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Imagine the Future and Create the Reality

Last week I joined over 50 Principals and staff from EREA Schools, Offices, Associate and New Zealand Schools in Melbourne for the annual EREA conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Edmund Rice Education in 2030. It was guided by Professor Sohail Inayatullah, Global Futurist and UNESCO Chair of Future Studies. The process was positive in challenging schools and EREA as an organisation, to look to the future in planning best options.

Seven years ago, Michael Senior shared a vision with the Nudgee Junior community that outlined what a new school on this site might look like. It was visionary, authentic and engaging and taken to heart by hundreds of families then and in the following years. As we celebrate the achievement of having Years 4 to Year 12 students on this campus, the staff commit to continuing the vision to provide the best education for boys into the future.

If we can image the future, we can create the reality. Wayne Tinsey, our National Executive Director, spoke about us wanting a preferred future – not just a future. We live in a world in transition and so we need to look at new capabilities and systems. I was encouraged when Wayne Tinsey spoke about EREA schools being based on “learning in communities”. It is a basis of what we are trying to achieve as we form the authentic culture of ATC.
Professor Sohail asked the Principals to consider examples of the used future and the disruptions to these, including emerging issues. Participants proposed the following themes in response: Education in a post-state governance world; Moving beyond social/cultural hierarchies; Discrimination eliminated; Less competition and more collaboration; Equity in the world; Declaration of Human Rights becoming possible.

A great initiative was to have young people from St Joseph’s Geelong, CBC St Kilda, St Patrick’s Ballarat and St Bernard’s Essendon actively participate in the conference bringing a different perspective. The students voiced basic human needs (water, sanitation, vegetation) as a core emerging issue, and they named having greater choice and flexibility when it comes to their learning, more focus on creativity and people skills and more focus on people and the planet as key ideas for future plans. ATC will continue to seek opportunities to have a student voice as we develop a highly analytical and deep thinking learning environment.

When considering what an Edmund Rice Education might look like in 2030, participants reflected on areas surrounding the pull of the future, pushes of the present and weights of the past. In 2030, participants anticipated schools might consider our National Identity, Unique Charism, Multi-level learning, Centralised funding, National curriculum, Schools without walls and On-line platforms. Some challenges will be in deciding if we hold baggage that doesn’t reflect contemporary education. A second challenge I can identify is how we articulate our Catholic identity in the future – where is the Catholic identity embedded into our day to day life in a school? EREA have been doing significant planning regarding the best structures to support schools. In doing so EREA is prepared to be a risk-taking organisation.

Finally, whilst I was away last week, I was made aware that Will Bosci (Year 10) and Ethan Marsh’s (Year 8) maternal grandfather passed away, as well as Thomas Rolph’s (Year 8) grandfather. Please keep Will, Ethan, Thomas and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Grandparents are very special people, and their loss during someone’s teenage years can have a strong impact. We hope that the passage of time will help heal the pain of their passing. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen.

With best wishes
David Gardiner
Acting Principal