During the month of May the CaSPA Board has continued consultations with AITSL, ACARA and NCEC. These consultations are detailed in the Latest News section of the newsletter. In addition, the CaSPA Board was able to hold an in person meeting in Sydney last week. The last in person meeting was in September 2019. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet existing and new Board members to share experiences and ideas. The Board warmly welcomed Clare Nocka as the new Director from South Australia. Please see Clare's Profile below. It was also a wonderful opportunity for the Board to attend the National Celebration of 200 Years of Catholic Education in Australia at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral.
- LGBTI students,
- Principal wellbeing
- Future CaSPA Board gender balance.
- Women in Leadership: Barriers / Solutions?
- Supporting Early Career Principals.
- Support for Indigenous Students & Principals.
- Leadership Formation in Catholic Education.
At the meeting the Board invited a number of guests which included Professor Herb Marsh from the Philip Riley research team. Professor Marsh shared some key insights to the ten years of research and CaSPA, as part of its research sponsorship, looks forward to obtaining more data related to Catholic Principals in 2021.
Professor Marsh highlighted that 47.6% of Principals are over 56 years of age. Moreover, Professor Marsh spoke of harmonious passion versus obsessive passion of Principals and how it was important to keep the balance as we know, it is a very demanding position. Two other key aspects were the high cognitive demands and the hiding of emotions of Principals – how do we handle this, as it rated as major features in the research?
Meetings with David de Carvalho CEO ACARA were productive with David’s messages around the Australian Curriculum Review being a call for input, and the importance of measuring progress rather than focus on just achievement through Naplan. Sally Egan from NCEC focussed on some key targets of the Commission - Faith and Formation Standing Committee, Improving student outcomes, Enrolments and retention – it was great to meet her as we are keen for our voice to be heard in the Commission. Overall, it was a very productive meeting - I would also encourage you if visiting Sydney to view the “Unsettled” Exhibition – very moving but captures truth telling in its essence. With Mabo Day in the last week we do have the challenge of educating all to be “unsettled”.
Blessings to all
We would like to take this opportunity to welcome our newest Director and board member, Clare Nocka from St Mary's College in Adelaide.
Name: Clare Nocka
Current School: St Mary’s College, Adelaide
Previous Position: Principal, St Joseph’s School, Tranmere
First Year as a Principal: 2014
My big picture for my current school is: To create diverse opportunities for staff and students to flourish in their learning and their wellbeing.
The Joy of Principalship is: The range of relationships and interactions within and beyond my school with children, young people and adults.
Favourite Book: That’s too hard, I always have more than one on the go! A recent delight was Trent Dalton, All our shimmering skies.
Favourite Food: Chocolate.
Interests / Hobbies: Reading, live music, theatre, being with friends, cooking.
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Work free weekends and a few days away each term break.
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Build your networks, find the 1-2 people you can de-brief the day with.
Favourite Leadership Quote: I have a pinboard full of quotes. One of recent favourites - As a leader trust people to manage themselves to do their best work. Jim Collins.
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Radical Yes.
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board is available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
Many CaSPA members around Australia are currently nominating to be a part of the trials for the Workload Reduction Toolkit being developed by AITSL.
This work should be completed in September this year.
AITSL is exploring how teachers and leaders in schools across Australia can be supported to enhance their Indigenous cultural competency.
This multi-year project involves extensive consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experts, communities and the teaching profession and is being guided by the AITSL Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education.
The 2 day national dialogue involved First Nations People, Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators from all sectors, states and territories. The Participants were provided with a Progress Report from the consultations and research that had taken place up until January 2021. The four areas of discussion at the National Dialogue were:
- What does a culturally competent teaching workforce (including teachers, school leaders, and schools) look like?
- What does a teacher/school leader need to be culturally competent? What will it take?
- What does cultural safety look like in schools?
- What might be some of the challenges or barriers we face in developing a culturally competent teaching workforce?
There were keynote speakers and researchers on Day 1 and consultative workshops for all participants on Day 2. The next step is for AITSL to analyse the feedback and consultations to develop key themes and actions for the future. One key feedback point was that a new title was needed as it was felt “competency” was not the concept to use. There was great enthusiasm amongst the participants for actions to be implemented urgently. AITSL’s findings will be released later this year.
National Dialogue – Cultural Competency
CaSPA congratulates AITSL on a fantastic 2 day National Dialogue: “Indigenous Cultural Competency in the Australian Teaching Workforce”. CaSPA also supports the Progress Report (April 2021) and the future work of AITSL in supporting every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student to reach their full potential in a culturally safe learning environment.
Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP) Update
- CAP met in Canberra to discuss the use of Broadcast and SchoolTV.
- A decision was made to appoint Andrew Pierpoint (ASPA President) as the CAP Chair for 2021. The position of CAP Chair will be an annual appointment on a rotational basis between the National Principal Associations.
- CAP Statement: https://www.educationtoday.com.au/news-detail/Research-and-communication-to-support-principals-under-pressure-5294
The CaSPA Board met with David de Carvalho on 25 May. The discussions were based around the three key priorities of ACARA at present:
Australian Curriculum – David expressed his concern regarding some “fake news” about the draft changes and the consultation process, which will conclude on 20 July 2021.
NAPLAN Online -Reports will be based on Level Descriptors rather than Level Numbers as in the past. ACARA will be trying to distribute Reports to schools and parents in a more timely manner.
NAPLAN Amendments (My School Website) – All users of the website have to accept conditions of use agreement before they can enter the site. This is designed to restrict the ability to publish league tables. ACARA is also looking at the concept of Learner Profiles.
CaSPA Directors, ACSP (NSW) Executive meeting with Sally Egan (NCEC) and David de Carvalho (ACARA)
It was a pleasure for the CaSPA Board to meet with Sally Egan (Deputy Director, NCEC). In our meeting Sally commented on three key areas of focus for NCEC at the moment:
- Faith Formation & Catholic Identity – Catholic schools are no longer just chosen for faith reasons. Catholic schools may need to redefine what Catholic Identity means in the contemporary world.
- Student Outcomes – Numeracy results in NAPLAN are lower than state averages around Australia. A Numeracy Project is being developed by NCEC and Catholic schools need to be clear on what success looks like. Is there professional learning and higher expectations needed?
- Enrolment Crisis – Enrolments are falling across Australia. Fee hikes are problematic and Catholic education needs to continually improve its quality. Catholic education needs to seek ways to provide mutual support amongst the schools and dioceses to improve student outcomes. How will Catholic education provide quality and capital investment in the future?
Principal Occupational Health & Wellbeing
The CaSPA Board met with Professor Herb Marsh on 25 May. Professor Marsh works with the Riley Team which conducts the Principal Occupational Health and Wellbeing Research. In his presentation, Professor Marsh outlined 5 areas in which Principals were rated higher than the general population:
- Emotional Demands
- Demands for hiding emotions
- Work / Family conflict
- Burn out
In addition, 40% of Principals in all sectors were exposed to physical violence nine times greater than the general population and 22% of Catholic Principals were Red Flagged (high level of concern) in the survey last year.
Professor Marsh also pointed out that during the COVID experiences of 2020 there were some positive outcomes for Principals:
- Acknowledgement of the vital role school leaders play in society.
- Shift in positive attitudes to school leaders.
- Better support form agencies.
- Acknowledged as Essential Workers.
In conclusion, Professor Marsh pointed out four key recommendations:
- Educational Policies need to be based on Edcuational research not opinions and election cycles.
- Physical and Verbal violence needs to be stopped by introducing new strategies that make reporting easier and allow meetings to not take place in person.
- Professional Learning and Policies developed to for leaders to help them with strategies to deal with conflicts.
PILBARA SCHOOL TAPS INTO INDIGENOUS SCIENCE KNOWLEDGE
By EducationHQ News Team
Published May 19, 2021
A regional WA school is sparking students’ interest in STEM by introducing Indigenous science concepts into the curriculum.
At WA’s Tambrey Primary School, Anna Ritzema is helping students connect with STEM industries, bringing the likes of NASA, Woodside, and the Bureau of Meteorology to the Pilbara region.
Located 1500km north of Perth and surrounded by the red plains of the Pilbara mining region, Tambrey Primary School caters to students from a diverse range of social and cultural backgrounds, including the school’s strong Indigenous population.
It made sense, then, that the school decided to tap into ancient Aboriginal lore to inspire students’ understanding of the scientific world.
“We’ve really made sure that as a school we embed STEM into everything that we’re doing,” the school’s head of STEM, Anna Ritzema, says.
With the help of Indigenous elders visiting the school, students enhance their STEM knowledge through traditional solutions such as bushfire prevention and the building of fish traps.
“I’m proud to bring Indigenous knowledge into our classrooms and connecting our students’ culture with STEM resources to empower our young Indigenous leaders,” Ritzema says.
“I teach scientific concepts very much linked to Aboriginal culture, so being mindful to recognise Aboriginal people as a first scientist on the land and be able to draw on their experience and bring that into everyday teaching.
“With bushfire prevention we look at the history of the burning of the land, we [also] look at the change of the seasons and see how those changes affect our farming today.”
Ritzema says knowing your students, and applying what would benefit them with what’s topical and accessible in their local region, gives them the confidence to do things they might not otherwise attempt.
As well as learning under the guidance of elders, the educator inspires her students to find their own voice and become leaders.
“…I want to encourage students to speak up and use their voices; even in remote areas, I don’t want them to think there’s anything stopping them from thriving by pursuing their passion,” she says.
Ritzema also runs an after-school STEM program for Indigenous students in surrounding schools from Karratha and Dampier who have an aptitude for STEM.
An initiative from the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation and Rio Tinto, the program is hosted two days a week at the Karratha STEM Centre and encourages students to explore STEM pathways.
The successful program is an accurate representation of Ritzema’s teaching method, which is based on building strong relationships with the local community.
At times, Ritzema and other teachers at the STEM Centre drive the children home and follow up if they are absent.
“I’m passionate that children will always learn with good relationships,” Ritzema explains.
“Teaching first and foremost is about relationships and then all the other areas come in seamlessly afterwards.
“What we found especially in the Aboriginal communities is that once that trust came to the STEM Centre, so many more parents came on board and we are now inundated with people asking to be in the program.”
At Tambrey Primary School, the passionate teacher is helping students connect with STEM industries, bringing the likes of NASA, Woodside, and the Bureau of Meteorology to the Pilbara region.
“We have seen that children respond well when they see a pathway, when they understand what professionals do,” Ritzema explains.
“So our biggest aim is getting professionals in those industries into the classroom, to be able to showcase the children what it’s like in the workforce.
“Because we know even children as young as five can make decisions on what they want to be. And we want to show them that anything is possible, and we’re there to support that journey for them.”
Named as a finalist in the 2020 WA Woman of Achievement Award, Ritzema is also a proud advocate for encouraging more girls to take up STEM subjects.
“I was acutely aware when I went into the role of teaching that there’s many girls who don’t have that opportunity and support,” she says.
As further recognition of her outstanding work, Ritzema was also one of the 12 recipients of this year’s Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards.
CaSPA Board: Sydney Meeting (24 & 25 May)
The CaSPA Board was delighted to have its first in person meeting since September 2019. It was also a delight to meet new Board members: Michael Lee and Craig Deayton. Clare Nocka was also accepted by the Board as the new Director from S.A. but unfortunately was not able to attend.
The Board was grateful to be invited to the National Celebratory Mass for 200 years of Catholic Education at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.
During the two day meeting the CaSPA Board was also delighted to meet with the Executive of ACSP (NSW), Sally Egan (NCEC), David de Carvalho (ACARA) and Professor Herb Marsh (ACU).
CaSPA Directors, ACSP (NSW) Executive Meeting with Professor Herb Marsh
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board are available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
Current School: Columba Catholic College, Charters Towers
Previous Position: Deputy Principal; St Benedict’s College Mango Hill. Brisbane.
First Year as a Principal: 2018
My big picture for my current school is:
To grow and empower day and boarding students to engage in learning and pathways options that inspire, challenge and sustain them so they realise their giftedness and can confidently share these gifts with each other and society.
The Joy of Principalship is:
To grow a culture where staff members, students and parent realise something new and inspiring about themselves, their student or child through the breadth of opportunities for growth across learning in classroom, co-curricular programs and parent engagement.
Favourite Book: Andrew McGahan - Praise
Favourite Food: Anything spicy
Interests / Hobbies: Cricket, any Sport, Camping,
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Walking our dog
Advice for a Beginning Principal:
Listen, connect with colleague Principals and ask the questions. Remember to structure in time for your wellbeing strategy, or your time will be consumed without you even knowing it!
Favourite Leadership Quote:
“Leadership is about climate control” – Sir Ken Robinson
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book:
Speak your truth and own it – you’ll love it!
Name: Catherine O’Kane
Current School: All Hallows’ School
Previous Position: Deputy Principal, St Rita’s College, Brisbane
First Year as a Principal: 2015
My big picture for my current school is: To ensure that Mercy remains at the heart of our work and that we continue to make our mission responsive to ever-changing needs and realities for our students, staff and families.
The Joy of Principalship is: Leading such dedicated and caring staff and the joy each day of working with inspiring young women.
Favourite Book: Educated by Tara Westover
Favourite Food: Italian
Interests / Hobbies: Travel, reading, crochet
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Turn off email and Teams notification on my phone.
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Focus on relationships – they are the foundation stone that makes leadership possible.
Favourite Leadership Quote: Panic slowly
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: What I wish I knew then …….
Name: Eamonn Pollard
Current School: St Aloysius Catholic College
Previous Position: Principal, MacKillop Catholic College
First Year as a Principal: 2016
My big picture for my current school is: To be authentically Christian, to care for students and staff and to work towards excellence in learning and teaching
The Joy of Principalship is: in the students and in improvements
Favourite Book: The Passion of the Western Mind – Richard Tarnas
Favourite Food: As we go into the Tasmanian winter - goulash and mulled wine
Interests / Hobbies: Reading, music, the outdoors, philosophy, theology, history
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Running and swimming at the beach with my wife and the dog
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Communicate well, collaborate well and have an attitude of service.
Favourite Leadership Quote: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Lilla Watson
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Start with the other person and their needs.
School: St Mary Mackillop College, BUSSELTON, WA
Previous Position: Deputy Principal of Teaching and Learning, Lumen Christi College
First Year as a Principal: 2017
Big picture of your Current School is: St Mary MacKillop College is a K-12 Systemic Co-educational Catholic College with currently 1500 students. We have grown an extra stream in the last four years and are approaching its planned ceiling of 1600. Goal is to cater for this number of students but maintain the outstanding relationships and sense of community that has characterized it since its beginning in 1994.
The Joy of Principalship: Is working with outstanding staff, dedicated students and very supportive parents to foster a College environment that reflects strong relationships and excellent achievement.
Favourite Book: After all these years, still The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson
Favourite Food: Yes – everything.
Interests/Hobbies: Heavily invested in the Busselton lifestyle, riding, walking, eating, stand up board, golf etc, etc
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy:Have recently completed The Break Through Coach Course – it is fabulous though does require a great Exec Assistant which I have. Now back in classrooms, have weekends back – You must check it out.
Advice for a Beginning Principal:Leave behind the ‘looking busy’, no time to spare persona. Your staff know you are working hard. A positive, always up outlook will hugely influence staff, students and parents.
Favourite Leadership Quote: No good deed goes unpunished.
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Forget what you think you are capable of – listen to and believe the higher ceiling people tell you that you are capable of.