Building connections with parent businesses

Chris Ivey / Community

As Term 3 draws to a close, I can hear a collective sigh from parents

18 September 2020

Dear St Andrew’s community

As Term 3 draws to a close, I can hear a collective sigh from parents, students and staff! While we have been fortunate to avoid the challenges of a lock down, there is still an element of uncertainty that hangs in the air each day as we deal with border closures, outbreaks in various locations and we wonder what the next months and possibly years will bring.

I always find these moments allow for a number of collective observations.

As a College I believe we have done a pretty impressive job of providing as many opportunities for our community within the guidelines. We have endeavoured to operate a ‘business as usual’ attitude and I thank all members of the community for working with us and supporting us with these decisions. It is a fascinating aside that August was actually the month in which St Andrew’s experienced the greatest number of enrolment tours and registrations. People both locally and from interstate have heard of the great work we are doing and are keen to be part of what we offer. 

As the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools) I am fortunate to be in touch with Principals of Independent schools around the country and it has been extrememly interesting to hear about the trend of people moving away from cities to regional Independent schools, where the quality of what is being offered often equals and even surpasses that being offered in some of our more traditional city Independent schools. Obviously we can’t compete with some of the facilities on offer, but the feedback from those making the move is around our focus on people, on connection, innovation, creativity and on community. This is what families who tour our campus say that see and feel as they walk into our College.

It is with this sense of community and connectedness that a couple of weeks ago I met with a number of engaged parents and alumni at a Conversations with the Principal evening. All were keen to share their thoughts and ideas about ways in which we can support our students and recent alumni as they transition from school life to the next phase of their journey. While Queensland, perhaps a little behind the times, has chosen to embrace the ATAR system, we know that our southern counterparts are currently calling for its demise! I have always been convinced that the worth of a students’ 13 years of education is so much more than simply a number and so during my time here, we have focused on broadening the opportunities and experiences for our students. We regularly tell our students that their worth and value is not tied up in a number. In addition to experiences and opportunities, we also share with our students the diverse pathways and journeys that exist beyond Year 12 and the reality that it will often be skills that are not measured by an ATAR that may be what they require. 

In listening to this passionate group, with many excellent suggestions and experiences themselves, I became aware that there is so much more we can do in this space of supporting, mentoring and teaching our students in the different options that are available to them. Using the experiences and skills of our parent body is a wonderful asset to assist. A survey was recently sent to our parent community about how you can assist. What we are looking for is varied, and hopefully appeals to our community of parents who desire to build into the personal capacity of our St Andrew’s students. We’re keen to hear from parents who can assist in a number of ways.

  • Parents who are able to provide input into a program where students hear from professionals about what their jobs look like on a day-to-day basis
  • Parents who can share some of the realities of running a business. It isn’t just about getting a qualification, but what other business skills do you need to succeed?
  • Parents who can take on St Andrew’s students in a work experience program.
  • Parents who can mentor individual students or recent alumni who have a very clear idea of where they want to head.

As an alumni myself of a long standing boys school in Tasmania, years ago I put my name forward to them as a mentor for the areas in which I feel I have something to give. I hope that given the age of our College as we gather more and more graduates every year and more importantly, our commitment to supporting our community, St Andrew’s parents will want to do likewise.

As we reflect on where we live, the term that has been, the uncertainty ahead and the extraordinary community in which we live, I want to encourage all of us to consider ways in which we can give back, share our experiences and enable our students to walk confidently into their futures.

Best Wishes,
Rev Chris Ivey

Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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