Grievance Debate: Spring Head Lutheran School

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 15:13 ): Today, I would like to speak about the unfortunate closure of the Unity College at Spring Head at the end of this year and pay tribute to its extraordinary history over nearly 150 years. It was originally the Spring Head School and then the Spring Head Trinity Lutheran Primary School, the name by which most old scholars and most people in the community knew the Spring Head Lutheran School. 

This school in Mount Torrens is the second oldest Lutheran school in Australia, an extraordinary history. Unfortunately, it will close its doors at the end of this year—we hope not forever. Unfortunately, though, demographics, the state of the economy and the cost of running a school has, for the moment at least, meant the Spring Head Lutheran school will not be able to continue. However, I want to pay credit to everybody who has worked there, continues to work there for the rest of this year, the student body, the staff, the parents and the Lutheran Schools Association who have been providing support for this school over many years. 

The school was founded in 1856 with the head teacher, Mr Hammer, followed by Pastor Ey, and then the following year, from 1857 to 1866 Mr Ferdinand August Andrae, who established the tenor of the school for years to come. In fact, when I visited the school I noted they still had a photo of August Andrae and the school as it was at the time with all of the students. He was a very striking individual and one can imagine the austere times and the benefit that this early South Australian school leader gave to those students, and the strong foundations he built for the school. 

The school was closed in 1917 by an act of parliament, as it was a school where German was a language spoken. Of course, during the First World War the parliament closed a number of schools. However, happily the school reopened in 1931 under the leadership of Mr R.T. Schueller. I pay tribute to the most recent principals and head teachers, Mrs Tori Weiss, Mr R. Williams, Ms Rebecca Heinjus, Mr Andrew Boesch, and now currently the head teacher Julie Mariner who does a marvellous job, along with her staff, Dusk O'Brien, Steve Hahesy, Kathy Juers, Ros Schubert and Jennifer Stewart, a number of whom have been teaching at the school for decades. 

It is very important that it is noted in this parliament that these staff are doing an excellent job. It is a challenging time for them. They are looking for new positions as well but I am sure that they will find new positions and continue to be able to teach, whether in the Lutheran school system or in other schools around South Australia. Of course, many of them are local to the Mount Torrens area so that does make their job a bit harder. 

We also note that there are 33 current students who will be going forth into new schools next year. They face new challenges and their families face these challenges with them, and I pay tribute to those families. I am sure that they will do an excellent job. However, it is a challenge and we pay tribute to the work they are doing. I pay tribute also to the work of the school council, chaired by Mr Jeff Sander. 

The facility in this community is a significant asset. It is a beautiful school and is beautifully situated. We hope that this facility will be maintained for educational purposes and available for the community in the future to potentially even open a new school or, should I say, reopen the Spring Head Trinity Lutheran Primary School again in the future if more favourable times arise demographically. 

I also want to pay tribute to the old scholars. One old scholar who attended for all of her primary school tuition in the 1980s wrote to me stating, 'This news is incredibly sad for generations of old scholars in and around the Mount Torrens community.' It cannot be an easy thing to note that a school, which would be so fondly remembered and so favourably looked upon and which provided such a foundation for so many people to succeed in life, is closing. Unity College at Murraylands has stepped in over the last year to assist the school in trying to stay feasible, but it has not been able to continue past the end of this year—and we are sorry for that. 

We pay tribute in this parliament to the school's proud 147-year history. We pay tribute to everyone who has worked there, everyone who has nurtured young minds and helped them on the road to a strong future. I thank the members of the school community for their continued optimism and their continued encouragement of the students who they still have in their care for another two terms. I look forward to a strong future for them all and hopefully one day in this parliament, marking the reopening of the Spring Head Trinity Lutheran School.