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


November 2014

Dear Colleagues,

The 2014 APPA National Conference, Creating the Future Together, held recently in Sydney, was a resounding success on many levels. I encourage all of you to read the keynote papers that will soon be available through the APPA website. You will be challenged to reflect on your practice and uplifted in your work as a result. I am sure I speak for every delegate at the Conference in sincerely thanking the Conference Co-convenors Rob Walker (AGPPA), Julie King (ACPPA) and Narelle Barker (IPSHA) and their hardworking Committee. They provided a conference program of 'international standard' as Phil Harding the NZPF President described it to me.

At the AGM, held in conjunction with the Conference, a number of special resolutions were passed that will change APPA's governance arrangements. In order for APPA to operate at the level of effectiveness we expect, and to comply with legislation regulating the operation of national organisations, our Association is now to become a Company Limited by Guarantee. The resolutions were passed unanimously. Transition arrangements are in place. Secretariat will become the Board and National Executive Council (NEC) will be renamed National Advisory Council (NAC). These changes recognise the evolution of APPA's governance structures over the last five years.

Also at the AGM there were three awards of Life Membership. Rob Hoff (IPSHA South Australia) was recognised for his distinguished contribution to primary education. He has served on the APPA National Executive Council over the past decade in two formal periods.  The first as Federal President of IPSHA, holding observer status from 2000 to 2002, and then as the South Australian IPSHA nominee for seven years from 2005 to 2011.

Rob's contribution demonstrates a wealth of experience as principal of primary schools in both Queensland and South Australia.He has a very clear understanding of the cross sectorial strength of the Australian Primary Principals Association and is a passionate articulator of primary issues.

His wide range of connections across the Australian educational context was a feature of his service to APPA. For seven years he also served on the PAI (formerly APAPDC) Board as an APPA nominee. He was again a strong advocate for leadership development and served as Vice Chair of the Board for two years. It was in his service on the Board that he was noted for his collegial approach across the sectors. Indeed, that service was highly regarded.

In more recent years, he enjoyed serving as a co-convenor for the Adelaide APPA Conference in 2011.

Steve Portlock (AGPPA South Australia) was recognised for his distinguished contribution to primary education. He has served on the National Executive Council for six years. In that time he served in the capacity of Deputy President of APPA and on the Secretariat.

Steve's contribution has demonstrated a wealth of experience both as a principal and from the perspective of President of the South Australian Primary Principals' Association (SAPPA), a role he filled with distinction. He has a very clear understanding of the cross-sectorial strength of APPA.

His ability to lead and develop strategic planning was valued by all as a feature of his significant contribution.

For two years he served on the PAI Board as an APPA nominee. His period of service on the Board was marked by his collegial approach across the sectors. Similarly to Rob Hoff, that service was highly regarded.

In an organisational context he also enjoyed serving as a co-convener for the Adelaide APPA Conference in 2011.

Geoff Scott (AGPPA New South Wales) was recognised for his distinguished contribution to primary education. He provided strong, insightful and intuitive leadership in his role as a member of the National Executive Council during over six years. As President of the NSWPPA, Geoff brought significant insights to APPA contributing to it becoming the respected and influential professional association it is today.

Geoff has had significant influence in providing both input and advice in the development of submissions and advice to federal governments. He has also, in consultation with the executives of the association, provided sound guidance and advice to principals throughout the nation when the need has arisen.

In 2008, Geoff was awarded a fellowship of Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL).

APPA has advocated strongly for many years against the publication of NAPLAN data in ways that accentuate the high stakes elements of the tests, particularly the questionable use of students with statistically similar characteristics data to compare the performance of schools. I used an APPA session at the Conference to discuss our position that publication of NAPLAN data on the My School website does not advance transparency, accountability or school improvement. Delegates agreed and unanimously resolved, ‘To take individual and collective measures to remove school and comparative NAPLAN data from the My School website.’ APPA will provide information on its strategies and suggestions for action at the school level as a result of this resolution.

Dennis Yarrington, Principal of Harrison School, Australian Capital Territory, was confirmed as APPA President-elect for 2014 - 15 at the Conference. Dennis was the founding principal of Harrison School. In building the school to its current enrolment of 1405 Foundation to year 10 students, he has led the school in its focus on values based contemporary learning. Over a successful career spanning both government and non-government school education, he has been a teacher, consultant and principal. I wish Dennis every success as he leads APPA to a position of even greater influence on primary education and school leadership in Australia.

Besides my wife Nancy, there are a number of people I must thank for their support and encouragement over the last four wonderful years. Michael Nuttall has been a close friend and confidante throughout my term. As our Executive Officer, I always had complete certainty that APPA's reputation was enhanced by his every action. I relied on his advice and almost always acted on it without question. I know Dennis will be able to rely on Michael's support. Nicole Toumpas and Rose Nuttall have ensured the business of running APPA was attended to in a timely and effective fashion. I have admired the way they worked in our team and I really valued their loyalty. Leonie Trimper and the PALLIC team in Adelaide are on the brink of a breakthrough that will see APPA gather new evidence about what works in teaching Indigenous students to read. I am grateful for their vision and persistence.

There are too many members of Secretariat and NEC to mention by name, but I am grateful to each and every one of them for their friendship and support. I must recognise the work of Gabrielle Leigh (AGPPA), Peggy Saab and Dave Edwards (ACPPA) and Keith Dallywater, Sally Ruston and Deb Dalwood (IPSHA) who, as National Sector Presidents, have given strength to my arm as I advocated on your behalf. Their wisdom and courage have served primary education very well indeed.

Thank you all. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as APPA President and to be counted among the ranks of Australian primary school principals.

All the best,


Norm Hart
President, Australian Primary Principals Association


Principals in the news

November 2014

Mike Brennan

Mick Brennan, the deputy principal of East State School, in Queensland, explains that his school has always tried to support others at Christmas and that The Giving Box appeal was a great way to do it.

Roger Wilkinson

The principal of Mitchell Elementary School, in the USA, was ‘arrested’, handcuffed and ‘jailed’ for a day at school recently, much to the delight of his students. Mr Wilkinson’s crime was his ‘failure to keep up on his reading.’

Joy Shepherd

Mrs Joy Shepherd, 67, is stepping down as principal of St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls, in Perth, after 17 years at the school.

Sergio Rosato

The principal of St Thomas Aquinas Primary School, in the Blue Mountains (NSW) has been honoured with a rare medal from the Pope during community commemorations for the anniversary of the 2013 bushfire disaster.

Jo Regester

To mark the recent retirement of assistant principal Jo Regester from Orchard Grove Primary School, in Victoria, a foundation has been set up in her name to help struggling and disadvantaged 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

Opinion and analysis

November 2014

Tom Elliott

With the Victorian election only weeks away, this commentator asks if it is appropriate for a primary school teacher wear an allegedly politically inspired t-shirt to school.

Chris Curtis

'...the quality of leadership has declined and thus those in principal positions now demand the powers of a bully to succeed, whereas their colleagues in the past just needed to understand that they were the first among equals leading a team of professionals', says this controversial critic of decentralisation.

Primary students criticise NAPLAN

Two students, from Greenhills Primary School, in Greensborough, Victoria, criticised the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy in an essay they wrote for a school assignment.

Frank Sal

According to the President of VASSP, ‘the coming [Victorian] state election is important to the future of public education. Public education, as a meaningful and quality service to all, really is in the balance.’

Face veils for primary school teachers?

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said that concerns that young children would struggle to learn from a woman wearing a veil were ‘largely misplaced’ and that there are other ways to ‘read’ what people are saying.

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Research, reports and statistics

Nov 2014

Mental rest and reflection boost learning

Researchers at the University of Texas have shown that the right kind of mental rest and reflection (including daydreaming) enhances future learning.

Why important education research often gets ignored

According to the British Educational Research Association, the professional development undertaken by teachers is ‘fragmented, occasional and insufficiently informed by research.’ Professor Dennis Hayes asks why this is the case.

Study finds leadership is mostly learned

University of Illinois professors Doctors Kari Keating, David Rosch and Lisa Burgoon report that leaders are made, not born, and that leadership development follows a specific progression.

Retraining the brains of children with ADHD

Researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, recently received funding to examine whether training of specific brain wave frequencies is an effective treatment for relieving ADHD symptoms and reducing the need for ongoing medication in these children.

Poor decision-making skills and later behavioural problems

If poor decision-making patterns can be identified while children are still young, parents, educators and health professionals may have an opportunity to intervene and help those children enhance these skills, says a psychology researcher from the University of Oregon.

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

November 2014

Free swimming lessons?

Both contesting Labor and Liberal parties in Victoria are considering free swimming lessons for primary children, as the State records its highest number of drownings in 10 years.

Devastating fire causes $1million damage

Eight classrooms were destroyed by fire at Victor Harbor Primary School, in South Australia.

NAPLAN scores worsen in disadvantaged schools

The NAPLAN scores of students in disadvantaged schools have worsened since the Gonski Report on school funding was handed down four years ago. Data shows that equity and disadvantage in schools has deteriorated since David Gonski recommended a fairer funding system based on students’ needs.

Review of religion in NSW government schools

The NSW Department of Education is to conduct an independent review of scripture and ethics in government schools.

Child protection tensions

Elders from the group Grandmothers Against Removal are asking officials from the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services to consult the Aboriginal community before removing children from their family homes.

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

November 2014

Boost emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman suggests ways to boost emotional intelligence.

Perfectionism doesn’t protect us

Caroline McGraw shares an idea about overcoming perfectionism. ‘We are stronger than we know, and our mistakes actually help us to see that because they reveal our true selves, the ones that endure when our false selves die.’

Ten hours of rain and thunder sounds for deep sleeping

Can’t relax and get to sleep? Here’s some background ‘white noise’ that may assist.

Positive emotion in the midst of stress

Judy Moskowitz, stress and coping researcher at the UCSF Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine, discusses the relationship between positive emotions and health.

How to make work-life balance work

Nigel Marsh lays out an ideal day that is balanced between family time, personal time and productivity. He offers some encouragement to make this happen.

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Policy and innovation

November 2014

Preschools to trial foreign languages

More than 1100 preschools applied for 40 places in the Early Learning Languages Australia trial in 2015. In the trial, preschool students will learn Mandarin, Japanese, Indonesian, Arabic or French via play-based tablet apps.

Robots in the classroom

Students in a Murray-Darling Basin classroom recently took a customised virtual tour around Canberra’s National Museum of Australia, getting up close to an exhibit charting the history of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Teeth brushing at school?

England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has advised Local Education Authorities that many parents ‘do not even realise’ that their children’s teeth need to be brushed. Under the Institute’s proposals, schools will be asked to help children aged between three and 11 to clean their teeth, up to twice a day.

Early intervention programs in poorest NSW schools

An advisory group headed by former NSW education director-general Ken Boston has implemented a five-year literacy and numeracy action plan for more than 300 of the State's most challenging government, Catholic and independent schools.

Circus skills instead of sport?

Social circus can assist young people in developing focus, discipline, teamwork skills and self-esteem, say researchers.

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

November 2014

Assertive communication skills: an overview

Honest communication takes courage, says Debra Fox. This video will provide you with insight into why communication breaks down and doesn't always provide the desired reaction or results.

How to start a speech

What are the first words of a speech? What should be the first sentence of a speech? How can you engage an audience from the first moment? There are three ways to start a speech, says Conor Neil.

Body language: the power is in the palm of your hands

Body language expert Allan Pease examines the power, meaning and techniques of a good handshake.

Three myths of behaviour change

Jeni Cross, a sociology professor at Colorado State University, discusses her work around changing behaviours. Human beings are ‘loss averse’, she explains, and need information about a proposed change to be tangible and personalised.

Good teamwork and bad teamwork

An entertaining animation that stresses the advantages of effective teamwork.

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Money matters

November 2014

Fee increase causes enrolment tensions

Fees are likely to rise at a number of WA independent and Catholic schools, putting pressure on enrolments.

$100,000 goal for school fete organisers

Volunteer organisers at one Melbourne school are aiming to raise $100,000 from the annual school fete.

Push to increase class sizes in Japan

The Japanese finance ministry will ask the education ministry to increase the maximum number of grade 1 students per class to 40, from the current 35, in a bid to cut the education budget for next year.

Fee discounting continues

A Queensland independent college believes that discounting fees is the future of marketing for schools. Using a private online company called School Places, Caloundra City Private School is offering 25% off school fees for most year levels from prep to year 12.

Guinness World Record fundraiser

Carine Primary School, in Western Australia, connected 7,210 Faber-Castell Connector Pens to form an unbroken rainbow of nostalgia stretching 65 metres across their school oval. The world event raised funds for the primary school’s graduating class a Balinese charity for disadvantaged orphans. 

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Love the job

November 2014

Will Wallace

Head of Junior School, Lakes Grammar: An Anglican School
Warnervale, NSW

Provide a brief description of where you currently work as a school leader.

Lakes Grammar - An Anglican School is an independent, co-educational school on the Central Coast of New South Wales. We are one of the four Anglican schools in the Hunter region which come under the auspices of the Newcastle Anglican Schools Corporation. Lakes Grammar is a K – 12 school which was established in 2004 and has approximately 950 students, 500 of whom are in the junior school.

How long have you been a school leader? What/where was your first appointment?

I was fortunate enough to have a really inspirational principal, Anne Mulcahy, when I began my career. Anne gave me the opportunity to spend some time in leadership roles in my first few years in teaching and the encouragement to become an assistant principal and pursue leadership in my fourth year of teaching. She was a fantastic leader who was really gifted at recognising the strengths in everyone and building up capacity in all of her teams. She showed a lot of belief in everyone and gave me a lot of trust and responsibility.

When, and why, did you originally want to become a school leader?

My grandfather, Arthur Jordan, was a principal of a number of primary schools in New South Wales in his career, beginning with a number of small schools on the north coast of NSW, and then later at Lithgow, Kurmond and Oakville. I was fortunate enough to grow up with my grandparents. I have really enduring memories of former students coming back as adults to visit my grandfather. He’s taught some of these former students at Lithgow, in their primary years, and they had since gone on to sit their Leaving Certificate, as a result of his encouragement. This made a really lasting impression on me. How worthwhile was a job where you could make a positive impact on someone else’s life.

What makes you smile at work?

The children never fail to get a smile out of me. It is great to share their experiences in the classroom and the playground and be with a great, supportive team of staff and parents who are committed to the best for each child.

The smiles and enjoyment on the children’s faces as they are discovering their niche at the school make each day worthwhile. Watching children develop their personal strengths and talents throughout the school day – whether this be be learning to play an instrument, debating, enjoying community service and supporting charities, being part of a sporting team or performing at concerts and festivals – is a delight. Just seeing the students, and talking to them about their interests, growth and goals, is a buzz.

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Love the job

November 2014

Will Wallace

Head of Junior School, Lakes Grammar: An Anglican School
Warnervale, NSW

(continued from previous page)

What are you most pleased about in relation to your staff?

The hard work, commitment and passion that they all show in doing the best they can for the children. We are a really dedicated and hard-working team who are always looking for new ways to innovate and grow. Lakes Grammar is really focused on developing strong, caring and productive relationships with each of our students and their families.

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

Recently, we held a KidsMatter launch day to kick-start the KidsMatter program in the junior school. We are working hard to keep building our sense of community. To have so many families and community members come to the school and join in with the children in our celebrations and activities was amazing. It is great to feel that type of buzz in the air!

One of the most enjoyable days - but also days of mixed emotion - were on trips where I took groups year 6 students to visit disadvantaged Aboriginal communities in far north Queensland. The time we spent with the Aboriginal children in their schools and in their communities was magical. To share some of their life experiences, and to see the disadvantage and prejudice that our indigenous peoples still suffer from, is just heartbreaking.

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

The most important things you can have are common sense, a love of children, integrity, an understanding of how children develop and knowledge of curriculum. To that I’d add a passion for God and His word.

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Love the job

November 2014

Will Wallace

Head of Junior School, Lakes Grammar: An Anglican School
Warnervale, NSW

(continued from previous page)

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you as a school leader?

Kicking the football around with some year 2 boys at lunchtime recently, I managed to split my pants and had to scrounge some safety pins from one of my co-ordinators to patch myself up before parent-teacher interviews that evening.

A number of years ago, I was asked to give a pep talk to a large group of beginning teachers at Rooty Hill RSL. I accidentally locked myself in my storeroom getting changed and had to ring a colleague who was doing bus duty to get me out. I almost missed the whole thing!

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

Maintain a work-life balance, as much as possible. Take the time for your family, particularly if you have young children – it’s time you don’t get back. Remember that the children are the most important thing and always make your decisions based on what is best for them.

At the end of the day, being a school leader is about people and your relationships with children, the staff and families. Make time to get to know people. Between 9am and 3pm are the times when kids are there. You can play a part in working as a team to improve their school experience. Leave the emails until later.

If you could name just one thing that kept you going to school every day, even during tough times, what would that be?

Remember why you started. Don’t take the role and opportunity to do something positive for children, their families and your staff, for granted. Every day that you go to ‘work’, be thankful that you get to do something you love. Don’t show up complaining about not wanting to be there. You’re there (hopefully) because you love it. Put as much as you can into every day, as if it was your final day as a leader. When you eventually reach the day that you do retire, and you can only watch, then you will know how much you love something you once took for granted.

Will Wallace,
Head of Junior School, Lakes Grammar: An Anglican School, Warnervale, New South Wales



Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

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