The breaking news on the fast approaching 2017 APPA National Conference is that Saroo Brierley has been booked as a major Conference Speaker.
Saroo, whose biography ‘A Long Way Home’ led to the astonishing movie ‘Lion’, promises to bring alive a journey of immense determination and incredible resilience. I am sure that Saroo will make each of us think deeply about those children and families in our schools who have overcome hardship to be valued members of our communities. Saroo joins national and international speakers including Dr Anthony Muhammad, Holly Ransome, Dr Jason Fox, Lindy Kaser and Judy Halbert, and Stephen Murgatroyd.
Register now to book your place in Brisbane 2017.
When I talk with principals, this question gains much attention in the assessment and testing debate. The first is about recalling knowledge, applying a process or demonstrating a skill. The second is more open-ended, in that it requires the student to be creative, innovative and use higher order thinking skills to solve problems or develop solutions.
A definition of assessment under the ‘know’ question would talk about providing evidence of what a student knows, plotting them on a continuum and identifying the next step in their learning. Therefore, assessment allows teachers to monitor continually the learning of individual students and the effectiveness of their teaching. I would use a similar definition for the second part but add the evidence demonstrates what they can do with what they know.
We also have debate about the difference between assessment (collecting data) and evaluation or interpretation of the data (information). So, we have two main forms of collecting data: Quantitative Information, which is expressed numerically and describes quantities (how much or how many); and Qualitative Information, which describes qualities or characteristics.
The first will generally focus on collecting quantitative data and the second on qualitative data. The first approach is easier to mark with a pass mark, set score or percentage to indicate success level. We can compare students on who got it right and who didn’t. We talk about an A-E scale, ranking (1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on), pass/fail, the percentage correct or incorrect, or a mark out 10. The second brings a standards focus and utilises more qualitative assessment strategies. It requires the assessor to use personal judgment based on their interpretation and understanding of the standard within whatever level of competency or performance was displayed or presented. Teachers who use this approach will use a validated matrix or rubric to assist with the judgment. The feedback will vary from student to student depending how the assessment task was completed and what criteria were addressed. Each criterion will contribute to the final assessment result. In some places this can be an accumulative process over time or over the course of the unit with students working towards criteria focused assessment rather than a right or wrong answer. Today, these assessments are based on the Achievement Standards from the Australian Curriculum and set by teachers as a component of units of learning.
The challenge is when both forms of assessment are used in teaching and learning. We seem to be overdoing both approaches, and this dilemma is creating conflict between an approach that satisfies classroom needs, and assessment requirements at a school, system and/or national level. The parent community of a school also brings in different expectations of what it believes indicates success and achievement.
Meeting all these competing needs can be stressful, entail additional workload and, in some cases, may not provide any tangible benefit to the learning of students.
We have an Australian Curriculum, which has clear achievement standards for learning. It is interesting that many schools have developed report cards that provide information on the student’s achievement against the standard, as well as a report on achievement based on an A-E grade.
I believe we need to open up the debate on what is driving teaching and learning and, in turn, school improvement. Is it assessment or what students need to know and do to demonstrate their learning? We seem to have a huge focus on testing, reporting, formative and summative assessment, comparisons of averages, and measuring growth and impact. I hear from many principals about the time given to collecting data to identify learning goals or intentions and then using that data to evaluate student and cohort learning. Time is then given to analysing the data and completing data reports. As John Hattie writes in Visible Learning for Teachers (2012) it seems the components of the learning cycle on why and how have lost emphasis as we reduced the time to plan the learning or “…develop deliberate interventions aimed at enhancing teaching and learning…and that the teaching and learning are visible.”
A key to interpreting the information or data is that we have ‘data literate teachers’. This requires our teachers to be competent in teaching the learning continuum, and skilled in diagnosing errors or incorrect learning with the confidence to act ‘on the spot’ in class and provide instant quality feedback. So we do not get the same errors, they also need to put in place corrective instructions and suggestions on how to improve. The Western Australian Primary Principals Association (WAPPA) in their paper Informative Assessment: A Position Paper expresses the concern that, “… the over-reliance on NAPLAN and other standardised testing data impedes the provision of timely, specific, descriptive feedback to students”. (WAPPA, 2016, p.8) They also point out that effective feedback is immediate, based on a teacher’s own observation about the student’s learning and is used to improve the effectiveness of their teaching. A challenge for school principals is how to build the capacity of every teacher to have these skills. We also hear of the ‘data-driven’ actions; however, it is perhaps more appropriate that decisions about learning or improvement are ‘informed’ by (amongst other things) assessment data. Unfortunately, we could be heading down a track where our education system has created a culture in which the collection of assessment data has become the dominant performance criterion for some schools and teachers. (WAPPA 2016)
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) identifies the importance of developing successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. We now have the requirement for schools to teach students contemporary skills, the ‘21st century skills’. In the Australian Curriculum, they are called general capabilities. Most of these skills are taught or developed through integrated learning tasks and experiences. These skills require a different approach for different students, as not all students learn at the same pace or in the same way.
So, what does this approach look like and how we will assess and report on these skills? Designing a learning program today is very different to last century. Yes, we still need explicit teaching of skills and knowledge but we need to move the emphasis somewhat, from assessment and data collection to the how and why of teaching and learning.
Maybe it’s time to revisit the Melbourne Declaration and ensure it reflects the contemporary nature of our education system for students of today and tomorrow, and not for last century.
Finally, I have been working with a wide consortium of sporting groups, teachers and principals associations aiming to increase the physical activity levels of our primary students.
Sporting Schools offers some excellent opportunities to bring sports groups into your school.
For more information, visit the Sporting Schools website.
Best wishes,Dennis Yarrington
Locally made ethical school wear
Through their own procurement policies local schools have the power to support an ethical Australian clothing industry and help prevent the exploitation of workers. There are local school wear manufacturers who are committed to making clothes locally the right way.
Ethical Clothing Australia is responsible for accrediting local clothing and footwear manufacturers to ensure that their workers are receiving their legal wages and entitlements, and working in decent conditions.
To find out more contact Ethical Clothing Australia to ask how we can assist your school to source ethically accredited school wear.
Written by internationally recognised school and early education experts, Your Child's First Year at School: Getting off to a good start, is highly valued as a home and school resource which provides excellent advice to parents, teachers and all interested in giving childrenthe best possible start at school. Order at:
PR1ME Mathematics—based on the world’s best practice used in Singapore PR1ME has been developed by Scholastic in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Singapore.
How does it work? PR1ME: explicitly and systematically teaches the problem solving processes and strategies; uses consistent and carefully structured pedagogy; takes a carefully scaffolded, deep-dive into conceptual development; actively involves students in metacognition; and provides professional learning for teachers.
For 40 years, Scholastic Australia has been partnering with schools across the country to give kids access to books they want to read through Clubs and Fairs. In 2012, Scholastic gave Australian schools over $11 million worth of Scholastic Rewards. To find out how you can spend Scholastic Rewards on resources and save your budget, visit
Modern learners experience the discord and melody of an ever-changing score while modern leaders are charged with conducting an orchestra of many diverse instruments and unifying them in harmony. This conference will explore the attributes of agile, innovative leaders who leave a legacy tuned with purpose.
Dr Muhammad is one of the most sought after education consultants in North America and currently serves as CEO of the highly regarded New Frontier 21 Consulting. As a middle school teacher, assistant principal and principal, he earned numerous awards both as a teacher and principal. Anthony is recognised as a leading expert in the fields of school culture and organisational climate. His work and passion for changing cultural dynamics have seen him work successfully with schools across the US and around the world.
Dr Fox is a modern day ‘wizard-rogue’, author and leadership adviser. With expertise in motivational design, Jason shows forward-thinking leaders around the world how to unlock new progress and build for the future of work. Named Keynote Speaker of the Year by Professional Speakers Australia, he delivers fresh thinking to instil the curiosity so needed for future relevance, purpose and growth. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, he’s the bestselling author of The Game Changer and his research has featured in the likes of Smart Company, BRW and The Financial Review.
Holly Ransome is the CEO of Emergent, a company specialising in the development of high performing intergenerational workforces, exceptional leadership and sustainable social outcomes. Working with corporations, governments and non-profit organisations, Holly is renowned for generating innovative solutions to complex multi-stakeholder problems. She coaches and professionally mentors leaders around the world and, in 2014, was appointed to chair Australia’s G20 Youth Summit. In 2016, she Co-Chaired the United Nations Global Coalition of Young Women Entrepreneurs and became the youngest ever female Director of an AFL Club.
Dr Murgatroyd is an expert on innovative policy and practice, the author of some 40 books and a frequent contributor to radio and news media. As a skilled communicator with the simple goal of improving performance, Stephen makes a difference to organisations through challenge, change and innovation. He is the new CEO of the Collaborative Media Group, a company focussed on providing organisations with creative technology solutions to their performance challenges, by using social media technology, consulting, mentoring and video production facilities.
Linda Kaser and Judy Halbert are co-leaders of Networks of Inquiry and Innovation and the Aboriginal Enhancement of Schools Network. They have served as principals, district leaders and policy advisors with the Ministry of Education in the areas of innovative leadership, district change, rural education, literacy and Aboriginal education. They are the co-directors of the Centre for Innovative Educational Leadership at Vancouver Island University and also Canadian representatives to the OECD international research program on Innovative Learning Environments.
The Royal ICC, or better known as the Brisbane Showgrounds, is just 1.6km from Brisbane CBD, 15 minutes from Brisbane Domestic and International Airports and is in easy reach of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.
Address 600 Gregory Terrace, Bowen Hills Brisbane, QLD 4006.
Parking is available at the Royal ICC for a fee of $12 per day at various locations.
Trains Bowen Hills and Fortitude Valley railway stations are less than a 10 minute walk from the Royal ICC.
There are a number of accommodation options within easy walking distance to the Royal ICC:
Early Bird Registration to the 2017 APPA National Conference will open in Term 4, 2016.
Full registration to the APPA Conference includes the welcome function, opening ceremony, all conference sessions, the conference dinner and entertainment.
The APPA 2017 National Conference is organised by a committee made up of APPA and national sector principals association representatives based in Queensland, and representatives of QASSP, QCPPA and IPSHA – Qld. The Committee looks forward to bringing together another hugely successful conference in Brisbane 2017.
QASSP is delighted to be appointed Conference Organisers of the 2017 APPA National Conference. For more information about this conference, please contact Magdalene St Clare, QASSP Business Manager and APPA Conference Manager on ph (07) 3831 7011 or email email@example.com.
A recent independent study by Associate Professor Catherine Attard from the Western Sydney Unversity showed that students who used Matific in their classroom improved their overall test results.
In fact, the quantitative data collected indicated an overall improvement of 34%.
One of the most significant outcomes that emerged from the data is that Matific assists learning. The size and structure of the Matific episodes allow students to maintain better focus on very specific mathematical concepts and skills, and this focus is maintained specifically because of the way the episodes are structured.
Matific is an online maths resource for students in K-6. Matifics’s pedagogy, interactive games and rich content really does make for the perfect teaching and learning environment.
Register your school for a 30-day trial in 2017 and see for yourself why 9 out of 10 Australian teachers would recommend the program to their peers.
You can even lock us in for your 2017 Professional Development day!
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
Primary schools do a fantastic job of developing the skills and strategies young people need to cope with the challenges of adolescence and transition to high school. Therefore, including body esteem education into already existing wellbeing programs can further benefit your students.
The Butterfly Foundation has offered Education Services around Australia since 2006 and is considered a reputable leader in prevention focused, body esteem education. Our sessions are evidence based and work to address the modifiable risk factors and protective factors that underpin the development of eating disorders.
Helen Bird – Education Administration
02 8456 3908
If you are concerned about someone contact
The Butterfly Foundation National Help Line 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673)
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.
Academy Photography are proud sponsors of the Australian Primary Principals Association. Academy Photography services include school photography, yearbooks, complete printing and educational solutions using latest technologies.
Call 1800 816 224 for your SPECIAL OFFER as an APPA member.
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Do children at your primary school have developmental, speech, language or behavioural needs? Do you need the support of specialist psychologists, speech therapists and occupational therapists?
If accessing specialist allied health services is challenging for your community, and your school lies in a rural or remote area of Australia, trusted charity Royal Far West can help you via telehealth!
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Describe your current school, its students, the demographics of your school community, and any special challenges and/or strengths.
I am currently Head of Junior School at St Peter’s College, in Adelaide. Saints is an Anglican day and boarding school for 1450 boys from early learning to year 12. The school will celebrate its 170th birthday this year and has an outstanding reputation as a place of learning. It seeks to prepare young men for the world who contribute positively to the local, national and international community. It has produced three Nobel Laureates and 10 state premiers, and is a world leader in the application of the principles of Positive Psychology across the school.
How many years have you been a school leader?
I have been a Head of Junior School for 31 years, leading six schools in four states of Australia.
What motivated you to become a school leader (and when)?
My main motivation in becoming a school leader is that I received considerable encouragement from the principal of Semaphore Park Primary, where I was a classroom teacher, to explore leadership positions in schools.
What was your first leadership role, where was it located, and what were some of your early challenges as a new leader?
My first role was Head of Junior School at St Michael’s College, in Adelaide. St Michael’s is an independent Catholic school for boys from years 4 to 12, with the junior school located on a separate site at Beverley. There were 410 boys in years 4 to 8 in the junior school. The greatest challenge was learning the craft of being a junior school head, with the Headmaster situated at the senior school.
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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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As a new principal, what was the most useful lesson you ever learned from a more experienced principal colleague?
As a new Head, the most useful lesson I learnt from a more experienced principal was the maxim, ‘The spirit of the staffroom will be the spirit of the school.’ His view was that a school is only as good as the morale, professional collaboration and support that exists amongst its staff community.
What makes you smile at work?
What makes me smile at work is that I always feel young and energised. No matter my age and the number of senior moments I may have, the reality is that children keep me young in mind and heart. In a boy’s school, where often ‘what you see is what you get’, I am constantly laughing and smiling at what I see and hear. And the best thing is that most boys don’t even know they are being funny when you’re actually cracking up inside.
In managing your staff, what are your most valuable skills and beliefs?
The most important belief I have about schools is that each leader needs to determine where he/she wants to set the high jump bar in their school. They then need to let the staff, students and parents know where the bar is and be deeply committed to never compromising in lowering it. Coupled with this is another firm belief that it is only possible to raise the bar to the level you want it to be by focusing on the small things to improve in school. By focusing on the small things to achieve excellence, you are sending a clear message to your school community that, necessarily, the big things matter, too.
What was the best day you ever had as a school leader?
To be honest, I am not sure if I have ever had a best or worst day at work. When I reflect on 31 years as a Head, I have enjoyed so many moments of joy, happiness and laughter that no particular day stands out and, likewise, no day is remembered as particularly tough or terrible. It is critical that a leader stays as calm and as positive as possible and I endeavour to bring these two traits to my role each and every day.
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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 am quite a driven and focused person and I have never ever wanted to stay home and avoid any day at school, even if I knew it was going to be challenging. I am a good problem-solver and I get my energy from interacting with people of all personalities and temperaments. What better way to put your problem-solving skills to effective use and interact with such a huge range of people than to work in a school. Research tells us a school principal has well over 1,000 different interactions with people each day at work.
How do you achieve (or are trying to achieve) a positive work-life balance?
I read with interest, some years ago, research from the Australian College of Education which said that 30 years ago, eighty per cent of deputies in primary schools in Australia wanted to be principals in their own right. That percentage has apparently now dropped to 20%. This is a 180-degree turn around. Why is it so? I can speculate on possible answers but I believe the best trick in this incredibly demanding job is to be able to leave the job at the school gate when you leave each night. That is what has worked well for me. I do not check emails from when I drive out of school at the end of the day until I log back into my computer at school the next morning. On weekends, I do only one check of emails on a Sunday. This then allows you to focus completely on your life outside of school and those people closest to you.
What special measures do you take (if any) to protect and nurture your own health and welfare?
I believe it is critical for your own health and welfare to do a few critical things.
Firstly, make sure you get a solid unbroken sleep each night. This may be only 6 – 7 hours but it is essential in ensuring you stay well. Secondly, keep a check on your diet and eat three healthy meals a day, particularly a good breakfast. No matter how busy I am at school, I always find time to sit down and have lunch. Thirdly, have genuine interests outside of school. Mine is seeing family, travelling with my wife, reading, gardening, walking and going out for dinner. And finally, mix with other Heads at a professional or personal level. My active involvement in the Independent Primary School Heads of Australia for 31 years has provided me with great friendships, collegial support and important networking. These all sound like simple everyday things but I have a strong feeling that aspects of these four things suffer when principals are often overwhelmed by the demands of the job.
What do you see yourself as doing with your life after the principalship?
My intention in retirement is to involve myself in a couple of charitable enterprises, like my mother did for 25 years of her life. These include Meals on Wheels, St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army. I have also considered offering to run a special reading program I use here at Saints with our boys, to a school close to home. My wife has been immensely supportive of me in the role, as I often work 70+ hours a week, and the opportunity to spend so much more time with her will be wonderful.
David Hine, Head of Junior School
St Peter’s College, South Aushtralia
Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988
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