Private Members' Statements
Mr ANOULACK CHANTHIVONG (Macquarie Fields) [5.23 p.m.]: On Monday 25 May 2015 I enjoyed an inspiring visit to St Andrews Public School. As a former student of the neighbouring Robert Townson Public School in Raby, I was always curious to see the playground and classrooms of so many of my former high school friends and classmates at Robert Townson High School. As I walked into the office, I noticed the polished wooden noticeboards emblazed with gold text of former school captains, vice-captains and high achievers. I instantly recognised some of the names and my thoughts wandered to where they are now and what great things they have achieved in their lives—it all started at St Andrews Public School.
I was warmly greeted by two dedicated professionals, principal Richard Batty and deputy principal Chad Harris, who are leading and inspiring their staff and the school community to abide by the school's motto of "Live to Learn". I witnessed the motto in action and experienced a positive working environment at the local public school. I met Brian Butler, who has worked at the school grounds for more than 42 years. He does a marvellous job. No doubt he has seen multiple generations of the same family walk through the gates on Ballantrae Drive. I met three office ladies, Cathy, Christine and Lesley, all of whom have been at the school for more than 15 years. No doubt they have seen many positive changes at the school. There was a nice warm feeling amongst the long-term staff at St Andrews. Their knowledge and history is what makes St Andrews able to continue to provide a quality education for so many kids in my electorate.
The focus of the school is to provide quality education for its 800 students from K to year 6, and to provide a caring environment for future generations in our area. St Andrews is inclusive and caters for students of all abilities. It has opportunity classes for academically gifted students in years 5 and 6. No doubt teachers are asked some tricky questions by their curious students with intellect beyond their years. St Andrews is not only a school for gifted students; it also provides support classes for students with autism and those with a moderate to mild intellectual disability. It has a supportive environment and committed teaching staff who ensure that students who need extra help receive the attention they need to help them to learn better.
Principal Batty mentioned that while students have different abilities, there was never an "us versus them" grouping among students. He is proud that the kids play and learn from each other throughout the day. The school environment includes everybody and excludes nobody. I am confident that every parent who knows this fact is proud that St Andrews Public School is teaching their sons and daughters the value of sharing and including others. The school community is supported and enriched by the involvement of parents with staff. Every Friday morning the school hosts a morning chat over coffee between parents and staff. No bookings are required and staff members are on hand to discuss with parents ideas and issues about how to make St Andrews Public School even better. The school has demonstrated leadership by involving parents and the local community, all with the aim of ensuring that kids are learning in a positive and productive school environment.
The school is technologically savvy and makes use of the Skoolbag app to help busy parents stay abreast of activities and events. It sends reminders of school excursions, events and late cancellations, and complements the traditional school newsletter. It adds another layer to the success of the school. I had a wonderful day touring the school and talking with the staff. My experience reinforced my view that St Andrews is a good local public school with dedicated teachers and committed parents who want a better future for our kids. I acknowledge the fantastic job they are doing, and thank them for their time and for the personal development they provide to students. I look forward to a return trip to St Andrews Public School and wish it every success in the future.