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


November 2017

Australia’s future depends on an educated population that is responsive to a changing world and the challenges it brings.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this Connected Leader finds you well and the challenges of the end of year events and celebrations are energising and rewarding.

This article will highlight the key areas as presented in the submission to the Gonski Review Panel. Our emphasis was on identifying opportunities and making recommendations that can provide the policy and practice direction for addressing the needs of schools and communities across Australia. Two important points were made:

  • There is an urgent need to review and update the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. We need a ‘re-boot’, according to Professor John Hattie, Chair of the AITSL Board.
  • School principals need flexibility together with the support to harness locally based decision-making processes in developing and implementing learning programs for students across urban, regional, rural and remote locations. This flexibility should not come at the expense of school-based support. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not allow local communities to respond effectively to their needs and requirements. Education authorities should be working with principals and local communities to develop, modify or adapt learning approaches and programs for their community.

The following has been developed in consultation with the APPA National Advisory Council (NAC). The NAC is comprised of a representative from each of the state and territory principal associations covering Government, Catholic and Independent primary schools.

What do primary schools need?

  • A new overarching national document that clearly sets out the goals for Australia in the long-term, and provides a structured and focused plan for the future.
  • Dedicated school leaders and teachers with high expectations of student learning and communities that respect and value education.
  • Adequate and equitable resources necessary for each child to reach his or her potential. (Equity across a country’s system is a key strategy for many high performing countries e.g. Singapore, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Korea).
  • Time to imbed effective practices around teaching and learning rather than schools having to adopt constant new initiatives. (This issue has plagued Australian education for many years with stop-start national or state / territory initiatives that lack a credible evidence base.)
  • School leader representation on key education authorities to ensure the voice of the principal is providing insight for policy development.
  • Greater authority by principals, teachers and school communities over the curriculum priorities for their community.
  • A major emphasis to move the profession from a ‘content delivery model’ to the development of school-centred curriculum using the existing Australian Curriculum with the General Capabilities as the delivery model.
  • A national approach that moves to a philosophy of ‘assessment for learning’ rather than ‘assessment for accountability or reporting’.
  • The removal of student NAPLAN results from the My School website. With an autonomous model in mind,
  • schools would elect whether their students ‘sit’ NAPLAN;
  • NAPLAN results would be shown on individual school websites;
  • national assessment would be by way of a sample-testing regime, very much like PISA, to chart the progress of systems across literacy and numeracy domains;
  • existing formative and summative assessments are used to communicate with parents on a child’s progress.

What students learn and how they learn

There is a strong expectation that schools respond to the demands of the workforce and address society’s problems. Although this has been debated widely within the profession, and across the community, there is great confusion on how this should occur. The solution is also compounded by a ‘one-size-fits-all’ assessment priority that has been in place for the past ten years.

APPA recommended:

  • A framework is developed to shift the emphasis from what we teach to the how we teach. (Researchers such as Fullan and Hargreaves, and high performing countries, have clearly identified the need to develop the professional and social capacity of teachers and school leaders as a means to achieve educational excellence.)
  • Greater decision-making authority is given to principals and school communities in identifying curriculum priorities.
  • All children have access to high quality pre-school programs and receive the support needed in the transition to school. Recognising that isolation, distance and transport present challenges for many Australian communities, there should be opportunities in regional or rural towns for government and non-government schools to have shared early childhood services and facilities.
  • In remote area communities, support for early childhood education would need to come through digital / virtual platforms or other connections with deliverers of services.
  • AITSL should develop a bank of strategies to enhance and build the competency and teacher judgement of teachers. (A ten-year researched moderation tool such as ‘Brightpath’, at present being used widely in Western Australia and South Australia, should be investigated.)

Teachers and school leadership

APPA is aware of the challenges facing authorities and communities on attracting and retaining leaders. APPA’s recent research “Back to Balance: How policy and practice can make primary principals highly effective” 14 highlights the increasing workload and compliance requirements impacting on principal health and wellbeing. Changes to policy and practice are required to improve the health and wellbeing of our leaders, and attract teachers to leadership positions.

APPA recommended:

  • Establish a national system of teacher registration thereby providing the flexibility for teachers to cross state and territory boarders without encountering an often cumbersome and onerous bureaucratic process.
  • Professional learning is provided at the local level through existing collaborative structures that support teachers developing skills in collaboration and team teaching.
  • In difficult to staff primary schools, salary and other incentives, such as (safe) housing and professional support, are available so as to attract and retain teachers and school leaders.
  • Establish Central Teaching Schools that partner with universities in delivering flexible and high quality initial teacher education programs that combine onsite and offsite course delivery with in-school experience and teacher educator support.
  • Existing teachers and initial teacher education course students must be provided with comprehensive and ongoing professional learning on managing and supporting students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Such learning focuses on identifying and implementing strong evidence-based strategies, moderating curriculum and meeting the needs of each student.
  • The development and implementation of a National Leadership Framework that supports and accredits the delivery of leadership courses or programs that cover the key roles in school leadership and prepares principals to lead their school community in practical and achievable ways. Provide professional learning for pre-principal and current principals in working with communities and developing community partnerships.
  • Resource initiatives that provide school leaders with access to mentoring and coaching by an experienced principal or networked support structure.
  • Support for the recommendations listed in the APPA report: Back in Balance: How policy and practice can make primary principals highly effective (2017).
  • A national review of school administrative tasks related to compliance and accountability is conducted with the intention of lessening and streamlining processes.

Parent and community engagement

Parent engagement and community partnerships are very much part of the contemporary education setting. There is strong and growing focus on the vital connection between school and home in supporting the learning of children.

APPA recommended:

  • Strengthen and support school-family partnership initiatives.
  • Increase efforts to improve the collective impact of coordinated services by establishing primary school ‘hubs’ where, particularly in disadvantaged communities, broader health, housing, parent education, early childhood and other non-government agencies and services support students and families.
  • Flexible practices, such as sharing school facilities and expertise, working across sectors, combining classes and online classroom interaction with overseas schools, etc are valued and supported by systems and government.
  • Establish virtual schools where students and teachers access courses and expert support. (Policy change at the system level would need to ensure there was no disadvantage in having students attending one school but enrolled in a course across two or more schools.)

Defining and measuring success in education

APPA contends that the My School website has not demonstrated or contributed to any significant change to school performance. School comparisons on the My School website sit alongside a flattening of results and a reported narrowing of the primary curriculum.

APPA recommended:

  • Sample testing for school and system data collection be recognised as providing an effective measure of broad educational outcomes.
  • AITSL develop a core list of standardised and professional judgement assessments that can be used to report to systems and parents on school progress.
  • The removal of the My School website and direct these resources into developing and providing schools with more aligned assessment and evaluation tools for student learning.
  • NAPLAN Online provides sample testing data for state, territory and national achievement trends.
  • A review be conducted of the assessment and reporting needs of schools, ensuring the views of principals, teachers and parents are central to any recommendations.

Identifying, sharing and driving good practice and continuous improvement

APPA is supportive of continuous learning by schools to ensure children are achieving success and growth. However, the focus should be on empowered accountability not compliance accountability.

APPA recommended:

  • Set in place a long-term, bi-partisan plan to embed consistency and strive for school improvement. Develop a strategy, in consultation with principals, to raise the status of, and trust in, school leaders across the country.
  • Develop cross-sectorial professional learning, modelled on the successful PALL and PALLIC programs, in the areas of Digital Leadership and Students with Learning Difficulties.
  • A national portal be expanded for the sharing of resources and evidenced-based practice.
  • Initiate a “Prime Minister’s Learning Innovation Award for Schools” modelled on the “Prime Minister’s Science Prize” so as to highlight, for the community and within the profession, the importance of school education and the development of 21st Century pedagogy and skills.
  • Innovation and action research should be key practices that are supported and encouraged in schools. Jurisdictions need to actively support school initiatives that respond to local challenges.


APPA has recently completed a major survey and report on Policy to Practice. The report, Back in Balance: How policy and practice can make primary principals highly effective (APPA 2017) identifies that the key to ensuring we have effective leadership is trust and support for our school leaders. Trusting and working with principals and teachers to be empowered to lead their school’s teaching and learning will be the difference between successful reform and more of the same.

Schools need autonomy with curriculum priorities to enable context to be a key component of teaching and learning. Assessment and reporting should be aligned to the school’s need and purpose.

Education must become a long term, bi-partisan approach not interrupted by elections or politics. Our school communities need certainty in a changing world. APPA is very cautious of any drop-in solutions from other countries and believes that, while we can learn from other systems, many of our solutions can be found within our country.

APPA believes a key priority for the panel is to ensure that any educational reforms provide equity for all students, no matter their location, context or family circumstances.

With best wishes for the remainder of the year,

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


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.

INSPIRING STUDENTS TO READ MORE, and helping them find the books they will love to read, takes a combination of dedication, inspiration and engagement. We know you bring the dedication to work every day and with our ‘Reading Leader’ portal we hope to help with both the inspiration and engagement to get more kids reading and kids reading more.

At Scholastic we encourage the borrowing of brilliance and through our “Reading Leader Award’ we are seeking out the very best for you to borrow from. Scholastic and APPA are providing a platform to recognise Reading Leaders across the country, so that their ideas and efforts can reach more students, and remind us all to help children every day with their reading journey.

Visit our “Reading Leader” portal for reading programs, professional resources, brilliant book suggestions and more. NO COST offerings, all designed to help you be a better reading advocate and connect your students with books they will love to read.

Meet Our Inaugural Recipient -

Recipient: Jane Moore       Principal: Mark Hansen

Ardtornish Primary School, St Agnes, SA

“Engaging in a discussion about reading and the joy that they can find in the right book has been key to students becoming self-motivated readers” – Jane Moore

“While Jane has championed amongst students a love and excitement for reading, it is the work she has done to assist teachers to promote regular reading that has been the x factor in underpinning successful learning across the curriculum” – Mark Hansen


Under the spotlight

November 2017

Ian Anderson

The president of the WA Primary Principals' Association predicts that a recent staffing policy change represents the ‘beginning of the end’ of the state’s Independent Public Schools system. Ian Anderson says that Independent Public Schools had developed a sense of entitlement to the best teachers and that was not healthy or fair in a government system.

Robyn MacLean

During the recent centenary celebrations for Colbinabbin Primary School, in Victoria, the current principal Robyn MacLean welcomed back five former principals, Barrie Winzar, Keith Ring, Margaret Hoelter, Marty Morris and Kelvyn Miller. ‘Together, the principals led the school for a total of 36 years,’ she said.

Christine Prandl

The principal of Dudley Park Primary School, in WA, strongly supports the Waterwise Schools Program (see:

Graeme Lind

In this video, this soon-to-retire New Zealand principal expresses gratitude for his 46 years in education.

Brad Gaynor

Speaking about the impact of the new Gonski funding model, the new president of Australian Catholic Primary Principals’ Association said: ‘We seem to be in spiral of funding action plans and reviews resulting in confusion and fear of what we are able to provide for families in the future.’

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

November 2017

What is your leadership identity?

Exactly who are you when you walk into your school each day? This presenter draws on the idea that we all have multiple behaviours we call on when we assume particular roles.

How to fix a broken school

On Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s first day as principal at a failing school in North Philadelphia, she was determined to lay down the law. But she soon realised the job was more complex than she thought. With passion, she shares the three principles that helped her turn around three schools labelled as ‘low-performing and persistently dangerous.’

Team leadership: make a mindset change

Management professor William Klepper advices on how to become an egalitarian participatory leader.

How to introduce yourself

How you introduce yourself is usually the weakest explanation of who you really are, says Kevin Bahler.

Power and influence

When people want to make an impression, most think a lot about what they want to say. Stanford University business professor Deborah Gruenfeld warns against that approach. The factors influencing how people see you are surprising: words account for only 7% of what they take away, while body language counts for 55%.

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

November 2017

Nine-year-old arrested

This video shows an autistic student in the USA being handcuffed and arrested after his school’s principal called the police. The unidentified boy was charged with battering and criminal mischief.

School volunteer charged

A 63-year-old WA man, who volunteered at Lake Gwelup Primary School more than ten years ago, has been charged with three counts of indecent dealing with a child under 13.

Legal context of non-payment

Schools frustrated by parents who don’t pay, when it is assumed they will, need to be fully aware of the ‘worst case’ legal consequences of any actions they may take to retrieve expected funds, as this article from New Zealand so rightly warns.

Parent charged over student deaths

A 52-year-old Sydney woman has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death after her 4-wheel drive crashed into a year 3 classroom at Banksia Park Public School, in NSW.

Teacher charged with theft

Sadly, theft sometimes takes place in schools. Here, a grade 6 teacher from a school in Chicago was recently charged with theft after reportedly taking more than $US19,000 from a school account and using the school's parent-teacher council's debit card to make $5,500 in unauthorised purchases and cash withdrawals from ATMs

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

November 2017

Child poverty in NSW

According to a recent report by the NSW Council of Social Services, more than 9800 children are living below the poverty line in the mid-north coast area.

Cultural differences in parental expectations

The third annual Parents Report Card, completed by ASG and Monash University, surveyed 1,800 parents and guardians on their thoughts about education in Australia. It found that Asian parents put a lot more emphasis on the academic performance of their children and are far more likely to be disappointed at poor results.

Irish study on childhood development

A comprehensive study in Ireland provides some interesting links between childhood obesity, poverty, gender, social class and the educational level of a student’s parents, particularly that of his or her mother.

Sleep and memory formation

This study on the formation of memory during sleep demonstrates the importance of proper sleep for learning and optimal performance.

Autistic students and academic performance

A recent US study is the first to track cognitive ability and academic outcomes in children with autism throughout childhood. The findings suggest that these children should be screened for learning difficulties, regardless of their intelligence scores.

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 2017

Sleep hygiene

In this presentation, clinical psychologist Gerry Mobbs provides some advice on how to address sleep difficulties.

Exercise and nutrition for the not-so-young

Dr Stella Volpe argues that it’s never too late to start becoming a healthy and active individual. We just need to face the facts that exercise and nutrition must be part of that, she says.

How much is too much?

This article explains the physical results of drinking coffee, tea and energy drinks, as well as providing a useful benchmark for daily consumption.

Attitude shifting to reduce stress

Avoid being emotionally manipulated by others in the workplace by changing your attitude.

Self-protect from passive aggression

This presentation provides some useful words to say when self-protecting from a passive aggressive behaviour in your team.

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

Something different

November 2017

Replacing textbooks with video games

In reality, when pilots go to flight school, they fly simulated aeroplanes, says the CEO of Triseum. Andre Thomas sees no reason why games can't be applied to more traditional subjects. ‘Why can't we do the same thing in every other classroom, in physics, statistics, and maths? Why should students sit there and be bored out of their heads?’ he says.

It’s cool to be kind’

Far north Queensland photographer Kate Stoter started the 'It's cool to be kind' project after being bullied herself as a child. The photographer takes powerful, positive images of bullying victims and shares them online.

Getting involved in STEM education

We only need look at the national or international reports to know Australia suffers the same problem as other developed nations: students are not engaging in STEM subjects or skills. What is already out there for schools eager to start learning?

Nature School to open in 2018

The Nature School Primary, in Port Macquarie, recently received official approval from the NSW Education Standards Authority.

Climate science games

Australian researchers from Australian National University have developed an interactive game to teach children about climate science. CO2peration teaches children aged 12 to 14 about the impact of climate change.

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

November 2017

Clarke Jones

The decreasing age of terrorists means that deradicalisation programs may be needed in primary schools, advises this leading counter-terrorism expert.

Michael Barber

‘It’s really important that students don’t think of education solely as preparation for the next stage of their life. They should - as they put it at School 21 in London - aspire to “do beautiful work” all day every day.’ This is one of a series of ‘Global search for education’ interviews.

Sadie MacDougall & others

Despite regular mass shootings, much of the USA remains heavily committed to gun ownership, although there are pockets of ambivalence or dissent. In this debate on air rifle training in a school cafeteria, one local resident said, ‘My family has experienced gun violence, and I am not against this program at all. It is the normalisation of weapons in a school environment that I think is completely inappropriate.’

Sharron Healy & Julie Podbury

Co-authored by a Victorian principal and a member of Parents Victoria, the ‘Let’s work together’ document stresses the importance of positive school-parent relationships.

Robert Jackson

‘To include children with disability well, you really need to re-think school,’ says this education researcher from Curtin University. ‘This requires principals to actually take some effort to re-think what they’re here for and what they’re about. Rather than just carrying on the traditional way that’s been going on for years.’

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

November 2017

Funds for public school refurbishment

Just over 90 South Australian government schools will share in an extra $690 million that has been allocated to replace old buildings and classrooms. The schools are spread throughout the state and will typically receive between $5 million and $10 million each. The SA Government said the funding came from the sale of the Lands Title Office, and was not part of the existing maintenance budget.

Who pays for school parking?

During the recent Local Government Association of Queensland conference, local councils discussed the issue of who should have to pay for the provision of car parking around schools.

International education exports booming

After a major data adjustment, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has pushed what was already a record $23.6 billion in annual education exports in 2016-17 up to $28 billion, a 19 per cent increase in value. Education is Australia’s third largest export.

Three tips for primary school marketing

Despite the UK context of this article, the advice provided in this short article is useful for schools seeking to build their enrolment.

Parents demand principal’s resignation

Parents threatened to ‘take the law into their own hands’ after the principal of Mkhuzweni Primary, in Swaziland, reportedly excluded poor children from his school.

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

November 2017

Justine Lind

Head of K-6, Oxley College
Burradoo, NSW

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

Oxley College is a co-educational non-denominational school in the Southern Highlands of NSW. The school was established in 1983 for students in years 7-12 and the k-6 section only opened in 2012. The College ethos is based on Christian values with the aim of providing enlightened education that would rival the best schools of Sydney to allow local families the opportunity to provide their children with a high quality education without having to send them away to boarding school. Oxley College is well known as a leader in implementing the teaching and learning strategies of Visible Learning to maximise the impact for our students. It is an inspiring place to work and learn.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I was fortunate to join the staff of Oxley in 2015 as the first Head of K-6. This was my first role as Head.

What motivated you to become a school leader (and when)?

I have been affectionately referred to as a ‘teacher tragic’ and it’s a label I wear with pride. I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember and I still love it as much as I hoped I would way back when. I also consider myself to be an idealist and so when you have strong sense of how education could, and should be, my sense is you feel compelled to bring those ideas to life. For a long time, my ideal school was a hypothetical notion, but then I was fortunate to teach at St Catherine’s in Waverley, an amazing school and one that inspired me to think that there should be more schools where joy and wonder and a genuine love of learning is nurtured in everything that happens. As a leader, I’ve come to appreciate that not just our students, but our teachers deserve to work in this kind of an atmosphere, as well.

What was your first leadership role, where was it located, and what were some of your early challenges as a new leader?

My first leadership role was in that amazing school that I mentioned. I was the deputy responsible for curriculum and gifted education. My challenge was in living up to the task of sustaining the excellent work that had occurred before I arrived, by the talented leaders and teachers who had created this haven I had found myself in. In practical terms, it was about enacting theory in practice and allowing educational priorities to win out over the many new administrative imperatives. Time management and effective communication remain as key challenges to be managed so that the important work of mobilising others for the good of our students can continue unimpeded.

(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

November 2017

Justine Lind

Head of K-6, Oxley College
Burradoo, NSW

(continued from previous page)

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

I’ve learnt from several leaders to develop the belief that courage is the single most important attribute of leaders. It can’t be manufactured but has to be conscientiously cultivated through our own research and reflection to provide the conviction to follow an ambitious and strategic vision. There are so many influences, stakeholders and imperatives that can chip away at a leader’s confidence, in favour of avoiding risk, emphasising compliance and ensuring administrative procedures that we can succumb to mediocrity and merely maintaining the status quo. Please don’t be mistaken, I don’t believe these things should be ignored; safety and security of students is our most important task, but it is the minimum benchmark. The contemporary world is so dynamic and so rapidly changing that, if we are not keeping pace with it, we are falling behind. Education is one of the most complex professions there is due to the fragility of each child, the variety of stakeholders, the breadth of relevant knowledge and the significance of the task of preparing the next generation of future-makers. We need confidence and commitment to be sure-footed in the paths we take.

What makes you smile at work?

I love that notion of asking, ‘What makes your heart sing?’ For me, it is those days when you see students empowered and self-determining. It might be as quiet as the kindy child who shares that it is their first day getting off at turning circle and walking in by themselves, or taking a friend to the office to ensure the adults provide the much needed band-aide or ice pack. Later, it is the older student who has embarked on an inquiry process and then comes into class one day and, without actually saying anything, walks taller and stronger and you can sense that they really hope you don’t need to spend too long talking today as they have learning they need to get on with. Their plan has become clear, they’ve taken ownership of their learning and they respectfully need us to get out of the way. Our role is to prepare independent, self-motivated adults and these small moments are visible steps along that journey.

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

I’m not sure it is a skill but I always try to keep it real with my team. I try always to deal in truth, and to be honest and transparent. I guess my belief is that if we are thoughtful in our leadership it is easier to give reasons for decisions and even to justify unpopular or inconvenient requests. I try to be humble and open to negotiations or questions, to delve into the grey of life and explain the complexity as much as possible. I’m not much into rules but value principles and reasons. In becoming a leader I’ve found a new respect for every member of a team, I see now that the leader is not the top of the team, they just fulfil a different function than others but one that is no more important.

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

I can’t recall one best day. I think as a leader my success lies in the success of others and the small and big wins that happen every day in a school. As a school, we’ve done a great deal of work to transform the learning landscape in our classrooms. We’ve taken the roof off our expectations for students, expanded opportunities for student choice and voice and the achievement and level of engagement has been profound. Every teacher in our team is open to learning and I feel so proud of what they achieve and inspire in their students every day. The great thing about this is the feedback that inspires future success, the teachers celebrate the students but also the students’ achievement and response to learning experiences provide immediate and positive feedback to the teachers who see the impact of their actions every day. This makes every day a vibrant and inspiring experience.

(continued on next page)


Love the job

November 2017

Justine Lind

Head of K-6, Oxley College
Burradoo, NSW

(continued from previous page)

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

The tough days would be common to every leader. Those are the days when we are called on to support those children, families or colleagues in crisis. It takes an emotional toll to support others when you have no or little power to effect a positive outcome. The strength comes in small but significant ways; knowing that our nurturing community provides support, sometimes even unknowingly, or normalcy for a child for whom that is the most valuable thing at the time. It is the cost of the intense privilege that comes from working with families on an intimate level from time to time. When families are able to share their experiences with us, we can see a faint glimmer of light in their time of darkness that can be fanned by a sense of working together for the good of a child in need.

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

I can’t recall one funniest thing and I sense I’m a little too passionate about learning to be funny myself but we do like to foster a sense of fun. We have a number of teachers who are good at laughing at themselves, with children and colleagues. We laugh a lot when we are tired and silly at the end of a term. Our SRC organises termly events for friend-raising, as well as fundraising, and there is fun to be had in these. There is also an emerging theme of chickens. I was nominated to contribute to our major college fundraising, Pin Oak Fair, last year by wearing a chicken suit on the dunking machine and we regularly end the term with a whole-school chicken dance in assembly. I am only just now putting the two feathery events together!

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

I find myself frequently referring to Daniel Pink’s book ‘Drive’. It is about motivation and he believes we need three things; competence, autonomy and purpose. I’m big on purpose. If I feel philosophically aligned with what I’m doing I can maintain my commitment to the preferred and non-preferred aspects of a task but I’m not disciplined enough to do something without that sense of purpose. Secondly, I don’t underestimate the value of my team. At Oxley, I am part of a wonderful College executive team as well as our k-6 team. Laughter and camaraderie keep things in perspective and maintain a sense of support. On a practical level, there is always someone on the team who keeps things buoyant if your resolve or resources are found wanting from time to time.

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?

Children. Children being children.

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

This is definitely in the ‘trying to achieve’ category. It’s the tragic idealist in me that can always find something else to do in any role I’ve held. It has to be about the pull factors towards other sources of satisfaction and joy; friends, family, home and holidays. My next task is to put some time aside to place the stones into my life’s jar of pebbles and sand to make sure I put first things first. This is definitely a work in progress. Yoga is a long-standing but small first step.

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

As I grow more confident in the role, I sense I am trusting my intuition more, listening to my heart and following my intuition. This helps in fostering a sense of calm and stillness.

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

This isn’t clear for me yet. In my third year of school leadership, I’m still living in the present and enjoying every moment!

Justine Lind
Head of K-6
Oxley College


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.