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Principal's Blog

2017 Term 1

A Lack of Schooling Options

There are many amazing aspects to my role of school principal. Watching a small child, squashed by their previous school experience, find their feet and begin to grow in confidence and self-esteem brings a joy and satisfaction that few other jobs share.

Fitzroy Community School is a popular school with many enquiries and visitors each and every week, some seeking an understanding of our educational approach, but the majority interested in our school for their children. Many of those expressing interest as prospective parents have a significant emotional investment in their child either having a special childhood, of which school forms a significant part, or wanting our help in restoring the potential of a child who has lost ground.

In my interactions with these parents, I am often left feeling a little sad. Sad that families that would be a great fit for our school cannot find a spot. Sad that there are simply not enough options out there. Sad that so many children will miss an empowering, engaging, fun and spirited childhood.

When I was last in France I was interviewed by the head of the independent schools association there. Under a previous centre-right government, the rules governing the opening of schools were relaxed. France is now sprouting new schools. India is in much the same situation with new non-government schools starting daily. England is not far behind. I met a family in Kunming, China a little while ago who had just decided to open a school – and four months after their decision to open, they had a school. We had visitors from Malaysia a couple of years ago; they have now opened two kindergartens and a school.

The point of these examples is that it is legislation (and the attitude of Educational Authorities) that hinder the opening of new schools. And in doing so, hinder countless children receiving a better school experience.

To me, it is a crime that the State stands between families and a better schooling experience – and I cannot understand how this state of affairs manages to persist in our so-called egalitarian, free society.

My dream is that our children all experience the best possible childhood. Best here is not a restrictive uniform prescription, but an acknowledgement of the diversity of our nation’s families and a diversity of aspirations – and a hope that one day our school system will meet these. And a hope that our waitlist one day starts to fall, as people find schools other than FCS that meet their hopes for their children. And finally, that I have fewer sad moments each week.

Timothy Berryman (Principal)


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