Principal, Templestowe College
Peter is 49 years old and lives with Fiona who is also an educator and daughters Zoe and Jemima in New Gisborne, Victoria. His passions are progressive student centred education, neuroscience, futurism and using creativity to solve problems.
Having hated his own secondary school experience in a boys only “elite” private school which he describes as being academically stultifying and brutal, Peter left school vowing never to return.
Peter went on to complete a Bachelor of Economics at Monash and worked for a short time as an accountant with Coopers whilst simultaneously running a small property development company. After the financial crash of the late eighties, Peter turned towards more altruistic ideals and completed his Diploma of Education also at Monash.
In his second year teaching at Beaconhills College, he started an Army Cadet Unit and built the unit to over ninety cadets. This was a pivotal experience for Peter as he witnessed the capacity of students to act responsibly, teach one another, look after each another with amazing maturity and compassion, and to plan and lead activities of such complexity as would challenge most adults. This was his first glimpse of the potential for a largely self-managing adolescent community.
Peter was appointed Assistant Principal at 29 and spent the next 12 years in a range of schools essentially learning “how the education machine functioned”. He is one of few people to have been a Principal in both the Independent and State Education systems.
In 2009 Peter was appointed Principal at Templestowe College. TC as it is now known, had twice been recommended to close by the Regional Director having seen numbers drop to just 286 local students and 23 Year 7 students. The last seven years has seen dramatic changes including the option of three starting times, removal of year levels and the introduction of individualised learning plans for all students where they choose their complete academic program from over 150 subjects. Students sit on staff selection panels, form the core of the curriculum committee, provide formal feedback to their teachers each 5 weeks, run their own for-profit businesses and are even employed to help run the school. TC has grown to over 1000 students and is now recognised as one of the most innovative schools in Australia, having been featured in numerous publications and media features. Peter presents regularly at State, National and International conferences on progressive education. Peter believes that TC is close to achieving its vision “to be a supportive community, empowering students to manage their individualised learning and turn their ideas into reality”.