Meet the principal – The Knox School

Knox School

Nikki Kirkup, principal at The Knox School, reflects on 2022 and her year of principalship​​

Stepping into the role of principal is never easy; it comes with its challenges and carries the weight of responsibility. Doing so amid a global pandemic brings a whole new dimension.

In many ways, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as principal has been like running a marathon with no confirmation of distance. The finish line keeps moving and it can be difficult to ensure appropriate pace. However, unlike marathon running, this is not a race to see who will make it over the finish line first; rather, a strategy to ensure we all finish together and that everyone gets a winner’s medal! We cannot have anyone fall by the way or give up at the 20km mark.

The strengths that we played to at The Knox School (TKS), and the successes achieved over the past few years, continue to frame our narrative in 2022. Our TKS Values provide a clear framework under which we operate and the launch of our TKS Strategic Vision Phase 2, 2021-2023, has redefined and allowed us to reconnect to our purpose and ensure that we all kept pace and made it over the finish line together.

With a dedicated Personalised Learning strategy, at TKS we help each student achieve their best, building on their strengths through intentional frameworks of learning and support across individual learning journeys designed to ensure the holistic growth of every student.

Learning is an adventure that, as humans, we all engage in; it is a common but complex process. At The Knox School, we consider learning to be not just a singular undertaking, but rather a journey on three levels.

The first journey is one with which we are all familiar: the knowledge journey. The transfer of knowledge and information is important and it is easy to see every day in any given classroom. This knowledge is valuable, in fact, it is essential. However, if we look a little closer, we will see that this is just the surface of activity in a TKS classroom. And what happens next is part of what makes TKS unique.

The second journey is a little more complicated to see but, in many ways, below-the-surface-level activities are where the real learning takes place. It is here we focus on the development of skills: communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. The skills required for a life of meaning and purpose. This learning is complex and can be challenging. Indeed, these skills are not developed in a singular lesson or classroom, but over time.

The third journey is without doubt, the most complex, yet perhaps the most rewarding of all. This is where we find the gradual development of attributes and dispositions that influence the overall learning itself; at TKS, we focus on character and contribution. These fundamental attributes and dispositions determine how our students respond to difficulty, uncertainty and complexity in the world around them.

Through an intentional focus on the development of character and contribution, our students are well positioned to advocate for themselves as learners, contribute to their own learning and that of others and thrive in the complex world around them. To “ACT out their lives”. These are not just skills for the classroom, for today or even tomorrow. This is deep learning. Learning with real-world meaning. Learning for life.

The Knox School is a school beautifully positioned to grow and promote the learning and wellbeing of each student, so they can thrive and contribute in a complex and changing world; to become the architects and advocates of their future.

As we celebrated the 40th anniversary of TKS in 2022, we did so under the banner #proudtobelong. With many exciting events across the year, we looked back on the history of The Knox School and its significant development over the years.

Although it is the bricks and mortar that form the first impression of a school, I often speak of individuals as the cornerstone of this community.

At TKS, we have several individuals who have dedicated their career to the TKS community. Indeed, we are blessed to have a founding staff member still on the current staff of TKS.

This commitment from our staff speaks to the strong sense of community we have here at TKS. As we marked this anniversary in 2022, we took time to acknowledge and celebrate the many individuals who have contributed so much to the TKS story. We are who we are today because of those who have gone before us. We are the current custodians of this wonderful school.

As the current principal — number six in the line, I understand the privilege this awards me, and I take this act of service very seriously. I am, indeed, Proud to Belong.

As I reflect on my first year as principal, I could not be more proud to serve this wonderful community and feel privileged to take on the mantle of leadership as we look towards 2023 and the wonderful opportunities and challenges that await as we collectively write our next chapter.



The Knox School is driven to provide meaningful learning experiences, personalised to our students’ strengths. The Knox School offers Early […]

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