When Peter was appointed Acting Principal of Monterey Secondary College in 2019 – the school’s third leader that year – he was confronted with extremely low staff morale, high turnover, declining enrolments, poor student achievement, and children disengaged from learning. With a long history of intergenerational disadvantage and a clear need for transformative change, Peter has brought about a rapid and remarkable shift in the school’s culture and student learning.

Peter introduced individual case management for students and trauma-informed practice using the Berry Street Education Model, and student engagement and achievement dramatically improved. In 2021, the school recorded their best VCE scores in over 10 years and completion of senior certificates was 100%, up from 65% a few years prior, and they now exceed the state average on all measures of student engagement.

By empowering teachers to drive improvement in learning, Peter has created a culture of collaboration and shared knowledge both within and beyond his school. Staff perspectives between 2018 and 2021 have shown a 72% increase in ‘collective responsibility’; an 83% improvement in ‘trust in colleagues’; and a 68% increase in ‘teacher collaboration’.

Peter’s leadership and the school’s remarkable progress is now inspiring and influencing others. They have been widely recognised as leaders in trauma-informed positive education. Peter’s commitment to inclusiveness and equity in education has meant the school’s Engagement program is now at its heart. With such transformational improvement, it is no wonder Year 7 enrolments at the school are up 50%.