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CaSPa Case Study - Co-Principalship after 3 months

Posted on 9 April 2017
CaSPa Case Study - Co-Principalship after 3 months

Above: Brendan Gill and Jospeh Sandric began as co-principals of St Aloysius, Tasmania at the start of 2017

This is the second of four articles which present the role of Co-Principalship from a variety of perspectives.

Joseph Sandric and Brendan Gill are the new co principals of St Aloysius Catholic College, a K-10 coeducational school south of Hobart with approximately 900 students. 

When the Principal position at St Aloysius Catholic College was advertised last year, Brendan and Joe were weighing up if they would apply together.  They were already working at the College, both running one of the two geographically separate Campuses.   They had already acted in the position on two occasions and enjoyed the experience. 

As part of the principal consultation process, staff, students and parents were consulted.  It became clear that the community was open to a different leadership structure.  Buoyed by this feedback, Joe and Brendan proceeded to apply.  Perhaps the biggest hurdle they faced, was the panel itself.  Understandably, hiring two people is seen to be more inherently risky than the hiring of one!  Luckily, their strong history of working effectively together as well as a clear plan for the future of the College got them over the line. 

It is only the start of the year so it is too early to comment on the long-term success of the model.  With that said, Brendan and Joseph already have some advice and feedback for schools considering the co principal path:
The biggest risk of such a model is that of leadership ambiguity.  That is, staff, parents or students are not clear about decision-making.  To counter this, Joe and Brendan have implemented strong communication structures and clear procedures.
The relationship between the two principals is key.  The principles of the principals at St Aloysius are prayer, trust, reflection, discernment and honesty.
Because the model is different, some members of the community do find it difficult.  It does take some time for the community (and the co principals) to adjust.  There will be a few potholes along the way, but what journey doesn't?
  Students don't have a problem with it at all!  The flexibility of youth is refreshing. 
Having two people in the role will allow a much higher amount of presence around the College long term, as administrative requirements are lower. 

St Aloysius was originally a one-stream primary school, founded by the Sisters of Charity in Kingston, South of Hobart in 1960.  Nine years ago the College expanded into the high school years and now has an enrolment of approximately 900 students, and continues to grow.  Being relatively young, the place is both an exciting and challenging environment in which to lead.  Brendan and Joe are the first male leaders of St Aloysius.  The previous principal, Mrs Elaine Doran told Brendan and Joe, tongue in cheek, that it takes two males to do the job of a female!
Tags: CaSPA Case Study

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