ASSOCIATION SPOTLIGHT

Members: 58
President: Geoff Parlett
Secretary: Margaret Fuller (acting)
Treasurer: Brad Robinson

When we meet: Grenfell Association meets 10 days after each Council at Grenfell Public School. We used to meet at one of the local hotels but moved the meeting to the public school and put on regular BBQs so that new younger teachers can bring their kids to a more child-friendly venue. This has increased numbers at meetings.

Our community: Grenfell is a small country town located about 400km directly west of Sydney with a population of just under 2000. Grenfell is part of the Weddin Shire, which has a population of about 3700 people. As well as the local high school and public school in Grenfell there are three other small Association schools in outlying villages (Caragable, Greenthorpe and Quandialla). The total area covered by our association is about 3500 sq km.

The Weddin Shire contains a large farming community that earns from sheep and cattle, wool and crops such as wheat, canola, oats, barley, triticale, lucerne and field peas.

In recent times the local farmers have had to deal with a lot of adversity including, drought, mice, locusts, late frosts and late rains but as any teacher who lives in a country area knows, farmers are some of the most resilient people you would ever meet.

As well as farming there is also a variety of other industries such as metal fabrication, a bee and honey industry and grain distribution.

Grenfell is well known for being the birthplace of poet Henry Lawson (thus the name of the local high school being the Henry Lawson High School).

Each year, on the June long weekend the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts is held and attracts several thousand visitors to the town who are well looked after with warm and friendly hospitality.

Another of Grenfell’s favourite sons is Stan McCabe, who started playing cricket in Grenfell before eventually playing alongside Don Bradman in the 1930s and 1940s.

The local area has been assessed as medium to low SES, which indicates that there are some problems needing to be addressed by the public schools in our area. The schools seem to be addressing these issues quite successfully by using Gonski money that has come into their schools.

Our teachers: The schools in our Association are 2 or 4-point schools and do not seem to have much difficulty attracting teachers to fill any vacant positions (most likely the fresh country air).

Teachers in the local schools range from near-retirement baby boomers to first-year-outs in their early twenties, and everywhere in between.

Our focus: At the moment, with the election coming, our association is focusing on informing the parents and other local people what fully funding Gonski will mean for our local school children by talking to people in the streets, putting up signs and writing to the local newspaper, The Grenfell Record.

Activities and vibe: Every year, our Association supports all member schools by presenting book awards at presentation day on behalf of the Teachers Federation.

The Grenfell Teachers Association meetings are casual, friendly and informative. Attendance is good most of the time and members are encouraged by offerings of food and drinks on regular occasions.

One of the main things that affects meeting attendance by the younger new female teachers is that before you know it they have been swept off their feet by one of our local young farmers and soon kids come along. There you go, the young ladies can’t come to meetings but are improving school numbers. I guess what you lose on the swing you pick up on the roundabout.

Geoff Parlett