I hope you are surviving and thriving during this challenging time for all schools during the pandemic - COVID-19. I hope that you are also coping with the mixture of messages from different levels of government. Most importantly though, I trust that you are remaining well and those in your community are staying safe and healthy.
For many of you I know that there has hardly been a break since the beginning of the year when the Bushfire crisis hit Australia. The coronavirus has then further complicated the demands on your time and your staff's time. Please continue to be the people of hope and care for your staff and students.
Since the last newsletter it has been a pleasure to work with the other three Peak Principal Associations to draft a letter to the Education Ministers around Australia. The letter is included in this newsletter and was written to support collaboration with Principals and Teachers to develop workable strategies related to COVID-19. The letter caught the attention of The Project (Channel 10) and was invited to an interview with the television team last week. It was heartening to know our combined message was being promoted by the media. The interview can be viewed through these links:
My very best wishes to you for Term 2 and please take care of yourself during this unprecedented and demanding time.
23 April 2020
Dear Ministers of Education
The federal and state and territory governments, working through the National Cabinet, are to be congratulated for all their endeavours towards a shared response to the manifold challenges posed by CoVid-19.
Our organisations represent Principals of Australian schools.
Principals are trained educators and community leaders. We recognise that the critical relationships in the education of Australia’s children are those between school and parent/carers, teacher, and student and those of collegiality and cooperation between teachers, schools, and sectors.
We know and understand our school communities, and are highly experienced in managing the provision of education to students while taking into account their health and wellbeing. The agile response of schools to meet the educational needs of students and professional needs of teachers during Term 1 2020 is ample proof of the capacity of schools to manage rapid and significant transformation in education delivery.
Schools have not shut down. We have continued to be in close – if digital – contact with students who are remote learning and with their parents. We are aware of the stresses within families and understand the uncertainties and fears of parents and of teachers. We therefore urge governments to ask for and listen to our voice in their decision making about schools and that they incorporate our understanding and experience of what works best in schools into their planning for the safe return to school for students, teachers and their families.
We call on the local and federal Ministers of Education to work alongside us, together with health experts, in the initial formulation of policy development. This needs to occur prior to governments announcing any further strategies with regard return of students to school.
We recognise that the regulatory responsibility for schools lies with eight different jurisdictions, all with different pandemic challenges and risks. Decision making around the return to full on-site school operations will of necessity be localised. It is therefore vitally important that National Cabinet seeks greater alignment between national and jurisdictional communications on schooling issues. This may entail the federal government refraining from generalised directions to parents which are at odds with the specifics of jurisdictional planning.
Conflicting advice erodes the trust that is required for the proper functioning of government and communities. As it is Principals who are left to manage uncertainty and loss of confidence, we therefore recommend for immediate action:
- Federal and state and territory ministers of education establish advisory groups of principals from all school sectors or, at the least, representatives of the four peak national principals’ associations
- State and territory ministers agree to uphold and adhere to one national statement of advice on reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools; differences in advised practices create uncertainty and undermine parents’ and teachers’ confidence as well as the confidence of the wider community.
School principals know what will and will not work for students, teachers and parents. We are ready and willing to advise governments to ensure the successful transition to full on-site delivery of school education.
Mr Andrew Pierpoint
President, ASPA (Australian Secondary Principals’ Association)
Mr Malcolm Elliot
President, APPA (Australian Primary Principals Association)
Mrs Loretta Wholley
President, CaSPA (Catholic Secondary Principals Australia)
Principal Merici College, ACT.
Ms Beth Blackwood
CEO, AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia)
CaSPA Key Activities (April)
- AITSL – National Strategy to Address Teacher and School Leader Abuse consultation.
- AITSL _ Middle Leaders Consultation re new Framework to link Teacher Standards and Principal Standard.
- Consultation with Education Department regarding COVID-19 response for schools.
- Finalising CaSPA Strategic Plan 2020- 22.
- AITSL – National Architecture of Education consultation.
- Planning for CaSPA Conference 2021
- AITSL School Leadership workshop / teleconference.
- Co-signed Letter to Australian Education Ministers re COVID-19.
Meet the CaSPA Board
Name: Ann Rebgetz
Current School: St James College, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Qld
Previous Position: Principal, St Columban’s College, Caboolture, Qld
First Year as a Principal: 2006
The hope for my current school is: That our Muticultural, Multifaith, Multiskilled, Multilingual students achieve Multisuccess!
The Joy of Principalship is: Seeing Communities Grow in Learning and Aspirations to Believe in Themselves and have High Hopes for the Future! This includes students, staff, parents, carers, supporters!
A Book I would recommend: Boy Swallows Universe
Fun Fact about me: I enjoy life, family, friends, and try and make the most of it!
My valued Well-Being Strategy: Make time for your family, team, colleagues and friends – keep calm, and enjoy healthy pursuits you know energise you!
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Seek advice, have confidence in yourself, keep a strong sense of purpose as a moral compass, talk to your colleagues, take time out to relax, develop your filters in making decisions around students eg “family, factory, jungle,cathedral” to maintain a balanced approach.
Inspiring Leadership Quote: Leading in a culture of change means creating a culture (not just a structure) of change. It does not mean adopting innovations, one after another; it does mean producing the capacity to seek, critically assess, and selectively incorporate new ideas and practices—all the time, inside the organization as well as outside it. ( Michael Fullan)
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Creating an Aspirational Culture in a Global Context
Name: Frank Pisano
Current School: St Brendan-Shaw College
Previous Position: Deputy Principal
First Year as a Principal: 2010
The hope for my current school is: For us to continue to live into our vision of being a vibrant Catholic community with a generosity of Human Spirit.
The Joy of Principalship is:
Being able to influence the culture of a school through policies and procedures that are authentically Catholic, respecting and recognising the dignity of every member of the school.
A Book I would recommend is: Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead
Fun Fact about me: I enjoy cooking
My valued Well-Being Strategy: Dispense with ‘guilt’ for choosing balance over working at home.
Advice for a Beginning Principal:
- Be able to articulate your values
- Read Dare to Lead
- Watch Jürgen Klopp clip: https://t.co/NwzHMAYkiA?fbclid=IwAR3udUF3DIkz1ZsFkOMfqgEXnN5DZ40btQcCRTcB1lqgtWW0YSQVgN8mO-I and
- avoid the common affliction of ‘imposter syndrome’
Inspiring Leadership Quote:
“Everyone thinks that they can do your job better than you ….. until they have to dot it”. (Teddy Roosevelt’s is much more eloquent than me - see his Man in the Arena speech.)
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book:
Humour - pathway to sanity
Current School: Seton Catholic College
Previous Position: John Paul College
First Year as a Principal: 2008
The hope for my current school is: Each member of the community is an expression of the best person they can be
The Joy of Principalship is: Witnessin and supporting student and staff growth
A Book I would recommend: Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads: Lessons from the First Jesuit Pope by Lowney, Chris
Fun Fact about me: I enjoy skiing
My valued Well-Being Strategy: Walking and swimming each morning at Port Beach
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Consult with your network and local Catholic Education Office
Inspiring Leadership Quote: Leadership is not about a title or a designation. Its about impact, influence and inspiration.
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: The authentic me!
Name: Darren Atkinson
Current School: Aquinas College, Ringwood Vic
Previous Position: Principal, St Joseph’s College, Mildura Vic
First Year as a Principal: 2009
The hope for my current school is: To find a rewarding pathway for every child.
The Joy of Principalship is: The opportunity to provide an environment in which young people can flourish.
A Book I would recommend: Creating the Schools Our Children Need: Why What We're Doing Now Won't Help Much (And What We Can Do Instead) by Dylan Wiliam
My valued Well-Being Strategy: Getting out on the bike trails
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Switch off email alerts on your phone.
Inspiring Leadership Quote: “When in doubt … err on the side of generosity” Dr Peter Casey
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: Fake it til you make it
New-world education: What's needed to lead schools into the future
We live in incredibly challenging times, and schools are at the epicentre of issues affecting our communities today.
The global pandemic has changed the way we think about schools, communities, and society as a whole – and will continue to do so for some time.
Australia has also come out of the grip of a ferocious and terrifying summer of bushfires that directly impacted on most of the country. It’s been a stark illustration of the impact of societies on the global environment, as well as of the political, social and economic costs of leadership decisions.
Through these crises in Australia, public confidence in political leadership has often been lacking as key politicians underestimated the role and importance of a leader in the country’s time of need. Research shows that public trust and confidence has declined over many years and is now in critical deficit when needed to navigate the complexities thrown up by COVID-19.
However, we also saw the evidence that leadership is about actions rather than sitting within a formal role – community members, volunteers, and activists have taken the lead in organising coordinated responses and support for those affected by the bushfires. We saw, vividly, the power of collective action and diverse acts of leadership.
International politics continues to move towards populist, authoritarian regimes and policies that further entrench disadvantage in our societies. Trust in institutions and society has been lost, and we’re increasingly aware of the manipulation of truth through social media and the news media on elections and politics, and public discourse. We see an uncritical consumption of fake news, and a spread of propaganda around the globe.
Schooling is directly affected by the political turmoil we see across the world. Education is an easy political football – international rankings and league tables, and annual national testing results contribute to a narrative of crisis and failure that’s unfounded. Calls for schools to go “back to basics” continue to be wheeled out frequently, with seemingly little consideration of what is in danger of being lost when doing so. Notably in Australia, as in many other parts of the world, equality of opportunity for marginalised populations is often exacerbated by schooling experiences when it should be ameliorated.
Generations to come will need to meet the challenges of our times through innovative and collective responses. The education they experience as children and young people will contribute to their capacity to be successful.
We hope that we can see a bigger picture of schooling emerge from all of this – one that's less focused on attainment of arbitrary standards by a certain time and age, and instead focuses on progression through skills and knowledge, and embedding education within the local and global community.
In the face of such challenges, it’s easy to turn to despair. However, we’re seeing hundreds of thousands of young people around the world taking positive action. Through activities such as protesting against climate change inaction, children and young people are calling governments to act on the overwhelming science that points to how we should be responding to the climate crisis.
In order to thrive within these broader conditions, our communities need to support children and young people to develop agency, resilience, and a sense of belonging, as this is crucial to their wellbeing and ongoing mental health in challenging times.
School leaders are uniquely positioned between policy and practice – they’re the people who take policies designed to work for entire systems, and mould them into policies and subsequent practices that meet the local needs of their communities.
There’s much discussion at the moment that schooling can be reimagined into the future, and we believe there are some key attributes school leaders will need to possess in a “new” world:
Lead for a broader version of education into the future
Leaders need to be able to maintain a “bigger picture” of education than one that can be easily measured. We’ve already seen calls early in 2020 for standardised testing to be scrapped because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve seen the UK call off their qualifications exams for their schools.
We’re also seeing advocacy for schooling to be more about engaging with the world around us – for students learning from home to explore the way they fit within a rapidly changing world, and for schooling to be relevant, and meet the needs of incredibly diverse students and their changing contexts.
We hope that we can see a bigger picture of schooling emerge from all of this – one that's less focused on attainment of arbitrary standards by a certain time and age, and instead focuses on progression through skills and knowledge, and embedding education within the local and global community. Educational leaders are going to be at the forefront of those decisions and the work that sets the future agenda.
Interpret, translate, and contextualise policies to meet their school community’s needs
Leaders need to be able to identify what elements of policies will meet their school needs, and filter the “noise” – the factors that add to the workload or the “busy-ness” of schools, without adding to their goals and priorities.
We’ve seen leaders cut through the noise of conflicting advice and make decisions that are needed for their local communities. To do so, leaders need to have a solid understanding of their schools’ histories, cultures and traditions, and the specific needs of their local context. It takes time and work to build the relationships requisite to understanding these nuances of context.
Engage with communities, and understand the various resources that are available
Leaders are increasingly responsible for the oversight of a range of services to meet student and community needs. They need to have a big-picture understanding of the different forms of expertise, support, interagency collaborations, and resources that are available to them in their work. They need to be able to quickly draw upon their knowledge of policy and procedure to identify who can offer support, who might need support, and what resources are available to enable that support.
Advocate for equity and excellence for all students, with an understanding of political and economic impacts on social justice
Leaders are often the faces of their schools, and a strong advocate for their communities. Leaders need to be able to communicate to and from systems about the local effects/influences of external policies and politics on their school’s students, staff and communities.
The importance of excellence in achievement and outcomes must have a foundation of equity – meeting student needs, supporting them to achieve their best, and to feel a sense of belonging and safety at school. Only when those foundational needs are met can students achieve excellence.
Contribute to school and system change that empowers children and young people as a first priority
School reforms are often missing the voices of those most impacted – students. If we’re to change schooling to meet the needs of a changing world, and to empower students to be “confident and creative individuals” who are “active and informed members of the community”, as noted in the Mparntwe Declaration, we need to reimagine schooling structures so that student voices and experiences are centred.
Source: Monash University & Education HQ
Five reports on remote learning find vulnerable students could fall six weeks behind due to COVID-19-related measures
By National Education Reporter Conor Duffy
Up to 46 per cent of Australian young people are at risk of adverse effects on their educational outcomes according to new research.(AAP: Paul Miller)
Up to half of Australian children and young people stand to be adversely affected by the nation's shift to remote learning, according to a series of reports commissioned by the Federal Education Department.
- Rapid job losses and limited home internet access have prompted researchers to consider more students as vulnerable than usual
- Experts found some subjects will be worse hit than others, with numeracy worst affected
- One researcher said 23 per cent of students have not logged in at all so far this term at one Melbourne school
Conducted by five of the country's leading universities and educational institutions, the reports aimed to measure the potential ramifications for vulnerable students — but one report indicated the impact may well extend beyond this.
Professor Natalie Brown, Director of the Peter Underwood Centre at the University of Tasmania, was the lead author on the paper that found 46 per cent of all children could suffer.
"We're seeing an increase in families that are struggling in terms of being able to cover the basic needs — food and shelter and pay rent and all of those kind of things, so that covers quite a number of young Australians," Professor Brown told the ABC.
Professor Brown said that while the initial research focussed on traditionally vulnerable students, the cohort had expanded because of rapid job losses and limited home internet access — circumstances exacerbated by the rush to remote learning.
"[It includes] all of the complexities of being at home — so some people not having a home, some people in economic disadvantage at home, others trying to balance work, multiple children," Professor Brown said.
The report found "nearly half [46 per cent] of Australian children and young people are at risk [of] adverse effects on their educational outcomes, nutrition, physical movement and emotional wellbeing by being physically disconnected from school".
The degree of that impact came as a surprise to researchers.
"When we first started this we were thinking of the people that we're normally concerned about in the education context … but as we started to peel things away we thought, 'no there's a whole lot of newly disadvantaged families' ," Professor Brown said.
As coronavirus infections reached their peak and schools closed, the extent of support and help required of teachers became apparent.
"I guess when you start to think about that, I guess it's not at all surprising that so many families are really finding this a challenge," Professor Brown said.
Another key report from the Mitchell Institute at the University of Victoria found vulnerable students could fall weeks behind in their schooling.
If online delivery lasts for two terms, vulnerable students could fall six weeks behind on numeracy and four weeks on reading, according to Professor Stephen Lamb's report.
Professor Lamb based his report on NAPLAN data and US research comparing online learning to traditional classrooms.
"Our findings are that across one term there will be close to three and a half weeks of learning lost in numeracy for children from low [socio-economic] backgrounds, similar for Indigenous students and about half that from language backgrounds other than English," Professor Lamb told the ABC.
Professor Lamb said the US model, whereby students can attend online-only schools, or traditional schools, provides a valuable working database.
"In numeracy, it's about 13 weeks across a full school year of learning that will be lost basically … for literacy and reading skills it's slightly lower but it's still about nine to 10 weeks, that's our estimate," he said.
He also spoke of anecdotal evidence he discovered in the course of his research.
"There is a school I know of in Melbourne that deals with our low SES community where so far this term, 23 per cent of students have not logged in.
"Effectively for the first two or three weeks of this school term they haven't taken advantage of online learning, so that's a pretty troubling situation," Professor Lamb said.
The reports come as the states remain unhappy with the Federal Government's position on schools remaining open.
On Sunday, Victoria's Education Minister James Merlino — the only state committed to remote learning for the entirety of term two — made it clear Federal intervention was unwelcome.
"Let me be very clear, particularly to the Federal Government who do not run any schools; we will only transition back to face-to-face teaching for all students when that is the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer. Not a moment before," Mr Merlino said in a tweet.
In clarifying its position, Canberra has relied on advice from the peak body for health emergencies that it is safe to do so, as well as citing concerns for vulnerable students who may be endangered by staying at home.
The other reports submitted to the Federal Government are from the Australian Council for Educational Research, the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Curtin University.
Source: ABC News Website