From the ELC to Year 12, we enjoyed a wonderful start to the academic year, and I have been humbled by the distinct privilege to begin as the ninth principal of Walford. My deepest thanks to all those who have taken the time to greet me, welcome me, talk with me, and share insights with me. Thank you especially to all the students who have spent time talking with me about themselves and their learning. I know I join a proud and historic tradition of excellence and innovation in girls’ education, yet it is the warmth of our community and the outstanding qualities of our students that most struck me in these first weeks.

An early highlight was our very special 130th birthday assembly, during which we enjoyed an engaging Welcome to Country from Kaurna and Narungga man, Jack Buckskin. Our youngest students in particular were captivated by his stories and interactive playing of the didgeridoo. We received prayers and blessings from Priest and long-time friend of the School, Father Gary Hillman. We reflected on the inspiring story of our School’s founder and first principal, Miss Lydia Adamson, with a stellar theatrical performance by Ms Abbie Thomas. Students additionally received their commemorative badge and enjoyed birthday cake.

Our 130th birthday year is an opportunity to look back on the extraordinary history of our school. Much has changed in education in the past 130 years. Classrooms look different now, with slates and clay pencils replaced by paper, personal computers, smart devices, wearable technologies, and increasingly machine, AI-assisted, and remote learning. In our classrooms we now see everything from 3D printers and laser cutters to sports equipment, musical instruments, and Science apparatus. Science education, in particular, has played a part throughout Walford’s history, with our early principals being pioneers in Science and forerunners of STEM education for girls and young women.

School, as preparation for work and life, has evolved. Learning is increasingly integrated with a focus on wellbeing. Teaching of knowledge is increasingly married with skills needed for adaptive problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking, and relationship building, as well as capabilities such as intercultural understanding and ethical decision making. No longer are girls limited to studies of writing, reading, drawing, and needlework. The achievements, individual stories, and post-school destinations of our Class of 2022—from Medicine, Law, and Viticulture, to Fashion Design, Aviation, and Business—demonstrate the limitless options available to our students today.

Our school still possesses many of the qualities of its formative early years, when it was established by a suffragette in the front room of a family home in Unley, with the intention of giving girls and young women (and also ‘little’ boys in early learning) the very best education, an education that exceeded what was available to most girls and young women of the time. To this day, Walford remains:

  • A close-knit community with a warm family spirit in which each person is seen, known, and has their needs heard and addressed.
  • A place of compassion, kindness, and inclusivity, in which each person is accepted and celebrated for their unique gifts, talents, and individuality.
  • A place of excellence and deep care that fosters bold, forward-thinking young people who have the courage to try new things, and to learn, serve, and live with independent minds, big hearts, and confident voices.
  • Committed to ensuring that each student in our care has the opportunity—unhindered and unreservedly supported—to pursue any pathway and future of her choosing, including those in non-traditional or emerging fields.

As we look forward to our future as a School, we are finalising our next Strategic Plan, and planning to refresh of our School Values, informed by feedback and consultation. We are also at the very early stages of conducting a review of the Walford School uniform (a much-discussed topic by students at previous Festivals of Ideas), and how it might serve our School and our students into the future. The voices of a variety of stakeholders are important in these processes, so that we may understand the views of our community, and especially hear and respond to the voices of our students. I look forward to sharing more about these initiatives as they progress, and to playing my part in this connected ecosystem of remarkable young people, committed staff, caring families, and loyal wider community of Council members, old scholars, volunteers, and friends of the School.


With best wishes


Dr Deborah Netolicky