Paul Kenna, Principal of a small primary school in Melbourne, calls it ‘desperation-inspired inspiration’ that led him to implement key strategies which have proven crucial to his students’ progress.

With students facing a range of disadvantage and many from non-English speaking backgrounds, Paul tackled student readiness and family engagement. He created an on-site ‘Community Hub’ hosting playgroups, kindergarten and maternal child health services.

He led innovative classroom based action research to develop and refine a new teaching strategy – Self Organised Learning Environments (S.O.L.E.) – based on igniting student curiosity, connecting emotions to learning and transferring responsibility and learning autonomy from teacher to student.

The change has been significant. Student engagement is high and NAPLAN results over the past four years show the school is now well above growth measures for similar student cohorts.