Director, The Learner First Australia
Chris Dench is a passionate educator with 32 years’ experience working predominantly in low socio-economic communities where he moved through classroom teaching to principalship. He led Kilcoy SHS in Queensland, Australia between 2013 and 2020, and is incredibly proud that Kilcoy became the school of “choice” for families in that area, which came about as a result of the work by every member of the school community being “visible, explicit, and deliberate” with the changes Chris led in both curriculum and pedagogy.
He is a culture and success leader believing every child can achieve progress and has walked alongside a number of schools since 2020 on their journey to build a culture that recognizes all students and works to improve their learning outcomes while developing skills and competency for life after school.
“I joined The Learner First team because I know that this work is the right work at the right time. Looking to create classrooms that are equitable, engaging, and differentiated where every child is valued is a lifelong dream of mine. The competencies that are embedded are global, and as our students become part of this world I see how every one of them can contribute to make both their lives and the lives of others healthy and positive.”
Chris’s Journey to Contributive Learning
“I was Principal at Kilcoy SHS from 2013-2019 and during this time worked as ‘Principal Professional Colleague’ with the North Coast Region and completed Acting Principal stints at Coolum SHS and Tullawong SHS.
Kilcoy SHS since 2013 has gone from the default choice of high school for the Kilcoy community to the high school of choice being acknowledged through two School Review cycles as an outstanding school providing a world-class education.
In 2015 Kilcoy SHS embarked on a path to Deeper Learning, and through a visible, explicit, and deliberate roll out of this initiative has developed a culture of success, achievement, and connectedness for all students. Outstanding student success over the last four years can be attributed to and tracked through the roll out of this initiative. During this time, I led a team that presented its work at international conferences in Toronto and Vancouver and at numerous state and regional conferences.
In 2019 Kilcoy SHS engaged in ‘The Learner First’ framework, seeing it as the next logical step for the school community. The Learner First framework brings the whole child clearly into the center of all that a school does, helping to develop a feeling of meaning and fulfillment for students.
Kilcoy SHS is seen as a leader in this field and was asked to join a pilot project conducted by the Department of Education to develop a Curriculum for Global Competence for the state of Queensland.”