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


March 2015

Dear Colleagues,

The Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA) recently held its National Advisory Council (NAC) meeting in Canberra. The Advisory Council is made up of a representative from each state and territory Government, Catholic and Independent principals’ association. Also joining the Council are the presidents of the national sector associations. We meet each term.

The key areas for discussion included teacher education, curriculum review, ACARA review, Federation education issues paper, principal preparation, principal wellbeing, APPA’s strategic plan and reports from national associations. In the evening, the NAC joined some twenty-five members of parliament for the APPA Parliamentary Friends of Primary Education Dinner. This event allows parliamentarians to share a meal and discuss key issues impacting on primary education. It’s a very worthwhile occasion.


The curriculum focus will step up now that the Education Ministers have agreed to the ACARA work plan and recommendations of the Review. They have agreed to combine history, geography, civics and citizenship and economics and business under one heading called humanities and social sciences. (This aligns well with APPA’s submission to the Review.) A number of meetings have been organised around the country to meet with ACARA representatives to undertake a feedback process. We appreciate the attendance at the meetings of principals and key curriculum people given the short notice. The feedback will be used to guide ACARA in addressing overcrowding, curriculum management, and assessment and reporting of achievement standards.

APPA has also provided a response to the review of ACARA’s structure and functions. We strongly support the role ACARA provides in the development of a national curriculum and the development of resources to support teaching and learning. We feel the ACARA Board would greatly benefit from having members who can provide directly the practitioner’s perspective to curriculum development, delivery and resourcing. The school, or classroom, perspective is vital in ensuring the curriculum remains relevant, engaging and responsive to the learning needs of our students.


The NAC spent time discussing principal preparation and the different programs offered around Australia. APPA will continue to investigate what is available and what works. In the meantime, we have been approached to partner in a research project on: ‘What will be the principal’s role in the future?’ We will keep you informed of developments.


NAPLAN results have been made public via the My School website. Of course, schools and parents received the results last November. APPA’s view is that NAPLAN results belong to the school community and so should be made available through the school website and annual report. The results are one aspect of reporting and achievement. We do not believe the publication of the results or attempting to compare schools on the My School website result in positive outcomes. We support the NAPLAN assessments and the information being available to teachers and parents on student progress. APPA believes the publication of results on My School has led to a high stakes environment with the resulting production of simplistic league tables. We hope the school community sees beyond the My School website, and that parents and guardians visit the school to work with principal and teacher in meeting their child’s learning needs. Let us know if any concerns are raised.

NAPLAN Online is coming and we will begin developing a position paper outlining the key issues, concerns and what will be required for it to be successful. If you are moved by this work, please send your writings to us to help develop the draft.


NAC were informed on the latest information available by the organising team. This promises to be an exciting conference that takes us to the heart of leading our primary schools. We encourage all principals and school leaders to book their place now via the conference website at


Student wellbeing was discussed at the NAC meeting and the need for the government to provide ongoing support and funding for KidsMatter. APPA will be writing to the Minister seeking an early decision on this funding.


APPA will write to the Federal Minister requesting the government to make a decision on universal funding so that schools can plan for 2016. You may wish to write or email federal members raising this concern with a local context. At our next meeting we will look to establish an Early Childhood working group to investigate the regulations around the Early Learning Framework.


APPA NAC has identified the four key areas for addressing reform with teacher education. The areas are: Selection of people for teacher education; Teaching practicum; Teacher preparation, course content and curriculum; and Induction. APPA will be form working groups to develop key messages and feedback to ATISL on developing the standards and expectations for teacher education.


As part of the operational plan for 2014/15, APPA will develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) The working group (Mark Mowbray, Dyonne Anderson, Ellie McGuiness, Trudy Moala, Mel Bolwell) will begin drafting in consultation with colleagues and support from Reconciliation Australia.

The Closing the Gap Report has been released and a copy is on the APPA website. I believe this important report needs a response, but one that is carefully considered. At our next meeting, APPA will develop a response and action plan.

APPA has been working with the following groups to develop stronger partnerships between schools and the community. They include:

The Smith Family: This project involves establishing a principal advisory group to support The Smith Family in their work with young people. The Smith Family is keen to change their perception held by the community from welfare to education support. They support over 34,000 children in education assistance through a number of programs.

Australian Research Council (ARC) Impact Project: This project is being led by Griffith University and is looking at the Collective Impact of agencies when working with families. The researchers are seeking to identify the factors that increase the learning outcomes for children from families receiving support. The project is working with the Commonwealth Department of Social Services to develop a central database for outcomes. APPA is an active partner on the project team.

School Aid: This program is about kids giving. The It’s NOT FAIR Week will allow primary school student leaders to focus on world and national issues that can lead to improved educational opportunities for other kids. More information will be provided to schools.

We are moving into interesting times and the role of APPA as the Voice for Primary Education is to maintain its momentum and strength. However, this will only be built upon by the actions of individual principals and the work of state and territory associations. We are always looking at how we can better communicate our work and the strong connection between APPA and the state and territory associations, and welcome those ideas that build upon our united voice for primary education.

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


Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

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

Principals in the news

March 2015

Mass food poisoning

One hundred and seventy people were treated for suspected salmonella poisoning following a Brisbane conference for government school principals.

Jane Turner

The principal of Mount Gambier North Primary School, in South Australia, is providing strong support for the young survivors of a car crash that killed several members of a local Congolese family.

Matt Jones

I have a great job, says the principal of Fairfield Middle School, in the USA. According to a recent study by online jobs site, CareerBliss, school principal ranked the number one happiest job in the USA.

Tim Hawkes

Under cross-examination by counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Sydney headmaster Tim Hawkes said he was unaware of mandatory reporting laws regarding child sexual abuse at the time of the so-called ‘balaclava man’ incident at Know Grammar School, in NSW, in late 1988.

Peter Fullager

‘My aspiration is to ensure St Joseph’s Nudgee College continues to be well known in boys education,’ said the new principal of this 125-year-old Catholic school in Brisbane.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews, commencing next month (April). 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

March 2015

Erica Cervini

‘It's time to get rid of Teach for Australia so the money saved can be put into supporting education faculties,’ say this commentator. 

Paul Williams

Population growth without smart economic growth spells intergenerational disaster, says this commentator. ‘…The real howler is the forecast fall in public education spending, from 1.7 per cent of GDP to 1 per cent in 2055. This is alarming.’

Warwick Commission report

According to the recently released Warwick Commission report, those in charge of education policy are ‘obsessed with ‘a siloed subject-based curriculum’ that demands an ‘early specialisation in arts and science disciplines’ and overlooks the necessity for all children to receive an education that encourages creativity.

Paul Willis

‘The thought that someone from some religious tradition wants access to my child as a potential convert chills me to the bone’, says Paul Willis, in this opinion piece titled, ‘When God goes to school’.

Controversy on World Book Day

An 11-year-old boy’s costume for World Book Day highlights the need for school leaders, in all countries, to manage occasional ethical and cultural dissonance between parents, teachers and students.

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

March 2015

Rising population to impact on schools

A recent ACER report says that the demand for teachers and classrooms will rise every year until at least 2025.

Nourishing the ageing brain

Research reveals how the brain changes as we age and hints at ways to slow the decline.

Early development of narcissism

Researchers in the USA and the Netherlands followed 565 children ages 7 to 12 — as well as 705 parents — for a year and a half and compared the two theories on the origins of narcissism. What does this mean for schools?

Steady enrolment growth in Muslim schools

Victorian students are flocking to Islamic schools in record numbers, with enrolments increasing by almost 70 per cent in the past eight years.

New research on peanut allergy

Research on peanut allergies continues. A recent study was reported in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’, in the USA.

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

March 2015

Primary curriculum to be redesigned

The primary school curriculum will be trimmed down, with four subjects combined into one, under a redesign of the national curriculum that was recently approved by all state governments.

No education for war-affected children

According to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, only 1% of all money donated last year to humanitarian causes across the world was spent on education.

Call to repair WA schools

After a ceiling collapsed on a boy at Medina Primary School last month, there have been calls for the WA Government to increase its spending on the repair and maintenance of schools.

Impact of Cyclone Marcia

Flooding has caused a huge mess at Thangool State School, in Queensland, where soaked furniture and muddy carpets are being thrown out of classrooms. Principal Michael Nielsen said that the school has lost probably lost close to 80 per cent of its library books.

A school improvement success story

Farrer Primary School, in the ACT, has risen a combined 253 places across league tables of ACT literacy and numeracy results for year 3.

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

March 2015

Nurture your brain and improve your leadership

Nurture your brain through exercise and become a highly focused school leader who learns continuously.

How your home can help you recover from work stress

Anthony Ashworth, a consultant in Zen-inspired interior design and feng shui, says that home should be ‘a place of ease and rest, and being, not doing.’

Why alcohol is not a stress reliever

If you're feeling depressed or faced with a problem, Keri Glassman suggests reaching for some non-alcoholic relief.

The importance of a good morning

A good morning routine can be the difference between a great, a so-so or a downright terrible day.

How to stop an argument instantly

Here's a simple but powerful way to end conflict, even if the other person wants to keep fighting. This technique can be used in the workplace and at home.

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

Policy and innovation

March 2015

Indigenous education in Alice Springs

Yipirinya School, in Alice Springs, is employing a range of strategies to educate local Indigenous children. The school teaches four Indigenous languages, as well as English.

Controversy over Indigenous dialect

A parent tells 3AW’s Neil Mitchell how ‘absolutely ropeable’ she was when Wonthaggi North Primary School students, in Victoria, performed the national anthem, in an Indigenous dialect, at a school assembly.

Call for students to learn computer code

Technology industry experts are calling for coding lessons to become compulsory, to ensure that Australian students are not left behind in the Digital Age.

Game of Respect

Controversy surrounds an Italian school-based plan to challenge young children’s ideas about gender. A memory game that contains images of male homemakers and female plumbers may cause confusion, say some critics.

Call for recruitment prevention

Could (and should) primary curriculum strategies be used as part of a comprehensive long-term plan to discourage vulnerable Australian teenagers from joining Islamic State?

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

March 2015

Getting unstuck from the negatives

When confronted with change, do any of your staff get ‘stuck in the negatives’? Alison Ledgerwood provides some advice on how to move people out of the ‘loss’ paradigm.

Allan Pease: the power of the palm

How do you create rapport with a hand shake? What subconscious information gathering is hard-wired into a palm-to-palm contact?

Resilience and overcoming disbelief

Rodney Mullen explains how the constant search for improvement has led to outstanding innovations in his sport. What can school leaders learn from great skateboarders?

How to be a powerful woman

The UK's most powerful women share their experiences, advice, philosophy and dress code for a successful working life.

Difficult people: speak or stay silent?

Choose a specific behavioural goal before you engage in a conversation with a difficult person, advises Susan Fee.

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.

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Money matters

March 2015

Inner city congestion charges

Victoria’s Education Department recently agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in road congestion taxes that were imposed on inner city government schools.

Comment on cost of ‘lifestyle choices’

Commenting on a decision to end funding for 150 remote communities, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: ‘If people choose to live miles away from where there’s a school, if people choose not to access the School of the Air ... obviously it’s very, very difficult to close the gap.’

Staff and student shortage

By the end of March, Thoona Primary School, in Victoria, will have no allocated staff and its three students (the entire enrolment) will travel to other schools by bus. However, a formal decision to close the school has not yet been taken.

Funds to boost school security

Australian Islamic College, in Kewdale, WA, will use $193,973 in federal funds to boost its security, particularly around its new buildings, to protect the school community from religious or racially motivated attacks. About 200 schools applied for the funding, but only 54 schools met the Schools Security Program criteria.

Independent school lowers fees

Annesley Junior School, in Perth, is steadily gaining enrolments after near closure several years ago. The school has lowered its fees, from $14,100 in 2011 for a year 6 student to $8200 this year.

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

March 2015

Dr Roderick Crouch

Principal, Maranatha Christian School
Melbourne, Victoria

Where are you currently working as a school leader?

I am currently the Principal/CEO of Maranatha Christian School, a three-campus school in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I moved here in July 2014 after finishing a three-year contract leading an international school that taught the Australian curriculum in the United Arab Emirates.  From January to July in 2014, I found myself in the unusual position of leading two schools, in two hemispheres, simultaneously!

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

Teaching and school leadership has taken me both around Australia and twice across the globe.  My career started in Sydney in the early 80s in the independent sector, teaching grade 5. I still remember my ‘mentor’ saying to me on Day 1, ‘We believe in professional independence in this school’! With that, he shut his door, and I never heard from him again, although we taught in adjoining classrooms.  An exchange to Adelaide, followed by four years in the UK, quickly passed before I was appointed as a deputy principal in Sydney in 1993. Not being one who wanted to stand still, we moved to Brisbane so that I could become principal/head of junior school in a large traditional all-boys school in 1996. At the time I really thought I had ‘made it’, and in many senses I had.  It was a great school, wonderfully resourced and supported by a fully engaged community. At times, I felt I could stay in the role forever ... but I like challenge and an opportunity arose to be the inaugural principal of a new school in Brisbane in 2005. Having the opportunity to start something, appoint all the staff, and build traditions is not to be missed, though it is incredibly demanding. Knowing the school was well established, the seven year itch struck again and I moved to the United Arab Emirates to be principal/CEO of the Victorian International School of Sharjah in 2011. It was a wonderful position with a very diverse community. I had found my niche, but the call of family proved irresistible, so in July 2014 we moved to Melbourne. Who knows what the next chapter will bring!

I think all principals should contribute to the broader campaign of raising educational outcomes for all.  For me, this belief lead to a long involvement with APPA, and was privileged to be made an honorary life member in 2009.


Love the job

March 2015

Dr Roderick Crouch

Principal, Maranatha Christian School
Melbourne, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

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

I like leading schools - I always have. I have been fortunate to have had leadership roles from early in my career.  School leadership is like a complex jigsaw, and there is enormous satisfaction putting all the pieces together to make a greater whole – one that benefits children by supporting them in their learning.

I do believe in the statement, ‘To whom much is given, much is required’. So, if you know you have the ability to lead, then I think we must try and improve ourselves to be able to step up when required. Lifelong learning should be something we, as leaders, exemplify.

Having said that, school leadership can be quite lonely at times. Building a good support network (that is more than just your family) and ensuring your own ‘down time’ is really important. Finding good mentors or role models can also be a great support.  Over the last few years, I have trained and mentored school leaders, and while it is incredibly encouraging to see them develop, I have found I have also continued to learn and grow.

What was your worst day?

School leadership parallels the roller coaster of life.  We have awesome days and we have very low days. I have not had to deal with the death of student but identifying the body of a dead staff member or consoling children over the death of their parents were difficult. In the end, a significant aspect to school leadership is managing the different relationships and the various expectations different groups have both of us and the school.  My worst days are those days when, for whatever reason, expectations either are not met, or cannot be met, trust is broken and the relationship lies in ruins.  Making someone redundant or asking a child to leave the school because of their behaviour always leaves me asking whether we could we have done more. If I had to choose one day, it would be from several years ago when I uncovered ongoing forgery for personal gain from a senior staff member who was a trusted colleague and well respected in the community. The sense of loss still remains. Managing the fallout was intense, but ensuring that integrity (both mine and the school’s) remained intact was the key to limiting the damage.


Love the job

March 2015

Dr Roderick Crouch

Principal, Maranatha Christian School
Melbourne, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

What makes you smile at work?

Frankly, even on the toughest days, I love my job, and that is always because not only have I had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented and hard- working staff, but more importantly, it is a joy to work with children. How can you not smile at some of the unexpected things that children say or do? How can we not smile when we see such endeavour and energy?

Finally, the sheer satisfaction I get from seeing children grow from little boys and girls into fine young men and women will always make me smile. As the A Team used to say, I love it when a plan comes together, and that is what we do as principals. Whether we have a Divine sense of calling or not, I do believe education is a vocation and so to put the skills you have been given, so that others might benefit, well, that’s a purposeful life. As Henry Adams said, ‘Teachers (or principals) affect eternity, they do not know where their influence will end,’ and that, for me, is the greatest reason to smile.

Dr Roderick Crouch,
Principal, Maranatha Christian School, Melbourna, Victoria



Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews, commencing next month (April). 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.