ASSOCIATION SPOTLIGHT

Warialda Association

Number of members: 42
President: Dale Beattie
Secretary: Belinda Backman

Meetings: We meet twice a term at 4pm at Warialda Golf and Bowling Club

Our area and community: Warialda is a town of 1200 people. We have the biggest geographic catchment in NSW, with students travelling up to 100km in all four directions on roads that are sealed and unsealed. Our approximate area is 9500 sq km. We have eight feeder schools and one high school. At the high school we have a support class and a trade training centre that supplements our traditional program. Warialda is a low socio-economic area with farming and grazing being the main trade. Our closest major centre is Tamworth, two hours away. Our state MP is Adam Marshall (New England) and our Federal MP is Mark Coulton (Parkes).

Issues and challenges: There is limited housing available to students and teachers. Rural isolation is always an issue. We are the first school in our region beyond the “Line” that does not attract incentive transfer points for new scheme teachers, which makes attracting and keeping young teachers an issue. This results in a number of our teaching staff having to live up to an hour away. Our area experiences flooding, this causes added isolation for periods of time. Distance is an issue for both teachers and students. Professional learning is available but located in centres more than 800km away. Shire amalgamation, drought and a changing workforce all have an adverse impact on schools.

Teacher demographics: There are a number of experienced teachers who actively support new scheme teachers. At Warialda High School, Federation membership is 90 per cent, a consequence of the principal’s attitude. The school executive team supports Federation.

What we are focusing on: We work at offering differentiation and alternative learning opportunities for students. We also try to maintain curriculum diversity while maintaining opportunities for staff and students.

The best thing our association has done in the past five years: Building up staff collegiality: we have a cohesive group of teachers. We are active participants in Gonski campaigns. The best thing above all that the association has done is to support Warialda High School during difficult issues. When needed, our Association rallies together to support no matter where they sit — either as a classroom teacher or as a member of the Executive.

Association meetings: Meetings are quite social and friendly, efficient and informative, and welcoming. Attendance fluctuates depending on current issues and the political climate. We are well-supported and informed by our Organiser.

How we try to attract members to meetings: We serve refreshments at meetings and have dinner after meetings. We are trialling information seminars: for example, information on leave. We have changed our meeting times to accommodate parents and those who have to travel long distances. We hold meetings offsite at a neutral site.

Our executive structure: As well as the President, Secretary and Treasurer we have a Women’s Contact and a Housing Contact with the Teacher Housing Association. We have had trouble filling positions and encouraging young members to take on executive positions.