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


September 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I write this having just come back from a hugely successful APPA National Conference in Brisbane. We’ll soon get the ‘official’ feedback based on app comments and, from the many conversations I’ve held with delegates, I have no doubt Brisbane will rate up with APPA’s best. See below for more on the Conference and well done to all!


The full report of the APPA Policy to Practice survey report, titled Back to Balance: How Policy and Practice can make Primary Principals Highly Effective, was presented at the APPA National Forum by project leader Norm Hart. The final report and preliminary report, Infographic page and other papers will be available on the APPA website. The document, Key Elements for Growing and Sustaining Leaders, was further discussed at the APPA Forum, with the final document to be released at the start of Term 4.


The APPA National Advisory Council and APPA Conference delegates soundly endorsed the following statement:

Principals of thriving school communities create and build a culture of shared leadership, quality teaching and high expectations for student learning. They engage and work with others to ensure a respectful and inclusive environment for students, staff and all members of the school community. Supporting the health and wellbeing of our principals is an essential ingredient to successful schools and engaged school communities.

Australia’s primary principals are increasingly faced with diverse challenges that impact daily on their health and wellbeing. In recognising that every school needs a highly effective school leader, it is paramount that principals are given the trust and support they need to lead their schools well.

Increasing work demands, excessive accountability and compliance requirements, and unrealistic expectations on schools should not be at the expense of a principal’s physical, mental or emotional health.

Effective leaders develop and model high levels of adaptive leadership skills – flexibility, resilience, creativity and agility. They also demonstrate a positive health and wellbeing outlook and encourage it in others.

Principals associations embrace the obligation to strengthen the profession, develop our school leaders, and promote practices that support their health and wellbeing.

A signed copy will be sent to all members and I strongly urge you to seek endorsement from your employers and jurisdictional leaders.

A copy has been given to the Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, who acknowledged APPA’s leadership in this area.


Well, what a great conference. It had everything from tingling moments at the Welcome to Country to invigorating and stimulating presentations and fantastic networking sessions.

A huge THANK YOU to the Queensland conveners, Trudy Moala, John O’Connor and David Turner, and organising committee members (Karen Pearce, Stephen Montgomery, Debbie Hansen, Leanne Griffiths-Baker, Lee Gerchow, Bruce Langes and Andy Gordon) for their work done in developing and preparing for the conference.

The committee was coordinated by the energetic and hardworking Conference Manager, Magdalene (Mags) St Clare, with support from the QASSP team.

And while I’m talking conferences, check out the APPA Conference 2018 at:


The report is out and it seems the Minister is still keen to introduce. The State and Territory Education Ministers have not endorsed the idea. The Australian Primary Principals Association does not believe we need a national assessment or standardised phonics test. We would see an emphasis and focus on the teaching of strong reading and literacy skills by all teachers across Australia.

And, secondly, schools are already undertaking their own intervention assessments as part of their literacy program. Teachers are constantly assessing and looking at what their students are achieving, what they are needing and quickly putting into place intervention strategies. We don’t want to wait till the end of term 3 to find out if a student is needing some type of intervention. Schools are constantly monitoring and we have a much more informed teaching workforce in our primary schools, that are aware of students at the end of that first formal year. Schools are very much aware of what is needed to address students in need and we would see that a national one size fits all approach is not going to benefit students or teachers across Australia.

We are also very concerned, as we’ve seen already by NAPLAN and My School, that competition and the production of test results does not show any type of impact in improving literacy and numeracy results. We would argue that collaboration and teachers working together with parents and their community are going to have a much better long-term outcome. APPA will be sending to all members a position paper outlining our concerns and alternative options for improving reading outcomes.


The first winner was announced at the National Conference in Brisbane and congratulations goes to Jane Moore from Ardtornish Primary School in South Australia. Also at the presentation was the principal, Mark Hansen. (Jane and Mark pictured with Dennis)

Murray Hawkins from Scholastic is working closely with us in promoting this exciting program to encourage and inspire kids to read.


APPA encourages schools to join in this across Australia simultaneously sing-a-long. Website:


The APPA Term 3 report is now available on the APPA website.

I wish everyone a restful Term break and great start to Term 4,

Best wishes,

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



8 - 9 August 2017 | International Convention Centre, Sydney As a principals’ association and APPA member, you're entitled to a 10% association discount on any of the EduTECH packages! Use 'APPA10' to take 10% off.

Are you a Masters student looking for a research project to help principals?

Michael Hawton, psychologist and teacher, who runs the Tough Conversations workshops nationally (see registration form) is seeking an educator who is currently undertaking a higher degree to evaluate the impact of professional development in reducing principals’ stress levels. The research would need to be done ‘at arms’ length’ from the programme developers. There is good anecdotal evidence from the 200+ school leaders, who have already completed the program, that it is benefiting members of our association. But, it is important to build the evidence base. There may be some opportunity to liaise with Associate Professor, Phil Riley, who is willing to discuss any design issues. So, if you’re looking for a topic and you want to do some applied research, please contact Michael Hawton on 0422 214 430. Michael can describe the topic and its parameters.

Under the spotlight

September 2017

David Johns

The principal of The Islamic School of Canberra will soon travel to East Timor, accompanied by a former student who is now a plant biologist at Australian National University. Their plan is to help East Timorese teachers build capacity in developing the potential of their students.

Tanya Heine

A Victorian principal’s rewording parts of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta as a school play, with reference to current US politics, has attracted media attention.

Beresford Domic

The principal Bwgcolman Community School, on Palm Island, in Queensland, is trying to boost student attendance from 69.3 per cent to 90 per cent.

Chan Cheung-ping

Citing section 9 of Hong Kong’s Employment Ordinance, the recently increased school board of Hing Tak School, in Hong Kong, was able to dismiss this principal without formal notice or remuneration in lieu of notice. It has been alleged that Ms Chan wrongly manipulated student enrolment numbers.

Robert Emery

The same-sex marriage debate sees some principals publicly walking a difficult line between opposing views.

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 2017

The skill of disarming

This presentation provides techniques for overcoming rudeness, hostility and uncivilised behaviour without becoming defensive, reactive or submissive.

Strategic thinking made easy

Eleanor Shakiba provides four steps to using strategic thinking to plan an organisation’s future. Often, leaders unintentionally block strategic thinking, she says.

Speaking with confidence

Former actor and voice coach Caroline Goyder explains how to use your voice as an instrument and become a self-expressive public speaker.

Avoiding difficult conversations?

The conversations we sometimes avoid with employees are often the important ones – the game changers. Why do we avoid them?

Dealing with a dominant team member

Managing someone who dominates a team requires a leader to address that person’s behaviour. Leaders must also deal with behavior of those who concede to that dominant person and allow themselves become spectators.

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 2017

Avoiding discrimination

An 11-year-old girl’s letter to WA Education Minister Sue Ellery has led to a review of the State’s student dress codes policy, to ensure it is ‘non-discriminatory’. As a result, government schools in that State will be told they are no longer allowed to limit girls to wearing only dresses, skirts or ‘skorts’.

Court rules on assault of principal

The partner of a parent of a year 1 student attending a Perth primary school has been fined $1000 for assaulting the then principal Kylie Moss. Magistrate Leanne Atkins described Kevin Steele’s behaviour as ‘shameful and quite distressing’.

School sued over gender identity

An 8-year-old student identified as transgender is suing a private school in Orange Country, California, USA, for failing to let the child express a preferred gender identity.

Appeal refused

The appeal of a South Australian primary school teacher, sacked after being caught driving while on drugs, was recently denied by the SA Employment Tribunal.

Honour withdrawn after conviction

A 72-year-old Northern Ireland primary headmaster, convicted last year of forgery, false accounting and false representation, was recently stripped of an MBE award gained after 41 years at the same school.

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 2017

Primary school boys with behavioural problems

Murdoch Children's Research Institute's Childhood to Adolescents Transition Study, in Western Australia, recently studied 1,000 Australian school children aged eight to nine-years-old. The study reported that one in five of the study participants showed signs of emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Largest growing religions

Data released on 25 August by the NSW Department of ­Education reveal significant trends in the religious background of government school students, with some commentators calling for curriculum change. Islam and Hinduism were the largest growing religions in NSW government schools this year, with the number of Anglican students dropping by more than 6000.

High intensity exercise and cognition

In the first study of its kind, researchers have discovered that short bursts of high-intensity physical activity, followed by a brief low-intensity activity, increase cognitive skills more than moderate activity.

Figures on school food waste

Three million pieces of whole fruit gets dumped by WA schoolchildren each year, as well as three and half million uneaten sandwiches and 1.3 million unopened packaged foods like muesli bars and crackers. Some schools have joined the Waste Wise program.

Data on optimal learning conditions

This year’s National Science Experiment Big Data Challenge asked Singaporean students to collect data on the optimal temperature for classroom learning.

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

September 2017

Gaining control of your free time

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam offers some strategies for finding time for the leisure activities that really matter to us, within the actual time we have available.

Stress avoidance for leaders

How do the best leaders manage their own emotions and stress? Self-awareness is the key, says the interviewee in this presentation.

Working long hours?

There may not be any benefit at all in working long hours, especially when health and social costs are considered, says this World Economic Forum presentation.

Guide to maintaining friendships

Connectedness with others promotes good mental health. This useful animated guide provides some practical tips on maintaining old friendships.

The value of taking mini-breaks

Dr James Levine explains that the human body is designed to move. He says that it is detrimental to sit for long periods. So, what is the ideal number of breaks in a working day?

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

September 2017

Failure Week

In a bid to curb perfectionism and the need to learn from mistakes, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School, in Melbourne has launched a program where students see failure as a natural part of learning.

Outdoor Classroom Day

Nature Play Queensland has reported that 553 schools held classes outdoors on 7 September as part of the state’s first Outdoor Classroom Day.

Growth of student wellbeing programs

This useful article reports on the growing number of schools that offer student wellbeing programs, with one Melbourne school offering students a wellbeing coach.

Eat It To Beat It

Cancer Council NSW is inviting schools to book a free healthy lunch box session as part of its nutrition program, Eat It To Beat It. Tips include packing fruit and vegetables rather than processed foods.

Fun learning spaces

At Valley View Elementary School, in the USA, classrooms are fun learning spaces that teachers take great pride in designing, often at their own expense.

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 2017

Jarrod Carter

The 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians ‘reflected our desire for learners that are creative, innovative and critical thinkers, but is this ever going to be reflected in NAPLAN or PISA testing?’ 

Emma Rowe

‘While we may be secular on paper, government policy takes a largely empathetic approach to religion in schools, with a stronger preference for Christianity,’ says this lecturer from Deakin University, in Victoria.

Simon Birmingham

‘It is patently ridiculous to suggest that allowing same-sex couples to marry is somehow going to see some new wave of teaching reform sweep across the country,’ says the Federal Minister for Education.

Brendon Hyndman

‘Students engage in more than 4000 recess and lunch periods during their primary schooling, and students ­require a variety of engaging outdoor settings to reduce boredom,’ says this physical education and health expert.

John Gardner

South Australia’s Opposition education spokesperson John Gardner said parental violence is ‘a challenge for our whole community.’ His comment follows the release of figures that show a rise in the number of attacks by parents on children (including their own) on school grounds in that State.

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 2017

Fundraising for disadvantaged students

More than 350 fathers from 20 primary schools across Melbourne participated in this year’s Mercedes-Benz Melbourne Dads Footy Carnival. Money raised by the event’s host, Port Melbourne Primary School, will be used to support its programs for underprivileged children.

School to repay $4.3 million

An independent school in Sydney has been ordered to repay $4.3 million to the NSW government after it was found to have operated as a ‘for profit’ venture for seven years.

Impact of school enrolment zones

This article raises questions about the impact of school enrolment zones on the demographics of particular government school communities.

Catholic community assists international student

The Catholic community of Kenmore, Queensland, recently raised $25,000 to support the education of a five-year-old boy at a local parish school. The boy’s mother, from Sierra Leone, will be studying nursing in Brisbane for the next four years.

Funding for music program for disadvantaged

The Adelaide-based youth arts organisation Carclew has received a grant through Perpetual’s IMPACT Philanthropy Program to deliver a Collaborative Music Education Program (CMEP) across seven disadvantaged primary schools in South Australia.

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 2017

Cheryl Penberthy

Head of Junior School, Presbyterian Ladies College,
Burwood, Victoria

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

Presbyterian Ladies College is a single K-12 site. The ELC caters for girls and boys from six months to four and five-year-old pre-prep programs. The Junior School is from prep to year 6 and the senior school, years 7 to 12, is for girls only. Boarding is available from year 7. Student demographics are quite diverse, with many local students having an Asian background, as well as some international students. Over time, the school has achieved a consistent record of high academic results. Our school mission establishes a clear direction to educate women for leadership, service, lifelong personal development and learning.

How many years have you been a school leader?

I held a Leading Teacher role in a primary school for six years and I have been head of two junior schools, both girls’ schools, one for eight years and, currently, at PLC for six years.

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

As my career progressed, I found that I had taught at every year level of the primary school and had held a number of specialist teacher positions. I felt a sense of responsibility to lead, and that I had the experience, energy and drive to be able to take on a more substantial leadership position. I was in my early 40’s at this stage, after having had some family leave. Being able to affect a whole-school culture is what initially motivated me to become a school leader; setting agendas for improvement and planning for their achievement as a team.

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

My very first leadership role was when I was 12, as a year 6 student, when I was selected to attend a camp at Somers as the only student from my primary school. The main challenge was acting alone. It was a 10-day camp and some children went home because they were homesick. I worked hard so that it that didn’t happen to me. From that early age, I learnt how to be friendly with new people, how to build partnerships in unknown settings, how to use my initiative and how to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

(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

September 2017

Cheryl Penberthy

Head of Junior School, Presbyterian Ladies College,
Burwood, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

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

Don’t sweat the small stuff; it could get worse! It’s hard as a new leader to know when to act and when to wait. As you gain experience and confidence, you understand what the consequences of a response or action might be and learn to wait more. ‘Let me think about that’ is a helpful phrase to practise.

What makes you smile at work?

Other people smiling back at me and enjoying so many moments where we laugh together and care for each other, sharing the joys and challenges of every day. The synergies that occur when there is a strong school culture make everyone smile together.

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

Every staff member is an individual and I accept that they have a life beyond work. I believe my staff all know that I expect great teaching from them but that I also will support them through what life challenges they may face. It’s being able to go through the ebbs and flows of each staff member’s life that grows a staff that is strong and connected. Trust and confidence in each other is a belief that is regularly conveyed. I believe that to manage the ongoing change we continually face in education, and for this change to be adopted, it needs to be owned by all. For whole-school approaches to be effectively embedded, I must be patient and wait for teachers to try things out and see what works for their year levels and for the children. In managing my staff, I pride myself also on knowing the work, knowing the people, understanding what effective learning and teaching looks like and being able to model good teaching myself. I don’t think I have to have all the ideas. Staff are encouraged to generate ideas that help us to achieve our academic /strategic goals. By supporting and affirming them publicly, they understand that they are valued professionally as they continue to enrich the teaching and learning programs of our school.

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

There are so many best days, here is just one. The girls had to vote, out of three staff, for one of them to dress up as a school girl. I won! When I stepped out into the corridor in school uniform, the joy and laughter was just amazing; they were just so excited that I would do it for them! Of course, my uniform was perfect, shoes shining and hem length correct. Fun days like this are just wonderful to share with children and parents. They allow me to demonstrate humility and create a sense of community. That makes me smile as well!

(continued on next page)


Love the job

September 2017

Cheryl Penberthy

Head of Junior School, Presbyterian Ladies College,
Burwood, Victoria

(continued from previous page)

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

The death of a student, parent or staff member is the hardest, when you can’t solve the problem and you can only be a part of the journey. In these situations, you can only be guided by each specific situation and a willingness to walk alongside those most affected, where that is appropriate.

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

For Book Week we were dressing as a character from one of our favourite books. I decided to go as Charlotte the spider, from Charlotte’s Web. The office arranged for my costume and when it arrived they said that they could only get a cockroach costume but that it looked so similar to a spider, the girls wouldn’t notice. As soon as I stepped onto the stage, the girls started calling out, ‘A cockroach, Mrs Penberthy is a cockroach, you’ve got six legs, a spider has eight!’

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

As the leader, you don’t have to own all the problems; some problems need to be owned and solved by others. Go away on quiet holidays, a long way away sometimes, and get a renewed perspective.

If you could name just one thing that kept you going to school every day, even on the really difficult days, what would that be?

I have two things. Love the work is my first one (you have to really love the work to keep getting up every day) and, secondly, break the day down into ‘what am I going to achieve today?’ Always have a plan. If you don’t achieve your goals on that day, there is always tomorrow.

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

I have strong family and church support and encouragement, as well as very good cleaning and ironing assistance. I try not to stretch myself too far outside of work and home during term time, leaving lots of energy to do the job required!

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

Sleep usually solves most problems and the new day always seems brighter. If a problem seems overwhelming, I try to break it down into what I can action and control and what is possibly out of my control, and try not to worry about it. Harder to do than you think!

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

Hmm, good question . . . not ready to answer that yet!

Cheryl Penberthyy
Head of Junior School P-6, Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, Victoria


Managing Editor, APPA 'Connected Leader'

Debra J. Crouch
Mobile: 0413 009988

Connected Leader

Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2016. This whole publication, created as a deliberately selected compilation of internet-based resources, may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA).

Connected Leader is an official publication of the Australian Primary Principals Association. In close collaboration with APPA, Connected Leader is designed, produced and edited, specifically for APPA members, by Debra J. Crouch, Managing Director of straight to the point, to enhance the professional learning of Australian primary school leaders.


The opinions expressed in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, belong entirely to those who created those resources, and do not necessarily represent official APPA views and policies. At times, links to some resources may be deliberately selected to reflect the wide range of views held by Australian primary school leaders, and the views therein may be subject to debate in some sections of the education community. Readers are advised that, in the interests of brevity, not all of the available personal opinions or information about a particular event, development, issue or policy direction may be published in resources made available through links in Connected Leader. Interested readers who require more comprehensive information, or who seek the opinions of all stakeholders, are advised to directly contact the institution/s or persons cited in the resource/s or conduct their own private research.

Neither APPA, Debra J. Crouch nor Vivid Word and Image Design can guarantee, or take responsibility for, the accuracy or otherwise of any of the information and/or views contained in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, or from subsequent webpages accessed via links within (or in material/text following) those suggested resources. The duration of all links cannot be guaranteed by APPA or VIVID Word and Image Design. Nor do these two parties accept responsibility for any loss or damages arising from statements or opinions contained in any published article or advertisement.