Treehorn Express:

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience – all well tested.


Distinguished Guest Writer

Les Treichel

image[2]If there is a more experienced educator in Australia than Les Treichel, I should like to meet him or her. His astounding, genuine, dedicated service to children started as a primary teacher at Beaudesert, then Southport 1959-60.  From small school to large as a hands-on principal in the most remote and urban places in Queensland,  he served at Wahpunga, Kajabbi, Burketown, Minbun, Boulia. Kin Kin, Aramac and Theodore [both with Secondary Departments], Weir [Townsville] from 1961 to 1978. As an Inspector of Schools, he flew with pollen on his wings in the Northern, Brisbane North, North Western, Darling Downs, South Western Regions and was the inaugural Regional Director for the Sunshine Coast, based at Nambour until 1991 when he was appointed as State Director for the Priority Country Area Program, known as PCAP.

In the 1992 state elections, Les contested the newly created electorate of Maroochydore. Unsuccessful, he was subsequently submitted to some of the worst forms of politico-bureaucratic skulduggery ever inflicted on a teacher whose desire to teach children was intense. Determined, he undertook occasional employment with the then managerialised Department as a temporary teacher and supply teacher at a number of schools on the Sunshine Coast from 1995 to 1998.  Wishing to return to principalship, he was forced to start again towards the lower rungs of the promotional ladder at Bollon School in 1998, then as acting-principal at St. George Primary in 1999.  He took all that was thrown at him on the chin. In 2000 he served as Principal Education Officer Performance Measurement [in Roma] and as Staff College Director for the S.W. Region. Following a year of acting principal at Injune, Charleville, Wycombe and St George High, he became the Principal Education Officer [Performance Management] for Roma and Warwick Districts, then spent 2008 as Executive Director [Schools] in Roma followed by Principal Education Officer for the Darling Downs South West Region.  He retired in July 2010;  fifty-one years after he started in that classroom in Beaudesert.

I first met Les Treichel, when, as principal at Boulia State School, he was teaching about 8 children in Years 10, 11, 12 on the veranda of a dilapidated school.  A dedicated reader of professional literature, he had a unique capacity for converting useful ideas from his readings into action. I recall his subject-based classroom arrangements at Aramac and a unique resource centre in an old, isolated room at Theodore. He mentored a large number of teachers and principals who now influence useful learning habits in children in many parts of the state. When he retired at 70 years of age, he was as innovative, professionally stimulated and intuitive as he was at any time in his productive career.  If I was an Education Minister and wanted to know which way learner-based schooling ought to go, I’d have a good long talk with the most experienced teacher [that I know] in Australia…..and respect his opinions.  His views expressed below are those of a person who knows what he is talking about.

[When I asked Les for a photo, he returned the above with the caption, “”Let’s unshackle NAPLAN for education.”]

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Will “Caring for Kids” be at the heart of the “moral crusade” that will define the legacy of those in whom we place our trust on September 14? Unfortunately kids don’t have the right to vote but I guess there is a tendency for those holding the decision-making power not to listen to them anyway. However, School Principals, Teachers and Parents do have that right and in exerting it “Caring for Kids” should always remain the centre-point of their considerations.

The “crusade” currently being led by those in power is nothing short of being “immoral”, ignoring as it does the basic premise and tenets of how children learn and how best to cater for their educational growth and developmental needs.

The school curriculum has been high-jacked by an imported, farcical testing regime which has resulted in Teaching and Learning being subsumed by Terror, Testing and Intimidation!

School Principals, teachers and kids have become the “whipping posts” in the course of the school curriculum becoming increasingly “NAPLANISED”. In the process the true spirit of learning has been killed and “robotic kids” are now being engineered through assembly-line production techniques to take their place in and contribute to an ever-changing global society that demands so much more than the narrow set of learning experiences to which they are now being exposed and into which they seem securely locked.

One must be seriously concerned about what the future holds for these kids and for our nation as a whole. Not only will these “Naplanised Victims of the System” be ill-equipped to meaningfully participate and positively contribute to society, their inherent potential as creative, well-rounded, thinking individuals committed to life-long learning will have been stifled.

What has NAPLAN data really revealed? Absolutely nothing that School Principals and classroom teachers don’t already know! Our schools are best placed to know exactly the specific challenges that beset them in their unrelenting quest to deliver quality Teaching and Learning which will, in turn, maximise student learning outcomes.

They know and relate to their individual students in caring and clinically meaningful ways and certainly do not need any imposed battery of external “point-in-time” tests to flag under-performance or to identify individual student achievement levels. Their comprehensive school-based internal school monitoring systems and associated data bases are well-structured to provide all such relevant information.

Understandably they become disenchanted when their school is distastefully nationally and publicly ranked by the NAPLAN fanatics. Such rankings fail to take into account the myriad of factors contributing to the score line and simply act to denigrate the well-intentioned endeavours of the band of dedicated school personnel who are working under duress. Consequently school morale suffers!

Our schools simply require Government support in terms of enhanced human, material and financial resource provision in order to address the short-comings of which they are all well and truly aware and need no NAPLAN reminder! The bulging NAPLAN PURSE should be re-directed towards meeting this end!

“Education Smart” politicians will commit to rekindling the “love of learning” and in doing so take immediate action to snuff the raging NAPLAN FIRE and re-direct the massive wastage of taxpayers’ funds to the schools and classrooms where every dollar counts and where every dollar stands the only chance of making a real difference to children’s learning.

“Education Smart” politicians will take the time to listen to the workforce and flexibly respond to the unique and locally-informed needs expressed by those who are confronted daily by what must seem as insurmountable barriers inhibiting effective Teaching and Learning.

“Education Smart” politicians will realise that NAPLAN is irrelevant as both an accountability and diagnostic tool and will seek to re-introduce a more humanised approach in assessing, supporting and developing our diverse range of school communities.






“What has NAPLAN data really revealed? Absolutely nothing that School Principals and classroom teachers don’t already know! Our schools are best placed to know exactly the specific challenges that beset them in their unrelenting quest to deliver quality Teaching and Learning, which will, in turn, maximize student learning outcomes.” [Les Treichel ]


Click: ‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen

February 17th  2013



  1. Pingback: School Administrators: What I Have Learned. | Expat Teacher Man

  2. An extremely sad day for education in this country when we read that Treehorn’s greatest all-time advocate is calling it a day! Phil you have throughout your long career been truly inspirational and can rest assured that your efforts have touched the hearts and minds of so many – professionals and kids alike! It’s been nothing short of “excellence personified” in all that you have done in the interests of kids. Your enlightened legacy will long live on and you can rest assured you will be remembered and remembered for all the right reasons! THANKYOU on behalf of Queensland Kids and the Principals and Teachers to whom you have devoted your life and contributed so much.
    My Very Best Wishes
    Les Treichel

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