Petersen concedes there are challenges around the achievement gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students, between rural and metro students, and between students of low and higher economic status. While there are no quick fixes to any of these issues, he says a ‘whole of government’ approach to education and a genuine, bi-partisan and transparent approach to needs-based funding would be a good starting point.
We seriously have to look at teacher pay and conditions to make the career more attractive.
Petersen comes to the role of Council Acting President with 31 years experience in secondary schools throughout NSW. He has been the College Principal at Denison College of Secondary Education, a multi-campus college in Bathurst, since 2011.
The NSW Secondary Principals’ Council represents around 500 schools, and provides support to principal members. The Council also offers high-level advice to the NSW Department of Education and the Minister for Education, with a clear focus on improving outcomes for all students.
One issue that continues to be a priority for the Council is ways in which the status of the teaching profession might be raised. While it has been suggested that raising the university entrance requirements for teacher education courses could achieve this objective, Petersen says that’s a “simplistic” solution.
“We seriously have to look at teacher pay and conditions to make the career more attractive,” he says.
“As a society, we really need to look at the sort of society we want for our children and start valuing those professions that are going to contribute to a just society, where children are able to achieve success regardless of their geographic location, or cultural or family background.”