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


July 2015

Dear Colleagues,

As schools return for the third term, welcome to another exciting edition of Connected Leader.

Let me begin by thanking those of you who completed the APPA Teacher Education and Classroom Readiness survey. The resulting report has just been completed and we will comment on this important report in the next edition.

I live on Earth but has Earth become a different world?

What do you picture when I mention the following terms: computer, ICT, coding, technology, digital, e-learning, flip teaching, programming, virtual world, cloud learning, etc…? Hopefully, not too many frightening or emotional responses. However, I would understand if there were at least a few who have been more than once impacted by the curse of a digital virus or bug; not to mention the failure of technology to work when you want it! We are expanding our knowledge and the impact of digital technology has created a huge shift in teaching and learning, our work practice and life in general.

I started in teaching with chalk and ink for technology. The pen replaced ink and the touch screen has replaced the blackboard and chalk by white board markers or remote controllers. This change has been fast in some schools and slower in others. The classroom practice and tools of 2105 are very different from 1975. Has teacher training kept up with this change? Graduates finishing at the end of 2014 would have started their course just before the iPad entered the market. In some schools they might now be expected to be operating their teaching and learning classes by iPad. I wondered what training they would have received. What training is now being provided?

Teaching is going through an evolution that is challenging many people. Maybe one reason is that for many teachers and parents their memory of school is different and so our mental mindsets are being challenged and we are needing to rebuild our model of school. It is like we (older teachers and parents) are living on Earth and our students are on Mars time, thinking and communication. I note for some the change has been actively taken up, whereas for others there is still work to be done. As Tony Wagner (2014) believes, we need a new dialogue for our children’s future. We need to acknowledge that school is different and “… maybe students today do need something different. I wonder what it is?” (p. 269). We need to be teaching the learning our students need today but unfortunately some are still teaching for yesterday.

I attended the 2016 EduTECH conference in Brisbane and noted the great enthusiasm by attendees for learning about the use of technology as a tool for learning. The other growing trend was sharing on innovative learning environments, maker spaces or Self Organising Learning Environments (SOLE: see Prof Sugata Mitra or

The conference opened with Eric Mazur ( The key message for me was about assessment and how this is also changing. We are moving from standardised testing and learning to personalised learning and assessment. Computers or robotic machines will replace functions where repetition is required. Therefore, we need people who can adapt, solve problems and innovate new solutions. Mazur suggested four improvements for assessment to reflect the new learning approach: Open Book Exams; Team-based Learning; Focus on Feedback; and, Focus on Skills.

We need to “rethink assessment as we continue to educate people for yesterday not tomorrow.”

A discussion panel looked at the learning environment and I noted the following points for consideration by future planners of learning environments:

  • Learning experience should lead the designer.
  • Digital native façade: Can teachers really operate at a level required for the learning?
  • What are they coming to in the learning environment? What is the pedagogy being used in the learning?
  • Project based learning
  • Teacher capacity to keep up and be across the key goals of the learning.
  • Innovation

How do we move forward?

APPA has called for a National Digital Technologies Strategy. We need a strategy that will support primary schools to integrate digital technologies into the curriculum. Placing digital technologies and coding in the curriculum is just the start. We need every teacher to be confident in integrating digital technologies. This is vital for our students to develop the skills and capabilities to live and work in a digital world. The strategy must include the leadership of schools, resources for students and building the capacity of every teacher. We know of many primary schools embracing the digital learning world.

APPA is working with ScopeIT Education to support principals in building the capacity of their school to engage digital skills in an integrated model. With ScopeIT, technology takes off in the classroom and brings the ‘know how’ that empowers primary students of all ages to code and create their dreams. Whether introducing students to coding and real world, hands-on electric design or engaging in computer software, website and application design and construction, ScopeIT takes design and technology to a new level in our schools. ScopeIT brings the latest laptops, the most cutting-edge software available into every classroom. The activities are aligned to the curriculum and the learning is fun, interactive, engaging, inspiring and educational.

Recently, I visited Mt Kuring-Gai Public School in New South Wales to discuss the program with principal Glenn O’Neill and students. The enthusiasm for the program was evident and Glenn’s comment was simple: “It ticks all the boxes.” My key observation was the program builds the capacity of teachers and the students can readily access their learning when ScopeIT have finished for the day. This may just be a solution to bringing the best in IT to the classroom without the enormous outlay of technology hardware, connectivity issues or expensive professional learning offsite.

APPA will continue to work with national bodies ACARA and AITSL to build strong and informed learning platforms that assist school communities, principals and teachers in bringing our schools into the digital (Mars!) world of our students.

2015 APPA National Conference, Hobart 14 – 18 September

What a great opportunity to spend time with primary school colleagues from across Australia and New Zealand discussing and sharing innovations, leadership, ideas and strategies to create great schools. And shouldn’t we build strong partnerships with other schools? Still considering? Stop! Ring up three colleagues and come as a team. See it as networking and a great place for a study tour. We look forward to seeing many principals and school leaders from all sectors across Australia in Hobart come September.

I wish everyone an enjoyable and successful school term.

Best regards,

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

2015 APPA Conference: 16-18 September, Hobart

Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.
2015 APPA Conference: 16-18 September, Hobart

Principals in the news

July 2015

Jan Carey

The principal of Trinity Gardens School, in South Australia created the Help-A-School Foundation after she visited India on holidays and witnessed first-hand the disparities in the levels of equipment available for Indian and Australian schools.

Courtney Vashaw

Australian principals will appreciate this heart-warming story of student care and gratitude, despite their probable misgivings about the US health care system.

Neil Lennie

A former Australian Council of Educational Leadership (ACEL) president and former headmaster of several well-known Melbourne schools has been convicted and fined $8000 for charges that include teaching while unregistered.

Michael Lee

School leadership sometimes involves leading a community through the emotional turbulence of unexpected death and grieving, as the principal of St Mary McKillop College, in the ACT, would know only too well.

Devendra Prasad

Following the death of two primary school students, an Indian principal was lynched and severely beaten by an angry mob. He later died in hospital from his injuries.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Locally made ethical school wear

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

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

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

Phone: 03 94190222

Opinion and analysis

July 2015

Sally Varnham

‘Modern educators [should] see bullying as serious anti-social behaviour which has a severe impact on all children’s right to education’ and work on ‘creating school cultures where bullying cannot exist.’

Ana Pha

Is a corporate take-over of Australian education already underway?

Kerry Howell

According to this researcher from the University of Tasmania, teachers have been feeling less appreciated over time, as education has become more commodified. They are ‘seen as someone employed by the parents, rather than someone who was giving something precious.’

Jay Weatherill

The states should take responsibility for early childhood and school education, and hand higher education and vocational training to the Federal Government, says the South Australian Premier.

Roy Blatchford

‘The old ideal of having all students in school from 9am to 3.30pm will soon be unmanageable. Re-organising the school day and year is the only alternative,’ says Roy Blatchford.

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:

Research, reports and statistics

July 2015

Link between obesity and school drop-out

Obese children are far less likely to finish school than peers of normal weight, according to European research that also highlights body image problems in children as young as six.

Impact of transience on student outcomes

Research into transience in Auckland primary schools was released on 27 May by the Child Poverty Action Group.

Advantages of working mothers

In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes.

Epilepsy research

A study has been made of 85 children, between the ages of five and 15 years, with active epilepsy. The study included comprehensive psychological assessments, as well as an analysis of global cognition, working memory and processing speed.

Motor deficits in autism

Uneven wiring in the brain’s motor circuitry predicts movement difficulties in children with autism, according to unpublished research presented in late Mayat the 2015 International Meeting for Autism Research in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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.

Education news

July 2015

Financial training for school councils

The Victorian Education Department will roll out new training next month to help school councils ‘identify and address irregular financial activities.’

Inquiry into closure of small schools

A parliamentary inquiry will conduct an inquiry into the closure of small public schools in NSW.

Teacher registration suspended

A Queensland principal recently had his teacher registration suspended for six months as a result of outdoor education safety concerns. However, the suspension was subsequently wholly suspended for 12 months.

Education to prevent domestic violence

The NSW Government has announced major changes to the 7-10 school syllabus that will specifically focus on domestic violence prevention. Should the primary school curriculum also be adjusted?

Israeli teachers arrested

Four school teachers in southern Israel have been arrested and charged with supporting and spreading the ideology of Islamic State.

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

Balancing act

July 2015

Hardwiring happiness

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson talks about the hidden power of everyday experiences on the brain. He explains how to overcome the brain's negativity bias and deliberately ‘hardwire’ happiness.

How to practice emotional hygiene

Guy Winch says that you can’t treat a psychological wound if you don’t know you’re injured. ‘Why is our physical health much more important to us than our emotional health?’, he asks.

How to make the most of a longer life

After working long hours and possibly raising a family at the same time, are you heading into a stage of life that doesn’t yet have a name, much less a clear road map?

It’s not just about time management

Learn to manage yourself, instead of just managing time, says life coach Dieter Pauwels.

Why your brain needs sleep

Anthony Carboni explains the ‘glymphatic system’ and the concept of sleep as a ‘cerebral garbage disposal’ system.

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

Policy and innovation

July 2015

The best book lets you read between the lines

Through Macquarie University's PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) program, students get to 'read between the lines' when they head to a remote Northern Territory school to evaluate an important literacy initiative. With the support of APPA Business Partner, Scholastic, these university students help keep Books in Homes in Maningrida.

Matt Esterman’s dream school of the future

‘My dream school wouldn’t have any physical fences. And it wouldn’t matter if you were a baby, an elderly person or a busy single mum, everyone would have the opportunity to learn there,’ says innovator Matt Esterman.

Principals voice concern about new school

Specialist staff at Perth’s new Midland Academy will work with students who have extreme and complex behaviours, including violence towards teachers and other students.

Direct instruction literacy success

Teachers are reporting that a Direct Instruction literacy program, promoted by Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, is having a dramatic impact in the Pilbara.

Riding for the disabled

Riding for the Disabled Australia has been running for 40 years and is now at more than 130 centres. The program is approved and monitored by the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
2015 APPA Conference: 16-18 September, Hobart

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.

Professional skill-building

July 2015

The new psychology of strategic leadership

Using structured associative thinking, leaders can learn how to deal with the cognitively distant and develop techniques for reconceptualising their business or organisation.

The 15 diseases of leadership

Pope Francis ‘understands that, as human beings, we have certain proclivities — not all of them noble. Nevertheless, leaders should be held to a high standard, since their scope of influence makes their ailments particularly infectious.’

The three types of eye gazing

How do ‘alpha’ leaders use ‘power gazing’ in order to be taken more seriously?

Decoding leadership: what really matters

New research suggests that the secret to developing effective leaders is to encourage four types of behaviour.

Leadership 2.0

In a new book, ‘Leadership 2.0’, researchers Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves identify 22 ‘core’ and ‘adaptive’ skills that anybody can work to develop.

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

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

Money matters

July 2015

Call for quick action on funding

MP Rob Pyne has challenged the Queensland State Government to deliver the Cairns Special School in time for a 2017 opening.

IBAC inquiry concludes

Victoria’s IBAC inquiry into the misuse of funds by senior education officials and school principals has now concluded. Events and consequences are summarised in this article.

Tasmanian families spending less on education

Jenny Eddington says that many Tasmanian parents cannot afford school lunches or bus fares have fallen into a pattern of keeping children at home, especially in winter, when heating costs are high.

Decline in public school funding

Data from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), adjusted for inflation, shows that total government funding for Australian public schools fell by $224 per student between 2009 and 2013.

Financial regulation a huge challenge

PNG faces enormous ethical, cultural and financial challenges in providing a high quality education for its future citizens.

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 2015

Mrs Sharryn Naylor

Head of Junior School, Wenona College
North Sydney, NSW

Where are you currently working as a school leader?

I am currently Head of Junior School at Wenona, a K-12 non-denominational girls school in North Sydney, NSW, where I oversee 40 staff and 320 students from kindergarten to year 6. This is my third year in the role and I have loved every minute of it. Wenona is a very dynamic, high performing school with a strong service learning tradition at its core. It has been exhilarating to work with our principal, Dr Briony Scott, to help realise her vision of educating ‘Renaissance Women’ who are not only exceptionally well-educated but are mindful, courageous, ambitious and thoughtful world citizens.

I have particularly enjoyed the challenge of designing learning experiences that equip girls to be comfortable stepping up to leadership roles, along with serving in the poorest areas of the world and speaking out for what they believe in. Girls need to be resilient and get out of their comfort zones; they need exposure to STEM subjects and they need to learn compassion, humility and service. It is daunting at times to reflect on the responsibility of being an educational leader today but there is no doubt about the value of this work. This is what makes my job so rewarding. I am making a difference to the younger women of tomorrow and it is exciting to be part of the journey with them.

How long have you been a school leader? What/where was your first appointment?

During my career I have enjoyed various educational leadership roles in both the secondary and primary sectors. I enjoy the natural curiosity and wonder of early childhood and the intellectual rigor of classes with adolescents. I have been teaching for 35 years. My love of literature and performing meant that training as a secondary English, history and drama teacher was a natural career for me. I still love analysing great texts, co-constructing essays and mounting school productions.  My first school leadership role was as assistant to the principal at Kincoppal-Rose School, School of the Sacred Heart, in Rose Bay, Sydney, in 1991. The role was a new one at the school and encompassed pastoral care, student discipline and general organisation. I maintained a small teaching role and I would recommend that all principals/school leaders maintain some time in the classroom. There is nothing more rewarding for a teacher than building a strong rapport with students, presenting ideas and watching them relate, create, and grow. I was fortunate that the new head of the school was innovative and highly supportive. His mentoring of me gave me the confidence to design and implement a formalised pastoral care system of year co-ordinators and formal timetabled pastoral care lessons incorporating ‘learning to learn’ study skills, time management and self-reflection.

I went on to serve on the School Executive for eight years as Director of Pastoral Care and was then asked to serve as acting principal of the Junior School for a short while. I absolutely loved the role:  the interaction with younger students, the greater communication with parents, the increased complexity of children’s foundational learning, and so I fell in love with primary education. I was permanently appointed to the role and served for 12 years in a very dynamic and strong community with a beautiful Sacred Heart tradition. After 27 years at Kincoppal-Rose Bay, I felt that I needed to be brave and practice what I preach with my students, i.e. ‘to get out of your comfort zone and take risks to learn and grow’. It was difficult to leave a school that had nurtured me professionally for so many years, and provided me with rich experiences with so many families and students.

I was appointed as deputy principal K-12 to The McDonald College, North Strathfield, in 2010. This is a co-educational Performing Arts school with students auditioning and specialising in either ballet, dance, drama, music or musical theatre. It was a pure joy to indulge my love of theatre by attending so many outstanding student performances and seeing what was possible through sheer hard work, countless hours of rehearsal and committed and talented teachers. There is something quite special about the energy and drive of young performers and elite sporting students. It is a privilege to design curriculum to allow students to be well-educated and to fit this around a demanding rehearsal/training schedule.


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 2015

Mrs Sharryn Naylor

Head of Junior School, Wenona College
North Sydney, NSW

(continued from previous page)

When, and why, did you originally want to become a school leader?

The truth is that I never really set out to be a school leader. I just threw myself into the fabric of school life, both academically and co-curricular, and built many skills along the way. Collaboration with professional colleagues honed my skills, and when opportunities arose, I was lucky enough to be afforded these opportunities for growth. I love the chance to positively influence others and bring about change for the better. Devising a plan, nurturing the new ideas of others and combining the various skills of many, makes leadership in schools a very exciting role. When you are passionate about student learning and equipping them for an unknown future, it is very humbling and yet rewarding to play a role in bringing about transformation in the lives of those in your community. Leading fellow teachers, mentoring colleagues, setting up ‘step up’ moments for others all creates strong teams of educators working together to assist students. It is a noble profession, teaching.

Being a lifelong learner is part of being a school leader. The role modelling for staff, parents and students comes from the top. I don’t believe you can determine best pedagogy without the experience of being a student yourself. Learning with, and from, students and colleagues keeps one young and on an exciting professional and personal journey. I am currently taking the AIS (Association of Independent schools) Flagship Program for school leaders, a mindfulness course and a Growth Coaching course. The AIS course is assisting me to be more reflective in my practice and develop an action research project for my school; the mindfulness program is assisting with my personal growth and providing balance in my life as well as preparing me to teach mindfulness to other teachers and students. Finally, the Growth Coaching is assisting me to help teachers be the best they can be; it has taught me about listening and allowing others to map out steps to achieve their goals. There is much more I need and want to learn. But I do this with a sense of curiosity and adventure. My journey is truly a never-ending quest and odyssey.

What was your worst day?

Schools are communities. Educational leadership is highly relational, as well as operational and strategic. The death of a member of your school community is very confronting. Providing comfort to a child who has experienced death is a very delicate and important role. My worst days have been when I have witnessed intense pain and suffering in others; when a relationship has broken down and there is a ripple effect throughout the community or where there is a mental health issue.  Your role is to listen and support others, manage communications and ensure dignity, respect and privacy for others. One of my hardest days was watching a child being taken home by one parent according to family court orders and that child being separated from siblings and the other parent. There is a tension between being strong for others and managing communications and processes with dignity. At these times, managing your own emotions can be very challenging.

2015 APPA Conference: 16-18 September, Hobart

Love the job

July 2015

Mrs Sharryn Naylor

Head of Junior School, Wenona College
North Sydney, NSW

(continued from previous page)

What makes you smile at work?

Children say exactly what they think. Their expressions and interpretations of life always make me smile. The humour of my hard-working colleagues brings me great perspective and joy. They have taught me not to take myself too seriously in the role and have fun while you are doing the most important job in the world. I often say to parents with complete sincerity, ‘I have the best job in the world.’ Recently,  I got to take kindergarten to year 2 students on an outdoor adventure learning about water life. I held a two-day-old duckling and chased it in the school pond, read a story to all of years 3 to 6 as part of the National Story Telling Day, dressed up as a parrot for our ‘P for Peru’ fundraising party, and felt tears in my eyes as I sang Waltzing Matilda with year 6 at the National Reconciliation Day Assembly. All of these were just regular school activities and events. However, they are imbued with magic when seen through the eyes of children. When I read something written by a student and have a window into their thinking, I always smile. Teaching is indeed a vocation. I love my job!

Mrs Sharryn Naylor, Head of Junior School, Wenona, North Sydney, NSW



Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2015. 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 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.

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.