What does it take to lead a school in a lower socio-economic area? According to two award-winning principals, it’s a firm belief that all students can succeed no matter where they come from. A sense of humour helps too.
Charlie Klein from Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School in the Goldfields and Craig Skinner from Calista Primary School in Perth’s southern suburbs were named Commonwealth Bank Teaching Award winners on Friday.
Speaking about what drove him as a school leader, Mr Skinner said he believed the greatest gift he could give a child was the ability to read and write well, and understand numbers.
“I’ve mostly worked in schools that are in lower socio-economic areas and I think that’s where education can have the greatest impact,” he said.
“My vision is that all students have a right to be literate and numerate. A postcode should not determine a student’s achievement.
“I’ve worked with my staff to remove the clutter and time-wasting elements of our timetable so the entire school can focus on what’s important for our students.”
At Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School, Mr Klein continues to learn about, and appreciate, the local Pila Nguru or ‘Spinifex’ culture.
“As the school’s leader it’s important for me to build strong and positive relationships with students and their families, by demonstrating respect and care for them,” he said.
“I encourage students to do their best and work hard – not just for them but for the whole community.”
Mr Klein said explicit teaching – where teachers give students a clear lesson goal, show them what they need to know and then help them practise – helped to get the best from students.
“This way of teaching means lessons can be easily tailored to students’ different abilities and needs,” he said.
Just 12 award winners were chosen from across the country, with each receiving $30,000 to spend on a project to enhance their students’ education, $10,000 to spend on professional development and a trip to Singapore to study a high performing school.
Rodney Mackintosh from Malibu School in Perth’s southern suburbs was also recognised as a highly commended finalist.