Founding editor of IE

The launch of IE Magazine in 1971 was an integral part of the development of union representation for non-government school teachers in NSW, IE Journalist Sue Osborne writes.

Founding editor Harry Stephens is still a member of the IEU today and still teaching, albeit on a relief basis in schools.

Harry was a young teacher of English and History at Christian Brothers High School Lewisham when he became involved with a group of teachers who knew John Nicholson, the future General Secretary of the Independent Teachers Association (ITA), the forerunner of the IEU.

At that time, the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association (AMMA) represented teachers in non-government schools.

Harry said not everyone was happy with that situation.

“The group I was with were among those who thought the AMMA was biased towards GPS association schools and felt the increasing number of lay teachers in Catholic schools were not well looked after by the AMMA,” Harry said.

“The ITA developed out of that feeling. The AMMA had a journal called Inter-AMMA that was pretty ordinary. We felt that we could do better. That’s how Independent Education was kicked off.

“I was the initial editor and I can claim credit for coming up with the name Independent Education.

“Our aim was to broaden the appeal to lay teachers, with more emphasis on the professionalism of teachers.”

In the September/October 1971 inaugural edition Harry wrote in his editorial: “Education in the 70s is increasingly being recognised as being in dire need of the necessary resources to properly equip the nation’s children for the task ahead of them. The note of vocation is fainter and the note of defensive solidarity is rising. The marks of profession have not been weakness but strength – not a need for protection but the ability to guarantee it. Profession also implies a responsibility towards those people to whom one is the servant. In the case of the teachers, these people are the employing bodies, and more importantly, the children. The AMMA is firmly committed to the concept of professionalism, in all its aspects, for all teachers in the independent school system.”

Harry said an increasing emphasis on professionalism, especially with the move to accreditation, has characterised teaching over the years.

He put together the publication as a sideline to his teaching job, with articles and input from John Nicholson.

A year or so later Harry moved to a job at a country school and gave up his editorship.

While teaching at Lewisham Harry had a debating team of three boys. One became a priest, one became a Catholic school principal and one became current IEU Organiser Peter Bishop.

Over the years IE has evolved and is now put together by in-house journalists based around the country, with input from Union members and staff.

“I still read it and although I’m no longer teaching full time, I find it of interest,” Harry said.

Harry has recently achieved a Doctorate in Education specialising in education history and has written a history of Our Lady of Lebanon School Harris Park and Christian Brothers Lewisham.

He also supervises prac teaches at the Australian Catholic University so finds IE useful in keeping up-to-date with teaching trends.