Academic Offerings in Our Boarding Community

Boarding offers our girls some incredible advantages. Parents acknowledge the social and cultural opportunities available at Santa Maria, however, naturally they do worry about how their daughter will cope with the Academic program. It is therefore reassuring that the boarding community offers a large range of academic support for the girls, so they are not left to self-manage.

This year, Vanessa Carmody has been appointed as Assistant Head of Boarding. A large proportion of her role is dedicated to the academic care of boarders. She acts as the conduit between the College and Boarding. She is also responsible for making sure boarders who need assistance are well supported.

Middle Years

In Years 7–9, boarders complete their homework and study each night in the Sawle Library and Research Centre. They are assisted by a team of study tutors who are experienced in a range of subjects. Each night there are three study tutors available to the Middle Years girls.

At the beginning of the year, Vanessa teaches the girls about their learning styles and how to study effectively. Having spent over 20 years as a teacher, she is ideally positioned to meet the needs of each individual. Vanessa has also spent a good deal of her career working in country schools, so she has a good understanding of the cultural and academic experiences of the girls.

Senior Years

In Years 10-12, the girls study for two hours each night. They can do more if they need to. Study can be independent and/or collaborative and both modes are supported and enabled.

Girls studying ACCESS courses are able to collaborate in the Recreation Centre. This type of peer teaching and learning is most appropriate to the nature of their courses. The skills of collaboration are taught and developed in the girls throughout the year. It is not necessarily a skill that comes naturally. Meanwhile, ATAR students work more independently but still have a chance to collaborate and access study tutors in break-out groups.

Once a week, Year 12 students meet with Vanessa to check their progress and to manage any collaborative learning that needs to happen. Year 11s have the same opportunity on one night a week.

Break out groups are run by qualified teachers in a range of subjects. The girls sign up to be part of a group when they require that support. For example, if there is a Science exam approaching for Year 10s, there will be a break-out group facilitated to help them prepare. If there are no major assessments approaching, girls are able to sign up for general tutoring and support.


It is reassuring to parents to know that during study all phones are kept with Boarding Supervisors. This practice reduces the distractions for the girls. Of course, if the girls need to film for an assignment or use their phone for any other reason to complete their work, exceptions are made. There is a culture of common sense and flexibility in this regard.


The Boarding Academic Program will continue to evolve. Vanessa and Head of Boarding, Tracy Webster, are highly cognisant of the challenges that arise for boarders. They are committed to ensuring that those challenges are met in a way that develops resilience and independence in our boarders, while coaching and guiding them as they grow.

Scroll to Top