From the Principal

“We’ve always done it that way” is the best way to achieve mediocrity

No parent deliberately chooses a mediocre school for their child.

They look for the best fit for their child.

They look for safety.

They look for the school’s capacity to know their child and help them be the best they can be.

No one at an enrolment interview has ever said they chose St Columba because it offered mediocrity.

We aim to be outstanding because our students deserve the best.

“When you tolerate mediocrity, you get more of it.”

One of the best ways for a school to be mediocre is to do the same thing over and over again, while the world around them changes.

Schools, like other companies, risk irrelevance and even total failure if they arrogantly believe that they do not need to change to meet their community’s needs.

The death of what seemed great and dominant companies who chose not to embrace ongoing improvement and innovation should be a lesson that schools take to heart. Their fate is usually sealed when they:

  • attribute their success to their own superior qualities and see no need to ever change;
  • convince themselves, in the face of change and decline, that their decreasing popularity is caused by external causes – someone else is always to blame;
  • finally realise things are going badly wrong, they gamble on a “silver bullet” response instead of returning to the fundamentals that made them great.

And so they diminish or even disappear. Their  problem is not an inability to take action but an inability to take appropriate action.

While we are talking about change here, let me move the conversation from change to improvement. I do this because not all change is good.

Change for the sake of change is usually expensive, disruptive and, at best, yields short term results. Improvement is doing better in those areas where we have control to ensure that we offer our families a relevant, engaging and future-focussed education.

Faced with a rapidly evolving set of circumstances, schools like ours must determine what is truly important in terms of our culture and traditions that must be kept, and what has become outmoded and dysfunctional and stands in the way of providing a real, engaging and relevant education to our students.

So, we focus on improving our structures, our practices and our modes of teaching to ensure  that our students are not left behind. We are willing to learn from the best in the world how to offer the best in education because being a good school is never going to be enough for St Columba.

But there are some things we will not change.

At St Columba we value effort, honesty, service, teamwork, positive aspiration and the Gospel values that underpinned our creation. They are a part of being involved in this community. These are going nowhere! They will remain the lodestones that will guide our way forward.

The name, Lodestone, comes from Middle English for “leading stone.” It’s said to be a great talisman for direction and can help you get back on track if you’re feeling lost.

These values are good for our students, good for our community and highly valued in the workplace – that has not changed! What we have to do is ensure that these remain part of any evolution of our School.

What we also have to do is ensure that our efforts (and we know our staff work incredibly hard) focus on providing the kind of education that recognises that our world continues to change and an education that opens doors to a great future for our students.

So, what can you expect from St Columba in the future?

What we will not do:

  • We will not rest on our laurels and assume that we can not do better;
  •  We will not allow a rigid devotion to the status quo to limit our vision and practice;
  • We will not put the students’ and the school’s future at risk by failing to plan to be better than we currently are;
  • We will not remain blind to any failures that come from doing things “the way we have always done them”;
  • We will not let pushbacks from those who call our aspiration pride or hubris limit our options.

“The challenge is to always improve, even when you are the best..especially when you are the best. When you are on top is the time you change your game. And don’t believe in magic, believe in hard work because opportunity looks a lot like hard work.”

What we will do:

  • We will offer an outstanding all-round education that meets the current and future needs of our students.
  • We will always challenge what we do to see if it truly delivers our vision and then act on the answer.
  • We will set a standard in regional education that others will flatter by copying.

St Columba acknowledges the following “truths”

Mediocrity kills → No organisation will avoid downturns without effort and action → Improvement is mandatory, no matter what the circumstances. → Passion is the spark that fires excellence → Excellence is often created by humble changes made consistently.

 One way or another, we have a choice:  Be excellent or fade into mediocrity.

We choose excellence.

Terry Muldoon
Principal

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at principal@scas.nsw.edu.au

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