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,
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
Rethinking school exams: our skewed 'sorting mechanism' defines winners and losers
Community contribution / March 10, 2021
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
Published April 1, 2021
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.