New Chair from the ACT
Outdoor Education Australia is pleased to announce the appointment of Peter Kent, Principal of Birrigai Outdoor School, as the new Chair of OEA, following an 8-year leadership term by Peter McKenna of MOEC (Maroon Outdoor Education Centre, QLD).
Mr Kent has served on the OEA Management Committee for two years, representing ONSW & ACT. He has been the Principal of Birrigai since 2018, Canberra’s only Outdoor School. Birrigai delivers curriculum-aligned outdoor experiential learning programs for around 16,000 students per year, ranging from preschool groups (4 years old) through to Year 12.
Birrigai is a local Ngunnawal word that means ‘laughter’. “First Nations peoples have an incredibly sophisticated approach of knowing, understanding and caring for natural environment that is embedded within their culture,” said Peter.
“There is so much for us all to learn from First Nations people, and when we do It just makes us ‘more’, both as individuals and as a community. As the OEA Chair, I hope to continue the long-standing work of OEA to encourage all educators to engage with their local traditional custodians, listen to their stories, and take the time to incorporate this perspective within teaching and learning programs.”
Goals for OEA
Other goals that Peter has for his time in the chair is to ensure OEA remains a strong voice nationally for the Outdoor Education sector and continues to drive national and international conversations around research and best practice Outdoor Education.
He is also keen for Outdoor Education to be synonymous with education programs for children of all ages. “Often when the community thinks of Outdoor Education they think about senior secondary programs, generally with an adventure focus. While these programs are important and valuable, I hope that we can expand the community’s understanding of Outdoor Education to include nature play, bush kindies, and forest school programs as these formative programs are equally valuable and important,” he said. “The outdoor classroom can drive learning and positive wellbeing for students of all ages.”
Path to Chair
Peter loves connecting to Country and immersing himself within natural contexts. “It is hard to describe the feeling exactly, but I imagine it is a feeling shared by many when they get the chance to ‘go bush’. When I love something, I just want to share that with others, so they can experience it. So being involved in education in an outdoor context – it is just a natural fit for me.”
p style=”font-weight: 400;”>Mr Kent comes to the OEA chair with a wide range of experiences, being a school leader in both Primary and Secondary schools, teaching across a broad range of curriculum areas, and having worked in government policy roles and private industry.
“My path to the OEA Chair has taught me the value of different perspectives and ensuring that OEA continues to be an inclusive organisation,” he said.
Honouring Outgoing Chair
Mr Kent feels privileged to follow Peter McKenna who generously gave his time and expertise to ensure that he was set up for success as the incoming OEA chair. “In particular, I would like to thank him for the valuable contribution he has made to OEA,” said Peter. “For several years he provided strong leadership of the organisation, particularly through the very difficult COVID period, where he led with understanding and compassion.”