Welcome back to 2016! I particularly welcome and wish the very best to all who step into the principal position for the first time or have begun at a new school. While there will be challenges, we look forward to another great year for primary education.
Over the course of 2016, ‘Connected Leader’ will arrive each month bringing you informative and interesting articles that can be used in so many ways. Many principals see ‘Connected Leader’ lending itself to ongoing professional learning, whether it be for themselves, their leadership team or any member of staff.
From an APPA perspective, we have an election on the table and more work to do on a range of issues facing principals and schools. Now is an opportunity to highlight just some of the activities APPA will undertake in 2016.
The 21st Century environment seemingly brings an ever-increasing strain on people’s ability to be resilient and respond appropriately to events and actions that bring conflict or disappointment. The 2015 National Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey, for example, reports an increasing incidence of bullying, intimidation, verbal aggression, threats and even violence from parents and students towards our school principals. The survey has been a five-year study, undertaken initially by Monash University and now by the Australian Catholic University, endorsed and financially supported by the four peak national principals associations (APPA, ASPA, AHISA and CaSPA), with a generous contribution from Teachers Health Fund.
Put simply, the data trends are not good! We are seeing parents and students displaying behaviours that are totally unacceptable and do not contribute to a positive and supportive school community. This is happening at a time when principals are experiencing an unprecedented surge in workload and responsibilities.
The report provided recommendations for key groups and individuals. It is clear that a multifaceted response is needed to change the trends and create a positive and healthy working environment for our school principals and all members of the school community. The challenge is for each group to own its responsibilities and respond appropriately. Let me highlight various aspects of these recommendations.
Parents: Support your school and principal to develop policies that achieve positive outcomes. Stop the unacceptable behaviour and learn to use the procedures in place to address concerns or issues. Be the model for your children to follow.
Employers: The report highlighted two aspects. The first is to support principals with the resources to do the job. The second is to trust rather than rule educators. That is, work with principals to identify what decision-making processes work effectively and efficiently, and how best to meet school and system accountability requirements. This will come through targeted professional learning and ongoing access to mentoring and coaching.
Principals’ Associations: Collaborate to develop a common voice that works for the health and wellbeing of all principals, no matter the sector, state or territory. Use the professional networks to support principals in their role and provide opportunities for principals to meet and share effective practice.
Principals: The report identifies that individual principals need to look for opportunities to further their development and exert influence over the workload; respectfully remind aggressors of the school’s expectations of acceptable behaviour and what procedures are in place to deal with issues, complaints and concerns; ensure passion for the job is positive; and, take a positive and proactive approach to personal work-life balance. This is much more achievable if principals join with colleagues as part of a professional network.
Governments: We need governments across all jurisdictions working collaboratively to ensure every school has the resources required to address the needs of their students. The report reinforced the point that ‘we need highly motivated educators, if we are to have the best school system possible.’ This will require long-term funding agreements that provide transparency, consistency, flexibility, trust-based professionalism and equity. We need a nationally coordinated strategy to support principal preparation and development.
What is the outcome if we do not change the trend? Well, we will see less people applying for principals’ positions and more principals leaving the profession early. In many places, this is already happening. We will see an increase in the cost of supporting principals who develop health issues. However, more importantly, we will see school communities begin to underperform and other issues will arise that will further impact the school. The bottom line is that this impacts negatively on student learning and future generations.
Great schools have leaders who have great support from their community, employer and professional networks. We need all school communities, employers and principal associations working together to ensure this vision is reality.
2015 Principal Health and Wellbeing Report: http://www.principalhealth.org/au/reports.php
This year will be big with a National Election, the Trans-Tasman conference, NAPLAN Online, implementation of the Australian Curriculum, Principal Health and Wellbeing, Next Generation Principal program, and Teacher Education.
We will continue the ongoing conversation with ACARA on the implementation of the Education Council’s decision to move NAPLAN Online. The key issues are around access (connectivity), required hardware, technology skills required for the tests, timeframes for completing, Year 3 writing assessment (impact on practice) and the validity of auto marking. ACARA has indicated it will expand research to include a larger sample of students and multiple prompts to cover both narrative and persuasive writing. There will be further trials for schools in scheduled for later in 2016. APPA is planning to conduct a survey in Term 2 to gain feedback on the implementation of the Australian Curriculum across sectors and jurisdictions.
Join us (or send your deputy) in Auckland 31 May – 3 June for what promises to be an exciting few days in the land of the long white cloud.
The programme for this very special conference will be a mixture of Keynote and Mini-Keynote speakers together with innovative Taster Talks from a range of practitioners and follow-up workshops. The interesting array of speakers includes:
We all recognise that energy efficiency has a twofold benefit – environmental and financial. Below and elsewhere in Connected Leader you will find information about the Energy in Education program. Your school community may wish to consider the program.
Halogen and APPA will work together to support student leadership development and initiatives. We are aiming for corporate support for Sean Gordon, CEO SchoolAid, to roll out across the nation the Kids Ambassador Team (KAT) package on social action by students. Halogen organises student leadership days in the major cities. My Hero Day July 29: Captain Courageous Foundation. I would like to propose that APPA support this worthwhile event to raise funds for Bone Marrow disease in children. SchoolAid through KidsGive will support primary schools with developing a campaign and event for My Hero Day.Dennis Yarrington
Engineered to suit individual schools, CSR Bradford’s ‘Energy in Education’ Program assesses a school’s energy use and suggests how operations can be upgraded to reduce energy demand and utility expenditure. The program is operated in partnership with ASCA, a national procurement body comprising of 3,500 schools, and the National Australia Bank. (The NAB partnership can help schools fund participation in the program through the energy savings.)
The ‘Energy in Education Program’ builds on the success of the National Solar Schools Program, a government initiative that provided over $217 million to implement a range of energy efficiency measures in almost 60 per cent of Australian schools until its conclusion in 2013.
In this program, CSR Bradford works with schools and is responsible for the initial designs and recommendations, through to implementing and managing all installations. Energy reduction can be achieved through technologies including solar and lighting, but also power quality technologies like Power Factor Correction and Voltage Optimisation, which bring improved power quality to schools.
The program also incorporates an educational package to integrate into the curriculum allowing students to track and analyse the energy production profile of the school. The solar system’s in-built monitoring system feeds data directly to the classroom.
For more information about Bradford’s ‘Energy in Education’ Program contact:
Matthew Jones, National Schools Program Manager at CSR Bradford Energy Solutions
T: 03 8756 6843 | M: 0447 906 413 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, the Australian Primary Principals Association and the host committee from Auckland Primary Principals’ Association, we invite you to register for the Trans-Tasman Principals’ Conference to be held at SkyCity Convention Centre, Auckland on 31 May – 3 June 2016.
Payment via invoice is available for all registrations received before the end of November, don’t delay register now!
The theme of the conference is “Knowledge in Our Hands” with the emphasis on telling the stories that excite us within education. In the spirit of collaboration, we have structured a programme that showcases stories and story tellers from both sides of the Tasman, which we are sure will provoke energetic discussion and professional debate.
We look forward to seeing you in Auckland next year!
Chair – Organising Committee
Auckland Primary Principals’ Association
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.
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 children the best possible start at school. Order at:
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.
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Where are you currently working as a school leader?
I am Head of Primary at The Lakes College. Aptly referred to as ‘TLC’ by its staff, students and families, The Lakes College is a ministry of the Uniting Church and genuinely reflects the Christian ethos in all aspects of school life. Located in North Lakes, a rapidly growing northern Brisbane area, The Lakes College offers a rich and diverse curriculum for boys and girls from prep to year 12.
I commenced as the inaugural Head of Primary at The Lakes College in 2012. At that stage, the College was only seven-years-old.
How long have you been a school leader? What, and where, was your first appointment?
Well, I was appointed School Captain when I was in year 6 in 1973 so I suppose that’s quite a long time when you think about the wider definition of school leadership. However, I have held ‘grown-up’ school leadership positions since 1999. It was in that year that I was appointed mathematics co-ordinator at a very large Catholic school in the Sydney diocese and got my first official taste of school leadership. It wasn’t all pretty. Juggling a large year 6 class, while trying to make my mark in the world of curriculum, and raising three young children all at the same time, was quite tough. There just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Welcome to the world of leadership!
After a year as maths co-ordinator, I was appointed the religious education co-ordinator at the same Catholic school. I absolutely loved this job. It was during my years as REC that I began to get a feel of what authentic leadership was all about – relationships! Yes, it was hard work and, yes, I was still juggling (who isn’t?) but I felt I was making a real difference in the lives of my colleagues, the students and their families.
At the end of 2002, my husband and I decided to take a sea change and headed north with our three children to beautiful Queensland, where I took a position as year 1 teacher at a brand new school - St Andrew’s Anglican College, on the Sunshine Coast. The following year I was appointed as the deputy head of primary, and there I stayed until the end of 2011. My years at St Andrew’s were exhilarating and exhausting, as this new school developed rapidly. It was during these years that I learned a lot about myself as a leader. Yes, it was still most definitely all about relationships but I quickly learned that the things I wanted to do for the staff, students and parents were constrained by such things as budgets, facilities and available resources. In other words, money! I was so enthusiastic and passionate about supporting others that I would often need to be reined in by my mentors, good naturedly, of course. This was all part of my learning journey. While I was extremely happy in my role, I was beginning to feel a little complacent and I then knew I needed a change, a challenge, a new frontier.
I then moved to The Lakes College as the head of primary and my husband and I relocated to Redcliffe, another beautiful part of the Queensland coast. Our children, adults by this stage, had all flown the coop so there was nothing stopping us beginning this next stage of our lives. I felt excited at the prospect of this next step in my career.
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.
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When and why did you originally want to become a school leader?
I remember as a still quite young teacher, getting frustrated when decisions were being made by management or educational systems; decisions that directly impacted what I was doing in the classroom but in which I had no say. This was during a time when collaboration was not part of the educational dictionary and ‘chalk and talk’ was a popular teaching strategy used not only in the classroom but also in the staffroom. I was so passionate about children and their education and had so many ideas and opinions but no one to share them with.
As teamwork became the flavour of the day, I finally got a chance to express my views and I soon realised that these were respected by my colleagues. I found that I was being sought out more often by management for my opinions on educational and pastoral issues. In the background, I continued to further my professional development, completing my graduate diploma while caring for my newborn twins, and my Master’s degree while raising three very active children. It was after returning to full time work in the late 90’s that I made my decision to pursue a leadership role. I wanted to have a say about my beliefs, both professional and personal, and I wanted to make sure my colleagues had a say, as well.
What was your worst day?
Evacuating 900 students as bushfires raged around the school was pretty horrific. Going into school lockdown during a cyclone was also quite memorable. But the worst experience I ever had as a school leader was when I had to tell one of my students and her young sister that their mother had died in horrendous circumstances. This responsibility fell to me, as the father was too grief-stricken. I still can’t think about it without feeling an overwhelming sadness.
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What makes you smile at work?
So many things. First and foremost, I have to say the kids! Teachers everywhere are in the enviable position of spending time with wonderful examples of innocence and curiosity. The questions and comments I receive are hilarious. I remember doing playground duty a few years ago and a year 1 boy asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up? I answered, ‘I am grown up and I am a teacher.’ His quick but somewhat impatient reply was, ‘I know that, Mrs Lollback, but what do you really want to be?’ I wasn’t exactly sure what to answer. The beautiful staff make me smile as well. A sense of humour goes a long way in a job like teaching. The students and staff at TLC know that a smile is an essential part of our school day.
Mrs Sharon Lollback, Head of Primary, The Lakes College, North Lakes, Queensland
Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988
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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 Vivid Word and Image design, 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.
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