Catholic Secondary Principals Australia (CaSPA)

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195 Brighton Road
Somerton Park SA 5044

Phone: 0439 806 136


The 2020 Australian Principal Health and
Wellbeing Survey

EduTECH 2020 Invitation - 6 Free Registrations

Dear Principal

On behalf of EduTECH 2020, CaSPA is pleased to offer each Catholic Secondary Principal the opportunity to attend the Virtual Conference and invite 5 staff members from your school to also register with the same link. Please see below. This is a generous and exciting opportunity for professional learning for teachers and key staff.

Please use the link below to book tickets. I will also send an email next week with the same link, which could be forwarded to other staff as you see appropriate.  The free tickets are valued at $300 each. Hence, it is great value expecially if you “bring/invite” another 5 staff as well. EduTECH2020 is offering $1800 worth of free tickets per Principal!

Phil Lewis

(CaSPA Executive Officer)

CaSPA Principal Profile

Name: Rita Daniels 


Current School: Daramalan College, Canberra

Previous Position: Principal St Clare’s College, Canberra

First Year as a Principal: 2001

The hope for my current school is: That it continues to be a thriving school community living out the vision of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

The Joy of Principalship is: Seeing students excited about being at school, listening to staff discuss ideas and initiatives they are exploring and leading a school with a strong sense of community.

A Book I would recommend: “Great Speeches: Words that made history.”

Fun Fact about me: I know a lot more about Rugby Union now than I did prior to starting in my current role – and I enjoy watching it!

My valued Well-Being Strategy: Knowing when it is time to leave work at the end of a day, even if there are more things to be done, and making time for doing things I enjoy.

Advice for a Beginning Principal: Spend time looking and listening and do not be afraid to make changes that are clearly needed.

Inspiring Leadership Quote: “True leaders don’t create followers…they create more leaders!”

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: “It was one of those days …”


CaSPA Principal Profile

Name: Vincent Feeney


Current School: St Francis Xavier College Berwick, Officer and Beaconsfield

Previous Position: Principal, St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully

First Year as a Principal: 1994

The hope for my current school is: to achieve Catholic school excellence within a culture of intimacy

The Joy of Principalship is: seeing others grow and thrive knowing you have helped

A Book I would recommend: I’d recommend an old film. Stand and Deliver. The teacher believes more in determination than post codes. That effort brings its own rewards.

Fun Fact about me: I was once cast in an opera, The Medium, in the perfect showcase for my talents. I played a deaf and mute character.....

My valued Well-Being Strategy: exercise; gym and cycling

Advice for a Beginning Principal: Build your team, build it around the vision

Inspiring Leadership Quote: when a great leader has finished their work the people say, look what we have done

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book:” Love what you do, do what you love: my fortunate career”

CaSPA Principal Profile

Name: Marie Barton


Current School: Edmund Rice College, Bindoon

Previous Position: Vice Principal, St Mary’s College Broome

First Year as a Principal: 2007

The hope for my current school is: That our students are nurtured by a collaborative staff group on their faith and learning journeys and supported in developing skills, knowledge and understandings to become responsible contributors in their communities. Also that we never forget the importance of our story and the lessons that have been learned.

The Joy of Principalship is: Seeing the growth of our young people who often come to us from challenging situations and how they flourish and develop into proud young men and women.

A Book I would recommend: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Fun Fact about me: I once managed the Iron Clad Hotel in Marble Bar.

My valued Well-Being Strategy: Code switching when I arrive home.

Advice for a Beginning Principal: Use the rocks in the jar analogy. Focus on the big rocks – the important things.

Inspiring Leadership Quote: Be informed, be reflective, be courageous, be real, be the change you want to see in the world.

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: “I just want to teach” – The leader others saw in me.


CaSPA Principal Profile

Name:  Dan McMahon  



Current School:  Shalom Catholic College Bundaberg

Previous Position:  Principal – St Joseph’s College Toowoomba

First Year as a Principal:   1992 – St Brendan’s College Yeppoon

The hope for my current school is:  That we provide an excellent and wholistic catholic education for young women and men.

The Joy of Principalship is:  Working with young people and seeing them grow into better young adults.

A Book I would recommend:  ‘Preaching to the Converted’ by Richard Leonard sj – a great resource for every Principal to have on their book shelf to assist in material for weekly Newsletters when all else fails.

Fun Fact about me:  Got ‘hijacked’ to participate in a tandem sky dive on my 40th birthday – one of my most terrifying and wonderful experiences.

My valued Well-Being Strategy:  Principals should use their Sabbatical and Long Service Leave wisely to increase their longevity in a performing well their very demanding roles.  Don’t save it all up for a heart attack!

Advice for a Beginning Principal: 

  • Don’t get trapped in the office
  • Walk around the school and through classrooms every day if possible
  • Get to know, by name, as many students in your school as possible
  • Spend time writing good Newsletters – great opportunity to form your community and most people do them really badly by being bland and mundane.

Inspiring Leadership Quote: “Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.”

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book:  ‘A Fish Always Rots from the Head’ – the challenge and opportunity of being a great Principal!’


AITSL Leadership Article


President's Message

Dear Colleagues

Over the past weeks and months I have enjoyed playing along on social media to games like... 

  1. What is something you bought in 2020 that you have not been able to use?                                                        Or...
  1. What is a new word that you have added to your vocabulary in 2020? 


     3. If 2020 could be a food what would it be? 

My answers: 

  1. A Qantas bag tag (not being used) 
  2. Teaming/Zooming (as verbs)
  3. Coriander (yuk)

Keeping up our spirits and motivation has been hard at times this year. In my personal situation we have farewelled a beloved staff member and a Year 12 student who both died. Thankfully lock down in Canberra was kept to a minimum but the restrictions enforced have impacted the day to day running and life of our school.

However, on top of all these challenges I have been impressed with the resilience and efforts of my staff and students to create opportunities to have fun, celebrate and pray. I hope you too have received emails and messages of thanks from parents along with the normal governance and every day school issues. 

I am encouraged and excited to hear about the great new events Catholic secondary schools, around Australia, are inventing and engaging with to make this year special for students (especially Year 12s). Many are quite amazing - so share these ideas with each other as we continue our progress through 2020 knowing that ... “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Please take care of yourselves too.
Loretta Wholley
CaSPA President

President’s Message


Education Council

The Australian Education Council meets later this term and its agenda is going to be full. I am not privy to the final agenda, but based on the consultation work, collaborative groups, the online meetings and phone conferences CaSPA has been involved in recently, the September meeting will see some key changes in the Australian education landscape. Some of these collaborations can be seen in the table below.

“Education Council provides a forum through which strategic policy on school education and early childhood development can be coordinated at the national level, and through which, information can be shared and resources used collaboratively towards the achievement of agreed objectives and priorities.”

Future of Schooling - Love

I have recently been asked to participate in a study on the Future of Schooling. It has been fascinating to read the scenarios that both researchers, government and private enterprise have considered to have impact and that will shape the landscape of education and instruction into 2030 and 2050. Some scenarios only 6 months ago would have seemed unattainable and even maybe undesirable, and yet here we are in the middle of a pandemic, relying on the internet to teach and guide our students.

Thankfully though, we have our Catholic faith. Just last weekend in the Gospel reading we recalled the parable of the treasure in the field. In our schools, what would we be so joyful about that we give our all for it? Strong enrolment numbers, excellent ATAR results, sensational Vocation program, satisfied parents, a committed staff, happy students… I think COVID 19 has reminded us that the treasure is Love. Unconditional Love. It is what we all desire. To love and be loved in return. When this is first treasure we seek, the other treasures are found nearby.

In conclusion, I invite you to participate in the Mental Health Symposium listed below. Details have been sent to your local Principals’ Association.

The Mental Health Foundation Australia cordially invites you to the Live National Teachers' Mental Health Symposium on:

When: October 6, 2020, 1:00pm – 2:30pm AEST
Online Event

Loretta Wholley

CaSPA President


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'Teachers have responded magnificently': expertise has led the way through COVID-19

Mark Scott AO
By Mark Scott AO
June 3, 2020

We began the 2020 school year shrouded in smoke, communities across the country were devastated by fire and exhausted from a season of constant high alert. Literally within days teachers moved from classrooms to digital and distance learning – the speed of the turnaround was remarkable. Many of us were looking ahead to the cool of autumn for relief – for life to go back to normal.  Instead we’ve experienced a period of incredibly rapid and unexpected change in almost every facet of our lives. And through all of that teachers have responded magnificently.

We’ve seen a bold and rapid response as schools totally re-think how students can be taught and how to best support learning, engagement and wellbeing.  Literally within days teachers moved from classrooms to digital and distance learning – the speed of the turnaround was remarkable. 

Connecting with people in schools is always one of the best things about my job and that’s truer now than ever. There are schools where teachers have driven to every student’s house to deliver packages and to connect with community; where teachers have rapidly skilled up to completely switch to online learning within days; where differentiated learning packs have been developed and distributed to every single student; and everywhere schools have been at the centre of their communities. Social closeness even as we’ve been physically distant.

The innovation, collaboration and sheer hard work of teachers and schools has seen students continue to be supported in their learning, even as the rest of their world dramatically changes. 

The expertise and professionalism of teachers has been absolutely critical to the success of the shift away from classrooms and it will be just as essential in the shift back to them.  Perhaps one of the few genuine positives to come out of this period has been the chorus of appreciation from parents as they see first-hand the expertise and dedication required from teachers as they prepare lessons, material and support in new and accessible ways.

We’ve also seen a growing realisation of the obvious value of the school experience for our most vulnerable students but also a realisation of just how important that experience is for every student – and for our whole society.

The period of challenge is far from over. The road back is likely to be as full of obstacles and surprises as the journey so far. It’s clear that it will take time and that the life we go back to isn’t going to be exactly as it was before the bushfires and the virus. 

As we all navigate that path it’s more important than ever that every student is known, valued and cared for.  That the connection between teachers and students is maintained and that students are not lost from learning.

As we face the inevitable further change and disruption we can find some comfort in the knowledge that schools and teachers will continue to be essential; that the professionalism of teachers will ensure that students continue to be supported; and that schools will remain as cornerstones in their communities - as they have through this and every other national calamity.

Source: EducationHQ News <>

This is how school leaders can look after their community during a crisis: expert

Deniz Uzgun
By Deniz Uzgun
Published July 9, 2020

Carol Mutch, professor of Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland, has spent years researching the role of schools in disaster response and recovery. She spoke with EducationHQ on how school leaders can look after their staff and students during a crisis.

Professor Mutch, you began your career as a primary school teacher in Canterbury and Otago. What drew you into the research side of education?

After teaching in primary and intermediate schools, I took up a role as a lecturer at the Christchurch College of Education. I did some further study, including a course in research methods, which opened my eyes to being able to ask and seek answers to questions about teaching and learning. I became interested in how and why things happened. Many years later, after the Canterbury earthquakes, I asked a similar question – how and why did schools respond to the disaster in the way that they did?

Recently, you shared your research on the role of schools in disaster response and recovery with Australian teachers after the bushfire season. What role do schools play in responding to crisis?

I was a resident in Christchurch at the time of the Canterbury earthquakes. Five schools were willing to share their earthquake journeys with me and over several years I built up an understanding of the enormity of what was expected of them. I was also able to visit schools in Victoria recovering from the Black Saturday fires. As interest in my work grew, I was invited to conduct similar research in other contexts, such as post-tsunami Japan, post-earthquake Nepal and post-cyclone Vanuatu.

I found similar themes resonated across the different settings. Firstly, schools were a major contributor to community response and recovery. They became community hubs. If schools were still standing, they became evacuation shelters, relief distribution centres or places for a cup of tea and a chat. This role continued long after the disaster had passed and schools had been repaired and relocated. They also were places that brought the community together for social events, information evenings and commemorations.

Secondly, the roles of school staff changed dramatically. Take teachers, for instance. If a disaster happened during a school day, they became first responders. They might have had to rescue or evacuate their students, or even provide first aid. Once the initial shock had passed, they would look after students until someone came to claim them. This might take hours or days. When schools were up and running again, teachers returned to work even though they might have suffered badly themselves. They did their best with limited facilities and supplies. Their roles included helping children cope with trauma and well as refocusing on returning to the regular routine of schooling.

How can students manage their emotional response to the COVID-19 situation?

The other main finding in my research related to helping students process the events they had faced. While students who suffer severe trauma need specialist help, teachers can provide activities to support their students to begin to make sense of the experience. It helps to approach the event obliquely. One example is using picture books to connect with a character who is dealing with a challenge. To assist with this, I wrote four digital stories of a toy bear who went into lockdown. I knew I had hit the mark when bundles of letters and drawings arrived for ‘Bear’ from children who had connected with his experiences. Through Bear, children began to internalise COVID-19 as a shared experience that will be part of their, and our, personal and communal histories.

You describe principals as being crisis managers. What sorts of expectations are placed on school leaders during times of uncertainty and difficulty?

If a crisis happens while school is in session, everyone looks to the principal for how to respond. It helps if there are clear policies and procedures in place, but the sudden onset of a crisis means that this is not always possible. When principals switch into crisis mode, they usually respond with a ‘command and control’ style. They need to give directions in a decisive manner. After they have assessed the situation, they can make more use of their leadership teams and wider staff members. They need to constantly appraise what is going on around them and adjust their leadership to suit. I call this ‘zooming in and zooming out’. They need to know what is happening in the wider context to make the best decisions for the situation in front of them – and then check that those decisions fit with the latest information coming in. They are in a constant state of alertness and this soon becomes exhausting.

How are the leadership attributes required of school leaders in times of crisis different from those required in a day-to-day school environment?

The main difference between leading through a crisis and leading in ordinary times is that the situation is unexpected, fast-moving, and constant. There is little chance to plan beyond the immediate and decisions are made instinctively. There is little time for leaders to seek advice and there is always an anxiety that the decisions that they make might have severe unintended  consequences.

How can school leaders manage the weight of expectations placed on them?

Having the responsibility for keeping everyone in their school safe and cared for in a fluid and uncertain context uses all of a leader’s energy and skill. Many principals I interviewed tried not to over-burden their staff or ask for external help, to the detriment of their own physical and mental health. What they found helpful was the school having had done some crisis preparation, even if it was not specifically related to the event they were now facing. This meant that there had been discussion of scenarios, updating of plans, allocation of tasks and crisis team building. Having worked on good internal and external relationships meant that they felt comfortable delegating tasks or seeking support from outside.

Their advice for other principals was to have someone to regularly debrief with – another principal or mentor – and to connect with other principals as a group to share experiences. In hindsight, they would have paced themselves better and taken breaks so they could return with renewed energy for the long task ahead.

After the Canterbury earthquakes you were involved in various school community projects to help the community recover. What sort of strategies were implemented to help the school community heal and develop resilience?

I think what made the projects successful was that rather than coming in with an outsider’s perspective on what I thought they should do, I asked what they thought would work for them. Different schools decided who would be involved and what they wanted the outcome to be. The final products included an illustrated book, a video documentary made by students and a community mosaic memorial. My advice is that you can offer to help but schools need to be ready to engage in a project. The right timing is different for different communities. They also need to see the clear benefit to their students. Schools engage best when they are involved in conceiving the idea, designing the approach and implementing the plan without it becoming a burden on their time. They also need to commit to seeing the plan through because things don’t always go according to plan.

Source: EducationHQ News <>


Name: Corey Tavella

Current School: Thomas More College

Previous Position & School: Deputy Principal, St Mary’s College, Adelaide

Year of Birth: 1979

The hope for my current school is: that our students are challenged and supported to achieve their best.

The Joy of Principalship is: having the privilege of having ‘two classes’: staff and students, and coaching their growth as cohorts and individuals.

A Book I would recommend: Nuance by Michael Fullan.  By definition, Nuance brings to light those intangibles as a leader that are difficult to name, but so important to practise.

Fun Fact about me: I sing and have a habit of appearing in school productions.

My valued Well-Being Strategy: spending lots of time with my kids, and also (but not at the same time) watching movies that allow me not to think.

Advice for a Beginning Principal: ‘You need to laugh’.

Inspiring Leadership Quote: I have two:

  1. “Any person who reads too much and uses his/her own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking”- Albert Einstein.
  2. “Assumption is the mother all of all mistakes” (edited)- anon.

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book:

 How to lead in education by thinking outside of it.

Name: Marlene Jorgensen


Current School: Catholic Regional College Melton

Previous Position & School: Deputy Principal Learning and Teaching at St Peter’s College Cranbourne

Year of Birth: 1962

The hope for my current school is: I have too many to synthesise in this one profile. If I had to pick – to ensure that each student who leaves our gates is imbued with a deep sence of self worth and the knowledge that they are truly loved.

The Joy of Principalship is: Working with amazing staff and wonderful students that provide energy and inspiration each day

A Book I would recommend: Songs of a war boy by Deng Thail Adut

Fun Fact about me: I love Sunday drives to a winery for lunch in my 65 Mustang Convertible

My valued Well-Being Strategy: Balance Variety and Moderation

Advice for a Beginning Principal: Pace yourself and affirm others often.

Inspiring Leadership Quote: It is high time the ideal of success  be replaced with the ideal of service.” — Albert Einstein

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: The Resilient Leader- how to bounce back from anything!

Name: Paul Reidy 


Current School: Mount St Patrick College 

Previous Position & School: Assistant Principal Staff & Students, Xavier Catholic College, Ballina

Year of Birth: 1969

The hope for my current school is: Continue the great work of previous leaders, developing a strong supportive culture for both students and staff.

The Joy of Principalship is: The privilege of leading a terrific community of staff, students and parents.

A Book I would recommend:  Love is Strong as Death: Poems Chosen by Paul Kelly

Fun Fact about me: I was born the day the man landed on the moon.

My valued Well-Being Strategy: daily examen, reading, playing music, walking the dog, riding my bike

Advice for a Beginning Principal: Be prepared to take it as it comes.

Inspiring Leadership Quote: "Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is". Ernest Hemingway

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: It's in the doing

Name: Susan Carroll 


Current School: St Anne’s College, Kialla

Previous Position & School: Senior Education Officer: Leader of Pedagogy, Catholic Education Sandhurst.

Year of Birth: 1971

The hope for my current school is: To build a community of learners who know and believe it is their responsibility to drive positive change in the world.

The Joy of Principalship is: Leading a community knowing we are making a positive impact on the lives of young citizens of the world.

A Book I would recommend: Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership lessons from Pope Francis (Jeffrey A. Krames).

Fun Fact about me: I am an 80’s music tragic.

My valued Well-Being Strategy: Exercise

Advice for a Beginning Principal: Ask lots of questions from the wealth of knowledge around you – then LISTEN!

Inspiring Leadership Quote: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” (Mother Theresa)

What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Finding JOY – A leadership journey.

CaSPA Key Activities (July)

  • AITSL Virtual Roundtable – National Strategy to Address Teacher and School Leader Workforce Data and Future Strategy
  • Further work and liaison with the Coalition of Australian Principals (CAP)
  • Consultation with Education Department regarding the Review for Students with Disabilities and related legislation.
  • Developing a timeline for the CaSPA Strategic Plan 2020- 22.
  • DESE – National Architecture of Education consultation
  • Planning for CaSPA Conference 2021
  • Stakeholder meetings with ACARA to Review the Australian Curriculum, My School & NAPLAN


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