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High praise for Cardijn principal


A principal of two southern Adelaide Catholic schools is one of three school leaders from South Australia officially recognised for their dedication to education and professional learning in the annual John Laing Awards for Professional Development, managed by Principals Australia Institute.

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Paul Rijken, Angela Falkenberg (Marryatville Primary School) and Peter Mader (President, SA Secondary Principals Association) had their commitment to education and consistent demonstration of outstanding school leadership recognised at a special presentation in Adelaide recently.

Mr Rijken has been principal of Cardijn College in Noarlunga Downs since 2005 and also principal of Marcellin Technical College since 2016. He is described as an innovative and motivated leader and has overseen significant professional development in his schools which has permeated through Catholic Education SA.

He was described as building strong relationships and an effective leader of change who values academic learning and the lens it provides to understanding teaching and learning.

As principal of Cardijn College, a school with a large number of early-career teachers, Mr Rijken has consistently demonstrated aspirational leadership and has enabled staff to qualify as highly accomplished and ‘lead’ teachers embarking on their own school leadership journey.

Throughout his career, Mr Rijken has promoted professional learning through his capacity to engage all staff with projects aligned with the school’s strategic goals. He also actively encourages teachers to undertake further study.

In recent years, Mr Rijken has led a system-wide initiative for school improvement through teacher feedback involving more than 30 schools. The project, through Curtin University, began at Cardijn College under his leadership. He has worked closely with all of the other principals who participate in the program and has led study tours to explore optimal teaching and learning environments.

The Principals Australia Institute said Mr Rijken’s education initiatives stemmed from evidence-based research: “He is committed to achieving the best possible student outcomes and is a strong advocate for teaching professionalism.”


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