The Hobart

Local Lad School Principal Craig Deayton

by Stephanie Williams
Local Lad School Principal Craig Deayton

As the principal of Guilford Young College, Craig Deayton finds joy in helping young Tasmanians achieve their dreams…and a good cycle after work.

Where in Hobart do you live? Geilston Bay.

What’s the best thing about Hobart? Tough question – it’s a brilliant, luminous, quirky undiscovered little gem of a city. So one thing? – kunanyi/Mt Wellington.

And the worst? It’s not so undiscovered anymore!

Tell us a little about your work? As the Principal of Guilford Young College (the Catholic 11/12 college), I get to work with around 800 young adults each day as well as a few not-so-young staff members like me. It’s an absolute joy to work with young people and help them on the way to achieve their dreams.

How do Tassie kids stack up against their mainland counter­parts in relation to education? Every bit as good. Growing up here, I think we used to have an inferiority complex as a state and as Tasmanians. No more – this place is pumping and our young people are amazing.

There’s discussion about the future of the separate 11/12 College model – what are your thoughts on this? The debate about which model works better completely misses the point. Both the 11/12 college model and the K-12 model can (and do) work equally well. The ACT does exceptionally well with an 11/12 model (as does Tasmania), Sydney and Melbourne, equally so with their K-12 schools. The research is clear – the most important factor by far is the quality of the teaching. This means the work of the individual teacher which is supported by effective principals and administration and excellent, well-re­sourced schools, is the key. Tasmania and the ACT are places where economies of scale favour the College model but where K-12 models thrive as well. The quality of the teaching is the major determinant in student outcomes.

How has COVID impacted you and the school? Fortunately Guilford Young College was well set up for online learning during lockdown last year. More fortunately, we have a teaching staff who rose to the challenge and made lemonade out of the semi-trailer loaded with lemons that was COVID. It was toughest on our students who really missed the social aspect of schooling. After the brief excitement of a school closure, it became very clear that we really do need to be among people.

How can we, as a community, help kids going through 11/12? We can probably put more emphasis on enjoying these final years of schooling and less pressure on kids to perform. If you can love learning (or at least not be in an abusive relationship with it), you’ll succeed. If learning is a stressful chore, success comes very hard and might be worth very little when it does come.

What’s your dream project to work on? In 2016, I spent a few months on an archaeological dig in Belgium, so as a history buff it would be joining the archaeological team at Pompeii.

What do you love doing outside work? Cycling and writing (in that order).

Where’s your favourite Hobart eatery? Wow – I could start with my top ten and keep going. If forced at gunpoint, I’d say St. Albi’s.

Drink of choice and where do you head for it? Vietnamese iced coffee at the Saigon District in North Hobart.

Guilty pleasure? Binge-watching Breaking Bad for the third time (there’ll be a fourth).

Favourite team? Easy – the future Tasmanian AFL team, (Essendon, until that great day arrives).

If I didn’t live in Hobart I’d live in…Flanders (the spiritual home of cycling). Like Hobart, it’s a small undiscovered gem of a place where the pace is slow, the beer sublime and the people just a little bit crazy.

Favourite Hobart secret? Will it stay a secret though? OK, it’s the tiny, but magnificently weird and beautiful Egyptian revival style synagogue in Argyle Street. It’s also Australia’s oldest synagogue.

Where to next? Finish my fourth book. My other job is Historian of the First World War.

Quote to live by? ”Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” (Gandhi).

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February 2024

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