P&C Northern Sydney ENews - 17 Dec 2014

In this ENews:

  • Next Year’s Meeting Dates
  • P&C Federation Election Results
  • Future of Northern Sydney District Council of P&C Associations
  • Northern Sydney Networking Meeting – running P&C Businesses and hiring staff or contractors – join the Network
  • Update on Accommodation Issues – watch out for land sell-offs
  • Government Improvement Initiatives

HSC:Link to HSC “First Place in Course” and other information and statistics

Next Year’s Meeting Dates



Term Starts

Term Ends


Monday, 30 March - AGM

Tuesday, 27 January

Thursday, 02 April


Monday, 25 May

Monday, 20 April

Friday, 26 June


Monday, 31 August

Monday, 13 July

Friday, 18 September


Monday, 30 November

Tuesday, 06 October

Friday, 18 December

P&C Federation Elections

Congratulations to the following people elected in the two Northern Sydney electorates as declared on 20 November 2014.

A full list of successful candidates across NSW is attached.




Delegates (two positions)

North Sydney



Mishell CURRIE

North West Sydney




As the period of the P&C’s Administration comes to an end, there is a number of outstanding issues that the new Board will need to deal with.

These include re-establishing confidence in the Federation through improving the capability of the organisation to meet the contemporary needs of school P&C Associations and the full disclosure of the circumstances surrounding the expenditure of $170,000 of school volunteer raised funds on legal expenses, as revealed by the Minister in Parliament on12th  August, 2014 ( )

Future of Northern Sydney District Council of P&C Associations– we will go on ... …

Our District Council consists 100% of volunteers from our local P&Cs.

We provide a forum for the sharing of knowledge and experiences which has assisted many P&Cs.

We provide experienced volunteers to help with issues arising in local P&Cs, including acting as an independent external assistance with disputes or tricky issues.

Whilst in Administration, the P&C Federation has taken a hard line on local District or Regional councils of P&Cs which we consider to be very unhelpful.

The Federation is never going to be able to fill the local role that we do in Northern Sydney.

The Minister has stated the obvious, that school P&Cs are still able to organise on a local, or any other, basis independent of the existing service-provider, P&C Federation.

We are not part of the Federation, but we hope in the future the Federation will move from its current oppositional stanceto District or Regional Councils of P&Cs, to one of co-operation and collaboration.

Networking Meeting – P&C Businesses - 24 November at Chatswood High School

At our District Council Meeting on 27 October 2014, we decided to set up a sub-committee/working group to investigate options for P&Cs in fulfilling their responsibilities in running businesses and employing staff or contractors in these businesses (canteen, before and after school care) or as tutors or coaches for music and sporting activities.

The Convenor is Mark Van Kerkwyk, our District Vice-President from North Sydney Public School and Tina Jackson from Mosman High School is the deputy. Interested people are welcome to self-nominate.

The Sub-Committee ran a networking meeting on 24 November at Chatswood High School which was well attended with some very useful discussions.

All attendees are now on an email news group, and we encourage any interested people from your P&C to join this news group by replying to this email with a request.

We expect to run more networking meetings on this subject in 2015.

The formation of this sub-committee/working group will enable experiences and knowledge of P&Cs in our area to be shared, both within our area and with other areas. We see this as a valuable ongoing activity which would supplement assistance provided by a co-operative. Sadly, at this point in time, the P&C Federation has not demonstrated the capability to provide the support expected and needed of a co-operative.

Convenor Mark Van Kerkwyk’s email to attendees is reproduced at the end of this ENews.

Update on Accommodation Issues – watch out for land sell-offs

  • ·Three new schools

The Government’s commitment to three new schools on the North Shore that was the result of our successful District Council campaign are proceeding.

The new schools are at the soon to be at vacated sites at Lindfield UTS campus and the TAFE Bradfield College site in Crows Nest (to be called Cammeraygal); and the third at the former North Sydney Anzac Memorial Club site at Cammeray.

The very good news is that the approach to be taken at these schools seems to be close to contemporary best practice.

The models under consideration at Lindfield Learning village can be seen at

More links relating to the three new schools may be found near the end of this email.

  • ·City of the future – the challenge of providing schools, now and in the future

There has been much discussion recently about the changing shape of Sydney – with younger generations preferring inner city living. Along with the Government’s urban consolidation plans and the rising population of Sydney, this means that the demand in areas close to the City Centre will rise above what can be handled by current school facilities. The Department was caught out badly in its planning for the North Shore, and by their forebears who sold off school sites in similar areas such as Sydney City, Sydney East and Ryde.

Ultimo Public School is looking for a new, larger site and the Department has been negotiating with Council for a nearby site at an asking price of a whopping $70m.  

The cost of obtaining new land for a school in such heavily built up and expensive areas is considerable. It is therefore important that no school land is sold without thorough examination of the future needs – and certainly not just on the say-so of the Department of Education whose past decisions in this area have not always been prudent.In this regard, Planning Minister Pru Goward’s announcement ofa “Super body to bring Sydney’s 41 councils into line and streamline city planning” looks promising.

( )

There are some schools in Northern Sydney which may come under consideration for employing high rise buildings – the likes of perhaps Artarmon, Greenwich and Seaforth (the latter two being on split sites). Local communities and MPs need to keep their eyes on the ball to ensure that prudent decisions are made, lest the Department or the Minister for Education opt to solve short term problems by selling some of the land to help pay construction costs – at the expense of the long term and of good planning practice. Schools are essential infrastructure and need to be planned for decades in advance.

Here are some links: ABC1 Catalyst: With a soaring population how do we keep our cities liveable? Available on iView until Dec 25 Family Life in a High Rise SMH: Sydney landmark should house future city school – Department of Education’s Head Office New site for Ultimo Primary School

GovernmentImprovement Initiatives

The NSW Government, along with its Departments (Education & Communities and the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards), is undertaking a number of reforms. We plan to follow the progress of these reforms in 2015 and provide critique and advocacy as needed.

The Minister has announced a new reporting requirement of public schools:

“Lift your game, schools told”

Public schools in NSW will have to detail exactly how they plan to lift their HSC and NAPLAN results and identify ways to push their brightest students further and help their most disadvantaged out of a cycle of underperformance.

This is a good move because performance across schools in NSW (after allowing for all the individualcircumstances) varies considerably from school to school and classroom to classroom. There are kids who reach High School who can barely read and this is an awful blot on our public school system.

There is theoretically no reason for such wide variation in performance, which is harming the education and life chances of many of our kids, and is absolutely unacceptable. The reasons for these variationsare complex and varied, but include: perverse departmental policies and procedures which means that recidivist poorlyperforming teachers and school leaders are not effectively managed; not enough support for Principals in underperforming schools; inflexible, outmoded staffing structures for teaching and support staff; poor departmental performance in implementing the new SAP business support system (called LMBR) in schools; sub-optimal results in managing the assets;  a curriculum which makes it difficult for teachers to teach kids according to their ability level rather than their age; and a culture of acceptance of mediocre performance in some areas.

The removal of the small percentage of recidivist unsatisfactory teachers is something which could be achieved fairly quickly – and have a considerable impact. I sometimes hear excuses for the Department’s inaction in this area – one being the furphy of raising the issue of teachers who are just going through a temporary bad trot. These are not recidivist bad teachers, but people that are worth continuing to invest in.

On the question of inflexible policies, procedures and systems, I also hear from some higher performing teachers that these inflexibilities can be worked around. Well, maybe so for  some teachers but what’s needed is a system that doesn’t need to be worked around so that all schools, teachers and kids benefit, rather than the minority.

Some important outcomes are slipping at a time when we need to be doing better to keep up with the rest of the world – see

SMH article “NSW students' literacy and numeracy rates dropping and schools not being maintained: NSW Auditor-General’s report”

Auditor-General’s Full Report:  Focusing on Education and Communities 2014

The Government’s much heralded Local Schools, Local Decisionsprogram is being held back by bad policies and excessive red tape; a poorly performing business systemfor the schools; the influence of vested interests; and a lack of support for Principals, many of whom don’t have the range of skills required available to them.

The same public reporting process should apply to the performance of the department’s head office including the business support areas such as asset management, IT, HR and Finance.

We will be looking at the Department of Education’s management and governance structure which needs to be strengthened to improve performance. In particular, the direct reporting of the Chief Executive to a Minister, without the aid of a skills-based Board, needs to be critically examined.

  • ·Drivers for government improvement initiatives

The drivers for government improvements in our school systems are the need to maintain our competitive position in the world (the danger being that we can slip to be a 2nd world economy unless we improve) and the need to provide the best possible education for our kids so that we remain a tolerant, advanced society.

These drivers are expressed in agreements made by the Coalition of Australian Governments over the years, and are articulated in the Australian Government’s Students First Initiative, in the Melbourne Declaration (read the very good Preambleat )

The Students First initiative ( has four key areas:

  • Teacher quality
  • School autonomy (Local Schools, Local Decisions in NSW)
  • Engaging parents in education
  • Strengthening the curriculum

The COAG Reform Agenda ( ) has recently been revised and school Education is in Theme 1 of 5:

Theme 1: A long-term strategy for economic and social participation
The key focus of this theme is on improving educational outcomes, through measures such as:

  • ·the provision of universal access to early childhood education;
  • ·improved literacy and numeracy through the school system; and
  • ·improved teacher quality and school leadership

The NSW Department of Education has a web page detailing its reforms

Your District Council Executive team wish all our P&Cs volunteers a happy Christmas and a fulfilling New Year.

David Hope

President, Northern Sydney District Council of P&C Associations

0419 247 547

North Shore’s New Schools - Web References:

Professor Stephen Heppell VIDEO: Lindfield Learning Village – Professor Stephen Heppell July 2014. MUST SEE 1:42 minutes 20 minute video ( )

Lindfield Learning Village Three different model options: Global Focus / Community Focus / Entrepreneurial Focus Includes comment from Steph Croft The Community Consultation site The architects Facebook

Cammeray’s new Primary School – a conceptual walk through  The new Primary School on the former North Sydney ANZAC Memorial Club site at Cammeray

Sir Ken Robinson – another world leader in education plus a number of TED talks which can be found on Google

Cameraygal High School (Bradfield site in Crows Nest)   

Innovation in education has been a theme in our regional/district P&C for some time now – see some old editions of ENews at

Our Region ran a “School of the Future Night” on 30th April, 2007!

Networking Meeting – P&C Businesses

Email from Convenor Mark van Kerkwyk

Hi folks, thanks for attending our discussion evening last Monday at Chatswood High. It was great to have a good representation of the types of the P&C Businesses that operate in the school community and from my perspective, most of share common challenges when it comes to meeting our statutory obligations, with employment in particular being a sticky area. Currently, the P&C Federation cannot provide enough guidance for us to operate our businesses with the right level of risk and we need to take action to mitigate this. The objective is to form a working group of people who can collaborate together to determine how we can fill some of the gaps. Ideally, members can each take on specific topics to give it a little structure. This is a particular challenge for P&C as the exec office churns each 2 years or so and none of us seem to have a well enough defined structure that allows a seamless handover from one group to the next. The good news is that our issues are fixable and we just need to determine what course of action would make it easier for P&Cs to operate, whether it be in the form of better structured guidance and checklists, or in the form of leveraging a 3rd party for assistance. Either way would be best done as a group approach I my view. If you would like to be an active participant in this working group, please contact myself via email or phone. Please also let me know how convenient or otherwise a North Sydney based meeting venue would suite you. We'll setup a LinkedIn group (or similar) and a document repository where we can share information and discuss the pertinent topics. If you'd like to be a passive follower, you'll be kept in the loop. I'd like to think we could aim to have some content and recommendations before the end of Term 1, which would align closely with the P&C AGMs. cheers Mark van Kerkwyk 
VP, Northern Sydney District Council of P&C Associations 0419-273-456