A history of Collaroy Plateau Public School

Video: A History of the Collaroy Plateau Public School

My film discussing the history of the Collaroy Plateau Public School is an attempt at creating a grassroots history for a grassroots organisation. The research I conducted portrayed the journey of a small, integrated community, and how this impacted the nature of the school and in turn how the school impacts the area. This led me to create a unique story of the school and community. Interesting facts and details had already been collected by the school staff for various anniversary celebrations. As a result I selected a variety of individual’s recounts of the school that I felt best represented the larger narrative of the school’s history. The in depth accounts of memories provides the audience with a relational and personal history that encapsulates the relational nature of the school community.

The project’s central argument is that a suburb’s development influences the type of schools that are formed, to some degree. This was achieved by a portrayal of the causation between Collaroy Plateau’s small, simple community and the formation of a small simple values rich community in the school environment. The project also stresses the importance of the teacher’s role in the development and wellbeing of the student’s throughout the time of the school. The bond between students, teachers and the wider community is reflected throughout the film.

For the introduction of the film, the main sources used were accessed in the school archives. The details about the naming, development and nature of the early Plateau where found in a page containing this information in the school’s collection. This information was assembled for the School’s 60th anniversary celebration and this provided an excellent source for the origins of the Plateau community.

The following section of the film on life for children growing up on the Plateau during the Baby Boomer era was formulated using the primary source written accounts of Sue Gamble and Jenny Vanderport. These sources were used because they support each other’s narrative of childhood fun in the bush and carefree lifestyle playing with friends.  The types of games that were noted in the video were derived from both these accounts.

The middle portion of the documentary contains details on the development of pupil numbers, school infrastructure expansion and technological changes. The figures and details contained within this section were derived from a collection of booklets found in the archives: Collaroy Plateau public school 60 years ago, Collaroy Plateau public school 40 years ago, Collaroy Plateau public school 30 years ago, Collaroy Plateau public school 20 years ago and Collaroy Plateau public school 10 years ago. These booklets were created by staff at Collaroy Plateau public school who made interview sheets for ex-students, parents and teachers to complete with details they recall about the school. These were created and collected for the school’s 60 year anniversary celebration. The sheets were filled out by various individuals and this provided me with the details for this part of the film. Throughout these sections I have included various photographs that were taken and preserved in the archives.

The following section details the story of successful alumni Rod Macqueen. The information in this section was derived from an article found in the archives and a newspaper article, which provided some engaging material. I have also used a short video found on YouTube that was originally created by Sky Sport NZ to display Macqueen’s success as the Wallabies coach.

The section that follows encapsulates the essence of the school’s history through personal interviews with former students and teachers. These oral histories provide a personal and rich illumination of the school’s past and endeavour to represent this as the larger narrative of the schools collective history. This section includes interviews with Terry Hill (conducted by Ms. Hall, Ms. Falvo and Ms. Albanese). This account was recorded in the archives.  Jill Forester also reflects on her memories of Mr. Dimmock during the late 1960’s and this was recorded in the archives .Finally Mrs. Lorelli, the longtime school music teacher participated in an oral history and this was recorded by myself.

This project carries the theme of community values. It delves into what creates these community values, how they develop and what role organisations such as schools have in conveying these values to the students. This is depicted through introductory discussion of the development of Collaroy Plateau and how residents came to live in the area. This reinforces how the small scale village cultivated an area of simple freedom and childlike fun in the surrounding bushland. This created a carefree cohesive environment that was further cultivated in the school setting. Furthermore the connection between individuals and the personal stories of the members of the plateau demonstrates how this is a personal and rich history that celebrates the members of the community.  This was achieved through the interviews with various individuals toward the second half of the film.

This film was created for adults to view, particularly ex-students, parents, and current and former staff members. It is to preserve the memory that former students had while at the school. These formative years of development are instrumental in a child’s outlook on life and the establishment of their foundational values. These memories need to be preserved and displayed with the personal warmth and connection that they experienced during their primary years.

The school had already completed the wonderful work of collecting and digitising their archives. Information such as key dates, facts and developments had been recorded for the celebration of the school’s 60 year anniversary. As a result I saw fit to present a more personal history, capturing and representing the stories of various individuals I viewed as adequately representing the general theme of the other historical archives. I aimed to maintain the scope of the wider history of the school and Plateau whilst presenting these personal accounts, to give the history a connected, personal vibrancy that reflects the nature of the organisation I was documenting. This will ideally complement the other historical work that has been completed by the school.  

This type of history from the ground up gives the project an authentic grassroots presence. However I believe the project could have been further enhanced by displaying the Aboriginal history of the land. I originally was aiming to include this in my project, however I was informed that the particular group that owned the land was now being disputed and so I was advised to wait until the correct Aboriginal nation was acknowledged before delving into this aspect of the history.  

The history is presented through the medium of film, as advised by the principal of the school. This was the desire of the school and I willingly accepted the challenge despite my lack of familiarity with this medium of production. Nevertheless I attempted this, and with the help of a friend who had a camera and iMovie editing software we completed the film. Though it isn’t perfect, the film and presentation adds to the simple, grassroots story of the area and as a result I believe actually complements the authentic, sometimes perfectly imperfect nature of school environments. This medium provided an easy and accessible way for the school and members of the public to access the work on YouTube. Various ‘tags’ have been attached to attracted traffic on YouTube to the project.

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