Simplicity key to new principal's education philosophy

Simplicity key to new principal

On 25 January, Peter Allen was welcomed as Guildford Grammar School’s new principal – the 14th in its 127-year history.

Allen, who was previously Vice Principal of All Saints College in Perth, now prepares to lead more than 1,100 students, 300 staff and 120 boarders as Term 1 gets underway.

The school’s previous principal, Anne Dunstan, who resigned last year citing 'personal challenges' from changes wrought by COVID-19, sought to establish Guildford Grammar as a “lighthouse school” whose “beacon leads the dialogue around education”.

Indeed, Allen’s extensive experience in education will keep this beacon shining bright.

In addition to leading several important strategic and cultural initiatives at All Saints College, Allen has been the Director of Teaching and Learning at Scotch College in Perth and the Dean of Teaching and Learning at Penrhos College. He has also previously taught at schools in Dubai and London for a period of eight years.

Allen’s diverse experience in schools – ranging from co-educational and single sex, day and boarding, independent, state and international settings – sees him well equipped to manage the kind of complex challenges that the school (and indeed all others across Australia) is likely to experience over the coming years.

In a June 2021 interview with The Educator, Allen highlighted need for schools to more work in developing the broad set of capabilities that will enable young people to thrive in the VUCA [volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous] world.

“There is also a need for stronger connections between young people’s experience in senior secondary schooling and the world of work and further study, providing multiple flexible pathways,” he said.

“Further, our young people need to be equipped with a new set of enterprise skills that will see them be active creators of new value that can impact their world and the worlds of their communities.”

‘Our values guide us’

“As far as a leadership philosophy and style, I believe in keeping it uncomplicated. My message to staff and students as we commence this year, is to leave our community better than you have found it,” Allen told The Educator in an interview upon being welcomed as Guildford Grammar School’s new principal.

“I have taken my experience from previous workplaces, where values are held above all else when leading others. Our values guide us when we are unsure of what to do.”

As for what his leadership will mean for students and staff in what is likely to be a complicated year, Allen said he’s looking to make teaching and learning at the school more inclusive.

“I believe that the collective desire to allow students to be visible and valued for who they are in their community, will see our standards continue to rise across all areas of our school,” he said.

“We will empower students to pursue a pathway as unique as they are, celebrating who they choose to be and how they define personal success, both now and into the future as an Old Guildfordian.”