Award Winning Leadership

St Mark’s Anglican Community School is delighted to announce the success of our staff at the recent Australian Council for Educational Leaders Awards. Two of our St Mark's Staff were recently awarded the ACEL WA Teacher Leader Award for Excellence. Congratulations to Nick Irwin and Alex Taylor on their fabulous achievements. This award is presented to a teacher who has demonstrated outstanding leadership.

Alex Taylor:

Alex is an innovative teacher of English and HaSS who consistently works to ensure every student is catered for, and to positively influence the work of others in a variety of roles in the school. They are known as an exemplar of teaching practice that addresses the needs of diverse learners and provides support, scaffolds and adjustments to meet student needs. They supportively lead others by example, one-on-one, in small groups, and in department teams. Alex works closely with the Head of Learning Diversity and Inclusion on differentiated pedagogies, resources, outcomes, assessment and reporting for students outside of standard achievement levels.

Their leadership in the use of ICT for teaching, learning and differentiation are evident in their running internal professional development opportunities for staff in the English and HaSS departments. One example is first learning, and then teaching other teachers, how to create interactive PDFs using Adobe InDesign to support the development of student resources that allow for personalised, self-directed inquiry learning. Their leadership of peers in the use of technologies to ensure continued teaching and learning was invaluable during periods of distance learning.

Alex’s leadership is also evident in their work in the space of inclusion, safety, and positive school culture for all. They manage a weekly lunch club for LGBTQIA+ students, mentoring these students and providing a safe space for them to connect with others in their community. In 2021, they initiated and completed an independent action research project into inclusion at St Mark’s with a view to positively influencing the learning experiences, well-being and identities of students. This culminated in a report which drew together school context, rigorous research, feedback generated from the community, and recommendations to the School Executive team. This important work continues to influence leadership at the whole school level.

Nick Irwin

As Head of Outdoor Education at St Mark’s Anglican Community School for the past seven years, Nick Irwin has built an award-winning, flagship Outdoor Education program. Under his leadership, the program won the 2020 Outdoors WA Innovative Program of the Year Award. It was additionally a finalist in the 2021 Outdoor Education Australia Program of the Year and the 2020 Outdoors WA Outstanding Contribution to Outdoor Learning Award.

In addition to organising six camps and expeditions across Years 6-12 in a range of Western Australian locations, maintaining an outstanding set of Outdoor Education facilities, and regularly presenting to parents, Nick has introduced a range of innovations. These include Outdoor Adventure Studies Values, Augmented Reality Sandboxes to assist students in transferring 2D topographic maps to 3D models of the land; school-based rogaining and orienteering courses; Year 12 Outdoor Education Reflection Evening; community projects including building wooden kayaks that students paddle on their expedition; and pre- and post- expedition surveys to monitor student self-efficacy and growth.

Beyond Outdoor Education, Nick designed and leads the Year 9 Challenge Program: a new course, part of the St Mark’s Future Ready Curriculum, that engages students in real-life learning opportunities and develops skills for adulthood. This includes a project in which students pitch their ideas about how to improve the school.

Nick is an active contributor to a range of professional networks in his field, including as a member of Outdoors WA, WA Outdoor Education Teachers Collaboration Networks, Stirling Range Ridge Walk Group, Cape to Cape Group, and Bibbulmun Track Group. He nurtures partnerships with and contributes generously to, university students and courses in Outdoor Learning. A respected expert in the field, Nick is called upon by other schools to provide professional learning opportunities and advice on risk management, ratios, best practice, and delivery of content.

It is wonderful to see our inspiring school leaders honoured in this way. Both Alex and Nick are well-respected within the school and in the wider community. Through their leadership and programs, they have ensured that our students continue to have positive learning experiences.

Congratulations, Alex and Nick!