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Anglican Schools Commission

Hope and Opportunity

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The Revd Peter Laurence OAM, CEO, Anglican Schools Commission WA

A New Year brings with it many opportunities. The first day of school for some. A new school for others. The move from primary to secondary or maybe just the advancement up one year level. A change of classroom or teacher. Whatever the change may be, the month of February means that the whole school year lies ahead. What an incredible opportunity a new year brings.

In the world of schools, there are many issues which will get wide coverage during 2024. I have written before of the chronic teacher shortage in Australia. This will get worse before it gets better, much as the labour shortage in so many industries. Schools are not exempt, yet society expects that there will be a teacher available for every class. Not an unreasonable expectation! With population growth in Western Australia and beyond, and a decline in available teachers, we will continue to read stories in 2024 of the great teacher shortage.

Another matter on the radar this year in WA will be the release of a report on a review of the senior school years. You may have read stories leading up to Christmas about a decline in the number of students following an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) stream, dropping to a low of 28% in 2023. This means that most Year 12 students in WA did not study courses that made them eligible to be awarded an ATAR for university entry. WA had the lowest percentage of ATAR-eligible students in Australia.

Interestingly, media coverage on this point often focuses on the downside of fewer students being eligible for an ATAR. The upside, and it is a huge upside, is that schools today are far better at counselling students to follow the academic and career pathway that best suits their abilities and interests. The pathway choices today for students in the upper years of their schooling are vast. Our schools are to be commended for investing in courses, programs and staffing to ensure that their students have choices far beyond what has been traditionally offered in Years 11 and 12. 2024 will see continued discussion on this topic too.

For the Anglican Schools Commission (ASC), this month also sees a new school opening. Readers may recall that for the first 25 years since our founding in 1985, the ASC established schools throughout Perth and beyond, to Mandurah, Busselton and Esperance. Nine schools on 10 campuses, all in WA. In 2011, the ASC expanded by acquiring Cathedral College in the Diocese of Wangaratta (Victoria); then in 2015, we acquired two more schools in that Diocese, Trinity Anglican College Albury and Cobram Anglican Grammar School. This month sees the 16th ASC school open … All Saints Anglican School in Shepparton, Victoria. This is the first ASC school built ‘from the ground up’ beyond WA.

Over the Christmas holidays, we were also delighted to take ownership of a magnificent 12 hectare block of land at Yanchep in Perth’s north, to be the home of a future ASC school. With Perth’s population growing rapidly, and spreading along the coastal corridor, Yanchep is the ideal location for a new Anglican school in the coming years. Watch this space!

So a new year is a time full of hope and opportunity. It’s a time of new beginnings. Yet of course it’s also just a small part of a much larger timeline. Business that was started in 2023 or earlier, will be furthered in 2024 and beyond. That’s the excitement of a new year. Make the most of it. Happy new school year!

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