First published by The Hoopla, 15 February 2015

The Hoopla has an exclusive: this year’s commencement address from Tony Abbott, principal of Capital Hill High, Canberra.

“Welcome parents and students. Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of seats. Our school has a terrible deficit after the waste and chaos of its previous two principals, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.

We had to sell most of our school furniture to help pay for Sir Prince Philip’s message – which you’ll hear at the end of this speech. He’s given so much to this school, and I’m sure you’re looking forward to hearing him live from Buckingham Palace – that’s if the copper network holds up.

Now, to address some of school gate gossip that has been consuming a number of parents and the muck-racking editors of our school newsletter for the past few weeks. I know many of you thought our communications and IT teacher, Malcolm Turnbull, might have been standing on the stage here today.

But after our 9am staff meeting this morning, I want to assure you I have the full and complete support of every one of this school’s teachers. I’ve heard their concerns about wanting a more consultative leadership style and I’m taking them all on board.

Rumours that I’ve offered the deputy co-ordinator of cadets, Sean Edwards, a contract to build mini submarines through a competitive evaluation process are completely true. I’ll now call on our head of cadets, Kevin Andrews – who, as many of you know, also doubles as our linguistics teacher – to come to the stage to explain what a competitive evaluations process is.

[Kevin Andrews, Head of cadets]
I’m not going to get into all sorts of definitions and what’s a definition and what that is. You know, as Sean says, you never get a second chance to ask your uncle to your wedding. I’m blowing up balloons, something.
[Back to Principal Abbott]

Well now that’s clear, let’s move forward to look at the school year moving forward ahead. First, let me say this: Good education starts today.

The last couple of weeks have been difficult. But as you all know, it’s all because of the waste and chaos of the previous Rudd/Gillard years. And that’s why I have had to make some changes.

Our head teacher, Christopher Pyne, has introduced a wonderful new initiative: the deregulation ofPrincipal's_officeschool fees. From today all teachers will start charging for classes. Obviously the most popular and prestigious teachers will be able to charge the most. But I know you all want the best for your children. Those parents who can afford to pay will get a fantastic education for their children. And those that can’t – well, good luck.

After our productivity inquiry into school hours, we’ve also decided to eliminate teachers’ penalty rates.
We will now hold some classes on the weekend. The school will give students at least two hours’ notice of any weekend classes. And look, if you don’t want to come to school on a weekend, fair enough, don’t come to school on a weekend. But lots of students would love to come to school on the weekend.

There will be some changes to parent teacher interviews this year too, including a $20 charge for any consultation of less than six minutes. We’re also introducing charges for sick bay visits: as our school treasurer Joe Hockey has noted, the practice of parents holding back children from school means some are 19 and still here. Older children mean more complex health problems, and we have to budget for that. There’s no alternative: Rudd. Gillard. Waste. Chaos.

We’ve also pooled all teachers with similar skills together, with a particular focus on the media studies department. They will have to eliminate 25% of their staff. Some people have said these cuts don’t compare to the job losses of Holocaust proportions teachers here faced under Rudd/Gillard. Um, that was probably me. The history department has now informed me this is an inappropriate reference and I withdraw that remark because, um, that’s what my EA Peta Credlin said I should do.

Just a word on the state of the playground. Some people are concerned that rubbish is destroying the school environment. But I can’t see any rubbish, and there are plenty of science teachers who deny the existence of student-caused dirty playgrounds too. Electronic graffiti is another matter: all electronic devices will now be banned. The copper network can’t cope.

A final announcement: I’m abolishing the P&C and I’m pleased to inform you that all P&C decisions will, from now on, be made by my captain’s pick – our legal studies teacher, George Brandis. He’s replacing all school policies with just one policy (and it’s one I’m particularly fond of): Everyone has the right to be an idiot.
As I said: good education starts today.

Now it’s time for that address from Sir Prince Philip… Oh dear, the cross to Buck House doesn’t seem to be working. Where’s our IT man? Malcolm! Help me out here!
And the rest of you, don’t forget: Rudd…Gillard…Chaos!”

Follow Kath Kenny on twitter @kathkenny_
*Digital mischief: the dingo

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