Change was everywhere!
Educational philosophies and policies were changing. the administrative organisation was changing; and the location of the central educational authority changed from Treasury Place to Nauru House to the Rialto.
There were changes of names and titles - Education Department to Ministry of Education to Office of School Administration to the present Directorate of School Education - Director to Director-General to Chief Executive to Chief General Manager - District Inspectors to Senior Education Officers.
There was also a change of government in Victoria and this seemed to fan the winds of change further. One effect on Black Rock was having three different principals in 4 years, as well as an acting principal for part of the time.
Decentralisation continued and more authority devolved to regions and to the schools.
School Councils were restructured and their roles changed considerably as they became responsible for escalating budgets.
Each school community was encouraged to develop its own set of policies covering all school matters including the curriculum.
Corporal punishment was abolished and every school was expected to have its own Discipline Policy. After wide discussion with parents and staff Black Rock put into place behaviour modification guidelines based largely on the theory of Glasser.
The BRPS parents responded well to the challenges of these times. Indications of their interest and enthusiasm are that in 1984 there were 93 people present at the School Council A.G.M., and sixteen nominations were received for the election of seven parent representatives.
Another effect of all these changes was to place extra work and pressure on the office staff. Frances Sommervelle who had been employed part-time since 1973, resigned in 1981, and Lyn Urquhart was appointed as school secretary from 1982.
The hours paid for by the Department provided insufficient time to cope with all the additional tasks and expectations so School Council decided to levy parents an annual amount to pay for some of the extra time that was being worked.
Eventually the Department made the position a full-time Clerical Assistant as the work load increased still further and the responsibilities widened considerably.
The upgrade of administration and staffroom facilities in 1980, the arrival of the double-roomed relocatable and the hall extensions in 1982 meant that the building situation was quite adequate for a few years.
Enrolment figures were fairly stable with a gradual increase towards the end of the decade. External repairs and painting costing $34,556 were carried out under a Public Works Department contract in 1982.
Profits from the triennial fetes conducted by the School Council and Parents Association rose from $6,500 in 1977 to $11,000 at the Great Fete of 1980. In 1983 despite terrible weather on Fete Day the figure was $10,000.
Because of the increasing demands for more money to ensure the school operated effectively, fetes were held more frequently - first being changed to biennial and then to annual events.
Another on-going fund-raising activity was the collection of newspapers for recycling. Although this brought in large amounts of money over several years it also brought problems with collection and storage. After complaints from neighbors and a decrease in the rates paid by the recycling companies the project was finally abandoned.
Wine Bottling, Jazz Nights, Spellathons and Social Evenings were also conducted successfully, and both the Canteen and the Uniform Shop raised funds for the school as well as providing services.
Frances Seidel was Convenor of the Grounds Committee for some years and under her leadership many productive working bees were held. The bluestone barbecue was constructed and the surrounding area paved, the outside library annexe was built, and seating was installed near several of the buildings.
Phil Lovell was appointed Safety Officer and together with Frances, and the staff input, made sure the grounds, especially the playground structures, were not dangerous.
Bike-Ed, Safety House and Life Education were additional innovative programs that were introduced with parental support during this decade. Integration, the Maths Think Tank, and the introduction of computers, are other examples of the broadening of the curriculum that took place.
The school was most fortunate to have Helen Richards on the staff at this time as her knowledge of computers and their use in education was invaluable in in-servicing and supporting other teachers, and developing a school computer policy. As well as all this she provided continual guidance and encouragement for the children using the computers in the classrooms.
The input of parents which has always been such an outstanding feature at Black Rock was the inspiration for introducing a Language Other Than English (LOTE).
In 1987 following requests from several parents the School Council under Jim Lang's leadership approved a survey to ascertain the breadth of support for such a proposal.
Three-quarters of the parents took the time and effort to complete the survey, and of those returned 82% were in favor of introducing a second language to our school.
However, the choice of the language to be taught was not so clear cut. Six different languages had support ranging from 11% to 29%, so a meeting was called to resolve the situation. The proponents of Japanese were most persuasive and succeeded in achieving almost unanimous support.
Our application was approved by the Ministry but obtaining staff qualified to teach Japanese has been a problem so it is most pleasing to see Ann Eagles from the current staff, now conducting the program.
One unexpected benefit of this program was a visit to Japan in 1989 by a group of BRPS students.