Most of us wonder how our children will go when they leave the nurturing environment of home and head to school for the very first time. Most of us feel a version of this every time our kids begin a new school year, every time we move to a new place and they have to change schools, every time they experience a big transition like from Prep to 'big school,' from Year 6 to Year 7, from junior Secondary to the senior phase of learning.

At school, our child is just one of 25 in their classroom amongst multiple streams and year levels, one of many in the playground, virtually indistinguishable in their uniforms and bucket hats. Nobody knows our kids as well as we do. Nobody could hope to love them as much.

Whenever our kids enter a new, unfamiliar environment and are one of many, we feel at least a twinge of... What is that feeling? Fear, perhaps? Even if we don't let on.

The perfect school

If parents could design the perfect school for their child, it would more than likely be just big enough to allow kids good choice when it comes to friendships and learning opportunities, and just small enough so that they will be individually known and understood. A bit like Brisbane Adventist College.

But what does a school like BAC offer children that a bigger (or smaller) school cannot?

Our teachers and students experience stronger relationships

The relationship between a teacher and a child is one of the most powerful things about schools like BAC. Your child is known from year to year and teachers develop programs and learning strategies around the age group and individual needs of students who enter the classroom each year. It feels like a country school because students are part of a tight-knit community and, as such, are known on more than one level, in more than one way. Their academic and social wellbeing is nurtured by classroom teachers who follow their development with interest, and their emotional and spiritual wellbeing is nurtured by a pastoral care team who knows them from their very earliest interaction to when they’re young men and women ready to step out into the world. With each passing year and each meaningful formal or informal encounter, relationships deepen and this contributes to confidence and security.

Want to see strong relationships? Observe our teachers as they watch their former students step gowned and tuxedoed from limousines at the Year 12 formal, listen in on playground conversations as teachers ask about a student’s brother or sister, watch how a smaller school like BAC draws people back like they’re coming home.

Mrs Morgan with Year 12 graduates she taught in Year 6
Mrs Morgan with Year 12 graduates she taught in Year 6
Our students benefit from greater flexibility in learning

With smaller student numbers, schools like BAC can avoid the logistical nightmare of larger schools. Excursions and incursions can be more creative, more hands-on, and result in a greater learning impact. Like the time when Mr Martin brought his interactive beehive over for a Year 2 incursion and IT manager, Mr Matthews, used his drone to show Year 1 a close up from the sky of Mount Gravatt for a unit of study, or when Bunnings' Projects Manager came to train Year 4 students about how to build insect motels and keep their garden veggies healthy.

Our teachers are more likely to collaborate in learning

Medium-sized schools like BAC also offer greater opportunities for collaborative learning, like when our 'twinning' Year 4 teachers Mrs Mead and Ms Ugljesa (featured in a Courier Mail news story) work together on learning programs that challenge and support students in both classrooms, thus improving learning outcomes. Schools with good resources and fewer student numbers nurture student development in ways that larger schools cannot. They respond more nimbly when students have gaps in their learning or learning disabilities.

Mrs Mead and Ms Ugljesa know how to make learning in Year 4 unforgettable
Mrs Mead and Ms Ugljesa know how to make learning in Year 4 unforgettable
We see individuals as unique and in possession of God-given talents

Medium-sized schools like BAC have tight, interwoven communities, resulting in a high degree of coherency and approachability. Teachers and staff members are chosen for the multidimensionality in their expertise, and student involvement is more highly valued and significant. In a large school, students with developed skills will always be chosen for leadership, sporting, and extracurricular roles and positions. Smaller schools offer more opportunities for personal development across a diversity of situations because the same needs exist with fewer students.

We foster active crew, not passive spectators

Most of all, teachers at smaller schools model critical and engaged citizenship because they perform a variety of roles within the school. As a result, small and medium-sized schools embrace a crew mentality rather than a spectator mentality, which students in larger schools can tend to fall into. You can see this in the high percentage of graduates preferring to spend their week in Mungindi with STORMCo rather than at Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast with other school leavers.

Year 12 graduates on a StormCO service trip
Year 12 graduates on a StormCO service trip

Schools are about education, true, but we're also about fostering character and giving children opportunities for self-development, so they can become secure, happy citizens.

This happens when children feel known and when they can see that they occupy an important place within their community. This enables them to more readily internalise the intentional values we teach at home and school, take chances with their learning, and more develop a growth mindset that will serve them well in life. It enables them to recover more quickly from the hiccups of childhood and adolescence and take greater ownership over their personal impact on others. Schools like BAC foster a culture of personal strength with kindness.

In a society where we sometimes feel disconnected and isolated, we're grateful for BAC where we witness on a daily basis high standards of student behaviour and enjoy close links with parents, church, and our South Brisbane community.