For Haileybury, the Australian Education Awards 2023 was a big night to say the least.
The school won the A Team Tuition Secondary School of the Year – Non-government Award, as well as three Excellence Awards, in the categories Best Student Wellbeing Program, Education Perfect Australian School of the Year, and AFL Schools Primary School of the Year – Non-government.
Two of the school’s other campuses did exceptionally well, with Haileybury Rendall School winning the Award for Prime Super Regional School of the Year and Haileybury Pangea Online School taking home an Excellence Award for Grok Academy Innovation in Learning Environment Design.
Derek Scott, Haileybury’s CEO and principal said the school’s strength is its capacity to focus on developing exceptional core skills for students while evolving the education programs with an entrepreneurial spirit.
“In a world with increasingly polarized views, Haileybury works hard to deliver traditional education practices — explicit teaching combined with a phonic focus for literacy and a maths mastery approach for numeracy — with a range of entrepreneurship programs,” Scott told The Educator.
“A key aspect of the entrepreneurship agenda is to be entrepreneurial as a school — to have it as part of our DNA.”
Scott said the launch of Victoria’s first private online school, Haileybury Pangea, demonstrates this and follows the development of Haileybury City campus, Melbourne’s first vertical CBD school.
“Haileybury’s work in four countries across Asia is also part of the entrepreneurship agenda,” he said.
“All this comes together through the work of brilliant teachers and Haileybury’s vision is also to provide the greatest range of career opportunities for staff who want to be part of our five Melbourne campuses, to work online with Haileybury Pangea, or in Darwin with Haileybury Rendall School, or in China with our flagship Haileybury Senior School Tianjin.”
Scott said his priorities for 2024 are to continue the evolution of the entrepreneurship and social impact programs and to link them more closely with the broad co-curricular program.
“Through this, students can feed off their sound foundational skills and follow a passion. It will also open up further opportunities for dynamic staff.”
A relentless pursuit of high expectations
Andrew McGregor has been principal of Haileybury Rendall School (HRS) since November 2020, a time when schools across Australia were struggling with the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to this, McGregor worked at Haileybury’s Berwick Campus as Head of the Senior School and credits his broad experience and knowledge to having had the privilege of working in some of the best co-educational schools in Victoria.
Speaking on the philosophy that underpins this principalship, McGregor said leadership starts with a strong vision and strategy and the clear and regular articulation of this strategy to all stakeholders.
“At HRS, we all know where we are going and how we intend to get there, and we use these goals as handrails for key decisions and steps forward,” McGregor told The Educator.
“Secondly, it is important to me that I am a positive, authentic and compassionate leader. Every student matters every day at our school and so does every staff member, corporate and academic.”
McGregor said HRS staff work happily in an environment where they are always learning and always sharing.
“Another feature of leadership in our school, at all levels, is having mechanisms in place for everyone to be heard at a level that can effect positive change ad improvement. We believe that all staff are leaders and appropriate tasks are delegated to develop and empower them,” he said.
“At the end of the day, learning is our core business at HRS, and we keep coming back to examine how excellence can be achieved and enhanced across the school. The relentless pursuit of high expectations is also paramount.”
In August, Haileybury Rendall School won approval from the government to launch the first private online school in the Northern Territory next year. With the advent of Haileybury Pangea, HRS will become the sole institution in the Top End to offer a trifecta of educational choices: day schooling, boarding, and online learning.
Speaking on the announcement at the time, McGregor said “access to the exceptional educators of Haileybury Pangea shouldn’t be dictated by geographical location”.
When asked how HRS might serve as a model for other schools to bridge achievement gaps in their own communities, McGreggor said great learning outcomes largely rely on the quality of teaching and providing brilliant teachers for all students is his school’s aspiration.
“I firmly believe that improving the efficacy of the entire teacher cohort is the way forward,” he said.
“This requires many things including a strong focus on staff morale, collegiality and wellbeing, and engaging and targeted professional development. Coaching and mentoring are fundamental, as is deliberate support for teachers who are new to the school and/or the profession. We need to start by doing everything we can to make our schools a great place to work and build from there.”
Challenging educational norms
Joanna Baker, the Head of Campus, Haileybury Pangea said Haileybury is known for its culture of excellence and the focus for staff in the first year at Haileybury Pangea has very much been on infusing this into the school’s campus.
“Our teachers are crucial here; more than 80% of our staff work across Haileybury Pangea and Haileybury Melbourne, and the collaboration among staff in Haileybury’s One School model has helped ensure we are delivering outstanding teaching and learning,” Baker told The Educator.
“Haileybury Pangea is also a unique opportunity to focus on building self-regulation and independence in learners; we talk about these capacities explicitly with our students and families, and support students to reflect on the strategies they use to take ownership of their learning.”
Baker said Haileybury’s embrace of entrepreneurship is embodied in Haileybury Pangea, adding that as the school expands to take enrolments from the Northern Territory in 2024, it is challenging some of the conventions of traditional schools.
“We hope that this will expand what’s possible in Australian education,” Baker said.
“Interestingly, we are seeing a huge interest in Haileybury Pangea from teachers at a time when there is a shortage of teachers in many schools and with many looking to leave the profession altogether.”
Baker said this sends a clear signal that teachers are looking for some of the flexibility afforded other professions through advances in technology.
“And of course, the pace of AI development is on the radar for all educators, and we are actively engaging with our staff, students and families to explore the opportunities and challenges this presents for learning.”