From the Principal

Good Neighbours


Real estate ads often include the phrase “close to schools” as part of their efforts to attract a buyer. In the Lake Innes area of Port Macquarie the term might be even more specific – “Close to St Columba Anglican School.”

Schools actually have the ability to contribute to their community beyond just being a place to send your children.

Statistically, one of the most appealing aspects of a community that is seeking to attract newcomers (particularly in the professional and trade realms) is having the option of high performing schools in the community.

“Quality Schools: A good education is essential to prepare children for a successful future, so the importance of good schools is crucial. While this is obviously more important to families with school-age children, to attract families, a town needs to have quality local public schools that prepare children for university and/or work.”
Top Ten Things That Attract People To A Town.

Schools also do more than teach the curriculum. They are where our young people learn social skills, develop attitudes that will assist their future success, and hopefully enjoy their education enough to want to become lifelong learners.

Schools often provide, not only co-curricular programs for their students, but are the founders of local sports clubs and allow their grounds to be used for sports and community events.

Schools are often among the biggest employers in country towns. Towns who sometimes only realise how important the school is to its community when it closes.

Yet schools can be seen by some neighbours as a problem.

  • They can be noisy (school socials, sports events, PA announcements, occasional alarms etc.).
  • They can add to traffic congestion (morning and afternoon pick-up times, Saturday sports times).
  • They tend to grow (building new facilities to serve their community – trucks, temporary fences, trades vehicles etc).

The fact is that when St Columba was founded it was in a horse paddock, with few houses near the campus.

St Columba History:” An Interim School Council was formed in 1999 and construction of Stage 1 buildings commenced in September 2001. The opening of St Columba Anglican School in 2002 marked the return of Anglican education to the Port Macquarie-Hastings region after a break of more than 150 years.”

The School campus  is now surrounded by housing estates, adjoins a highly successful university (Charles Sturt University, Port Macquarie), is a part of the Port Macquarie Health and Education Precinct and our students regularly score results that compare favourably with the very best schools in the state.

Sometimes our neighbours do not appreciate that living near a successful school comes with both positives and negatives. While we make an effort to be a good neighbour to those who live around us, please remember that for most households around us, the school was here first.

“Many independent schools were established at a time when a future need for additional buildings, swimming pools and labs wasn’t even envisaged, and in suburbs that have become quite prosperous. These schools now tend to be surrounded by people with a bit of money (who are professionally successful, smart, motivated and used to getting their own way – especially if they perceive their interests are under threat. (These same people tend to ignore the fact that the school was built long before they built or purchased their house!)” School development proposals and the court of public opinion.

“NIMBY, an acronym for “Not In My Backyard,” describes the phenomenon in which residents of a neighbourhood designate a new development or change in occupancy of an existing development as inappropriate or unwanted for their local area.”

We know the traffic congestion irritates (we can’t leave the campus after school either) and like all newly developed areas, we know any building noise, dust etc. can be a (temporary) issue.

We, at St Columba, hope that our contribution to the growth and maturing of our local community counterbalances any inconvenience our neighbours might find living near us.

After all, we only exist because our families believe in the benefits of a school that truly does offer its students “A World of Opportunities.”

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at principal@scas.nsw.edu.au

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