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HAHS Alumni Forums / Selling the (Hurlstone) Farm / So WHY is Hurlstone's Farm so Important?
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# Posted: 21 Nov 2008 00:06

Here is my view on why Hurlstone's farm should NEVER be sold . . . It appears there are many who share the same view.

The following was posted on the Daily Telegraph Blogs site (Maralyn Parker's) a couple of days ago.

This is my attempt to nail the principal reason why selling off the farm will greatly diminish the effectiveness of Hurlstone.
Should the Great Hurlstone Land-Grab go ahead?
I attended Hurlstone as a boarder in the 1960’s (and my father also attended as a boarder many years beforehand). Much has changed.
Some of the arguments for and against selling most of the land associated with HAHS have varying degrees of merit.
But one very significant issue emerges which I feel is the heart of the matter.
Hurlstone has offered (- and still offers to a lesser extent) a form of education which is only available from a couple of schools anywhere in the state.
But I do NOT merely mean an ‘agriculturally-oriented’ education!
A serious problem arose when the focus and reason for Hurlstone changed radically, from one of training the nation’s farmers and others in associated fields, to one of merely providing a selective school education to anyone, despite their goals and aspirations or their background.
Hurlstone was a place where, to basic education, were added the additional dimensions of practical experience and QUALITY of education.
These are very important adjuncts for those who aspire to become successful in the fields of farming and agricultural/vet/scientific research (or associated fields).
Quantifying the benefits of quality and depth that this sort of educational facility can add to a student’s education is difficult, and also difficult to comprehend for those who have not attended the school.
Not only has the school always spawned more than it’s share of high achievers (- even in diverse areas like debating, sports, etc) but what amounted to the quite remarkable development of character amongst it’s students was something I have pondered over many years since leaving there.
Many aspects of the school melded to produce the right environment for achievement and preparation for life. One example . . .
‘Squads’ of students operated the FULLY FUNCTIONAL dairy, chook farm, piggery, vegetable gardens, and even lit and stoked the boilers to provide the (usually luke-warm) water for morning showers. The Dairy squad started around 4:30am mustering the milking herd from a far-away paddock. A cruel task in winter at Glenfield….
I don’t know if the work squads are still in place at HAHS today, but I know just how character-developing it was to be trapsing around in the freezing cold of a winter morning as a member of one of those squads.
All this happened in an environment that was very conducive to producing good results. The approach was intentionally holistic, all things working towards the ‘rounded’ student.
A very integral part of success was the tradition associated with the school.
To ‘disassemble’ this facility by stripping away most of the land will do enormous damage and reduce the functionality of the school to that of just any ordinary school.
Using the excuse that the land around about the school is a) not used and b) not making a profit is ludicrous! That puts paid to resurrecting and continuously expanding the school for future generations of Australians.
With all it’s tenable land stripped away the school can NEVER be the ideal place of learning it was in the past.
A great school has precisely what Hurlstone has – but unfortunately the focus on why the school exists and the understanding of HOW it should be used to best effect is lost in the bureaucratic mess that is the current State Government.
Keep the land – it is irreplaceable.
As Maralyn Parker has said, 30billion has been given to private schools. The relatively tiny amount to be raised by the sale of Hurlstone’s land is inconsequential!
There are a lot of other viable ideas that could be considered, such as expanding Hurlstone by building a sister school on part of the land. The population in the area is set to increase very rapidly.
Review what Hurlstone can and should be used for – to do what was intended at its inception.
Preserve the tradition, review the purpose of the school, and instead of leaving it as ‘just another’ selective school and a vestige of what it was, work to re-instate it as the premier educational facility for the world’s ‘best practise’ farmers and agricultural academics.
Do things like re-instate Agriculture as a requisite subject in years 11 & 12.
How desperately Australia needs modern, viable and savvy farmers who can battle the emerging tidal wave of problems which increasingly face people on the land!
Hurlstone can give Australia an edge because it is one of the great educational institutions in the midst of a plague of mediocrity and under-achievement.
But to remain great it should be – not only left totally intact – but refurbished to achieve what it was intended to achieve, and has done for a hundred years without equal.
Left intact - or ideally, expanded - it can continue to achieve outstanding results as one of the very few schools bucking the trend of deadly mediocrity that typifies the current education system in NSW.
End of quote

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# Posted: 1 Dec 2008 21:42

From Alumni Ashe Taylor:

I would just like to point out to you an example you may use - where students, like myself, from low socioeconomic backgrounds, can win a place at public Hurlstone and with all it's land and 'broad' primary type enterprises, be inspired via 'living in the Hurlstone space' to further seek environmental and agricultural harmony in a world of current restrictive trends.

I had not much direction entering hurlstone and the shear scale of Hurlstone's agriculture opened my eyes to the rural industry and it's systems - even if the enterprises were not entirely exposed within the agricultural curriculum as such.

Just knowing the farm was there was enough to feel part of something 'bigger'.

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