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


August 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The APPA National Symposium on Principal Health and Wellbeing was recently held in Adelaide. The symposium brought together principals, department personnel, national organisations and professional association representatives. Dr Phil Riley gave an overview of the early indicators for this year’s national principal health and wellbeing survey. There is already a rise in principals reporting concerning levels of general health. The key aspect is the number of hours worked has been increasing. This contrasts with research provided by Dr Riley, showing that over a certain number of hours your effectiveness and productivity drops. The impact of emotional demands and poor sleep habits is still highly reported by principals.

Norm Hart, APPA’s Immediate past-President, presented the preliminary report of the APPA Policy to Practices survey. Principals reported better health when supported; however, a concerning trend is principal predicting their health will not improve over time. The first workshop of the day focused on the principal health and wellbeing framework. Groups identified the key tasks and demands that impact on a principal’s role under key headings. They also recorded what, and who, could support principals in their role. The building of support process and structures contributes to the development of social capital.

APPA Adelaide Symposium

The symposium heard from two principal health and wellbeing projects underway in NSW and Victoria. Gabrielle Leigh is the project leader for the APPA sponsored Wellbeing Empowering leaders (WEL) pilot project with 22 Victorian principals and outlined the key components. These included a 2-day program at the start, with a completion day approximately 6 months later. Principals develop a plan for implementation and are supported by a coach. The plan includes a school focus and an individual aspect. We look forward to the evaluation and feedback from participants. With initial feedback being excellent, we are looking at the program being available to other states and territories in 2018.

The NSW Flourish presentation in NSW was presented by Robyn Evans, Bob Willetts and John Bond. This program was developed through Adam Fraser and includes a focus on personal change in behaviour and the transition between events. Early feedback is very positive with principals reporting better health and wellbeing. John provided a personal reflection on its impact since undertaking the program. NSWPPA is looking to conduct the program in other parts of the state.

The second workshop focused on identifying the key elements for growing and sustaining school leaders. Participants used ideas sourced from the APPA survey to develop a list of key actions. This list will be finalised at the APPA National Conference Forum on 12 September in Brisbane. The symposium also worked on a national statement for principal health and wellbeing. APPA will present the national statement at the APPA Conference in Brisbane for endorsement by delegates.

APPA Adelaide Symposium

The full report of the APPA Policy to Practice Survey will be presented at the APPA National Forum, Tuesday 12 September in Brisbane. An invitation has been sent to all Conference delegates. We will also present the recommendations from the report. These will be forward to employers, unions and principals’ associations. The preliminary report, infographic page and other documents will shortly be available on the APPA website.

APPA is very appreciative of the support provided by Teachers Health Fund for the symposium and Camp Australia for the publication of the summary report and infographic. We also acknowledge the work of Norm Hart in preparing the report and summary for the symposium.


The conference theme is Agility, Creativity and Legacy. I strongly encourage you, your deputy or your aspiring leader to register at: We are getting very excited with the gathering of school leaders from all sectors, states and territories at the APPA National Conference in Brisbane.

The Opening and Welcome will be a not to miss event! The keynote speakers and concurrent presenters are all ready to go and look forward to interacting with school leaders. The Conference Ecumenical Service will be a significant event and all delegates are welcome to attend this on the Wednesday evening before sector association gatherings. The dinner will have delegates enjoying the entertainment and having a great time networking with colleagues. Our first timers will be well supported by the APPA National Council members. Our focus on Friday is welcoming aspiring leaders who are joining the conference. We have full program for the day with a special guest, Saroo Brierley speaking at the sit-down lunch.

I look forward to welcoming international and Australian delegates to conference.


APPA’s NAC met recently in Adelaide. The key topics included feedback from the National Symposium; the Regional, Rural and Remote Review; Discussion on the reform for education panel; national conference update; next steps for the APPA Policy to Practice report and recommendations; leadership development and pre-principal certification; principal health and wellbeing projects; and other research projects. We also discussed language teaching support in the primary school, digital technology curriculum support, NAPLAN results and the proposed school funding body. APPA’s submissions to the Regional, Rural and Remote Review will be available on the website shortly.

We also received information on a couple of special events coming up that we encourage all schools to get involved:

  • Scholastic Reading Leader Awards: The first winner will be announced at the National Conference in Brisbane.
  • National Science week (13-21 August)
  • National Literacy and Numeracy Week (4 to 10 September)
  • Let’s Get Physically Active: National HPE Day (7 September)
  • National Outdoor Classroom Day (7th September)


I recently attended the NSW IPSHA Social Action Expo at the Kings School in Sydney. I was impressed with the presentations by schools and congratulate IPSHA organisers for a very successful day.

Students from the SchoolAid Trust’s Sydney Kids Ambassador Team (KATs) spoke to the Expo about their work and campaigns. Student leaders from schools provided displays and discussed with other students on how they organised events or campaigns to raise awareness and money for various causes. To run a campaign online for greater coverage and exposure go to:

APPA welcomes as a Business Partner

I am pleased to announce APPA and have established partnership to support principals and school leaders in locating causal relief and advertising for vacant positions. Visit to find the best and most efficient ways to advertise, find and employ your full-time, part-time or casual teachers.

Petrah from is more than happy to discuss options for principals. We also are planning some support materials for selecting the best staff for your school.


APPA is currently involved with many projects including:

  • Physical Literacy initiative through the Sports Commission
  • Languages in primary feedback
  • AITSL professional learning survey and School Leadership Framework
  • National STEM Industry Forum (looking at professional learning for teachers and school leaders in STEM areas)
  • A research project with Griffith University on Leaders in Disadvantaged Communities
  • Sports Plan submission
  • ACARA evaluation and feedback
  • Stronger Smarter Leadership Course


Some of you may have attended one of the seven national workshops that were held in Feb/March this year around the country. The project is now in its second phase of data collection with an on-line survey.

The survey will be live until the 25th of August.

I look forward to meeting everyone at APPA’s National Conference in Brisbane. In the meantime, get your (or your deputy’s) registration in for the APPA Conference.

Best wishes,

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



8 - 9 August 2017 | International Convention Centre, Sydney As a principals’ association and APPA member, you're entitled to a 10% association discount on any of the EduTECH packages! Use 'APPA10' to take 10% off.

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.

Under the spotlight

August 2017

Daniel Lawler

This article provides selected background on the recent resignation of an independent principal who has ‘mixed feelings’ about his departure from a year 4-12 school in Canberra.

Phillip Moulds

The headmaster of The Rockhampton Grammar School, in Queensland, shares his pride in his school’s NAPLAN results.

Amankwah Ampofo

A government school headmaster Ghana has converted his home into classrooms so that students do not have to learn outside, under the trees.

Jean-Michel David

The principal of a Steiner school in Perth has resigned amid controversy over his anti-vaccination views.

Kevin Lein

This report demonstrates the deep altruism of many school leaders. After being shot by a mentally ill student, this impressive US principal wishes to ‘build something positive out of the pain.’

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 2017

Immigrant women in leadership

Although this advice is intended for immigrant women who aspire to leadership roles in the USA, its advice on developing ‘executive presence’ may quite useful for all school leaders, regardless of country or gender.

Culturally responsive principals

Recent events in the USA should not overshadow the work being done by educators in that country to develop a culture in which diversity is respected. Here, Dana Nerenberg, a 2016-17 Washington Principal Ambassador Fellow, writes about a recent conference that was held to develop culturally responsive principals.

Absence of leadership skills

Four hundred primary schools in Bangladesh have no qualified headmasters. This report explains what happens on the ground when education authorities fail to provide schools with suitable leadership.

Time management skills

Daniel Levitin, a neurologist and author of ‘The Organised Mind’, says that the key to effective time management is to maintain a level of organisation that allows you to dedicate less and less neural resources to running your life.

The art of negotiation

Maria Ploumaki describes the most important skills behind successful negotiation, and she explains how to develop and master such qualities. Every negotiation is ‘a different animal’, she says.

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 2017

Former principal sues school

The former principal of Kambala, in Sydney, is suing the school and two teachers for defamation, following her resignation in April.

Legal rights of students as consumers

Consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law provide incentives for education providers to ensure that reasonable standards of program delivery are maintained and strengthen the hand of students as consumers of educational services. This article raises the question of whether this applies to primary and secondary education, as well as to the tertiary level. The answer, it seems, is still unclear.

Parents sue school district

The Cincinnati Public Schools district, in the USA, is being sued after the death of an eight-year-old student. The parents of a boy who committed suicide allege that bullying at Carson Elementary School was covered up.

Michael Giulieri

A former Victorian government school principal was recently convicted of conspiracy to attempt to pervert the course of justice and making a false statement to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). He received a good behaviour bond after assisting investigators and agreeing to provide evidence against a former education department official.

School governance in NSW

Earlier this year the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), which oversees registration of schools under the Act, updated the manuals for non-government schools to assist schools in ensuring that they are compliant with their registration requirements under the Act, in particular, that they are financially viable.

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 2017

Declining book ownership

A recent survey conducted by Dymocks and YouGov found that one in three Australian children has fewer than 12 books at home. Thirty-nine per cent had 10 or fewer.

Small improvement

Across the country there has been a 3.52 per cent improvement in reading and a 2.55 per cent increase in numeracy since NAPLAN tests were introduced in 2008.

Problematic primary-age sexuality

In a national study published in the journal ‘Sex Education’, teachers reported witnessing students threatening to rape other students, simulating intercourse and coercing others to engage in sexual behaviour. A sample of 107 primary school teachers who taught children aged 5-13 were surveyed, with 40 per cent saying they had observed problematic sexual behaviour. Lead researcher Lesley-Anne Ey, a lecturer in child development and education at the University of South Australia, said those teachers expressed the view that they needed more training in this area.

Letting go of stubborn neuromyths

According to this researcher, ‘there is no evidence that matching instructional materials to a student’s preferred “learning style” helps learning, nor that there are “right-brain” and “left-brain” learners. The idea that younger people are “digital natives” who use technology more effectively and who can multi-task is also not supported by scientific research.’

Brain mapping

In the future, as it becomes less expensive, will brain mapping be used as a diagnostic tool for individual learning programs?

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

Modern learners experience the discord and melody of an ever-changing score while modern leaders are charged with conducting an orchestra of many diverse instruments and unifying them in harmony. This conference will explore the attributes of agile, innovative leaders who leave a legacy tuned with purpose.



Dr Muhammad is one of the most sought after education consultants in North America and currently serves as CEO of the highly regarded New Frontier 21 Consulting. As a middle school teacher, assistant principal and principal, he earned numerous awards both as a teacher and principal. Anthony is recognised as a leading expert in the fields of school culture and organisational climate. His work and passion for changing cultural dynamics have seen him work successfully with schools across the US and around the world.


Dr Fox is a modern day ‘wizard-rogue’, author and leadership adviser. With expertise in motivational design, Jason shows forward-thinking leaders around the world how to unlock new progress and build for the future of work. Named Keynote Speaker of the Year by Professional Speakers Australia, he delivers fresh thinking to instil the curiosity so needed for future relevance, purpose and growth. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, he’s the bestselling author of The Game Changer and his research has featured in the likes of Smart Company, BRW and The Financial Review.


Holly Ransome is the CEO of Emergent, a company specialising in the development of high performing intergenerational workforces, exceptional leadership and sustainable social outcomes. Working with corporations, governments and non-profit organisations, Holly is renowned for generating innovative solutions to complex multi-stakeholder problems. She coaches and professionally mentors leaders around the world and, in 2014, was appointed to chair Australia’s G20 Youth Summit. In 2016, she Co-Chaired the United Nations Global Coalition of Young Women Entrepreneurs and became the youngest ever female Director of an AFL Club.


Dr Murgatroyd is an expert on innovative policy and practice, the author of some 40 books and a frequent contributor to radio and news media. As a skilled communicator with the simple goal of improving performance, Stephen makes a difference to organisations through challenge, change and innovation. He is the new CEO of the Collaborative Media Group, a company focussed on providing organisations with creative technology solutions to their performance challenges, by using social media technology, consulting, mentoring and video production facilities.


Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert are co-leaders of Networks of Inquiry and Innovation and the Aboriginal Enhancement of Schools Network. They have served as principals, district leaders and policy advisors with the Ministry of Education in the areas of innovative leadership, district change, rural education, literacy and Aboriginal education. They are the co-directors of the Centre for Innovative Educational Leadership at Vancouver Island University and also Canadian representatives to the OECD international research program on Innovative Learning Environments.


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Address 600 Gregory Terrace, Bowen Hills Brisbane, QLD 4006.

Parking is available at the Royal ICC for a fee of $12 per day at various locations.

Trains Bowen Hills and Fortitude Valley railway stations are less than a 10 minute walk from the Royal ICC.


There are a number of accommodation options within easy walking distance to the Royal ICC:


Early Bird Registration to the 2017 APPA National Conference will open in Term 4, 2016.
Full registration to the APPA Conference includes the welcome function, opening ceremony, all conference sessions, the conference dinner and entertainment.


The APPA 2017 National Conference is organised by a committee made up of APPA and national sector principals association representatives based in Queensland, and representatives of QASSP, QCPPA and IPSHA – Qld. The Committee looks forward to bringing together another hugely successful conference in Brisbane 2017.

QASSP is delighted to be appointed Conference Organisers of the 2017 APPA National Conference. For more information about this conference, please contact Magdalene St Clare, QASSP Business Manager and APPA Conference Manager on ph (07) 3831 7011 or email


Balancing act

August 2017

Surprising ways to be happier

A new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, revealed that it is generosity that makes people happier. The research, conducted at the University of Zurich, found that small acts of generosity activate certain regions of the brain associated with social behaviour, happiness, and decision-making.

Managing your feelings

Mandy Saligari explains how easy it is to ‘outsource’ personal emotional management to damaging external substances or behaviours. Manage your feelings or they will manage you, she warns.

Avoiding back pain

This TEDTalk presentation emphasises the important of ‘primal posture’ (especially when sitting) in avoiding back pain.

The benefits of regular physical exercise

Check out seven ways that exercise can lead to a happier, healthier life.

Overcoming negative thinking

Why do our failures stick in our minds far longer than our successes?

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

Something different

August 2017

Tree House Challenge

This year, the Tree House Challenge is exploring different forest types across the Tasmanian landscape. All classrooms can join in for free at

Pokemon Go in the classroom

Students at the k-12 International Football School, in Kariong, NSW, are encouraged to play popular video games, including Pokemon Go, Clash of the Clans and Ingress in the classroom, to build their communication and teamwork skills.

Call for marine safety education

The mother of a 25-year-old man who vanished after jumping off rocks into the ocean in Western Australia wants marine safety taught at school.

The WOW program

The Wonders of the World program allows students to spend their first year of school learning about several different countries of importance and their cultures, before launching into learning a specific language other than English.

Academy partnership

Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar School, in Melbourne, has just announced a partnership with Collingwood Football Club.

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 2017

‘Mercury’ editorial

Editorial opinion on the Tasmanian Minister for Education’s recent announcement that the State Government will abandon its plan to lower the school starting age and will instead look to implement an extra year of preschool for vulnerable children.

Misty Adoniou

‘There has been a misplaced focus on ‘back-to-basics’ literacy education in recent years. The last ten years of NAPLAN testing shows us we are already exemplary at the basics. It is the complex we are bad at,’ says this associate professor in language, literacy and TESL.

James Merlino

Education Minister James Merlino has ordered the review into the Victorian Institute of Teaching, citing questionable decisions that have allowed teachers to continue working in Catholic and independent schools, despite being fired from government schools. ‘If the Department of Education considers someone as completely inappropriate to be teaching then why should that person continue to be registered as a teacher and able to teach in our Catholic and independent schools,’ he said.

Primary students voice opinion

More than 20 grade six students at the Holy Name School, in Melbourne, recently sent letters to the local newspaper, expressing their solidarity with children and adults in detention. Vice-principal Mark Tierney said the students had researched the issue during Refugee Week.

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Money matters

August 2017

AFL celebrities assist fundraising

Two well-known AFL identities recently agreed to assist a Victorian rural school with a fundraising event.

Front of the queue

An element in a fundraising project, inadvertently overlooked by a principal in Texas, USA, has some parents up-in-arms about social equity.

Impact on property prices

According to this investment report, the increasing popularity of government schools has had an observable impact on property prices in some catchment areas.

Overhaul for school cleaning contracts

The Victorian Education Minister recently announced that the Government will cut the number of large school cleaning contracts in Melbourne from 100 to eight. The new zoned model will also be rolled out in country Victoria.

Cryptocurrency education

Students at Wooranna Park Primary School are learning about bitcoin and cryptocurrency technology through the School on the Blockchain program. The Victorian school has created a unique cryptocurrency called Wooranacoin.

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 2017

Therese Hussey

Principal, Loreto Nedlands,
Western Australia

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

I have the great privilege to be Principal of Loreto Nedlands, a school with an excellent reputation in the western suburbs of Perth. The school is unique within the Loreto system as it caters for primary students from pre-kindergarten to year six within a co-educational setting. Loreto Nedlands is a single-stream independent Catholic school with a population of 230 students, built upon the legacy and charisma of the founder, Mary Ward. The school was established in 1931 by the Loreto sisters, whose traditions, dating back to the time of Mary Ward in the seventeenth century, continue to drive the values and mission of Loreto Nedlands. A significant strength of the school is its dedication to the mission. The staff encourage students to develop and use their gifts and talents to make a difference to others.

The staff and parents recognise that our students come from comfortable and very supportive family backgrounds. We encourage the students to use their situation in the world to act responsibly for the needs of those who are less privileged. Loreto has a strong sense of partnership with parents and the wider community and the sense of community is very evident. The school prides itself as an extension of the home and parents are encouraged to support and become involved with the school in a variety of ways.

I lead a staff team who are dedicated and united in their efforts to maintain the mission of the school. The pastoral care and wellbeing of our students is at the forefront of our work. We recognise the uniqueness of each student and work together to create an environment where young people can thrive. As a faith-based school, the environment is built upon the values of love, forgiveness, respect for the dignity of each individual and the development of authentic relationships. With these foundations in place, we are confidently committed to ensuring that each of our students has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Our school offers a broad-based curriculum and has a reputation for its strong focus on the performing arts, public speaking and academic excellence. We encourage our students to use their skills in these areas to be a voice for others, to advocate for the oppressed and to seek justice in the world.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I first stepped into a leadership role as assistant principal 14 years ago. In that time, I have been assistant principal in two schools and I am currently into my second role as principal.

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

My first passion has always been teaching. I have loved the many and varied roles I had as a classroom teacher. I was very fortunate to work with some exceptional school leaders who recognised my potential early on to lead curriculum initiatives and mentor staff.

I was initially reluctant to take on a designated leadership role, as I did not feel ready to leave the classroom. However, having the opportunity to enter the Aspiring Principal’s Program offered through Catholic Education Western Australia in 2011, and networking with an exceptional group of aspiring and established leaders, I quickly became motivated by our shared vision and passion to make a difference for children and families to finally enter leadership.

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

My first leadership role as principal was in a very small school in the wheat belt region of Western Australia. The school is situated in a small town about 50 kilometres from the nearest larger regional town. The challenges were many. I was the first female principal in 20 years. This was my first challenge, especially as I was clearly no candidate to coach the town’s football team.

However, I quickly found that, with some good relational leadership skills, this challenge was short-term. The challenges of isolation and loneliness as a leader were significant for the first year. I had no colleagues in the same position as me to catch up with over a coffee, as I could have done in the city. A visit to another principal to share ideas and debrief with was a full day out.

Skype soon became invaluable for networking and chatting to colleagues. The leadership team at the school was just me. The school was too small to have an assistant principal and, although staff were supportive and collegial, there was not really an opportunity to make important decisions with a leadership team. This was something I really missed. Term visits from advisors in the city became really important and regular phone conversations from principal colleagues from other schools were greatly appreciated.

(continued on next page)


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 2017

Therese Hussey

Principal, Loreto Nedlands,
Western Australia

(continued from previous page)

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

A great mentor of mine reminded me, as I took up my first principal position, to spend the first 12 months getting to know people, establishing relationships and looking down from the balcony, instead of rushing straight onto the dance floor. This was the best advice I could have received. I was a little impatient, however, and probably lasted only about six months before getting on to the dance floor. The value of the advice has always stayed with me. It is in taking the time to understand culture and context and establishing trusting and respectful relationships that meaningful and sustainable change can happen.

What makes you smile at work?

Each morning I take the time to greet the children and their parents as they come into the school gates to start the day. This is the best part of my day as the children always make me smile. Their enthusiasm for all the possibilities of the day, their wonderful conversations and their observations of what is around them provide me with joy.

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

I firmly believe that staff thrive in a safe environment of challenge. When a challenge tips over to threat or moves down to comfort, the ability to thrive, as a collective community, will cease. In order to establish a safe environment of challenge, it is important to have strong relational skills and the ability to affirm staff in specific and meaningful ways. My skills as a leader are to work with my staff, to empower them to lead in a variety of capacities and establish teams of committed people to work together on improvement projects. There are times when my leadership needs to be instructional, especially in working with staff on new initiatives and to mentor inexperienced teachers. However, there are many opportunities to empower other staff to take on these responsibilities and I look for these when I can. A school community where staff have the opportunity for robust and respectful discussions, and where structures are in place for staff to work in teams to assist me guiding the direction of the school, creates an environment of ownership, loyalty and empowerment. This creates a thriving school.

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

In my first role as principal, I took the opportunity, every now and again, to express my gratitude for the staff by creating a poem (with no reference to fine literature) or a song (always poorly sung). On my final day at the school the staff surprised me with a beautifully composed song with lyrics that were both humorous and moving. Their gratitude and devotion to me for all that we had achieved together was overwhelming. The children presented me with a book they had all contributed to with a few sentences and wonderful artwork to express something they really liked about me and what they wanted me to remember about them. The impact I had on the lives of the community, staff and students, was affirmed through these gestures. These are the best days that are worth remembering when we face challenges in our roles as leaders.

(continued on next page)


Love the job

August 2017

Therese Hussey

Principal, Loreto Nedlands,
Western Australia

(continued from previous page)

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

The death of a student and dealing with the grief of the children in the class, and the grief of the parents and staff, is something none of us can ever be prepared for and is something we all hope never to face. Tragically, this was the case for me early on in my leadership as an assistant principal. I will always be grateful for the support of the staff and their belief in me during this time, which provided me with the strength and leadership I never imagined I possessed.

What was the funniest single thing that ever happened to you as a school leader?

I am remembering kindergarten children applying my make-up during Mother’s Day pampering sessions, year 6 students singing their own rendition of a One Direction song dedicated to me, genuinely laughing out loud at an entry for the weekly newsletter ‘Joke of the Week’ . . . the list is endless.

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

  1. Have clarity around your leadership. Articulate your vision and be specific about your expectations and the required outcomes. Remember to stop, reflect and celebrate with your staff when they have worked together with you to achieve goals.
  2. Be realistic about what you are trying to achieve. Setting large number of improvement goals creates unnecessary stress. Empower your staff to take responsibility for improvement goal implementation, so as to take the pressure off you. As leader, you are the driver but there are many other members in the team to facilitate and navigate.
  3. Look after you. Identify what it is that gives you renewal and build this into your day. Sleep well, eat well and find time to exercise. Switch off from time to time. The energy required for the job cannot be sustained unless you are physically and mentally healthy.
  4. 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?

    All children need a champion. They all thrive on a kind word and the genuine interest in the conversation of an adult who cares. We can make a difference in the life of a child. This is our purpose and this is what ultimately motivates me to get up and go into school, even on the most difficult days.

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

    This is a challenge, but with support, determination and some sensible structures, it can be managed. I have a colleague who assists me with my positive work-life balance. She is invaluable and is almost like a work-life balance coach. She blocks out time in my weekly diary and tries to balance my after-hour commitments. I acknowledge that this is a work in progress but I am realistic in knowing that I cannot sustain the demands of the job without attention to my own mental and physical health needs.

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

    I value time with my family. Without their support, I would not be able to do the job that I love. I value the relationships I have with my leadership team and other principal colleagues. These are the relationships that keep me nourished and help me to shoulder the burdens on the difficult days. I build exercise time into my week. This is essential if I want to keep up the pace for a few years yet. And, I enjoy the holidays. I work hard during the term but reward myself with a holiday away, with no ability to switch on to work emails, and enjoy time with family to completely unwind, at least a few times each year.

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

    With only a few years into my principalship, it is difficult to imagine what life after the principalship holds for me. I hope I will continue to have the ability to work with people to make some sort of a difference in their lives. Possibly, it will be in a volunteer role of some sort. Life is full of surprises and I look forward to the surprise that the next chapter of my life holds.

    Therese Hussey
    Principal, Loreto Nedlands, WA


Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
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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.