When Gladstone South State School principal, Kurt Goodwin, took the helm at his school two years ago, he faced an uphill battle.
The school’s enrolment numbers, which had once been 1,000 students, had dropped to just 280, where it still stands today.
Now, the ambitious principal has set out on a mission to improve the community’s perception of his school and boost its enrolments.
Goodwin told The Educator that during his time as principal, he has implemented initiatives that have improved the school’s culture. This, he explained, has lifted student outcomes and put his school in line with “world benchmarked standards”.
“Since starting at South we have shifted a number of internal mental models about engagement and achievement. Changing culture within any school is very difficult, but we have done this by focusing on a number of areas we have direct control over,” Goodwin explained.
“These include teacher perceptions, student engagement, attendance and high expectations of academic performance and behaviour. In parallel – but not as a major focus – we are slowly developing on our external perceptions.
“As a school with over 125 years of history, our community perceptions and beliefs were well engrained. The culture we are striving to embed is one of theory-based pedagogy, world benchmarked standards and continually updating our abundant facilities.”
Goodwin said other principals who might be struggling with similar issues such as school image and low enrolments should focus primarily on student achievement, which he said is a natural precursor to higher enrolments.
“All schools have different contextual issues associated with student numbers. However I believe that schools which have an unrelenting focus on high achievement standout above others in their area,” Goodwin said.
“If you can grow this within your staff and students you will begin to have more areas of celebration to push out into the parent and wider community. Then enrolments will come.”
Goodwin said the role of principal when it comes to impacting on school image should not be underestimated.
“As a principal we set the tone for staff and students and this is then the image that parents and the wider community see.”