Small Schools Association of South Australia History
Prior to 1990 a number of ad hoc groups did this admirably within their regions. Two of these were the RURAL SCHOOLS’ ASSOCIATION and PROMOTING EYRE’S SMALL SCHOOLS. Both of these groups worked in isolation until the opportunity to work together arose.
It was these two groups who instigated, organized and supported the very first meeting of the “Small Schools Association of South Australia”, which was held in 1990 in Burra, at the Red Ruth Centre. It was a winter’s weekend and small school leaders ventured out across kilometres to join together as a collegiate group and officially launched the Association.
By today standards the facilities were sparsa but it was the roaring fire and the camaraderie that helped develop the ethos that SSASA embodies today.
For the first seven years our conferences continued to be held in country locations across the state. This gave small school leaders the opportunity to visit colleagues and experience other locations. It was later voted to move our events to Adelaide which was deemed closer to access for many members.
In 1993 the association became more involved in political and industrial issues with the interest in abolishing both the head teacher and Rural School titles. Through a great commitment from the executive at the time. Long and hard negotiation and sheer determination we were successful and Small Schools became P3 Schools with Principals at their helm.
Over the years the executive have worked on many levels to address the vast challenges we face in our educational settings. We have negotiated for changes to administration/ teaching workloads and looked at facilities and resources. School closures and amalgamations, have been on the agenda. Staffing formulas and human resource issues have also been explored.
The need for differentiation within department policies has also been a priority. Multi-year level classes and multi-year level teaching has been a consistent area that we have been addressing.
Our conferences have continued to be held covering many and varied topics. Some memorable occasions have been themed around, “Children come First”, “Environments to engage all Learners” and “Creative practises and innovation in Small Schools” to name a few.
Over time the association has developed a good reputation with the department and we have had the opportunity through consultation to exercise considerable influence on your behalf. We have maintained sound relationships with Chief Executives and the various Ministers for Education. This close relationship has been borne out of honesty, frankness, genuine warmth and empathy- traits that are common to all those people successful in teaching and leading in small schools in South Australia.
Visits to Small Schools across the state by the executive members is a new strategy to help collect concerns and information. Another collegiate communication initiative.
Currently as an Association through your executive, we are working on the four major key levels; Expert teaching, Quality leadership, Engaged parents and Communities and Resourcing and Investment. Many strategies are in place to support this work.
The association has a proud history which it can reflect on as we move towards a bright long term future for Small Schools across South Australia.