Australian Primary Principals Association - Connected Leader: The APPA e-journal for Australian primary school leaders


August 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Recently the APPA National Advisory Council (NAC) met in Adelaide. It has been a while since we’ve met there and our South Australian representatives appreciated the short journey and also ensured our visit and meeting was successful and enjoyable. We began by welcoming new NAC members, Louise Peyton (Ind. NT) and Brad Nelson (Ind. Vic). During the meeting it was also highlighted that there will be some members retiring at the end of the year. I will acknowledge these members in a later edition.

I would like to highlight just some of the key topics discussed at the APPA NAC meeting and positions agreed to by the NAC. You’ll also see mention of three of our Business Partners who took the time to speak with us while in Adelaide.


The Coalition has been returned and has formed government with Senator Simon Birmingham reappointed as Minister for Education. APPA was asked to provide a response to the government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes document. This was discussed during our meeting and a response paper will be finalised over the next week. The key focus will be on literacy, numeracy and STEM; school leadership development; and the resourcing of primary schools to prepare our students to work in a global 21st Century world.

NAPLAN Online Trial

APPA is continuing to push the position that the online writing assessment is not supported for Year 3. We have raised this issue in various forums. The Education Council (all education ministers) Communiqué notes that Year 3 Writing will be a jurisdictional decision for 2017. Principals associations will look to meet with state ministers about the decision to move to NAPLAN Online and the various implications. Actions supported by your representatives included:

  1. Continue to advocate that NAPLAN results for individual schools not be published on My School.
  2. Research the value of NAPLAN and its impact.
  3. Support sample testing of literacy and numeracy as a way of capturing national student achievement data.
  4. Continue to meet with ACARA to present principals’ questions and concerns.
  5. Survey principals involved in the trials.
  6. Contact state and territory education ministers detailing concerns and issues.

Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey

The National Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey is open. There has been a great response already and we encourage every principal to complete the survey. Our focus will be to draw out evidence of the impact of strategies or actions that employers and school principals themselves have implemented, or will be implementing, to improve principal health and wellbeing. In addition, APPA will support a follow-up project in collaboration with Camp Australia, to develop a framework of support that employers could provide to assist principals in their role and in managing their health and wellbeing.

APPA Leadership Program: Next Generation Principal

We have developed an implementation support page for the Leaders Shadowing Leaders package. This has been distributed to state and territory associations. We look forward to supporting associations in piloting the project. The package provides a shadowing framework for aspiring principals to gain valuable insight onto the leading and managing a school.

Academy Photography

While in Adelaide we caught up with Academy Photography, one of silver partners. Natalie Kelly (Academy CEO) outlined the brilliant range of services and products available to schools across Australia. Visit the Academy Photography website to find out more. Your support of APPA Business Partners is appreciated!

AITSL Leadership Scenarios

The leadership scenarios and leadership pathways projects are now on the AITSL website. The scenarios focus on common challenges that face new and experienced principals. The videos will present the challenge and provide successful leadership strategies and recommended resources. The NAC recommended the scenarios being used at local principals association meetings.

AITSL have also announced the release of the Graduate to Proficient: Australian guidelines for teacher induction into the profession. More information will follow to support the guidelines. The guidelines are available on the AITSL website.

Principals Australia Institute

The KidsMatter and MindMatters programs have funding until December 2016. At this stage, there is no word on when the tender process will start or finish. APPA will be supporting PAI in its bid to continue to support schools with these programs. This will include seeking school and principal association support. These programs are very successful and provide great support to schools to implement positive strategies that promote positive wellbeing and mental health.

APPA has also been discussing with PAI the road forward in regard to principal certification and principal preparation. APPA would support the development of a national framework for aspiring principals with a national accreditation process that is independent of employers. We will update as more information becomes available.

Teachers on Net / Tap for Teacher partnership

At the APPA NAC meeting we welcomed Petrah Haslett from Teachers on Net in launching the new App for schools to simply and easily find relief teachers. We were shown a short video on the functions and use of the App and there was unanimous applause for a system that will change the way we find our teachers. It’s great value and well worth a look!

National Principals Survey

This survey is being funded by the Federal Government. The Department of Education is keen to get the views of principals on a range of topics. The peak principal associations have been involved in consultation with the department on form, function and survey construct. Associations have nominated topics for inclusion, which will be fed into the instrument design.

2017 APPA National Conference Brisbane: 12-15 September

The conference committee have released a flyer outlying some of the keynote speakers with further information to follow. We encourage principals to write the dates on their 2017 calendar. The committee have announced a special one day Aspiring leaders option. Delegates attending the conference can enrol an aspiring leader for the Friday for a greatly reduced price. This day is about supporting our future leaders and giving them an opportunity to join their principal or school leader for the day and participate in the program. Further details will follow when the registration forms are released.

Tough Conversations

Rob Steventon presents the hugely successful Tough Conversations workshops that are presented around the country. Rob spoke to NAC about his work and the fantastic responses he receives each time he works with school leaders and teachers. Tough Conversations is well worth considering for your team.

Thank you to those schools who have already participated in the My Hero Day July 29 (Captain Courageous Foundation). There is still time to support this worthwhile event that is raising funds for Bone Marrow research. If you can help, go to the kids give website for details and view the great video made by the students of Stirling East Primary School in SA

Dennis Yarrington
President, Australian Primary Principals Association
Mobile: 0466 655 468


Are you a Masters student looking for a research project to help principals?

Michael Hawton, psychologist and teacher, who runs the Tough Conversations workshops nationally (see registration form) is seeking an educator who is currently undertaking a higher degree to evaluate the impact of professional development in reducing principals’ stress levels. The research would need to be done ‘at arms’ length’ from the programme developers. There is good anecdotal evidence from the 200+ school leaders, who have already completed the program, that it is benefiting members of our association. But, it is important to build the evidence base. There may be some opportunity to liaise with Associate Professor, Phil Riley, who is willing to discuss any design issues. So, if you’re looking for a topic and you want to do some applied research, please contact Michael Hawton on 0422 214 430. Michael can describe the topic and its parameters.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2017 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2017 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Under the spotlight

August 2016

Janet Baldock

This article about an eight-pupil school’s 100-year anniversary reminds us of the daily multi-tasking required of principals of tiny schools in remote locations like Burra Burri, Queensland.

Tracey Davies & Steven Berezowski

A primary school principal from Richmond, in Adelaide, South Australia, has swapped jobs, for a term, with a primary school principal in Gisborne, New Zealand.

Simon Gipson

The principal of St Michael’s Grammar School, in Melbourne, has announced that he will step down at the end of the year. ‘Simon has transformed St Michael’s over the past 16 years and all of us in the school community will miss his intelligence, wit and creativity,’ said school board chair, Fiona Mead.

Vale, Kerri Parkes

The community of Bletchington Public School, in Orange, NSW, is mourning the death of assistant principal Kerri Parkes, who died recently in a car accident. Heartfelt tributes to her life and work can be read on a website provided by the ‘Central Western Daily’ newspaper.

Mark Merry

Looking back on the first days of his appointment as principal of Yarra Valley Grammar, after a career in secondary education, Mark Merry remembers that one of the first things he did was to read a book to the entire primary school. The Victorian school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2017 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2017 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Locally made ethical school wear

Through their own procurement policies local schools have the power to support an ethical Australian clothing industry and help prevent the exploitation of workers. There are local school wear manufacturers who are committed to making clothes locally the right way.

Ethical Clothing Australia is responsible for accrediting local clothing and footwear manufacturers to ensure that their workers are receiving their legal wages and entitlements, and working in decent conditions.

To find out more contact Ethical Clothing Australia to ask how we can assist your school to source ethically accredited school wear.

Phone: 03 94190222

Learning curve

August 2016

Tribal leadership

Professor of Management at the University of South California, David Logan, talks about the five kinds of tribes that humans naturally form in schools and workplaces. He urges leaders to move their tribe and its culture to Stage 5.

Seven leadership hurdles women face in the workplace

There are seven challenges that women face as they progress through their career. This presenter provides some perceptive advice on how to overcome them.

EdX online courses

edX provides professional learners, from all countries, with access to a range of useful online courses from 90 different organisations and tertiary institutions, including Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the USA. Some courses are time-limited; others are self-paced.

Leading through change and crisis

In Part 4 of this radio interview, US leadership coach Bruce Anderson focuses on helping staff through the implementation of change. To reduce staff anger and frustration, leaders need to communicate clearly, listen with intent and show empathy for those whose work has been impacted, he advises.

Why collaboration is an individual effort

Understanding personalities, people, and their individual needs is essential to collaboration and good teamwork, advises Emily Eldridge.

Written by internationally recognised school and early education experts, Your Child's First Year at School: Getting off to a good start, is highly valued as a home and school resource which provides excellent advice to parents, teachers and all interested in giving childrenthe best possible start at school. Order at:

Legal eagles

August 2016

Legal status of walking to school

A parent in the small rural Queensland town of Miles, has recently been charged by police for breaching the criminal code in relation to child supervision.

Principals asked to sign statutory declaration

As part of a child protection compliance measure required by the Victoria Registration Qualification Authority, school principals in that state are being asked to sign a statutory declaration. According to Henry Grossek, the principal of Berwick Lodge Primary School, ‘it is professionally insulting for government school heads to sign a stat. dec. that says we’re telling the truth. Government school principals are beholden by enough regulations to protect children’s safety without signing this document.’

Untested allegations and trial by media

Before investigations by Victoria Police have been concluded, some parents of children at St Patrick’s Parish Primary School, in Victoria, are agitating for the removal of a portrait of George Pell from the school hall. The situation is a particularly difficult one for the school’s principal and the Mentone-Parkdale Parish. Cardinal George Pell has denied all of the allegations of sexual abuse made against him.

Schoolchildren charged for sexting offences

Children aged between 10 and 17 years make up 29% of the 53 people who have been charged with new sexting offences in Victoria. Australia's first sexting offences came into effect in Victoria in November 2014 following a parliamentary inquiry into the phenomena.

Student arrested for burping

Earlier this year, under a New Mexico law that prohibits anyone from interfering in the education process, a grade seven student was recently handcuffed, arrested and taken to a juvenile detention centre by Albuquerque police officers. The boy had been entertaining his classmates with loud ‘fake burping’ and would not desist, even when removed from the classroom. A US federal appeals court recently upheld the ‘petty misdemeanour’ arrest. The boy was suspended for the rest of the school year.

PR1ME Mathematics—based on the world’s best practice used in Singapore PR1ME has been developed by Scholastic in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Singapore.

How does it work? PR1ME: explicitly and systematically teaches the problem solving processes and strategies; uses consistent and carefully structured pedagogy; takes a carefully scaffolded, deep-dive into conceptual development; actively involves students in metacognition; and provides professional learning for teachers.

Challenge your thinking

August 2016

Toronto brain structure study

A team of Canadian scientists has found similarities in brain impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). According to this report, autism, ADHD and OCD have common symptoms and are linked by some of the same genes.

New study on medicating children with anti-psychotics

Scientists at the Antipsychotic Research Laboratory, at the University of Wollongong, in NSW, have published the results of the first comprehensive study on the long-term use of anti-psychotic drugs in children.

Link between low thyroid function and academic performance

Each year, between one in 3000-4000 Australian babies are born with congenital hypothyroidism, which, if left untreated, can lead to serious intellectual disabilities. The proportion of babies who fall just short of a diagnosis is at least 10 times higher. Recent researchers, such as Associate Professor Natasha Nassar?, from the University of Sydney, suggest that the threshold for identifying the condition might be altered, potentially assisting more children with borderline thyroid levels.

New diagnostic tool for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder

Australia is behind some other western countries, especially Canada and the USA, in its level of support for an estimated 500,000 people who are on the spectrum of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. It is hoped that a new diagnostic tool, released just last month in Australia, will assist with this support, especially for primary school children.

Outdoor learning and child development

A University of Western Sydney academic, Professor Karen Malone, has co-authored a report with an expert in outdoor learning at the University of Plymouth, in the UK. ‘With so much focus on academic attainment, there can be pressure on teachers to stay in the classroom which means children are missing out on so many experiences that will benefit them through their lives,’ said the British co-author Sue Waite.

For 40 years, Scholastic Australia has been partnering with schools across the country to give kids access to books they want to read through Clubs and Fairs. In 2012, Scholastic gave Australian schools over $11 million worth of Scholastic Rewards. To find out how you can spend Scholastic Rewards on resources and save your budget, visit

Balancing act

August 2016

Choose to be positive

Make a deliberate choice to be a positive person, even in a negative workplace, advises Barbara Glanz. You can be the one who changes the atmosphere in your workplace, she says.

What’s it like seeing a psychologist?

An Australian psychologist explains about what it's like seeing a psychologist for the first time. She explains what it's all about, what sort of people see psychologists, and what sort of issues it can help with.

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders undermine one’s mental and physical health. Psychiatrist and sleep expert Dr Sonia Ancoli-Israel discusses insomnia, changing circadian rhythms and non-restorative sleep and provides some useful behavioural strategies.

The health benefits of pets

Pets provide us with a range of proven health benefits. Research has shown that having a pet at home can help ease depression, lower blood pressure and decrease stress.

Defusing hostile behaviour

How do you protect yourself physically and psychologically when someone exhibits hostile behaviour over a seemingly minor issue? This presenter also looks at the causes of unexpected hostility, including stress, medications and untreated mental illness.

Camp Australia delivers after school care solutions, building on the educational experience of school communities. As the nation’s leading after school care provider Camp Australia has partnered with school communities for 25 years, adding value by delivering high quality care, well-trained staff, systems and support. Find out how Camp Australia will add value to your school community at

Body Esteem Education – Not Just for Secondary Schools

Why body esteem education?

Children as young as 4 are already developing a weight bias – thin is good, fat is bad. It is no wonder then that for young people aged 6-19, body image continues to be a significant and growing concern (Mission Australia Youth Survey, BTN Happiness Survey).

It is easy to see then how body esteem, which relates to the thoughts, feelings and attitudes a person has in relation to their physical self, is closely related to self- esteem.

Primary schools do a fantastic job of developing the skills and strategies young people need to cope with the challenges of adolescence and transition to high school. Therefore, including body esteem education into already existing wellbeing programs can further benefit your students.

The Butterfly Foundation has offered Education Services around Australia since 2006 and is considered a reputable leader in prevention focused, body esteem education. Our sessions are evidence based and work to address the modifiable risk factors and protective factors that underpin the development of eating disorders.

How can Butterfly Education support your school?

  • For years 3-6, workshops and presentations with consistent, progressive and appropriate messaging and are mapped to the Australian curriculum.
  • Free to BE: A Body Esteem Resource for years 3-12.
  • Staff professional development on the importance of prevention and implementing strategies.
  • For parents, an interactive session to help families better understand body esteem and support the development of healthy body image in their children.

To find out what services are available in your state contact

Helen Bird – Education Administration
02 8456 3908

If you are concerned about someone contact
The Butterfly Foundation National Help Line 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673)


Something different

August 2016

The Buddy Bench

To help create a more inclusive playground, Curtin Primary School, in the ACT, has installed a Buddy Bench. If a child is feeling left out, cannot find their friends or wants to make new friends, they can sit on the bench.

Empty Classroom Day

Students at Riana Primary School, in Tasmania, recently spent the whole day outside the classroom, which was the finale of a learning project on measurement. In teams of four (two from kindergarten to grade 2 and two from grade 3 to 6), the children moved around a series of stations with particular measurement challenges. Finally, the whole school lined up from shortest to tallest and the students made a huge circle on the oval. 

Food source awareness program

Ashburton Primary School, in Melbourne, is educating children about how food gets from paddock to plate. The program involves around 200 grade one and two students creating their own sausage recipes and then submitting them to the local butcher. Principal Natalie Nelson said one winning recipe was selected from each year level and then cooked for the participating students.

The silent cheer

Students at Elanora Heights Public School, in Sydney, have been asked to cheer noiselessly, punch the air or make excited faces when they celebrate an event or achievement. The request was made to protect students who are ‘sensitive to loud noises’. Not unexpectedly, this report provides no analysis of the needs of this particular group of students, and doesn’t explore why the school might be trying to help them. Instead, the journalist links the school’s decision to other allegedly (implicitly excessive) ‘politically correct’ policies, in other schools.

Green rooftop

The rooftop garden at the (primary) School for Science and Biodiversity, in France, is a veritable park, with a thriving ecosystem of birds, animals and plants sharing space and living in harmony.

KidsMatter Primary is a proven mental health and wellbeing framework for primary schools. It provides expert knowledge, tools and support to help schools grow healthy young minds and care for children’s mental health. KidsMatter is backed by the expertise of Principals Australia Institute, beyondblue and the Australian Psychological Society.

My word

August 2016

Jo Fallshaw & Julie McLellan

Some parents of students attending popular inner-city Melbourne primary schools are now focusing on the exact amount of space allocated to children in the classroom. ‘Free range hens have better regulations and protection around minimum space than do our children . . .’ said Ms Julie McLellan.

Lucy Clark

The pressure on children to achieve high levels of academic success is overriding the joys of education and making kids anxious and depressed, says author, Lucy Clark.

Archbishop Coleridge

A large group, including principal John O’Connor, recently welcomed a new family of Iraqi refugees to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Primary School, in Brisbane. ‘Australia is a country of immigrants and you are very, very welcome,’ Archbishop Coleridge told the new arrivals.

‘NT News’

This piece from the ‘Opinion’ section of the ‘NT News’ criticises an unnamed Darwin primary school for allocating letter grades to assignments and class tests. ‘Ranking children as young six against each other in a classroom ‘Hunger Games’ battle-off would have to be one of the most ineffective – and cruellest - ways to foster an early love of learning,’ says the unnamed commentator.

Simon Birmingham

‘There are some, perhaps who would seem to have adopted all the subtlety of a five-year-old pleading for more chocolate, who don’t appear to have realised that budget’s may have reached their limits already,’ Simon Birmingham recently told delegates at the ADC Education for the Future Forum.

Academy Photography are proud sponsors of the Australian Primary Principals Association. Academy Photography services include school photography, yearbooks, complete printing and educational solutions using latest technologies.

Call 1800 816 224 for your SPECIAL OFFER as an APPA member.

Money matters

August 2016

Different views on school amalgamations in Tasmania

New data has shown that more than 20 Tasmanian schools are ‘bursting at the seams’, while others have the capacity for hundreds of extra students. The figures add weight to a report commissioned by the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry last year, which showed that Tasmania had the most expensive delivery of education in the nation.

Funding dispute over ‘flat’ NAPLAN results

A dispute has flared between NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli, and his federal Coalition counterpart, Simon Birmingham, over education funding. Mr Birmingham recently stated that the latest NAPLAN results had plateaued since 2015 and were ‘not good enough’. ‘The evidence is there, funding itself does not deliver improved outcomes,’ he said. 

Kangaroo Island generosity

Residents of Kangaroo Island, in South Australia, are supporting primary education in a small village in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mr Rob Ellson, the chairperson of Kangaroo Island Supporting Cambodia (KISC), said the school ‘was the only avenue for many hundreds of slum village families to slowly dig themselves out of an oppressive poverty that goes back generations.’

‘Reverse Robin Hood’ school vouchers

In June 2015, Nevada, in the USA, adopted the most far-reaching voucher-style program in the US, incentivising parents to abandon goverment schools with annual $5,100 education savings accounts (ESAs) for private schooling – regardless of household wealth or income level.

Fundraising with seeds

The well-known gardening company Yates has launched a new national program that enables schools to fundraise by selling flower and vegetable seeds. The recently launched ‘Raise a Patch’ scheme aims to foster healthy eating choices and encourage more children into the garden.

Catholic Super has been providing outstanding superannuation and retirement services to members and employers for more than 40 years. As a leading industry super fund that anyone can join, we offer award-winning superannuation and pension products, long-term superior investment performance, a broad range of investment options and competitive fees.

Love the job

August 2016

Jason Burgess

Director of Junior Schools, Maranatha Christian School
Officer, Victoria

Describe your current school, its students, the demographics of your school community, and any special challenges and/or strengths.

I currently work at Maranatha Christian School. We are a large school located on three separate sites, operating with two junior schools and one middle and senior school. Maranatha is a leader in the Christian education field and was established over 45 years ago. We seek to combine an inquiry-based approach to learning with teaching from a Biblical perspective to help students learn to think Christianly about the world in which they live. A strength of Maranatha is our unity in diversity. We have students from dozens of different countries and over 100 different church backgrounds. Our challenge is to remain Christian in everything that we do as we prepare students for a life of Christian service that makes a real difference in the world.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I have operated in various leadership roles in a number of schools and have held some form of leadership position for 15 years.

What motivated you to become a school leader (and when)?

I had always wanted to lead, having held various leadership roles in churches I had attended. I am the sort of person who can’t help comment on what I think can be improved. This has invariably ended up in being offered some form of leadership position. I have also worked for several inspiring leaders who made me aspire to leadership and encouraged me to work towards leadership positions.

What was your first leadership role, where was it located, and what were some of your early challenges as a new leader?

I was a house master at an elite independent school. The main challenges as a new leader were to do with leading staff who were older and more experienced than me.


NEW resilience and wellbeing program

Dusty and Friends is a great resource for learning and building resilience in children. Game ON highlights the importance of being calm and prompts children to see how consequences result from actions. A popular resource in Early Stage 1- Stage 1 classrooms, children identify and relate to different characters. The program aligns with the Australian Curriculum and works well for Stage 3 in a peer support model. Available for immediate download through the School For Living website.

Love the job

August 2016

Jason Burgess

Director of Junior Schools, Maranatha Christian School
Officer, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

As a new principal, what was the most useful lesson you ever learned from a more experienced principal colleague?

The job of leading a school is all about making decisions and implementing change. Perhaps the best advice I have had is to try to keep myself physically and mentally well so that I am able to make hopefully what prove to be well considered, wise decisions.

What makes you smile at work?

I stand out the front of the school before and after school every day and meet and greet the children as they arrive and depart. Primary school children come to school bright and bubbly every day and full of enthusiasm. I can’t help but smile at this and it reminds me what a privilege it is to be involved in directing the lives of the children. I spend a lot of time in each of the primary classes at Maranatha Christian School and cannot help but smile as the children warmly greet me every time I enter their rooms.

In managing your staff, what are your most valuable skills and beliefs?

I believe that, as a leader, you have to have confidence, communication skills and commitment. A key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead. Having confidence is tantamount as part of the job of a leader is to put out fires and maintain team morale. Part of a healthy working culture is having clear lines of communication and making time for, and talking to, staff on a daily basis is something I work very hard to maintain. I try to show my commitment to the role by working hard and being as fair as I can and I hope that this helps motivate the staff.

What was the best day you ever had as a school leader?

There have been many good days. It would be difficult to pick a single one but a particularly fond memory was as the Head of Primary at a previous school, when the year 6 class arranged an amazing surprise 40th birthday party for me. It was a very special day.


Love the job

August 2016

Jason Burgess

Director of Junior Schools, Maranatha Christian School
Officer, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

What was the toughest day you ever had as a school leader?

I cannot pinpoint a singular day but it would be to do with finding out that a particular student, staff member or family in the school community is suffering and going through a difficult time. It is also then that you realise what a wonderful place a school is as I observe people seeking to genuinely help someone in need. At Maranatha Christian School we have a very supportive community; it is a wonderful place to work.

What tips would you give new school leaders about staying positive and keeping their energy levels high?

Spend a lot of time getting to know the staff, listen to them and find out what is working in the school and what is not. Try to articulate a clear vision to the staff and then work collaboratively to try to transform the classroom culture. I would also encourage them to find a mentor, I see this as very important.

If you could name just one thing that kept you going to school every day, even on the really difficult days, what would that be?

The thing that keeps me going is seeing student success. It is the best feeling to see a student work hard, with encouragement and support, and make progress towards a goal.

If you could name just one thing that kept you going to school every day, even on the really difficult days, what would that be?

One thing that keeps me going is that kids matter. Children are the adults of tomorrow and being in a position to affect the future through our youth is a wonderful position to be in as a leader and an educator. Never underestimate the power of your influence on, love and acceptance of another human being.

How do you achieve (or are trying to achieve) a positive work-life balance?

I am aware that the role requires long hours of work. I think it is hard to achieve a positive work-life balance and I try to think of it as work-life satisfaction instead. When I feel satisfied in my role then the job seems less overwhelming. That said, I arrive at school and leave at approximately the same time each day and make sure I have time to myself and with my family on the weekend.

What special measures do you take (if any) to protect and nurture your own health and welfare?

I have tried hard over the last couple of years to keep physically fit and to make time for running a few times each week. I also spend a lot of time in my garden each weekend, and I find that very cathartic.

What do you see yourself as doing with your life after the principalship?

I have not got to a point yet where I know what I would like to do if I was not a school leader. I really enjoy my job and can’t imagine not working or being in a different profession. Part of me would like to move to a property with lots of land and spend the day gardening.

Sharee Gaiser, Head of Junior School, Oxley Christian College
15-49 Old Melbourne Road
Chirnside Park, Victoria 3116


Interviewees urgently sought for 2017 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2017 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2016. This whole publication, created as a deliberately selected compilation of internet-based resources, may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA).

Connected Leader is an official publication of the Australian Primary Principals Association. In close collaboration with APPA, Connected Leader is designed, produced and edited, specifically for APPA members, by Debra J. Crouch, Managing Director of straight to the point, to enhance the professional learning of Australian primary school leaders.


The opinions expressed in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, belong entirely to those who created those resources, and do not necessarily represent official APPA views and policies. At times, links to some resources may be deliberately selected to reflect the wide range of views held by Australian primary school leaders, and the views therein may be subject to debate in some sections of the education community. Readers are advised that, in the interests of brevity, not all of the available personal opinions or information about a particular event, development, issue or policy direction may be published in resources made available through links in Connected Leader. Interested readers who require more comprehensive information, or who seek the opinions of all stakeholders, are advised to directly contact the institution/s or persons cited in the resource/s or conduct their own private research.

Neither APPA, Debra J. Crouch nor Vivid Word and Image Design can guarantee, or take responsibility for, the accuracy or otherwise of any of the information and/or views contained in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, or from subsequent webpages accessed via links within (or in material/text following) those suggested resources. The duration of all links cannot be guaranteed by APPA or VIVID Word and Image Design. Nor do these two parties accept responsibility for any loss or damages arising from statements or opinions contained in any published article or advertisement.