About Tony McLaughlin
(Dip.Teach, B.A.,M.Litt, M.Couns)
My experience as an education consultant, classroom teacher, school executive member, coach, trainer, parent and counselor in over thirty years has led me to be able to innovate, respond, manage and interpret various education contexts.
Currently I am working as a free-lance Education Consultant/ Education Counselor as CEO of my business, Big Steps Education. In 2018, I completed a four year engagement as part-time Literacy Consultant to Callaghan College Collegiate in Newcastle. This collegiate comprises two 7 – 10 high schools, Waratah Technology High School and Wallsend High School and the Year 11-12 Jesmond Senior College. These three exciting and innovative schools are working on a range of literacy initiatives that also include their many partner primary schools as well.
I am also currently working with community agencies in engagement strategies and a range of schools in effective pedagogies for gifted and talented students (GATS) and Opportunity Class (OC) engagement and extension. I continue to support private clients in education counseling, especially with students and their readiness for both primary and high school, the preferred learning and classroom environment in which the student can thrive, the best learning style that will allow students to fulfill their own potential, and conflict resolution between parents and schools.
I have worked with the Department of Education & Communities as the Manager of the Priority Schools Program for the Hunter & Central Coast Region until the end of 2013.
Working closely with a talented range of consultants and community officers I developed strategies, structures and supports for schools to engage closely with community, narrow the achievement gap and develop and sustain high expectations.
This followed several years working as Priority Schools Program Consultant in the Hunter Central Coast region where I was focused on developing strategies to redress the gap in achievement between schools from high and low socio-economic status. This led me to work with staff and communities on developing specific strategies in a wide range of primary, secondary and schools for specific purposes throughout the Hunter Region and in Broken Hill.
Underpinning my most recent roles in educational consultancy was over twenty five years in classroom teaching which began at Merungle Hill, in the Riverina in a one-teacher school, where over a few short weeks I realized the fundamental dynamism and challenge of the classroom, a humbling and exciting discovery for myself as a new teacher. Continuing the year as Kinder-Year 1- Year 2 teacher at Whitton Public School near Griffith brought into sharp focus the challenge of engaging and programming for differing ages and abilities.
Transferring back to Sydney gave me extensive experience in the city classroom at Rydalmere East and Annangrove Public Schools as I faced challenges responding to the needs of those respective school communities. Experiencing the remarkable outcomes of differentiation, seeing the strong link between the classroom and school community sports and cultural events, devising valid extension strategies for talented students, achieving a balance between explicit teaching, student voice and student involvement in the teaching process were all challenges that I embraced.
A subsequent return to country NSW with my young family extended and built on my educational experiences and resources. At Narrandera Public School I was able to experience the diverse learning and teaching benefits of whole school initiatives that engaged staff, students and community through writing, producing school musicals and linking creativity to student engagement; program monitoring with focus on assessment tools and more explicit knowledge of visual learning were other features of teaching at a large country primary school. At Boorowa Central School teaching within the primary section on a school campus that extended from Kindergarten to Year 12 I became involved in transition initiatives and developed the strategies and understandings of middle schooling and vertical learning strategies.
Following a new career direction and after achieving post-graduate qualifications in Australian literature I was appointed to All Saints’ College, Bathurst, a Kindegarten – Year 12 day and boarding school as English teacher and Transition Coordinator. In this new role I developed transition strategies for students from a wide range of geographical and cultural origins in their move from primary to high school as well as teaching high school English, History and Drama.
Subsequently I was appointed Head Teacher of English, Drama & Languages and taught English and Drama from Year 6 to Year 12 HSC level. Being part of the integration of Key Learning Areas as a curriculum tool, the implementation of extension programs for gifted students and the application of boys’ education research and initiatives were particular educational projects that greatly enriched my teaching experience whilst at All Saints’ College; periods as an HSC marker in both English and Drama further intensified my knowledge of senior schooling.
It was following this last teaching experience that I moved to Newcastle and work as an educational consultant with the Department of Education and Communities mentioned previously. Drawing on my experiences in all these various educational settings, I am ready and excited to work with whole school communities, principals, teachers and parents, to continue to support children’s learning and their engagement in education.
- Master of Guidance and Counselling – James Cook University (M.Couns)
- Master of Letters – University of New England (M.Litt)
- Bachelor of Arts – Macquarie University (BA)
- Diploma of Teaching – Westmead Teachers College (Dip. Teach)