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Bad Apple Bully school principals and departmental officers can bully Australian teachers into ill health - and out of work!

Walgett Community College primary school executive principal - Nathaniel Train's story.

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In the early 2000's Nathaniel Train was working as principal at Trinity Beach State School, north of Cairns.

Former student Reegan Hanley said he had been her principal at the school and she had only positive memories. "He was a great principal," she said. "You could walk down the hall and he'd be walking down opposite and he'd stop and have a conversation with you."

in 2011 Nathaniel arrived at Innisfail East State School in far north Queensland.

Innisfail East State School was one of Australia's 10 per cent most disadvantaged primary schools.

Half of the students are indigenous.

It was not unusual for the students at Innisfail East State School to refuse to take their feet off the desk. 

Attendance was low and academic results were worse.

Two years after Nathaniel Train's arrival at the school, an analysis of NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy) results conducted for The Weekend Australian by the Grattan Institute showed that Innifail East was scoring above the national average in reading, writing and numeracy.

The secret to Nathaniel's success was encouraging passionate teachers not to waste a moment of classroom time on needless "busy work", regular and rigorous statistical analysis of results; spending the equivalent of two days a week as principal in the classroom; and, above all, a relentless drive for excellence.

Rather than a hodge-podge of lessons, each Innisfail East teacher had a tight, daily schedule to follow, with an overwhelming focus on literacy and numeracy. Each class begins with a "warm up", a recited xhant used to commit cruicial information from short to long-term memory.

"I'm astounded at how quickly things have turned around," Mr Tran said, of his students' NAPLAN results. 

In 2017 Nathaniel Tran was living at Kewarra Beach and working as principal of Yorkey's Knob State School in far north Queensland.

He had a reputation as a "mild mannered" ace educator. 

Carla H's children attended the school. "He was always thinking about the kid's learning and futures," she said. "It's sad to see this has happened."

Mother Courtney P. recalled how she and her husband had specifically chosen to enrol their son at Yorkey's Knob State School because of Mr Train's sterling reputation as a principal.

"I liked Mr Train. I liked his sound teaching ethos of bringing up children to be independent and responsible even at a young age."

Under Mr Tran's management, Yorkey's Knob State School came in at number 25 in a ranking of Queensland's best NAPLAN results for 2019 and recorded the best primary school results in the Far North.

In 2018 the school's Year 3 classes achieved results ranking them in the top 20 Queensland primary schools according to the Better Education website. 

Nathaniel voluntarily resigned in March 2020. 

In May 2020, Nathaniel was the principal of BUSY schools in Cairns.

In a media interview he said some of the school's enrolment came from the juvenile justice system.

"We don't take students that are highly violent or will endanger other students; we are a hand up, not a handout," Mr Train said at the time. 

In 2021, then aged 45, Nathaniel was working as executive principal of Walgett Community College Primary School in northern NSW. 

On 11 May, 2021, Nathaniel met NSW Department of Education deputy secretary Murat Dizdar and education leadership director Tom Ballard.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell denied that Nathaniel raised allegations or provided material relating to cheating at Walgett Community College Primary School. 

In August 2021, Nathaniel left Walgett primary school, after suffering a heart attack. 

In March 2022 the NSW Education Department say that Nathaniel officially ceased to be employed.

After Nathaniel ceased to be officially  employed by the NSW Education Department, he raised allegations of teacher-assisted cheating at Walgett primary school.

In March 2022 Nathaniel emailed the NSW Education Department 16 times in a two-week period with his concerns.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said Train's 16 emails were referred to the "responsible functional unit within the department for attention and appropriate action". 

Editor's comment - Which was what exactly? 

What action was taken by the NSW Education "responsible functional unit" to investigate this alleged cheating - alleged cheating that had clearly very much upset executive principal Nathaniel Train? 

Nathaniel Train also approached One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham with his concerns about the alleged cheating.

Mr Latham said Nathaniel had been left bitter and bruised by his experience with the NSW Education Department.

"He was a passionate school reformer who had to leave for a health reason but was determined for his work [at Walgett Community College Primary School] to go on and was disappointed when it didn't," Mr Latham said.

Mr Latham disputed reports that the emails Nathaniel sent to the NSW Education Department indicated a decline in his mental health.

"He contacted me as a passionate and concerned former principal whose sole motivation was the best interest of Indigenous kids - and he had documentation that supported his complaint," Mr Latham said.

In April 2022 Mr Latham asked questions in the NSW Parliament, raising Tran's concerns, including allegations that teachers were helping students cheat in NAPLAN tests. 


Nathaniel Train is now being described as "a disgruntled former school principal".  

But wouldn't it be more honest to describe Nathaniel Train as "a disillusioned former NSW school principal" ?


At about 4.40pm on Monday 12 December 2022, Nathaniel Train, his brother Gareth and Gareth's wife Stacey Train shot and killed two police officers and an innocent neighbour in a cold-blooded ambush. 

Nathaniel, Gareth and Stacey were then killed after a shoot-out with the Special Emergency Response Team. 


Cane-country schools teach a lesson in how to defy disadvantage , Sarah Elks, Justine Ferrari, The Australian, 1 June, 2013

Wieambilla shootout : From recluse and teacher to cold-blooded killers, Remy Varga, Liam Mendes,  Georgina Noak, The Australian, 14 December, 2022

Qld police shooting: Principal turned cop killer's despair at education failings,  Thomas Chamberlin, Kate Kyriacou and Samantha Scott, The Courier Mail, 14 December 2022

Yorkeys in shock at ex-principal's role, Alison Paterson and Kristina Puljak, The Cairns Post, p3, 14 December 2022 


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