The Goldilocks Principle

Throughout my years teaching senior students I have often talked to them about “The Goldilocks Principle”. I’m sure someone much smarter and wiser than myself thought it up many years ago, but it just popped into my head when I was talking to some students a few years back and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Of course it’s just a fancy way of describing doing things in moderation, or having a healthy balance, or finding the sweet spot.

When students ask me how much work they should be doing outside of school hours I just tell them to follow The Goldilocks Principle – not too much, not too little, but just the right amount.
This works for pretty much everything in life – apart from Lego, where you can never have too much, and if you do you need to build a new shed to put it in!

The most difficult aspect of The Goldilocks Principle is trying to work out how much is just right. Goldilocks showed us that we need to test different options, know our limits, and be content with the option that is just right for us. Sometimes you break some things along the way, but in the end you find the right option.

We have also been applying this principle to the growth of our school.

The last few years have seen a rate of growth that I have not seen since we started teaching Year 11 and 12 here at PCS back in 2014. It would be easy for us to pat ourselves on the back and try to keep getting as many students as possible, however that’s not our aim.

Instead, we want to find the sweet spot, the healthy balance, the right option for our school.

Too many students leads to bigger classes with less individual attention for students. More competition for places in sporting teams and performances, which can be discouraging for those not at the top of the tree. A culture where data and numbers become more important than people and their values.

Too few students means that there is not enough healthy competition to drive people to excel. Fewer resources and subjects to choose from. A less diverse school community that can become insular.

At the moment, we are moving into the Goldilocks Zone where we have just the right number of students. We are able to fund exciting new building projects, offer a full range of subjects, buy plenty of resources for our students, promote healthy competition in an environment where everyone is valued and not overlooked.

We still have more growing to do, but we will make sure we do it the right way. Our new enrolment policy is the first step towards this.

In a few years time we will most likely be a school of around 300-320 students which will be just about perfect. We are in an exciting time as a school and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.


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