The Southport School
After just five years The Southport School has established a kindergarten program that has been ranked in the top 0.5 per cent in Australia.
It’s just one of the outstanding educational achievements spearheaded by Deputy Headmaster of The Southport School (TSS) and Head of Preparatory School Jeff Symms, who is a finalist for this year’s Queensland College of Teachers Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Award.
Under Mr Symms’s leadership the TSS kindergarten earnt the National Quality Framework ‘Excellent rating’ – a highly sought status that only 49 of Australia’s 12,000 early learning centres hold.
“We started the kindergarten program only five years ago with a real desire to create something pretty special for our students and to work with a really fantastic team of educators – to have that acknowledgment was just the icing on the cake for us,” he said.
Over the past 34 years Mr Symms has worked in a variety of roles in the public and independent schooling sectors, including in high and low socioeconomic areas, major cities, and regional Queensland. His passion and determination to see teachers’ work valued and celebrated has made him a great advocate for the teaching profession.
Throughout his career, Mr Symms has sought to teach across all year levels with the aim of developing a thorough understanding of children’s learning and developmentally appropriate teaching.
Even in the early years of his career, Mr Symms was identified as an outstanding teacher, and asked to mentor beginning teachers with an ‘open classroom’ approach and through model lessons.
Mr Symms was also selected to serve on School Registration Panels to guide schools on their improvement agendas, has been a Director of Curriculum at every year level, and has worked alongside many teachers to support their development. He has coached sporting teams, led musicals, and organised and accompanied students on national and international school trips, but he says the most important role he has played in his career is that of a classroom teacher.
“Watching a child encounter a difficulty and then working with them to conquer that and then seeing that moment on their face when they can do it – you form relationships, and school teaching is all about relationships,” Mr Symms said.
The QCT Excellence in Teaching Awards winners will be announced on 27 October, when Queensland celebrates World Teachers’ Day.
Congratulations Jeff on being a finalist.