Enriching the years beyond

Peter Clagu

A leadership reflection from Peter Clague, principal at St Leonard’s College.

What made you want to enter teaching?

A prescient careers advisor who patiently read my entire five-page handwritten application to become an air traffic controller, then tore it up and handed me a Teachers’ College entry form with a knowing smile. I have no idea what he saw at the time, but 35 years later I have the best job in the world and have never looked back.

What do you like most about working in a school?

Variety and optimism. No two days of my teaching career have ever been the same. Nor have they ever been without inspiration. For all the negativity heaped upon young people by shallow media stereotypes, they are exciting to be around and invariably positive when given the chance and the trust to be.

What are some of the changes to education that you have witnessed in your time as principal?

Undoubtedly the greatest change has been the impact of digital technologies. I started in the classroom when computers were only used to compute and phones were only for making calls. Today, technology is a pervasive element in every child’s life. Educators either adapt and leverage that potential or they quickly become redundant.

For all that, every young person still needs what they have always needed since time immemorial: social engagement and a belief that adults believe in them.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Return on investment. Teaching is a long game and, while there are plenty of proud moments in any school year, it is the trajectory of your graduates that brings the greatest reward. Following the careers of young people you have taught, and knowing that their schooling may have set them on that path, is both humbling and affirming.

What are some special achievements of your staff, students and the school that you are most proud of?

St Leonard’s College is a smorgasbord of opportunity. We aim for our young people to taste as much variety as they possibly can, be it subjects, qualifications, sports and cultural activities, or meaningful social action. Therefore, what is special about the college is not dominance in one narrow course or code, but the rich table of offerings in which any student can find their passion.

What hopes do you have for the future of your school?

My ambition is that we remain as relevant and influential in our community as we have been for the past 109 years. Schools are engines of social good and St Leonard’s has been positively enriching the city, the nation, and beyond for more than a century. My job is to maintain that blend of proud heritage and progressive outlook.

What is your motto for running a successful school?

My favourite quote sums up all I believe about the potency of education to shape society for the better. “The purpose of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

St Leonard’s is successful because it not only enriches the school days of its students, but also the years beyond. We are genuinely committed to “an education for life”.


Principal – Mr Peter Clague   Providing Exemplary Education for Over 100 Years Established in 1914, St Leonard’s College is Bayside’s […]

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