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Posted by SASTA

on 04/05/2021

04 May 1951: Initial meeting declaring the establishment of a South Australian Science Teachers Association

"A faded letter can be found within archival material in the State Library provided by SASTA’s first female President, Thelma Pike. The letter, addressed to one Roy Stanhope, begins, ‘Cast your bread upon the waters. The enclosed notice is to show you that your (Stanhope’s) efforts to get a Science Masters Association underway in this state made several years ago have not been in vain ….. an Association, a very modest one though, has been formed here.’

The author of the letter was Stan Edmonds, the founding President of SASTA. It is dated the 16th of June 1951. The ‘enclosed notice’ referred to in the letter was the record of a meeting of some of the science teachers of the day to consider the formation of a professional association for the support of science teachers.

Thus it was that, on the 4th of May 1951, at Adelaide High School, the South Australian Science Teachers Association, SASTA, was born."

Excerpt from the SASTA History Book, SASTA: The First 60 Years.

At this meeting, it was agreed that a Science Masters Association be formed, however by Sept-Oct that year the word 'Teachers' replaced 'Masters'. There was much confusion around the name of the association for the first 15 or so years with references to The South Australian Association of Science Teachers, South Australian Science Teachers Association and Science Teachers Association of South Australia. The name was finally settled as the South Australian Science Teachers Association when the constitution was revised in November 1967 enabling SASTA's registration as an incorporated body.

Below are some reflections from Past Presidents on their time working with SASTA. 

Jane Wright, President 1993 to 1996 and 2020 to 2021

During my time as President, the National Professional Development Program (1994 – 1996) – NPDP – was the single biggest injection of funding into teacher professional development we had seen or would see for years to come. The news of a $60 million budget for discipline renewal and updating teaching methods to successfully implement the latest curriculum initiative, generated much discussion and excitement.

In the planning phase in 1993, the SASTA Committee went out on a limb, and unlike other professional associations who sought $10,000, we asked for $100,000 for the first year and got it! Our total grant of $280,000 over the three years, meant that for the first time teachers were able to be paid to deliver professional learning to their colleagues. The grant enabled us to increase our half-time Executive Officer, Lindsay Matthews, to full time so that he could manage the program and my volunteer role, as Chair of the PD Committee was to plan and coordinate the delivery of the workshops.

The goal of the project was to enable teachers of Science to become familiar with the National Science Statement and Profile and to use them to develop exciting and relevant teaching programs. The responses to the SASTA workshop series, designed and delivered by practicing classroom teachers was overwhelmingly positive.

In the three years of the program, SASTA delivered PL to over 1,000 SA teachers of science. These were not one-off events, as each was a series of 12 hours of professional learning. Our metropolitan formula was a series of 4 X 3 hour workshops, held after school at two weekly intervals, while in country centres we delivered 2 X 6 hour sessions at the weekend. In both cases, teachers were expected to put their new knowledge and understanding into practice by trialling activities between sessions and critiquing their work by reporting back to other participants at the next session.

Our wide range of workshops in country locations was a testament to SASTA’s strong commitment to teachers throughout regional SA. We delivered PL on all four content strands from Pt Lincoln to Glossop, Mt Gambier to Pt Pirie and Berri to Whyalla. In addition to workshops specific for the four content strands, 1995 marked the delivery of Assessment and Recording workshops, in both metropolitan and country locations, while in the following year, our 2-day Gender of Science Conference examined inclusive strategies to increase the participation of girls in science subjects.

All evaluations of the NPDP were glowingly positive and the program was able to demonstrate the vast amount of knowledge and expertise that resides in professional associations. Moreover, it was calculated that the volunteer effort by teachers throughout the NPDP contributed four times the dollar value of the grants. Unfortunately, while the newly elected federal Liberal Government initially showed a great deal of interest in a continuation of the program beyond 1996, ultimately this did not become a reality.

Bronwyn Mart, President 2007 - 2010

During the early to mid 2000’s the eastern precinct of Adelaide began to see noticeable changes in real estate demand notable through the construction of commercial properties. With a long-term lease on the premises that SASTA had occupied for many years in Flinders Street scheduled for renewal, this increase in demand was reflected within an ongoing rental agreement. The process of seeking alternative office accommodation began in earnest alongside of the need to realistically assess, sort, catalogue and dispose of accumulated hardware. A “slim lined” SASTA office sublet from a fellow teacher association ACHPER (The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation), occupying the first floor of their Port Road office.

Since the introduction of GST in 2000 additional layers of compliance within the not-for-profit sector had increased the complexity of financial and legal requirements. SASTA recognised the need for additional leadership in administration and for the first time appointed an Executive Officer from the business community. Greg Cole brought to SASTA a wealth of knowledge, experience and connections on successful operations within this sector.

Parallel to these significant changes to the administrative arm of SASTA our educational role continued to promote quality science teaching and learning to fulfil State curriculum requirements (including SACSA) while contributing advice on the emerging Australian Curriculum.

Keep an eye on the SASTA blog for more reflections from SASTA contributors to come!