|24 Jan 2022|
Miss Duckworth commenced at Arden in 1973 as the School’s first non-teaching Principal. Having trained at the Australian College of Physical Education, she came to Arden with 15 years teaching experience, both in Australia and overseas. As secretary of the NSW School Sports Association and director of Outward Bound, she also brought with her a wide range of administrative skills. She went on to complete to Bachelor of Arts, majoring in education, during her early years as Principal. By studying the latest techniques in education, Miss Duckworth ensured Arden would maintain its position as a progressive and innovative school, which had been establish by her predecessor, Miss Mavis Hudson.
At the time of her arrival in 1973, Arden had an enrolment of 206 students and eleven staff. Pre-School was housed in Nelson House whilst the rest of the School was housed in Mosley House, in what are now the Year 3 and 4 classrooms. Over the course of her 20-year tenure, Arden experienced a period of expansion, resulting in the purchase of Hudson House and Arden House and the construction of Allison House, Johnstone House and the Library. At the time of her retirement, student numbers had increased to over 300 under the care of 32 teaching and support staff. The School was fully co-educational, with boys continuing on into Upper Primary for the first time in 1976.
In the classroom, she oversaw an expansion of the curriculum to include a second language – Indonesian – and computing studies. She implemented the open classroom method and team teaching in Upper Primary, ensuring students could benefit from the full range of expertise and skills of the staff. Her desire for Arden to be a school where all students, regardless of their abilities, could excel in the classroom, resulted in Miss Duckworth introducing learning support and enrichment programs.
As the School expanded, so too did opportunities in Music, Sport and co-curricular activities. Arden became part of the Junior School Heads’ Association of Australia, which provided an opportunity to participate in inter-school sport, travelling art shows and music festivals.
As a woman of faith, Miss Duckworth desired each of her students to know the reality of God’s love, so that the words of our school motto, In God My Joy, would be their reality, not just words on a badge. She fostered the bond of Christian fellowship between the staff, knowing that this is partly what made Arden a special place. Her motto when things did not quite go as planned in the life of the School was that all things work together for good for those who love God.
Upon her retirement from Arden in 1992, Miss Duckworth continued to be an active member of her local church and a Girl Guide leader. She travelled extensively and served as a member of the Northolm Grammar School Council. Up until mid-2021 she lived locally with her good friend and colleague Mrs Coral French.
Miss Duckworth had an outstanding impact on our School and its community, with her legacy still being evident today. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who knew her. She will be missed by many.
“So let us look to God, the Master Gardener, as we climb the Tree of Life, for only by doing so can we be certain that all who grow at Arden will grow in the right direction.” Margaret Duckworth, printed in the Arden School Magazine, 1982.
Photo: Miss Duckworth pictured with past Principal, Mr Graham Anderson, and former Deputy Principal, Mrs Coral French at the opening of the Essex Building, 2020.