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Case Study - Experience as a Deputy Interstate - Adrian Drane

Posted on 15 July 2017
Case Study - Experience as a Deputy Interstate - Adrian Drane

A new adventure in the Apple Isle

In 2013, after much deliberation and family discussion we as a unit decided to make the move to Principalship for the first time.  In making our decision about the type of school we were searching for we had some parameters.  These included:
Having worked for the past 8 years in Marist/Mercy Charism schools I had a love and affinity with both Charisms and therefore in our ideal world would seek a school with one or both of these Charisms.
We were seeking a smaller regional town.   Having two young children, we are strong believers in the adage that it is the community that raises the child, and with this in mind, we wanted a community that they could grow up in, that knew them and which they had the ability to contribute to and indeed co-create. 
Finally, having been in senior leadership in two large schools of over 1700 students I wanted a school between the size of 800-1000 students from Years 7-12.  For me this was important, as the smaller sized school allowed me to really know people, most importantly the students.  My style of leadership and my love of schools is in the relationships.
With this in mind, I applied for three positions, being successful in two applications.  In the end, we as a family, decided to move to Marist Regional College in Burnie, Tasmania.  Marist is a Catholic Co-educational secondary college with an enrolment of approximately 800 students and a staff of just over 120 including both teaching and non-teaching.  The school has both Sisters of Mercy and Marist Fathers heritage and lasting charisms. 
Students who attend the school come from a broad range of areas and socio economic backgrounds.   The College has an SES of 91.  The geographical demographic is from the West Coast through to the North West Coast of Tasmania, with some students travelling great distances each day to attend.  Marist has an extremely strong reputation for both academic performance and pastoral care.  The College has excellent outcomes for students in national standardised testing and ATAR results.
The move to the North West Coast of Tasmania, sometimes referred to the Sunshine Coast of Tasmania, has been an incredibly rewarding one for my family and me, both personally and professionally.  We were immediately welcomed into a deeply authentic community with great aspiration and commitment to community.
Some of the amazing opportunities that have been afforded to me as the Principal at the College in Tasmania include:

  • Being welcome into a collegiate and professional network of principals.
  • An ability to reset and refocus in coming into a community as an absolute unknown.
  • Being able to represent the education sector on State panels and committees.
  • Having easy access to parliamentarians and government officials, which in turn, enable influence on education policy, practice and implementation at an overarching level.
  • Having the opportunity to sit on National panels or committees.
  • It is worth noting, that given the relatively small size of Tasmania and population, there is greater demands on each principal to be involved beyond their own schools to contribute to education policy, governance, representation, industry engagement, etc.  While this at times can be demanding, it does in fact mean that you gain experience in significant positions very quickly.  With most of the other mainland states, representation on these types of committees etc. is usually only reserved for long standing and experienced principals who have "earned their stripes".  However, given the necessity of the principal's contribution and the relatively small number of secondary principals in Tasmania, there is a great need for these responsibilities to be shared between the principal cohort.  In reality it is a wonderful privilege in terms of formation and development, albeit with a high degree of responsibility.
  • Tasmania is beautiful in so many ways.  In itself, it is an amazing holiday destination, and as a place to live it is beautiful.
Some of the challenges that I and indeed we in terms of family have had to overcome include:
  • Moving a family interstate; no small feat, from both an emotional but also logistical perspective.  The added complication to that for Tasmania, is that the little ditch of water known as Bass Strait makes things a lot more difficult.  While this distance is not great, the flexibility of being able to jump in a car and drive simply does not exist.
  • Learning a new system in terms of governance, curriculum structure, etc.  Though all of this is certainly achievable within a relatively short time.  While the administrative structures may change, the essence of good educational institutions is universal.
  • Creating community links; though this was relatively easy, due to the hospitality of the Burnie and Marist Community.  We also had the added advantage of having school aged children, which allowed us to be in the community engaging with people on a personal level.  Kids are wonderful in assisting you to make new contacts through their associations.
  • Being a small town, we find it difficult to get a complete break from the role, as it is a 24/7 role in a regional town.   Every time you walk out the door of your house, you are the Principal.  I actually really enjoy this, as it calls you to be authentic in everything you do.  However, to ensure we do get a break we commit to travelling away at least once a year for an extended family holiday, usually somewhere warm when we are in the depths of winter in Tassie.
  • The move can financially be a risk and potentially very expensive to move interstate.  So making sure you do your research around the actual costs of the move in terms or property, etc.
  • The cold, in winter can be a challenge, especially for a boy originally from far North Queensland.  Though the summer more than makes up for it.

All in all, the challenges have been relatively small while the rewards and outcomes for our family have been great.  My only advice to someone thinking of making the move is doing your research and make sure the school and indeed the state you move into, is one that matches with your qualities and characteristics.  I have always worked on the principle that we are only in this world for a short time, so the more of it I can experience the better.  There is so much to see, do and learn, so why not take a chance, even if it is a small one of simply changing states within our wonderful country.

Tags: CaSPA Case Study

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