From the Principal

The Problem with Success

If you left Port Macquarie and took your children to a high performing school in the city or a regional area of New South Wales, the chances are that the Principal, Deputy Principal or a member of the senior staff at that school will have spent time working at St Columba.

A few years ago, I wrote that one of the problems with St Columba being successful was that we had to create waiting lists and could not, automatically, allow all students who wanted to attend our school to enrol immediately.

What I was not so aware of at the time, is that being successful also means that our staff become “targets” when other schools are recruiting, particularly when they are  looking for high potential educational and pastoral leaders.

Success has become a double-edged sword for our school, as we see some of our best and brightest leave our classrooms to become leaders in other schools.

I was once told by an esteemed and very experienced “headmaster” that you can judge the quality of a school, not just from its size or academic successes, but from the number of principals and school leaders it produces.

At the time, I did not realise that this would be the future that St Columba would so quickly achieve.

 It is becoming more common for our staff to take the next step up the promotion ladder, using their time and experiences at St Columba as part of their successful applications.

“Good leaders have vision and inspire others to help them turn vision into reality. Great leaders create more leaders, not followers. Great leaders have vision, share vision, and inspire others to create their own.” The Light in the Heart.

There is no doubt that the structures we have created in our School and the positive approach to high quality staff development have encouraged this phenomenon. So, we are effectively the creators of our problem of staff transition, as well as being the beneficiaries of having had the benefit of such high potential professionals working at our school.

While the good/bad news about our success can be the loss of staff to leadership in other schools, the really good news is that our reputation continues to attract exceptional staff to replace those who have moved “up the ladder”.

As the 2023 school year opens, St Columba is one of the fortunate schools across the country who not only have a full staff, but have been able to attract the top quality professionals needed to replace those who have moved on to leadership positions as we continue our journey towards educational excellence.

“More than 3000 vacant teaching positions are available across NSW, as the state grapples with a teacher shortage….Schools in the bush were the worst affected, taking up more than half of the total unfilled roles, internal documents from the NSW Department of Education show. The Permanent Teacher Vacancy Dashboard shows that as of November last year, there were 3311 vacancies. A total of 1819 teachers were needed in the regions, and nearly 1500 teachers were needed in metropolitan areas.”

 In a time when very few schools can attract the staff needed to fill their classrooms, having a full complement of great teachers to start the year is a true compliment!

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