So, what really matters in the making of a successful school? A wise person once told me that it boils down to three things: relationships, relationships and relationships. This is not something about which I would quibble. My premise is that unless the people of a school are positively disposed towards working with one another it is well nigh impossible to make the sort of progress for which we all hope.
Within a school there will always be a range of personalities and capabilities – and that’s a realistic observation of the adults, let alone the diversity that exists amongst the student population. Many people say that schools only exist for the children, and they’re right. But, equally obviously, once a school staff team has been gathered, the members of that team become parts of the complex fabric of relationships centred on learning and development and so the organisation also exists for them. Attached to their membership of the organisation come industrial and other entitlements and responsibilities which simply cannot be ignored in any discussion of school effectiveness.
And what about relationships between parents and the school? At times, a healthy dose of realism could be injected into this. No-one could, nor should, in any way diminish the love and care parents have for their children nor the need for quality parental engagement in their education. It’s very welcome. But how much contact with the school is too much? Or too little? I have spoken with parents who say they talk to their child’s teacher once or twice a week. Such “base touching” can be very helpful to all concerned in some circumstances. Obviously, though, if this was the practice for and with all families it would be hugely expensive in terms of time and the referred demands on teachers. And as we know, too little can be just as problematic if it leaves the principal and teacher unaware of a significant issue or issues. Good communication is critical.
And what about relationships between schools and systems? And systems and governments? And between nations? Much has been written about the “Global Education Reform Movement” (or GERM) which is characterised by a seemingly obsessive accumulation of data leading to data-ism (my term) in the assessment of school effectiveness. In my view, this has become a fixation that has undermined trust in education across Australia. And this, I think, is where we get to the heart of the matter. Some are quick to apportion blame. Processes in education do not exist in isolation in the specialised learning environment of the school. As data is published, we are too quick to simplistically compare our scores with those of other countries. The OECD, in regard to PISA scores, cautions “if a country’s scores … are significantly higher than those in another country, it cannot be automatically inferred that the schools or parts of the education system in the first country are more effective than those in the second. However, one can legitimately conclude that the cumulative impact of learning experiences in the first country, starting in early childhood and up to the age of 15, and embracing experiences in school, home and beyond (italics mine) have resulted in higher outcomes in the literacy domains that PISA measures”. (p. 288, PISA 2015 Results, Vol 1)
Australian school education should be regarded as being in a state of continuous improvement. This does not mean it is broken. At the heart of our nation is the issue of equity. Our challenge nationally is to turn our minds to a social guarantee that all children everywhere will benefit from similar, very high standard education strongly supported by home and community attitudes that truly value education. These attitudes must be evidenced in word and action – not thoughts alone. Governments must be encouraged and supported in their education policy formation. Policy must be based on equity. Our national responsibility is to recognise our diversity and nurture all relationships, relationships, relationships.
With farmers suffering through what many are calling the ‘worst drought in living memory’ SchoolAid has today launched its ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ campaign.
The campaign is calling on 10,000 schools around Australia to donate $100 each, and in doing so raise $1 million to go towards hay for drought-affected livestock and hampers for farming families that are struggling with meeting their living expenses.
SchoolAid founder and CEO Sean Gordon said: “Farming families are often the last to ask for help and the first to lend a hand. ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ is about harnessing the collective power of Australia’s youth to help those who have given us so much, both economically and culturally. If you’re a young person and you’re distressed by these images on the news of starving sheep and farmers doing it tough, get involved because there’s now something you can do about it.”
INSPIRING STUDENTS TO READ MORE, and helping them find the books they will love to read, takes a combination of dedication, inspiration and engagement. We know you bring the dedication to work every day and with our ‘Reading Leader’ portal we hope to help with both the inspiration and engagement to get more kids reading and kids reading more.
At Scholastic we encourage the borrowing of brilliance and through our “Reading Leader Award’ we are seeking out the very best for you to borrow from. Scholastic and APPA are providing a platform to recognise Reading Leaders across the country, so that their ideas and efforts can reach more students, and remind us all to help children every day with their reading journey.
Visit our “Reading Leader” portal for reading programs, professional resources, brilliant book suggestions and more. NO COST offerings, all designed to help you be a better reading advocate and connect your students with books they will love to read.
Congratulations to Lesley Gollan of Queensland’s WoodLinks State School, who is the Term 2 Scholastic National Reading Leader Award winner.
Principal Vicki Caldow noted, ‘Lesley is a reading champion who works across the school to develop and implement programs that empower teachers and invites the wider community to support students in practising and enjoying reading.’
Locally made ethical school wear
Through their own procurement policies local schools have the power to support an ethical Australian clothing industry and help prevent the exploitation of workers. There are local school wear manufacturers who are committed to making clothes locally the right way.
Ethical Clothing Australia is responsible for accrediting local clothing and footwear manufacturers to ensure that their workers are receiving their legal wages and entitlements, and working in decent conditions.
To find out more contact Ethical Clothing Australia to ask how we can assist your school to source ethically accredited school wear.
Written by internationally recognised school and early education experts, Your Child's First Year at School: Getting off to a good start, is highly valued as a home and school resource which provides excellent advice to parents, teachers and all interested in giving childrenthe best possible start at school. Order at:
PR1ME Mathematics—based on the world’s best practice used in Singapore PR1ME has been developed by Scholastic in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Singapore.
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.
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
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
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.
Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988
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Connected Leader is an official publication of the Australian Primary Principals Association. In close collaboration with APPA, Connected Leader is designed, produced and edited, specifically for APPA members, by Debra J. Crouch, Managing Director of straight to the point, to enhance the professional learning of Australian primary school leaders.
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