IPSHA Tasmania Branch history

In compiling the Tasmanian Branch History, I acknowledge also the memories of John Anderson, Jeff Boyes, Julie Rimes, Jill Bennettt and Lachie Wright, who have all helped to forge the strength that this branch has despite its size. One of the great experiences I have had in my career in education has certainly been the experience of collegiality in the Tasmanian Branch of JSHAA.

From the membership records of Tasmania included in this history, there was not a formal Tasmanian Branch before 1974, although several are recorded as being members of JSHAA. Early members are recorded as Mr Eric ‘Cracker’ Morris, aptly named in the tradition of Australian humour because of his birthdate; November 5th.

It would appear that the Tasmanian Branch was formed in the early 70’s, with much of the formal work being left to the late 80’s when formalisation became a big issue.

The early days

From the memoirs of Jeff Boyes (The Friends’ School 1967-1977) and John Anderson (The Hutchins School 1973-1990)

Jeff recalls the enthusiasm with which individual members of JSHAA such as Barny Viney (Hutchins )spoke of the new organisation after returning from a conference in 1950. Always Eric Morris (Friends )spoke of the collegiality available through the new organisation, and it is with considerable regret that Jeff recalls that, although Head of a lower school was discouraged from seeking membership of the JSHAA and attending conferences. This, it was later revealed reflected the attitude of a group of Senior Heads to the organisation at the time. It was as though they felt threatened by this organisation that would allow their junior ‘pups’ to bark too loudly at the kennel door- a most unnecessary distraction.

Particularly in Tasmania, probably due to the tyranny of distance and the imposition on school budgets, the Branch was not formed until after the Kings Conference of 1974 when John Anderson (Hutchins 73-90) recalls that Jeff Boyes and Paul McGlade (CFC- St Peters Prep ) gained the support and momentum to start JSHAA activities at a Branch level.

The young branch grew slowly at first with Launceston Church Grammar School and Scotch College in the north of the State , and The Friends’ School, The Hutchins School, and CFCin the south being the main contributors to membership activities.

The membership records of the 80’s show an increase in membership and activities until from the mid 80’s the Branch supported membership from most of the Independent Junior Schools in the State.

Ian Fraser 1988-1996 recalls his memories of the JSHAA

Right through my time in the Junior School Heads from 1988 through to 1996 it was a small branch. I suppose it always has been ? always will be. Ten to twelve members. Generally meetings of 7-10 which meant that the responsibilities for running the branch fell on just a few people. So, tasks such as drawing up by-laws, incorporation, organisation of professional development, reports for the bulletin, those sorts of things, put quite a load on just a couple of members and through that time the drawing up of the by-laws and incorporation, in particular, involved quite a bit of work. It was always a very supportive atmosphere. Very collegial, very personal; everybody knew each other personally. The meetings always featured lunchtime meetings and business in either the morning or the afternoon and then tours of the host’s school either morning or afternoon. It came to also include visiting speakers where we could.

We also tried to have evening meetings. The meeting might be held on a Thursday evening and then on the Friday there would be a visiting speaker or there would be the meeting itself and the visiting speaker may have come on Thursday evening. This would give us that much more time to spend looking at schools and considering issues.

Branch activities from 1988 through to 1996

Firstly, growth in inter-school activities. These included a series of ecumenical church services, which were held in both parts of the state. Mainly I think revolving around Easter. There were several music festivals. There were Art Exhibitions; there was a travelling Art Exhibition, which involved schools contributing several pieces each. These were put on display in each of the schools and then they would be packed up in a suitcase and the suitcase would move onto the next school.

There were several opportunities taken to put specialists staff together where they could meet for a day at particular schools e.g. It might be Art Teachers or it might be Early Childhood Teachers. There were several grade teacher exchanges between schools. I know in the north Sacred Heart, Scotch Oakburn, Grammar and Launceston Christian School, for example, Grade 4 Teachers may have simply toured around each of the schools on a given day. There was quite an effort made to hold professional development seminars for the staff of all of our schools and we tried to hold these in the off years when there wasn’t a Junior School Heads’ Conference.

In 1989 it was Hutchins, 1991 Scotch Oakburn, 1993 St Mary’s and Collegiate also hosted one probably in 1995 when Charles Burford came down. Each of these professional days was held over a weekend and while we couldn’t enforce them as compulsory attendance for the staff, mainly because many of schools had Saturday sport which involved their staff in coaching or managing teams, we did try to ensure that there was a good attendance. One of the other specialists’ staff days we held was a special day for Deputy Head/Senior Teachers of each of the Junior Schools at Friends in Hobart in 1989.

From 1991 onwards there were quite genuine and serious attempts to link the Junior School Heads’ Association with the Tasmania Primary Principals Association. This involved us attending their conferences on several occasions and it also included us inviting executive members of the Tasmanian Primary Principals Association to attend some of our meetings.

There was quite some resistance in the Tasmanian Primary Principal Association to the idea of them linking with the Independent Schools, and it took quite a bit of work over the decade of the 90’s for this to be overcome. I think Western Australia was the first to become – not integrated as such but certainly their JSHAA and their Education Department Primary Principals’ Association worked very closely from about the mid-90s onwards. (This asociation has fornmed the basis of the Australian Primary Principals’ Association)

Key issues of the last decade

  • Accessing of State Government Professionals ? particularly support professionals for special needs children
  • Attending to the requirements of the Training Guarantee legislation
  • Addressing the issues of copyright
  • Addressing issues arising from Child Protection Agencies and the legislation concerning them. Most of our member schools found that we did have children in our schools who were, at one stage or another, potentially subject to Child Protection Agency stepping in to look after their interests.
  • We spent several meetings reviewing University Education courses. We were concerned about the quality of University courses offered by, in those days, the University of Tasmania based in Hobart. The University in Hobart and the University in Launceston offered quite different courses ? different styles of course. Since those days they have all been centralised at the University in Launceston. The quality of teacher training and the quality of trainee teachers, who would be called upon to replace our teachers as they retired, were always issues.
  • Quite a bit of time was also spent on the public relations side of the JSHAA. This perhaps stemmed from 1990 when we hosted to Biennial Conference of the Australian JSHAA but it certainly stepped up a gear or two when Julie Rimes became National President and, while she was National President the National Executive felt that it was proper that the Association should take a much high profile.
  • Issues relating to Teacher Registration. At the time there was no legislation requiring teachers to be registered in Tasmania, certainly in Tasmanian Independent Schools and the Registration Board was instituted in the early-to-mid 90s to try and cover that loophole. Again most of our schools had teachers whom, in order for them to become registered, probably had to upgrade their qualifications and that meant them enrolling at University courses.
  • One issue that we addressed at most meetings, in some way or another, was a constant search for new recruits to join the Association. Quite a few letters were written to Principals of Independent Schools, wherever they were throughout Tasmania, and trying to make phone contact with them and selling the advantages of being a member of the Association.
  • Obviously technology – technology in schools was an issue, which was addressed quite often.
  • Legal liability – legal liability of teachers, legal liability of schools, legal liability of the Association as a body in charge of or being responsible for inter-school functions.
  • The National Curriculum. Several of our members – Julie Rimes and myself certainly – attended National Conferences regarding the National Curriculum. Again, as an Independent School we are not bound to follow the National Curriculum but it was obviously in the interests of the Association that we kept abreast of the latest movements.
  • Jurisdiction of the JSHAA – There are obvious overlaps and I suppose also gaps between the jurisdictions of the JSHAA and the Senior Schools Heads body and also between the JSHAA and for example the Junior School Sports Associations in both Launceston and Hobart. I recollect at least twice the State President of AHISA attending our meetings in an effort to try and find common ground. This was also an issue at national level.
  • We did establish a register of Specialist Teachers within each of our schools. Teachers of Physical Education and Sports, teachers of Computing, our Science staff, Music staff and Technology staff. The intention behind this was for those people to share their knowledge and share their experiences.

One of the highlights of the branch was undoubtedly the election of Julie Rimes as National President of the JSHAA. She was the first woman president of the Association. Julie was National President from1994 through to 1996.

The other major highlight of this period (1988-1996) was certainly the holding of the National Conference in Hobart in September 1990, the first time it had been held in Tasmania. Planning for the conference dominated basically all of the business of the Tasmanian. Branch throughout 1989 and 1990. We knew that it was going to be the first time that the conference was held here and that we had to make a favourable impression. There was certainly some scepticism among many mainland Principals at the thought of Tasmania, with a branch membership of only 10-12, being asked to run such a large conference. It meant many extra meetings and we got to know the Man O’Ross Hotel fairly well! The conference was hosted by the Hutchins School. We had an outstanding professional development programme, perhaps the major feature of which was the Wells Oration by Dr Peter Elyard who at the time was Commissioner for the Future.

Our social programme focussed largely on Tasmania’s products and we were blessed with fantastic weather right through the week of the conference. We tried something new by having an extended lunch period of well over and hour and a half. During that time we offered excursions in and around Hobart, on the river for example so that people could see Hobart at its best and also use that extended lunchtime to sample Tasmania’s products. Something else we tried as part of the professional programme of the conference was to ask our own members to lead seminars and we ended up with something like 25 of our own JSHAA members who led seminars and this was very favourably commented on – as was the whole conference. Many people felt that it was the best conference that had been held up to that stage.

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of the conference was the financial result where the Federal Executive had to subsidise the conference to some small amount because one of the conference organisers saw this as a good opportunity to embezzle some funds and to head to sunnier climates. Overall this 8 or 9 year period has seen a large growth in the business of the Association.

The fact of matters such as incorporation, by-laws, and the conference that we ran, all meant that in a fairly short period of time (1989-1992 or 1993) a huge amount of business was carried out by the branch. The very small membership made this a pretty heavy workload for some of the members. Despite this heavy workload, it was also a period of time in which we tried to bring the schools the staffs of the schools closer together. We did this by creating opportunities for the teachers to share and opportunities for the students of the different schools to get together and to share the work that they did.

Milestones for Tasmania

Julie Rimes – 1st female National President
Julie is a pedestrian on new pathways in Junior School education. She has been greatly respected by all members of JSHAA since her early entry to the Tasmanian Branch in 1986. Julie became Australia’s first female National President in 1994.

Jill Bennett ( Fahan ) joined the branch in 1985 as one of 2 newly admitted female members. She recalls driving to Launceston for her induction in a newly purchased car accompanied by Sr Ellen O’Carrigan RSC of Mt Carmel College. Jill has remained an active member of the Tasmanian Branch since that time.

The Present and the Future

In 1999 the Tasmanian Branch is a small but active branch of 10-12 members. We have just participated in our second most successful conference of the Australian Primary Principals’ Association. We are delighted to achieve a long term goal of uniting the Primary School Principals of Tasmania under a common banner and are keen to commit continuing support to this cause.

Today’s Tasmanian Branch still supports 10-12 members. I doubt we will grow much bigger unless we alter our membership parameters to include Assistant Heads. It remains, however, a very active and strong Branch with activities focussed on celebrating independent schooling in the State. We have conducted two very successful Junior School Leaders days for our student leaders as well as a Fun Sports day to involve the children who are often overlooked for selection in school teams. Again we plan combined involvement to support our Staff in professional development and we share curriculum development and all aspects of school growth.

Jon Hosford
President, Tasmanian Branch 1999

Julie Rimes, first female National President 1994-96