THE APPA team has been busy over the past month with a number of events, including providing feedback on the curriculum review, responses to the teacher education review, school visits, a cyber safety conference and the launch of the Online Reconciliation Action Plan developer. The APPA National Advisory Council (NAC) will meet in May in Melbourne to discuss a range of issues including curriculum, teacher education and APPA project on classroom readiness, reconciliation action plan, students with disabilities, Federation White Paper, ACARA’s next work plan, changes to AITSL, NAPLAN online and implications for schools, principal preparation, aspiring principals summit and shadowing program, and the upcoming national conference. A full meeting indeed and I will provide a summary of the meeting in the next edition.
The following is a brief update on key items on the APPA agenda.
APPA has been very active with developing responses to ACARA on drafted changes. APPA worked with ACARA to establish a representative focus group to provide feedback and advice on the proposed changes. We have welcomed the consolidation of four subjects to the one learning area in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS). There have also been reductions in content descriptors in some learning areas and an increased emphasis on phonics and phonemic awareness in English. We see additional work required in developing resources that can support schools in managing and implementing the curriculum at the school level.
APPA has had the opportunity to meet with the Board of the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) and present our key areas for improving initial teacher education. Our priority areas align well with those of the ACDE. The opportunity to work together on addressing the recommendations from the review was welcomed. We will also continue to investigate the links and partnerships between schools and universities.
We are also conducting a small but exciting project seeking online feedback from principals on the description of ‘classroom ready’, a term easily found in the Teacher Education Review (TEMAG). Keep an eye out for the survey in your inbox, as we are keen to hear from principals who believe they have graduates who are well prepared by the university.
It was very pleasing to hear the news of the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to fund preschool hours for children. This certainty for the next two years will allow parents and schools to plan and manage the arrangements required. The opportunity for all children across Australia to access 15 hours of preschool will enable many children to get a great start. We now need to seek the funding so the 15 hours becomes recurrent, no matter who is in government.
APPA wrote to the Health Minister requesting the ongoing funding of KidsMatter. We have been informed by Minister Ley, that following the review, funding will be extended for 12 months. While this is good news in the short term, a more sustainable funding program is required.
APPA has been promoting this website for schools to give to the Nepal Earthquake disaster. This site enables student leaders to organise fundraising events and support other children in the world facing huge challenges. On 25 June, SchoolAid will launch That’s Not Fair Week. This week is for students to become activity involved in a day of action. Students can select a cause they feel strongly about and develop an information awareness program and fundraising event to support their cause. They can then record their actions and outcome on the website. The week will see student leaders in primary schools organising events to raise funds and awareness for a school selected cause. More information will be available on the website.
APPA is proud to support our business partners. Scholastic Australia is our Premier partner and we encourage all principals to contact Scholastic. They are much more than book clubs and book fairs!
Our Gold partner is Catholic Super, looking after the future of our teachers and principals. At Silver we have Camp Australia, a fantastic afterschool care program provider; Academy Photography, who offer school photos right through to a full publishing and publication service; and Tig Tag, who bring inspiring science resources to primary schools. Our Bronze partners are School Library Software, supporting the school library; and Parent Shop, making parenting easier through online learning modules.
We are pleased to announce a new and exciting partnership with ScopeIT Education. This company is about supporting schools in delivering coding and 3D printing while building the capacity of teachers in these areas. ScopeIT Education is able to run a ten-week program for students in your school and provide professional learning for teachers in the classroom. APPA is very happy to partner with ScopeIT Education as a way of assisting principals to improve ICT education in their school.
Recently in Adelaide, I attended the launch of the online Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Developer. This resource is free to all schools and Reconciliation Australia is keen to support schools in developing a Reconciliation Action Plan or enhancing the one you have already in the school. APPA is also developing our own RAP and will publish it shortly on our new website. We encourage all schools to jump online and see how easy it is to complete and create a living and meaningful document for your school community. Go to: www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/.
President, Australian Primary Principals Association
Mobile: 0466 655 468
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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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Where are you currently working?
I am currently the Foundation Principal of a beautiful new school in Hocking, Western Australia. St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School opened on site on the 20 July 2014, with 14 beautiful kindy children, 13 supportive parents and four eager staff. For six months prior to the completion of the buildings, we were invited to commence our Foundation Kindergarten class at St Luke’s Catholic Primary School, in Woodvale. We are indebted to the principal, David Hunter, and the school board, for that opportunity.
How long have you been a school leader? What/where was your first appointment?
I believe I have always been a school leader without the title of assistant principal or principal. Regardless of our role, every person in a school setting has a shared responsibility of being a positive role model. In our Catholic setting this means to be Christ-centred and to develop open and honest relationships with the parents as partners in order to provide the best possible opportunities for our children to reach for the stars.
In my official capacity as a school leader I have been a principal for 16 years in Western Australia, in both country and metropolitan areas. My first principalship was in a small country town in the Midwest wheat belt area, a hundred kilometres south-east of Geraldton. Our Lady of Mt Carmel School, in Mullewa, was an amazing and wonderful experience, as well as a very steep learning curve on the job! Country life is special, having lived in the country as a child everyone looks out for everyone and the folk pitch in to support the community.
I recall my first appeal to parents for a Busy Bee. Saturday morning arrived and as I walked across the lawn to the school I was stunned to see so many utes and diggers lining the street. Milling around the machinery were dozens of dads, broad brim hats on their heads and an esky in their hand. A shout went up ‘Come on Carmel this is country time not city time, give the orders so we can start moving’.
My own involvement in the community included being a committee member of a Shire initiative for all agencies to work together. I was also a volunteer ambulance officer, which gave me a greater understanding of the community and the particular issues pertinent to the town. In terms of my role as Principal I became a surrogate mother to young Victorian teachers, managed staff housing - buying new beds and putting them together to balancing the Annual Budget. I can go on! When it was time to move on I was heartbroken. My knowledge, understanding and skills were tested, developed and refined during this my first principalship. I am indebted to the parents, staff and wider community for enriching my personal and professional life especially Sue Glasson and Jill Holland (Bone).
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When, and why, did you originally want to become a school leader?
Prior to education I was fortunate to have experienced a very successful career in both general nursing and midwifery. Like all parents when you have children you have so many hopes and dreams. Our first child struggled at school in year one. It was a difficult time for us trying to understand how to help and to find the appropriate support. What else was a parent to do? Apply to Edith Cowan University and complete a Bachelor of Education. Yes, you guessed it; my young son believed only real teachers know how to teach. God bless the real teachers, number one son went on to both academic and career success. I went on to be involved in Catholic education.
So back to the question. Why did I originally want to become a school leader? My desire to be a leader in Catholic education was so that I would have the opportunity to ensure children with learning issues, not necessarily diagnosed problems, would be supported in their learning by providing the necessary building blocks. I loved working in the classroom with the students and building relationships with their parents. However I wanted to work with the whole community to ‘touch hearts’ and guide the staff and parents to build capacity and above all to ensure we provide appropriate learning and teaching experiences to every child in our care.
What was your worst day?
There are so many wonderful ‘light bulb’ days that bad and or worst days become a dim memory. I think the sad days of a child’s or parent’s illness resulting in long periods of ill health and death leave us feeling somewhat helpless, inadequate and extremely emotional. The majority of school leaders blend their professional responsibilities and personal wellbeing in the pursuit of ensuring others have the necessary support and we tend to be unkind to ourselves.
Worst days such as; days of disappointment of one’s own inadequacies, leaving unfinished business, failing to meet deadlines or allowing emotions to get in the way of sound decision-making.
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What makes you smile at work?
So many things make me smile, the top of the voice morning call ‘Hello, Mrs O’Shaughnessy’ or the goodbye call, ‘I love you’. The hugs and sharing of secrets with the younger children through to the older children seeking an appointment to share their feelings and issues. This adds up to trust – children will respond with love when they know you care, love and respect them as an individual in a ‘sea of faces’.
I love to have a joke and a great laugh when listening and sharing personal stories or snippets of what a particular child said or did in the classroom. I make time in the mornings over a quick cuppa with the admin officer, who is always ready for a laugh.
A smile and a high five occurs often because there are so many occasions throughout the day from mastering tying shoe laces to understanding difficult mathematics concepts for the older students.
My love of the role is reciprocated when you catch up with ex-students or parents such as an ex-student now a young married man races down the escalators of a busy shopping centre, picks me up yelling: ‘Mrs O how great to see you’. ‘What are you doing now?’ More recently, ‘I know someone you know’ then a photograph appears taken 16 years ago. I remembered these children, what a buzz. Yes, names and personalities came flooding back.
I love my job in all its messiness, the ups and downs, the good and not so good, the happy and sad times, most of all I love my job because I have the unique opportunity and responsibility to make decisions which have a positive impact on so many children’s lives.
Carmel O’ Shaunessy
Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988
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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.
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