The CEP Rural Education Conference has wrapped-up for another year, celebrating the unique role of rural and remote schools in Victoria.
Held in Melbourne last week, the conference featured interactive presentations from keynote speakers Maggie Farrar, Peter Gamwell and Simon Breakspear.
Apollo Bay P-12 College Principal Tiffany Holt said the conference was thought-provoking and gratifying.
“I don’t think you can play down the importance of opportunities like this; to have a room full of people who genuinely know the challenges you’re facing in a remote school and (with whom) you can properly relate because you’re all working in similar schools with similar issues,” she said.
“The session we did around clarity, impact and agile leadership with Simon (Breakspear) definitely resonated with me.”
“It got me thinking about where we are putting our energy at school and what really counts — how we can make the right impacts on a day-to-day basis.”
Sacred Heart Primary (Yarrawonga) Principal Arn Gorman said the conference was a great opportunity to create professional links with non-Catholic schools.
“Being from a Catholic school, it was refreshing to be in a room full of educators from department schools because we face the same issues but (our schools) are run very differently,” she said.
“The guest speakers inspired us in our thinking but, for me, the real traction of the conference was the dialogue we were able to create within the room and now, going forward, it’s about continuing to build on those relationships.”
Monday’s session with keynote speaker Maggie Farrar focused on the growth of school clustering and collaboration.
CEP Project Officer, Kate Roache, said Maggie challenged her audience to ‘relentlessly ask questions’ in the quest for impact and improvement.
“I think Maggie’s session was particularly rewarding because she consistently challenged the clusters to broaden their thinking philosophically and practically,” Ms Roache said.
“She challenged the depth of each cluster, the way they function and ways they can grow deeper into their school’s identity, such as including young people as partners in the endeavours of the cluster.”
Away from formalities, the highly-anticipated conference dinner proved a winner, with guest speaker and Melbourne Cup winning trainer, Darren Weir, offering candid insights to the horse racing industry and his life growing up in the Mallee.
“Darren’s involvement was sensational — it was very informative but with no lack of humour; I think the audience definitely enjoyed it,” Ms Roache said.