Friday August 17 was a special day for Clarke Road School principal, Diane Robertson.
At the inaugural Australian Education Awards in Sydney, Robertson was recognised as the Australian School Principal of the Year as well as the School Principal of the Year in the government school category.
She took out the overall title for her unmatched ability in the effective leadership and motivation of staff at Clarke Road School, her commitment to professional development and her unrivalled expertise in engaging with parents and the wider school community.
“Our school has a very clear vision of what we need to do, and we have continually kept the focus on our students, foremost and central, in all of the decisions that we make,” Robertson told The Educator.
Robertson said her school has also focused on building strong teams and the capacity of those teams to drive the school’s planning forward.
She said receiving the award had come as a “total shock”.
“We’re just a school in Hornsby that does our daily grind, day in and day out. It means the world to us to have that recognition,” Robertson said.
Empowering complex learners
Robertson pointed to the positive impact of her school's Success for Complex Learners program aims to empower and extend complex learners through the collective power of educators, parents, families and community members.
“We work with very complex learners who require a deep understanding of the way they operate and the way their brain operates,” Robertson said.
The project sees effective teams work together using empirical research to facilitate positive changes in practice for complex learners.
Robertson said teacher resilience and positive psychology approaches ensure educators are better equipped to support complex learners and their families.
“This project has looked at how to engage those kids in meaningful learning programs with a deep understanding of individualised need,” she said.
‘Principals need to be visible’
For Robertson, being a good principal means forging connections with students.
“Leaders need to know their students,” Robertson said.
“They need to know, value and care for every single student that is in their school, and that starts with principals being visible within their school environment.”
Robertson said this allows school leaders to “lead the way, get to know their staff and understand what is happening in their school.”