ONE of the first questions a student asked Canobolas Rural Technology High School's new principal Brett Blaker was 'how long are young going to hang around?'.
The question sums up the tumultuous time the school has had during the past few years and it didn't surprise Mr Blaker, in fact it's one area he'll be looking to address in his tenure at the school, which started at the beginning of term, two week's ago.
The former deputy principal at Pittwater High School on the Northern Beaches, Mr Blaker has hit the ground running at Canobolas, working with interim principal Chantelle Phair for a sturdy handover at the end of term four.
Ms Phair has had the helm for the past two terms while Molong principal Michelle Barrett took the school through the opening term this year. Both were caretaking the role after the school underwent an independent review in 2020 and lost its previous principal.
Mr Blaker said he "was in for the long haul" and has stressed that to staff, parents and the almost 700 students.
"One thing it comes back to is the lack of stability in leadership. It's going to be a long journey and process to get the school moving in the right direction," he said.
"'How long are you going to hang around for', ... it's going to take time to change that mindset and build trust but the longer I'm here the longer that will continue to evolve.
"I don't plan on leaving anytime soon."
Prior to Pittwater High, Mr Blaker honed his craft at Sefton High School in Sydney's south west, starting as a PE teacher before moving into head teacher (administration) and then deputy principal, a position he held for five years.
The 2020 review unearthed a number of failings at CRTH, while last year's behavioural problems and staff shortages are well documented but Mr Blaker believes there is potential in the school and plans to put in place systems that gradually become ingrained to facilitate learning and teaching.
"I did a lot of research into the school before I applied, I had a good insight into the background and the history of the school," he said, adding the experience gained in his previous positions had him prepared for the challenge ahead.
Staff numbers are also much healthier, thanks, Mr Blaker said, to the work of Ms Phair.
"The staffing, in terms of our fulltime capacity, has almost been finalised. We've got probably two or three jobs still up at the moment but that fulltime crisis I've read about in the paper, a lot of those positions have been filled," he said.
"Fingers crossed all of our fulltime positions will be filled starting term one 2022 .And then we promote the sustainability of that staffing and hopefully ... get structures in place so we can try and lose that stigma of instability."
Mr Blaker said the leadership team at the school was relatively inexperienced but the enthusiasm was tangible.
"I've spoken to the majority of our executive team in the past week and a half since I've been here and everyone's really keen and enthusiastic to be here and get some quality systems in place."
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