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.
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: www.transtasmanconference.co.nz
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: www.gallupstudentpoll.com.au
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
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.
We look forward to seeing you in Auckland next year!
Chair – Organising Committee
Auckland Primary Principals’ Association
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.
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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:
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.
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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.
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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
Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988
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