What makes a good principal - BCE principals tell all


​Principal Bronwyn Buckley with St Mathew's Catholic Primary School 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 a focus, empathy, and deep love of learning.

Bronwyn Buckley, Principal - St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School, Cornubia  

Bronwyn Buckley believes a good principal remains connected to classrooms and students.
“Being in the classroom keeps me grounded in why I’m doing and keeps me focussed on each students needs and how we are doing as a school,” she said. 

“A good principal builds relationships through strong communication skills, listening, asking questions, connecting to each person’s story is important. Good principals know that we are walking the journey together.

“They also recognise that people, especially staff, are school’s greatest asset, each bringing their gifts, unique insight, energy, and something to offer in the life of the school.  

“Giving agency, support, challenge, and skill development as well as acknowledging and celebrating people is important."

The Cornubia principal said she aims to stay focussed on the big picture.  

“I hope people see me as having the students at the heart of what I do, student wellbeing and having a sense of belonging is important to me for all students,” she said. 

“If we do this, then children will learn.

She added that the best thing about being a principal is “seeing students shine.

“I love it when my students do random things, like showing up to have lunch with me.

“Seeing students shine in all different ways, their talents, being kind and caring, being creative, being persistent, thinking outside the box is one of my favourite things about being a principal.” 

John Bates, Principal - Our Lady of the Rosary School, Kenmore 

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Principal John Bates with Our Lady of the Rosemary School students.

John Bates believes a good principal is open and transparent.  

“They show a genuine interest in the people within their community,” he said. 

“They must be passionate about their school community and be willing to be a part of the learning journey with staff and students. 

“It’s also important to have a visible presence around the grounds and in classrooms and be calm during challenging times and endeavour to simplify complex situations.”

The principal added that he values being present within his school community. 

“I bring energy and passion to my role each day - I am a relational leader,” he said. 

“I love working with people and the challenge of building strong relationships with key stakeholders within and beyond the school community. 
“I also enjoy hearing the good news stories from classrooms when students make progress and being a part of a team that works together to look at ways that we can improve the school and increase student engagement through innovative teaching strategies.”
He said he believes a good principal can “enrich the lives of students by demonstrating a genuine interest in their learning progress and even more importantly, their well-being.” 
“Just stopping to say hello to a student can be very powerful,” he added. 
“This can only happen if the principal is visible and accessible to all members of the school community.” 

Belinda Kingston, Principal – St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School, Geebung 

Principal Belinda Kingston with St Kevin's Catholic Primary School students.

Belinda Kingston says a good principal has a vision for the future of their school. 
“Attendance needs to be a continued focus, as is student wellbeing,” she said. 
“My vision is for the school is to create a vibrant, caring, and respectful Catholic school which develops well-adjusted individuals who are engaged in their learning. It is also important they are continually striving to achieve their full potential in a dynamic and contemporary environment. 
“A good principal has a sustainability focus, and not only thinks about students now, but also the needs of future students and the future of our school.”  
The Geebung principal said her goals for the remainder of 2022 are to continue working with staff to build teacher capacity, so students are afforded “the best possible education to thrive in an ever-changing world.”  
I relish the challenges of being a principal and, hold my community and staff in the highest esteem,” she said.  
Their knowledge and wisdom is so important in decision making and must be captured so that the best interests of everyone are heard and considered 
The community and staff are wonderful and work hard to provide the best possible education for our students. 
We have minimal behaviour issues and a great culture which is testament to the hard work of the Leadership Team, our warm, professional and caring staff, and supportive families.  


Our students are truly blessed! 

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