Year 9 done differently

The middle years are a period of change in a girl’s life. A time when she needs to feel supported and challenged, so she can develop the resilience to be the agent of her own destiny. 

The Howqua Program our girls undertake in Year 9 is unique to Lauriston, and the year a girl’s independence, courage, composure, and leadership skills are built through experiential learning in Victoria’s spectacular high country.  

Girls return to the Armadale campus in Year 10 more adaptable, collaborative, resilient and willing to try new things. Indeed, Howqua girls exude a quiet confidence and maturity that sees them thrive in their senior years and beyond.

Dr Alison Manson
Vice Principal – Head of Campus

Howqua Valley, set deep in Victoria’s high country, is a beautiful, tranquil place that’s etched in the memory of every Lauriston student who’s called it home.

The cadence of our Howqua campus enables each student to be carefully guided through a sequence of physical, social and academic challenges in a unique environment.

It lets our girls focus on acquiring new skills such as teamwork and resilience, while engaging in outdoor pursuits that build their physical strength and confidence.

The immersive nature of the program embeds Lauriston’s values of relationships, courage, creativity, intellectual curiosity and engagement in life, and leaves the girls with unbreakable lifelong bonds and skills.


A unique learning experience

Our Howqua campus sits on the land of the Taungurung people and throughout the year, students travel through their land while participating in our Outdoor Program, learning the history and geography of the area from both indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives. 

The strengths and vulnerabilities of both students and staff are shared while living and working together on campus and it’s through this that the girls discover how to persist when challenges arise, how to learn from their mistakes, solve problems and make consequential, real-life decisions.  

However, a girl’s ‘Howqua Year’ is not just about emotional development.  

The year in the high country is underpinned by a full and rigorous Academic Program supported by the Visions and Values of Lauriston Girls’ School.

The Howqua Outdoor and Fitness Programs also ensure the girls attain a high level of physical condition and develop the skills and confidence to tackle challenges beyond their comfort zone. 

This combination of the physical and intellectual means girls acquire the lateral thinking skills to solve problems, take control of their own wellbeing and adapt to the challenges of living away from home, guided by their teachers and backed by the expertise of psychologists, nurses and House Tutors, who are available at any time. 

All this and more makes a year at Howqua truly transformative, gifting girls a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. 

They return to family life with a greater sense of maturity and independence, a deeper appreciation for the value of relationships, and a greater engagement in life, teamwork and communication. 

The Howqua Difference

Our Howqua Program is supported by the Vision and Values of Lauriston and is underpinned by an academic methodology tailored to the needs of girls in the middle years of schooling. 

The Howqua framework extends the experiential learning opportunities enjoyed by Lauriston girls from Prep to Year 8 and prepares students for the rigours of the senior years of schooling and beyond. 

“Howqua allowed me to see life’s journey not as an uphill battle but as a walk (or sometimes a run or hike!) along a path surrounded by the most incredible, inspiring and supportive people.”
“We have been blown away by the quality of care and teaching. Whenever we spoke to any of the team at Howqua we felt they really knew our daughter”
“It gave me an insight on what life is really like and what it should be about. It taught me that not everything in the world revolves around technology and life in the city.”
“I had a fantastic experience at Howqua, although it was hard and challenging in many ways, I tried and stepped out of my comfort zone and made the most of the year.”
“Throughout my time at Howqua, I most cherished the relationships I formed with my entire year level, especially my house, and the Howqua staff who for me, made Howqua what it is with their support, laughs and personalities.”
“Howqua was undoubtedly the best year of my life. I could see in myself that I changed and grew as a person and became a much more mature independent version of myself.”
"Howqua is built upon relationships; indeed the success of the whole program relies on respectful, trusting and kind relationships"
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Howqua year compulsory?

The Howqua Program is compulsory, and the only study pathway for students in Year 9 at Lauriston.

Do students spend the whole year at the Howqua campus?

Girls live on the Howqua campus in eight blocks during the year; each block comprises four to five weeks of academic, wellbeing and outdoor programs. Girls return home during the year for midterm breaks (‘Exeats’) and for all school holidays.

What are ‘exeats’ and what can we do when they happen?

Exeats are short breaks from Howqua conducted in the middle of each term which allow the students to return home for a ‘long weekend’ (up to 5 days in duration). These dates are published in the Howqua Handbook, on SchoolBox and on the school website. Parents are encouraged to make any medical, dental and hairdressing appointments during these dates. 

Shopping for clothes etc. is a popular activity as is catching up with friends/family. As the girls are generally tired when they return for Exeat parents should think carefully about ensuring the Exeat schedule they plan is not too busy. 

Are the students required to wear a uniform at Howqua?

The girls wear weather appropriate casual clothing on campus. The only required uniform is the Lauriston wet weather jacket and pants, which is purchased through the uniform shop at the Armadale campus.

How can I enrol for Howqua?

The unique nature of the Year 9 Howqua Program means the enrolment process to commence in Year 9 is a little more involved. The steps are outlined below:

  • Families must complete an Application for Admission  
  • Parents/guardians and prospective students are required to attend a tour of the Howqua Campus at an Experience Howqua Open Morning or on a date nominated by the School. This must occur no later than Term 3 in the year prior to commencement. 
  • Parents/guardians and prospective students are required to attend an enrolment interview with the Principal, Susan Just no later than Term 3 in the year prior to commencement. Following the interview, the student will meet with Lauriston's School Psychologist for an assessment regarding her social and emotional resilience.  
  • Prior to an enrolment being confirmed, parents/guardians must provide a certificate from their GP confirming the medical and psychological fitness of the student to undertake the Howqua Program .  
  • Overseas students wishing to commence in Year 9 must commence at Lauriston no later than Term 3 in Year 8 to be eligible to attend the Howqua Program.