Over the last week, Stacey McCarthy and I have been in Western Queensland. Starting in the Maranoa region, we met with current and prospective families in Roma, before heading to Cunnamulla for the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association (ICPA) Annual State Conference.
Held in a different location each year, Cunnamulla was chosen in 2021 as it was the first town to establish a branch of the ICPA in 1971. Celebrating 50 years, this year’s conference theme was History and Horizons, reflecting on the achievements of the past but looking forward to future solutions to address the challenges facing children in rural and remote locations. The conference was opened by His Excellency the Honourable Paul De Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland. Over 300 people attended various events over three days, including the ICPA Committee, more than 50 delegates from 32 branches, 20 branch observers, 45 past councillors, principals and staff from 33 of Queensland’s boarding schools and 50 guests from more than 20 organisations.
Many issues around equity of access to quality education were discussed including access to curriculum and experienced curriculum writers, cocurricular opportunities in the arts, music and sport, financial difficulties and needs, communication, internet and platform functionality and other day-to-day challenges such as bus runs, water supply and accommodation needs. What was very clear at the conference is that the ICPA is a vibrant, active and highly valued association with a membership passionate about advocating and lobbying for the needs of geographically isolated children.
During the conference, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority also provided a curriculum update to attendees. Claude Jones, Director Assessment and Reporting, gave an overview of the Queensland Certificate of Education and mentioned the federal review of the F-10 Australian Curriculum. He highlighted that ACARA is seeking feedback from parents as well as schools. He advised that, as implementation approaches vary from state to state, Queensland teachers will be most impacted by the review. He encouraged all individuals, including parents, to access the draft document and provide feedback to ACARA. The QCAA will be supporting teachers from 2022 to prepare for implementation when the roll out begins.
Professionally, attendance at the conference facilitated a stronger understanding of the issues of education across Queensland and highlighted many of the challenges facing our own boarding families. It also provided an opportunity to meet parents from across Queensland and tell them about Girls Grammar. The location of the conference also allowed us to travel to Charleville, Barcaldine, Alpha and Emerald. By doing this, we were able to see the towns and regions from which our girls come, as well as to meet and connect with current, future and prospective families.
Personally, I enjoyed seeing the region, admiring the flora, wildlife and livestock as we passed through various areas. I also gained enjoyment passing through the towns and areas from which my own family originated. My great-great grandparents, who emigrated from England, settled in Roma and established a vineyard in the 1870s. Their children grew up to become graziers in the Maranoa region, particularly around Roma and Mitchell. My great-grandfather was the ambulance superintendent in Mitchell. For some reason, I expected to see the Old Queenslander that doubled as the station and his (and my grandmother’s) family home, but this of course was replaced by a brick ambulance station in the twentieth century. Even though I haven’t visited the town before, it was nice to drive through and think of my great-grandfather who died in Mitchell exactly one hundred years ago, in May 1921, whilst out searching for a man who needed medical treatment having fallen from the train.
Last Saturday our Year 12 cohort celebrated their Formal. Arriving in an array of vehicles for the walk-through, the girls looked poised and beautiful. The walk-through was followed by dinner at the Rockhampton Leagues Club. We congratulate the girls on this milestone and wish them every success as they finish the remainder of their last schooling year.
We are fast approaching the end of term and next week will be another busy week. Thursday’s public holiday will provide a welcome respite for many. I am sure we will have many girls eagerly anticipating a day of rides, food and fun at the Rockhampton Show and our Show Team will be busy representing the school at various events. Girls Grammar will have a trade stall – please pop by and see our staff if you are at the show. I will be at our stall on Thursday’s public holiday so look forward to catching up with families there.