I hope Term 2 has gone well for you and we keep in mind the school communities affected by the recent COVID Lockdowns. In Queensland we had many sporting Carnivals in the Term break, including CQU QISSN Netball and QISSRL Rugby League, involving 120 teams from over 80 Independent Secondary Schools across the state - we had to close down on day 3 of 6 and then sort travel across the state!
Unfortunately for CaSPA and our 8 Associations around Australia, the lockdowns will also mean that our planned Combined Meeting in Melbourne will need to be postponed.
Other news from CaSPA is that I was involved in the DESE Stakeholders meeting in early June and the notes from that meeting has been sent to all of our Principals around Australia. More recently, the CaSPA Executive Officer and I met with AITSL staff to discuss the Australian Workforce Data (https://www.aitsl.edu.au/research/australian-teacher-workforce-data) project.
As mentioned in their background paper, “Gaps and limitations in available teacher supply and demand data affect our capacity to accurately model our teacher workforce. Building consistent, detailed and comparable data and evidence would provide a more thorough and usable national picture of the Australian teacher workforce, and support comprehensive labour market modelling.”
The project will provide information and new insights on key aspects of the Teacher Workforce:
- Workforce Supply and Demand
- Teachers career trajectory and characteristics.
- Employment and workforce experiences in early career & working hours.
- Characteristics of attrition.
- Professional Learning and Qualifications.
- Initial Teacher Education programs
Areas of specialisation.
In mid-August this year there will be a comprehensive Teacher Survey for all teachers to participate in and will close in December. CaSPA has committed to assist AITSL in achieving a high response rate to the survey.
The HALT Symposium was held in Brisbane in late June and I was fortunate to be able to attend on behalf of CaSPA. It was inspiring to see around 200 Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in the Hotel W conference room together. Some excellent presentations highlighted key areas – Dr Helen Street emphasised the importance of creating opportunities for belonging and engagement. She also highlighted that by working on the Equity Gap as the goal, as happened in Finland, then well being and academic outcomes can both improve. Dr Jared Cooney Horvath spoke of Deep Learning, concept formation – from surface to deep to transfer in terms of learning, concept formation, the importance of context, and building memory – he promoted live learning as best! Professor John Hattie also talked passionately about the importance of impact – teachers may teach differently, but the inherent factor is what is their impact on the learner? High impact gains outcomes and professional questions need to be centred around this central tenet. It also again raises the question of impact of Principal leadership and the ripple multiplying effect that the Principal can have on all learning in a school.
In other news, CaSPA is looking forward to continuing its work with the rebranding partner, Athas Concepts, to renew the CaSPA website and Newsletter in the coming months. Please take some time to follow and connect with CaSPA on LinkedIn too.
I wish all Principals and school leaders a restful term break.
Blessings for the coming Term
DESE Stakeholder Webinar & Meeting: See email summary sent to all Catholic Secondary Principals Associations on 18 June 2021.
ACARA Stakeholder Meeting: Australian Curriculum review and NAPLAN Online.
AITSL & CaSPA Meeting - Australian Teacher Workforce Data: 22 June 2021 (https://www.aitsl.edu.au/research/australian-teacher-workforce-data)
New Platinum Corporate Partner signed: Australian Catholic Superannuation & Retirement Fund.
New Silver Corporate Partner signed: FujiFilm
ACU & CaSPA Meeting: Discussion about Phil Riley Research and future post graduate courses for school leaders.
Combined Meeting (CaSPA & State / Territory Associations) preparation: Planned for 11 July 2021.
Branding Meetings with CaSPA Partners: Being planned for July / August 2021 with Athas Concepts to enhance the partnership benefits.
Leading Through Uncertainty
This short course provides a unique framework to help you manage turbulence, leverage risk and make more informed decisions. It's made up of 4 modules, each 3.5 hours in duration so there's not a lot of time away from work. The learning is practical, rich and very relevant.
Each module is delivered by experts with extensive knowledge and significant experience. Update your knowledge and skills with these modules:
o 24 August: Module 1 - Systemic Practice for Navigating Uncertainty
o 25 August: Module 2 - Psychology of Risk
o 31 August: Module 3 - Caring for Self and for Staff
o 2 September: Module 4 - Humanistic Leadership.
PROMOTIONAL CODE ‘CASPA’ to receive discounted course fee
CaSPA Social Action
CaSPA is pleased to announce that it will provide the opportunity for a member or an affiliated State / Territory Catholic Principals’ Association to be involved in Social Action. It is hoped that through involvement in this program the member or association will have the opportunity to engage in Social Action that may otherwise not take place. The Social Action gives witness to the tenant of the Catholic Church by supporting those who are in need or marginalised.
Pope Francis has asked many times during his Papacy to support and work with those at the margins: “Go forth and reach out to all people at the margins of society! Go there and be the Church, with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
The rationale for the Social Action is that CaSPA and its Corporate Partners are aware of the difficulties individuals or groups face due to ethnicity, remoteness, financial hardship or gender. The project will enhance the Church’s social teaching and provide an opportunity for members to help others who are in need.
Applications need to be made to the local State or Territory Catholic Principal Associations. A national decision will then be made to award one recipient with the CaSPA Social Action Funding.
The closing date for applications: 30 August 2021. Funding for the Social Action will be funded through the funds provided by the generous CaSPA Partners.
A True Vocation: 67 Years on Bathurst Island
On Friday 18 June Sister Anne Gardiner OLSH turned 90 years of age. Sister Anne has spent 67 of those years serving the Bathurst Island Community and is currently the oldest person on the Island. In addition, on the 2 July Sister Anne will also celebrate 70 Years as a Daughter of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH).
Birthday celebrations for Sister Anne were held with friends arriving from Darwin, Melville Island and Tiwi Islands. CaSPA extends its sincere congratulations to Sister Anne for her 90th Birthday, her faith filled commitment to her vocation and her amazing service to the Tiwi People.
CaSPA Director, Michael Lee, recently visited Bathurst Island at the time of Sister Anne’s birthday celebrations. Michael also at the same time visited fellow CaSPA Director, Andree Rice, who is the Principal at Xavier College on Bathurst Island. Michael had a wonderful day meeting the staff and students at Xavier Catholic College as well as many community members.
Congratulations Sister Anne!
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board are available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
Name: Declan Tanham
Current School: Aranmore Catholic College, Perth
Previous Position: Principal, Nagle Catholic College, Geraldton
First Year as a Principal: 2005
My big picture for my current school is: Our College is in the leafy green western suburbs of Perth. It has an Intensive English centre, which largely caters for a refugee population although not exclusively. We have well over 100 refugee students at the College. Currently, we have many Muslim students. The College also operates a successful indigenous student programme with about 50 to 60 students enrolled. We also have an international student programme (FFPOS) which usually has 40 to 50 students from China and Vietnam. We operate Rugby and Netball programmes and so we have many Polynesian students also. Our community is inclusive and multicultural.
My big picture for our students is that they leave school and eventually end up paying taxes and make a contribution to their world.
The Joy of Principalship is: There are many joys to principalship, it is a privilege.
Favourite Movie: Dr. Zhivago
Favourite Food: Thai
Interests / Hobbies: Live music
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Slow, non-lycra cycling
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Take the time to listen.
Favourite Leadership Quote: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Le Petit Prince, Antoine St Exupery)
What Title would you give to your TED Talk: Avoid Micro-Managing, it is a Barrier to Creativity.
Name: Sam Cosentino
Previous Position: Acting Principal - Padua College Deputy Principal Head of Tyabb Campus – Padua
First Year as a Principal: 2017
Year of Birth: 1961 – a good vintage
My big picture for my current school is: to make it a ‘School of Choice’ and continue working with staff members on its improvements.
The Joy of Principalship is: The ability to lead and work with the Community.
Favourite Book: The Classic ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
Favourite Food: Schnitzels
Interests / Hobbies: Building & renovating, landscaping – getting your hands dirty
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Take time to get away from the daily duties of Principalship and spend time with family while doing the things you like.
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Take the time to talk to your staff and students, establishing what is worth holding onto and what needs to be rectified. Be transparent and open with all, and ensure you communicate with your Community constantly. Be informative.
Favourite Leadership Quote: What is popular is not always right, what is right, is not always popular.
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: How to Manage the Big Kids.
Name: Steve Byrne
Current School: Sacred Heart College (Adelaide)
Previous Position: Principal, St Michael’s College (Adelaide)
First Year as a Principal: 2001
Year of Birth: 1962
My big picture for my current school is: A thriving Marist Community built on ‘Family Spirit’
The Joy of Principalship is: Leading a community which is true to its ethos and best serves the holistic needs of its students and families
Favourite Book: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
Favourite Food: Scallops, Steak and Salad!
Interests / Hobbies: Stand Up Paddle Surfing, Food and Wine, Port Adelaide, The Dragons and Gardening
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Dawn Surf Patrol!
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Insist on a ‘no surprises’ disclosure culture from your staff, especially the leadership team
Favourite Leadership Quote: ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers!’
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Invitational Leadership and Service
Current School: St Ignatius’ College, Riverview
Previous Position: Principal: Sacred Heart College, Somerton Park, SA
First Year as a Principal: 2003
Year of Birth: 1956 (The Olympics were in Melbourne, TV came to Australia and Sydney introduced parking meters!!)
My big picture for my current school is: Is to be responsive to a rapidly changing landscape in education but authentic to the foundational principles upon which it was established. In Catholic schools that means appropriating a faith tradition that is informed by and responsive to Gospel values.
The Joy of Principalship is: Seeing long term strategies that promote faith formation, student learning and well-being come to fruition.
Favourite Book: Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search For Meaning
Favourite Food: I’m not a foodie so I have difficulties answering this one.
Interests / Hobbies: Reading, running, swimming.
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: Exercise routines that take one away from the office.
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Work hard, see beyond the difficult times and enjoy the honour and trust that the community place in you.
Favourite Leadership Quote: Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: ‘Education’ – To Impose From Without, or, To Lead Out From Within
Proposed NAPLAN replacement would put student needs first: Report Author
By Geordie Little
Published June 10, 2021
A recent report by UNSW’s Gonski Institute for Education detailed the authors’ vision for a new national testing program to replace NAPLAN.
Under the proposal, the old testing regime would be replaced by an item bank and online library of formative assessment tasks called an Assessment Resource System (ARS), which teachers could draw on in class.
The ARS resources would be mapped to and closely aligned with the curriculum and benchmarked against national standards.
Crucially, the new testing regime would be sample-based, which would still allow for system-level monitoring of student performance, but not for direct school comparisons.
The authors arrived at their recommendations by reconsidering what the priorities of a national assessment program should be.
According to the report, four factors should be considered: What do students need from a national assessment program? What information do teachers and schools need to support students? What information do parents need to support their children and schools? And finally, what is the necessary minimum information that governments need for accountability purposes and to support all of the above?
“The biggest recommendation is we actually need to reorient the assessment towards the needs of students … [and then] the system requirements for monitoring and accountability as a lower priority,” University of Sydney Associate Professor and report author Rachel Wilson explained.
“And I say that not because I’m discounting them, but because their needs are actually relatively easy to meet, and I think we’re overdoing it on that front. We’re overdoing it with census testing. It’s unnecessary and brings lots of negative outcomes.”
Wilson told Australian Teacher Magazine that a shift towards formative assessment would better meet the needs of students.
“NAPLAN was not designed to promote learning, it was simply designed as a monitoring and accountability framework.
“Now, over the years, various people said, ‘Oh, the tests are diagnostic, oh, they’re formative’. Well, the contradictory messages there have done nothing but frustrate people who’ve had to work with NAPLAN in schools.
“I think it’s pretty clear after reviewing all the literature that NAPLAN is neither diagnostic nor formative, and indeed, various CEOs have at different times acknowledged and admitted that. So what we need to do now is build an assessment system which does focus on learning.”
Wilson said her proposal would also help correct a drift away from classroom-based assessment.
“Over the years as NAPLAN’s been implemented, I’ve observed, and I have some research data also supporting this, that teachers are doing less classroom-based assessment, less of the teacher-led stuff, because they’re working towards preparation for NAPLAN.
“Now, to focus on learning we need to correct that balance, and I think we have the capability to have a smart and sensitive classroom-based assessment system that teachers can tap into, which provides assurances on quality and also benchmarks students against national standards.”
The proposed national assessment program would adopt a wider lens than NAPLAN.
“Now, initially, it would be based on literacy and numeracy, because that’s what we have been focusing on. But we could also introduce assessments in science, ICT and civics, and we could grow that item bank to include all areas of the curriculum, including HSIE, geography, history, social sciences, all of the sciences, mathematics as opposed to numeracy, we could include creative arts,” Wilson said.
“So the idea is to have a test item bank that is nice and broad, that teachers can draw on when they cover various parts of the curriculum. The items would have to be assessed and evaluated for psychometrics of course, and their alignment to the curriculum … and they would also have a linking through to standards and benchmarks. So when the teachers draw on an online system to produce a test of their choosing, [using] their professional judgement on the appropriateness of the assessment for their students, they can use those items to provide something which, when reported to parents, will provide a really nice, full picture of the child and their achievements.”
The report identifies a host of issues with NAPLAN, which it describes as, at worst, “deeply problematic”, and, at best, a lost opportunity to strengthen schools and meet national education goals.
Wilson said that NAPLAN has become high stakes – not just for schools, but for students as well.
“There is a build up to it. Even if the test had no repercussions for them educationally, they are being sent messages that it is very important. Those messages are loud and clear in the test preparation that they do, probably in the tone of voice of their teacher every time they mention it, and that builds a sense of magnitude to the whole testing experience.
“And we must remember that we are asking Grade 3 students to sit these tests – Grade 3 kids are young. Now I have lived through enough educational eras to remember the discussions when, for example, most of Britain gave up the eleven-plus exam. At 11, they felt it was way, way too young for a high stakes assessment. And here we are, so many years later, and we’re asking eight- and nine-year-olds to sit a high stakes test.
“We might be confusing them, because on the one hand … parents say it doesn’t matter, but they’re confronted by the fact that the child’s been given so many other signals that it does matter, it creates all these contradictions and tensions.”
When asked by Australian Teacher Magazine whether education minister Alan Tudge had read the report or considered its recommendations, the Government provided no response.
Tudge did, however, release a public statement in which he said he “won’t be bowing to those who want to scrap NAPLAN”.
Wilson said the Government’s failure to acknowledge the report was disappointing.
“Look, it is a very big shift to turn around, but you can’t just keep sailing the Titanic on into successive icebergs. It sinks at some point, and I believe it is sinking.
“I think that the participation rates on NAPLAN actually show the parents voting with their feet. For all of those who hold their children back and they don’t participate, there must be very many who are on the verge of that, like myself, who feel uncomfortable, who do their very best to show their child it doesn’t matter, fully conscious of the fact that the child’s being told other things and being given other signals at school and elsewhere. I think that is an expression of the public’s mood on it.”
Jordana Hunter, education program director at the Grattan Institute, believes that while NAPLAN isn’t perfect, scrapping it altogether would be a big step backwards.
Hunter told Australian Teacher Magazine a sample-based test couldn’t provide the same value NAPLAN does, but added that the report raises important questions about teachers’ access to high quality formative assessment.
“For a national standardised assessment, I think it’s important that it is census based, it’s important that families and students have access to an independent perspective on their learning over time, so I think it really does need to be census-based for that to be achieved,” Hunter said.
“When we look at the classroom level, from a formative assessment perspective, it’s important for teachers to be able to exercise their own professional judgement about the types of assessments that will be most useful for them on a day-to-day basis to capture evidence of student learning and make decisions about how to deliver their instruction in response to that.”
Hunter said that NAPLAN also holds enormous value for policymakers.
“Like every other area of the economy, there’s pressure on education budgets and it’s important for decision makers to know how different areas of the education system are tracking so that they can make decisions about how to allocate resources in ways that can improve capacity where it’s needed most.
“Like all organisations, our schools will have different strengths and weaknesses and they’re likely to change over time, so as a school finds that there’s an area where they’ve been having some trouble producing the levels of student progress they might like to see, NAPLAN can provide them the opportunity to get more clarity about that, understand what the challenges might be, and look for support to improve outcomes over time.”
The issue, Hunter said, is that NAPLAN has sometimes been presented as something that it’s not.
“NAPLAN is not a diagnostic tool, it is not a particularly effective formative assessment, but that is not its purpose and that’s not really what it has been designed to do. I think part of the resistance to NAPLAN is the expectation that NAPLAN can be all things to all people when it really can’t.
“NAPLAN is not perfect. There are things about NAPLAN that we can improve, that we should be working to improve. And hopefully, if NAPLAN is a more effective adaptive test, when the wrinkles with delivering NAPLAN online are ironed out and when NAPLAN results return more quickly to schools, NAPLAN can be seen as a more valuable part of a broader assessment regime. And when teachers have access to richer, more diagnostic forms of formative assessment, I think there’ll be less pressure on NAPLAN to be all things for all people.”
Hunter said it’s important for teachers and parents to encourage students to keep NAPLAN in perspective.
“Most children actually cope really well with NAPLAN, and if children are expressing concerns about NAPLAN, I think it’s really important for the adults in their lives, be it parents or teachers, to reassure children that NAPLAN is just an opportunity to check in on their learning.
“NAPLAN shouldn’t be framed as a competition, where there’s a prize for the winner and there’s some sort of punishment for the loser. And it’s really important, I think, that parents and teachers do provide that reassurance to children.
“I’ve likened it to going to the dentist. Sitting NAPLAN, like going to the dentist, is probably not the thing on the calendar that we all look forward to the most, but it really is just an opportunity for the adults in the room to get a sense of how teachers and school leaders and policymakers and systems can best support them in their learning.
“I think that message of reassurance is really important, and it really is up to adults to make sure they don’t make NAPLAN a more unpleasant process than it has to be.”