Port Dalrymple School principal Philip Challis has retired after a 42-year career in education.
From his humble beginnings at Brooks High School, Mr Challis said the most rewarding part of his career was watching his students burgeon into successful adults.
“A lot of my former students have gone on to owning their own businesses, into banking, the police force and a good number into teaching,” he said.
“It’s always great to watch some of those kids who had a challenge at school and you bump into them 20 years later...you see their growth in the community.”
Mr Challis’ four-decade career spans 11 years at Port Dalrymple, nine years at Kings Meadows High School, and nine years at Queechy High School.
He said he’d seen a marked shift in the educational landscape in that time.
“One of the things that’s certainly changed is there’s a more consistent focus across the whole state from school to school, whereas schools used to have a greater independence,” he said.
“I think it’s great that there’s a sharp focus for good practice in literacy and numeracy for teachers, some of the changes I think do see a little bit less of that local character.”
But in spite of this, Tasmania’s educational outcomes continue to perform below the national average in education attainment and a majority of NAPLAN categories.
Mr Challis said he believed the national average was not the only measure of success.
“We’re very quick to take the national assessments like NAPLAN and so on, and when you dig deeply into those results, and look at where we start from on our social and economic indicators, we start from a low base.”
“The catching up that we need to do really does come down to getting our children starting school with the best preparation we can.”
Port Dalrymple School assistant principal Lynette Burt said Mr Challis had secured $500,000 in funding from BHP Billiton (now South32) to improve educational services.
She said the five-year’s worth of funding led to an outdoor education program, improved ICT outcomes, sports uniforms, and a bus for the school.