Shaping the Future: Peter’s Vision for Year 10 at Santa Maria College

Science Teacher Peter Hanbidge has a wealth of knowledge and 13 years of experience at Santa Maria College. With previous leadership positions in the UK, it was no surprise that Peter was appointed Year 10 Dean this year.

Read on to learn more about Peter, his path to Santa Maria College and his vision for Year 10 students this year.

Can you tell us about your teaching background before Santa Maria College?

I started teaching at the Becket Catholic School in Nottingham in 1998 as a Science Teacher. During my time at the school, I took on the roles of Head of Year 8 for seven years and Second in Science for four years. In 2006, I decided to have a sea change and move to the Bangkok Patana British International School in Thailand. It was an excellent opportunity to experience teaching in an international climate and pursue an opportunity to teach the International Baccalaureate Higher Level, conducting ecological investigations in tropical rainforests and coral reefs. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in education, particularly in science?

I was interested in learning new things and solving problems from a young age. My A-Level Biology and Chemistry teachers profoundly impacted my decision to work in education. They were ahead of their time in terms of pedagogy and student engagement. I recall being amazed at the prevalence of microorganisms in our environment and that bacteria were both harmful and beneficial and then interlinking the key concepts of chemistry with all aspects of the human body. 

While studying for my university degree, I committed to completing service hours at disadvantaged schools in Hull in the UK. My role was as a teacher support. I realised I had a real passion for education, which persuaded me to complete my teaching qualification. Scientific thinking opens a universe of wonder and possibilities. It stretches from the microscopic nature of cells and molecules and extends to the grand tapestry of the cosmos. This capacity to inspire and ignite curiosity makes the teaching and learning of science genuinely remarkable. The reminder to “teach the wonders of the universe” encapsulates the essence of science education: to instil a sense of marvel and an eagerness to understand the world beyond our immediate perception.

What motivated you to apply for the position of Dean of Year 10?

I have been truly blessed at Santa Maria, having worked as a Homeroom teacher for 12 years and seeing two cohorts from Year 7 onwards while working with some fantastic Deans. Upon arriving in Australia and after working in a similar role in the UK, I knew I wanted to return to a leadership position. However, a busy family life, coupled with family illness, delayed my return. When the opportunity arose to take on the role this year, I jumped at the opportunity. The role has changed since previously being in a similar position. Social media has had a profound impact. Becoming a Dean of Year 10 students is a role that offers me the opportunity to significantly impact young people’s lives at a pivotal stage in their education. It involves guiding students as they navigate the challenges of adolescence and academic pressures. My motivation to take on such a role stems from a desire to contribute to student wellbeing while fostering a positive learning culture within the cohort and supporting students to achieve their full potential. 

In your opinion, what are some of the challenges facing Year 10 students today?

The transition into Year 10 marks a pivotal stage in a student’s educational journey. It is a year filled with new responsibilities, academic pressures, and looming decisions about future pathways. The key challenges facing students are academic pressures, social dynamics, future planning and personal development. I hope that during my role this year, I can help students develop successful strategies to overcome these challenges.

Regarding academic pressures, we have already started this process with the program developed by Dr Jane Genovese, which looks at specific study skills to make study more effective. We will also focus on time management to ensure a balanced study schedule that includes sport, leisure and socialisation. Goal setting is the key focus during Year 10 so that tasks can be broken down into manageable goals to avoid being overwhelmed.

Social dynamics bring about changes in social circles, which has played a significant role in my position so far. The changes in social circles can lead to feelings of isolation and peer pressure. Working with the Health Services Team, we have been working on ‘Deers and Gives’ (hopefully, your daughter can relate to these terms). Crucial to this are my conversations with students about staying true to themselves, building support networks with like-minded peers, and communicating with trusted adults or counsellors about social concerns. I certainly hope students are aware of the open-door policy I operate and the relationships I have tried to build thus far.

This term is crucial in developing the students’ decision-making process for the future. Obviously, this can be pretty daunting. During this term in Pastoral Care Time, we will explore careers and pathway options, have presentations, and talk to professionals to facilitate the student’s decision-making process. I think it is essential for students to remain open-minded and remember that they can change their minds as they grow and learn more about themselves. Students need to remember that they will never walk alone during this process. During Year 10, the students will significantly develop personally, leading to potential self-doubt. I prioritise with the students their self-care (both mental and physical), positive self-talk and self-reflection.

Every challenge faced in Year 10 is an opportunity to learn and become more resilient. I hope students embrace the journey and reach out for support when needed.

What are your interests and hobbies outside work?

Spending time with my family and friends is my top priority outside of work, as well as watching my children play and enjoy sports (plus being their taxi driver). We have a cavoodle called Ruby, who dictates much of our time with the amount of love and attention she needs. Unfortunately, I also have a massive allegiance to Liverpool Football Club, which, in my younger years, was always a joyful experience. Now, it seems to be littered with false hope each year.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would love to go to dinner with Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool FC (soon to be retired). He is charismatic and knows how to motivate, be resilient, and present himself in the best possible way. He has shown transformational leadership and always has a positive mindset.

Peter, thank you for sharing your vision for our Year 10 students as they navigate this important year ahead. 

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