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Five Questions With . . . St Gerard’s School principal Julie Flannery

Mrs Flannery, who attended the school as a pupil, talks to The News about her new role of principal, which follows five years as the school’s deputy principal.

QWhat does your role involve?

To be a leader who guides and supports team members to become a collaborative and accountable team, working towards developing and achieving a shared purpose, which aligns with the direction of the school.

I see this role as one where I can develop an environment and culture where teachers are able to reflect on practice, think critically and strive to improve student learning.

QHow do you think the role has evolved over recent years, particularly now that there’s more demand on parents to work and the introduction of technology etc; and has this put more pressure on schools?

As my role is new to me, I think the role has evolved to be one of making connections and developing relationships. Also a big part of teaching and leading is being open to new ideas and being a learner.

QWhat are some of the most challenging, yet rewarding aspects of your job that you have already encountered as principal?

It is early days as we are only halfway into term 1. The biggest challenge I see so far is accommodating individual needs when there is insufficient funding in this area.

It is very rewarding to see staff going out of their way to develop programmes that ensure progress or success for all students.

I think it is important to celebrate success no matter how big or small.

QAs the first term enters March, what big plans has the school set in place for the year ahead?

New year, new decade. We have some exciting things happening in 2020. Our major focus is on a school-wide structured literacy approach which is a change in pedagogy (teaching). Also developing our play-based learning area adding a mud kitchen and working on linking play-based learning with a structured literacy approach.

As a school community, we are focusing on making connections and making everyone feel welcomed.

This will happen with more social engagements rather than a focus on fundraising.

We are going to hold an open day to showcase our school on Thursday, March 26, from 9am to 10.30am. We invite anyone from the community to attend.

QHow many children now attend the school and how has the roll changed over the past 10 years?

Our current roll is 136. The last 10 years it has grown from under 100. Our roll has been stable for the last few years.

QWhat do you think you would be doing if you weren’t teaching?

Teaching is a job that you need to be passionate about and love your job, or you are in the wrong profession.

I always wanted to be a teacher and now I’m not teaching but leading St Gerard’s School, which is a new challenge.

If I wasn’t teaching I would likely be doing something to do with children, social work or maybe a career in the police.