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


May 2015

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.

Australian Curriculum

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.

Initial Teacher Education

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.

Universal Access

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.

SchoolAid Kids Giving

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 Business Partners

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.

Reconciliation Australia

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:

Best regards,

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


Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Principals in the news

May 2015

Leigh Johansen

On 22 May, the principal of Bimbadeen Heights Primary School, in Victoria, will ride up and down (the very steep) Bimbadeen Drive 233 times, until he reaches the equivalent height of Mt Everest. The fundraising event will assist the family of a student suffering from bone cancer.

Tom White

Former principals and their achievements are not easily forgotten in rural communities. Often, they become part of the school’s heritage. Here, the story of Captain Tom White is celebrated many years after his lifetime, at Gresford Public School, in NSW.

Leisa Neaton

The principal of Frenchville State School has nominated as an ALP candidate (contending against two other candidates) for the federal seat of Capricornia, in Queensland. It's expected to be at least another month before the ALP will choose which of the three will run against the current member in the next federal election.

Malka Leifer

The Supreme Court recently heard that a school council member arranged tickets for Malka Leifer to fly out of the country in March 2008, just days after she was sacked as principal of Adass Israel Girls' School, in Melbourne.

Principal placed on recognisance orde

A former New South Wales school principal was recently sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year recognisance release order in the ACT Supreme Court for exchanging inappropriate images with a child.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Locally made ethical school wear

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

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

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

Phone: 03 94190222

Opinion and analysis

May 2015

Mark Walker

Mark Walker, the principal of Elsternwick Primary School, in Victoria, has been writing a blog for about eight years. The blog features articles on leadership, teaching, professional learning, and much more. It has attracted readers from over 80 countries.

Tom Bentley

Regular state schools risk their student performance by continuing to compete with each other, says the lead author of the Mitchell Institute and the Centre for Strategic Education report. [Schools] ‘need to find ways to share student data, educational resources and teacher expertise,’ he says.

Greg Whitby

CEO Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby has called on the Federal and State governments to provide an education framework, as well as funding that includes the early years. ‘We are talking about two and three-year olds — some schools in Europe are catering for one-year-olds,’ he said

Michael Barber

‘There's a tendency to see data and evidence and attention to detail in conflict with joy and spontaneity and inspirational leadership’ but joy and data are ‘essential elements of great education,’ says British educationist Michael Barber.

Fairness in Religion in Schools (FIRIS)

The parent-run lobby group Fairness in Religion in Schools, which analysed ‘Teen Sex by the Book’ and its companion materials, claims that the material is ‘entirely inappropriate’ and ‘extremely damaging’. It is concerned that that there is no way of knowing how many students are being introduced to this material because religious education is not regulated.

Written by internationally recognised school and early education experts, Your Child's First Year at School: Getting off to a good start, is highly valued as a home and school resource which provides excellent advice to parents, teachers and all interested in giving children the best possible start at school. Order at:

Research, reports and statistics

May 2015

Epigenetic processes

Research recently published in the ‘International Journal of Epidemiology’ provides new evidence that so-called ‘epigenetic processes’ influence brain development to have an important influence on a child’s later ability to learn and their cognitive performance.

Maths and science achievers

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has released a new report that ranks OECD school systems, based on their students’ maths and science test scores.

Different brain-wave signatures

People with different genetic forms of autism may have distinct brain-wave signatures, according to preliminary data presented on 14 May in the USA.

Raising Indigenous attendance in SA

Area schools on Eastern Eyre Peninsula are working on increasing attendance levels after a number of unexplained absences in term one of this year.

Extra uses for NAPLAN data

The 39 Victorian schools that offer the Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL) program use an entrance exam, reports and teacher recommendations as part of their selection process, and many also use students’ NAPLAN results.

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

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

Education news

May 2015

ACT teachers offered pay rise

ACT Education Minister Joy Burch has announced a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for Canberra's 3000-plus government school teachers.

ACARA chief steps down

Professor Barry McGaw stepped down on 8 May after six years as head of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.

New school for Broome

The Western Australian Minister for Education hopes that the Kimberley region's newest school, Broome North Primary School, becomes a hub for the local community.

Alleged management problems

Critics are alleging that the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils is mismanaging its associated schools. The schools receive up to $40 million a year in federal and state government annual and building funding.

Racial slur and teacher violence

Unfortunate classroom incidents, like the one in this video, can be immediately recorded by students and shared with thousands of potential commentators across the world.

For 40 years, Scholastic Australia has been partnering with schools across the country to give kids access to books they want to read through Clubs and Fairs. In 2012, Scholastic gave Australian schools over $11 million worth of Scholastic Rewards. To find out how you can spend Scholastic Rewards on resources and save your budget, visit

Balancing act

May 2015

Men: know your six-pack

Men often neglect their health until something starts to go wrong, usually around middle age. Dr Roger Oskvig has a quick and easy checklist of six things (which he calls the ‘six pack’) that every man needs to know about health and fitness.

How to stay motivated in tough times

‘When so much is out of your hands, it’s important to remember what is in your control. Positive thinking is a strong force everyone can tap into,’ says Brian Tracy.

Defusing difficult people

Nina Godiwalla, the CEO of Mindworks, outlines how to change your reaction to a disagreement in order to create a better situation.

Manage your view of happiness

Steven Hayes critiques various models of ‘happiness’ and reflects on what our expectations should be if we wish to live a life of substance.

The Black Dog Institute

This Australian organisation provides practical advice on how to select, and where to find, a range of professionals who can assist with mental health problems.

Camp Australia delivers after school care solutions, building on the educational experience of school communities. As the nation’s leading after school care provider Camp Australia has partnered with school communities for 25 years, adding value by delivering high quality care, well-trained staff, systems and support. Find out how Camp Australia will add value to your school community at

Policy and innovation

May 2015

Improving Indigenous attendance

A four-year-old program by Olympian Cathy Freeman's foundation has been successful in encouraging Indigenous children from four poor and remote communities to attend school more often.

App smashing

Move students beyond the use of iPads as ‘over-priced pens’ by investigating ‘app smashing’, a term was first coined by Greg Kulowiec (find him on Twitter @gregkulowiec).

Benefits of multi-age classes

Staged learning and multi-age classes are the ‘new classroom’, says education editor, Alexandra Smith.

Healthy food for students

A school in Colorado, USA, has angered a parent by implementing a healthy eating policy that rejects chocolate biscuits for lunch.

Letter to reassure children

Year 3 students at St Paul's Primary School, near Rockhampton, in Queensland, were recently sent home with a note telling them that their NAPLAN results were just one small part of who they were. Children were told that the standardised test did not show what was ‘exceptional and unique’ about each of them.

KidsMatter Primary is a proven mental health and wellbeing framework for primary schools. It provides expert knowledge, tools and support to help schools grow healthy young minds and care for children’s mental health. KidsMatter is backed by the expertise of Principals Australia Institute, beyondblue and the Australian Psychological Society.

Professional skill-building

May 2015

Welcome back

These principals from Hanover, in the USA, remind us that infectious enthusiasm for education must be an integral part of the principalship .

John Maxwell: the five levels of leadership

Dr John C. Maxwell explains how a professional works upwards, through the five levels of leadership.

Effective school leadership

Award-winning US middle school principal, Jeanie Dawson, discusses effective school leadership.

School leadership in England: the black experience

Brenda Neburagho is among a small percentage of black teachers to have made it into a school leadership role in England. Here, she shares the subtle and not-so-subtle career challenges she has faced.

Digital school leadership

In this webinar, US principal Eric Sheninger talks about leading and learning in the digital age, as a model for moving schools forward. Mr Sheninger is the author of ‘Digital leadership: changing paradigms for changing times’.

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

May 2015

Needy schools receive less funding than private schools

A recent Australian Education Union analysis of the latest My School financial data shows that needy government schools are receiving less than nearby independent and Catholic schools.

Music first to face the axe

‘Music programs are often among the first to be sacrificed in response to ever-tightening school budgets, particularly in public schools,’ says Colleen Ricci.

Rapping for charity

St Michael’s Grammar’s head of school, Simon Gipson, has taken school fundraising to another level, with a rap urging people to get involved in a charity event.

Financial corruption in Victoria

Former DET financial manager, Nino Napoli, accused of running a scheme to siphon off money earmarked for schools, has been sacked. Sixty witnesses will be questioned in a six-week Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption (IBAC) inquiry that will investigate alleged corrupt practices in a small number of Victorian government schools.

Parents unhappy about land sale

The Telopea Park School is still trying to persuade the ACT Government to change its mind about selling off the school’s tennis courts and change pavilion.

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.

Love the job

May 2015

Carmel O’Shaughnessy

Foundation Principal, St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School
Western Australia

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).


Love the job

May 2015

Carmel O’Shaughnessy

Foundation Principal, St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School
Western Australia

(continued from previous page)

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.


Love the job

May 2015

Carmel O’Shaughnessy

Foundation Principal, St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School
Western Australia

(continued from previous page)

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

E: O'


Interviewees urgently sought for 2015 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2015 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

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

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


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

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