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


September 2016

Dear Colleagues,

This edition of ‘Connected Leader’ brings a chance to reflect on some wonderful presenters I have listened to recently at state conferences, including WAPPA, SAPPA, QASSP and QCPPA. The conference organisers need congratulations on selecting a great range of keynote speakers and workshop presenters. I know for some, getting out of school or other commitments prevent you attending these events. So for a brief one line about each might entice you to look up their website or contact a colleague who was present for more information.

Brendon Spillane: Speaking with impact requires you to develop a leadership voice that enables people to connect to this frequency. What is the sound of energy in leadership? Be kind, always. Leaders, do not lose sight of what you are asking people to do.

Sue Langley: Strengths are a pre-existing capacity: natural and energising. Do we have performance improvement based on a ‘strengths’ or a ‘weaknesses’ approach? People do their best work when they are in a positive frame of mind.

Simon Breakspear: Leadership is a dance of continuity and change. Differentiation is like conducting open-heart surgery on 25 people at once. Implementation is not delivery. To get better all the time, look at shorter time frames. Learning by doing with evidence-informed practice.

Rabia Siddique: Sum of experiences provides wisdom as life is lived forward but our understanding of life is by the past. Leaders: What are your strengths, your purpose, and what is calling you? The ability to influence change is by the ripple effect.

Ben Gray, Principal at St Joseph’s Gayndah, is congratulated as the recipient of the QCPPA 2016 Daniel McDonald Award for early career principals.

And another speaker worth looking up is Robyn Moore.

I strongly encourage school leaders, especially principals, regularly attend principal association events. At these gatherings, you have the opportunity to discuss and soundboard ideas, and share challenges and achievements. I believe these events are where principals can talk without fear or favour. It is in these conversations that the greatest support can be found: the principal sitting opposite may be the one who truly understands your role. These professional conversations can be deep and lead to new learning or confirmation of a practice or an idea; a chance to reflect or 'shoot the breeze' in a more natural setting, without the distractions of the school environment. I encourage all principals to ensure that their colleagues are attending. It is by inviting others that we build collaboration and networks. This is the real strength of principals’ associations; one that is based on the participation and involvement of principals. 


Being involved is a vital network that will support your work but, more importantly, your health and wellbeing. The Australian Catholic Primary Principals Association (ACPPA) completed research last year that identified three networks that build positive health and wellbeing. The three networks were: work networks, professional networks and community networks (hobbies, sport or social). The vital aspect is for school leaders to have connections to all three. Maintaining our networks requires commitment. This commitment is greatly supported by another colleague. All too often I hear the words, ‘Sorry, I can't get out of the school because this has arisen or I am needed here.’ While this can be the case in emergencies, it should not be the norm. If you have colleagues saying this, then maybe they need to receive a visit with a helpful conversation about how they are maintaining networks.

In addition to networks, the National Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey has identified that passionate leaders who reported positive health and wellbeing have strong social capital within the school.

Here are some features that contribute to social capital:

  • There are strong expectations of behaviour, and clear protocols, policies and procedures for dealing with concerns and issues .
  • There is a positive mindset about the health and wellbeing of everyone in the school.
  • There is strong evidence of working together to achieve the best outcomes for students.
  • Students display positive behaviour towards all members of the school community.
  • A shared understanding of the values of the school community.
  • Staff and school leaders work with a shared purpose and commitment to ensuring the best learning conditions for students.
  • There are clear communication channels and processes, and the community feels informed and follows the agreed procedures for following up issue or concerns.
  • The community is familiar with the school ethos, values, vision and goals.
  • There is a sense of belonging for all and each person is a valued member of the community.
  • There is an engagement in the learning of students by parents together with an avenue to participate in the development of policies and school direction.
  • There are opportunities to be involved in the events and activities of the school.
  • Leaders are trusted and given responsibility to make decisions for their community.

Social capital, then, is the strength that enables principals to deal with the unexpected or unintentional upsets or events that we know can happen in schools.

The Principal Health and Wellbeing survey is due to be completed by the end of third term. Please take the time to complete it.

So, attending your principals’ association meeting or event, like your own health and wellbeing, is a priority, not an ‘if I can fit it in’.

If you are unable to get to regular meetings, then ensure you get to the state or national conference. APPA will hold our national conference in Brisbane in 2017.


At the recent Queensland Catholic Primary Principals Association conference, I shared some initial results from the APPA NAPLAN Online Trial Survey. We received 191 responses from 1100 schools involved in the trial. While the survey showed that approximately 77% of schools recorded their overall experience with the NAPLAN trial was positive, there were a number of challenges and problems experienced in conducting it. The survey reports that approximately 77% of schools indicated that, overall, their school is ready to undertake NAPLAN Online in 2017, while 23% would not be ready for 2017.

Interestingly, a large majority of schools (84%) reported problems with technology and connections. Schools also reported that, in order to be ready, they will need to increase time spent in teaching keyboard and word processing skills, time in teaching and assessing online, and increase technology support. There is also great concern over the viability of iPads to perform under test conditions. Following the trial, 35% of principals estimated it will take four to six days, with 38% estimating 7-10 days to complete the NAPLAN Online tests. The survey showed that 80% of principals reported that more than six hours were required in administration and setup for the trial test. Approximately 41% of principals indicated that year 3 Writing should remain a pencil and paper test, with 20% undecided, 24% either, and 14% agreed with online.

We have collated the comments and sent the report out via NAC members. APPA encourages principals to discuss the challenges with their state or territory associations and education leaders. Each State Territory Minister will decide if NAPLAN Online will be conducted in 2017. APPA’s position on NAPLAN Online is on the website. Our main position is that APPA is not convinced that year 3 Writing should be online due to the huge implications it has for practice, learning and resourcing in the early years.

The question remains: What kind of assessment is, and should be, driving teaching practice?

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.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2017 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2017 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Under the spotlight

September 2016

Ted Nastasi

The 66-year-old principal of Caladenia Primary School, in Western Australia, is a nominee for the WA Primary Principal of the Year. Award winners will be announced on 28 November. ‘You don’t do this job for the money; you do it because you love kids,’ he said.

Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons has been appointed as principal of the new $25 million Cairns State Special School, in Woree, Queensland. The school will open at the beginning of 2017. The school will deliver the Australian curriculum through highly individualised programs.

Shane Matthews

A newly appointed NSW assistant principal has been charged with the indecent assault of three male primary school students between 2012 and 2015. In his defence, his mother said that she pities every male teacher.

Galiema Gool

Last year, this assistant principal (vision) from Corrimal Public School, was awarded the NSW Premier's IOOF Centre for Educational and Medical Research Itinerant Support Teacher (Vision) Scholarship, which allowed her to travel around Australia and New Zealand to conduct research and observe best practice.

Roger Herbert

All principals will have, at some time in their career, experienced the negative media consequences of a decision made by a member of their staff, and have had to apologise on behalf of the school. In this recent case, a winning Book Week costume catapulted St Philips College onto television screens across Alice Springs.

Interviewees urgently sought for 2017 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2017 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Locally made ethical school wear

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

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

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

Phone: 03 94190222

Learning curve

September 2016

The disarming technique

Effective techniques for dealing with rudeness, hostility and uncivil behaviour without becoming reactive, defensive or submissive. Maintain your power and dignity in difficult relationships.

Women’s leadership style challenge

Women leaders often struggle with the dilemma of how to be assertive, forceful and task-focused while still being sensitive and relationship-focused, says women’s leadership expert Dana Brownlee.

What is takes to be a great leader

There are many different leadership training programs but the most effective one might be right under your nose, advises leadership expert Rosalinde Torres.

De-escalate anyone, anywhere, anytime

Learn five surprises and three guiding principles that will allow you to remain in control at all times, support anyone, anywhere, with any issue, and avoid a wrong response that could make the situation worse.

How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done

Modern work is about solving new problems every day, flexibly and collaboratively, says Yves Morieux. This expert on productivity warns that an overload of rules, processes and metrics can keep us from doing our best work together.

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

September 2016

Ladders and blackboards

Principals would be wise to note the legal progress of two cases involving alleged injury to teachers. One incident involved a stepladder; the other a blackboard.

New tribunal to resolve school disputes

From 2017, Victorian parents and students will be able to take complex complaints to the Independent Panel for School Dispute Resolution. The new panel will resolve a wide range of disputes in government schools.

Truancy fines

Both major political parties in South Australia have proposed large increases in the fines meted out to parents of chronic school truants. Other proposed measures to improve school attendance include on-the-spot truancy fines and the tightening of legislation to allow for the easier prosecution of the parents.

Police guard French schools

Government-issued guidelines restricting access to schools have been applied across France, in response to recent terrorist shootings. At the Bernard Palissy Primary School, for instance, extra security measures include a ban on parents entering school buildings and the presence of local police at opening time.

Family Law Court rulings and school choice

Disagreements over whether children should go to private or government schools are increasingly being fought out in bitter divorce proceedings.

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

September 2016

OECD comparisons on education spending

The ‘Financial Review’ provides a useful comparative summary of a recent OECD report that examines the relationship between national education spending and class size.

Survey of SA principal workload

A recent survey conducted by SA Primary Principals Association found that principals were ‘generally positive’ about how the State’s 60 partnerships were ‘evolving’. However, more than 90 per cent of respondents said they were spending more time out of their schools and believed that reviews were too frequent. Designed to encourage schools to share expertise and resources, SA partnerships comprise preschool, primary and secondary schools.

Alleged ‘culture of non-reporting’

The NT Department of Education recently released figures on the number of physical and psychological assaults on teachers in the past three years. The figures are disputed by the AEU, which claims that a ‘culture of non-reporting’ has resulted in an under-estimation of the severity of the problem.

UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report 2016

This year’s UNESCO global education report shows that only 64 out of 157 monitored countries were able to offer children a full course of primary school education by 2015.

Teaching maths: what does the evidence say?

This is a useful evidence-based summary of recent research in mathematics education. It is co-authored by Claire Brown, from Victoria University, in Victoria, and Jacki McMahon (teacher) and Steph McDonald (principal) from Makybe Rise Primary School, in Western Australia

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


Balancing act

September 2016

Secrets for a healthy lifestyle: nutrition

Useful guidelines on nutrition and portion sizes for leaders who are looking to improve the way they eat.

How to reprogram your mind for positive thinking

Brendon Burchard, author of ‘The Charge’, provides some advice on how to reprogram your mind for better and more positive thinking. Learn to ‘interrupt’ negative thinking and choose your focus.

How top CEOs cope with constant stress

Justin Menkes, author of ‘Better under pressure’, explains why today's leaders need realistic optimism, subservience to purpose and the ability to find order in chaos.

Take care of yourself

Oprah Winfrey emphasises the importance of self-care. ‘Keep your own self full,’ she advises, so you can ‘give your all’ to others.

Laughter yoga

Relieve stress with this new form of relaxation. This 20-minute laughter workout video is designed to improve your mood.

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

September 2016

Bespoke school for seriously ill children

Seriously ill children in Victoria will soon benefit from the construction of a $6.8 million school on the grounds of Monash Children’s Hospital, in south-east Melbourne. In addition, systems will be installed on each hospital bed so long-term patients can video-conference with their own school.

Private businesses to manage failing schools

Controversy surrounds a decision by the Liberian Government to invite private companies and NGOs to take over the day-to-day running of 120 primary schools. The decision is an attempt by the Africa country to improve a reportedly failing education system.

Social gender transitioning

A primary school in Melbourne recently sent a letter to parents requesting them to ‘assist us with the gender choice of a [year 4] student who is currently transitioning’. Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh said she was aware of two other cases of primary school students changing their gender in the past five years. ‘It’s something that has to be dealt with so carefully,’ she said.

The latest in classroom design

Reported on the Smithsonian Institute website, the peer-to-peer website, room2learn, offers both small-scale and big-picture ideas for rethinking classroom design.

‘Mindful moment’ to replace prayer

The sound of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ recited over the public address system at the start of each day has now been replaced with a ‘mindful moment’ of silence at Lindale Elementary School in Moose Jaw, Canada. ‘I don’t understand the purpose of having religious worship for one religion at a public school,’ said Dusti Hennenfent, the parent who initiated the 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

September 2016

Paul Tobias

A Catholic school principal from Geelong, in Victoria, has questioned the governance of Catholic schools in that State. Paul Tobias is critical of a ‘culture whereby those who are outspoken can expect the consequences.’

Greg Whitby

‘Just as we can compare Usain Bolt’s Olympic performance across three Olympics, wouldn’t it be great if we could track student performance not only across their school years but into their post-school lives,’ says this well-known educationist.

Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association

The Dirranbandi branch of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, in Queensland, recently passed a motion that would ensure that prospective schools can see the suitability rankings of graduate teachers. Standardised rankings are used by the Queensland Department of Education and Training to rate a teacher’s suitability when applying for positions in government schools. At present, all new graduates seeking employment are exempt from this requirement.

Barry McGaw

‘We need to have fewer teachers, and to pay them more on scales differentiated by skill and role into ‘graduate’, ‘proficient’, ‘highly accomplished’ and ‘lead’, as the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership has proposed. We also need to have more restricted entry into teacher education programs,’ argues this University of Melbourne education academic.

Stacy Fox

Given the increasing trend in many other countries, perhaps it is time for Australia to fully fund a second year of preschool and make kindergarten compulsory for all three-year-olds, says this policy expert from Victoria University.

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

September 2016

Assistance with debt recovery

South Australian public schools are increasingly resorting to a government debt collection service to pursue parents who fail to pay the required ‘materials and service charge’ to their children’s school.

Call for funding equity

In the lead-up to the ACT election, peak community bodies, including the Catholic Education Commission and Catholic School Parents, are asking candidates to commit to equity funding. All groups argue that a student with a disability should receive the same funding, irrespective of the school they attend.

Spending not the only solution

The Commissioner of the Productivity Commission discusses a recently released draft report, commissioned by the Treasurer Scott Morrison. Mr Coppel points out that while education spending has increased by approximately 14% over the past decade, academic results have ‘plateaued’.

New fundraising rules for schools

With more than 30,000 Australian school children being reported as severely obese, doctors are calling for the removal of sweet treat sales from the list of school fundraising strategies.

Time to rethink school funding in Victoria

On 2 September the Victorian Government released its response to a comprehensive review of school funding, claiming that students would be almost $1 billion worse off in 2018 and 2019 because the Federal Government had reneged on the final two years of the Gonski agreement.

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

September 2016

Mr Lee Gerchow

Goodna State School
Ipswich, Queensland

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

Goodna State School is a complex large, urban school in the Western Corridor between Ipswich and Brisbane. The school was established in 1870 and many of our children have parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who went to the school. Many of my staff attended the school or had children who did. We currently have around 765 primary students, with a further 50 enrolled at our Headstart Kindy. At last count, there were 52 different nationalities represented at our school.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I have been an educator in the Queensland state system since 1990 and a principal for 10 years.

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

In the late nineties I began to dabble in program leadership and found more and more that I was enjoying working with adult learners. This expanded further when I took on the principalship of a small three-teacher school where working smarter, but not necessarily harder, led me toward cluster leadership and investing the collective capacity of other school leaders to achieve what we couldn’t in isolation.

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

My first principalship was at Mount Marrow State School, just outside of Ipswich from 2006-2008. My early challenges were feeling I needed to have the answer to every question and the solution to every problem and to be ‘seen’ to be effective. I soon learned that taking your time and finding out about, and acknowledging what you don’t know, is a far more prudent approach.


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

September 2016

Mr Lee Gerchow

Goodna State School
Ipswich, Queensland

(continued from previous page)

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

The value of networking. I became an active member of my professional association and my local school cluster and followed the adage that you get out of an organisation what you are prepared to put in. This includes investing time and energy into your colleagues.

What makes you smile at work?

Whenever I’m having a rough day, if I can I go and hang out with the preps and the kindy kids – always makes the day seem brighter.

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

Active listening is vital and treating everyone with unconditional high regard. I have high expectations of my staff and I believe that they have high expectations of themselves.

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

Harmony Day and NAIDOC are major celebrations at my school and they are always a highlight of my year. Last year, we reintroduced a ‘march past’ parade to the athletics carnival and the pride with which our kids marched, heads held high, brought a tear to my eye. I love the traditions associated with leading a very old (est. 1870) school.


Love the job

September 2016

Mr Lee Gerchow

Goodna State School
Ipswich, Queensland

(continued from previous page)

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

Learning that a former student had sustained serious irreparable brain injury whilst drug-affected. That was tough.

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

Network, network, network! Build the collective capacity of the leaders around you. Don’t try and be the heroic leader/super hero. It’s not possible.

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?

Diet coke and chocolate are the universal cure-all. Having wonderful staff around you who can energise you helps, too.

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

I don’t believe in work-life balance. There’s work and there’s life and I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. The secret is making sure you get satisfaction from your work but also taking time out to do other things. I love to travel and I try to ensure I go somewhere I’ve never been before every year or so.

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

I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. As long as it’s interesting, and I feel like I’m making a difference and a contribution, I’ll be happy.

Mr Lee Gerchow


Interviewees urgently sought for 2017 series of ‘Connected Leader’

Do you love your job?
Primary school principals across Australia, from Catholic, government and independent schools, are invited to contact the Managing Editor of ‘Connected Leader’, Debra Crouch, who is currently seeking interviewees for the remainder of the 2017 series of ‘Love the Job’ (written) interviews. To express your interest in assisting with this project, please contact Debra at: or 0413 009988.

Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 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.