During March there was a change of Director in Tasmania. Frank Pisano who had served on the CaSPA Board for 4 years as a Director and Treasurer completed his term and Craig Deayton from Guilford Young College has joined the Board. In welcoming Craig, the CaSPA Board sincerely thanks Frank for his committed and outstanding service during his time on the Board.
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board is available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
Intuition and evidence: How I built a thriving school culture from the ground up
By Adam Voigt
Community contribution / April 23, 2021
In 2011, I was an impatient and ambitious young principal who had bitten off more than he could chew.
After only a couple of years in the principal position and having recorded some success in turning around the culture and outcomes of a challenging disadvantaged school, I was handed to keys to a new school.
A brand-new government school, Rosebery Primary School in Darwin, was a school planted in an accelerated growth corridor populated by what some would call the aspirational middle class. This was a school that was going to grow exponentially and rapidly.
Even twelve months before the school’s opening, enrolments started to flow in steadily and interest from teachers in joining the staff of the school grew too. By the time that we did open, around 350 students assembled who had been to 36 different schools on their previous day at school. Thirty-six staff were in attendance, dressed in black RPS embroidered polo shirts so that folk actually knew they were staff, who had worked in their previous day in 35 different schools.
Getting them all onto the same page that I’d begun espousing about our school was going to be quite the task.
As I’d seen these diverse cohorts of both staff and students take shape in the lead-up to Day 1, I’d begun to ponder the enormity of the mission. How does a school leader bring so many personally invested people onto this metaphorical same page without everyone complaining “Well, at my old school...?"
Gradually, I began to realise that what I had on my hands was an imperative not of an operational nature. After all, we may have had 35 different opinions on how lunch orders should get to the canteen in the morning – and we did, resulting in an equally vociferous and pointless staff meeting discussion lasting 45-minutes one day – but this wasn’t what mattered when it came to the school realising its potential.
I also realised I didn’t have a resourcing imperative. Despite the countless hours I’d spent on furniture selection, staffing, learning resources and program selection, this really isn’t the point or the purpose of a great school either.
That said, I’d become so conditioned to the resourcing work that I even developed a model for school commencement that would guide my focus:
I’d managed to thoroughly convince myself that attention and toil in these domains would ultimately determine my success, or otherwise, as Rosebery PS’ inaugural principal.
I was wrong.
As we approached January 27th 2012 and the opening day of the school, I started to listen more intently to what parents were telling me in enrolment meetings and on school tours. I also started paying more attention to the subtext and mood of the conversations and meetings I had with staff.
And then the penny finally dropped. My imperative was not a resourcing one, but a cultural one. Resourcing, you see, is an imperative based on what you’ll do and not on how you’ll do it.
Culture is all about how you work. Focusing less on the what and more on the how would more allow me a greater work focus and allow me to focus on how my stakeholders – my students, my staff and my parent/carer community – will flourish and feel as a result of engaging with me and our burgeoning community.
Everyone has a story to tell about their school. These stories are told at dinner tables, around campfires and in the queues at supermarkets. Schools should be places that generate more positive anecdotes, tales and stories from their stakeholders than negative. I needed to imagine myself as a fly on the wall in these locations and imagine what people were saying about our school. And then, I needed to be brave enough to wonder “How can we make that story more positive, exciting or meaningful?”
I’m no data nerd. I don’t particularly enjoy laboring through graphs and spreadsheets. However, I do want to be a highly accountable school leader who can prove that what he does and decides upon makes a difference in areas that matter.
Every choice we made about opening Rosebery PS must, therefore, be evidence intended. If the metrics we needed didn’t exist, we invented them. And, as we explored our evidence, we did it without attachment to the evidence needing to be eternally positive. Some of our best leadership lessons were learned through failing.
When you’re handed a new school to lead, I think you’re also handed an obligation to change and innovate. After all, if you don’t seize this particular opportunity to challenge existing conventions and traditions in education, to blaze a trail or to shake things up, when will you?
As such, we became determined to trust and build our own professional knowledge and to discard useless engrained school habits. Sure, when you land on the front page of the newspaper for “banning homework” in a primary school, it causes a ruckus. But we can ride that out, knowing that our policy serves our students long after that newspaper has become a wrapper for fish and chips.
Please note: You don’t need to steal my model, although I suggest that taking some inspiration from it might be a good idea. After all, it wasn’t a model built for your school, but mine.
I’ve become convinced, however, that a strong reflective model designed for the how of School Leadership and for sustaining your focus on School Culture can be an incredibly worthwhile pursuit for any school leader who knows that the culture of their school matters, like, a lot.
What would your how model look like?
How school leaders can use ethics to build an inclusive school culture
By Deniz Uzgun
Published April 8, 2021
Ethical leadership plays a key role in building an inclusive school culture, according to Professor Suzanne Carrington from the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology.
Deniz Uzgun sat down with the researcher to find out how school leaders can bring ethics into their leadership practice.
How did that experience shape your views on what’s required to building an inclusive school culture today?
Trinity Beach State School was actually the last place that I was a teacher at. So I’d been a teacher for 10 years in Queensland and in England. At Trinity Beach State School I was appointed as what was then called a ‘teacher in charge’ which was the head of special education. Because Cairns had closed their special school, all children with disability were enrolled in their local primary or secondary school. We were lucky to have a great school leader at Trinity Beach State School, who was really committed to inclusive education. He led the school to work in collaborative and really respectful ways, and valued listening to parents and students. We all developed shared values and vision to support an inclusive culture for the school. And that really took time and commitment. So this was way back in 1990 and we’ve learned a lot, I think, over the years, because there’s a lot more research and evidence to support our work now in schools.
Do you think we have a more clear and decisive definition on what inclusive education means today?
Well, I don’t think we even knew what inclusive education was back then. So yes, definitely. Now, in 2016, we have what’s called ‘article 24, comment 4’ in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So that really gave us a very clear, internationally agreed definition of what inclusive education is and what it is not. So that’s been really helpful, I think.
You mention a quote that states: ‘If it isn’t ethical, it isn’t leadership’. How can school leaders build an inclusive school culture using the three interrelated areas of ethics within a leadership framework?
So this is drawing on Starratt’s (2014) work and it talks about ethics of leadership. There’s three interrelated ethics within that leadership framework; they are care, justice and critique.
School leaders can pursue an ethic of care by valuing diversity, confronting stereotypes, and having high expectations for every child. An ethic of care is the process of listening to the voice of the students, parents and the teachers in the school, and having empathy with different people’s backgrounds and experiences, and honouring every member in the school community.
The next one is about the ethics of justice and that relates to authority and management within an education system, particularly in a school that considers equity and fairness. As a school leader, they’re often needing to make decisions that can impact on people in the school, and sometimes they’re trying to weigh out a decision that might be equitable and fair for an individual, but they’re also thinking about how that’s going to impact on the whole school or a group of children or a group of parents. And that’s really challenging I think, particularly when it comes down to making decisions about resources and student behaviour. For example, when thinking about children’s behaviour, it’s also thinking about their learning needs because often issues around disability and how young people are being accepted and supported can influence their behaviour. So we need to really think about equity and fairness and that comes down to that ethic of justice.
The last one is ethic of critique and that’s really often about trying to challenge the status quo. It is where school leaders look at their school in terms of structural justice and injustice to promote common good, such as ensuring high expectations of every member of the school community. In schools, we have policies, we have rules but we also have done things in certain ways for many years. And sometimes it’s a really important role of a leader to bring in that ethic of critique and think about, ‘Well, is there another way we could be thinking about this issue?’
In an education context that’s increasingly focussed on standardisation, testing and accountability, how challenging is it for school leaders to build an inclusive school culture?
That’s an ongoing international education challenge. I guess one of the key areas of research that we can draw on now is that inclusive schools are good for everybody. So there’s a strong body of research over 15 to 20 years, that can really demonstrate that having a school culture, practice and policies that support inclusive education, has good academic and social outcomes not only for children who have disabilities, but also for children who don’t have disabilities. So that’s a really important point I think we need to make because for some years, there has been a feeling that we can’t have a focus on improving school performance if we’re also trying to be inclusive. And so that’s changed now. I think we’re seeing in many places around the world a stronger focus on supporting leaders to enact socially just change and provide support in equitable ways. There’s been a little bit of a movement there I think, but still an ongoing challenge and we need to be aware of supporting school leaders to balance all of those issues.
What can we learn from schools in New Brunswick, Canada, which are held in high esteem for their inclusive education model?
There’s been a lot written about what they’ve done and how they have proceeded to support that systemic change for inclusive education. They closed all special schools in 1986. It is recognised that their success required strong leadership at systems and school levels, as well as collaborative teamwork. The work is informed by values based on the principles of inclusion where all people are valued and treated with respect. We can draw on a systems framework for change (Michael Fullan) which includes understanding the problem, inform the planning process to inform a clarity of purpose and vision, and communication and collaboration with education leaders, parents, students and the community about the value of the proposed change.
What is the biggest challenge for achieving these outcomes for schools in Australia?
We have many schools in Australia that are really great inclusive schools, but our biggest challenge is it’s patchy. We don’t have a systemic national approach to inclusion. And we continue to still have special schools and segregated schooling. I mean, Queensland is one of the states that has an amazing inclusive education policy, but we still have an ongoing focus on special schools and special education, which is actually in opposition to an inclusive approach.
Why do school leaders need to resist the urge to implement practices leading to rapid improvement and focus more on ‘slow schooling’?
Enacting socially just change to support inclusive education takes time at an individual, collective and theory level. The change will need to be slow and incremental and requires critical dialogue and planning over time with people at school and all levels of education … This is because there is a need for multiple levels of change that considers inequities and injustices and the courage to have the difficult conversations to interrupt and challenge the status quo. It is clear that long-term change requires school leaders and staff to work together over a sustained period of time.
What is some of the work you’re involved in with the Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)?
Autism CRC has been going for about seven years. I’m the director of the school years program and we’ve been working with about 300 schools, in most states and territories around Australia, to develop evidence-based practices that make a difference to students on the autism spectrum in their schooling years. We found that what works in the classroom for children on the autism spectrum often works for many children.
One project involved working with about five different schools around Brisbane to support a whole school approach to school connectedness. School connectedness is where children have a sense of connectedness and belonging to their school, it’s obviously very aligned with an inclusive approach to schooling. As part of that project, we worked with one school that wanted to have a particular focus on students that were truanting from class. The team of support teachers were particularly keen to try and find out ‘Well, why are these students not going to all of their lessons? What are the reasons from their perspective?’ So I went in and did a focus group interview with the group of students, some of them had disabilities, some did not. Some were having difficulties at home and a whole range of reasons why they might have been disengaging from their learning at that time. But once we actually had some conversations with those students, they were able to share with us very legitimate reasons why they weren’t always going to their class. And that contributed to that ethic of care, because for some of those young people, they were having pretty challenging times in their families for different reasons, and not coping very well and didn’t really want to talk about things with their peers at lunchtime. So some of them would take off and have a chat behind the sporting shed, because they just needed to have a chat to each other and they had similar situations. Some would say, ‘I can’t go to that class because it’s too noisy’, because they were students on the autism spectrum and they had sensory issues. And rather than coming forward and saying something about it, they just decided that they didn’t go because it was really impacting on them in terms of their anxiety and coping.
So, once the teachers listened, we were able to work together, to put in some different support systems and opportunities for students to get help, including teachers being a bit more flexible in how they provided learning or how they provided support, access to more pastoral care offices and counsellors in ways that really respected students’ privacy, for example.
At the ACEL Conference, you gave an example of a student with additional learning needs who had been given separate tasks from the rest of his class, and as a result, felt more segregated. What might be a better approach in this instance?
In secondary school we often have students who have different learning needs and so our teachers really need support in terms of their capabilities about providing inclusive approaches in their classrooms. Now we actually have a lot more evidence-based practice around multi-tiered systems of support in schools, and this is very much connected to the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability. So we are getting much better at this. Teachers have a better understanding of, ‘Well, what type of adjustments can I make to how I represent the content? How can I change my pedagogy that might better meet the needs of different students in my classroom? How can I give choice for students in how they demonstrate their learning and how they demonstrate their skills?’ Doing that in ways that I guess starts with a tier of teaching that is good for most students in the classroom, and then moving up through a range of tiers that provide more intensive support to students as they need it.
There are a lot of really good inclusive education models of teaching that we’re teaching at university to our pre-service teachers and many teachers are learning those pedagogies through professional learning. So I think the focus, particularly with that example, was that the student was given a task that may have appeared to be appropriate to their learning level, but really what that student needed to be doing was to be joining in with his peers in the learning activities. We often find that peers are very good at supporting each other and helping each other along with whatever the learning task is. So that sense of belonging and having fun in the activity is often a really positive way of supporting a student’s learning, rather than giving them an individual activity that’s a worksheet where they’re sitting on a table, in a chair away from their peers, you know, that’s not inclusive education at all.
It is something we’re getting better at and there’s a lot more research evidence to support that and that’s really what inclusionED is all about. So inclusionED is a community learning platform that shares evidence-based and research informed teaching practices through videos, printable template resources, all contributed from Australian researchers and teachers in schools, that are designed to support diverse learners in inclusive classrooms.
For more information on inclusionED, head to www.inclusioned.edu.au.This story appeared in the March 2021 edition of LeadershipEd.
ACARA – Australian Curriculum Review Stakeholder Pre-Briefing
CaSPA attended the pre-briefing for national peak associations. Details will be released by ACARA soon.
The CaSPA Board has been meeting with Mark Grant (AITSL CEO) to contribute to the 7 key issues AITSL is working on in 2021. CaSPA’s President, Ann Rebgetz, has now been appointed to the School Leadership and Teaching Expert Standing Committee (SLTESC).
AITSL has arranged for the CaSPA Board to meet with Nick Weideman from Education Services Australia at the recent Board meeting. Nick outlined the new Online Formative Assessment Initiative (OFAI) being developed in conjunction with ACARA and AITSL. The progress of this Networking Tool can be seen at: https://ofai.edu.au/the-spindle-prototype-demo/
CaSPA will be represented at the Indigenous Cultural Competency National Dialogue to be held in Canberra (18 & 19 May 2021)
Australian Catholic University
The Principal Researcher from the Philip Riley Team will make a presentation at the Sydney Board Meeting (24 & 25 May). It is also hoped that the new Vice Chancellor Professor Zlatko Skrbis will also be able to join the meeting.
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Craig Deayton
Current School: Guilford Young College
Previous Position: Principal – Sacred Heart College Hobart
First Year as a Principal: 1995
My big picture for my current school is: Successfully bring the College through the major restructure of Catholic Secondary school in 2023, establish the new vision for Guilford Young College in adult learning in the senior secondary college model and guide the major expansion of VET in the GYC Registered Training Organisation
The Joy of Principalship is: Working with young people and leading a marvellously dynamic and committed staff.
Favourite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Favourite Food: Korean BBQ
Interests / Hobbies: Writing, cycling, surfing, military history
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: An hour in kindergarten
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Be open to seeing the joys and opportunities of the role. Problems come and go, but there’s no problem so unique and difficult that an experienced colleague hasn’t successfully managed so reach out, build a support network and actively seek out their advice – especially if you don’t think you need it.
Favourite Leadership Quote: “Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.”
- Joanne Ciulla
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: At Any Price
I hope you all had wonderful Easter celebrations with your community and your family. I also trust that in recent times you have enjoyed a two week break from the demands of your time that abound during the term.
As we all know from the extensive research, looking after your well-being is so important. In that spirit, CaSPA has signed a partnership with the Deakin University and Australian Catholic University for 2021. This partnership will support the research of Philip Riley and his team. The CaSPA Board will be meeting with one of the key researchers at the May Board meeting in Sydney. Importantly, a key part of CaSPA’s partnership is to obtain the specific data related to the Catholic sector Principals. I encourage all our Principals to participate in the survey this year as it will provide a significant and specific analysis of the experiences of our work in Catholic Education.
This year CaSPA has engaged a Branding Partner (Athas Concepts) to evaluate and improve CaSPA’s communications and online presence. This is an exciting initiative which will be evolving during the next 12 months. As you can see from this current newsletter, there is a new logo and newsletter style being developed. In the future, work will also be focussed on the redesigning of the CaSPA website, emails, Twitter and LinkedIn. I hope you will enjoy the new look. It is CaSPA’s intention that this strategy will help to raise the profile, status and professional appearance of our national association.
We are looking forward to our face to face Board meeting in Sydney on 24 & 25 May, which also means we can arrange other consultations with key partners, officials, policy makers and stakeholders. Amidst this, we will be fortunate to join in celebrations of 200 years of Catholic Education.
Consultation is a key driver of our purpose and strategy – this was enhanced by our opportunity through my representation, to be a part of the “State of Social Sciences” stakeholder meeting last week. This is a 12 month project led by the Academy of the Social Sciences to take stock of social science disciplines and plan for the future. This will hopefully lead to a foundation for Australia to have policy settings, funding and infrastructure to enable world class education and research in the social sciences. Moreover, this links so strongly to our diverse society and the need for greater equity, tolerance, understanding and empathy.
AITSL has been active in a range of areas including developing research around strategies to address abuse of staff in schools, online formative assessment, and a major development for CaSPA has been to gain representation on the AITSL’s School Leadership and Teaching Expert Standing Committee (SLTESC) through my appointment to the committee. The primary objective of the SLTESC is to advise AITSL on its work to promote excellence in teaching and school leadership to maximise impact on student learning in all Australian schools. This committee is chaired by Professor John Hattie and is directly responsible and accountable to the AITSL Board of Directors. It provides quality feedback and guidance on the development of policies, resources, and other AITSL-led initiatives that support teachers and school leaders, benefitting the education sector for years to come. In addition, our EO Phil Lewis will represent us at the AITSL’s “Indigenous cultural competency in the Australian teaching workforce: National Dialogue” on the 18 &19 May in Canberra also enabling liaison with CAP (Coalition of Australian Principals) at that time.
I would also bring your attention to the ACARA curriculum review and commend CEO David de Carvalho for his efforts in consultation with associations.
On behalf of the CaSPA Board, I wish Mothers and those who fulfill the role of Mother a very Happy Mothers’ Day on 9 May. I also hope that you and your community have a very productive and rewarding Term 2.
Blessings to all
“All-loving God, we give you thanks for mothers of every kind… those who have loved us and helped to shape us with motherly care and compassion.”
Rethinking school exams: our skewed 'sorting mechanism' defines winners and losers
Such has been the unquestioning acceptance of the procedure, sitting exams at the end of school is much like alighting from a train when we reach our destination: a necessary station before we go on to the next stage of our lives.
There is a growing sense that rather than exams being a measure of what has been learned, students are now only being taught what can be measured.
Yet many educators are now beginning to dig down into what has been considered for over a century to be the core role of schools: preparing students for examination.
Current thinking questions this method of finding out about what our young people have learned, why they have been asked to learn it, what we do with this information when we have collated it and, finally but no less importantly, what happens to those who fail.
The act of questioning the questioners has gained prominence in the United Kingdom, which for the second year in a row won’t have any formal exams due to the pandemic. If school systems from Indonesia, Pakistan, India, France and Belgium can all survive this spell without formal high stakes assessment, they argue maybe it is time to rethink the whole examination process. In a recent interview, Sammy Wright, Lead Social Mobility Commissioner for Schools in England, said that while still believing in the process, the exam system was reduced to a sorting mechanism.
This inevitably leads to inequalities, forcing a large proportion of people to take a different life path because they haven't passed an arbitrarily set marking threshold.
“When you sort, you always have winners and losers. We are saying to young people, ‘work hard and two thirds of you will get ahead’, lying to a third of our young people and leaving that one third with a sense of failure.”
Wright, who is also vice principal of Southmoor Academy in Sunderland, believes the current system is weighted in favour of children from middle-class backgrounds whose parents have already succeeded when going through the same process and know how to play the system.
“We test children to check their ability, but we test them not on abstract capacity but in a set of topics and texts that are, certainly in the arts and humanities, fundamentally middle-class.
“We say it’s a level playing field but it’s like testing people on very different things, like testing one student who is a native speaker of German against another who has done German for one hour a week. It’s not the same,” he adds.
There is a growing sense that rather than exams being a measure of what has been learned, students are now only being taught what can be measured. Contrast this with Finland, the country that has been continuously held up as a model for academic excellence for over a decade but has no mandated standardised tests until students are ready to leave school, when they sit one exam.
Crucially, these students are not ranked on their performance, emphasising that knowing something is more important than the knowing something ‘better’ than someone else. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this Scandinavian country has the smallest gap between the weakest and strongest students in the world.
In the United States, psychologist and author Robert J. Sternberg of Cornell University Ithaca in New York, not only questions the exam system but also what is commonly defined as intelligence.
In a recent article in New Scientist magazine the author of Adaptive Intelligence writes: “The lesson of research by myself and many others over decades is that, through historical accident, we have developed a conception of intelligence that is narrow, questionably scientific, self-serving and ultimately self-defeating".
He adds that the first intelligence tests published in France at the turn of the last century measured memory skills and a narrow range of analytical skills and since then little has changed in what we choose to measure as intelligence.
“School tests and assessments measure that same narrow range of recall and analytical skills. Rather than being primarily tools to help individuals realise their full potential … their function was to restrict people’s opportunities in the service of employers, colleges, universities and other institutions.”
Sternberg argues that education should focus on adaptive intelligence to equip our future adults to deal with the new post-pandemic world of climate change they will live in.
Broadly speaking, this intelligence consists of four skill sets; creative, analytical, practical and wisdom-based. To put in context how far education systems are from this ideal, in the United Kingdom, only one in ten young people over the age of 14 study the creative subjects of music, art or drama at school.
Sternberg’s approach moves beyond theory to offer practical real-world methods of testing adaptive intelligence in a school setting.
“Instead of teaching and testing students on arcane problems, the emphasis needs to be on realistic problems,” he explains.
“So, rather than an appropriate test question in mathematics being to recall the formula for an exponential curve and calculate quantities from a given exponential curve, it might be to describe what an exponential curve looks like, and sketch out the problems that can arise from an exponential growth curve in a given context.”
Where adaptive intelligence has been used in a test setting the results have been shown to be more precise than more traditional approaches. Using creative, practical and wisdom-based skills to university admissions tests increases the accuracy of predictions of academic success, predicting first year grades in some US universities almost twice as accurately as standardised admission tests.
After 12 months of educational turmoil across the world, it would be understandable if educational leaders offer a deaf ear to those suggesting transformative change.
Furthermore, to undertake an exam overhaul - as recommended by Sternberg - would require persuading those that have reached their position through the current system to abandon what has brought them success and to replace it with something more egalitarian.
Yet the end of the pandemic might be the ideal time to introduce a recalibration of how we do exams in an education year zero. We can only wait and see.
Melbourne Catholic schools provide pathway to HALT certification
Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) has launched a pilot certification program for Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALTs).
The pilot group of 12 HALTs were awarded their certificates yesterday.
The program, which MACS said is a first for a Victorian education jurisdiction, is an explicit strategy to support teachers to progress their careers while remaining in the classroom.
The Victorian Institute of Teaching has not adopted the Highly Accomplished and Lead career stages, but individual jurisdictions are free to use them as guide within their schools.
Executive Director Jim Miles said MACS is seeking to recognise and empower its lead classroom teachers.
“The program provides opportunities for senior teachers to reflect on their practice and, through rigorous judgment, provides a reliable indication of quality teaching that can be used to acknowledge teachers at the Highly Accomplished and Lead career stages of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.
“HALTs will lead from the classroom to improve student outcomes and impact the practice of colleagues. Their role is pivotal to helping build a culture of professional learning and growth in schools, where expertise is developed and shared, creating the best conditions for all teachers and students to flourish.”
The pilot group of 12 HALTs were awarded their certificates recently.
Principal Occupational Health and Wellbeing Report 2020
CaSPA is very proud to once again be a financial supporter of the longitudinal study of Principal Health and Wellbeing facilitated by the Australian Catholic and Deakin Universities.
Please find below the link to the release of the 2020 Report of the Australian Principal Occupational Health and Wellbeing Survey.
On behalf of the CaSPA Board, I particularly commend the Executive Summary and the 16 Recommendations to you and your colleagues.
Please distribute this important link to your colleagues as you deem appropriate.
Announcing the launch of Broadcast!
CaSPA is a member of the newly formed Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP), which is proud to announce a new resource created to be the health and wellbeing voice to support all extraordinary Principals and school leaders.
Let’s start a conversation!
Please join us by taking a few minutes to register below and join us in future research and publications.
Register free today or find out more:
30 March 2021
Moving forward after COVID-19 for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Students
Presenters: Amanda (Host), Donna, Dyonne, Todd, Natalee, Stephanie
Amanda from PIVOT hosted a webinar with 5 ATSI Principals / School Leaders from NSW, Queensland, NT, Torres Strait and WA. The reflections of experiences during COVID were made from Remote and Rural areas.
The key themes and issues in no order of importance were:
- Student access to digital devices and home internet connections. Main connection was through parent phones and caused issues with the download costs and time the phone was available. 50% of families had no access to wifi.
- There were wifi issues at the schools too.
- Announcements made by Ministers regarding access to laptops and dongles but nothing arrived.
- Teachers overwhelmed with developing online lessons and having to print and send out school materials to families.
- Some messages had to be sent by radio as the internet could not be relied upon. FaceTime was also used to communicate with students and families.
- Home based learning was not always effective due to family situations and language issues as materials that arrived were always in English. Many packages were abandoned and the assumption that the children could learn independently was incorrect.
- School attendance in some areas declined markedly as Communities went into lockdown. Many families went bush to stay safe from COVID. In some areas the students still arrived at school as there was no one to look after them at home.
- Schools became centres of community support. Some families needed a lot of support and many basic needs (food & petrol) were not available in the local shops due to a lack of deliveries during COVID.
- There was an increase of social issues in some areas due to the lack of supply of alcohol and marijuana. Where supplies were still ok the extra payments received were spent on alcohol and drugs.
- Staff wellbeing became an issue as they could not leave the region due to travel restrictions. They could not see their families and friends for a long time. Access to medical services was limited.
- Education was not a high priority for some communities during this time because of health concerns and other social factors. There was no new learning and the focus by departments was on cleaning and sanitising buildings rather than caring for the people and community.
Summary - Overall the reports were heartbreaking and showed clear examples of the educational inequities that exist in Australia. Education needs to be planned beyond election cycles and political whims. Diversity in Australia needs to be acknowledged in education and ATSI People need to have a voice in how things happen and be the decision makers.
“We don’t need others to speak for us. We can do it ourselves.” (Dyonne)
NATSIPA Conference: October 2021 in Sydney
CaSPA Executive Officer
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Neil Aweyn
Current School: Kolbe Catholic College, Rockingham
Previous Position: Vice Principal, CBC Fremantle
First Year as a Principal: 2021
My big picture for my current school is: To continue to create a community-centred, Christ focused culture.
The Joy of Principalship is: having the ability to make a positive impact in the lives of your staff, students and families.
Favourite Book: Marching Powder by Rusty Young
Favourite Food: Anything Mexican
Interests / Hobbies: spending time with my family, watching my beloved Fremantle Dockers and West Ham United. Playing Poker.
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Give your permission to turn off and be present to your family and friends on a daily basis.
Advice for a Beginning Principal: I am a beginning Principal, so I will take all the advice I can get!
Favourite Leadership Quote: “You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.”
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: The importance of finding joy in your profession.
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Nicole Morton
Current School: St John's College, Dubbo
Previous Position: Assistant Principal -Xavier High School, Albury
First Year as a Principal: 2021
My big picture for my current school is: To continue to build on the foundations of the schools traditions, to create a climate of engagement for all students and all families and to inspire futures of hope for all students.
The Joy of Principalship is: the opportunity to inspire futures of hope for all in the community
Favourite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Favourite Food: Avocado
Interests / Hobbies: Gardening, singing and hanging out with positive people
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Day spa appointments!
Advice for a Beginning Principal: It’s all about relationships.
Favourite Leadership Quote: “To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence …
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Brenda Timp
Current School: Mercy College, Chatswood
Previous Position: Assistant Principal, Mater Maria Catholic College
First Year as a Principal: 2021
My big picture for my current school is: To grow great women who are confident in their ability to make the world a better place
The Joy of Principalship is: Seeing the joy in students’ faces when they achieve great things in their learning or in their co-curricular activities, and the gratitude in teachers’ faces when they know they have my support for an idea
Favourite Book: Anything Jane Austin
Favourite Food: Fish and chips
Interests / Hobbies: Yoga, walking, cooking, travelling
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Having a coffee with my husband every morning at our favourite coffee shop before we head off for the day
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Have a chat to at least a couple of staff members and students each day to start to get to know everyone!
Favourite Leadership Quote: “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s that I stay with problems longer” (Albert Einstein)
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: “Children MUST graze their knees!”
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Brendan Stewart
Current School: St Mary’s College, Toowoomba
Previous Position: Deputy Principal, Ignatius Park College, Townsville
First Year as a Principal: 2021
My big picture for my current school is: To be the school of choice for young men in the Darling Downs
The Joy of Principalship is: I enjoy the challenge of Leadership and to help students to achieve their path beyond school
Favourite Book: The Leadership Challenge, Kouses and Pozner
Favourite Food: Anything Curry
Interests / Hobbies: Music, running
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Balance and variety
Favourite Leadership Quote: Leaders are made not born
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Frank Ranaldo
Current School: Rostrevor College
Previous Position: Deputy Principal
First Year as a Principal: 2021 (Acting)
My big picture for my current school is: to inspire students to achieve their personal best in all endeavours and to become men for others who will make a positive difference in the world.
The Joy of Principalship is: Making a difference to the lives of our boys and having a greater influence on their learning outcomes by the decisions that are made at a higher level, as well as working with individuals and teams to solve problems.
Favourite Book: Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek
Favourite Food: Pasta (of course)
Interests / Hobbies: Music, gardening & cooking
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Make time for myself to restore energy, reflect on the day/week, and plan.
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Find time to focus on self-care.
Favourite Leadership Quote: It's amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit – Harry S Truman
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Leaders Drink First
As Term 1 draws to a close, I hope that all has gone well for you and your community as we step our way through the pandemic towards greater new “normalcy”.
I am sure there has been much happening recently in your community to acknowledge the compassion and pain of Christ’s sacrifice, culminating in the new life that Easter brings, with celebrations of the Easter season. I hope you and your community have been able to celebrate Easter and its true meaning for us as people of hope.
At the end of March our CaSPA Treasurer and Director, Frank Pisano, completed his tenure on the Board. Frank has served the CaSPA Board and his Tasmanian Principal Association (CaSPA Tas) with great commitment, service, integrity, leadership, innovation and passion. On behalf of the Board, I thank Frank for his five years of dedication and wish him and his family every happiness in the future.
In farewelling Frank, I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome Craig Deayton, an experienced leading Principal from CaSPA Tasmania, to the CaSPA Board. This will be Craig’s second time on the Board and I thank him for taking on the Director role again.
Recently, you would have received an email regarding the launch of the Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP) publication “Broadcast”. This is an exciting step forward for CAP as a united voice for all Principals in Australia. I hope you will be able to find time to register and read the articles. In the future there will be a publication of Broadcast each term. Please use this link to access the first publication. https://broadcast.schooltv.me
Another project involves AITSL Red Tape Review, which entails developing a Toolkit. This will be to initially consult with school leaders on elements of the UK’s Toolkit and what it would look like in an Australian context. This phase of consultation will address the processes and practices within schools that take time away from teaching and learning and is relevant to Australian schools. AITSL is planning to contact Principal Associations for input and gathering interested parties.
An interesting study on Principals and their impact on whole school learning was recently published – I thought you might find this worthwhile to consider.
“Across six rigorous studies estimating principals’ effects using panel data, principals’ contributions to student achievement were nearly as large as the average effects of teachers identified in similar studies. Principals’ effects, however, are larger in scope because they are averaged over all students in a school, rather than a classroom…………….. Principals Do Matter. Indeed, it is difficult to envision an investment in K–12 education with a higher ceiling on its potential return than improving school leadership.” (How Principals Affect Students and Schools - A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research Jason A. Grissom, Anna J. Egalite, Constance A. Lindsay,2021,Wallace Foundation)
Initial Teacher Education is always high on our agenda, and currently the terms of reference for a National Review by DESE, under Federal Minister Tudge, are being constructed and feedback sought. Issues suggested to address in the terms of reference include:
- Attracting high-performing students to the profession
- Admissions, degree requirements and recognition of prior experience, particularly pertaining to attracting people from other fields
- ITE Completion Rates
- Increasing diversity in the profession and workforce supply
- Ensuring ITE Providers are evidence based and the course accreditation offers education students better practical placements and better readiness for the classroom, utilising Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALTs) effectively
The review will commence April 2021 and will be delivered to the Minister for Education by the end of October 2021. Any comments re the terms of reference should be forwarded by Friday 9 April to Jessica.Mohr@dese.gov.au.
All of you would be familiar with 2021 Australian Of The Year, Grace Tame. During the week Griffith University hosted an interview of Kerry O’Brien with Grace, and it was excellent to be able to join online. Kerry O’Brien was very sensitive, but cleverly explorative in his questioning, to empower Grace to speak so openly about her experience, its individual and societal impact. Grace spoke of the power of the predator and how “ the predator makes you feel responsible and deserve the pain, instilling self -hatred, so that the patterns of abuse and violence would continue”. She also expressed that to heal it is important to “lean into the love around you”. Grace advocated for the 19 Dominoes theory of leading change and effects. Kerry spoke of the current change that is occurring, as accentuated through the political arena. Grace responded in discussion, citing rage to propel action, the importance of empathy training, history being the greatest learning resource, and calculated distraction posing as action, being at the forefront often in processes. Kerry O’Brien commended Grace for her bravery, candour and clarity. I would recommend the viewing of this interview, as it provides a segway into many conversations - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polv_i-9oek
Lastly, the planning for the CaSPA Conference is progressing well. I hope you will be able to join us on 10 – 12 July in Perth next year.
Blessings to all,
Principals Experiences During COVID
This survey was commissioned by the Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP) in collaboration with SchoolTV and PIVOT. Some very insightful findings and recommendations.
New CaSPA Directors in 2021
(All Directors' Profiles can be found on the CaSPA Website)
Michael Lee (ACT)
Name: Michael James Lee
Current School: St Mary MacKillop College, Canberra
Previous Position: Principal, Hennessy Catholic College, Young
My Big Picture for the School is:
A Christ-centred Catholic school successfully meeting the challenge of being authentically welcoming of diversity and inclusion. MacKillop prioritises equity of access and aspires to fully engage with the community of Canberra, Australia, and the world.
The Joy of Principalship is:
The respect and trust given to me by my school community.
Fiction: The Langton Quartet by Martin Boyd
Non-fiction: No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin
A hot Four N Twenty pie at the MCG (with sauce).
Interests and Hobbies:
Reading American Presidential history, travel, cooking, following Essendon in the AFL.
Favourite Wellbeing Strategy:
Autumn lunch in the back garden with a Coonawarra red and a good friend/getting a load of washing done before school – good to achieve something in a day!
Advice for a Beginning Principal:
Be available and present to students and their parents and carers – remember that schools exist for students, not adults, but the most important people in schools are teachers. Don’t shrink from the difficult conversations. Have high expectations of self and others. Don’t worry about the money.
Favourite Leadership Quote:
“The presidency is like a soft leather glove. It fits the hand in it at the time. Every now and then, a president’s hand stretches the glove and it is forever enlarged; Washington did this, Lincoln did this too, and FDR stretched it in a way that those who followed him have struggled to wear the glove with any comfort.”
George F Will
Title of my TED Talk:
Victory is arbitrary; faith and courage are believed, felt, and witnessed.
OR Social conservatism – the enemy of Catholic Education.
Andrew Baker (S.A.)
Name: Andrew Baker
Current School: Nazareth R-12 Catholic College
Previous Position: Principal Gleeson College, Golden Grove
First Year as a Principal: 2014
The hope for my current school is: that it continues to be a place of genuine welcome for all students and families, and a place where the young people in our care feel safe and valued.
The Joy of Principalship is: journeying with young people and their families, and witnessing them strive to improve and ultimately flourish.
A Book I would recommend: Legacy, James Kerr
Fun Fact about me: I run every day and have completed several marathons.
My valued Well-Being Strategy: as above
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Don’t think that you need to have all the answers. Build a great team and allow them the freedom and flexibility to lead in the best way that they know how.
Inspiring Leadership Quote: “Be who you are, and be that perfectly” St Francis de Sales
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: “What are all the ‘T’s’ on the wall?” (Quote from a beautiful young person on a school tour referring to the crosses on classroom walls!)
I hope the year is continuing to run smoothly for you and your community. Let’s hope and pray that we can all progress to a more pre-COVID normal for our communities now the vaccine program has commenced around the world.
Last year the Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP) engaged with PIVOT research to survey Principals and their experiences during COVID in 2020. The results have been published and are included in this newsletter for your consideration. I think you will find the results most informative and good to share with your staff. Their recommendations include expanding digital inclusion, mitigating learning loss amongst vulnerable students…. and wellbeing, wellbeing, wellbeing – students and staff – this is not surprising as we know that the biggest protective factor for people are social networks and the pandemic precluded that in many circumstances. School leaders and teachers faced great change and challenge, did well, but it also placed pressure on their wellbeing, especially those in greater isolation. We are keen to hear from you and your associations around these recommendations and the report. It will assist in terms of putting forward some concrete propositions to government and agencies for consideration.
Other wonderful news is that CaSPA now, after some lobbying, has a position on AITSL’s School Leadership and Teacher Expert Standing Committee (SLTESC). This will further enhance the Catholic Secondary voice to the important work of AITSL.
Recently, CaSPA has also commenced its 2021 meeting schedules with ACARA Stakeholders Forum, DESE, NCEC, Catholic Schools Stakeholder Forum (CSSF) and CAP. It has been very encouraging to witness the growing consultation requests from the Federal Government and its Agencies in the last year. I hope this collaboration will continue to flourish. I have been busy reaching out to meet the various stakeholders and have participated in forums such as the Rural and Remote Principals Workshop to promote our voice and the importance of discussions with leaders at the “coalface”!
Our Board has Directors from each State and Territory who come with a wealth of experience and wisdom so together we make a powerful force! This is accentuated at our initial meetings for the year and through having knowledgeable Phil Lewis as our Executive Officer, who was a past Board Chair.
As we celebrate International Women’s day on Monday 8 March we hope that the “glass ceilings” around the world will continue to shatter, and provide educational opportunities for all women across the globe. There are a number of resources on the official website: (https://www.internationalwomensday.com)
On behalf of the CaSPA Board I wish you well for the remainder of the term, and please feel free to be in touch at any time.