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Michael Hornby


A stunning school transformation which has seen enrolments triple, parent and community engagement soar, students receive life-changing scholarships and cutting-edge career training offered for the first time in Queensland, has led to a principal winning a state award.

Just six years after Mick Hornby took the helm at Logan’s Mabel Park State High School (MPSHS), enrolments have grown from about 500 to 1500, multicultural events showcasing its students’ 71 cultures have attracted up to 10,000 people, some students have received $30,000 scholarships to study at university, and nearly all of its graduates have attained Queensland Certificates of Education, despite experiencing some of the state’s toughest socio-economic circumstances.

MPSHS also introduced Queensland’s first on-site state school GP clinic, a model now being rolled out across the state.

Mr Hornby’s dedication to his diverse school community, his commitment to valuing teachers and their professional development, his innovative projects, his focus on inclusion, and a ‘student first’ policy are just some of the reasons he has been named the winner of this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award.

Under Mr Hornby’s leadership MPSHS was the first school in Queensland to introduce a Certificate III in an Aviation drone course. It was also the first in the state to create, develop and implement a Health Hub on site, with donated hospital equipment, where students attain Certificates in Individual Support and careers in hospitals, aged-care and the disability sector.

Mr Hornby, who has a Master of Education in Inclusion and was awarded a Harvard Club of Australia Principal Leadership Scholarship, said “phenomenal” staff, celebrating students’ and their families’ cultures, listening to teachers and students, including when asking them “How do we make the school better?” when he first arrived, and changing the teaching framework, were behind the school’s flourishing.

“Then the Health Hub – that was critical, I think. That was a big risk because no one had done it before. That allowed people to go, ‘Oh hang on, that’s what is going on at Mabel’, and then that allowed people to see us in a different light,” Mr Hornby said.

The school is working with universities which provide scholarships and professors who mentor students; it has introduced a hair and beauty salon for training and a sporting excellence program; it has overhauled its teaching framework and introduced extensive and multi-layered professional development for teachers. It’s also piloting a flexible space program for disengaged students.

Mr Hornby said another turning point was when MPSHS held a multicultural festival with rides and student cultural performances, and about 10,000 people showed up.

“It was like the floodgates opened and everyone came. By celebrating our cultural diversity, that’s when we had the influx of students … I really love the cultural diversity here.”

He said introducing an on-site GP clinic was about putting students at the heart of schooling.

“We can’t educate students in the class if they’ve got health issues. It is just another layer or another safety net for kids. Our community … they just love it. They love the fact that their son or daughter can see the GP quickly in school time, at no cost, and they can walk back to class,” Mr Hornby said.

“You put students at the heart of everything,” he said.

Mr Hornby has won $5,000 for professional development.

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