Originally from New Zealand, Barbara Chisholm completed her Bachelor of Arts at Canterbury University College in 1939 and had previously been Senior Mistress at the Waikato Diocesan School.
Career at SCEGGS
At just 32 years of age, Miss Chisholm was appointed the third Head of School in 1947. She led the School through times of great societal change, was a great innovator and an excellent administrator.
Arriving after two decades of financial austerity she set about providing fair pay and conditions for teachers and revitalising the physical fabric of the school including:
- The Yellow Building (1951- refurbished in 2001 and renamed The Old Girls’ Building)
- The School Swimming Pool (since demolished for the Centenary Sports Hall)
- A new Assembly Hall in 1966 (since replaced with the Joan Freeman Science and Technology Centre),
- The purchase and refurbishment of Wilkinson House as boarders’ accommodation (1962 – refurbished in 2002 as a Senior Studies Centre),
- A new Science block (1967)
- A new Library (1970).
- The purchase of the Begbie Terraces on Bourke St, Darlinghurst (1973) for the upper Primary School.
By the time she left in 1977, Miss Chisholm had also seen the school through perhaps its greatest challenge – the financial crisis and subsequent Save SCEGGS campaign of 1976 – which saw the SCEGGS community come together to raise $1.5 million to keep the doors open.
In 2008 the significant contribution of Miss Chisholm’s work was recognised with the naming of the new Primary School in her honour.
"Good examination results, which we have year after year, are pleasing, but are not the best indication that a school is good. …. It is the ability to put that knowledge to good use, to discover new things for themselves and to make a useful contribution to the community, which distinguishes the pupils of a good school."