PRINCIPAL ANDREW BARNES

Eagleby South State School

Andrew Barnes has been a school Principal since 2008. Prior to that he worked as a Head of Special Education Services. He also worked with Autism Qld as a group teacher, and then training presenter, for around ten years following his return to Australia after teaching in London. He has a strong interest in engaging educators and the community in a shared valuing of all that quality education offers young people in their emergence as individuals and members of society. The importance of genuine opportunities/spaces for play has been a recent but very significant priority in Andrew’s own professional journey.

Keynote Speaker: "Our Wonderful Mess – A from-the-ground-up reflection on the value of play"

(Let’s get real about well-being and thriving)
A brief overview of the establishment of Loose Parts at ESSS – Acknowledgement and thanks to Hyahno, and Steve at BESS for leading the way.

A pictorial tour of the space.
Why real play is so important for school-aged children. Observed benefits in resilience, emotional regulation, communication, social success, problem-solving, creativity and divergent thinking (see also school attendance, behaviour). The amazing popularity of Loose Parts at ESSS, and the children’s rich engagement in extended play are only the beginning of the story. Observation of what actually occurs during play has profound implications for education and the community that need to be shared.

We have a way to go in convincing some educators and community leaders that real play is important. Neat, tidy, narrow and limiting versions of education and thriving are not succeeding in meeting children’s needs.
• The Starboard Marker Buoy – A story of friendship and healing.
• Joseph’s Rope Swing – A place for children to be.
• Dreams and Splinters – Social/Emotional development in a natural context

The Mess itself is important in signalling freedom to create and experiment. The need for this sort of environment is something that older people often innately understand; “This is what kids used to be able to do.” The provision of such a space, by adults, is also respected and appreciated by children. We can see children who have perhaps experienced trauma, including some who have exhibited rage and destructive behaviours become creators, builders, collaborators.

The Mess has just begun at Eagleby South and we have no intention to tidy it up any time soon.



PRINCIPAL ANDREW BARNES