When someone mentions Finishing School, what comes to mind for you? Do you conjure up images of upper-class ladies walking with books on their heads? Or maybe you start to think about the TV show Ladette to Lady? Present-day Finishing School in Australia is so very different, and so much more, than either of those images!
Firstly, let’s take a look back at the history. The earliest Finishing and Etiquette Schools were only for upper class and aristocratic young women. The young ladies were sent, usually to Switzerland, for a one-year course where they learnt the social graces in preparation for entry into society. Deportment was taught by using books on heads to help ladies learn the art of walking in a refined manner. Often the primary goal of the course was to teach students to be a good wife in order to acquire a well-bred husband. My, how times have changed!
In 1959, Suzan Johnston saw a need to provide a more contemporary and accessible Finishing School for young Australian women. The goal was less about being a good wife, and more about empowering young women through the development of confidence and self-esteem. Naturally, over time our content has evolved. We no longer use books on heads to teach students how to walk tall – and let’s face it, laptops would most likely slip off! Even though our content has transformed over time, the essence of self-improvement remains the same. At Suzan Johnston, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to thrive and feel confident and happy within themselves.
Unlike the very elite and rather snobby traditional Finishing Schools in Switzerland, Suzan Johnston is completely inclusive and down to earth. We proudly cater for and love to help anyone regardless of age, gender or socio-economic background. We have courses for children, teenagers and grown-ups! We also offer private one-on-one training. Having said that, our main cohort is typically teenage girls, and our most popular course is a 4-day School Holiday Finishing course (also available part-time).
Students usually come for a variety of reasons, such as to improve their confidence, deportment, speech, communication, etiquette skills, grooming and often because their mothers and grandmothers did the same thing! Since we’ve been established for 62 years, we’ve had multiple generations entrusting their daughters and sons to our confidence workshops – which we love so much! Students are often referred to us because parents or carers are tired of reminding them to stand up straight or how to hold their knife and fork, etc. The funny thing is that our trainers often say the same things as what parents and carers have been saying… but it always sounds so different when someone else says it!
Our Finishing School programs include makeup training with a professional makeup artist, and wardrobe planning with a professional stylist. There’s a big focus on self-development, with our classes in health and wellbeing often having a profound impact on students. Modern day topics are covered such as media literacy skills, which include not comparing yourself to unrealistic images, and healthy use of social media. Students walk away with not only the practical skills to navigate life, but also the wisdom to know how to thrive! See here for some of our past student testimonials.
After being in the game for 62 years, The Suzan Johnston Training organisation is still at the forefront of Finishing School training in Australia. We are passionate about helping people realise their ‘full self’ and therefore empowering them to move through life with confidence and grace.
Finishing School has naturally evolved so much over time. Today, our topics are relevant, inclusive and aim to empower individuals through personal development.
For more information, please call or email to discuss your personal needs with us, or visit our FAQs page. We’d love to help you or your child on their journey.