What makes a good principal - BCE principals tell all


​Fran Burke, Principal of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Bardon with students.​​

Leading some of Brisbane Catholic Education’s 146 diverse primary and secondary school communities is a highly rewarding experience  

We’ve chatted to three BCE primary school principals who share how they have embraced their roles as leaders within their school communities, and the importance of leading with focus, empathy, and deep love of learning. 


Fran Burke, Principal - St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Bardon 

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Fran Burke, Principal of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Bardon with students.


Fran Burke has had an extensive career with Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE), working as a primary teacher for 16 years, followed by Assistant Principal of Religious Education and Foundation Assistant Principal role(s) at St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School, Mango Hill 


In 2014 Fran was appointed at the Principal of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Bardon and believes a good principal is committed to improving student performance academically, culturally, spiritually, physically, and socially.  

Fran said a good principal makes it their mission to recognise and educate the leaders of our tomorrow.” 


“Our school offers outstanding facilities, high quality educators and an extensive extra-curricular plethora of opportunities,” she said. 


“Our children need hope-filled, optimistic, intelligent, globally conscious, and ethically sound role models to challenge, support, nurture, and partner with them.   


“My goal is to strive for continued excellence in learning and teaching.   


“We are all in this together, parents and staff as one team, wanting the same outcome, the same goal, which is our students being joy-filled learners and reaching their full potential.  


“As St Joseph's School Principal, a good principal understands the importance of sustaining the collaborative school community, and work to further strengthen authentic parent engagement.   


We have one goaljoy-filled learning where our students strive to achieve high expectations in a safe, happy environment fostering humility, care, and respect.”  


Patrick Dempsey - Holy Spirit School Bray Park  

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Patrick Dempsey, Principal of Holy Spirit School Bray Park with students.


Patrick Dempsey has been Principal of Holy Spirit School Bray Park for the past six years, and before coming to Brisbane, was a Principal at Catholic Primary Schools in North Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales.  


Patrick believes a good principal strives to inspire a sense of hope in each student by providing a positive and caring environment where children are happy and secure in their learning. 


Holy Spirit School has provided the educational needs of students and their families in regions of Bray Park, Strathpine, Lawnton, and Warner since 1977,” he said. 


“Education at Holy Spirit is a shared responsibility between students, staff, parents, and the wider parish community.  


“In these challenging times my goals are to continue to continue to focus our energies and resources into the needs of the children in our care.   


“I have had the privilege to work in some amazing school communities in both rural, regional, and urban settings.   


Patrick said he’s seen “thousands of children and their families in my 27 years as Principal.   


A good principal knows each child is unique,” he added.  


“Our role as educators is such a critical role in the lives of these young children.   


I have also been honoured to work with some incredible people who have dedicated their lives to their students and Catholic education.   


“While life has changed in 27 years, I continue to witness the incredible benefits children receive when they are in a school community where there are respectful and authentic partnerships between staff and parents.”  


Roycelyn Wilden, All Saints Parish Primary School, Albany Creek


Roycelyn Wilden, Principal of All Saints Parish Primary School Albany Creek with students.


Roycelyn Wilden has been Principal of All Saints Parish Primary School Albany Creek for three years and has 18 years of Principalship experience across the Brisbane Archdiocese.   


Roycelyn believes a good principal strives to create a high performing school which supports and enables all students to achieve their personal best in learning engagement and success. 


“All Saints Parish School is a Prep to Year 6 co-educational school whose motto Walk in Love encapsulates our spirit and action through Faith, Learning and Compassion,” she said.  


I believe a good principals know their most important role, with the support of our outstanding staff, is to keep our students safe on their Walk in Love journey, so that they achieve their full potential, and this is done in strong partnership with our parents and caregivers.   


She said 2022 the school’s explicit improvement agenda is focussed on a love of learning in maths. 


We held a wonderful community event in May 2022 which attracted more than 600 school community members and was part of our second annual STEM Under the Stars evening, bringing all in our community together in learning,” said the principal. 


“I feel very blessed to be the principal of such a dynamic school.”  

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