Education Director General gets a lesson from Gwydir Learning Region

April 9, 2008

Director General of Education Mr Michael Coutts-Trotter was left in no doubt that schools have to adapt and change to become relevant in today’s society when he visited Warialda and Bingara several days ago.

During his visit, Mr Coutts-Trotter was shown a range of classes in operation. He was able to see and interact with the Nursing, Fine Arts, Extension English, Gwydir Band and Automotive classes in Warialda. He seemed very impressed with the range of classes on offer and the age range within each course.

"He commented positively several times on how we have been able extend the age range that would normally be associated with a ‘traditional’ school. This is exactly what the GLR has been and will continue to do, so that we are able to put the framework for community renewal and sustainability in place," Gwydir Vocational Coordinator, Wayne Squires said.

Mr. Coutts-Trotter then travelled to Bingara where he and his staff were given a presentation on the GLR.

The forum, held at the Roxy Theatre, was chaired by Max Eastcott. Max explained history and reasons for the involvement of the Gwydir Shire’s involvement in the GLR.

"The GLR is not just a physical locality and it was never meant to be identified as such. Any other community may join the GLR it is really a forum for co-operation, the generation of ideas and a licence to take a risk – if an idea fails, try another one until it works. We value add ideas we do not kill them, Mr. Eastoctt said.

"No doubt we make officious bureaucrats at the middle and lower management levels nervous because we challenge rules that seem counter-productive or when there seems no good purpose in having these rules that we can see. We also expect them to share our enthusiasm and dedication."

Jack Dolby then gave his impressions of the GLR as someone who came from outside and worked very closely as the Head Teacher responsible for the GLR for 2006/7.

Mr. Dolby said he had a "Road to Damascus" conversion when he learned of the achievements of the GLR.

Peter MacBeth and Phil Steer our two principals then gave a short presentation on how the schools are working collaboratively together to maximise the opportunities for Gwydir residents. This included a short submission to Mr Coutts-Trotter on the resources that the GLR needs to continue to operate effectively.

Rick Hutton and Susan Hughes then gave their perspectives on the program from an employers and community members viewpoints.

During the presentation, Wayne Squires questioned the Advocate’s editor about why she and Warialda Standard editor, Doug Wilson, give space to the GLR.

Her answer was that while ‘The Advocate’ is a commercial business it has a responsibility to the community and as such commercial considerations are outweighed by the ‘good’ of the community.

Kate Small filmed the day as part of her Certificate III in Screen. Kate finished Year 12 last year and has re-enrolled this year to complete her screen studies. Mr. Squires interviewed Kate about her decision to return to school.

"Christine McNulty, who completed Cert II in Information Technology and Cert IV in Animal Care and is now Practice Manager for the Bingara Vet Clinic, gave her view on the GLR and her achievements.

"Peter Cuskelly (Warialda High’s former Principal) then gave a presentation on how schools have to change and adapt in today’s modern economic times. Peter certainly has not changed, he is the same impassioned visionary that we all remember. However his points were very well received by Mr Coutts-Trotter as he asked several clarifying questions and agreed with many of the points raised by Peter.

"Overall, I believe, that Mr Coutts-Trotter was very impressed with what the GLR had achieved especially in the area of challenging traditional notions of education as to what, where and for whom the curriculum is taught," Mr. Squires said.

"As to possible financial or staffing help Mr Coutts-Trotter was much less forthcoming as he said that this would have to be part of the 2008/9 budgetary process."

Compliments of The Bingara Advocate