The Foundation of the Western Australia Branch
Jeffrey Hart was the man responsible for the establishment of the WA Branch because he was involved at the Federal level at the outset and was able to inform local heads of the benefits of such an association. His determination to form a WA branch led to several informal meetings prior to the birth of the local associations.
The first formal gathering of Junior School Heads for the purpose of forming an Association was at Guildford Grammar School in 1954. Jeff Hart of Guildford Grammar School was host and others present were Don MacLeod (Christ Church), Bert Mill (Hale School), and John Anderson (Scotch College). Members present had already attended several Federal Conferences so Jeff Hart convened the meeting from which the WA Association developed. From that stage, although there was no WA Branch, both Jeff Hart and Don MacLeod served on the Federal Council as State Representatives.
The first formal meeting of the West Australian Branch was held at Christ Church in May 1968 under the Chairmanship of Jeff Hart. At the meeting a sub-committee was appointed for the purpose of drawing up a proposed constitution.
Present at the first meeting of the WA Branch were:
- Mr J Hart (Chairman) Guildford Grammar School
- Mr D MacLeod (Vice-Chairman) Christ Church Grammar School
- Mr J Anderson (State Representative) Scotch College
- Brother K McGlade (Secretary/Treasurer) Aquinas College
- Mr Bert Mill (Hale School)
- Brother K Paull (Trinity College)
- Mr E Shaw (Wesley College)
The constitution was adopted on 5 July, 1968 at the 2nd meeting at Hale School.
At the third meeting of the branch in August, 1968 it was decided to prepare a ‘case’ for the 1972 Biennial Conference to be held in Perth.
At the Federal Council Meeting in May 1969 it was decided that Perth would be the venue for the 1972 Conference, so within five years of the formal establishment of the WA Branch, it had the privilege and honour of hosting the 10th Biennial Conference and Refresher School at Aquinas College. Don MacLeod was Chairman of the Conference Organising Committee, coinciding with his Chairmanship of the Federal Association, and Greg Leek was the host at Aquinas and also conference secretary. At the the conference the first awards of Honorary Life Memberships of the Association were made. Nearly two hundred delegates from every state in Australia attended the Refresher School and this strong support enabled the Honorary Treasurer, John Anderson, to hand on a record profit to the Federal Association for disbursement through the Grants-In-Aid Fund.
In order to foster one of the Association’s aims “to help its members and their staff to advance and strengthen the work of Junior Schools” the first Junior School Art Festival was held at Hale School on 3 August, 1977. The aim of the evening was “to involve schools in a co-operative undertaking and to display to the public a variety of cultural activities that make up part of the daily curriculum”. A massed choir of over 400 students was a highlight of this first festival. The success of this event encouraged the Headmasters to make it a biennial event between national conferences. During 1978 it was decided that a combined Junior Schools Art and Craft Exhibition would take place in the foyer of the Rural and Industries Bank, Barrack Street, Perth during two weeks in mid November. This also became a biennial event thereafter although the venues became schools. In the following year interschool chess was introduced at two levels; one being played on Thursday afternoons concurrently with other team games and the other which is played once a year between member schools at a central venue.
The success of the 1972 Conference and Refresher School at Aquinas encouraged the WA Branch to offer Wesley College as the venue for the 1984 federal get-together. The offer was accepted by the Federal Council and the Conference and Refresher School was well attended by delegates from all other states. Don MacLeod chaired the organising committee for the Conference and Refresher School and at the biennial meeting Reg Ritchie became Federal Chairman for the following biennium.The Perth Conference was an historic one in the sense that the Memorandum and Articles were altered to allow for the entry of girls’ schools Heads to full membership of the Association.Since that time the state Branch has flourished and has been actively involved at the Federal level through
representation on the Federal Board. Some of the significant changes such as incorporation, affiliation with organizations such as APPA and national insurance have been instigated through the efforts of members of this Branch.As membership has grown and school compositions have diversified such groups as the sportsmasters have changed to serve the needs of boys’ schools, girls’ schools and coeducational schools. The bi-ennial Art/Craft Exhibition moved from school venues to a public one in order to provide the space for the number of participants. Likewise the Performing Arts Festival has adapted to changing needs and the number of participating schools and after dividing into three sub-groups in 1995 has returned in 1997 to The Perth Concert Hall for one major event.The annual Chess compethition has in recent years become an event hosted by non-city schools in Bunbury and Mandurah, thus allowing them to share in the hosting of events. Special interest groups such as librarians, music teachers, junior primary teachers, deputies, upper primary teachers continue to meet on a regular basis to share professional development opportunities and develop support networks. 1996 was a special year for the Branch as it hosted the National Bi-ennial Conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. This was the first time that the Conference had been held at a non-school venue and it was judged to be a successful move. As more and more Heads bring spouses to such events boarding house accommodation, although often convivial, generally does not meet expectations. Leonie Drew ably led the organizing team as Conference Convenor whilst also being Branch Chairman.
A transcription of a hand written letter from Jeff Hart of Guildford Grammar School explaining the developoments that led to the formation of the WA Branch of JSA which later became JSHAA.
During 1951 I applied for leave from Guildford. A dear friend of mine on the staff of Wadhurst (Melbourne Grammar School) found his planned twelve months leave on half pay for 1952 would be dependent on his securing an acceptable replacement. He knew I had embarked on a post graduate course in Education at Melbourne University while on extended leave, so suggested I do twelve months in Melbourne taking over his programme, less time off for lectures etc. This idea met with favour at both Guildford and Melbourne Grammar, Tom Plummer at Wadhurst expressing willingness to have me on his staff. My leave from Guildford was quite open ended with no obligation on either side to resume in a status quo until 1953 (as in 1951). Because of unexpected staff changes I remained fairly involved with Guildford by mail during 1952. The status quo at Guildford was resumed in 1953.
Among my expectations for 1952 was to investigate a Junior School organisation similar to IAPS that was just getting off the ground in New South Wales. Fortunately in their second year (i.e. 1952) they decided to throw their net wider and invited representatives from each state to join in a Conference at Cranbrook on 7 May. This proved to be an overwhelming success and it was decided to establish a Junior School’s Conference with aims and objectives closely related to those of IAPS and the HMC. Great delicacy was required in exploring this activity as the relationship of Junior School to Senior and the independence of Junior Heads varied so much. Some of the Senior Head Masters were known to be either anti or very disturbed about the Junior Heads’ activities. Fortunately Brian Howe at Melbourne Grammar School, the then Chairman of HMC was known to be backing the movement. Accordingly Tom Plummer and myself (being regarded as a West Australian), representing the two
states and fortuitously so close to work, were deputed to work with Bill in devising a constitution which could cover all the schools and their varying constitutions, including a few privately owned ones. The results of our efforts were examined in Adelaide (PAC) in 1954 and with very minor adjustments became the first constitution of what became known as the J.S.A.. Subsequently there have been two radical alterations to the name and various other modifications that have been necessary to meet the changing educational climate of the following years. In 1954 it became one of my objectives to stir up interest in the organization. Fundamentally Guildford Grammar School was the only one of the schools with a fairly separate and autonomous Preparatory department. It took very delicate and patient dealings to have the professional value of the organization accepted by the Head Masters and by the officers in charge of their relatively small junior departments. Peter Thwaites the then Headmaster of Guildford backed my effort and agreed to address a meeting of Junior School men. Accordingly I arranged a dinner at Guildford to which each School was invited to send two representatives – the senior man and one assistant. But it was rather a disappointment. Again there was an atmosphere of ‘what is being cooked up at Guildford’ and the situation lay fallow with sporadic efforts by me to whip up interest in what was now a properly constituted professional federal organ.
Meantime all the schools were expanding almost explosively as the population of the state increased. The Junior departments were being increasingly recognized as viable units in themselves and splendid feeding grounds for good secondary departments. Many of the immigrants were demanding non-state education. As well, men with specialist interest in primary education were being appointed to look after the Junior departments. These factors, plus the fact that one or two members attended the Conference and Refresher Schools as they occurred in other states, gradually led to the decision to establish a local West Australian Branch of the Association in 1968.