The busy start to the term has afforded me many opportunities for conversations with students, parents and staff. It has been most encouraging to speak with parents at a range of events and around the School over the past three weeks. While most have been on day to day topics, a number have been most stimulating and have focused on the core of what William Carey Christian School exists to provide.
One such topic of conversation has been in the area of ‘What should Independent Schooling and, in particular, a Christian school provide?’ Fundamentally, are Independent schools like William Carey worth it?
Unfortunately, what is available to the wider public in the media and on various websites is a very narrow and ‘cherry picked’ set of information. Analysis is based on NAPLAN results which, for our school, are consistently strong and a small set of results from our HSC cohort. While we had a string of excellent high achieving students, which I have acknowledged in our last newsletter, we have also had a vast number of students who continue to rise to the challenge of achieving their own personal best. Unfortunately, these hard working students do not gain the same recognition as those whose results are released by NESA.
The publication of NAPLAN and a portion of the HSC results cannot serve as an accurate measure of the quality of the whole school. It should be noted that the majority of our HSC students have gained entry into further education, some into courses of very high standing. Statistics collected for the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey shows that, having entered university, students educated in Independent schools are almost three times more likely to graduate. The quality of education is of vital importance to Australia’s future and, therefore, open debate that spurs quality schools on is important. Sadly, misleading headlines and narrow leagues tables do not assist this vital conversation. Similarly, negative commentary shared privately or even publicly on social media, does not promote healthy discussion leading to improvement – it undermines it.
William Carey is committed to providing students opportunities to achieve their personal best and it is important to recognise that education is more than literacy and numeracy. Being literate involves a lot more than circling the correct answer in a multiple-choice test and being numerate and mathematically adept is more than arithmetic. Our graduates need to do more than just acquire knowledge to gain good test results. They need to make meaning of what they are learning and then transfer this understanding in an ever-changing world.
We cannot forget that quality schools are about a lot more than academic outcomes, important as they may be. Our feedback from parents indicates that they highly value the premium that William Carey places on pastoral care and student welfare, character and attribute development, other aspects of Christian education, performing arts (including the school musical), careers programs and further co-curricular activities. These include competitive sport and outdoor education such as our camps, not to forget the outdoor education and character development gained through participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
To many of our parents and members of the wider community, most or all the points I have mentioned are self-evident. This is an indication that the values of parents and the School are closely aligned. However, the claims of some segments of society would indicate that education exists for vocational purposes only. That school should just be preparing students for the workforce. Such a view voids the historic views of hundreds of years of history of education and devalues the intrinsic worth of learning and the fact that learning leads to the development of understanding, empathy, character and ethical behaviour.
Rather, quality education in a Christian school prepares our students, delivering far more than just preparation for a career. It provides the opportunity to live well, contributing positively to community and to know, as well as understand, what it means to live in God’s world, in Gods’ way, as God’s image.
So as Principal, and I believe also more significantly as a parent of the School, I would answer the question of ‘Is it worth it?’ with a resounding ‘YES!’.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:4-10
In His service,