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FAR Out! brings it home

FAR Out! has a total of 39 trips under its belt. The most recent, to the Tenterfield region, was one that reminded us of all the reasons why this program is so valued – both by the schools we visit, and us as presenters.  

Landscape shot of countryside around Tenterfield

The students we met “on the road” were some of the most inspiring we had encountered in the state; their teachers supportive and enthusiastic, their parents and communities engaged and encouraging.

All schools we met gave us a “we love our job” thrill of pleasure, however our experience in Drake distilled what makes the FAR Out! experience one all the Learning Services team treasures. We found such reward not only in the gratitude expressed by teachers, parents, community members and students who participated, but also in being able to see just how far FAR Out! actually reaches.

When we arrived at Drake Public School, students and teachers alike were bubbling with enthusiasm as they emptied their “big” classroom of furniture so we, the artefacts, and our suitcase of intrigues could fit in alongside the whole school (31 students), their teachers and parents, and Mummulgum Public School – 10 students who were ferried the 40 minutes to Drake by parents and teachers keen to support and appreciative of what we were doing. The students ranged from Kindergarten to Year 6. Normally it would be a challenge to engage such a broad range of ages, however we found the teachers had prepared the students well, the bar had been set high, and the significance of our visit was reinforced by students’ families and their community leaders who enthusiastically took part. This session, like all four we delivered during our visit to the region, was a pleasure to facilitate.

The school from Mummulgum had travelled the extra distance to Drake (we held other sessions during the visit that were closer to their town) to participate in the program as the Principal was conscious that her students and teachers had not yet had the opportunity to connect with this neighbour. In addition to the students being able to see history “come to life” through the extraordinary artefacts, she saw our visit as a way of connecting her students and teachers to others in their area, building stronger community ties. This sense of the social role of FAR Out! was also palpable when we visited Tabulam Public School, who hosted Bonalbo Public School and Old Bonalbo Public School, the following day. The students from these different communities knew each other and the teachers from across all three schools. The strength of community in these areas is potent, and the schools supported and encouraged by their families, community and community leaders. Whilst many schools we visit on our trips are disadvantaged in terms of access to resources and “big city” experiences, we are often left feeling quite envious of the strength of community, and beautiful environment in which these students are so fortunate to grow up.