Alan Pratt

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To our class of '61.

Thanks to everyone for reminding me of the good times we had at NSBHS, although as one of the group that didn't take two sciences and two maths for the Leaving Certificate I always suspected that those who took an Humanities "stream" were considered by some of the staff to be a "less focussed group"(?).

While I look back on NSBHS with fondness and an appreciation of the opportunities we were given, every time I drive past the school I compare my school days with those of my own children, all of whom attended state comprehensive high schools, each of which I suspect offered a more diverse curriculum aimed at their broader development as young people. The mix of a pursuit of academic excellence, participation in sport, theatrical, social and community activities in country and Sydney high schools served them well, each gaining access to the profession of their choice.

After the Leaving Certificate, I took advantage of a Teachers' College Scholarship and for two years undertook the General Primary course at Sydney Teachers College, graduating in 1963 with the Jones Medallion.

Since then I have been fortunate to live and work with a number of school communities in Sydney, Grafton, Coutts Crossing, Seelands, Nymboida, Mungindi, Hillston, Temora, Cabramatta, Mt Druitt and the Hawkesbury District as I worked my way through the positions of classroom teacher, Teacher-in-Charge, Assistant Principal, Principal, District Inspector of Schools and Director of Schools. At present I am one of the Chief Education Officers responsible for the accountability and improvement program of the state’s public schools. In those thirty eight years plus, I suspect I have worked in the majority of NSW country towns - a "bushie" at heart I was reluctant to come back to Sydney, but when this was done in 1985, things worked out well!

For a couple of years I was appointed to the position of the Executive Officer to the NSW Higher Education Board supporting the work of the Board at the fascinating time of the transfer of nurse education from hospital based training to the then Colleges of Advanced Education. During that time I worked closely with the state's CAEs chairing course accreditation committees, primarily in Nurse Education, Teacher Education and Information Technology.

Another bureaucratic appointment as Assistant Director of the Department of Education's curriculum services Directorate was very satisfying as a Directorate of 230 colleagues developed and supplied teachers with resources to support their teaching programs - books, films, videos, radio and television programs and computer software and state-wide advisory services were all prepared, published and supported by a wonderfully creative group of folk.

I've also been fortunate to accept a number of secondments to key government or Departmental projects in recent years. I worked with the Secretariat supporting Professor Barry McGaw in his review and redevelopment of the NSW HSC, and in 1998-1999 I was seconded to the state's Vocational Education and Training Accreditation Board as the Department's representative to work with the Board to prepare the state's 40 Districts for registration as Registered Training Organisations. One year later we have a massive number of Year 11 and Year 12 students undertaking a vocational course as part of their HSC, and gaining industry qualifications at the same time!

During these almost 40 years of service to the Department I have had the good fortune to represent it in all states and territories, to live and undertake a study program in New Zealand, and to attend international conferences, the most recent being in January in Toronto - sharing minus 35 degrees with the Canadians!

Kerri and I married in 1966 and we have four fine kids, all of whom travelled in their infancy around rural NSW with us, making friends, enjoying a country town then moving on again!

Nick is a Squadron Leader with the RAAF having just come back to Sydney after twelve years flying with the Orions from Adelaide. Kath is a classroom teacher in a primary school in Sydney, married to a professional musician who spends much of his time touring with bands in rural and remote towns! Jen is a graphic artist working in London, providing cheap accommodation for her family when they can get to England, which in recent years has been frequent! At the moment she and her partner are working their way across Northern Africa, taking a break from London. Chrissy is the baby, and at 22 years, is a fourth year Law student balancing her study, life in a Law Firm and managing a patisserie she and her partner own in Bondi.

With our first two married, we are now to enjoy the next phase of life with the arrival of our first grandchild on the weekend of the NSBHS "event". With both my parents having died in recent years, it will be odd to be the family "Grandad"!

Kerri has given up (paid) work to help with the shop, to travel with me, to support her 93-year-old father, recently widowed, and to prepare for life as "Grandma". She had a splendid teaching career, gained a PhD from Macquarie Uni and is now enjoying her beloved "Sydney Swans" whose fortunes we follow and with whom we travel to Melbourne when time permits. She is at present travelling in New Zealand and will return to welcome our new family member, or when airlines agree to cooperate!

So… thanks for the opportunity to hear of everyone's journeys - I'm sorry we can't be with you for the event, but at some stage in the evening, perhaps you can drink a toast to "new grandparents"?