As I write my last president’s report for Connected Leader, I am buoyed by the evidence showing a growing engagement in principal associations by primary school leaders. This positive move is creating a momentum that will build a strong network for aspiring and new leaders, but also ensure our current leaders are supported and can play a major role in the succession plan for the next generation.
I have observed the growth in partnerships and collaboration between employers and principal associations on principal health and wellbeing initiatives. It is finally receiving the focus and attention required to address serious issues with principal wellbeing and, just as importantly, leading to changes in policy and practice around the role of the principal. This will lift status of the role and lead to more people wanting to apply for positions and better retention rates with current principals.
APPA has achieved much over the last four years, including:
APPA has continued to oppose the My School website. My School has resulted in increased competition and negative comparison of schools. Students are the pawns in the battle for best performing schools, therefore curriculum has narrowed and innovation in teaching has been reduced. I would encourage principals across the nation to convince their education minister to drop reporting school results on My School and only report sample testing for data needs. It’s time for teachers and schools to focus on the needs of their students not the needs of politicians, data researchers or newspaper sales. Education is not a commodity based on a share value but should be a right for all students and be highly valued by the community. Schools are not sporting teams in a league. Equity and equal opportunity is lost when excellence in achievement is the only value measured.
The voice of primary principals is being amplified at the national level and the local level. The work of APPA’s national advisory council has provided a collective position on national topics and issues and support the work of state and territory principals’ associations. There is still work to be done, as we move into a national election and the national funding agreements. These agreements will have initiatives that will impact on primary schools and principals. A number of recommendations from the Through Growth to Achievement report are embedded in the agreements. APPA has reservations on several of the recommendations and mostly concerned with the change not having enough consultation on the detail around implementation. APPA has developed a response and identified 13 recommendations that need to occur if real change in education is to be achieved. Our key focus is that governments and employers work with principals to achieve change and build empowered accountability, not compliance, over control and micro management. The key message from principals in the Back to Balance report was the need for employers and governments to build trust, show belief and provide support for the primary school principal.
I acknowledge the tremendous support over my term as APPA President of the APPA Board and APPA National Councillors. The development of policies and positions has been achieved through collaboration and collective contributions. The term ‘leaving our sector hats at the door’ has permeated the meetings. The great thing about APPA is we come to the table with primary education and the children in our care as the primary focus. Our ability to influence and direct policy has been underpinned by the long credibility established and maintained over time. The APPA office staff, Phyllie and Linda, have worked tirelessly to support APPA Board and NAC. Supporting APPA in various roles has been our Executive Officer Michael Nuttall. Michael has been the behind scenes person that has provided advice and feedback, networked with government, completed many submissions, key editor of APPA publications, connected with business partners and been a great support to me personally.
I sincerely wish Malcolm Elliott, APPA’s incoming president, all the best in the role. It is an exciting time in education nationally and APPA has a major role to play. I hope the Board and NAC continue to be proactive and assertive on issues impacting primary school leaders. We know that to create a better position for primary school leaders starts with ourselves and the collective support of principal associations.
Best wishes,Dennis Yarrington
They came in their thousands. Headteachers from across the United Kingdom marching together through the busy streets of London to rail against the endless cuts to schools that have left the country’s schools on their knees, an act of protest unprecedented in the country’s long history. They sought to deliver a message to the government, a cautionary message warning of the rapid decay of an education system already brought low by years of austerity and the impending doom of Brexit.
How did it get to this? As an Australian teacher who has taught here for almost three years this is a question I have asked myself many times. In my quiet times of reflection when all the children have gone home, I sit in my dilapidated classroom and shake my head in disbelief. How did it get to this? Let me paint a picture for you of an education system shattered and broken and may it be a lesson to those back in Australia to tread a different path to that taken here.
At the heart of it all is OFSTED, the government’s school inspectorate. The original purpose of OFSTED was to standardise inspections across the country. Unfortunately, over the years, it has devolved into something quite different, a spectre that strikes fear into the nation’s schools. Poor inspections can destroy schools forever and, in turn, the communities at which they are often at the heart. Schools have no right of reply to the inspections findings, no opportunity to correct areas of needs, the personal whims and opinions of the inspectors upon which the report is founded are published publicly for all to enjoy. A school with which I am very familiar received a failed inspection report that painted a picture of a school alien in every aspect to that I knew so well. Unqualified remarks about the use of racist and homophobic language were splashed across the local tabloid’s front page to devastating effect. The headteacher was sacked and following a breakdown took a job as an Amazon delivery driver. Teachers quit, families left the school and the school will now have to wear that reputation until OFSTED next choose to conduct an inspection.
Teacher morale is at record lows. The current career span of a UK teacher is three years. Schemes similar to Teach For Australia have completely failed to bring top graduates into teaching. Perceptions of stress and pressure make teaching very unappealing to all but a hardy few. There has been a deficit of teaching graduates for three consecutive years now. Pay rates are stagnant and senior teachers and headteachers have not had a pay rise in close to a decade. The result is an exodus of experienced teachers from the school system. I have met second year teachers considered senior staff, deputy headteachers in their fourth year of teaching, even a headteacher five years into the trade. Here the idea of teaching for life is a long forgotten dream. Part-time roles are proliferating as teachers struggle to find a sustainable way to continue their vocation. Vacancies for headteachers are notoriously hard to fill. In my county of Somerset, twenty headteacher positions remained vacant at the start of the new school year.
School funding is in crisis. Specialist programs are the preserve of the private sector. Classroom teachers teach everything; languages to physical education, art to music. The result is an overreliance on schemes of work that makes teaching dull and uninspiring. Schoolyards are littered with tired and old playground relics in desperate need of updating. During teacher planning time, classroom assistants earning barely more than minimum wage increasingly cover classes. Australia must learn from the errors of the United Kingdom. School funding must remain a priority for the state governments. Teacher pay must be competitive in order to attract top graduates and teachers must be respected for the trained professionals they are.
Nick East is an Australian primary school teacher living in the lush green countryside of Somerset, UK. He spreads his time between classroom teaching, content writing for Twinkl and raising his three very lovely children.
With farmers suffering through what many are calling the ‘worst drought in living memory’ SchoolAid has today launched its ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ campaign.
The campaign is calling on 10,000 schools around Australia to donate $100 each, and in doing so raise $1 million to go towards hay for drought-affected livestock and hampers for farming families that are struggling with meeting their living expenses.
SchoolAid founder and CEO Sean Gordon said: “Farming families are often the last to ask for help and the first to lend a hand. ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ is about harnessing the collective power of Australia’s youth to help those who have given us so much, both economically and culturally. If you’re a young person and you’re distressed by these images on the news of starving sheep and farmers doing it tough, get involved because there’s now something you can do about it.”
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.
Congratulations to Lesley Gollan of Queensland’s WoodLinks State School, who is the Term 2 Scholastic National Reading Leader Award winner.
Principal Vicki Caldow noted, ‘Lesley is a reading champion who works across the school to develop and implement programs that empower teachers and invites the wider community to support students in practising and enjoying reading.’
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.
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:
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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.
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
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
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Mobile: 0413 009988
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Connected Leader is an official publication of the Australian Primary Principals Association. In close collaboration with APPA, Connected Leader is designed, produced and edited, specifically for APPA members, by Debra J. Crouch, Managing Director of 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.
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