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


June 2016

Dear Colleagues,

I write the first part of this ‘Connected Leader’ from Auckland, New Zealand, where I am joined by over 200 Australian principals at the 2016 Trans-Tasman Principals Conference. This is a joint conference between New Zealand Principals’ Federation and APPA. The conference theme, ‘Knowledge in our Hands’, has a focus on narratives and stories of leadership.

My sincere thanks go to the organising committee, led by convener, Jill Corkin, of Auckland and also to Iain Taylor, President of NZPF, for his hosting, warmth and good humour over the week.

Without doubt, the Conference has been huge success for more than 850 delegates, including those colleagues from the Pacific Islands, Canada and the United States. My sincere thanks go to the organising committee, led by convener, Jill Corkin, of Auckland. I extend a special thank you to our Auckland colleagues for making us feel very welcome in your city and region. I know there were many new connections and networks established during the conference.

The ‘connection to speak and share our stories’ was engaged and turned on. Our presenters and workshop leaders provided the motivation for conversation and deep reflection on practice. The key conference themes, whether Excellence, Innovation and Inquiry, Curiosity, Diversity and Equity, or Ecological Sustainability, Integrity and Respect, saw a wonderful range of keynotes, presentations and workshops.

The distance between our countries might seem great but after this conference the relationship is strengthened and the willingness to support and challenge each other has grown to make us feel closer.

Let’s take up the challenge because we have the knowledge in our hands!


Now home, I would like to highlight just some of the items on the APPA radar.


Well, we have education as a key policy item for the election. Over the long campaign, maintaining the focus on education will be challenging. However, while the main themes have been announced, we can still look for additional initiative announcements. APPA has been talking to both sides and clarifying positions while at the same time reinforcing APPA’s positions. There is clear evidence that APPA’s push for leadership support is identified in policy statements. We have received commitments that both parties will work with principals associations to develop leadership programs.

Funding, too, is gaining momentum, given the difference between parties. APPA is continuing to support funding that is needs-based, sector-blind, transparent and predictable. Our push is to have the primary base higher to target early and sustained intervention for students, as well as address the demands of the curriculum and the technology and innovation agenda. APPA has three key initiatives that could support both parties’ policies: Principals as Literacy Leaders (PALL) to address the literacy and explicit teaching focus, Principals as STEM Leaders to give direction in schools for the technology and innovation agendas, and the Next Generation Principals leadership course (including the Leaders Shadowing Leaders program).

This election is about investment in education. Our opportunity, as practising principals, is to push the message that the best outcomes for education are at the primary school level and through the school principal’s direction. Primary school principals are determined to see that each child, regardless of background or school context, has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.

At the most recent NAC meeting, held before the conference in Auckland, we developed a set of Key Election Messages for Principal that is available to every primary school principal and has been sent out via state and territory associations. APPA messages are:

  • Our national political leaders must prioritise investing in our primary schools with a long-term view. A non-partisan, 20-year school education plan will see schools better positioned to focus upon the innovation and flexibility needed for tomorrow’s world.
  • APPA supports a national arrangement of funding for schooling; one that is needs-based and sector-blind, values students equally, and is transparent and predictable.
  • The early and primary years are where the educational and social foundations of a child’s future are established. APPA recommends increasing the primary base rate as a means towards achieving this goal.
  • Students who are disadvantaged because of background, disability or learning difficulty require targeted funding and long-term funding certainty to help reach their potential.
  • Developing quality school leadership requires strong and ongoing investment through a national program for aspiring principals, and through building the professional capacity of current school leaders.
  • We need to ensure that initial teacher education is driven by a rigorous course curriculum and high quality in-school experiences, so that primary graduates are ‘classroom ready’.
  • My School has made no real difference to the learning achievement of our student and stereotypes individual students, groups of students and school communities. Principals deplore the high stakes environment created by My School and the resulting implications for primary-aged students, their teachers and the curriculum.
  • We know that evidence-based practice, quality teaching and learning, and early and sustained intervention in the primary years, reaps the greatest reward.
On the APPA website we have also provided a comparison of the major party’s education policies with comment.


We are planning to meet with ACARA again before the end of term to discuss what is becoming an increasingly concerning issue. APPA is continuing to push the line that many schools would be heavily disadvantaged because of wide disparity in technology, technological support and Internet access. At another level, online writing assessment cannot be supported for year 3 because of the very likely implications on curriculum and pedagogy. We have raised this issue with a range of stakeholders and ask that every principal discuss this with his or her community, member of parliament (state or federal), and jurisdiction leaders. The decision to implement NAPLAN Online has implications not yet realised or discussed with school principals. Now is the time to be heard, as they say, before the horse has bolted.

Principal Health and Wellbeing

We have been informed that the project has received funding from the Australian Research Council for the next three years. APPA will be part of the project and we will soon meet with Dr Phil Riley to explore the project’s focus and future outcomes. Our key interest with the next phase of the project is on measuring the impact or strategies that employers and jurisdictions have implemented or could be implementing.

APPA Leadership Program: Next Generation Principal

We have released the Leaders Shadowing Leaders package. We encourage associations to take up the program and I am happy to lead a workshop or presentation on Shadowing. This program is being run through your local principals association.

My Hero Day July 29

APPA is supporting this worthwhile Captain Courageous Foundation event by promoting it to schools. The My Hero Day raises funds for Bone Marrow research. Stirling East Primary School (SA) student leaders are developing a campaign page on for schools to access.

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


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

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

Interviewees urgently sought for 2016 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 2016 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Principals in the news

June 2016

Helen Carmody

‘Teaching is a social experience. It is as much about relationships as it is about skills and knowledge,’ says the principal of Korowa Anglican Girl’s School, in Melbourne.

Ben Kleinig

The teaching principal of a small indigenous school east of Katherine, in the Northern Territory, recently shot and killed a rogue buffalo that was running amok near his school.

Geoff Warren

The Principal of Clifton Hill Primary School, in Victoria told a radio interviewer that he would like to see the school day extended. ‘All schools suffer from a cluttered curriculum,’ he said. ‘There are not enough hours of face-to-face teaching to do everything as well as you would like to do it.’

Chris Sarra

A former principal of Cherbourg State School, in Queensland, has joined the University of Canberra as a Professor of Education. Professor Chris Sarra will teach and research in Indigenous education, and education equity in East Asia and Australia.

David McGucken

The former principal of Howard State School, in Queensland, has successfully pursued his post-retirement dream of running a board games store.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2016 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 2016 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

June 2016

Rodney Maddock & Lea Campbell

‘Education departments need to be broken up’, say these Melbourne academics. Further, ‘responsibility for the operation of public schools needs to be separated from the policy-making and regulatory functions and put into a separate authority.’

Lex Borthwick

When discussing reasons behind the poor academic performance of some students, and ways to improve their learning outcomes, educators need to acknowledge the impact of Australia’s anti-intellectual culture, says this commentator.

David Roy

This University of Newcastle academic discusses education funding for children with disabilities. He describes as ‘unhelpful’ a recent statement by NSW Education Minister Adrian Picolli that: ‘Prisons are not filled with kids who went to $30,000 private schools; they’re full of people with speech problems and autism, who had a pretty poor experience at school.’

Matthew Keong

In a letter sent to parents, published by ‘Brisbane Times’, the principal of Windsor State School, in Queensland, said he was concerned that the religious education program used at the school was proselytising. ‘Connect's lesson materials go beyond imparting knowledge of biblical references, and extend to soliciting children to develop a personal faith in God and Jesus to become a Christian or `Kingdom Kid',’ he wrote.

Roger Thurow

‘It is in the first 1,000 days of life that the stage is set for fulfilling individual potential,’ says this writer, in his new book on leveraging early childhood. ‘If we want to shape the future, to truly improve the world, we have 1,000 days to do it, mother by mother, child by child.’

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

June 2016

Barefoot learning

Researchers at Bournemouth University, in the United Kingdom, have found that ‘shoeless’ children are more engaged in lessons, with barefoot or ‘just in socks’ learning leading to better concentration and test results.

New study on ‘the peer effect’

Research conducted by University of Melbourne Associate Professor Chris Ryan has showed that a child's academic achievement cannot really be attributed to the fact they were going to school with high performing peers. ‘While we find an impact, it's really small,’ Dr Ryan said. ‘[Parents shouldn't] get too het up about the peer effect and the impact it will have on kids in schools.’

Sleep guidelines for children by age

The panel of paediatric specialists, led by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, has produced age-based sleep recommendations for children.

Free childcare yields no long-term academic improvement

Free nursery care for three-year-olds in the United Kingdom has made little or no improvement in their primary school exam results, a nine-year study has revealed.

Length of pregnancy and later cognitive performance

According to a new study, children who are born in the late term (41 weeks) have more chance of performing better in cognitive tests to those who were born in full term (39 to 40 weeks).

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

June 2016

Indigenous Catholic education conference

Educators from five dioceses recently gathered in Rockhampton for the seventh Queensland Indigenous Catholic education conference.

Mark Scott new secretary of the NSW Department of Education

The former managing director of the ABC, Mark Scott, has been appointed as the new secretary of the NSW Department of Education.

Productivity Commission report on Indigenous education

A new paper published by the Productivity Commission said that there had been ‘no consistent improvement’ in the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous primary school children for at least the past 16 years.

School bans parents after Facebook comments

The ‘Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901’ was recently invoked by an unnamed school south of Wollongong, in NSW, to prevent access by a parent who made several allegations about a teacher and the principal on the school’s Facebook page.

Educating China’s rural poor

To attend school, students from Atuler village, in Sichuan province, China, must work their way up on 17 vine ladders and scale an 800-metre rock face. The cable transportation service that used to take children to school was dismantled after villagers could not afford the required electricity.

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

June 2016

Twelve steps to a better night’s sleep

Follow these 12 sleep tips throughout the day to build a foundation that translates into a better night’s sleep.

We need to talk about depression

Darryl Neher describes how important it is to be willing to talk openly about depression. Acknowledging what is going on behind one’s protective ‘wall of silence’ is important, he advises.

Sharpening the brain through exercise

Wendy Suzuki holds a faculty position in the Centre for Neural Science at New York University, in the USA, where she also runs an active research laboratory. Her research focuses on understanding the patterns of brain activity underlying long-term memory, as well as the role of aerobic exercise in improving learning, memory and cognition.

How to stay calm when you know you’ll be stressed

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin thinks there's a way to avoid making critical mistakes in stressful situations, when your thinking becomes clouded — the pre-mortem. ‘We all are going to fail now and then,’ he says. ‘The idea is to think ahead to what those failures might be.’

Slowing cognitive decline in women: study

Daily physical activity of any sort is crucial to slowing cognitive decline in women, says Cassandra Szoeke?, a consultant neurologist and associate professor of medicine at The Royal Melbourne Hospital and The University of Melbourne.

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

Body Esteem Education – Not Just for Secondary Schools

Why body esteem education?

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

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

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

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

How can Butterfly Education support your school?

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

To find out what services are available in your state contact

Helen Bird – Education Administration
02 8456 3908

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


Policy and innovation

June 2016

The ‘learn anywhere’ school design

The new Kyneton Primary School, in Victoria, is to be built for 21st century learning. ‘We intuitively know that the classroom is not the only place where learning occurs and we’ve integrated this into all aspects of the school’s design and function so that learning can happen anywhere in the school,’ said the principal, Alistair Rainer.

Children spark tree house-inspired school design

Golden Square Primary students were asked by architects to design a new school. As a result, their new school, in Bendigo, Victoria, has been inspired by a tree house.

How to improve the quality of education in Australian schools

Maxine McKew speaks with John Hattie about a new four-part ABC documentary series, Revolution School, which looks at what the research tells us about what works in education.

Trial of literacy and numeracy app

A new literacy and numeracy app has been created by Dr Michelle Neumann, an early learning expert from Griffith University, in NSW. The app also contains an assessment component for teachers and provides instant feedback in classrooms and at home.

Bonjour to Google

Students deserve the best possible teachers. However, in this unfortunate story from the USA, Google is alleged to be the best ‘teacher’ available to one Texan school.

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

June 2016

Leadership presence

Professor Susan Stehlik argues that leadership presence is more than a characteristic or learned quality, but can instead speak to the essence of a person. ‘After all, "we're all leaders in the action or task that we're approaching,’ she says.

How we talk matters

Consciously improving how we talk and listen to others – particularly those who are quite different to us - can build social connectivity and our ability to solve difficult issues in a collaborative way.

‘The principal effect’

University of Melbourne economist Mick Coelli has created an equation that takes into account the quality of students, the demographics of a school and the amount of time a principal spends in leadership to calculate what he terms ‘the principal effect’.

The power of appreciation

Mike Robins, the author of two books, ‘Focus on the good stuff’, and ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’, as well as the forthcoming book, ‘Nothing changes until you do’, provides wise advice in this TED Talk.

The science of analysing conversations

Conversation analyst Professor Elizabeth Stokoe discusses what she terms the ‘conversational racetrack’ - the daily race to understand each other when we speak - and explains how to avoid hurdles that trip us up and cause conflict.

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

June 2016

Business or health and education?

The ‘Financial Review’ provides an analysis of how voters in the forthcoming Federal election might comparatively weigh business issues and health and education issues.

Rising profits for online education products

The online maths education product, Matific, is now used in 46 countries, including the USA, Australia and Brazil. The program, which has been translated into 10 languages, currently has around one million registered users. The owner, Leon Kamenev, estimates that1000 new teachers register to use the product each week.

High cost of early childhood education in NSW

A report by the NSW Auditor-General has shown that the state government contributed the second lowest amount per child on early education, out of all Australian jurisdictions. At the same time, the fees charged were the highest in the country.

Landmark payout for workplace stress

The widow of a Melbourne principal who took his own life has won a landmark payout. After an 18-month wait, the wife of former Eltham Primary School principal Dr Mark Thompson also received official confirmation that workplace stress was a factor in her husband's death.

Australians help Cambodian children to access education

The Mobile Tuk-Tuk Education Centre, in Cambodia, has become the latest focus of a church appeal by Australia’s pontifical mission society, Catholic Mission. The mobile education centre, staffed by the Daughters of Charity, will give children access to education and hopefully a better life.

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

June 2016

Diana Patchett

Principal, Kristin Junior School
Albany, North Shore Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand

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

Kristin Junior School is the entry point for many students to Kristin School, a K-13 independent school, in Auckland, New Zealand. Kristin is the first and only school in New Zealand to offer a continuous IB education, coupled with the national accreditation for a dual pathway in the senior years. Of 1500 students in total, 420 students make up the Junior School. Our kindergarten offers a 48-week program for children from 3 and a half years, soon to be enhanced by Little Doves, our early learning centre, set to open in 2017; and our 74 students in year 6 make up just over half of the students entering Middle School. While predominantly New Zealand Pakeha, Kristin attracts a wide variety of global citizens, with a growing Chinese community complementing the other 17+ nationalities represented in the school.

Our challenge is also one of our strengths. Being 43 years young, the school maintains an innovative, pioneering spirit that sets it apart from its ‘older’ competitor independent schools. Promoting that disposition and encouraging families to consider Kristin School as a choice is possibly a common challenge to independent schools worldwide. Another challenge is the general strength of the New Zealand primary education system, such that families are quite likely to get a good educational offering at their local state school. For those families who are able to take advantage of the choice, Kristin offers a commitment to realise much better than ‘good’ and enjoys a culture of shared high expectations for all our children.

How many years have you been a school leader?

My first formal foray into school leadership was a Deputy Head of College position in Brisbane, Australia, in 2008, but I’ve probably been a leader since I started year 1 myself, in Canada, in 1970! I’ve always been someone who puts their hand up, who has big ideas and feels the need to act on them; as a student, teacher aide, teacher, and now, principal.

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

I think I have always recognised the importance of actively fostering a positive school culture, and so leadership was a natural calling to me. It gave me the opportunity to implement programs and practices that supported staff and students to flourish in schools.

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

I was proud to be part of a school start-up team of a school in Brisbane, Australia in 2005; all of us going above-and-beyond to make the school a success in a very competitive single-sex independent school environment. Selecting priority projects for this new school was probably an early challenge, as we wanted to do it all and there are only so many hours in a day! After that, it was personally difficult at times to take the step into leadership, which meant a step out of the teaching ranks.


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

June 2016

Diana Patchett

Principal, Kristin Junior School
Albany, North Shore Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand

(continued from previous page)

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

‘Filter your good ideas’ is good advice. As educators streams of online resources from around the world, all of which are worthy of implementation, bombard us. For a principal, with professional research and commentary around every corner, it is tempting to try and improve every aspect of your school’s performance at once. I took this advice to mean step back and focus on what you want to achieve and go from there. Too much time and energy can be spent trying to realise every good idea we have.

What makes you smile at work?

Being able to step into classrooms where passionate teachers are engaging with children is always a joy. It is here where magic happens and I always step out with a smile on my face.

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

Having experienced school leadership from all sides, I believe it is important to stay connected to staff, to demonstrate empathy for their role as teachers, and to show interest in them as individuals. I try to make and foster personal connections with teaching and support staff and take the time to recognise their positive contributions to the school. I also believe that the school community wants a leader they can look up to and be inspired by, so I do my best to promote the professional work that is done by teachers and the value it adds to society.

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

Realising the first graduating class from a school was a good day for me as a leader. Not only was I bursting with pride at the achievements of these young men and excited by the potential they held for their futures, but also I was part of a team that could celebrate all that we had achieved as a young school. On top of the curriculum, the co-curricular program, the events and other valuable add-ons, we had worked the hardest to establish a school culture we were proud of, and these first graduates were proof of that.


Love the job

June 2016

Diana Patchett

Principal, Kristin Junior School
Albany, North Shore Auckland, Aotearoa, New Zealand

(continued from previous page)

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

Sharing tragedy within a school community is tough, especially the indiscriminate injuries of disease or accidents to young people. It is times like these that test us all and it can be difficult to manage the emotional responses they generate. The community looks to their leader to help ease the pain and feelings of helplessness, to demonstrate empathy and then provide an avenue for a response. We should not underestimate the amount of positive energy we can muster within a school, and the importance of guiding the community forward through dark times.

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

My team set up a barricade to my glitter-bombed, balloon-filled office as a surprise for a significant birthday. But to be sure no one missed out on the fun; they set up a hidden camera to record my reaction. Images from the video appear regularly and I am still discovering glitter in all corners of my office.

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

As school leaders, we are often called to address the ‘top of the triangle’, the troublesome 5% of students, parents, or staff. That’s our job, and it is good to realise that we are there to resolve these issues for the sake of the school community. But, this can be overwhelming and you can fall into a belief that these challenges are all that exist at your school. My advice is to remind yourself of that triangle analogy, and to take time to ‘mix it’ with the other 95%.

Two easy ways to rejuvenate are to:

  • host a gathering of new parents, as they tend to be buzzing with the joy that their children are experiencing
  • spend time in your kindergarten or year 1 classes (a dose of childhood is good for the soul).

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?

I know that I am part of something that is vitally important to the future of New Zealand, and the world, and feel obliged to do my best with that opportunity.

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

I don’t get too caught up in the work-life balance equation. I accept that work is a big part of my life, so I prefer to make sure that there is some fun and down-time built into my working week – like supporting students playing sport, attending music rehearsals and sharing break times with staff whenever possible.

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

I try to get some regular exercise outdoors each week, especially with animals. This is where living on a farm comes in handy. I also know the benefit of undertaking activities that force me to be ‘in the moment’, those that require my full attention. I love to work in the garden, but it is too easy to think about school at the same time. So, for me, regular horse riding enhances my physical and mental wellbeing and is invaluable for recharging.

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

After this principalship, I hope I’ve got a couple more in me at least. In the future, I look forward to cultivating opportunities to share the skills and abilities I have gained in education in other contexts; perhaps in publishing, philanthropic endeavours and governance opportunities.

Diana Patchett, Kristin Junior School, Principal
Phone: +(64) 9 415 9566
360 Albany Highway, Albany
PO Box 300-087, Albany 0752 New Zealand


Interviewees urgently sought for 2016 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 2016 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.