Pat Boake is retiring after clocking up 41 years in education, 38 as principal at the same rural primary school. He is concerned that increased additions to the curriculum, demands from parents and the continual raising of the bar for teachers and support staff is putting the system under pressure.
(pictured right) Retiring Principal Pat Boake celebrates his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife and nine of his 10 grandchildren
Pat started his career in the 1980s at St Declan’s Primary School, Penshurst, before undertaking a backpacking tour of Europe with his new wife. Thinking ahead, he applied for the principal’s position at Sacred Heart Primary School, Tocumwal, near the Victorian border, and began his long connection to the school.
Apart from breaks in 1996 and 2008 to go on exchange to Canada, an experience he described as “revitalising”, he has been continuous principal at the school.
He has seen many changes over the years, particularly around curriculum.
“The overwhelming additions for each need recognised in society are unsustainable. I firmly believe that we need to teach children to read, learn their tables, have enquiring minds, learn to listen, learn to speak kindly and to have gratitude. This will hold them in good stead.
“Mostly, children are uncomplicated and respond well to kindness, boundaries and routine.
“Parents, on the other hand, are increasingly under stress. Perhaps sometimes self-inflicted, other times not. They can be more complicated in their anxieties and expectations.
“I have seen a big change in the amount of feedback they require and how much we need to respond to their wishes.
“I am not convinced that over-involving the parents in education is always good for their children, or for them.
“I have been lucky to work with excellent human beings. The staff at my school over the years have been dedicated and have had the children’s best interests at heart.
“Teachers and ancillary staff are working much harder than we did 40 years ago. Much more is expected, and the bar continues to be raised. I’m not sure this is sustainable either.”
Pat has been a loyal IEU member throughout his teaching career.
“I joined the IEU at the beginning of my career. I didn’t realise the importance of their role until later in my life. We all need a voice and someone who will support us.
“I find this to be particularly true as in the Catholic system as there can be a subtle push for staff to be of service to all others, to do as one is told, to turn the other cheek, and not complain. Great attributes, but not always a healthy way to live.
“I have encouraged all staff to join the IEU. It is good to know they are there if you need them.”
“Having taught my own children and now with three grandchildren at my school, it is time to retire.
“It has been so good to see the children we taught bring their children to our school. It is so pleasing to see the wonderful leaders and adults who came through our school and are contributing to our community and society.
“I leave with some sadness and much pride that I have always tried to do my best for all children who have passed through our school.
“I have three great children, 10 beautiful grandchildren, my beehives, my golf cart, good health, I live in the best country in the world and so retirement looks great!”
Sue Osborne Journalist