Craig Petersen is principal of Bathurst’s Denison College of Secondary Education, and has just been appointed to the newly-established Board of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).
“I am really looking forward to providing a strong voice for educators, with a particular focus on how we can best support schools and systems to deliver highly engaging and effective curriculum,” he told The Educator.
“There is a significant need to review curriculum delivery and assessment practices to make sure that we are meeting the goals for education in Australia as articulated in the Melbourne Declaration.”
Petersen told The Educator about the need for a stronger focus on building students’ capabilities through effective curriculum delivery.
“The delivery of subject content should be the vehicle through which teachers build the capacity of students, not be the end in itself. Whilst many schools are doing wonderful things with innovative curriculum, there is still a degree of reluctance in some areas to move from content delivery to capability development.
“We need to be teaching children the right things in the right way.”
Petersen said he expects one of the biggest challenges for the education sector this year to be maintaining focus on student improvement.
“Often the sheer volume of compliance and accountability can be a significant distraction that shifts the focus of our work from what really matters, in terms of driving improved outcomes for students, to accountability and systems compliance,” he said.
“Whilst we, as school leaders, must be accountable and need to make sure that we are compliant with policy, we must, first and foremost, have a relentless focus on continual improvement and providing effective learning for students and staff. Getting the balance, and priorities, right is critical if we are to develop a more effective model of educational delivery.”
Petersen also said that a focus must remain on adopting an effective needs-based funding system across Australia, consistent with the recommendations of the Gonski funding review.
“This is critical if we are to reduce the impact of disadvantage on our children and ensure that young people have the opportunity to reach their potential, regardless of their family background and personal circumstance,” he said.
On the professional development front, he said he is looking forward to the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council Annual Conference to be held in Sydney in June.
“This year’s theme is STEAM and will provide an appropriate focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. The three-day program is packed with exciting and relevant workshops and high quality presenters,” Petersen said.
He also raised the work of Dr Simon Breakspear.
“We have just completed the first workshop in his High Impact Leaders of Learning program,” he said.
“[These were] two fantastic days focusing on processes to identify and implement strategies that are likely to have a high impact on driving student improvement. We will be following this up with a second workshop in May.”
Petersen emphasised the invaluable support that network collaborations and professional associations provide and said that their importance should not be underestimated.
“The worst thing that educators and school leaders can do is to become professionally isolated. This is a particular danger in the increasingly frenetic world of education. Connections with like-minded professionals are essential in continuing to develop our skills and understandings.
“If you do nothing else, join your local professional association.”