The Moorabool Network is a group of schools from theMoorabool area, working together to improve educational outcomes for their students. Eighteen schools belong to the network, creating a vast learning community. The schools in the network are quite varied, some being close to town, others quite rural and some large and some small. The variety and number of schools in the network creates in depth and very broad perspectives, knowledge, skills and understandingswhich is used to create continual school improvement.
The Principals of the Moorabool Network meet twice a term sharing their expertise and hold lengthy discussions on educational issues. This enables Principals to identify the most effective and efficient ways forward for their schools. As a result many management areas can be streamlined so more time can be spent on teaching and learning programs greatly benefiting the students.
Resources, ideas and knowledge are also shared to provide unique and exciting experiences for students, to improve teaching skills and enhance curriculum programs. The approach to this is multi-layered, first on a student level, for example, through special activities such as the event when all the students from the collegiate group came together toconduct workshops for each other about how they were using information technology – a ‘Conference for students’ run by the students at Federation University. As well as a range of combined activities - athletic sports, excursions, cross country events, swimming events, Sovereign Hill excursions, camps and the traditional end of year picnics. On a teacher level, professional development activities and resources are shared across the network and workshops of innovative programs have been conducted. As well as the regular meetings,Principals of the Moorabool Network hold annual conferences, provide representation at the Regional level andcontinually support and assist each other.
In 2014 the entire Moorabool Network met at Bungaree Recreation Centre, for a whole day of collegiate professional development. All teachers; all support staff; all admin staff; and all principals together for the first time! It was an outstanding opportunity for small schools to demonstrate the extensive range of skills and training already available from current staff.
The Moorabool Network started in the 1980’s as the original Bungaree Cluster sharing specialist teachers. In the 1990’s the ‘Shared Specialist’ program stopped but the Cluster continued on, it was renamed in 1997 as the Moorabool Collegiate Group. The purpose of the group then became to provide collegiate support to Principals and to promote the positive benefits of small school education. In 2010 the Mooraboolcollegiate group was renamed the Moorabool Network and expanded their role to include an increased level of professional learning and mentoring for all staff.
The members of the Moorabool network have always been a great team, supporting each other to ensure modern thinking and constantly re-evaluating what they do. This ensure they create school communities that are as vibrant, dynamic and inspiring as possible to build student capabilities, responsibility, independence, pride, self-esteem and confidence. However, the best thing about the Mooraboolnetwork, is the relationships between all the people in it! The students enjoy catching up with each other at special events, teachers enjoy sharing what is happening in their classrooms and principals, meeting regularly have not only developedeffective professional connections but great friendships.
Six of the rural schools in the Moorabool Network close to Ballarat, (only five to twenty minutes away) Bungaree, Glen Park, Gordon, Little Bendigo, Magpie, Mount Egerton andWarrenheip can be found in this feature. Please phone to make an appointment to see their wonderful learning communities and engaging environments at work.
It is important to remember exactly what is at stake here: only one third of the Gonski funding will be delivered in the first four years. The Abbott Government plans to stop funding public schools according to the Gonski model after 2017 and Commonwealth funding will only be indexed at 2.5% (currently 4.7%).
The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said:
While Premier Napthine has indicated support for the full six years, his government also needs to provide transparency around the quantum of funding received by Victoria and whether this is in fact additional funding to that Victorian schools would have been entitled to or had received in the past.
The fact is that teachers, principals and parents must work together to change the Federal Coalition's position on this vital issue and seek greater transparency from the Napthine government. That effort has to start with greater parental engagement.
Sadly I think the union is on a 'hiding to nothing'over Gonski funding.