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


March 2017

Dear Colleagues

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.

Sporting Schools

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
President, Australian Primary Principals Association
Mobile: 0466 655 468



8 - 9 June 2017 | International Convention Centre, Sydney As a principals’ association and APPA member, you're entitled to a 10% association discount on any of the EduTECH packages! Use 'APPA10' to take 10% off.

Are you a Masters student looking for a research project to help principals?

Michael Hawton, psychologist and teacher, who runs the Tough Conversations workshops nationally (see registration form) is seeking an educator who is currently undertaking a higher degree to evaluate the impact of professional development in reducing principals’ stress levels. The research would need to be done ‘at arms’ length’ from the programme developers. There is good anecdotal evidence from the 200+ school leaders, who have already completed the program, that it is benefiting members of our association. But, it is important to build the evidence base. There may be some opportunity to liaise with Associate Professor, Phil Riley, who is willing to discuss any design issues. So, if you’re looking for a topic and you want to do some applied research, please contact Michael Hawton on 0422 214 430. Michael can describe the topic and its parameters.

Under the spotlight

March 2017

Jenny Manuel

Colleagues applaud the honesty and commitment of a principal who did whatever it took to turn around disappointing literacy results at her school. Jenny Manuel achieved what she set out to do and last year she was awarded Victoria’s Outstanding Primary Principal Award. 

Don Spencer

Good luck to the principal of Mary Immaculate Catholic Parish Primary School, in NSW. Staff and students recently entered Don Spencer in the ‘Dons of Australia’ competition. The quest to find the best Don is being run by the DON Smallgoods company. Mr Spencer sees his participation as a way of raising the profile of his school.

Nathan de May

After only six weeks as principal of Toogoolawah State School, in Queensland, Nathan de May is already enthusiastically pursing opportunities to provide his students with more sporting opportunities.

Shane Wilson

Principals require significant resilience in complex, confrontational situations. Most colleagues will agree that the principal of Jigalong Remote Community School, in Western Australia, has a challenging set of circumstances to manage.

Suhail al-Hindi

A United Nations organisation working to support Palestinians has suspended a Gaza Strip primary school principal after he was reportedly elected to a senior position in the terrorist organisation Hamas.

Locally made ethical school wear

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

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

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

Phone: 03 94190222

Learning curve

March 2017

Dealing with angry or hostile people

Psychologist Alison Poulson provides some useful strategies on how to stay calm when dealing with angry or hostile people.

The biggest mistake a leader can make

In this Harvard Business Review presentation, experienced and insightful commentators provide their opinions on the biggest mistake a leader can make.

The inner journey to leadership

Military veteran Leslie Stein tells the story of her personal journey towards peak performance.

Leading with laughter: the power of humour in leadership

Paul Osincup talks about his idea for using laughter to strengthen leadership.

Missing the obvious in employee recognition

Claire McCarty provides advice on how to properly re-engage employees who are disengaged and emotionally disconnected from their work.

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:

Legal eagles

March 2017

Council reverses sound ruling

The City of Cockburn, in Perth, recently reversed its ban on the use of microphone and music during assemblies at St Jerome’s Primary School.

Charges laid over alleged motorbike intrusion

A 35-year-old man is facing more than 10 charges, some of them drug-related, after he allegedly rode his motorbike through the grounds of Cobram Primary School, in regional Victoria. The school went into lock-down in response to the incident.

Parents concerned

Under current bail conditions, a 10-year-old boy, who allegedly raped an eight-year-old student last year, was able to attend an undisclosed Perth primary school until his case was heard in court. A number of parents expressed concern for their own children’s safety, while others reportedly withdrew their children from that school.

Diving and duty of care

When there are no mandatory legal guidelines, principals sometimes need to make judgement calls on what is safe for their students, and what is not. In this case, several WA primary schools have made different decisions on the safety of diving at a local swimming pool. Parents have challenged the decision of one principal and are lobbying to have it overturned.

‘Lines blurred’

A former principal of a small rural school, who was acquitted of all criminal charges in 2015, will be allowed to return to teaching with certain conditions, after facing a Queensland College of Teachers disciplinary hearing. The unnamed educator said that lines got ‘blurred’ in a small school. ‘You almost become a de facto parent in some cases for students at the school,’ he said.

PR1ME Mathematics—based on the world’s best practice used in Singapore PR1ME has been developed by Scholastic in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Singapore.

How does it work? PR1ME: explicitly and systematically teaches the problem solving processes and strategies; uses consistent and carefully structured pedagogy; takes a carefully scaffolded, deep-dive into conceptual development; actively involves students in metacognition; and provides professional learning for teachers.

Challenge your thinking

March 2017

Still not so great to be a girl

A new list of 144 countries, based on an analysis of issues affecting girls and young women, has ranked Sweden as the country that best supports females. According to a report by international children’s rights group Save the Children, Australia comes in at only 21 on the list, falling behind countries such as Serbia and Slovenia.

Cognitive advantage for first-borns

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, have found that first-born children have superior thinking skills to their younger siblings because they get more mental stimulation from their parents.

Online world overtakes television

According to research company Roy Morgan, Australian children now spend more time online than they do watching television. In this 48-minute interview, digital literacy expert Dr Kate Highfield speaks with Associate Professor Ben Edwards, Manager of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Poor report on physical skills

According to a recent University of South Australia study, Australian children are now among the least active in the world, ranking 21 out of 38 countries as screen time overtakes their lives and obesity levels rise. The report stated that children in New Zealand, Slovenia, Mexico Brazil and Botswana are much more active than Australians.

Hand sanitiser poisoning

A worrying report from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, in the USA, where it seems children are ingesting hand sanitiser (sometimes deliberately). In a three-year period, more than 70,000 children under the age of 12 were exposed to sanitiser poisoning.

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


    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!

Balancing act

March 2017

How to gain control of your free time

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam studies how busy people spend their lives, and she's discovered that many of us drastically overestimate our commitments each week, while underestimating the time we have to ourselves. She offers a few practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us, so we can ‘build the lives we want in the time we've got.’

Increase in threats

The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey was released on 14 February. Since 2011, there has been an increase of six per cent in the number of survey participants who reported being threatened by parents or students.

Coping with stress – imaginative solutions

This University of California presentation, Dr Martin Rossman explores guided imagery which uses the imagination to reduce stress, relieve pain, change lifestyle habits, and stimulate healing responses in your body.

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

Robert Waldinger, the current director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, reports what the study has found about true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study, and provides some practical wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

How to turn busy into balance

Being busy is a deliberate choice, says Sara Cameron. In this presentation, she explores why we become busy, and what we can do to feel less overwhelmed and more balanced.

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

Body Esteem Education – Not Just for Secondary Schools

Why body esteem education?

Children as young as 4 are already developing a weight bias – thin is good, fat is bad. It is no wonder then that for young people aged 6-19, body image continues to be a significant and growing concern (Mission Australia Youth Survey, BTN Happiness Survey).

It is easy to see then how body esteem, which relates to the thoughts, feelings and attitudes a person has in relation to their physical self, is closely related to self- esteem.

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.

How can Butterfly Education support your school?

  • For years 3-6, workshops and presentations with consistent, progressive and appropriate messaging and are mapped to the Australian curriculum.
  • Free to BE: A Body Esteem Resource for years 3-12.
  • Staff professional development on the importance of prevention and implementing strategies.
  • For parents, an interactive session to help families better understand body esteem and support the development of healthy body image in their children.

To find out what services are available in your state contact

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)


Something different

March 2017

Boarding opportunity for gifted students

The Victorian Government is building a 40-bed academy where gifted and talented students from the country will be able to board and thereby attend a selective school in Melbourne.

Review of regional education

A review of regional education was announced on 2 March. The review is expected to provide information on the key barriers and challenges that impact on the educational outcomes of regional, rural and remote students.

The Peer Support Program

More than 14,000 primary and secondary students are involved with the Peer Support Program in Tasmania every year, developing skills, understandings, attitudes and strategies to improve their mental, social and emotional wellbeing.

Groodle assists with wellness and literacy

Mooloolaba State School, in Queensland, is continuing its support dog program in 2017, after a successful trial last year. Fleur (a cross between a poodle and a golden retriever) is now integral to the school’s student wellness and literacy programs.

Compulsory sunglassess

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary School, in Sydney, recently introduced sunglasses as part of the school uniform. Former principal Anne Colreavy made the decision after considering research by eye surgeons Dr Shanel Sharma and Dr Alina Zeldovich.

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.

My word

March 2017

Ian Anderson

The president of the WA Primary Principals’ Association has said that if the State Government government would not implement mandatory jail terms for parents who attacked school principals, then the association would look at other strategies to improve the safety of members. ‘If they’re not going to do that, we’d look at second best - panic buttons in every school linked directly to police,’ he said.

Paul Browning

The principal of St Paul’s School, in Queensland, said the Federal Government’s inquiry into ‘Innovation and Creativity: Workforce for the New Economy’ had worthy aims but was flawed because its terms of reference excluded school education. ‘It is not merely the tertiary sector that should be examined from the perspective of growing the workforce’s creative capacity,’ said Dr Paul Browning.

Kelly-Ann Brooks

The mother of an autistic boy who was locked in a time-out room in a Queensland primary school is disappointed in the results of a recent State Government review. ‘It should be banned all together, especially locking kids in these little rooms in the dark, it is a breach of their human rights,’ she said.

Malcolm Turnbull

The Australian Prime Minister recently expressed his disappointment about the lack of progress in Indigenous health, mortality, employment and education. ‘While many successes are being achieved locally, as a nation, we are only on track to meet one of the seven Closing the Gap targets this year,’ he said.

Michael Anderson

‘A landmark Oxford University study found that 47 per cent of jobs would be affected or severely affected by the technological 'colonisation' of human work,’ says this education academic from the University of Sydney. ‘Ignoring creativity, collaboration, critical reflection and communication and leaving it to chance may leave our schools and our kids unable to face the challenges of this brave new world.’

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.

Money matters

March 2017

Placeholder fee

To secure their child’s enrolment in one of Queensland’s most popular government primary schools, some parents are queuing outdoors for as long as 48 hours before enrolment commences. Parents with more cash (or a dislike for camping) are reportedly paying friends or nannies to camp out and ‘hold their place’ in the queue.

Four new primary schools for Perth

The Western Australian Government is set to spend $83.2 million on building four new primary schools in Aveley, Forrestdale, Meadow Springs and Southern River.

Twilight food fair

Ever considered an evening fundraiser rather than the traditional weekend event? This year, St Anthony’s Primary School, in Melbourne, held a twilight fair that featured food stalls hosted by two celebrity chefs from well-known restaurants. Both chefs have children attending the school.

Three farmers offer to pay for teacher

Three WA farmers have offered to pay more than $60,000 from their own pockets to employ a year 7 teacher at the local school. This would allow their children to stay at home, rather than go to boarding school, for an extra year.

Facility provision under the spotlight

Schools in some parts of Sydney are adopting a number of creative strategies to cope with more students than their facilities were originally built for. A ­report last year showed that more than 800 of 2182 schools in NSW are at 100 per cent capacity.

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.

Royal Far West

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!

We can deliver:

  • Screeners
  • Specialised Assessments
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Teacher Capacity Building

(All services are delivered directly into school via technology.)

All schools are eligible for highly subsidised rates!

Contact Royal Far West today for more information

m 0419 700 919



Love the job

March 2017

David Hine

Head of Junior School, St Peter’s College
South Australia

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.

(continued on next page)


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 2017

David Hine

Head of Junior School, St Peter’s College
South Australia

(continued from previous page)

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.

(continued on next page)


Love the job

March 2017

David Hine

Head of Junior School, St Peter’s College
South Australia

(continued from previous page)

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


Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

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