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


July 2017

Dear Colleagues,

(12 – 15 September)

The principal voice builds in local associations, cascades onto state and territory associations before, in the national associations, delivering a strong and collective voice.

The national voice is amplified at the annual APPA National Conference. To build a national voice, we must have a strong presence at the conference. I understand the pressures of being out of school and the pull of other conferences. However, the strength of our voice nationally is greatly enhanced by the collective gathering of school leaders from all sectors and every state and territory at the National Conference.

If you have already been to a conference this year and feel your presence is needed at school, this is a great opportunity to send your deputy or an aspiring leader. A great succession planning strategy! So, come on! We need the biggest presence with Minister Birmingham there, so he sees and hears the important voice of primary principals. The conference theme is ‘Agility, Creativity and Legacy’. I strongly encourage you to register soon to take advantage of the Early Bird rate. It finishes soon!

Register now by clicking on the conference banner below.

Well, we are certainly moving quickly through the year. How’s the strategic plan, school improvement plan or any plan going? Making progress? Seeing results? It seems the short-term outcome is gaining more importance over long-term improvement and building sustainability. However, we know change is constantly impacting and so managing that in schools is an ever-growing and increasingly challenging task. Many have written about implementing change in schools and I know many of you have undertaken professional learning to improve your skills and knowledge. However, I have seen examples where change or improvement strategies have been devised and planned but, without the time, work and resources to implement successfully, the final result has been wanting. According to Alison Hill, author of Stand Out (2016), change has two drivers: purpose and progress. If we do not pay careful attention to these two drivers then the change or improvement will lose direction and impact. So, as you start thinking about the annual report or planning for next year, reflect on the process used to determine the purpose (why and what) and the progress (how and when), as there may need some refocusing or modifications to ensure progress is happening and is observable.

APPA will be providing advice to the David Gonski Review and recommending any improvement strategies have purpose and reflect the action required to address the learning needs of our students, and the professional needs of our teachers and leaders. This review needs to work with school leaders for effective change to be achieved. Shifting all responsibility to schools will not work. We need all connected with schools to be accountable and see working collaboratively will achieve better outcomes. We need major change to continue in teacher education; too often, we educate and train teachers for last century learning. Schools need more control over curriculum decision-making. What the Review Panel decides will only be effectively implemented if principals have been involved. APPA will be working with principals associations through the National Advisory Council to ensure the voice of principals is heard.


APPA is bringing together representatives from each state and territory to hear the report on the APPA survey, Principal Health and Wellbeing: Policy to Practice. With the goal of improving principal health and wellbeing and developing a national response and framework for supporting principals in schools, we are looking to draft a National Statement on Principal Health and Wellbeing, with final endorsement to occur at the APPA National Conference in Brisbane.


APPA has coordinated a teleconference with Professor John Halsey, who is conducting the Regional, Rural and Remote Review. The key topics discussed included teacher preparation; attracting and retaining staff; principal development and support; increasing workload and compliance requirements; innovation and curriculum leaders in primary; access to early learning/before school programs; support services; community partnerships; increasing mental health issues in rural and remote communities; and, access to extracurricular activities. The Review will release a discussion paper for formal responses. APPA will discuss at its National Council Meeting in August.


This course is aimed at all school leaders and interested participants can now register for the APPA Stronger Smarter Leadership Program on 29 August – 1 September (Phase 1) and 2 – 3 November (Phase 2) at the Rooty Hill RSL Club. Visit the Stronger Smarter website to register and find out more.


APPA is proudly partnering with Scholastic Australia in supporting the Scholastic Reading Leader Awards. This award is to recognise and celebrate the contribution by a leader to increasing and engaging children with reading. The leader could be a principal, school executive or teacher that has made, or is making, a difference in your school. We will be announcing winners at the APPA National Conference in Brisbane. Visit the Scholastic website to nominate and find out more.


The NAC will be gathering in Adelaide in August. The key topics include principal health and wellbeing, David Gonski Review, response to the Independent Body looking at school funding, Review into regional, rural and remote education and preparations for the APPA National Conference in Brisbane. Each state and territory principal association nominates a representative to the NAC. The NAC is a fantastic professional learning experience and opportunity to develop networks across government, Catholic and independent jurisdictions. If your representative is retiring, I strongly encourage you to consider this vital role for your association and colleagues. APPA funds, via your association membership fees, associated meeting costs.


The National Young Leaders Day is Australia's largest gathering of young leaders, with separate days held for primary and secondary students. Run by Halogen Australia, this is a day of keynote speakers and leadership insights designed to empower young people to shine bright on behalf of those they lead now and in the future. APPA readily endorses the work of Halogen in building the capacity and strength of our young people. Keynote speakers from a broad range of areas including business, sport, politics, community service, media, science and the arts. Since its beginnings 20 years ago, extraordinary speakers have taken to the Halogen platform including some of the most influential leaders in Australia. Dates and locations are now announced for the next National Young Leaders Day in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. For full details, easy registration and speaker announcements visit


The Fred Hollows Foundation is calling for teachers, parents and community members to nominate students for the Fred Hollows Humanity Award. The award recognises year 6 students who show compassion, integrity and kindness in their lives, just as Fred did. Nominations open Monday 24 July and close Sunday 10 September. Award recipients will be recognised at a state presentation ceremony where a Junior Ambassador to The Foundation will be announced. This Ambassador will extend their humanity by allocating $5000, donated by Specsavers, to a Fred Hollows Foundation program of their choice to help end avoidable blindness. To nominate a student, go to


Student leaders are involved with organising events or campaigns to raise awareness and money for various causes. To amplify the result, go to: and run a campaign online for greater coverage and exposure.


APPA is a supporter of the National HPE Day. Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER) is pleased to announce former HPE teacher and current Western Bulldogs AFLW player, Emma Kearney, as a new ambassador for National Health and Physical Education (HPE) Day. Emma is the reigning Best & Fairest for Western Bulldogs AFLW, a 2017 All Australian player, and is also a cricketer for the Melbourne Stars in the WBBL. Emma joins long-distance runner and also former HPE educator, Steve Moneghetti, Australian Secondary Principal Association Executive Officer, Rob Nairn, and Dennis Yarrington, President of the Australian Primary Principal Association, as ambassadors.

ACHPER encourages schools, children, teachers and communities to take photos and videos of active participation in physical activity and upload them onto social media using the #HPEday hashtag. Some great prizes to be won, including two AFL 9s kits (one primary and one secondary) valued at over $500 each! ACHPER would like to thank AFL Schools for their support of National HPE Day.

Kay-A-Day is a health initiative for school-aged children created by bowel cancer awareness charity The Jodi Lee Foundation. The program is designed to encourage kids to run or walk just one kilometre a day, for 21 days – the same distance as a half-marathon. The Jodi Lee Foundation is passionate about encouraging school-aged children to move more and sit less.

Last year Kay-A-Day was a great success with over 6,000 students from 25 schools taking part. A number of schools received visits from our ambassadors including Olympic marathon runner Jessica Trengove, Adelaide Football Club star Scott Thompson and Brumbies Rugby Union player Jarrad Butler. For more information, you can visit our website:


APPA is happy to promote the first National Outdoor Classroom Day. The aim is to raise awareness of the value of the outdoors – the playground, nearby streets and parks, green spaces further afield - as a huge potential classroom full of opportunities to learn, develop, and build skills for the future. The day is to encourage teachers and parents to remove barriers to playing and learning outdoors. We hope to challenge and motivate everyone to get involved in a single day of action – and then make outdoor learning and play part of every day. So on 7 September, let’s get learning outdoors.


Moonhack is a world record-breaking ‘hackathon’ for kids. Last year 10,207 Australian kids participated in this free event, this year we're going global! From Sydney to Seoul, and Dhaka to Durham, kids all over the world will get the chance to collaborate and code this 15 August.

For more information go to:

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 July 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

July 2017

Lisa Wright

Faced with opposition from a politician and a parent, this Tasmanian principal defends the $7.9 million redevelopment of her special needs school.

Gareth Palmer

The outgoing principal of Majimup Primary School, in Western Australia, is rightly proud of his many achievements over the past three-and-a-half years.

Karen Patten

Improved collaboration between school principals and education bureaucrats is the aim of a newly created position in Department of Education and Training Victoria. ‘There is a real energy and authentic intent in terms of getting to know schools a whole lot better,’ says the State’s first principal-in-residence.

Michael Josey

The principal of Benowa Primary School, in Queensland, has asked the school’s P&C president to stand-down, stating that she should ‘not use any political position, platform or agenda to canvas community opinion on the wearing of hijabs.’

Peter Hamilton

The headmaster of an independent school in England defends the monitoring of student posts on Facebook and Twitter.

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

July 2017

Six leadership styles

A useful short tutorial explaining the six different leadership styles of Daniel Goleman.

Managing difficult parents

These seven tips for dealing with difficult parents include a reminder that one must never give up on a child.

LEAP: Leading Educators Around the Planet

The deputy principal of Gunnedah Public School, in NSW, explains the benefits of the LEAP program. This year, the school welcomed the deputy principal of Castor Valley Elementary school, in Canada.

The power of a ‘principal leader’

There are key differences between an ‘effective principal’ and a ‘principal leader’, explains Dr Stephanie Doscher.

Pushing teachers out into the wider world

Jeremy Stowe-Lindner explains his unique approach to school leadership. Each year, six teachers from Bialik College, in Victoria, are sent overseas to learn new ways of ‘doing’ education.

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

July 2017

Principal wins unfair dismissal case

Principal Bronwen Martin has successfully appealed her January 2017 dismissal from Beechworth Montessori School, in Victoria.

Camera hidden in pen

This report on recent proceedings in a Perth court is another reminder for principals that unfortunately even long-term, trusted employees can act in unexpected, criminal ways, to the detriment of the children in their care.

Human rights complaint

Balnarring Primary School, in rural Victoria, is facing a human rights complaint for allegedly suggesting an autistic pupil weeds and sweep footpaths as occupation therapy.

Personal relationships in the workplace

The right of employers to regulate their employees' out-of-work conduct remains a contested legal question. Paul Harpur, senior lecturer at the University of Queensland's School of Law, discusses various cases where workplace relationships of a romantic nature resulted in legal situations for employers and employees.

Teacher and principal sued

A parent has sued a teacher and the principal of Fuqua Elementary School, in the USA. The mother and her son are seeking compensation and punitive damages after the first grade boy was allegedly removed from his classroom and sent to the principal’s office for remaining seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.

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

July 2017

NT student suspension in 2016

In 2016, there were 3114 individual student suspensions across government schools in the Northern Territory, i.e. five per cent of the total NT student enrolment.

Engagement of fathers in education

Researchers from the Life Course Centre at the University of Queensland found the father figure had a significant impact on whether or not a child eventually gained a tertiary qualification.

Brain function and chocolate

Could recent bans on chocolates as a fundraiser be inconsistent with new research from Italy on the cognitive benefits of cocoa beans? More research is likely to follow on this emotive issue.

Smartphones and cognition

The findings of a recent study suggest that the mere presence of one's smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they're giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand. What does this mean for learning environments?

Impact of emotional intelligence programs

Social and emotional learning programs for youth not only immediately improve mental health, social skills, and learning outcomes but also continue to benefit children years later, according to new research.

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.


The Royal ICC, or better known as the Brisbane Showgrounds, is just 1.6km from Brisbane CBD, 15 minutes from Brisbane Domestic and International Airports and is in easy reach of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

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

July 2017

How to start exercising after a long break

How does someone who hasn't exercised for years get moving again in a way that's enjoyable, sustainable and safe?

Change your mindset

Dr Alia Crum believes that ‘the lens or the view in which we see the world’ has important implications for the management of mental and physical health.

Diet and mental health

Nutritionists and neurologists are now exploring the links between mental health and diet. This article explores one nutritionist’s view on the links between food and what some researchers are calling ‘the second brain’.

A healthy weight: what’s stopping men?

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that 70 per cent of Australian men are overweight or obese. What’s preventing Australian men from maintaining a healthy weight?

Assess your caffeine intake

Excessive caffeine has been linked to sleep disorders, headaches, heart palpitations and even anxiety, says Dr Christina Pollard from Curtin University's School of Public Health.

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

July 2017

Expansion of play-based school

Maridahdi Primary and Early Education, an independent primary school in Toowoomba, Queensland, is exploring the possibility of opening a campus in Brisbane. The school attracts parents who prefer a less structured approach to teaching young children.

Roll-out of education assistants for WA schools

From the start of 2018, Western Australia will commence a three-year roll-out of funds that will allow 238 primary and district high schools to employ education assistants.

The ‘wandering-in’ approach

Having ‘adopted’ a local school, an altruistic district magistrate spends his Saturdays teaching arithmetic, English and science to year 1-8 students attending the upper primary school in Orderly Bazar, near Varanasi, in India. Mr Yogeshwar Ram Mishra’s approach is to randomly enter any classroom, ask students what they would like to study, and teach them whatever they ask for.

How schools can build a strong curriculum

A debate is brewing in the UK about the conflict between rigorous testing and the delivery of a curriculum of substance. This article raises some key issues for those interested in curriculum reform.

Curriculum to reduce risky pre-teen sexuality

A Queensland Parliamentary Committee has examined how improved sex education in government schools could reduce risks to children.

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

July 2017

Kathy Margolis

According to former Queensland teacher, Kathy Margolis, ‘prep students are being pushed too hard, too fast and being set up to fail.’

Darrin Morgan

The NSW director of Fairness in Religion in Schools, a group that opposes school scripture classes, has called for the State’s laws to change. ‘Students in scripture have the power to stop the learning of all other students – it’s ridiculous,’ he said. At present, government schools in NSW have to provide at least 30 minutes a week for optional religious education classes, but students who opt-out are not allowed to undertake any educational activities during that time.

David Roy

This senior lecturer from Newcastle University says the use of CCTV cameras in schools would provide useful evidence to support or disprove allegations of child abuse in classrooms. Parents recently told a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry that cameras could provide a live broadcast that parents could watch, to make sure their children were being treated appropriately.

Kristen Desmond

From July 1, Tasmanians aged four to 11 became eligible for the NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme], meaning it was now responsible for funding and managing disability services for that age bracket. ‘We're really concerned about the gap that brings because ECIS [Early Childhood Intervention Service] really provides some education-specific services and that's [sic] not actually going to happen under the NDIS because they don't fund education-specific things,’ says this spokesperson for Tasmania's Disability Education Reform Lobby.

Alasdair McDonald

Elders must be consulted as Indigenous languages are rejuvenated through education, argues this NSW journalist.

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.

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Money matters

July 2017

Impact of water buybacks

Student enrolment at Dirranbandi P-10 State School, in rural Queensland, has more than halved, to 60 students, since water buy-backs began. With more water buy-backs still to come, the school is under considerable pressure.

Review of school funding

A team of principals, education leaders and consultants will join David Gonski for a review of school funding. Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the review would be a ‘turning point’ in Australian education.

Near the bottom of the list

In a recently released OECD report, Australia ranked 30 of 35 countries in spending on childhood care as a percentage of gross domestic product.

Parents pay rent for enrolment zone ‘rights’

Some Canberra schools are experiencing increasing capacity pressures, amidst rumours that parents are ‘sharing’ postcodes or allegedly renting units simply to give them access to favoured school enrolment zones.

Dancing after a burglary

This school in Hampshire, England held a fundraising ball to raise money to upgrade security, repair damage and replace items stolen in a recent burglary. The event was called ‘All That Glitters’.

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

July 2017

Mr Keith Peterson

Head of Junior School - Arndell Anglican College
Oakville, NSW

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

I am Head of Junior School at Arndell Anglican College, in Oakville, NSW. The junior school is part of a prep-12 Anglican college that serves the surrounding Hawkesbury region. It is a rapidly growing junior school that is part of a rapidly growing College. While growth has been impacted by the growing demographic of Sydney’s west, from conversations with parents at the start of an enrolment process, this growth has primarily been the result of ‘word of mouth’. Our school has developed a strong reputation around high quality teaching and learning, the wonderful heart and team commitment of its staff and its genuine inclusivity. As a low-fee independent school with a commitment to work across all directions, and to engage in all range of partnerships and creative possibilities, we seek to make the fullest difference for each child. We do seek to make love our aim. Love is surely the heart of all life. However, as an Anglican faith school, we perhaps have a special privilege to explicitly locate ‘love as faith in action’. We do our utmost to make that aspiration real, both as our true ‘home base’ and as our ‘touch stone’ place of mission, relationship, hope, purpose and meaning.

How many years have you been a school leader?

More than I’d probably like to admit to! I started in leadership in curriculum subject coordinator roles then moved on to deputy headships in London. After that, I was head of junior school in three schools in Australia. My professional journey has now extended across more than three decades.

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

For me, the journey towards leadership felt very organic. As my teaching skills grew, so did my leadership. I had a strong period of growth when I was head of English in a middle school in Harrow, London. This allowed me to take advantage of the many professional development opportunities provided by the Borough, and full access to the London Institute. This period was a synthesis of professional possibility and intentional upskilling, providing me with a strong framework for my journey into executive 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 executive role was the result of tragic circumstances, when a headmaster died suddenly. I was appointed acting deputy head of a large London middle school. I was deeply saddened and shocked at the sudden passing of someone I held in high regard. I also became very much aware of the complexity of my new role. I learned very quickly that any managerial and administrative initiative had to be based on an emotional intelligent approach if it was to have any chance of survival. Leadership in this context became a fundamentally qualitative process, and as much about healing and sustaining than pioneering and changing. It was a lesson about the primacy of internal insight and dynamics in leadership that is relevant to this day.

(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

July 2017

Mr Keith Peterson

Head of Junior School - Arndell Anglican College
Oakville, NSW

(continued from previous page)

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

The best advice I received was when I had just moved to a new position and was ‘hyper-actioning around’, looking to enmesh all kinds and measure of change across quite a fragile surface, and into quite a fragmented culture. The advice I was given concerned ‘lifting my eyes to the hills’ and choosing to discern and to express longer term purpose. It came from an understanding that change thrives best it can achieve ‘density’. And that this creation of ‘density’ cannot be rushed. In order to be successful, change has first to be conceived, communicated and delivered out of a deliberately ‘densely’ planned and resourced incremental process. In other words, the kind of process that has a strategically allocated capacity to be able to capture the professional, personal allegiance and commitment from staff, and so feed from this intentional dynamic to a place of secure planting, growth and life.

‘Density’, I consequently began to discover, best occurs when a change initiative is given deliberate opportunity to transform into a self-integrated change agent. This pre-designed width of intentionality can then produce opportunity to get beyond any dimension of ‘life-support space’ to a place of breathing, growth and ‘densely’ rich impact.

The advice I was given was important and, from that time, I had a deeper, more longitudinal view of change.

What makes you smile at work?

Children! Just yesterday, our kindergarten classes were going on their very first school excursion. It was before school and the children were all very, very, present inside that wonderfully revolving ball of excitement that little children have the grace to make about just about everything! ‘Where are you all going on your excursion today?’ I asked in a tone of studied, specific, educational enquiry. ‘We’re going on the bus!’ they replied in one triumphant ensemble of spontaneous moment of living! Brilliant!

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

I believe very much in the philosophy and precepts of ‘servant leadership’ and its associated values and leadership skills framework. So, I believe that the most valuable thing I can do, as a leader in education, is to look to find practical alignment within a holistic paradigm that has vision at its centre, and relationship towards the flourishing of the other, at its heart. Cheers for the theory! But, every day, I find that this does, strategically and really, bring into practice the practical stuff. ‘Am I actively listening to this person?’ ‘Is my primary intention towards my staff that they might become equipped far beyond any definition around me or of the school with its current aims as an organisation?’ A little while ago, a member of staff remarked to me that, ‘You’re a good leader, Keith, because you believe in people; you challenge them to grow and then they come through for you.’

That was probably over-generous! But I consider it certainly true as a point of key practice in leadership. As leaders, one of our foremost responsibilities – and privileges – is to look to discern that potential in those who are part of our teams. We need to explicitly name that potential, so that it is identified and supported. In this way, potential can really flourish to a point of trust and mature impact.

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

I was head of junior school in a very new Anglican school that was struggling a bit to affirm purpose, identity and credibility. At the same time, it had to meet the requirements of a full BOSTES inspection. We worked hard as a staff team; we worked together, and we worked progressively to set up curriculum and methods of assessment that we considered to be the best fit. It all felt positively significant but, at the same time, very vulnerable! Then, after a day on site, the BOSTES registration team delivered the verdict that, ‘This school has practice equal to the best recording and assessment practice that we have seen and experienced across the whole of NSW.’ Personal vindication (well a bit?)! Team vindication (certainly)! Celebration (rock on)!

(continued on next page)


Love the job

July 2017

Mr Keith Peterson

Head of Junior School - Arndell Anglican College
Oakville, NSW

(continued from previous page)

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

Last year, one of our students lost her life in a riding accident. She was beautiful, compassionate, wonderfully multi-talented girl and with a kindness that was as naturally giving as light from a sunflower. I am not able to express the emotion felt across the school community that day, or in the days beyond. Words crease up or seem to shatter and fall away. There were, and have been, many tears. At the same time, there has been an increasing sense of a sacred gift to steward, to celebrate and treasure.

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

Without a sense of humour, where would we be? Probably on some everlasting journey to a dark room and back! Can’t separate any one single incident – but I am aware of an ever-moving joined-up mosaic of many giggling – and delightful - absurdities!

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

Tip A. Know that in your job you have the privilege of really making a difference in the lives of children and families. Treasure that – learn discernment in its application – be passionate in pursuing outcomes – and function from an integral level of authority that is there for you to grow in and to express. And explicitly note and celebrate all the positive outcomes that you play such significant part in enabling!

Tip B. Look to value and to create harmony in the organisation you lead. Dislocation is best left to remedial bone surgeons and disruption to wild weather causing temporary chaos to Sydney suburban train timetables! Look to create a school where there is a creative and purposeful balance between moral efficacy and committed competence. Harmony distributes its own energy and affects its own renewal of purpose.

Tip C. Have much kindness unto yourself. As a friend of mine once said to me, ‘Keith, you can’t be everyone’s hero.’ In my experience, that might have turned out to be just a little too true! Give it all you have – and then leave all that ‘stuff that still wants to stick’ inside your principal’s office as you close the door for that day.

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?

It’s the children – being able to delight in them and be with them – to perspective-shift through their eyes and re-connect with wonder and laughter. To have opportunity to speak to their potential and to seek to partner each unique journey of growth.

It’s colleagues – being able to share with them – professionally, personally, connectedly, to one another but beyond one another

It’s the possibility every day of being able to make some measure of difference.

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

I think this depends very much as to where you sense you are as you look around the present landscape of your life. I do believe that our lives have given seasons. The wisdom is often to perceive that present measure of ‘optimum balance’. A season of having little children, for example, is at different measure from a season of mid-life, and so on. Read the season – value it – find and express balance by walking in the nature and rightness of its particular rhythms.

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

I talk with people I trust – and seek to really listen to what they tell me and to review responses, and make decisions accordingly. My shoulders aren’t broad enough . . . and my wisdom isn’t deep enough!

I try to really keep and get perspective, and to look beyond any ‘giants’ in my path to the stars in the sky. I believe in prayer - (and here’s my leadership favourite: ‘Help!’) - and in the constant love and mercy of the God of the second-chance, who is Love and who loves to turn ashes to beauty.

I try to cherish gratitude – that smile; that word; that change that worked today; noticing the rain shimmering on a spider’s web; that all surprising ‘thank you’ that transforms a moment.

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

I am at present a part-time PhD student at the University of Notre Dame Sydney, engaged with a qualitative research project around case study and a thesis looking to explore the potential impact of the explicit explaining and modelling of servant leadership on the culture and practice of schools. I love the people and close school-to-school interaction in this. I’d like, in time, to become a full-time advocate/explainer/facilitator of this approach and have the privilege and opportunity of further equipping schools and teachers accordingly.

Mr Keith Peterson
Arndell Anglican College, Oakville, NSW


Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

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