Bell tolls on Norfolk ties with the Department

It will be beautiful one day, perfect the next as Norfolk Island Central School staff ensure a smooth transition for students to Education Queensland.

A group of swimmers standing on the beach looking out to sea
Image: Norfolk Island Central School holds its swimming carnival in a bay steeped in history and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

When the final bell rings at Norfolk Island Central School this afternoon, the school year will not only end for students, but so will the school’s ties with New South Wales.

From January 1, the K-12 school, located 1673 kilometres north-east of Sydney in the South Pacific Ocean, will join Education Queensland, ending a more than 100-year association with the NSW Department of Education.

Established in 1906 under an agreement between the NSW Department of Education and the Norfolk Island Administration, Norfolk Island Central School will continue to use the NSW curriculum for the next two years as part of the transition agreement.

Acting principal Russell Moore said this was to ensure senior students could complete their high school studies without disruption and meant the current Year 10 students would be the last cohort of NSW HSC students in 2023.

Mr Moore said while staff were excited about the next chapter for the school, there was also some sadness over the change.

He said senior students had initially been concerned about the change to being Queenslanders because of the impact it would have on their credentials.

However, the agreement with the NSW Education Standards Authority meant they could still complete their HSC.

“The main message I am promoting is that our kids shouldn’t notice the difference and we will maintain as much stability as possible,” he said.

Mr Moore, who will continue as acting principal next year, said some of the staff who were moving across to the Queensland system had worked at the school for more than 40 years and were sad to be ending their ties with the NSW department.

He paid tribute to Queensland Education staff who had been supporting the school through the transition and would be helping staff come to grips with the new systems and processes.

Mr Moore, who has two children at the school, said Norfolk Island Central held a special place in the community.

“The school is the hub of the community and everyone is connected in some way,” Mr Moore said.

“When we hold a community event the whole community does come out and support us.”

Among the unique aspects of school life at Norfolk Island is its annual cross country through the World Heritage prison site and the annual swimming carnival that takes place in Emily Bay.

Students are ferried by rubber duckie to a pontoon in the bay for the start of their races and swim back to shore.

The school also plays a key role in maintaining the culture and history of the community, which is home to the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Polynesian partners.

“We have a rich history and we have many families who only speak the Norfolk language at home,” he said.

Students running in a field past a large stone historic building
Image: Run away: Students at Norfolk Island Central School compete in their annual cross country.
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