Profile: Craig Monaghan, Executive Principal, UP International College


Can you briefly describe your career pathway?

I studied at Otago University and then taught mathematics at Rangitoto College, Pinehurst and Saint Kentigern College whilst building my career in pastoral and curriculum management. These experiences led to a Deputy Headship at Shirley Boy’s High School, a Principalship at Auckland International College and then finally before leaving overseas, Headmaster at Westlake Boy’s High School.

It was then my family and I embarked on an international school leadership career where we spent 11 years working and living in different continents and contexts and leading various curricula including International Baccalaureate, the National Curriculum of England and Wales ([I]GCSE and A-levels), International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and the American Middle States Curriculum.

We have recently returned home and I have been appointed the Executive Principal of UP International College in Queen Street. We are thoroughly enjoying being home.


What attracted you to the Principal’s role at UP International College?

After spending 11 years in international schooling across Africa, Europe and Asia my wife and I felt it was time to return home. I was waiting for the right position to come up when UP International College advertised. The role was very different to any other role I had undertaken with a focus on excellence in the online and hybrid pedagogies. The fact that UP Education is a leading player in the preparation for international students in Australasia and was striving to grow was a key part of my choice to want to be part of this journey.


How would you describe UP International College?

UP International College's core purpose is as an education provider that partners with universities in New Zealand and Australia to provide preparation courses to successfully transition learners into English-speaking university study. UP International College New Zealand was established in 1999 and its core operations can be summarised as providing university foundation study programmes for international students and general English study programmes for international students. It is a wonderful learning environment, and the organisation is committed to being a leader in not only international education but also in online/hybrid learning.


What do you hope to achieve through your leadership of UP International College?

I want us to be a world leader in both foundation studies for international students as well as online/hybrid learning. We are very well set up in this regard and as a result, our staff are constantly evolving their practice to be the best in field. We have an extremely experienced team who care greatly for their students. We are also developing some amazing online platforms and practices and want to lead the way in these areas in Australasia and further afield.


How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

I would outline my most important leadership philosophies as:

  • Inclusive – collaboration, discussion and debate are all important in formulating the best decisions for the school
  • Direct – honesty and being upfront is always respected by all stakeholders
  • Available – I try to lead by example and be available and visible
  • Student-focused – decisions should always be made with the best interests of the students. Demonstrating integrity and acting with it is very important in this regard
  • People-centric – I believe that if you appoint the best people and then guide them but allow them to find their own way then you tend to get the best result. This way a leader can be strategic and look ahead
  • High expectations of all – living what you expect of others enables one to expect hard work and a high level of competence from all staff to provide the very best for our students
  • High quality staff – I believe my most important job is the recruitment and retention of the very best staff. This is a responsibility that I take very seriously.


What do you see as the benefits of leading an independent school?

After having worked in state and independent systems both focus on academic achievement, however, independent schools have the freedom to design and implement our own curriculum. They also enable a leader to be open to take innovative approaches without the same level of limitations imposed by bureaucracy.