Creating a culture of curiosityJohn Blois
With years of experience at the heart of academia as a Teacher Educator and Education Researcher, Dr Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn had to reconsider when the pandemic hit.
“COVID-19 was a turning point for me; the things I loved about academia – travelling internationally and partnering with schools in-person – disappeared overnight,” she says. “I really missed being in the classroom, so I knew it was time to go back to a school role.”
That’s exactly what she did, taking up a position as a Year 6 teacher at Newington College for a year, before stepping up to take on the Deputy Head of Junior School role for 18 months.
While she learnt a lot in this role, she decided she wanted to bring research back into her every day, so when the Director of Research role became available at Trinity, she jumped at the chance.
“It was the perfect job for me,” she says. “It was a great way to use my research skills for the betterment of the School.”
Coming to Trinity was an obvious choice for a number of reasons.
“The role of Director of Research is not a common role in schools, but Trinity is leading in this space plus, the high degree of professionalism of the staff and Headmaster Tim Bowden’s strong and compassionate leadership were huge draw cards.
“Trinity’s a school that promotes well-rounded boys. I really like that focus – that it’s not just the boys as they are now but the men they’re going to become beyond the School and the contributions they’ll make as men in our society.”
During her first term in this role, Kimberley has had a chance to see some of the wonderful projects happening all around the School, across every campus, including:
- Researching the impact of the Year 9 term-long Field Studies Programme.
- Promoting post-graduate study, including with the Trinity cohort undertaking their Masters of Education Leadership.
- Helping staff design 25-hour school-based elective subjects to effectively engage students in Years 9 and 10.
- Exploring educational initiatives and impacts of any new programme being implemented anywhere in the School, gathering data and evaluating efficacy.
- Digging into existing research to understand whether Trinity should implement new programmes in the School.
- Working with Ms Debbie Williams (Academic Head) and Ms Melissa McMahon (Director of Professional Practice) to grow middle leadership.
- Getting involved in Professional Learning Teams, including leading some these groups, to support staff to learn collaboratively.
“My role is to promote that culture of curiosity and grow the desire to engage in professional research, to ensure that our practices and programmes are informed by research.”
Taking on the role at the beginning of Term 2, 2023, it’s still early days for Kimberley, and she knows she’s only scratched the surface of the opportunities available at Trinity.
“I’m getting to know the School and getting to know what’s important, looking for areas where research can inform practice or can be used to improve practice. Continual improvement is so important for all schools and really prioritised at Trinity,” she says.
“I feel I’m in a really fortunate position. There’s a great deal of professional trust from the senior leadership that I will be able to make a contribution that will lead to great learning for boys and for staff. It’s still so early for me to know exactly what shape that will take.”
Something she’s excited to help bring to life is a forum focusing on research partnerships, where schools and university partners can come together to create a network that includes similarly-minded schools that are dedicated to informing their practice with research. The forum is to be called “Navigating School-University Research Partnerships” and it’s planned for November 2023.
“I’m excited about stimulating this conversation around how we can conduct collaborative research that really leads to improving learning for students. There’s so much potential for new projects to come out of this.”
The forum is just one in a cornucopia of ideas that Kimberley is excited to get started on as she heads into her second term in the role.
“There’s so much creative potential in the role for it to grow and expand,” she says. “It really is evolving with each day and each week.”
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