Equity for All

Chris Ivey / Academic

While many parents attend Primary Chapel

13 March 2020

Equity for All

While many parents attend Primary Chapel a number of times throughout the years, you may not know what we speak about in Secondary Chapel. We do look at different topics and the theme this term in our Secondary Chapel is…What Would Jesus Say?!

Given we celebrated International Women’s Day last Sunday, this week Mr McClellan spoke about Oprah Winfrey and the outstanding work she has done over many years in providing opportunities for young women to gain education and leadership skills. One of Oprah’s greatest projects was with Nelson Mandela in 2002 when she established the Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Her desire for South African women to receive an education in order to gain independence and leadership has seen the transformation of many lives, not just in South Africa but across the continent.

So, after discussing the plight of so many women and their limited opportunity for education, we asked, “what would Jesus say to Oprah Winfrey?” According to the Gospel and what we know of Jesus, he was very much in favour of equality, also of people standing up for justice when they see an injustice. In fact, Jesus was the ultimate example of someone who broke against the norms and defied the authorities of the day on the status of the downtrodden, the poor and the outcast.  Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus being exceedingly counter cultural for his time, treating women as equals, spending time with them and teaching them. What we see in the person of Jesus is someone who continually demonstrated respectful relationships no matter with whom he was dealing. He saw the person, not the gender, not the background, not the race.

When we set aside one day to think about women, particularly internationally, it is right and proper that we celebrate the success of individual women and what wonderful things they are doing across the globe. However, this is not where it should end, not by just thinking about the successful women and not just a ‘one day’ focus. It is vitally important to talk about what still needs to be achieved in order to ensure equity and justice, safety and hope for all women across our world.

Jesus demonstrated a love for all humans whatever their gender, and it is true that it is never as simple as promoting women alone for equity and justice. When it comes to education in Australia, it is almost the opposite. We have seen great progress for our girls in our current western education system, but we are sadly seeing a decline in the educational outcomes for our boys. Many boys across Australia leave school without reaching an acceptable literacy and numeracy level for the working world. This is also something vitally important to be aware of and to talk about. While this is a generalization on many levels, it has caused us here at St Andrew’s to ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing to ensure ALL our students achieve to their personal best during their time here at the College?’ 

In looking at research, there are many factors that contribute towards students, particularly boys, succeeding at school. However, the one that so often stands out is engagement. If students are engaged with their school, they are more likely to succeed in many more facets of their learning journey. Boys are often the ones who go through a period of being quite disengaged at school, particularly in the middle years. So, the next question is, how we do best engage our students, particularly our boys? The research, and our own experience, will tell us one of the big factors is through genuine relationships, where students feel they are both seen and heard.

We are fortunate to have received an ISQ (Independent Schools Queensland) grant to explore the way in which we can best engage our boys. Our focus will be on the sorts of relationships that exist within our context as a P-12 co-educational school and how we can develop positive and effective relationships with our boys. How do we model this in our teaching and everyday interactions and how do we encourage positive and effective relationship between our boys and our girls? Our aim is to try to fully engage boys, to want to achieve their personal best here at the College; while also instilling within all our community the value of truly respectful relationships. 

If we follow the model that Jesus demonstrated in his relationships with others, then we are seeking equity for all. Some will require more assistance than others, not to treat everyone the same but  aiming for equity in our students’ capacity to succeed, equity in opportunities and equity in the way they are treated and in how they treat others.

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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