OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST (33)

Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (33)

The further thoughts I want to share related to my perceptions of Indigenous Education at the time as it was regarded by educational authorities, particularly those with whom I connected with the WA Education Department.

Our appointment to Warburton was as a result of an approach made by the head of school staffing in WA, asking that we consider a twelve month appointment to what turned out to be the most remote school in Western Australia. An incentive was that after twelve months, the department would do its best to offer an appointment in a school or location of choice.

Our tenure at Warburton in 1970 was for the twelve months of that year. As a teacher on probation, I learned a great deal, and developed a beginning appreciation of the importance of learning what to do by learning what not to do.

From 1971 – 1973 I was Headteacher at Gillingarra Primary School, a one teacher school about 40 kilometres south of Moora, a regional centre and our home town. This appointment more or less fitted our circumstances at the time and I had requested that school if it was vacant.

Toward the end of 1973, I asked the department to consider us for a return to Warburton Ranges, with my wife as a teacher and for me to be appointed as Headmaster. (There must have been something about our twelve months three years earlier that was drawing us back.) Suffice it to say, our request for transfer was granted and we returned to Warburton for the start of the 1974 school year.

Aspects of our experiences have been discussed in previous pages. In writing, I have avoided negatives, the naming of people and personal, private circumstances. My writing has focussed on what might be termed experiential association with and within this community. However, in terms of evolving educational policy and as intimated, I need to prise a little into negative perceptions. Educational outcomes are driven as much by negative as they are by positive circumstances. It was my reaction to some of the negative contexts of policy and practice that lead to our departure from Warburton in April 1975. These matters are detailed in the next section.

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