Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Schools

Alister at Turramurra Public School

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 18:58 :47 ): The electorate of Ku-ring-gai is fortunate to be a centre of outstanding public, Roman Catholic and independent school education in our State. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is a State education hub without peer. The evidence speaks for itself. It has two outstanding comprehensive public high schools, in the Ku-ring-gai Performing Arts and Turramurra High Schools. When I have attended those schools the atmosphere reminds me of the great learning opportunities I received at Newcastle High, which was my local comprehensive coeducational public school.

Ku-ring-gai has two outstanding selective high schools in Hornsby Girls High and Normanhurst Boys High. It also has single-sex Catholic and independent high schools such as Loreto Normanhurst, Ravenswood, Abbotsleigh, Pymble Ladies College and Knox, as well as the partly coeducational Barker College and the fully coeducational St Leo's College. For special needs children, St Edmunds provides an outstanding high school opportunity. The primary school options in the Ku-ring-gai electorate are equally diverse and excellent. I mention a special primary school, St Lucy's. This week it suffered a terrible tragedy to one of its families. It has been in our thoughts.

There are many public primary schools including Normanhurst, Beaumont Road, Gordon West, Pymble, Killara, Turramurra, Turramurra North, Wahroonga, Waitara, Warrawee and West Pymble. Independent and Catholic primary or prep schools include Northside Montessori, Wahroonga Adventist, Prouille, the alma mater of the member for Hornsby, Sacred Heart Pymble, Our Lady of the Rosary Waitara, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour West Pymble, Wahroonga Prep School, and the junior schools of Ravenswood, Abbotsleigh, Knox, Pymble Ladies College and Barker.

It does not matter whether they are public, Catholic, or independent schools, the ultimate goal is the same—a good education that is geared toward preparing students to meet life challenges by the time they reach year 12, whatever direction in life they may choose. I love to visit the schools in my electorate and am inspired by the values being passed on to the next generation. Last Friday I complimented Mr Malcolm McDonald, the principal of Beaumont Road Public School, for asking his students to remove their hats while the national anthem was sung. I told him I wished that spectators at major sporting events had the benefit of the values he instils in his students.

The teachers, staff, volunteers and carers that I have had the pleasure to observe in our local schools are incredibly devoted and the students are enthusiastic and community-minded. In recent weeks I visited Wahroonga Preparatory School. I was invited by teacher Rose Raward to address the student body, parents and invited guests first thing on a Monday morning. We gathered in the school's hall to inspect the year 5 and year 6 students' water care environmental program. It is part of the Kids Teaching Kids program involving more than 150 schools and thousands of students nationwide. Some of the students have travelled far and wide with their families in tow to take water samples from rivers and other waterways in order to study and test the health of the water.

Others had created true to scale dioramas of New South Wales mountain landscapes and waterways, while others had gone to ingenious lengths and created board and card games connected to the water theme. At Normanhurst Public School, principal Amber Gorrell and her year 5 students led me to a classroom which had been transformed into a television studio where the kids took turns presenting the news. I experienced a similar interactive program at Pymble Public School when principal Bruno Diodati took me to a class where students were working in groups to master storylines and graphics through their iPads.

For a second straight year I was honoured to join students in their respectful commemoration of our Anzacs. I attended services at West Pymble Public School, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and the annual Anzac ceremony and cadet parade at Knox Grammar. At West Pymble Public School I was coaxed into doing something I had avoided since childhood, joining students of all ages riding a bike around the school grounds to mark Ride to School Day. In late July I was invited by Mr McDermott's KM kindergarten class to plant a tree at Turramurra Public School. It was planted in the amazing native garden to recognise National Schools Tree Day.

As I have previously mentioned, Ku-ring-gai is blessed with sporting talent. Some of that talent was recently displayed on the international stage at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. Schools such as Ravenswood, Pymble Ladies College and Knox Grammar have produced stars such as Chloe Dalton, Tiffany Thomas-Kane, Cameron Clark and Brittany O'Brien. I was pleased to present certificates for State representation to potential future stars such as cricketer Shivani Mehta from Pymble Ladies College and track and field sprinter Donovan Bradshaw from Warrawee Public School. In my next private member's speech, I would like to talk about the debate occurring in this country about education funding. I will inform the House of what I believe we need to be focusing upon in that debate.