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


May 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We are now well into Term 2 and, before too long, preparations will be on the way for the semester reporting period. At the same time, a few things are keeping APPA also quite busy, including the Commonwealth schools funding proposal, Year 1 Check, Certification for Aspiring Principals, NAPLAN Online, Principals Health and Wellbeing, APPA National Conference, professional learning for school leaders, and national research projects and initiatives.

Our National Advisory Council meets in May and we look forward to the first official Parliamentary Friends of Primary Event at Parliament House. This friendship group is organised by parliamentarians. The co-conveners are Nicolle Flint MP and Andrew Giles MP, and will see MPs with an interest in primary education joining us. Lisa Rodgers, CEO of AITSL, has been invited to speak to the group on the topic of Delivering quality leadership in our primary schools.


The Government released its 10-year plan for funding schools, catching many by surprise. The key components included funding schools based on the SES for each school, indexation at 3.56% for the first four years and increasing funding by $18.6 billion. Their aim is to provide Commonwealth funding at 80% of the Student Resourcing Standard (SRS) for non-government schools and 20% for government schools with the remainder of the SRS being met by state and territory governments and, in the case of non-government schools, parent contribution.

APPA acknowledged the announcement and noted it aligned with our position of being needs based, sector blind, long term, consistent and transparent. We also note that the primary SRS has a higher increase than secondary. Like APPA, each state and territory government and non-government system is currently seeking more details on the funding calculator and determining the impact of funding on individual schools. The Government has a transition fund in place to support systems and schools facing hardship in the transition period.

APPA met with the Department to discuss and present the concerns we have about the changes and impact. A key aspect is how a school’s SES or need is determined. For non-government schools this identifies the capacity of parents to contribute and therefore how much the government contributes. The lower the SES for a school the greater amount of SRS funding is attracted.

The Opposition’s commitment in the Budget response to a comparatively greater funding investment in schools was also welcomed by APPA. The schools funding legislation is before a Senate Committee and our submission will focus on the principles and model of funding. We will also press for indexation at the education cost and highlight the need for early and sustained investment to achieve greater long term returns and better student outcomes.

Finally, there have been different responses across Australia to the government’s plan for school funding. We have an opportunity to influence the model of funding and move away from the funding merry-go-round approach that happens with each election.


The conference theme is Agility, Creativity and Legacy. We, as leaders, need to ensure we are building a future leadership that will carry on the role. The Conference will have a special focus on the Friday for aspiring leaders. Delegates can bring an aspiring leader/s from their school on the Friday can do so at a special rate of $250. Aspiring leaders registering on their own can do so at a one-day rate for the Friday of $295. We encourage you to register soon to take advantage of these special rates.


APPA is working with Scholastic Australia to establish the Scholastic Reading Leader Awards. This award will recognise and celebrate the contribution by a leader to increasing and engaging children with reading. The leader could be a principal, school executive or teacher that has made, or is making, a difference in your school.

We will be announcing winners at the APPA National Conference in Brisbane. So, let’s start thinking of a colleague to nominate. Nominations open shortly.


While speaking of Scholastic, APPA was proud to work with them in supporting schools affected by cyclone Debbie and the floods in Northern NSW. Making personal contact with teachers and librarians in the schools affected, Scholastic Australia provided over $50,000 in books to help replenish school and classroom libraries.

For many years Scholastic Australia has given wonderful support to schools hit by disaster is fully committed to offering the gift of reading to help lighten the pain caused by natural disasters. What better way than to bring many hours of pleasure to schools and students.


Well, there was small sigh of relief by some and frustration by others with the decision to postpone NAPLAN Online. I understand some schools were ready and willing; others frustrated with having committed time and resources to be ready. ACARA has indicated that a trial of NAPLAN Online will be conducted in August. Principals can contact their state or territory assessment authority for more information.


APPA’s survey on policies and practices that support principal health and wellbeing has now closed.

Past APPA President, Norm Hart , will lead the project and we’ll work with him to complete the report and present recommendations at the National Symposium in August.

This Symposium will be held in Adelaide and is supported be Teachers Health Fund. The aim will be to develop a framework that supports every school having a high performing leader and gain a broad commitment to support a national statement on principal health and wellbeing.


The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership recently coordinated a national roundtable of key stakeholders to discuss pre-principal certification. A summary report will be published shortly.

This process will be an important aspect of succession planning for school leaders. APPA is keen that a national framework is developed to provide consistency across Australia for principal preparation programs and pathways. APPA is recommending that we need a national registration body and certification to be assessed by a profession-based body.


Maths by Inquiry: This project is now well into the trial phase for the units of inquiry. Maybe your school is involved? APPA is a member of the reference committee and is encouraging principals to support teachers willing to trial units.

More information can be found at:

Review into Rural and Remote Education: This review will look at the key issues impacting learning outcomes of young people in regional, rural and remote communities. A discussion paper will be released shortly. A literature review has been completed and identified key themes for the focus of submissions and consultations. APPA will develop a submission as well as support consultation meetings across Australia. Consultations are due to begin in July.

Principals and associations interested in receiving a copy of the discussion paper can register at:

CREATE: This project is looking at improving the collective impact organisations and schools have in supporting families in disadvantaged communities. The project will shortly provide access to online resources, including Rumble’s Quest, a measure for student wellbeing. The other project is looking at the strategies principals use to build positive partnerships with families.

Education Council STEM Partnerships Forum: This forum was established by the Education Council to support the National STEM Strategy. The forum brings together leaders from industry and the education sector to facilitate a more strategic approach to school-based partnerships with businesses and industry across Australia. The aim is to develop the engagement, aspiration, capability and attainment of students in STEM.

APPA is a member of the forum and the first meeting was recently held in Canberra. Three key themes were identified – data and information for evidence based programs; professional learning for preservice and in-service teachers and leaders; and, career information and approaches for attracting students into STEM related industries. The forum also heard about the large number and range of programs, initiatives and projects underway in this space. The forum will provide advice to the Education Council to support coordination and development of STEM educational outcomes and partnerships between schools and industry.


Literacy And Numeracy Check For Year 1

The Year 1 Check Expert Advisory Panel has completed its report and submitted it to the Education Minister. We await the release of the report and recommendations.

School Aid Trust

SchoolAid Board supports schools in establishing Kids Ambassador Teams (KATs) that organise social action activities for students. Go to:

Captain Courageous Foundation: My Hero Day 28 July

APPA is supporting this worthwhile event and encourages schools to have their student leadership team organise activities to help to raise funds for Bone Marrow disease in children.

Register at

Enjoy your week and don’t forget to talk to a class or child about a book you’re reading!

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

May 2017

Jodie Paterson

The new principal of Penrith Public School, in NSW, says she will not be announcing grandiose plans as soon as she arrives. ‘It will be about talking to people, meeting lots of people and getting to know the kids, the parents and the community,’ she said.

Pamela Ameling

An allegation that resulted in the three-day suspension of a 12-year-old student, in Wisconsin USA, has attracted international media attention.

Scott Anderson

A heartfelt note sent to parents and students by this Queensland principal has been described as ‘the nicest letter ever’.

Jeff Lyons

A Victorian school’s plan to celebrate International Families Day, instead of holding a Mother’s Day stall, created a media furore, with a senior politician directly lobbying the principal to reverse the decision.

Suzanne Armstrong

North Geelong Special Developmental School will open in regional Victoria in 2018. The recently appointed principal said that ‘it’s very exciting to be able to establish a school from the ground up. With 32 years of experience, Ms Armstrong says she is ‘really keen to create the best possible curriculum and therapy programs for the students.’

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

May 2017

Dealing with passive aggressive behaviour in teams

Passive-aggressive behaviour can be one of the most challenging issues to deal with on a team. It's a veiled form of conflict because the concerns are masked and hard to recognise, let alone deal with.

Women in leadership: tips for success

This presentation by people skills expert, Eleanor Shakiba, looks at common mistakes that detract from leadership success.

Conflict management

This entertaining animation makes some key points about conflict management.

Get your employees engaged

A business CEO explains how he used personal notes, a pedometer and a ‘declaration’ of intent to build employee engagement.

How great leaders make their own luck

Management expert Morten Hansen describes the characteristics that leaders need to help their organisations thrive in times of chaos and uncertainty.

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

May 2017

Alleged legal shortfall

This report alleges that the cleaning contracts of many Victorian government schools fall short of legal requirements.

Legal implications of working from home

Schools that allow some staff to work from home on student-free days need to be aware of the legal worst case scenario.

Truancy prosecutions in South Australia

Last year, the SA Government boosted the maximum penalty for truancy-related offences from $500 to $5,000. Two parents were recently taken to court and fined, after extensive efforts to remedy the truancy.

Principal arrested for Facebook post

An Indian private school principal has been arrested for posting ‘controversial content’ about the country’s Prime Minister, and other political figures, on Facebook. Under India’s laws, Mudassir Rana Mudassir Rana was charged with promoting disharmony and breaching related information technology laws.

Arrest over cyber-attack on Australian schools

Israeli police have charged an 18-year-old Israeli with 74 separate offences that allegedly targeted educational facilities in Australia, shutting down a number of schools in three states. It is alleged that, in 2016, the man organised over 2000 robotic telephone calls that warned schools about (hoax) bombing or shooting incidents.

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

May 2017

Perth study on football injuries

A two-year study of footballers links sport-related head trauma to an increased incidence of depression.

Study on religion and learning outcomes

A recent research project has revealed that the more religious a country is, the lower its student performance in maths and science. The 82-country study showed a negative correlation between the amount of time children spent on religious activities and their educational attainment. The findings have been published in the journal ‘Intelligence’.

Gender, socioeconomic level and learning outcomes

New research by Dr Julie Moschion, from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research, provides some interesting insights into gender, socioeconomic level and learning outcomes.

Hidden injuries

Despite it being illegal in Australia, a worrying number of young girls in our schools have, or are, being forced to undergo FGM, says Professor Elizabeth Elliot, from Westmead Children’s Hospital, in Sydney. Most of these girls are still living with their families, she says.

Parenting style and learning outcomes

Recent research indicates that harsh parenting styles lower academic attainment. What, therefore, is the role of the school in educating parents to help their children achieve optimal learning outcomes?

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

May 2017

Stressed out? Seven steps to take control

Listen to these very simple seven steps and apply them right now to feel calmer and in control.

How to defuse an angry verbal confrontation

This video offers a useful technique for remaining calm during an angry verbal confrontation.

Exercise and mental health

Though it's difficult to imagine exercising when you are depressed or anxious, it's one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

The health benefits of a vacation

While many people know the health benefits of a vacation, many still don't take the steps necessary to reap the benefits, says Ian Cole.

Problems related to alcohol consumption

Dr Frank Gibson, the founder/CEO of the Last Call Program, in USA, provides a list of health and social problems that result from alcohol consumption.

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

May 2017

Tree climbing at school

Since last year, students at Anula Primary School, in the Northern Territory, have been allowed to climb trees at school. Principal Kerry Hudson said students went as far as their skills would allow them and were given set height boundaries. ‘I just sort of see it as being active and healthy and it’s what children like to do,’ she said.

Innovative playground equipment

Grade 5 and 6 students at Grace Lutheran Primary School, in Brisbane, now enjoy Parkour. The outdoor equipment requires students to traverse environmental obstacles by running, climbing or leaping.

Smart phone app draws children to real parks

A new smartphone app, Magical Park, encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park.

Diverse policies on fidget spinners

While some schools are banning fidget spinners, some movement specialists are pointing to the possible educational benefits of the latest schoolyard craze.

Desk cycles

Students at Omro Elementary School, in the USA, have access to a wide range of movement equipment to use in the classroom. Teachers report an improvement in student learning outcomes, behaviour and mental health.

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

May 2017

Margaret Sims

‘There are alternatives to our neoliberal, compliance-oriented education system,’ say this commentator from rural NSW. ‘Should we be following the Cuban education system?’ she asks.

Peter Tait

‘Whether we like it or not, artificial intelligence, algorithms, advances in genetic engineering, nanotechnology and biology are already shaping our world at a pace we can scarcely comprehend. Rather than adding another ‘subject’, we should be looking at the whole purpose of education and asking whether our current systems are still fit for purpose,’ says this British education commentator.

Mark Latham

‘In the leftist laboratories formerly known as ‘government schools’, the teaching of fragility is given higher priority than the values of resilience and toughness in life,’ says this former politician.

Peter Goss

This researcher from the Grattan Institute says there is no evidence of any educational benefit in Indigenous-only schools. ‘I haven't seen any evidence that would say there is an educational benefit to having a school that has 100 per cent Indigenous kids, 50 per cent or five per cent,’ he said recently.

Dean Jaensch

With extra money for education on the table, ‘no one in politics seems to be asking what benefits have there been from the billions of dollars paid to schools in the past,’ says this commentator.

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 2017

Inadequate funding for distance education

Funding for distance education is not keeping up with demand, says the President of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association of Queensland. Ms Kim Hughes said that the significant growth in distance education enrolments was putting pressure on school infrastructure.

Gonski 2.0 set to pass Senate

Following a Senate inquiry, legislation for ‘Gonski 2.0’ school funding is set to pass the Senate, resulting in an extra $4.4 billion a year for Australian schools until 2027.

Reported funding shortfall

Some schools are being forced to reduce or remove sport, art and music classes to make up for a shortfall in disability education funding, says the Tasmanian Principals Association.

Implications of ‘Gonski 2.0’ for Catholic schools in ACT

Not all schools in Canberra are pleased with the Federal Government's new schools funding policy, which will replace 27 different deals made by the former government and transition all schools to needs-based funding within a decade.

Curriculum impact of submarine contract

The Future Submarines project has been the catalyst for the South Australian Government development of a French Engagement Strategy. Aiming to develop the state’s ties with France, the plan includes joint projects in defence, trade, education and the arts. Highgate Primary is one of two schools that have been chosen for the state’s first bilingual French program, an opt-in scheme where children are taught significant sections of the curriculum in French.

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

May 2017

Mr Chris Lawson

Deputy Principal - Head of Junior School - Yarra Valley Grammar
Ringwood, Victoria

Describe your current school, its students, the demographics of your school community, and any special challenges and/or strengths.

I have been at Yarra Valley Grammar for 10½ years, in the role of Deputy Principal-Head of Junior School. Prior to that, I was Head of the Prep School at The Geelong College, in Geelong for 8½ years. That was an ELC-Year 8 Campus.

My current school is an ELC-Year 12 campus of around 1250 students. Approximately 300 of those students are in our Junior School. We are lucky enough to have a property of over 40 Ha and our students come from a wide circle or areas around our school, with the furthest travellers coming from as far as Healesville.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I have been a Head of Junior School for 19 years and was a deputy for about five years prior to these roles. I have also served on the Victorian Executive of IPSHA (Independent Primary School Heads of Australia) as both Treasurer and President.

What motivated you to become a school leader (and when)? What was your first leadership role, where was it located, and what were some of your early challenges as a new leader?

After I had taught for about three years, I was offered a PE role, which included running camps, sports days and swimming programs. I suppose these were the first opportunities I had been given to organise things and I developed some methods of organisation which probably sparked my interest in leadership. From then on, I took on sports coordination, IT roles and year level oversight. My leadership kept on evolving.

In one school, I was charged with the responsibility of working with an IT development team that included an accounting firm, IT engineers, cabling companies and hardware suppliers to implement a school-wide network for a five-campus school. This project went on for nine months. I learned that pre-planning and attention to detail were critical to ensuring that events ran successfully and projects were delivered on time and on budget.

(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

May 2017

Mr Chris Lawson

Deputy Principal - Head of Junior School - Yarra Valley Grammar
Ringwood, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

As a new principal, what was the most useful lesson you ever learned from a more experienced principal colleague?

When I was offered my first Headship, I sat down with my school principal and asked him what would be wise to do when I first set foot in my new school. His advice was not to rush in and make wholesale changes, but rather, look carefully at the way the school worked, learn its culture and look at what needs to be improved. Once I had seen those things, I was able to form a plan with my management team and we began to review curriculum and welfare issues with a view to a great deal of the research that had been presented in relation to the middle years, mainly around engagement and hands-on activities.

What makes you smile at work?

I always enjoy coming to work, but I do really like watching the smiling faces of children. If they are engaged and enjoying themselves in an environment where they can make mistakes as part of their learning, then I am happy. From a staff point of view. I want to see staff working really well together to develop great plans for the children in their classes. Consistency of offerings, development of robust programs and an aim for continual improvement are my goals. Measureable outcomes like NAPLAN results look after themselves if the correct programs are put in place.

In managing your staff, what are your most valuable skills and beliefs?

I think one of the most important things is to be very specific about what you want and what skills you want to see developed in staff. Staff need to be developed and supported but then also trusted to carry out their normal duties. This is where the strength of a team can also kick in, in terms of staff all pulling in one direction.

In terms of underperforming staff, you obviously need to follow the processes set down to try to gain improvement in performance.

What was the best day you ever had as a school leader?

I have been lucky to be involved in several building programs where I was given the responsibility of concept design and then translating that to architects who drew the final plans. I have always visited many similar venues before building and asked the question, ‘What would you do differently if you could build again?’ This information was extremely useful to me.

Seeing your vision become reality is so rewarding. Knowing that all foreseen hurdles have been overcome (for example, inadequate storage, and incorrectly measured spaces) is hard work but the end result makes you feel very proud!

(continued on next page)


Love the job

May 2017

Mr Chris Lawson

Deputy Principal - Head of Junior School - Yarra Valley Grammar
Ringwood, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

What was the toughest day you ever had as a school leader?

Ultimately, the death of a young student is a hard one to face. Unfortunately, I have been through that, although thankfully the death did not occur at school. It is difficult to explain to staff and students and a child’s funeral is always hard to face.

The death of a staff member or spouse is another situation I have had to face and the situations are always tragic. Again, dealing with staff and families and then explaining to students is a difficult task, but an important one to get right, in order for people to move on as best they can.

What was the funniest single thing that ever happened to you as a school leader?

I was involved in a special opening of a school once and we had taught our children a song that would be sung when the Prime Minister and his wife entered the room. Of course, when this happened, the children went quiet and I was left singing on my own! Definitely dressing up as Nemo and being on stage with a group of four and five-year-olds is one of the funniest things I have done. Embarrassing, but the children and their parents were appreciative.

What tips would you give new school leaders about staying positive and keeping their energy levels high?

If you plan well ahead, you won’t be so panicked by things that happen suddenly as everything will be in place. I would also make sure that you work closely with curriculum heads or deputies and then trust them to deal with matters. Having backup that you trust is a big support. Don’t take failures personally, not everyone will agree with you, you just need to be strong in your desire and your philosophical stance on everything.

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 love seeing happy children and staff working hard to provide the best they can for each child. I like being around people and schools are great people places.

How do you achieve (or are trying to achieve) a positive work-life balance?

I am lucky to have a great wife, who is also a teacher, so we both understand the daily chores and pressures. We can talk about things, as we work in different systems. I also enjoy time in the garden, doing handyman tasks and spending time with my granddaughter. I love travelling when I have blocks of time.

What special measures do you take (if any) to protect and nurture your own health and welfare?

I am lucky to have a great boss, who is happy to talk about anything I may need to discuss. I try to make sure I get my 10,000 steps per day, by walking around our large campus and I spend time with family. My doctor is great and we often have discussions about what trends I see in young children, while he is keeping track of my health!

I think the biggest thing to do is to avoid is stress, so I make sure I think things through carefully, plan thoroughly and make sure that I am philosophically happy with decisions before I commit. This helps to reduce panic and last minute changes, and definitely reduces stress for me.

What do you see yourself as doing with your life after the principalship?

Once I finish up, I will need to maintain activity, so I will probably do a lot of gardening, dog walking, handyman jobs and looking after grandchildren. If I do get bored, and there’s nothing to do, I will probably take on some projects.

Travel overseas will also be something I’d like to do more.

Mr Chris Lawson
Deputy Principal - Head of Junior School - Yarra Valley Grammar

Ringwood, Victoria


Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2016. 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 straight to the point, 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.