WESTERN Sydney's newly-minted principals have hit the books and meeting rooms hard ahead of school term, and Peter Gurrier-Jones is no exception.
The principal of The Hills School at Northmead is among 60 educators in NSW to take on the role in 2013.
He first came to the school — which caters for youth aged four to 18 with physical and intellectual disabilities — as a teacher in 2002, and has spent the past two years as deputy principal.
"I've been involved in strategic school management and leadership for years — the difference is now that I am leading it and guiding the vision for the school," he said. "It's an awesome responsibility, but very exciting. I'm definitely ready."
Mr Gurrier-Jones' previous work as a consultant for early intervention services in western Sydney, and in human resources for a private company employing people with a disability, left him with a clear idea of the skills and learning opportunities that would most benefit students in later years.
"It's really important to understand those areas because we're preparing life-long learners [who] can be successful while at school, but also develop their skills so they're prepared, not just for here and now, but for life," he said.
"Any bit of independence our students can gain through learning . . . that's our key focus.
"You become part of the journey of their life through that individual approach and it's a real community here, so people feel like they belong and they want to belong."