right to having devices at boarding other than for study purposes.

As we approach our first Boarders Long Weekend, I wish you all a restful break with your girls and thank you for your support for our boarding family.

Annamaria Cream
Head of Boarding

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