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


March 2016

Dear Colleagues,

At our most recent APPA National Advisory Council meeting, both the Minister for Education, Senator Simon Birmingham, and Shadow Minister for Education, Ms Kate Ellis MP, joined our meeting, each giving us a good hour or more (both pictured below). Beginning with introductory remarks before receiving a wide range of questions from your APPA representatives, we were struck by the knowledge they had of schools and the school sector. I shall write more on what was said in the next issue of ‘Connected Leader’ but point out that we raised issues impacting on our schools and school communities – from the primary school funding levels, STEM and NAPLAN Online through to initial teacher education, school leadership development and the wellbeing of principals.

Members of the APPA National Advisory Council – made up of a rep from each of the state, territory and national sector principals’ associations – also attended an APPA function at Parliament House hosted by the President of the Senate (Senator Stephen Parry) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Mr Tony Smith). Well attended by parliamentarians from both Houses, our event focused on Civics and Citizenship Education and the important role primary schools have in teaching our students about Australian democracy, the work of our National Parliament and the role of Commonwealth Government.

We heard that students and teachers greatly appreciate an MP greeting a primary school group from his or her electorate and welcoming them to Parliament House (their ‘work place’). I commented to parliamentarians, it is like students meeting the principal at their office to discuss concerns or proposals. When new students paid a visit to my office I welcomed them to the school. I then ensured I visited their classroom in return. I also suggested Members of Parliament have a visiting schedule for the primary schools in their electorate or, if a Senator, visiting a range of schools.

With about 160,000 student visitors to Parliament House, representing approximately 3,000 schools with 70% of rural and remote areas represented, I strongly encouraged MPs to greet these citizens of our community.

Civic and Citizenship is more than just a curriculum area

The Australian Curriculum subject of Civics and Citizenship is included in the Learning Area of Humanities and Social Sciences. To teach citizenship, we must engage with students, having a conversation about issues and concerns that matter to them and others in the community, and coming up with solutions. This is the essence of democracy.

Civics and Citizenship in schools is more than the curriculum. It is the culture of the school. The leadership teams, the Student Representative Council or similar provide one example of the formal structures and processes that engage students in their civic responsibility. The discussions of rights and responsibilities, values, conflict resolutions, solving and finding solutions to challenges, and learning to be tolerant, accepting and inclusive are all part of the Civics and Citizenship area. Citizens feel they belong when they each have a voice and a role in the decision-making process that ultimately impacts their community. Acknowledging and respecting the first citizens of our community, and of course welcoming new citizens, builds that community. We need students to explore and build their understanding of citizenship from their local community to the global community.

The vision and mottos of schools often capture this bigger picture. School mottos such as Deeds not Words; Learn, Work, Serve, Respect; Courage, Loyalty, Truth; Sincerity, Scholarship, Service. They more often than not capture values, actions and behaviours.

The vision statements of schools have a focus on more than literacy and numeracy. More often than not they aim to develop the whole child or encourage a child to reach his or her potential.

It is the documents that are the words; it is in the actions that are the culture. It is all to do with the ‘walk’. A five-minute interaction with students is worth more than we think. Our actions as principals define us. As leaders, we model the behaviour, values and expectations.

Primary school is a key place where the students receive the learning that will enable them to be positive contributors to their community and engaged citizens who are proud to build their village, town or city.

APPA Leadership Program: Next Generation Principal

We have revamped the program to have a Phase One and Phase Two. There is still time to submit your Expression of Interest for the residential course in Canberra in July. Information has been sent to State and Territory principals’ associations and has also been placed on the APPA website.

Trans-Tasman Conference

We are on track for this fantastic conference. We are aiming for 200 Australians to land at Auckland and take on the Kiwis. We need school leaders to join up now as early bird registrations end on March 31. Go to:

Halogen and APPA will form a partnership to support student leadership development and initiatives. We are aiming for corporate support for Sean Gordon, CEO SchoolAid to roll out across the nation the Kids Ambassador Team (KAT) package on social action by students. Halogen organises student leadership days in the major cities. These are huge events, as I know from having attended the one in Sydney on Monday. Sean and Winter Vincent, from Manly Village Public School presented at the National Young Leaders Day in Sydney and Melbourne.

Evaluation of student wellbeing programs: APPA, SchoolAid and Gallup are working to create items in the Gallup Student Survey that will provide feedback under philanthropy – the impact of kids volunteering or charitable acts. We are looking to increase the number of schools involved to build a better baseline. If your school or colleague is interested, please go to:

Dream Cricket: We have been asked to support and promote the Rotary Clubs’ Dream Cricket. This is where students with a disability get to represent their school at a Gala Day. Rotarians will support the day. Information will be available on the website and from state and territory principals’ associations.

My Hero Day (July 29): APPA will support this Captain Courageous Foundation event through promoting it to schools to raise funds for Bone Marrow research. SchoolAid, through KidsGive, will support primary schools with developing a campaign and event for My Hero Day.

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


Interviewees urgently sought for 2016 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2016 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Trans Tasman Principals' Conference 2016

Trans Tasman Principals' Conference 2016

31 May - 3 June 2016, Auckland, New Zealand

Register now, pay later!

On behalf of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, the Australian Primary Principals Association and the host committee from Auckland Primary Principals’ Association, we invite you to register for the Trans-Tasman Principals’ Conference to be held at SkyCity Convention Centre, Auckland on 31 May – 3 June 2016.

Payment via invoice is available for all registrations received before the end of November, don’t delay register now!

The theme of the conference is “Knowledge in Our Hands” with the emphasis on telling the stories that excite us within education. In the spirit of collaboration, we have structured a programme that showcases stories and story tellers from both sides of the Tasman, which we are sure will provoke energetic discussion and professional debate.

Please check out the exciting Conference programme and the high calibre speakers confirmed to date.  Speakers include Noel Pearson, Andrew Patterson, Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser to name but a few.

We look forward to seeing you in Auckland next year!

Jill Corkin
Chair – Organising Committee
Auckland Primary Principals’ Association


Principals in the news

March 2016

Kate Chisolm

The head teacher of Skerne Park Academy, in the UK, was recently reported in the media after she asked parents to ‘have a wash and get dressed’ when they come to school. Apparently, a number of parents - still dressed in pyjamas and sometimes slippers - deliver their children to school each day, with some attending school assemblies in their nighties.

Kevin Riordan

A former WA principal who sold a demountable school building to a friend for $100 has been found not guilty of acting corruptly as a public officer. Mr Riordan was stood down as principal of the Laverton School in 2013 after an internal investigation by the Education Departments Standards and Integrity Unit found he had breached Departmental procedure.

Frank Vetere

The principal of Point Cook P-9 College, in Victoria, recently clarified his school’s policy on the food brought to school, in response to an incorrect report that a number of fruits (including watermelon and bananas) had been banned.

Mike Fairclough

Mike Fairclough, the headmaster of West Rise Junior, a small government school in the UK. Mr Fairclough believes students can learn just as much spending a morning blasting shotguns, skinning a rabbit or making a campfire, as a few hours in a traditional classroom.

Jane Mueller

The principal of Living Faith Lutheran Primary School, in Queensland, explains the school’s concept of ‘learning plazas’. ‘We have received interest from educators around country, and had some people from Chicago visit the school last year,’ she said. ‘We do regular tours for educators in professional learning.’

Interviewees urgently sought for 2016 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2016 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Locally made ethical school wear

Through their own procurement policies local schools have the power to support an ethical Australian clothing industry and help prevent the exploitation of workers. There are local school wear manufacturers who are committed to making clothes locally the right way.

Ethical Clothing Australia is responsible for accrediting local clothing and footwear manufacturers to ensure that their workers are receiving their legal wages and entitlements, and working in decent conditions.

To find out more contact Ethical Clothing Australia to ask how we can assist your school to source ethically accredited school wear.

Phone: 03 94190222

Opinion and analysis

March 2016

John Lester

‘I'm yet to see a principal lose his job because he hasn't performed in terms of delivering an education to Indigenous students,’ says this University of Newcastle academic. ‘We're not holding them accountable for the results,’ he added.

Chris Burgess

Chris Burgess, the principal of Taradale Primary School, in Victoria, thinks the Government-funded Safe Schools program is an important program for any school, regardless of size.

Danny Ariel

Danny Ariel is the new assistant principal primary at St Catherine’s Catholic College, in NSW. ‘I’m still new to this role but I believe having an optimistic, can-do attitude is really important in all aspects of life,’ he said.

Dorothy McKee

‘I think parents are the linchpin of a child's education; parents make an absolute difference to how confident a child feels and the way the child relates to the school environment, ‘ says the principal of Boulder Primary School, in WA.

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 2016

Impact of too much noise on early learning

Noise is more distracting to a child's brain than it is to an adult's, with recent research showing that it can hinder the learning of young children.

Literacy learning and brain differences

A University of Washington study is among the first to identify structural white matter and functional grey matter differences in the brain between children with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and between those children and typical language learners.

Brain waves and leadership

This article describes several studies that investigate the link between electrical activity in the brain and leadership traits.

Four recent autism research findings

Dr Martha Burns, neuroscientist and speech pathologist, provides a brief synopsis of four recent autism research findings.

Brains on fire: the multimodality of gifted thinkers

A scholarly article from John Hopkins University about the characteristics of gifted thinkers. Recent advances in MRI have allowed researchers to better observe the neurological strengths and drawbacks of those with exceptional brains. The article contains several recommendations for educators.

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 2016

Welcome to Syrian refugee children

Last month, Nollamara Primary School, in Western Australia, enrolled two children from the first group of 12,000 Syrian refugees approved so far for permanent settlement in Australia. ‘They’re the early arrivers; we’re awaiting on notification there will be more arriving,’ said the principal Stephen Blechenden.

School bans unvaccinated children

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino says that students and teachers at Princess Hill Primary School who can't prove they are fully immunised against measles will have to do their school work from home.

Asbestos and alleged humiliation

The unexpected discovery of asbestos in a school immediately gives rise to multiple health, welfare, procedural and media management issues. In this case at Holland Park State School, in Brisbane, a parent has contacted the media, alleging that their six-year-old was humiliated when her school uniform, suspected of containing asbestos, was quickly removed.

Entire school council dismissed

The Presbyterian Church has dismissed the entire ruling council of The Scots College, in Sydney, after concerns about the school's governance.

Cattle prod allegations

The NT Department of Education is investigating a number of incidents that were alleged to have occurred in a remote area school.

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 2016

Getting stuck in the negatives (and how to get unstuck)

Social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood explains how certain ways of thinking about an issue tend to stick in people's heads. How do you reframe by shifting to a positive way of thinking?

When you laugh, something happens

Executive coach Dale Williams speaks about the power of viewing every situation positively and uses examples from case studies to illustrate this point. Happiness and laughter are important for the achievement of your goals, he says.

Evaluate where you are

Zig Ziglar provides the eight indicators of personal success. Money is too often seen as the real mark of a successful person, he says.

How your body affects your happiness

Dr Tal Shafir explains her passion for movement and dance. As an adult she wanted to share the exhilarating effects on mood and wellbeing with other people. Could dance improve your personal happiness?

Work-life balance: balancing time or balancing identity?

Michelle Ryan, Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology and Dean of Postgraduate Research at the University of Exeter, asks why some women make less demanding career choices. ‘What is really going on here?’, she asks. What is the role of ‘identity’ in work-life balance?

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 2016

Increased diversity

Hoa Nghiem Primary School, which opened in a Melbourne suburb earlier this year, has 16 students from prep to grade 4. Principal Jacqui Bosman said founder Thich Thien Tam and Sister Thich Thuoc Uyen, of the Hoa Nghiem Buddhist Temple, saw a need for the school to service the local Buddhist community and the wider Springvale community.

The MENtor program

The University of South Australis’s MENtor program is designed to protect the dwindling cohort of male primary and early childhood teachers from gender ‘isolation’.

Plans for a birth to year 12 college

The Governing Councils of Windsor Gardens Secondary College, Gilles Plains Primary School and Gilles Plains Children’s Centre, in South Australia, met in early February to discuss the idea of a birth to year 12 college. ‘It would be really good to have a birth to year 12 school … (where) the students are supported all the way through,’ said one of the principals, Paulette Sargent.

Making primary schooling more gender-neutral

In an effort to be more inclusive, a primary school in Reykjanesbær, Iceland, has decided to let students decide for themselves which bathroom they use. Akurskóli Primary School has removed all gender labelling from the school toilets. In addition, it has abandoned rules regarding how children dress for swimming lessons.

Transgender school uniforms

A leading independent school in the UK has become the first in the country to accommodate transgender students in its uniform policy. Brighton College, in East Sussex, a coeducational school of 1,000 students, now provides them the option of wearing a skirt and blouse or trousers and shirt, regardless of gender.

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 2016

Dealing with difficult employees

In this clip, Don Crawley suggests a way of dealing with a ‘Blameless Bob’, one of the six difficult employee types you may encounter as a leader.

Vocal executive presence

Do you sound like a leader? Do your words have ‘teeth’? Executive presence and communication expert Laura Sicola advises on the best way to sound credible.

Leadership as a collective process

There are three capacities for the fluid, collective-oriented leadership needed by effective organisations. Leaders set direction, create alignment, and inspire commitment, says Bethany Godsoe.

How to multiply your time

Self-discipline strategist Rory Vaden shows you why you can't solve today's time-management challenges with yesterday's time-management strategies. More importantly he explains why procrastinating on purpose is the key to being able to multiply your time.

Male vs. female leaders: what’s the difference?

Libby Gill, author of 'You unstuck' and former communications and public relations leader in the entertainment industry, talks about the research about gender differences in the workplace, specifically the differences between male and female leaders. ‘The challenge I see for women leaders is that they tend to undervalue and under promote their own work,’ she says.

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Money matters

March 2016

Grandparents increasingly paying for school education

The rising cost of living and fears of job insecurity means that grandparents are increasingly using their superannuation and life savings to pay their grandchildren's schools fees.

Government funding withdrawn

In this emotive report, young children in a Sydney independent school are reported to have been ‘forced’ to sit in 36-degree classrooms, due to a funding shortfall. In early February, the Federal Government announced that it would cancel $19 million in Commonwealth funding from the three-campus Malek Fahd Islamic School, after it found significant issues with its governance processes. 

Teachers take strike action

More than 200 Catholic schools in Queensland have been affected by strike action by teachers, who are seeking higher wages and better employment conditions. More than 8500 employees, at 242 schools, were expected to stop work on Thursday 25 February.

Conclusions from Productivity Commission report

‘So what do we make of the Productivity Commission's annual Report on Government Services, released recently, which provides the figures on school spending as reported by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments?’, asks Tim Dodd, from the ‘Financial Review’.

What does the economic downturn mean for independent schools?

With the Australian economy slowing, some independent schools may be experiencing financial pressure. In Western Australia, for the first time in 30 years, public school growth has outstripped that of independent schools.

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Love the job

March 2016

Jason Borton

Principal, Richardson Primary School
Richardson, ACT

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

Richardson is a great community school that has a focus on learning in a safe and caring environment for all children. We are committed to our shared vision of ‘Success for Every Student’ and strive to achieve in all areas. We have high expectations of achievement for all of the students that attend our school. Some of the features of our school include:

  • a highly professional and committed teaching and support staff team
  • a valued and supportive parent community
  • small class sizes accommodated in four teaching units
  • a Learning Support Centre
  • a respectful and positive student and staff relationship policy
  • a high quality academic program with high levels of pupil achievement
  • year 5 and year 6 instrumental band programs
  • excellent ICT and library facilities.
We are a small school achieving big things.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I am in my fifth year as a principal but have been a school leader 13 years in total. This included five years as an executive teacher and three years as a deputy principal.


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

March 2016

Jason Borton

Principal, Richardson Primary School
Richardson, ACT

(continued from previous page)

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

I was motivated to become a school leader by my desire to have a broader scope for positive influence on students and educators. I loved classroom teaching but also enjoyed working with colleagues to develop their practice.

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 an executive teacher at Chisholm Primary School, in the ACT. It was a temporary acting role which offered many challenges. It was hard to lead a team in which I was a classroom teacher. The lines were often blurred between my collegial relationships with teachers and my need to make decisions that were unpopular.

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

The most useful lesson I learnt from an experienced colleague was to look after my own health and wellbeing. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to look after ourselves so that we can be at our best when we need to be.

What makes you smile at work?

What makes me smile the most is to see the look on a child’s face when he or she has learned something new. It is quite a magical thing when ‘the penny drops’ for kids. I also feel an immense sense of professional satisfaction when staff members develop their leadership and take on passionate roles which have a positive impact on the school.

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

As a leader, my core belief is that one of my main roles is to develop new leaders. I aim to empower others to leverage their own strengths and passions to drive learning within the school. I provide support, coaching and resources and then get out of their way. I think that the foundation of leadership success in my school is due to the strong sense of professional trust that has been developed over time.

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

My best day as a school leader was my first day as a school principal. It is such a privilege to lead a school on behalf of a community.


Love the job

March 2016

Jason Borton

Principal, Richardson Primary School
Richardson, ACT

(continued from previous page)

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

To be honest, I have had many tough days but the hardest are when I am in a situation which involves harm being done to students in my care, outside of the school environment. The emotional nature of supporting at-risk children is very challenging.

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

The funniest thing that happened to me was when I had to dress up as the book character, ‘Fancy Nancy’ after promising to do so if the students in our school completed their reading challenge. What was I thinking when I agreed to that?

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

As a new school leader, it’s important to remember that all eyes are on you. Everyone is watching you closely to see how you respond to challenges, how you make decisions and how you behave towards others. I encourage new leaders to be authentic; don’t say ‘yes’ to things before taking time to think about it, and try to not to slip into the mistake of trying to please everyone.

If you could name just one thing that kept you going to school every day, even on the really difficult days, what would that be?

I used to monitor my self-talk and remind myself that yesterday may have been a challenge but today is a new day. It may be a bad moment, but it’s not a bad week or a bad life.

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

Having a flourishing life outside of school is important to achieving a positive professional career. I prefer the term ‘work life satisfaction’ as I try to get the most out of both, not one instead of the other. I have worked hard to build a culture of positive staff wellbeing, which has been successful in many ways and benefits teachers and students alike.

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

I ensure that I have an active lifestyle that includes regular exercise and healthy eating. I also keep my working hours to a manageable level by giving myself permission to leave things until another day. I have a very good school secretary who monitors my email traffic and also manages my diary, which provides me with more time to engage in leadership actions, as opposed to being caught up in administrative tasks.

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

I see myself continuing in the education sector beyond the principalship. I would like to explore options for developing leadership in others, present at conferences as a thought leader and work in schools in some way.

Jason Borton, Principal, Richardson Primary School, ACT


Interviewees urgently sought for 2016 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2016 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2015. This whole publication, created as a deliberately selected compilation of internet-based resources, may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA).

Connected Leader is an official publication of the Australian Primary Principals Association. In close collaboration with APPA, Connected Leader is designed, produced and edited, specifically for APPA members, by Debra J. Crouch, Managing Director of Vivid Word and Image design, to enhance the professional learning of Australian primary school leaders.


The opinions expressed in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, belong entirely to those who created those resources, and do not necessarily represent official APPA views and policies. At times, links to some resources may be deliberately selected to reflect the wide range of views held by Australian primary school leaders, and the views therein may be subject to debate in some sections of the education community. Readers are advised that, in the interests of brevity, not all of the available personal opinions or information about a particular event, development, issue or policy direction may be published in resources made available through links in Connected Leader. Interested readers who require more comprehensive information, or who seek the opinions of all stakeholders, are advised to directly contact the institution/s or persons cited in the resource/s or conduct their own private research.

Neither APPA, Debra J. Crouch nor Vivid Word and Image Design can guarantee, or take responsibility for, the accuracy or otherwise of any of the information and/or views contained in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, or from subsequent webpages accessed via links within (or in material/text following) those suggested resources. The duration of all links cannot be guaranteed by APPA or VIVID Word and Image Design. Nor do these two parties accept responsibility for any loss or damages arising from statements or opinions contained in any published article or advertisement.