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This week the South Australian Minister for Education, Blair Boyer, was invited to Saint Ignatius’ College Junior School to give an address to the Heads and Deputy Heads of the Independent Preparatory Schools Heads Association (IPSHA). He spoke of a national forum in which all the ministers at state and federal levels listened for 2.5hours to the strains that are felt across the Departmental, Catholic, and Independent sectors in a bipartisan approach to understand the real challenges schools are facing.

He outlined a number of challenges that we are all very familiar with including resourcing of schools to ensure children are equipped as digital citizens. We are more certain than ever our children are being prepared for jobs that have not yet been created. There is a greater likelihood that they will engage more flexibly across a number of working roles and career changes in their lifetime.

According to this recent forum, the single greatest challenge for schools is the national shortage of teachers. The forum identified three principle reasons for this. The first is the increased demands placed on teachers, with everything from administrative needs to parental expectations. The second is the increased expectations on site leaders. Fewer educators are willing to step up into these key roles of responsibility for the same heightened reasons. The third is due to COVID. Increased workloads have been the cause of great stress on teachers, and the closure of borders has limited usual migratory employment opportunities.

The minister continued to advocate that he wished to resource schools and provide clearer access and pathways for funding, which no one would disagree with. However, I am reminded through my own education and experience as a teacher that the best resource we can invest in is our staff. No school can rise above its staff, and it is the people in schools who create community and foster a sense of belonging and engagement. It is our teachers − our parents, our family, and those who educate others − who develop our intellect, stir our desires, and call us to act justly. No computer, gymnasium, or new building can replace the relational human endeavour of teaching. This is what schools are about: fostering transparent, open relationships between the teacher, student, and the home. It is a partnership built on trust in which we share the same goal of advocating the best for the children in our care.

Mr Nic Boys
Head of Junior School

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Rector Fr Peter Hosking SJ, Head of IEY Rosemary Allen, Education Minister Blair Boyer and Head of Junior School Nic Boys.

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