The Way Forward

A.B. Paterson College

But there is an extra dimension to this school, which opened its doors in 1991 and now holds some 1,400 students: its desire to take on board new and progressive ways of teaching and enabling the children to learn.

Brian Grimes has been principal at A.B. Paterson College since the beginning of 2012 and he is proud of what the school has already achieved. He points to a fundamental difference between this establishment and most other outwardly similar schools: this one “is truly independent, and not aligned with any system of religious schools or sectors, thereby enabling all decisions pertaining to the College’s operation and direction to be made at a local level. This ensures that we are better placed to respond to and support the needs of our students.” Most schools have been founded by denominational organisations, with a church’s mission to grow schools in specific socio-demographic areas to spread its message.

A.B. Paterson College came about because of a growing feeling in the area among a small group of residents in the northern end of the Gold Coast that there was no suitable choice of educational establishment for their grandchildren. “They were concerned about the educational policy that applied at the time and about social values.” They were also worried about the provision of what they regarded as a “quality education” and came to the conclusion that, rather than work within the existing situation, they would prefer to create their ideal school. The group put up the finance and became guarantors for the college in 1991. It was set up as and remains a not-for-profit company.

Brian says this school remains, if not unique, then certainly in a very small category in Australia. The vast majority remain linked to faith-based organisations. It “is truly independent – we don’t have an external authority to govern us,” Brian explains. “My role is as both principal and chief executive officer and I report directly to a single board which has no reporting mechanisms to any other board.”

Brian has extensive experience of the more familiar system, as with the board he reported to at previous schools (he was head of school at prominent institutions in Western Australia before making the trip east). He describes this crucial difference as “an incredible advantage” in terms of the school’s ability to relate to the local community with fewer filters between the establishment and the classroom.

The pedagogy (the principles of teaching) at A.B. Paterson College is “very different to most schools. It comes from research based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and this quality sets our school apart from others I have worked at.” Specially trained instructors at the school train teachers in this unusual approach; while a number of other schools in Australia have embraced the concept, “I don’t think any others have taken it so far from prep to year 12. But I can see the difference in our students stemming from this Teaching for Understanding approach.

Another unusual departure has been the early adoption (though others are expected to follow the lead) of new technology, in the form of a tablet for every pupil. Interactive learning helps the process of engaging the student in learning and understanding and, says Brian, is key to the future of the lucky children whose parents head for A.B. Paterson College from as far away as Brisbane.

The only bad news is that the school is full – Brian sees no need to expand the numbers in the near future, which will instead be filled with expanding the learning opportunities for the children already there.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 9:21 AM AEDT