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


June 2019

Dear Colleagues,

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.

Connected Leader

Let me conclude this final edition of Connected Leader by recognising and thanking Debra Crouch for her support of the Australian Primary Principals Association through the medium of Connected Leader over the last seven and a half years. Connected Leader has always provided thought-provoking reading and covered the widest gamut of education topics and professional learning.

As Debra said in a recent email, “It's been a great journey!”  Debra started providing publications for principals, in Australia and eventually across the world, in 1991, with 'Connected Leader' being her final project in education. We wish Debra all the very best for the years ahead and also thank Robin who has managed all the technical aspects of putting Connected Leader together each month. APPA will have a new format for its newsletter to primary principals from the start of Term Three. We will particularly focus on issues and developments at a national level that have a strong connection to the work of APPA in advocating for primary principals and their school communities. The new format will be delivered via email to your state / territory association.

Wishing you well for your upcoming break,

Malcolm Elliott
President, Australian Primary Principals Association

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It’s easy to join this community by signing up to the MoneySmart in schools email community.

By joining, you will receive an email every school term that shows how teachers are integrating financial literacy into their classrooms and schools. Plus updates about our independent, free resources and professional development.

If you are already teaching financial literacy in your classroom, we would love to hear your story so email it to us at

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MoneySmart school in action

Students at Ss Peter and Paul’s Parish Primary School budgeting for a dinner party.

As part of our MoneySmart grants for principals Ss Peter and Paul’s Parish Primary School in Goulburn created a financial literacy classroom where students learn about money through authentic learning experiences. Besides learning about budgeting and saving they also planned an affordable dinner party and outfit, and built two ATMs to learn more about the concept of invisible money.

They put our teaching resources to good use too – their favourites being Bertie’s socks, Kieren’s coin, How much love can fit into a shoebox? and Never too young to be MoneySmart with clothes.

Learn more about the grants and look out for the next round of grants, which open soon.


SchoolAid launches ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ national campaign

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.”

Donations to the Hay and Hampers for Hope campaign can be made here

Dennis Yarrington, SchoolAid Board Member and President of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA), said: “Time and time again at SchoolAid we’ve seen the power of youth philanthropy; whether its helping the community of Tathra recover from bushfires or schools across Queensland overcome the impact of Cyclone Debbie, Australia’s young people are an incredible force for hope and optimism in this world. $1 million is a big number but Australia’s young people have big hearts - I’m convinced once they turn their attention to ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ great things will happen.”

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.’


Under the spotlight

June 2019

Kaye Fitton

The principal of Coomandook Area School, in South Australia, reflects on the personal rewards of her 30 year-year career in education.

Carri Nevad

The principal of Merritt Island Christian School, in the USA, is set to live out her long-held dream of appearing on the television program, ‘Deal or No Deal’. Parents from Nevad's third-grade class donated money so she could fly to Dayton, Ohio, and audition for the program after a casting call in 2007. While that bid was unsuccessful, Ms Nevad did not give up and was successful during Orlando auditions last August.

Rory Hunt

The acting principal of Poonindie Primary School has spoken out about the distracting noise created by the commercial pilot training program operating at Port Lincoln Airport, in South Australia.

Paul McDermott

The principal of Blue Haven Public School, in NSW, is featured in this ‘Financial Review’ article about the future of Australian education.

Gail Doney

The principal of Wallarano Primary School, in Victoria, is interviewed about STEM education.

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 2019

Scholarship to Harvard

Gorokan Public School principal Jesmond Zammit is delighted to be one of three Australians chosen to travel to the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a program to strengthen their leadership skills.

The importance of credibility to leadership

People will not believe the message if the messenger is not credible, says Barry Posner.

Listening tour

A US school superintendent intends to begin his tenure with a ‘listening tour’. According to Mark Mullins, ‘delivering a world-class education to our children requires listening to our community, acting on its feedback, and incorporating new ideas and fresh thinking,’ In a release announcing the tour, he said, ‘I welcome families to join us at their nearest meeting location and share their views with us. We want to hear from you as we develop our strategic plan for the next school year and beyond.’

The inner journey to leadership

Leslie Stein shares her unconventional, wildly funny leadership lessons.

Leadership: growing school expertise

Effective staff collaboration through professional learning teams and professional learning communities can help teachers improve their own practices and, through that, student outcomes.

MoneySmart HASS (Primary)

Teach financial literacy through Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) using curriculum-based resources and authentic contexts.

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Connect MoneySmart: Use MoneySmart

Examine the importance of teaching financial literacy and find practical use classroom resources.

This free MoneySmart course is curriculum-aligned and provides 1.5 hours of professional development or teacher identified activity.

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  • Learn why financial literacy education is important to the Australian school curriculum and read related research.
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MoneySmart Maths (Primary)

Teach financial literacy through primary maths using curriculum-based resources and authentic contexts.

This free MoneySmart course is curriculum-aligned and provides 2 hours of professional development or teacher identified activity.

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  • Examine why financial literacy provides a useful context for teaching mathematics.
  • Explore connections between financial literacy and the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics and its sub-strands.
  • Use MoneySmart teaching resources and tools to create authentic contexts to teaching financial literacy through maths to engage your students.
  • Use MoneySmart teaching resources and tools to develop strategies for adapting resources to suit your student cohort.
  • Reflect and provide feedback on your learning experience.
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Legal eagles

June 2019

Police investigation

Police became involved when a parent who alleged that his daughter had been bullied erected several billboards criticising the Canadian school for its alleged inaction.

Ruling by Israeli court

Five years after Australia’s request to extradite an alleged paedophile facing 74 charges in Canberra, an Israeli court is set to hand down its final decision on the former Melbourne principal’s mental fitness for expatriation.

Teacher suspended

A WA primary school teacher who was recently found guilty in relation to the transport of methamphetamines has been given a notice of suspension by the WA education department.

New legislation for smartphones

The French Parliament recently passed laws banning students up to age 15 from taking smartphones to school or, at the very least, turning their devices off in class.

Defamation allegation

Demonstrating the power of social media, a parent in the UK was told by her child’s headmaster that her Facebook post featuring an incorrect literacy homework task, was defamatory.

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 2019

Less space and gender stereotyping

University of Queensland researchers studying non-government schools in Brisbane have noticed a space anomaly that may contribute to gender stereotyping. ‘The girls schools seemed to be perched on outcrops or in tiny little spaces and the boys were kind of like on these palatial grounds,’ said lead researcher Terry Fitzsimmons.

High levels of allergens

Researchers from the University of Otago, in New Zealand, believe that the high levels of allergens they found in primary school classrooms may be triggering asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. The finding has led to a recommendation that schools consider ripping up their carpets in order to protect pupils with allergies.

Student anxiety

ClassDojo, a classroom communication app in over 50% of Australian primary schools, recently carried out a survey in Australia with primary school teachers and parents around mental wellbeing and mindfulness. The survey revealed that 75% of parents say their child has experienced anxiety about school, 98% of teachers say some of their students have experienced anxiety about school life.

Study on teacher abuse

The co-author of a Latrobe University report on teacher abuse said that yelling and swearing was the ‘number-one behaviour that teachers encountered from both students and parents.’

Further study on age gap

A further study has been undertaken in the UK, comparing the academic performance of students who, due to the timing of the school year, start school significantly younger than their classmates.

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 2019

Exercise in middle age

People who exercise, especially in their thirties and forties, do have better life in their seventies and eighties, says Dean Mantion, a trainer with the Lee Centre for Rehabilitation & Wellness, in the USA.

Eight principles for optimal mental health

Dan Banos explains eight principles that work towards achieving optimum mental health.

Principal wellbeing

Rebecca Vukovic conducts an interview about principal health and wellbeing.

Emotional mastery

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.

Make stress your friend

This video offers a practical strategy for remaining calm during an angry verbal confrontation.

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

Something different

June 2019

Taking testing online

The move from pen and paper to online testing has been plagued by connectivity issues, with various stakeholders explaining what happened during the recent NAPLAN tests.

Scientology on the curriculum?

Applied Scholastics is being rolled out in schools across the globe. Established in 1972 by Church of Scientology members, the company is one of many umbrella organisations that obscure or outright deny their links to the Church of Scientology. Applied Scholastics describes itself as a non-aligned and secular group ‘dedicated to the broad implementation of learning tools researched and developed by American author and educator L Ron Hubbard’.

Student-directed learning

In rejecting the mainstream ‘industrial model’ of schooling, St Luke's Catholic College, in Sydney, has replaced top-down teacher instruction with student-directed learning.

The value of volunteering

Students at Mount Blowhard Primary School, in rural Victoria, participate in a range of volunteer activities as part of National Volunteer Week. Principal Sue Knight said volunteering helped teach pupils about current events and connect them to other places.

Rise of ‘roads’ scholars

Caravan companies are reporting a rise in orders of caravans with bunks, as the number of families seeking an alternative lifestyle and education model for their children increases.

My word

June 2019

Yingiya Mark Guyula

A Yolngu politician who campaigned to use his first language in Northern Territory's Parliament has delivered a blistering speech about the lack of Indigenous language education in remote schools.

Janet di Pilla

‘We no longer subscribe to a binary world,’ explained the principal of the Melbourne primary school that changed the name of its gift-giving stall from Mother’s Day to Acknowledgement Day.

Lee McBryde

The mother of a student attending Newtown Primary School, objected to the school mounting a plaque featuring the words of the former Turkish President, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In her letter to Victoria’s Minister for Education, Ms McBryde emphasised that ‘before healing can occur an apology and recognition of past wrongs needs to happen.’

Greta Thunberg

Should students be skipping school to attend climate change rallies, as this young Swedish activist does?

Tricia Eadie

‘What Australia has lacked over recent years is a commitment to ongoing and recurrent funding for early childhood education programs from three years old,’ says this University of Melbourne early childhood education expert.

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Money matters

June 2019

The Student Pantry

This compassionate US school provides financially distressed students and their families with a little extra help.

French village market

Taren Point Public School recently transformed into a French village market for a day. More than 5000 people attended the annual La Belle Vie French market, which was organised by the school and Francophone Association of Southern Sydney.

Payment for early arrival

Parents of children attending Burrowes State School, in Queensland, must pay a before-school-care fee of at least $2.60 fee per day if their children are dropped off before 8.30am.

Anonymous scholarship

An anonymous philanthropist has donated a large sum of money to fund a day student’s education at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, in Perth. Principal Fiona Johnston said the donor wanted the St Hilda’s scholarship to go to a girl commencing secondary school in 2020, and for it to pay her entire year 7 to 12 schooling experience.

Outsourcing school cleaning

What are the social consequences of outsourcing school cleaning? This article looks at the impact of a financial decision on the social development of students.

Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2016. 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 straight to the point, 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.