School Choice Speaks with Simon Le Plastrier, Principal of ELTHAM College

Simon Le Plastrier

What made you want to enter teaching?
My own education was supported by inspiring and committed adults whose efforts went well beyond the classroom to ensure I was successful. I also saw the value in educating the whole person, which many schools do through classroom experiences, activities outside the class environment and by building strong interpersonal relationships.

What do you like most about working in a school?
Schools are dynamic places where young people find their personal place. This can happen in myriad ways, and witnessing the personal growth that occurs when that window of realisation is quite special. Winning a final, performing a play, making a scientific discovery, being enthralled in a piece of writing, learning to form letters and to multiply numbers are all moments of mastery which leads to real growth.

What are some of the changes to education that you have witnessed in your time as principal?
There have been a couple of quite significant changes in my time. The most obvious is the impact of technology on learning. In my early days of teaching with blackboards and TVs on trolleys, the capacity to grow an idea was limited by each student’s access to information. That restriction has been removed; and a good thing, too.

The other profound change is the capacity for adults to listen to student’s voices. Young people have more agency over their lives. This provides them with the capacity to build on experiences and sees each young person to build their life around their voice. As their life experience changes, their capacity to adjust their lives is dynamic.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of the job, which is reflected in our recently developed Amplify program, is to see young people find an experience that helps define their learning path. To see this occur with teachers guiding the journey, rather than curating the learning experience for them, is what education is all about.

What are some special achievements of your staff, students and the school that you are most proud of?
ELTHAM College prides itself on the relationship between staff and students. This has built a community of learning with a deep level of trust and where young people feel safe to express their views in an atmosphere of mutual support.

What hopes do you have for the future of your school?
That ELTHAM College is a beacon for embedded deep learning, where young people experience learning in dynamic ways, with teachers facilitating that learning. We have published authors, composers, scientists, performers who have not waited for formal certification from government to move to their next step in learning.

What is your motto for running a successful school?
We have a noble choice in this world, and that is to make the most of this one life we have been granted. Successful schools must provide experiences that work in tandem with families, to assist young people in that journey.



ELTHAM College prides itself on a culture of excellence and creativity. A collaborative environment helps teachers focus on uncovering students’ […]

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