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


June 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As a leader, we have two levers, or measures, that can be empowering – the decision to control (our self) or influence (others). To control is to lead and make decisions. To influence is to lead and influence the decisions of others. Knowing when and how to make decisions on control and influence is the challenge faced by principals. The impacting factor is having the confidence and competence. Confidence comes from knowing yourself, your strengths and wisdom gained through experience. Competence is built from learning and the application of that learning.

The application of control and influence will depend on the location of the issue. We have heard about the circles of control and influence. Stephen Covey (1992, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) talks about circles of influence and concern. Proactive people focus on issues within their circle of control and influence. Reactive people tend to neglect those issues that are under their control and influence and focus more on concerns, thereby reducing their circle of influence.

What is within you circle of control? What is in the circle of your influence? Sometimes we can spend too much time trying to control things in our circle of concern. This can lead to a feeling that our circle of control is small and disempowering.

When we look at the critical issue of principal health and wellbeing, leaders have the permission and the responsibility to implement a ‘control and influence’ approach. A high performing leader is healthy and has a positive outlook to wellbeing. It is not a work / life balance approach. It is prioritising the things important in life and work. We hear the phrase ‘work is not life’; however, many have the perception that life is work. Or do others project that perception, so we respond and react to the expectations and viewpoints of others (circle of concern)? These others can be our family, friends, staff, students, parents and employers.

Where there is a vacuum of leadership and vision, chaos will prevail. Not the chaos of panic or destruction or distress, but the chaos of direction. It is where others will project or voice their perception of what should happen and this can become the reality of our role and function. We are operating at the direction of others. This is not a stage on where others are directing our life. Our own health and wellbeing is controlled and influenced by our self.

If someone acts busy and continually presents the image of busyness, then others will expect it all the time. They may even express a dislike for the 'life' and the workload that person is prepared to accept. The physical and emotional drain of trying to please everyone every time and do everything on a timeframe decided by others will often end in troubled days. This role expectation is not something that happens overnight. It happens over time and is impacted by change. We know change is constant and its impact is far reaching. The longer we accept the additional task, initiative, change process or responsibility, the more we become trained to operate under the expectation, concerns and directions of others. The claim that principals have a huge workload and that this has intensified is not ‘fake news’. Research supports the statement. What we have done is not stopped doing things or placed limitations on our time. We need to stop talking about being busy. I have the same amount of time as anyone else so it is how I use it. This needs to be decided by me not by others. It is, then, time to take back control and influence.

So, when you have a list of things to do, what decides your priority? The principal’s role is complex and each of us has to make the decisions on where to spend our time effectively. However, coming to those decisions is not always a simple matter. If people know your values and your processes for dealing with things then you are projecting with your lens not the lens of others. This becomes your reality and you will more likely become a high performing leader. A successful school with teachers working together to see students achieve their potential generally has a high performing leader. Having clear priorities and focus allows us to lead and manage the busyness and demands on our time.

We need principals to identify their circle of control and take control. The circle of influence can then be directed by this control. What matters is important. Make your health and wellbeing matter, then others will. As Covey points out, we must take responsibility for our own lives. Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. Proactive people spend time on the issues and the things they can do something about. Their energy is positive and enlarges the circle of control and influence.


The conference theme is Agility, Creativity and Legacy. We encourage you to register as soon as possible to take advantage Early Bird rate. It finishes at the end of June! Register now.

We, as leaders, need to ensure we are developing future leaders that will strengthen and build our primary schools. The Conference will have a special focus on the Friday for aspiring leaders. Delegates can bring an aspiring leader/s from their school on that day at a special rate of $250. Aspiring leaders registering on their own can do so at a one-day rate for the Friday of $295. We encourage you to register soon to take advantage of these special rates.


APPA appeared before the Senate Education Committee. In regards to the APPA submission, I highlight here several key aspects presented to the committee:

  • All Australian governments and, indeed, non-government systems have indicated support for needs-based funding model. Unfortunately, putting this into practice presents difficulties and, to be successful, requires cooperation and consultation by all parties involved.
  • The Schooling Resource Standard is the basis for the funding model. If school funding is an arrangement that occurs without any real obligation for the Commonwealth and the states and territories to achieve the SRS then there will be anomalies in funding across the country.
  • The capacity to contribute, measured by the SES for schools and which determines Commonwealth funding for non-government schools, requires further investigation to ensure it is fair and transparent. This could be via an independent body.
  • APPA would recommend that measures be in place for schools below the SRS level to reach this goal in the first four years of the model.
  • APPA’s view is that early and sustained investment – that is, valuing students equitably – is how we will achieve the best long-term outcomes for our students and for our nation.


The first ‘official’ Parliamentary Friends of Primary Education event was held at Parliament House on the 23 May 2017. This friendship group is organised by parliamentarians. The co-conveners are Ms Nicolle Flint MP and Mr Andrew Giles MP and the group includes MPs with an interest in primary education. The guest speaker was Ms Lisa Rodgers CEO of AITSL. Also attending were the Minister for Education and Training, Hon Simon Birmingham and Shadow Education Minister, Ms Tanya Plibersek MP. We look forward to the next event and the opportunity to discuss primary education and what is required to build a strong future for our children.


This event will bring together representatives from each state and territory to hear the report on the APPA survey on Policies and Practices to improve Principal Health and Wellbeing and develop a national response and framework for supporting principals in schools. A summary from the National Symposium and workshop will be presented at the APPA Forum held just prior to the APPA National Conference in Brisbane.


Recently, I was in Italy presenting at the Italian Principals Congress. The topic was innovation, with a focus on approaches and examples of innovation. I visited schools in Milan and Florence and saw a range of educational environments. Principals identified a key challenge with innovation is engaging teachers to change their practice. Drivers in innovation are technology and changing student diversity. They are also needing to respond to the change in their economy from labour intensive to mechanisation of business. The Italian Association is keen to set up a possible visit by principals in 2018.


The World Education Forum (WEF) was established in Toronto in 2011 and it endeavours to have all children access education. This also supports the UN goal of maximising access to primary education for the world’s children. I am proposing that APPA establish an Australian Platform (committee) for WEF and begin developing terms of reference and structure. The WEF requires schools interested in global awareness on education to become a member of the National WEF platform. A committee is formed to manage funds from membership, of which 50% is transferred to the international WEF and the other is used for projects and initiatives identified by the committee. One project might be assistance in identifying for schools the many organisations or foundations supporting education initiatives in other countries.


APPA is supporting this worthwhile event and encourages schools to have their student leadership team organise activities to help to raise funds for Bone Marrow disease in children. Register at


I have learnt about an organisation – the only one in Australia – called the National Centre for Childhood Grief which is a not-for-profit and works with kids and family members, following the death of a parent. They train school counsellors on childhood grief too. It is located at Denistone East, NSW, has been running for over 20 years and is not government funded. For more information:


On behalf of the APPA team, I wish everyone restful break and an opportunity to recharge the batteries. Maybe it is time to get in touch with the things that give you a buzz – like gardening, reading, cooking, playing golf or a game of squash, riding, walking or just getting away to a favourite place in nature. Whatever it is, please remember to have some technology free time and take control of your circle for Term 3.

Best wishes,

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



8 - 9 June 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

June 2017

Dean Dell’Oro

Hale School, Western Australia’s oldest boys’ school, recently welcomed its new headmaster.

Paula Barry

This obituary of a retired Victorian primary school principal describes a life of resilience, determination and dedication to education.

Nicholas Dean

High standards of public behaviour are expected of school leaders. ‘Educators are role models, and they should prioritise this sacred role above all else,’ said the local superintendent in a statement issued after a principal’s employment was terminated.

Penny Willis

Retirement for this NSW primary school principal has not involved stepping down from projects that will benefit local people and the environment.

Daniel Lawler

Managing a school community of diverse and sometimes conflicting opinions is no easy task, made more complex by uninvited media commentary on one’s leadership style.

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

June 2017

Building trust through committed leadership

Sinek shares that because trust is a feeling like loyalty, it is difficult to teach. Over time, however, by creating a circle of safety. Simon Sinek shares ways committed leaders can create inclusive cultures at work that prioritise inclusion, openness, and safety.

Signature Leadership Program

Western Australian principals are invited to apply for the Signature Leadership Program for leaders and executives.

Reflections on leadership style

‘I’d like to argue for a calmer, more reflective, inward-facing style of leadership, not so much disconnected as insulated from the outside world. Motivated by values more than external pressure,’ says Russell Hobby, the outgoing general secretary of the National Association for Head Teachers, in the United Kingdom.

The surprising habits of original thinkers

Organisational psychologist Adam Grant studies ‘originals’: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this presentation, learn three unexpected habits of originals, including embracing failure.

Missing the obvious in employee recognition

How do you help disengaged employees feel more recognised and engaged at work?

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

June 2017

School charged

NT WorkSafe has charged the operator of Gawa Christian School following the death of a student on Elcho Island, about 530 kilometres from Darwin.

Defamation retrial

A former Cairns principal has been granted a retrial of parents who allegedly defamed him over his response to a student bullying incident.

Local council to rule

A local council in Queensland has stated that it will consider only planning and not cultural objections in its consideration of a development application that would expand an Islamic K-12 college by adding a mosque, childcare centre, medical centre, aged care accommodation, shops and apartments.

Education law masterclass

A one-day conference, being held in Sydney, in August, will feature some of Australia’s top law experts. Speakers will address the key issues and challenges facing those in leadership positions in Australian schools.

Father sues school over confiscation

A Singapore lawyer is suing his son’s school for confiscating his mobile phone for three months. The father is seeking damages, also alleging that the school has breached his property rights.

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

June 2017

Air quality within schools

This article on improving air quality in New Zealand schools reveals that some schools are opening windows to improve air circulation, and therefore learning. The article mentions the impact of carbon dioxide levels within poorly ventilated buildings, and notes a study linking fungal spore count with asthma.

Diesel fumes and learning

Walking to school in busy cities may inhibit learning, according to a recent study by Barcelona's Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology. Students who breathed in toxic diesel fumes on the way to school struggled to perform as well as normal, researchers found. The children took longer to respond to questions and found it harder than usual to concentrate.

Brain structure of singletons

A recent study of brain structure and thinking showed that children without siblings exhibited greater flexibility in their thinking but are less sociable. What are the implications of this for teaching and learning?

Call for ban on rugby for children

International concussion expert and forensic neuropathologist, Dr Bennet Omalu, has called for high-contact sports such as rugby to be banned for under-18s.

Too little sleep and too little sunlight

Some children are suffering from unprecedented levels of sleep and sunlight deprivation, says this US commentator. What are the consequences of these shortfalls for the classroom?

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


    A recent independent study by Associate Professor Catherine Attard from the Western Sydney Unversity showed that students who used Matific in their classroom improved their overall test results.

    In fact, the quantitative data collected indicated an overall improvement of 34%.

    One of the most significant outcomes that emerged from the data is that Matific assists learning. The size and structure of the Matific episodes allow students to maintain better focus on very specific mathematical concepts and skills, and this focus is maintained specifically because of the way the episodes are structured.

    Matific is an online maths resource for students in K-6. Matifics’s pedagogy, interactive games and rich content really does make for the perfect teaching and learning environment.

    Register your school for a 30-day trial in 2017 and see for yourself why 9 out of 10 Australian teachers would recommend the program to their peers.

    You can even lock us in for your 2017 Professional Development day!

Balancing act

June 2017

How to deal with negative people

Negative people will always be around. Brendon Burchard provides some ideas to help you deal with them.

Seven simple exercises

This video demonstrates seven simple exercises to do each day. The entire set takes only three and a half minutes.

Caring for your microbiome

In this ABC Radio interview, Dr Michael Mosley, author of ‘The clever guts diet’, says that encouraging healthy bacteria in your gut can help protect against obesity and cancer, as well as boost your immune system.

Be upfront in negotiating work-life balance

Advice for women on negotiating work-life balance

Emotional mastery: the gifted wisdom of unpleasant feelings

Psychologist Joan Rosenberg unveils the innovative strategy and surprising keys for experiencing the challenging emotions that lie at the heart of confidence, emotional strength, and resilience.

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)


Something different

June 2017

Indigenous memory techniques

Students at Malmsbury Primary School, in Victoria, are being taught how to use skills used by different cultures around the world to retain information.

Sound wall in playground

Tatura Primary School, in country Victoria, recently added a sound wall to its developing sensory playground.

New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

Flemington Primary school, in Victoria, is part of NPDL, a global partnership aiming to implement deep learning goals across whole education systems that are enabled by new pedagogies and accelerated by technology.

Preventing family violence

Here, Des Campbell is interviewed about the Northern Territory Department of Correctional Services' Family Violence Program, which delivers psychological education workshops to perpetrators of domestic and family violence across the NT. Children will surely benefit from this program.

Ten ways to teach innovation

Mindshift provides useful articles about the future of learning, and new developments in pedagogy.

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

June 2017

Paul Browning

‘It’s disappointing that we’re always debating money when it comes to education, and that seems to get all the media coverage,’ says the principal of St Paul’s School, in Queensland.

Statement of acknowledgement and regret

At the recent Edmunds Rice Education Australia’s principals’ conference, Dr Wayne Tinsley read a statement of acknowledgement and regret, in relation to the sexual abuse of students in schools formerly run by the Christian Brothers, with principals endorsing each point.

Michael Anderson

‘Schools have not changed enough to prepare themselves for the disruptive reality where 47 per cent of work roles will be made redundant by machines, says the co-author of ‘Transforming schools’.

Editorial: ‘The Northern Daily Leader’ (NSW)

Who will think of the children? Because at the moment it seems politicians are only too happy to use the education system as a political football, kicking it around to score points, even though they only seem to be scoring behinds.’

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 2017

Principals advised on funding issues

Victorian Catholic school principals are being advised on effective strategies they may employ in their campaign against the Federal Government's Gonski 2.0 school funding plan.

Debt collector threat

Tasmania's Minister for Education has ordered an investigation of claims that children are being excluded from school activities and parents threatened with debt collectors for outstanding school fees.

Independent school reduces fees

One Queensland school has reduced its school fees, stating that previous fees were more than many families could afford.

Distance education funding shortfall

Funding for distance education is not keeping up with demand, says the Isolated Children's Parents' Association of Queensland.

Revenue changes for ACT education

The ACT is to spend around $90 million in the next financial year on expanding the capacity of schools and improving their facilities.

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.

Royal Far West

Do children at your primary school have developmental, speech, language or behavioural needs? Do you need the support of specialist psychologists, speech therapists and occupational therapists?

If accessing specialist allied health services is challenging for your community, and your school lies in a rural or remote area of Australia, trusted charity Royal Far West can help you via telehealth!

We can deliver:

  • Screeners
  • Specialised Assessments
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Teacher Capacity Building

(All services are delivered directly into school via technology.)

All schools are eligible for highly subsidised rates!

Contact Royal Far West today for more information

m 0419 700 919



Love the job

June 2017

Peter Edwards

Head of Junior School and Chrysalis Early Learning Centre - Bundaberg Christian College

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

Bundaberg Christian College (BCC) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It has a current population of around 620 P-12. The junior school has a population of 280 P-6. Chrysalis ELC is a Long Day Care Centre with a government-approved kindergarten program and 63 children aged from 15 months to kindergarten age.

Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from the children of very wealthy and well known medical specialists to children of single parents struggling to put food on the table and clothe their children each day. Bundaberg in general is known for its high levels of unemployment, significant social issues and youth disengagement.

Every school has its challenges and ours is no different from any other in this respect. Possibly the greatest challenge we face is providing competitive, high quality/low fee education, care, nurture and a wide variety of learning opportunities in a relatively low socioeconomic community – a community in which our school is seen as a beacon of hope. Students range from those who desire a top quality education to those in need, hurting and wanting a fresh start.

The junior school has many strengths, two of which are predominant.

  • Our social/emotional culture and mindset. It is not uncommon for a student with significant behavioural, social or emotional difficulties at other schools to arrive at BCC Junior School and, within a very short time, demonstrate none of the behaviours so common in their previous schools.
  • The opportunities provided to children in terms of extra and co-curricular activities are significant. Children can be a part of anything, from gifted education programs to a wide variety of cultural pursuits, the Sports Development Academy, raising chickens and working in our sustainability precinct.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I held a teaching principal’s position in a small Christian school for 18 months and then took on a Band 5 teaching principal position with Education Queensland (EQ) for a short time. I have been Head of Junior School at BCC for four years. Previous to that, I was the Deputy Head of Primary for six years.

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

My motivation was the joy of watching children of all ages engages in relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences provided by of excellent teachers. Simply put, I desired to help teachers be better at their job so that children would receive the learning opportunities they were entitled to.

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

My first leadership role was as Principal of Gulf Christian College, in Normanton. The challenges were many. Most, I now know due to the clarity of hindsight, were the result of a lot of learning to be done on my part. Balancing full-time teaching, leadership, growing a school, developing professional relationships with EQ staff at the state school and handling the challenges of a new marriage and first child in an isolated community made for an interesting period in life.

(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

June 2017

Peter Edwards

Head of Junior School and Chrysalis Early Learning Centre - Bundaberg Christian College

(continued from previous page)

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

That relationship is everything in leadership. Without relationships based on respect and trust, there is little opportunity for leadership to be effective. A more experienced principal mentored me for some time and helped me understand the importance of getting to know people as people, as well as professionals.

He stressed the importance of seeking to understand each person’s story before seeking to be understood, because until you understand the story of another you have little ability to walk in their shoes and shape your conversations, decisions and action to be best received by them.

What makes you smile at work?

The children and my relationship with them. Having a relationship with each child that allows them to come into my office (sometimes uninvited and unexpectedly), sit down with lunch, quietly reflect over a sandwich, then begin asking me the questions that are really in their heart, and that they need someone to help them answer. Knowing that they feel they can trust me to that extent makes everything worthwhile. Also, the daily flood of excited year 1 children wanting to show me their wobbly or missing teeth. They love it …I am grossed out by it and we all laugh.

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

My most valuable skill is being able to create an environment of collegiality, trust, innovation, creativity, enthusiasm and sense of emancipation amongst the staff. According to my staff, I really listen, am always available and no matter is too trivial. I like knowing they feel that way because that is so important to me!

My driving belief has been that I need to be passionate about my staff, their wellbeing, professional learning and standing, and that I must always model the values I desire my team to embrace. I believe that educators need to be professional, committed to ongoing learning and improvement and have an irrepressible growth mindset towards their students and themselves.

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

Wow. A single day? There are so many that identifying one is nigh impossible. If I had to choose one, it would be the day when Fred (not his real name) brought his lunch down, quietly and thoughtfully, and then walked uninvited into my office and sat down. He proceeded to eat his sandwich. I asked if he was OK. He said he was and continued to chew. I worked and he chewed . . . in silence. Then he said, ‘Actually, I am not OK. I need to talk to you about something.’ He proceeded to tell me about the horrific home life he was experiencing and asked if I could help his family. We prayed together and I asked how he thought his family needed help. He outlined several concerns he had, including abuse issues, and his thoughts about fixing the situation. The short version is that we helped the family over time and he is now loving life. Why is that my best day as a school leader? He was only in year 4 and I have never experienced greater trust and belief in my abilities from another human being outside of my family. It was a precious day.

(continued on next page)


Love the job

June 2017

Peter Edwards

Head of Junior School and Chrysalis Early Learning Centre - Bundaberg Christian College

(continued from previous page)

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

The toughest day I have experienced as a leader is not a single day. There are three of them. Each one began with the call from a parent to tell me that their partner (in two cases) and their father (in one case) had taken their life and could I please take special care of their child/children when they came back to school.

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

There have been so many! I love to have fun at work and there are some nasty practical jokes played amongst our staff team. Sometimes the children get involved as well! The funniest, though, was when one of the staff sneaked into my office one evening and dedicated at least three hours of their time to completely reversing every single item in the office. Every folder, book, filing cabinet folder and drawer, pinboard item, computer monitor, desk and chair. Every item in every drawer! Not one single item in my office was left untouched. I do declare I was secretly impressed by the sheer dedication and attention to detail this person demonstrated. It happened twice in a term and, to this day, I have never found the culprit.

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

Tip #1
Staying positive and maintaining energy levels are very much an individual formula. One size does not fit all. I had a friend who was principal of a Band 8 EQ school who went home (over the fence) for ½ hour each lunchtime and watched part of a movie to relax.

Tip #2
Read Carol Dweck’s book on mindset and apply it to every aspect of your life.

Tip #3
For me, as a Christian, I keep physically and spiritually fit. I ensure some exercise is done daily, for at least half an hour and at least one hour, five times a week. Going to the gym a few times a week is great. Push your body because you push your mind most of the time. If you have older children, join the gym with them. I joined with my 16-year-old son and it has brought us even closer together.

I spend time reading my Bible and in prayer each day, often early in the morning over coffee. A day without this and I struggle.

Tip #4
Do not feel guilty about taking a short time each day just to sit in your office, or in the playground when the classes are in, to have a coffee, read a professional text and take in the atmosphere of your school. Also, do not feel guilty about leaving school straight after school one day a week, going to a shopping centre, buying your favourite coffee, and just wandering around marvelling at the society happening around you.

Tip #5
Take up a hobby that allows you to explore your creative side and gives you the joy of seeing the fruits of your labour. Often in our role we do not see the fruits of our hard work. It is important we give ourselves that opportunity so we experience the immense satisfaction it brings. Without experiencing that satisfaction, we can develop the sense that we are not making a difference or not making progress in any way. I taught myself to weld and now make my own cattle yards. It gives me immense satisfaction to see them in use.

Tip #6
Professionally learn in a way that suits YOU. I have difficulty studying and doing a Masters is not an option. Instead, I make sure I enrol in a lot of relevant, practice-oriented professional learning activities that usually include mentoring and coaching. Make sure you have a couple of great mentors and touch base with them regularly. When you are feeling down they can help you refocus and gain perspective.

Tip #7
Finally, train the entire student population, so that when they bring in birthday cake of any sort, you must receive a piece! It is great to be able to wish each child happy birthday, ask them about their party and gifts, then come into your office and find a cupcake covered in an ‘interesting’ icing decoration waiting for you! They feel valued and loved by you and you get a treat as well. Now you know why I make sure I exercise regularly!

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?

No matter how tough the job can get and no matter how tired I am, knowing that a little person is going to come up to me in the morning and share their most amazing happening (usually their tooth becoming wobbly or falling out) makes every day worthwhile.

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

Research would suggest there is no such thing as work-life balance but...

I remind myself I am not indispensable to my school. I may be valuable, but not indispensable. I remind myself that I AM indispensable to my wife and family.

I try to keep perspective from a Christian worldview. Establishing core priorities has helped achieve balance for me. My priorities are:

  • My relationship with God, from which all other things flow
  • My relationship with my wife, which keeps our family (and me) together and secure
  • My relationship with my children, who are my legacy to this world
  • My church
  • My job – which God has called me to as a ministry. My ministry is serving God as an educational leader. Therefore, I desire to always honour Him by doing everything with passion and excellence, for the benefit of the children, and with a servant heart.

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

I take some ‘un-guilty’ time out each day. Normally, it includes caramel latte. We work very hard and deserve some time to ourselves without feeling guilty about having it.

As I wrote above, I also exercise daily and often hard. I make sure I have some alone time at school to think, process, reflect and play in the vision space. It is a wonderful place.

I make sure I look at every event, issue, conversation, relationship and task with a growth mindset, expecting to learn something new and to improve each time.

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

I would like to study Organisational Psychology and move into consulting with leadership teams in schools to help them maximise their effectiveness for the benefit of their staff team and their students.

Peter Edwards


Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

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