The Educator 4.02

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30 of education’s most promising young leaders HOW TO CREATE CONFIDENT WRITERS Inside a pioneering writing program

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WHY ARTS EDUCATION STILL MATTERS Is the focus on STEM leaving the arts behind?

TRADITION MEETS INNOVATION Spotlight on 141-year-old Tintern Grammar

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ISSUE 4.02

CONNECT WITH US Got a story, suggestion, or just want to find out some more information?


UPFRONT 02 Editorial

Inspiration from tomorrow’s leaders

04 Statistics



What influences children’s career aspirations?

06 Head to head



How Tintern Grammar honours its 141-year history whilst preparing students for the modern world


Be inspired by 30 young educators who are working tirelessly to ensure a bright future for Australia’s education system



07 Opinion

Teachers’ impact on students outside of the classroom

08 News analysis

What could the current emphasis on STEM mean for other integral subject areas?

10 Learning and development update



Do single-sex schools still have a place in the 21st century?



Former principal Simon Gipson discusses his new role as CEO of arts non-profit The Song Room

Why financial literacy is becoming increasely important for school leaders

12 Technology update

The work being undertaken by tech giants to upskill educators

FEATURES 50 Curious Leadership

Why good leadership isn’t about having all the answers

52 Creating a culture where innovation thrives

Amanda Imber outlines key drivers of innovation culture

Jen McVeity talks about helping young students to become passionate writers

PEOPLE 56 Career path





Opera Australia celebrates 20 years of making opera accessible to more than a million students

From starting schools in South East Asia to championing arts education, Simon Gipson’s career has been as varied as it is inspiring


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Teaching for tomorrow


n an address to women at Harvard Business School in 2013, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said: “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Given the current controversies surrounding the social media site, it isn’t particularly in vogue to be quoting Facebook leaders as a source of wisdom, but the truth in Sandberg’s words remains patent. And arguably, those words are particularly applicable to educators – the professionals tasked with preparing students to be contributing citizens of the world. We talk constantly about the ever-increasing pace of change in our world and the need to equip the next generation of leaders with the tools necessary to survive and thrive in the 21st century. In order for students to be so equipped,

It’s so heartening to learn about all of the wonderful initiatives younger teachers are driving and the benefits their students are reaping they require teachers who are steadfastly focused on the task at hand. They require teachers who are not only committed to arming them with those skills, but also to continuing to enhance their own skill sets in order to be well placed to provide best-in-class experiences. In this issue, The Educator is proud to present the third annual Rising Stars report. Earlier in the year, we asked our readers to tell us about the up-andcomers in their schools who exhibit the characteristics and behaviours that will undoubtedly make them the movers and shakers of the sector. We wanted to find out precisely what talented young educators are doing to make their mark. As in previous years, our team was struck by the standard of entries we received for this year’s Rising Stars list. Nominating colleagues told wonderful stories about young educators who have led change on a number of fronts – and, in doing so, have inspired those around them. It’s so heartening to learn about all of the wonderful initiatives younger teachers are driving and the benefits their students are reaping. I hope you take the time to read about the 30 young education professionals The Educator selected for this year’s Rising Stars special report. It is educators of this calibre who instil tremendous confidence in the future of education.

MAY/JUNE 2018 EDITORIAL Managing Editor Iain Hopkins Editor Tim Garratt Journalist Brett Henebery Contributors Murat Dizdar Michelle Gibbings Amantha Imber Production Editor Clare Alexander

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Joenel Salvador Traffic Coordinator Freya Demegilio

SALES & MARKETING Marketing & Communications Manager Michelle Lam Business Development Manager Dominic Tusa

CORPORATE Chief Executive Officer Mike Shipley Chief Operating Officer George Walmsley Managing Director Justin Kennedy Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil


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Tim Garratt, editor


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A glimpse of the future

COLOMBIA Sportsman/woman 34%

A look at children’s career aspirations highlights the need for more real-life working role models CHILDREN’S CAREER aspirations are too often based on gender stereotypes and socio-economic backgrounds, and influenced by TV, film and radio. That’s according to Drawing the Future, a recent report from UK-based charity Education and Employers. The study asked 20,000 primary school children from 20 countries to draw their ideal future job and explain why they chose it. Researchers found that boys preferred jobs that


of Australian children aspire to be a sportsman/woman


of Australian children aspire to be a teacher/lecturer

Doctor 22%

involved working with things, while girls were drawn to careers that prioritised caring. The study also revealed that less than 1% of children had heard about their preferred career from someone in that profession who visited their school. “Drawing the Future demonstrates the need for primary-school-age children to have more exposure to role models from the world of work from an early age,” said Education and Employers CEO Nick Chambers.


of Australian children aspire to be a police officer

THE GENDER BIAS An examination of boys’ and girls’ top job choices across the globe reveals that, despite the great strides made by women in male-dominated fields over the past few decades, children still tend to think of certain careers as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ which potentially limits their aspirations. More than 20 times the number of boys drew themselves as mechanics, construction workers or architects, for instance, while girls were much more likely to aspire to careers in the fashion industry.


of Australian children aspire to be a vet

Source: Education and Employers, Drawing the Future, January 2018

THE ROLE OF ROLE MODELS In Australia, nearly half of children were influenced to choose their future career by TV or film, but almost as many (39%) were inspired by someone they know – typically a parent, family member or teacher.


Source: Education and Employers, Drawing the Future, January 2018


WHAT WILL THE WORKFORCE NEED? While children’s aspirations generally don’t match up with the projected future needs of the labour force, in Australia, there was some modest alignment. The Department of Jobs and Small Business projects health care and education among the largest contributors to employment growth over the next five years, which tracks with top career choices such as teacher and vet. TOP 5 GROWTH PROFESSIONS IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS


















Health care Professional, Construction Education Accommoand social scientific and and training dation and assistance technical food services services







Sportsman/ woman

Teacher/ lecturer

Police officer



Source: Australian Government Department of Jobs and Small Business, Industry Employment Projections 2017 Report; Education and Employers, Drawing the Future, January 2018

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BELARUS Police officer 20%


Teacher/lecturer 14%


Sportsman/woman 28%

Sportsman/woman 24%

Teacher/lecturer 27%

Teacher/lecturer 36%



Scientist 20%

Driver/haulier 28%

Teacher/lecturer 29%

Teacher/lecturer 58%

Sportsman/woman 34.1%


Teacher/lecturer 18.6%

Army/Navy/Air Force/ firefighter 23% Doctor 40%



Sportsman/womanr 49%

Sportsman/woman 37%

Teacher/lecturer 24%

Teacher/lecturer 27%

Source: Education and Employers, Drawing the future, January 2018



Children’s preferences for STEM-related careers indicate that while girls do picture themselves in certain scientific and technical roles (more girls than boys, for instance, aspired to be doctors and vets), there’s still much work to be done in erasing gender stereotyping across many STEM-related fields.

The top three favourite subjects for Australian participants were art and design, maths, and physical education. In the broader results, maths and science were among the top two favourite subjects of children worldwide, except for those in Australia and China.




30% 8%



20% 15%


10% 2% 0%

5% 0% Vet


Nurse/ Health advisor

Dentist Paramedic Midwife Optician Astronaur Builder

Engineer (civil, mechanical, electrical)


Source: Education and Employers, Drawing the Future, January 2018

Art and Mathe- Physical English Science Music History Compudesign matics educating tion Source: Education and Employers, Drawing the Future, January 2018

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Are single-sex schools still relevant?

Single-sex schools have a long and proud tradition, but some argue they no longer have a place in modern education

Loren Bridge

Dr Lise Eliot

Executive officer Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia

Professor of neuroscience Columbia University

“Single-sex schools are often depicted as anachronistic institutions that don’t prepare students for the real world. However, multiple studies show unequivocally that girls benefit from a learning environment free from gender stereotyping and unconscious bias. Girls are more self-assured in discussion, select more challenging subjects, take more risks with their learning, are more competitive and achieve better academically than their co-ed counterparts. Simply put, every aspect of a girls’ school is tailored to girls and how they learn, without competition and social pressure from boys, and this is enormously empowering for girls.”

“It’s hard to see any value in single-sex education for today’s youth. Gender employment and pay gaps are a matter of social grouping, not hard-wired differences in ability or interests. I study the influence of gender on brain development and can say with confidence that most of the gaps in cognitive, emotional and leadership skills are learned, not inborn. Girls and boys start out only a little bit different, but grow increasingly apart the more we label, distinguish and divide them into separate tribes. Although societies created excellent single-sex schools in the past, it’s time for them to open their doors to all students.”

Mark Merry National chair AHISA

“Having been principal of both a boys’ school and now a co-educational school, I find cause for celebration in the diversity among Australia’s schooling models. Maintaining that diversity is vital: When rapid social and technological changes are driving transformation in schools, it would be counterproductive to seek a ‘one size fits all’ education solution. Instead, to support innovation and to achieve the best for students, we need to acknowledge that we have much to learn from our differences. Of course, the primary consideration for parents and the ultimate worth of any school is the quality of the teaching and teaching program.”

THE CASE FOR SINGLE-SEX SCHOOLING Australian research shows that there are positive effects of single-sex schooling in relation to numeracy and literacy testing (NAPLAN) and tertiary entrance scores (TES). In 2014, Dr Lucy Lu and Karen Rickard of the NSW Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation studied the test scores of students at 45 single-sex government high schools in NSW. Their analysis found that “the effect associated with single-sex schooling ranged from 0.08 standard deviations for junior secondary students to 0.2 standard deviations for senior secondary students”.


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Beyond the classroom Teachers’ impact continues outside the walls of the classroom and can have a profound effect on the students they teach, writes Murat Dizdar I STARTED my teaching career as a social science teacher at Ashcroft High School. I was inspired to teach social science by my own high school teachers Robert Baker, Anne Draper, Warren Griffiths, Marie Joahnson and Hart Strum – they were the engines of the social science faculty in the late ’80s at Fort Street High School. They were deeply committed to and passionate about teaching, and it rubbed off on me. Today, I have the privileged role of deputy secretary of school operations and performance. It is a role that affords me the opportunity to influence and shape public education for two-thirds of the student population in NSW. I may spend less time in classrooms today than I did as a high school teacher, but my passion for teaching remains the same. An important aspect of my role is my frequent school visits to speak with students, teachers, school leaders and support staff. On these visits, I find myself constantly inspired by the work of our teachers and the influence they have on the lives of the young people we serve. Teachers do more than just teach. Teachers play a critical role in preparing our children and young people to lead rewarding and productive lives in society. This is the reason why I became a teacher: I wanted to make a difference – a sentiment shared by teachers far and wide. Dorothy Hoddinott is one such teacher who is an inspiration to me and her colleagues. Dorothy is an outstanding teacher, school leader and advocate of students from immigrant and refugee communities. She began

her principalship of Holroyd High School and Intensive English Centre in western Sydney 23 years ago, and she has played an instrumental role in the transformation of the Holroyd community. The majority of students who attend Holroyd High School are refugees from wartorn countries. Dorothy has carefully fostered a school culture that embraces diversity, strives

community. Zainab, an asylum seeker from Iran, achieved an ATAR of 88 in the HSC only two years after settling in Australia. Zainab faced great adversity but successfully completed a degree in medical sciences and pharmacy. The conditions of Zainab’s temporary visa meant that her welfare payments would stop when she turned 18, which could have forced her to leave school to find a job. In order for Zainab to continue with her studies, Dorothy established the Friends of Zainab scholarship in 2002. The scholarship has since supported many students with a refugee background through the Higher School Certificate and provided financial assistance during the first two years of full-time university study. Dorothy’s influence has made a lasting impression on the Holroyd community that will be felt for decades to come. There are many Dorothys who make it their business to ensure every student in their care is known, valued and cared for. They make sure students have a growth mindset so vital to their development and create a lasting

“Teachers play a critical role in preparing our children and young people to lead rewarding and productive lives in society” for improvement and celebrates achievements. The school achieves above-state-average valueadded results in NAPLAN and the HSC, and 61% of its 2017 graduates received university offers – an amazing achievement. At a recent visit to Holroyd High School, I was fortunate to meet Nila Sayeed, a former student who has gone on to become a teacher at the school. Nila came to Australia as a refugee when she was 12 and started her schooling at the Holroyd Intensive English Centre. Nila completed her Higher School Certificate and went on to study science and education at the University of NSW. Now, Nila is back at Holroyd High School as a science teacher, inspiring the next generation of students to reach their potential. Zainab Kaabi is another example of Dorothy’s impact as a teacher in the Holroyd

connection with education, learning and their school, ensuring that potential achievement is limitless. Teachers know the transformative power on young lives of trusting and embracing professional relationships – they relentlessly pursue excellence in their craft so that their students benefit. Education transforms lives through the commitment of teachers. Know your worth, and value the effect your teaching is having on the lives of students. Our impact reaches beyond the classroom – there is no limit.

Murat Dizdar is the deputy secretary of school operations and performance for the NSW Department of Education. He oversees a schooling region that comprises 276 primary, secondary and special schools.

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Running out of STEAM? Is the push to improve STEM education in schools leaving other important subject areas behind?

IN 2015, the Education Council, which comprises all Australian state and territory education ministers, unanimously agreed to a 10-year national strategy to improve science, technology, engineering and maths [STEM] education. Since then, there has been significant activity underway across the country in schools and education systems to lift student engagement and attainment in STEM and to support teachers to improve student outcomes. This has been further encouraged by reports predicting that within 10 to 15 years, nearly 40% of Australian jobs will be automated. But amid the push to improve STEM education in schools, are other important subject areas, such as the arts, at risk of being

schools not to develop an over-reliance on STEM education, which he said was “de-humanising education”. “From government ministers to journalists, from industry CEOs to senior public servants, people of influence are piling in to denounce the value of philosophy, the arts and the social sciences, insisting that only by bowing before the altar of STEM will today’s students be adequately equipped to thrive in the 21st century,” Stokes said. “[STEM] has become an educational fad that places academic disciplines into silos, pitting the sciences against the arts in a self-defeating zero-sum game of intellectual snobbery.” However, Stokes did acknowledge that “in

“[STEM] has become an educational fad … pitting the sciences against the arts in a self-defeating zero-sum game” Rob Stokes, NSW Education Minister left behind? This prospect was recently pointed out by NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes, who said “the idea that our education system must be structured to preference STEM at the expense of the arts is demonstrably ludicrous.” Speaking at the Balmoral Lecture at Queenwood School in March, Stokes warned


a world that is increasingly mechanised and digitised, it is important to acknowledge the critical need for students to be numerate and to have a comprehensive understanding of the hard sciences”. Dr Jane Hunter, an expert in STEM education and curriculum at the University of Technology Sydney, says Stokes is “picking on

the individual trees rather than looking at the whole forest”, which reflects a limited understanding of what is going on in schools in terms of STEM. “The push in STEM in recent years has not come as an act of intellectual snobbery – nor is it a fad,” she says. “It’s integrated STEM, not just S, T, E or M, and when it’s enacted, it includes the arts and humanities, so it’s STEAM. What I observe is STEAM serving as a driver for a focus on making teaching and learning better across all key learning areas. “In high school, unless a focus on STEM is conceived alongside its role in the creation of a new model of secondary education, it will have failed in its job,” Hunter adds. Research has shown that a good education in the arts can have other far-reaching benefits. Analysis by the Australia Council for the Arts has found that 85% of Australians think the arts make for a richer and more mean-

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Eighty-five per cent of Australians think the arts make for a richer and more meaningful life

Nearly half of Australians participate in the arts as creators of at least one art form

Children with learning difficulties can improve their performance in subjects like maths and reading when arts development is included in a multidisciplinary setting ingful life, and that people who engage with the arts have higher life satisfaction. Research has also established that children with learning difficulties can improve their perfor-

now and in the future are also about the human, creative and relational. “Recent reports arising from Google’s number-crunching of the qualities and skills

“STEAM [serves] as a driver for a focus on making teaching and learning better across all key learning areas” Dr Jane Hunter, University of Technology Sydney mance in subjects like maths and reading when arts development is included in a multidisciplinary setting. Associate Professor Susan Davis, an expert in curriculum and arts education at CQUniversity, says there is “a mountain of research” showing that the types of knowledge and skills needed for living and working both

of their most effective employees demonstrate seven top characteristics of success – and they are all soft skills,” Davis says. “They are: being a good coach, communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others, having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues, being a good critical thinker and problem-solver, and being able to make

Eighty-five per cent of Australians ‘strongly agree’ that the arts should be an important part of the education of every Australian Source: Australia Council for the Arts

connections across complex ideas.” Davis adds that these traits “sound more like what one gains as an English or theatre major than as a programmer”. “Public statements about what is important have a way of flowing to impact on wider agendas as well,” she says. “For example, it is very difficult to secure funding to invest in researching the actual impact of learning approaches in any of these areas – STEM, arts, humanities – at present.”

FEBRUARY 2015 | 9

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LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Aspiring principals prepare to be tested in Victoria

Aspiring principals in Victoria are gearing up for a competency test as the state’s government sets its sights on lifting educational standards. The Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment will follow a course for teachers at Melbourne’s Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership that will determine how ready and suitable they are to be school leaders. Principals, education experts and principal associations all contributed to the design of the assessment through a design summit at the institute. The program will be available to teachers from government, Catholic and independent schools.

Partnership to provide STEAM education resources

OfficeMax Australia, non-profit organisation Cool Australia and STEAM expert Dr Bronwen Wade-Leeuwen have partnered to provide schools with free teaching resources, including STEAM lesson plans, as well as inquiry units and professional development. The partnership will play an important role in ensuring teachers and schools can provide solid career pathways for students. “Our goal is to help schools integrate STEAM learning by providing them with the resources they need, particularly for those who wouldn’t otherwise have adequate funding,” said Kevin Obren, managing director of OfficeMax Australia.

New teacher coaching initiative announced In April, a new partnership for educators was launched by The Queensland Education Leadership Institute [QELi] and Growth Coaching International that


will take the institute’s already successful coaching programs to schools across the state. “By participating in coachingfocused professional development, educators build teaching and learning capability, collaboration and cultural change are intensified, and student learning outcomes are improved,” said QELi CEO Neil McDonald.

PAI to offer Schools and the Law seminars

The Principals Australia Institute [PAI] will deliver upcoming Schools and the Law seminars in Sydney, Hobart, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide to help principals and their leadership teams navigate an increasingly litigious society. The seminars were designed in partnership with Wallmans Lawyers, a respected law firm with extensive knowledge of key industry sectors. Each event will take the form of a two-hour seminar led by a nationally recognised legal expert, themed around a topic of high relevance to school leaders, such as managing employee contracts.

Forums strike the right chord with teachers Several teacher professional develop­ ment forums have kicked off across Australia with the aim of helping educators inspire children through music education. The Musica Viva in Schools program, which reaches 1,300 schools nationwide and delivers high-quality curriculum-aligned music education, launched the forums in February. They include education and training in topics such as music and movement, storytelling through music, and music and the natural environment. According to Musica Viva artistic director Michael Sollis, providing opportunities for teachers to improve their music education is vital to build confidence in children.

Making it all add up According to one expert, financial literacy continues to increase in importance for school leaders

As principals’ compliance requirements continue to grow and become increasingly complex, it’s becoming a greater challenge to keep on top of them. Whether managing the budget of an individual faculty or undertaking long-term planning for a school, there are plenty of potential pitfalls for educators. In August, Paul Campey, partner at the Resolve Consulting Group, will speak on this topic at The Educator Leaders’ Summit in Sydney. He spoke to The Educator about the importance of being informed about financial matters. “Being an educational leader involves so much more than teaching and learning,” he says. “Being a good manager and planner, as well as managing the finances and resources of the school, is a critical part of the role. Often the skills needed to lead and manage a school in respect of finances and strategic planning are not part of the initial training of educators, yet as they rise through the ranks, it becomes more and more important to their work.” Campey says Resolve has been working with the Principals Australia Institute to develop and deliver financial literacy workshops for principals. “This session at The Educator Leaders’ Summit will seek to provide some key pointers to help educators as they manage the finances of their schools and better allocate budgets each year,” he says. When it comes to the biggest challenges school leaders face on this front, Campey points out that “they don’t know what they don’t know”. “School leaders need to understand budgets and financial reports,” he says. “They need to

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know how to ensure they receive the maximum funding for their school, and develop a financial plan and budget for their school. They also need to know how to prepare for financial audits and undertake budget reviews.” Running a school, Campey says, is not

concepts or the issues at hand,” he says. “This will help you identify the current issue better, but also identify future issues before they perhaps become more significant. Register now for a PAI Resolve

“Ultimately, the buck stops with the school leader to ensure financial viability and that funding is administered appropriately” different to running a business. “Ultimately, the buck stops with the school leader to ensure financial viability and that funding is administered appropriately,” he says. So, what one piece of advice would he offer to school leaders on this subject? “Ask questions until you understand the

Financial Literacy workshop in your state, and don’t delegate. The buck stops with you as the school leader.” The Educator Leaders’ Summit will be held at Dockside Sydney on Friday, 17 August.

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TECHNOLOGY UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Keys to engaging female students in STEM

Georgina Pazzi, founder and director of Edumazing, says that if school leaders aim to increase female student engagement in STEM education, they need to shift the focus so it becomes solution-based. “To do this, they should emphasise the successes students have achieved in STEM, ensuring girls are prominent in their stories; promote the importance of STEM with parents; and work with female teachers to improve their own confidence and leadership in STEM so they become positive role models for girls,” she said. “All teachers must also be supported to recognise their own biases when it comes to gender within STEM and shift these if needed.”

Leaders’ Summit to include cyberbullying session

Students armed with Facebook, Instagram and other social media apps are making cyberbullying more common in schools. Principals, teachers and governments are struggling to tackle this growing problem. How far can – and should – schools go in investigating and dealing with allegations of social media misconduct that happens outside of school hours? Fay Calderone, partner at Dibbs Barker, will provide guidance on the duty-of-care obligations of schools at The Educator Leaders’ Summit in August, including effective strategies to deal with cyberbullying inside and outside schools.

How principals can create ‘agents of change’ Mark Pauschmann, principal of Parramatta Marist High School, says STEM can be designed to inspire


students to become “agents of change”. However, he pointed out that if this is taught in isolation, rather than as an integrated approach to learning, it may well become another subject about which students will ask: “How is this relevant to me?” Pauschmann said this can be avoided by thinking about STEM education in a way that contextualises it across the different subject areas across the curriculum.

Quality data can enhance teaching and learning

Speaking recently at a data symposium, Professor Douglas Willms, president of the International Academy of Education, said schools need to regularly assess students’ progress and prosperity and empower teachers to change their practices to have the biggest impact. “When looking at data, everything else becomes clutter unless it brings a singular focus on improving those foundations for success,” Willms said. “However, the whole business isn’t worthwhile unless you change classroom practice, unless you improve the quality of instruction in the classroom.”

Tech Fest showcases innovation across Victoria Interactive art installations, investigating technology in sport, and building a robot from electronic and 3D-printed parts were just some of the highlights of this year’s Tech Fest in Victoria. Tech Fest is a series of interactive programs held across the state and delivered collaboratively by the Victorian government’s 10 Tech Schools, which the government invested $128m to build. The state-of-the-art schools will use leading-edge technology, discovery and innovation to deliver the advanced education and training that Victorian school students need so they can flourish in the rapidly changing global economy.

Turning principals into tech leaders Members of the Microsoft team share how the global firm is working to upskill educators Technology giants such as Microsoft, Apple and Google have developed resources aimed at ensuring technology adoption in schools is seamless and delivers the desired teaching and learning outcomes. “Today, there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill jobs requiring 21st-century skills, and this directly impacts Microsoft and the economies in which we operate,” a Microsoft spokesman tells The Educator. “Microsoft technologies are designed to save teachers time setting up and managing their devices and software so they can spend more time with students.” The spokesman added that Microsoft’s tools “put inclusive design at the forefront”. “This allows us to accommodate the needs of every student and strive to give students a more personalised, creative and collaborative learning experience that mirrors what they can expect in future jobs,” the spokesperson said. To help principals become technology leaders, Microsoft’s K-12 education school leader resources provide teachers with educational materials that are accessible, affordable and bring real-world scenarios into the classroom. “Two years ago, we rolled out Intune for Education to make it faster and easier than ever to manage Windows devices in schools and save up to 70% compared to our competitors,” the spokesperson says. “And in the last year, we also introduced Windows 10S, which is streamlined to give schools faster boot-up

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times and longer battery life on their devices; introduced Teams to as a digital hub for the classroom; and expanded our Minecraft Education Edition.” According to Travis Smith, teacher engagement manager at Microsoft Australia, a “key

curriculum and to make a difference by developing soft skills, and the framework is all underpinned by evidence-based research, which ultimately drives better outcomes for schools and students.” As for helping school leaders improve their

“Today, there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill jobs requiring 21st-century skills” differentiator” of Microsoft’s K-12 education school leader resources is that they’re evidencebased and run by experienced educators. “For example, we have a course called ‘21st Century Learning Design’, which explores what learning looks like today and how innovative teaching practices can support student learning to develop key skills,” Smith says. “It helps leaders and teachers to better understand the

digital literacy in times ahead, Smith said Microsoft’s approach is to provide “tangible technology-driven tools”. “We’ve worked with various school leaders to help them use Microsoft OneNote as a vehicle to give feedback on teachers and their personal development plans,” Smith says. He adds that an effective use of OneNote for educators is to capture professional devel-

opment plans and feedback, and then share those with school leaders. “By gaining firsthand experience with these tools,” he says, “it not only upskills educators in the latest innovations, but simultaneously increases productivity and delivers better outcomes.”

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TEACHING TO WRITE THE RIGHT WAY Jen McVeity talks about her passion for writing and her literacy program aimed at instilling the same passion in students

The Educator: Before becoming a full-time writer, you amassed a wealth of diverse work experience, from ski instructing to journalism. Can you provide more insight into your life and career before writing? Jen McVeity: As a 20-year-old, I was a rock climber, scuba diver and mad passionate skier. I became a ski instructor, worked five seasons in Europe and somehow managed to get uni and teaching degrees, too. Sport has always been a big part of my family’s life, from circus trapeze to hiking to beach volleyball, [which] I still play several nights a week and a month in California each year. The glory of match day or performance day is thrilling. But the important lesson sports taught me is that before you can become accomplished at something, you need to start by learning lots of smaller skills first. You need to practise over and over – and over! – again before your muscles do it naturally and confidently. I took these concepts used all the time in sports – chunking and practise, practise, practise – to create the core teaching principles behind the Seven Steps to Writing Success.

TE: Were there any salient lessons you learned during that time that you believe have been of significant benefit to you as a writer? JM: Writing is not actually about vocabulary or spelling or grammar – it is, above all, the passion to communicate. Writers step back and look at events, then try to put experiences


onto paper without being self-indulgent. I once taught the worst lesson of my life. It just so happened that a supervisor from the teaching college was assessing me on it, too. I survived the lesson – just. Afterwards, I wrote up the experience with a humorous slant. The assessor passed me for ‘resilience’ – basically for not screaming and running away. And the article I wrote got published in Idiom, the English journal for secondary teachers. That was the start of my publishing career.

have a positive impact on 1 million kids. Strong communicators get better jobs, have more positive relationships, negotiate the world more confidently – I wanted a million kids to grow up with this power to write. As we are training over 6,000 teachers a year now, I’m pretty certain we have smashed that goal.

TE: What kind of teaching approach do you believe gives educators the best chance at creating students

“Writing is not actually about vocabulary or spelling or grammar – it is, above all, the passion to communicate. Writers step back and look at events, then try to put experiences onto paper without being self-indulgent” This passion to communicate is also what led me to create the Seven Steps. After writing over 20 books and presenting around the world to aspiring authors, I realised that all the concepts I was teaching to adults worked perfectly for kids as well.

TE: What do you consider your standout achievements as a writer? JM: Developing the Seven Steps and watching how it makes a real difference in kids’ confidence and belief in themselves. My original goal for Seven Steps was to

who are adept at and passionate about writing? JM: Every teacher knows this: If you aren’t engaging as a teacher, if you don’t know your subject matter, if you don’t respect and enjoy being with students, then very little learning will happen. After that, I think it’s pretty simple. You can’t say to kids on day one, “Here’s the topic. Write me a story.” That’s just too daunting, whether you’re 10 or 100. The individual components of writing are what we need to teach explicitly. For instance,

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PROFILE Name: Jen McVeity Company: Seven Steps to Writing Success Title: CEO Based in: Melbourne Fast fact: McVeity has authored more than 20 books and been a keynote speaker at 50 conferences across Australia, Asia and the US

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THE BIG INTERVIEW a powerful and inspiring manner.

TE: What is the greatest challenge teachers face when teaching writing? JM: Some people suggest that the curriculum kills creativity by proposing rigid models – the persuasive writing formula is a particular killer. But these quick-fix formulae are not actually celebrated in the Australian curriculum or in NAPLAN. Instead, the curriculum aims to stretch students to become capable writers, then creative writers. I also worry that some teachers, with the best of intentions, think they can improve writing by primarily concentrating on spelling and grammar. These are the secretarial elements of writing and should come well after the creation part of writing. First you create, then you edit. You don’t start with the secretarial side.

TE: As an author, people probably just assume you were born creative. Can creativity be taught?

“My original goal for Seven Steps was to have a positive impact on 1 million kids … As we are training over 6,000 teachers a year now, I’m pretty certain we have smashed that goal” ‘Step 2: Sizzling Starts’ shows how a movie or book always starts with a moment of change to grab the reader’s attention. Compare this to the thousands of students throughout Australia all starting their weekend recount with, “On the weekend ...” The authorial technique behind Sizzling Starts means students would write something far more engaging, like, “There’s sand in my eyes and sunburn on my back. Whose


idea was it to go to the beach?” Students who are taught the Seven Steps practise with short, sharp, achievable writing tasks every day. It may be only 20 minutes a day, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. This is especially important for those students who are not confident writers. These successes build confidence. And confidence can lead to major change when students face the pressure of a test or want to use words in

JM: There is a misconception that creativity is reserved for the special few, the gifted, the artistic. But creativity is not a gene that you are born with, like green eyes or black hair. Creativity can – and should – be taught and practised just like any other skill. Ask any author: The more you write, the more easily the ideas flow. Creativity should not be limited to just narrative writing, either. Informative and persuasive writing is so much stronger when the writer creatively presents their information or argument. Think of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth – he grabs viewers by turning facts about animals into exciting, engaging, tension-filled stories that you can’t turn off.

TE: You also emphasise the importance of brainstorming. Do you think the development of this skill is often overlooked in the classroom? JM: Brainstorming, either in a group or alone, is one of the most powerful tools of creativity. Generating ideas takes time, and sadly, we often don’t respect that time. There

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THE BIG INTERVIEW is a tendency in classrooms to want to produce written work as proof that students are learning. Most authors spend at least a third of their time coming up with ideas. Yet how many of us teach brainstorming and give students time to practise and master the skill?

TE: You’re an advocate of collaborative writing classrooms. Why is that? JM: People often regard writing as a quiet, solo activity, intense and full of concentration. It doesn’t have to be this way. Collaborative classrooms are vibrant, interactive and include speaking, writing, reading and listening – all four aspects of literacy. Research has shown that when students work collaboratively, they learn more, retain more and have a far more positive attitude towards learning. Most importantly, they have fun.

transformed from one of the lowestperforming schools in Queensland to significantly outperforming the state in writing improvement for the last two years. We all know that it is sometimes hard to motivate students, particularly teenagers, but that’s what Carly, an amazing Year 7 teacher from a high school in Gosford, did. She not only got her students loving to write, but she found a whole new energy in her class. She told us, “I surveyed the students before the program, and most students said they were not good writers. Now they all have confidence and believe they are great at writing. My lowest student, who would not write a sentence at the beginning of the year, is on the 12th chapter of his novel!” And then there is the story a lovely principal shared about a boy who got sent to her office quite often for misbehaviour. She would sit him in a quiet corner of her office

“People often regard writing as a quiet, solo activity, intense and full of concentration. It doesn’t have to be this way. Collaborative classrooms are vibrant, interactive and include speaking, writing, reading and listening – all four aspects of literacy” TE: Can you talk about the kinds of results the implementation of Seven Steps in schools has achieved? Are there any particular success stories that stand out, given the extent of the impact on a specific student? JM: So many stories are shared with us – it’s hard to choose one. There’s Rasmussen State School in Northern Queensland, which had a high population of at-risk students with NAPLAN writing scores below the minimum national standard. Their principal told us the “students simply were not engaged, they [had a] lack of confidence and lack of will”. So, she brought in the Seven Steps. Since then, the school has


and let him calm down. One day he turned up to her office at lunchtime. She asked him, “Matty, what’s happened now?” He just shook his head. “Nothing, Miss, I just want to get my story written, and I need a quiet place to do it!” Can you imagine what it’s like to go to work every morning and read emails or get calls from teachers telling you how engaged their students are and how amazing their writing has become? That’s what every person in the Seven Steps office gets every week. Some people go to work and sell soap or sandwiches. We get to create a legacy. We share a way to help students learn to love writing and find the power that literacy brings.



Year the Seven Steps program was established


Number of teachers the program trains via face-to-face training in Australia each year


Number of teachers who are part of the Seven Steps online community


Number of Australian students who have been taught the Seven Steps


Percentage of students for which the program has been shown to raise writing scores by one or more NAPLAN bands in one school term

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For the third consecutive year, The Educator presents its Rising Stars report, spotlighting 30 bright young Australian education professionals poised to be tomorrow’s leaders


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Sponsored by

WELCOME TO The Educator’s third annual Rising Stars list. Once again, we asked our readership to nominate up-and-coming leaders under 35 who are making their mark in the ever-changing vocation of education. Thanks to an overwhelming response from readers, our team was able to compile a list of 30 inspiring young educators who are working in a variety of roles in schools around the country. Collectively, they instil confidence that the future of education in Australia lies in safe hands. The Educator’s Rising Stars have been nominated by colleagues for their expertise, strength of character, willingness to innovate, their passion and their vision. In addition to those attributes, each of the educators featured on the pages that follow shares an ability to lead, and their work speaks to the tremendous efforts being undertaken in schools everywhere to embrace the kind of change necessary to thrive in the 21st century. The Educator is proud to have the opportunity to profile the achievements of these Rising Stars. I offer my sincere congratulations to all of those who made this year’s list. Tim Garratt, editor

A WORD FROM OUR PARTNER The Melbourne Graduate School of Education congratulates The Educator’s Rising Stars of 2018. The quality and work of these young leaders is inspirational. The leadership they have shown in their innovative work across their schools demonstrates their skills, knowledge and passion. We pride ourselves on the quality of our teaching, the impact of our research, and the leadership and innovation our graduates display. Leadership is an integral part of a successful educational environment, and while good leaders provide a model for others to follow, they also support their colleagues to reach their own potential and inspire them to have the confidence to innovate. Teaching is a challenging, complex and rewarding career, and we need teachers with the calibre and commitment of these Rising Stars. These teachers are navigating a complicated digital world with their evidencebased approaches to teaching and learning. Their impressive contribution to the profession of teaching not only benefits their students, but also their colleagues and the community more broadly. I’d like to congratulate the 2018 winners once again, and wish them all the best for continued success in the future. Dr Jim Watterston Dean, Melbourne Graduate School of Education




Alkan, Azmi Sefer

Amity College


Bailey, Kelly

Glenvale School


Bland, Tim

Snowy Mountains Grammar School


Bolger, Skye

St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School


Chilton, Hugh

The Scots College


Cross, Anna



Davies, Lian

Bundoora Secondary College


Duff, Joshua

Moura State High School


Epstein, Michaela

Maths Pathway/Maths Association of Victoria


Gaspari, Stefanie

Trinity Grammar School


Goodsell, Lauren

Bonnyrigg High School


Greer, Jacinta

Ruyton Girls' School


Hodge, Matt

Whitsunday Anglican School


Hoy, Iain

Tara Anglican School for Girls


Mullucks, Sarah

Ngukurr School


Naanouh, Mohammed

Al Sadiq College


Nimiczeck, Tara

St Thomas More Primary School


Niven, Chris

Sheldon College


Noonan, Vanessa

Sheldon College


Norman, Tom

Iona Presentation College


O’Hara, Julia

St Andrew's College


Pepper, Kayla

Kingswood College


Photiou, Holly

Ormiston College


Plaskett, Jake

Ruyton Girls' School


Pluck, Carly

Canterbury Primary School


Ruscica, Jessica

Mount Brown Public School


Shepherd, Sarah

Sacred Heart College (Geelong)


Strauch, Emily

Kalianna School Bendigo


Sultana, Helen

Girl Geek Academy


Yee, Justin

Ambarvale High School


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RISING STARS 2018 SARAH SHEPHERD Year 8 coordinator; English and humanities teacher Sacred Heart College (Geelong), Vic

Her colleagues describe Sarah Shepherd as “an outstanding young leader, determined to make positive, results-driven change within schools and broader communities”. Shepherd previously worked at Geelong Grammar School, where she was the senior school positive education coordinator and a resident tutor, as well as a history and geography teacher. Shepherd studied a Master in Educational Leadership at Columbia University in New York in 2016 and spent 2017 teaching in an international school in Hong Kong. She recently returned home and, in her current role at Sacred Heart College (Geelong), is focused on facilitating improved pastoral and academic outcomes within the Year 8 group, and also increasingly throughout the wider school community. A long-standing contributor to the global positive education movement, Shepherd trained with and consulted to Geelong Grammar’s Institute of Positive Education and has collaborated with several key figures across North America and Europe. Her own data-driven research into aspects of care and self-care for educational leaders is currently being published internationally, and she regularly presents content and skills for educators, including recently at the national Positive Education Schools Association Conference. Shepherd is applying the knowledge and understanding gained from her research to Sacred Heart’s wellbeing and pastoral care programs.

HELEN SULTANA Program manager and technologies teacher Girl Geek Academy, Vic

Helen Sultana is a role model to many students and educators. Having almost a decade of classroom teaching experience, Sultana specialises in pioneering initiatives designed to increase the number of girls and women studying and teaching STEM. Sultana started out as an educator, at both primary and secondary school levels, before venturing into startup territory as Schools Program Lead at Girl Geek Academy, a global movement aiming to teach one million girl geeks to build technology and create startups by 2025. Sultana helped develop and deliver the #MissMakesCode initiative, said to be the world’s first hackathon for young girls aged five to eight, with a view to breaking down barriers to young girls pursuing STEM-focused careers at an age before they submit to gendered beliefs around intelligence. The program was created specifically for teachers, and is aligned to the Digital Technologies Curriculum. In a short space of time, Sultana has scaled the #MissMakesCode program to include a team of facilitators who deliver face-to-face student workshops. Sultana has upskilled over 1200 teachers nationally, through online and face to face workshops and provided them with the necessary tools to deliver the #MissMakesCode curriculum at their own schools. In 2018, Sultana joined a large corporate as their Girl Geek in Residence, working within the Women in Technology program supporting senior leaders to implement initiatives across the organisation.


AZMI SEFER ALKAN Deputy principal, secondary school curriculum Amity College, NSW

Described as “extremely enthusiastic” and an “all-round successful futuristic leader”, Azmi Sefer Alkan is a maths teacher who specialises in teaching Year 12 maths extension. Alkan was Amity College’s HSC coordinator from 2015 to 2017; during that time, he developed the Pathways Program for senior students, which includes schoolbased apprenticeships and traineeships and vocational education and training courses, as well as TAFE partnerships. On top of that, Alkan also introduced the in-school tutor program at Amity College two years ago, which reconnects graduated students to the school and allows those individuals to become role models for current students and, under the supervision of teachers, tutor them on various subjects. Staff feedback about the program has been “enormously positive”. Alkan’s leadership qualities have now facilitated his progression to the role of deputy principal for secondary school curriculum. He has an excellent rapport with students and is highly dedicated after hours to pastoral care activities. “I strongly believe that Azmi will be a very successful, admirable principal one day, with his excellent interpersonal skills, intelligence and empathy,” a colleague says.

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Sponsored by

TIM BLAND Student dean, Years 7–10 Snowy Mountains Grammar School, NSW

Energetic, committed and highly regarded among the school population and wider community, Tim Bland is a staff member at Snowy Mountains Grammar School. Early in his teaching career, Bland became head of sport at the school, and his leadership qualities began to shine through. Together with the snowsports committee, he created the Elite Snowsports Academy, a program that endeavours to provide the highest level of academic, pastoral and

logistical support to its snowsport athletes, allowing them to participate in full-time on-snow training programs at Perisher and Thredbo ski resorts, while also attending a majority of normal timetabled classroom lessons. The award-winning program (recognised by The Educator in the 2017 Innovative Schools report) facilitates students’ ability to pursue professional athletic goals without compromising their academic pathway.

For two years, Bland has successfully led the program, which is said to demand a high level of stakeholder engagement, prioritisation and duty of care. This year, Bland moved into the role of dean of students for Years 7 to 10 – a new role within the school focused largely on student wellbeing. He is working diligently to help the school transition to a holistic-school approach, which will again require his strong leadership skills.

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Sponsored by

RISING STARS 2018 SKYE BOLGER PAR-PE and units/PE/science/business/athletics coordinator St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, Qld

Skye Bolger leads the physical education program at St Aidan’s, providing support to others and directly mentoring another teacher. In addition to her curriculum responsibilities, she proactively organises staff and student wellbeing activities and recently introduced a holistic student wellness program via the school’s learning platform. Attesting to her capacity to motivate others, the activities Bolger organises consistently have high student and staff attendance numbers. Last year, Bolger led the development of psychology as a senior subject at the school, researching the approach to the subject in other states, and then creating a network within Brisbane so that teachers developing programs in their own schools could share resources. Bolger continually endeavours to develop her leadership and teaching skills, actively engaging in professional development and asking for feedback. She seeks out professional reading sources to inform both her teaching and leadership skills and shares these readings with staff to assist in building their collective knowledge. A colleague describes Bolger as “an excellent teacher … developing into an outstanding leader” who substantially contributes to the school community and is held in high regard by parents, staff and students, and “inspires others to be the best that they can be”.

HUGH CHILTON Director of research and professional learning The Scots College, NSW

Dr Hugh Chilton has been with The Scots College in Sydney since 2014, and the contribution he’s made since that time has been described as “remarkable”. As director of research and professional learning, Chilton has been tasked with the leadership and development of a research office and culture within the college. In this role, he has reshaped the college’s approach to professional learning and has been the architect of several new professional learning programs. A colleague describes him as “highly revered amongst students and teachers alike for his intellect, integrity, passion and commitment to student formation”. Chilton’s innovative leadership in the professional learning domain has contributed to a greater emphasis on research-informed practice across The Scots College. He has facilitated the development of several research-informed professional learning programs for staff and has mentored and advised staff within and beyond these programs. Additionally, Chilton has overseen the design of innovative new professional learning programs, including The Scots College Leadership Program, for which he recently led the cohort through a design thinking project to collaboratively apply their leadership to an area of strategic significance to the college. In addition to these responsibilities, Chilton is a passionate and gifted teacher of history who works to instil a similar passion in students.


KELLY BAILEY Secondary teacher Glenvale School, Vic

It’s been just over a year since Kelly Bailey began teaching at Glenvale School. Within that time, she’s led several staff activities aimed at improving teaching on campus, has enhanced curriculum to make it more engaging and has inspired her students to look at the world differently. Bailey takes a flexible, motivating, no-nonsense approach to both life and teaching. A colleague tells The Educator that teachers like Bailey “are precious gems to be treasured”, adding that she possesses a maturity beyond her years that has been relied upon time and time again. Bailey is involved in a host of school programs and activities, from classroom teaching and staff professional development to sport and driving school buses. But the best measure of Bailey’s contribution to the Glenvale School community has been parent feedback. Parents have consistently praised her work and commented to her superiors on the contribution she’s made to improving the school. “I am extremely proud to have been involved in recruiting Kel to join the Glenvale team,” says her colleague, “and continue to marvel at how well she handles herself for one so young.”

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RISING STARS 2018 ANNA CROSS Deputy principal, middle school Haileybury, Vic

Anna Cross is a highly driven, entrepreneurial leader determined to make a difference, and she is working to ensure Haileybury’s students are equipped to thrive in a workforce expected to be drastically different to that of today. As head of middle school, Cross developed a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for students and staff, including an age- and stage-appropriate scaffolded wellbeing program. Now, as deputy principal of middle school, she is endeavouring to develop the world’s best middleschool program; as part of her efforts to do so, she has spent hundreds of hours researching models based on the future of work. Cross is collaborating with top middle schools around the world to ensure the program aligns with Haileybury’s vision to be a ‘great world school’. Cross’ new middle-school program will be based on developing ‘enterprising’ and ‘work smart’ skills. She also aims to embed a culture of continuous improvement in which research, innovation and creativity are valued. Cross is currently completing her MBA at Melbourne Business School. She has a master’s of education from The University of Melbourne, has studied at New York University’s Stern Business School and has also completed a course from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

LIAN DAVIES Acting principal Bundoora Secondary College, Vic

Lian Davies is described as a “dynamic and inspirational leader” who, in her previous role at Templestowe College, led the development and implementation of an alternate entry pathway for students into bachelor’s degree courses offered by Melbourne’s Swinburne University. Davies developed the program in partnership with the university on behalf of Templestowe College. Eight students participated in the pilot program, which was such a success that the program has now been adopted by four schools and currently involves 20 students. The program is regarded as a wonderful opportunity for students who suffer from debilitating exam anxiety or are unable to thrive within the VCE system to showcase their abilities in a measurable way that allows them to secure university placement. In launching this initiative, Davies employed exemplary negotiation and communication skills with students, school staff, parents, university staff and the senior leadership of the university. A colleague praises her “focused and well informed approach, calm and self-assured manner, and outstanding organisational skills and attention to detail”, all of which instilled confidence in stakeholders about this new venture.


JOSHUA DUFF Principal Moura State High School, Qld

Just 28 years old, Joshua Duff is principal of Moura State High School in Central Queensland. Duff’s career began at Longreach State High School seven years ago, where he took on a year coordinator role from day one. During his three years at Longreach, he led the school’s gifted and talented program, was a Central Queensland mentor for the introduction of the new Australian history curriculum and presented at the National History Teachers Conference in 2014. In 2015, Duff became acting head of department (junior secondary) at Yeppoon State High School, where he developed and led projects and programs in junior secondary pedagogy, junior secondary wellbeing, and gifted and talented education. He also had the opportunity to take on the role of acting deputy principal. In the same year, he presented at the Queensland History Teachers Association Conference and the Emerald Education Conference. Duff arrived at Moura in 2016, appointed to the role of head of department (junior secondary); he became principal at the beginning of this year. Among his more recent achievements, he has led the beginning teacher mentor program and has been chosen as a mentor for Education Queensland’s Take the Lead program for aspiring associate leaders.

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Sponsored by

STEFANIE GASPARI Director of library services Trinity Grammar School, NSW

As director of library services at Sydney’s Trinity Grammar School, Stefanie Gaspari has led what her colleague describes as “a massive and successful change program in the senior school library ... Her vision for what a school library can and should be differs significantly from what many people traditionally associate with their own experience of libraries.” Thanks to Gaspari’s vision, the school’s library is now a vibrant, active and ever-changing place where staff, students, parents and visitors can expect to see displays, events, meetings and work occurring alongside classes and reading groups within a highly flexible space. A teacher with experience in both HSC and International Baccalaureate courses, Gaspari has been drafted into many different areas of the school on curriculum projects, building design projects, professional learning and ICT as a result of her seemingly endless capacity to deliver a professional outcome on each and every occasion. She’s been asked to present at state, national and international conferences on a variety of topics, including the design of new library learning spaces and shifting the mindset and vision of school libraries – a testament to the respect and growing influence she has garnered outside of Trinity Grammar.

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MATT HODGE Head of service and global learning Whitsunday Anglican School, Qld

Since 2015, Matt Hodge has been Whitsunday Anglican School’s head of service and global learning, where he has distinguished himself thanks to his “motivation, hard work and commitment to delivering programs that not only benefit members of the school community, but also provide meaningful rewards for the local community and region,” a colleague says. In creating and implementing the school’s global learning program, Hodge has


facilitated global exchanges and experiences for hundreds of members of the school community. He has established partnerships with seven partner schools throughout the world, providing collaborative opportunities for both staff and students. Hodge is also committed to assisting and encouraging local educators to give back to the teaching profession. He has established a TeachMeet network in his region to provide support to local educators. Since starting

the network, he has coordinated TeachMeet events centred on innovation, leadership, literacy, general teaching practice and support for early-career teachers for more than 130 educators. These events have also encouraged local educators to develop and enhance their presentation delivery skills in their own areas of expertise, and many of these educators have gone on to present at other professional development events.

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Sponsored by

MICHAELA EPSTEIN Head of learning/president Maths Pathway/ Mathematical Association of Victoria, Vic

As head of learning at Australian-founded social enterprise Maths Pathway and the current president of the Mathematical Association of Victoria, Michaela Epstein’s work revolves around the belief that students need to be involved in meaningful and thought-provoking mathematics, in which a growth mindset is an essential ingredient for success. Underpinning this is the idea that we are all ‘maths people’. Epstein tirelessly advocates for the advancement of mathematics in Australian schools. She has taught and coached teachers in schools in rural Victoria and in Melbourne, where she introduced and led programs aimed at supporting and extending students in mathematics. In 2014, Epstein was recognised at the ACER Excellence in Professional Practice Conference with an award for her work with a numeracy intervention program. Epstein’s expertise in mathematics education also extends to curriculum policy and development. She recently completed master’s-level research at The University of Melbourne with the intent of framing the new Victorian curriculum for mathematics. In her current roles, Epstein works closely with teachers and other members of the community to facilitate the sharing of ideas and to ensure that research and data is used thoughtfully so that all students can succeed in mathematics.

JACINTA GREER Psychology teacher, sustainability coordinator, deputy wellbeing leader Ruyton Girls’ School, Vic

Science educator Jacinta Greer’s passion, enthusiasm and motivation have had a significant impact on both student and staff learning within a very short time. She is particularly interested in the education of girls in STEM as means of helping them develop the skills necessary to succeed in learning and life. According to a colleague, Greer’s impact on the learning and teaching program in the school’s science department has been “significant and positive”. In addition to being a highly regarded senior psychology and general science teacher, Greer has taken on the roles of sustainability coordinator and deputy wellbeing leader. An advocate for student participation in activities specifically targeted at engaging girls in all areas of science and technology, she has been responsible for organising an impressive range of activities, including designing and implementing an engaging project-based, interdisciplinary elective for students in Years 9 and 10, entitled ‘The Criminal Mind Under the Microscope’. She has also become a member of the Science Teachers of Victoria [STAV] Council. As part of her role on the council, Greer has presented at numerous events and has launched a STAV psychology network and a professional development workshop series, aimed at uniting teachers to share their learning and experiences.

LAUREN GOODSELL Acting head history teacher Bonnyrigg High School ,NSW

“Innovative”, “incredibly talented” and “compassionate” are a few of the phrases Lauren Goodsell’s colleagues use to describe her. They also call her a “strong and effective leader” who works “tirelessly to maximise the learning outcomes of students” at Bonnyrigg High School. At the moment, Goodsell is acting as head teacher for the history faculty at Bonnyrigg, and her performance in the role has been outstanding. With a management style informed by current leadership practices, she has developed strong rapport with staff and has demonstrated an ability to lead professional learning. She’s even put forward a whole-school initiative in active citizenship to persuade local politicians to create a solution for a traffic issue that’s affecting the safety of the students as they travel to and from school. A valued and respected member of the school’s executive team, Goodsell is a meaningful contributor who is highly regarded by students. In addition, her students’ consistently excellent HSC results speak to Goodsell’s impressive expertise as a classroom teacher.

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RISING STARS 2018 CARLY PLUCK Leading teacher Canterbury Primary School, Vic

Carly Pluck works to improve student engagement and learning outcomes by empowering her students to co-design their learning experiences and enabling them to have genuine input in decision-making. Her colleagues describe Pluck as “an exceptional teacher who fully engages her students in all learning, ensuring that, without exception, all students are capably achieving to the best of their abilities.” Pluck models learning to her students and creates an environment in which it’s safe to take risks, which ensures that students know that failure is an important part of learning. By developing strong relationships with students, she challenges them at their point of need while ensuring that her knowledge of each student’s background guides learning experiences and opportunities. Pluck ensures that learning is relatable for students by providing a genuine context and purpose for all learning. She strongly advocates learning by doing and scaffolding problem-solving through trial and error in real experiences, rather than abstract concepts. In 2016, Pluck developed and coordinated a collaborative project with several primary schools, which was profiled by the Victorian Department of Education as a strong model of collaboration between schools for improving learning outcomes. She also created a Maker Festival, which was used to launch Education Week for the Department of Education, and has presented at a regional New Pedagogies for Deep Learning conference on empowering students and building student-led learning environments.

EMILY STRAUCH Graduate teacher Kalianna School, Vic

A colleague calls Emily Strauch’s dedication to special education teaching “outstanding”. Strauch is specifically passionate about supporting students with Autism spectrum disorder and developing programs and strategies aimed at increasing the learning, social and emotional outcomes of her students. She has earned a reputation as a teacher who is hard-working, knowledgeable and fearless. She often spends her own time calling parents not only to communicate concerns, but also to celebrate students’ achievements. She is skilled in resolving conflicts and handling stressful situations, and she’s always open to assisting others with planning and technology. Strauch is known among her colleagues for being open to trying new ideas and always seeking ways to improve her teaching. She inspires not only her immediate team, but also staff across the sector. “In time, the effect of Emily’s skills and passion for special education will filter to a state level as other staff get to work with her and take hold of the passionate, enthusiastic, unrelenting energy she holds in meeting the individual needs of our unique cohort of students,” a colleague says.


JUSTIN YEE Head teacher, teaching and learning Ambarvale High School, NSW

Justin Yee lives and breathes innovation. Having begun his career as a PDHPE teacher, Yee’s passion for maximising human potential through learning led him to his current role as head teacher for teaching and learning at Ambarvale High School. Yee inspires, motivates, enables and empowers both students and teachers to explore their ultimate potential. He develops and structures professional learning with a view to inspiring and informing the entire staff, insisting that learning should be aspirational, creative and playful. His goal is to support others to “live a life worth living”. Yee has an insatiable desire for continuous learning himself, feverishly consuming professional readings and podcasts and exploring learning opportunities as part of an endless quest to remain current and inspired as an educator. He shares his learning, commitment and passion with others through formalised professional learning opportunities and daily practice. A sought-after presenter in the education field, Yee will present at the Edutech International Conference in June and regularly presents at the annual PDHPE Teachers’ Association conference. He has also been a guest presenter on innovative teaching and learning practice at a number of schools across NSW.

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IAIN HOY Head of performing arts Tara Anglican School for Girls, NSW

During his time at Tara Anglican School for Girls, Iain Hoy has found new and innovative ways to encourage collaboration between music staff members when designing curriculum sequences, tasks and content using the Orff-Schulwerk method. He has led the department through the successful implementation of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, instilling a focus on learning that encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers. Under Hoy’s leadership, the school’s music and drama HSC results have included some outstanding successes. In 2015, Hoy successfully applied for the school to be part of the WotOpera Program – an impressive achievement, considering that only four schools in NSW were selected to be involved. The experience allowed Year 9 and 10 elective music and drama students to work with professionals to create an opera meaningful to their lives. The resulting work was so impressive that Tara students were interviewed for ABC Radio National’s Book and Arts program. Hoy is passionate about creating new opportunities for students, and has started seven new ensembles since his arrival at the school four years ago. He conducts the concert band, stage band, Axis Wind Ensemble and is the musical director for collaborative productions between Tara and The King’s School. Under Hoy’s leadership, the number of students in ensembles has expanded, and the school now tours internationally biannually. Hoy also writes for the CSSA Trial HSC Music Committee and has been a member of the HSC Music 1 and Music 2 Examination Committees.

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RISING STARS 2018 SARAH MULLUCKS Senior teacher Ngukurr School, NT

“From the first moment Sarah came to the Northern Territory to complete her placement, you could see what a dedicated and passionate person she was,” a colleague says about Sarah Mullucks. Mullucks returned as a graduate and commenced her career as a classroom teacher. In the Indigenous community in a remote area, the Melbournian quickly created strong community ties, which allowed her to build deep relationships with her students. These relationships, together with her strong pedagogical practice, ensured constant high attendance and the engagement of each child in learning. Mullucks quickly attracted leadership responsibilities; within a couple of years, she became acting principal of the school. She has been instrumental in the adoption of the Mind Up approach to mindfulness, the immersion of staff in the teachings of John Hattie, and the facilitation of the school’s Learning Commission. She has also received a regional Teacher of the Year award.

MOHAMMED NAANOUH Science teacher Al Sadiq College, NSW

While Mohammed Naanouh is still in the early stages of his career, his leadership potential is already apparent to those around him. “He demonstrates the wisdom of someone who has been in the profession for far longer,” a colleague says. “I have been teaching for 28 years and during this time have not encountered a beginning teacher with the leadership potential demonstrated by Mohammed.” In the absence of a coordinator, Naanouh took on a leadership role in his faculty that involved overseeing assessment and reporting, as well as mentoring other staff members. He has collaborated with staff from other schools to develop programs and assessment tasks for the new Stage 6 syllabus and is a contributor to a large online teachers network. Naanouh is constantly striving to enhance his subject knowledge and professional development. In pursuit of that aim, he seeks the advice of more experienced educators and incorporates their suggestions into his pedagogy. He strives to engage his students and devise programs and activities to meet their specific needs, and his collaborative approach has inspired other faculty members to do the same.


TARA NIMICZECK Deputy principal, teacher, student wellbeing and learning diversity leader St Thomas More Primary School, Vic

A highly motivated and organised leader, Tara Nimiczeck has excelled in the classroom since becoming a teacher. At St Thomas More Primary School, around 20% of students have specific health and/ or learning needs; after a few years as a generalist classroom teacher, Nimiczeck was chosen to participate in a master’s in education intervention course, an intensive program focused on supporting intervention strategies for students with special needs. After graduating with her master’s degree, Nimiczeck returned to the classroom and took on the role of student wellbeing and learning diversity leader. This required her to lead staff in professional development activities, supporting them with strategies to assist students with special needs, and liaising with families and staff to ensure smooth transitions from one year level to the next. Nimiczeck also established a program to support Year 5 and 6 girls to develop empathy and resilience. She is continuing to pursue wellbeing professional development and recently took on additional responsibilities as deputy principal.

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CHRIS NIVEN Middle College pedagogy coach and maths coordinator Sheldon College, Qld

Chris Niven is passionate about mathematics and works to inspire his students to be motivated, to challenge themselves and to develop self-efficacy for their maths studies. He leads pedagogy and coaching staff to create a smooth transition of maths teaching and learning for students across Years 5 to 8, bridging the gap between primary and secondary teaching and curriculum. His goal is to work with teachers to assist students in overcoming any fears about maths and to inspire future thought leaders to see the value and benefit of maths. Niven has facilitated the development and implementation of teacher observation protocols and opportunities for teachers in the middle years of the college. He has created a reflection template for teachers to use during observations, which is based on the latest educational research of highly effective practices for middle years teaching and learning. His reflection planner encourages teachers to reflect on rigour, relevance, relationships, responsibility and resilience when observing each other’s practice. Niven has surveyed teachers on their skills and ability, and uses this data to strategically plan professional development opportunities to build the capacity of the teachers in his team. It’s a strategy based on educational research that demonstrates that what matters most is quality teaching, and this is supported by strategic teacher professional development.

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RISING STARS 2018 JAKE PLASKETT Director of learning innovation Ruyton Girls’ School, Vic

Over the past two years, Ruyton Girls’ School has introduced new signature experiences and programs, authentically developing students’ transferable skills and purposefully challenging their understandings about themselves and their world. According to Jake Plaskett’s colleague, his “enthusiasm, expertise and commitment to excellence have supported and led staff, students and parents in embracing new learning opportunities.” Some of the new opportunities Plaskett has overseen include the introduction of a blended program for Year 6 and 7 students, which requires students to collaborate on a major project over the course of the year. Meanwhile, Year 9 and 10 students are now connected with industry professionals for a six-week internship program, which allows them to work closely with a mentor on a project that positively contributes to the organisation while also developing the student’s professional skills and competencies. Plaskett has also spearheaded a reimagining of Year 9 and 10 subjects with the creation of new future-focused, interdisciplinary elective offerings. “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing,” says Plaskett’s colleague. “Jake has engaged staff successfully in this space with the understanding that we are always one step away from being a different person, a different teacher or a different school – we are literally creating the future.”

HOLLY PHOTIOU Year 5 teacher and STEM mentor Ormiston College, Qld

Holly Photiou has extensive professional knowledge and experience with designing, leading and delivering STEM education in 21st-century environments. As a Year 5 teacher and STEM mentor, she leads programs to develop the literacies and capabilities that will assist young people to succeed in a changing world. Photiou is currently undertaking action research regarding the benefits of mixed reality in the classroom and how this technology can improve student performance in tasks such as spatial understanding, memorisation and mental imagery. She is also creating personalised pathways for primary-school students, driven by a firm belief that young children learn at a different pace and in a different way. Using digital tools, she has identified areas of work that require consolidation, while also modifying lessons to extend students beyond the curriculum and make more explicit links to challenging concepts. Photiou’s reputation for going above and beyond has seen her building capacity across the primary school by spreading effective practice in order to ensure that her fellow teachers have the incentive to reach beyond their current practice to cater for students’ needs in a modern and global world. Recently, Photiou and her students had the privilege of showcasing their STEM projects to Dr Gary Stager, an internationally recognised leader in assisting schools to prepare students for the future by using technology-enabled learning.


JULIA O’HARA Year 1 teacher St Andrew’s College, Qld

Known as an extremely hard-working and dedicated educator, Julia O’Hara has taught at many schools during her relatively short teaching career, including schools in America, South Korea and Far North Queensland. Always taking on leadership roles, she is currently a numeracy coach, literacy coordinator/facilitator and is also in charge of the Year 1 home reading program. O’Hara is constantly creating or sourcing innovative resources in order to support student learning, and she shares those resources with her colleagues. She’s also one to always put up her hand to assist with the school’s extracurricular activities. Because of her excellent teaching skills, maturity and dedication, O’Hara often has children with special needs and/or medical conditions placed in her class, and she goes above and beyond to ensure that these children and fully supported and catered for. O’Hara’s nominating colleague praised her “communication skills, motivation, positivity, dedication and responsible nature”.

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Sponsored by

VANESSA NOONAN Digital pedagogy and innovation head Sheldon College, Qld

Vanessa Noonan is passionate about digital technology. She has geared her tertiary education, professional development projects and recent work experience towards a career in this rapidly growing field and is well known within the community of digital pedagogy teachers. Noonan has had the fortune of being inducted into the area of digital media, technology and ICT integration by international leaders and is certified by the Harvard Graduate School

of Education in Teaching to Standards with New Technologies. Noonan’s latest project is focused on ArtScapes, a cutting-edge digital arts facility that enables students to work with digital media tools and virtual- and mixed-reality platforms that have never been used in Queensland schools. Noonan is also leading and connecting with key stakeholders across Sheldon College to build a professional learning

community that is focused on the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. She has led the development of the college’s LINQ Precinct, a world-class facility focused on interdisciplinary project-based teaching and learning. Noonan builds on her successes by investigating and applying the latest academic and industry research and by regularly reflecting on innovation processes.

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Sponsored by

RISING STARS 2018 TOM NORMAN Media teacher Iona Presentation College, WA

“Tom certainly makes a difference every day,” says media teacher Tom Norman’s colleague. “His commitment and approach to what he does are outstanding, and he is certainly a role model for the students and staff alike.” Still at the early stages in his career, Norman differentiates within all lessons, placing emphasis on how each and every student can achieve in his classes. He provides extension to highly able students and also devises individual learning plans for those who require support. Norman is highly committed to the college’s co-curricular program and is always willing to assist in various ways around the school. Norman’s teaching is described as “engaging, well organised and highly professional”, and he has achieved outstanding results with his ATAR WACE students over a number of years. His students often perform well above predicted levels in all year groups. They have also entered and performed well in several media competitions at both the state and national level.

JESSICA RUSCICA New industry event for professional development of school leaders and decision makers KAYLA PEPPER Head of LINKS Kingswood College, Vic

As the head of LINKS, Kingswood College’s special needs department, Kayla Pepper has made a significant difference in the teaching and mentoring of some of the college’s most vulnerable students. Not only has Pepper built strong relationships with staff, students and parents, but she has also transformed processes and procedures in her department. This has had the effect of improving communi­ cation and providing clarity, which ensures students get the support, intervention and differentiation they need in order to be successful learners. During her time at the college, Pepper has made significant contributions through her involvement in a number of teaching and learning activities. “Kayla has shouldered many responsibilities beyond our expectations,” a colleague says, referring her appointment as both a head of house and head of LINKS. The colleague also says feedback from parents, students and other staff has reflected positively on Pepper’s organisational skills. Pepper continuously strives to improve her skills by attending several professional development courses, including special education workshops.



Mount Brown Public School, NSW

Praised for developing professionally far beyond expectations since she began teaching, quickly mastering and surpassing early-career teaching skills and management to develop excellence in a wide range of teaching and learning expertise, Jessica Ruscica is described by a colleague as “a leader of the future”. In her first few years of teaching, Ruscica has demonstrated a personal responsibility for continually improving her teaching practice to facilitate better student learning. She has worked collaboratively with colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of her teaching practices, including using sophisticated analysis of student engagement, learning growth and outcomes to plan for the ongoing learning of each student in her care. With superior technology skills, Ruscica is regarded a go-to person for her colleagues in online professional development, and she works with the technology team to improve whole-school expertise in the use of technology. Ruscica’s teaching success has allowed her to move rapidly into leadership opportunities alongside colleagues with many more years of experience. She has led whole-staff professional development sessions for the last two years, mentors other early-career teachers through their induction and in their beginning teacher support plans, and has recently built upon her capacity as a leader by relieving as assistant principal.

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Opening new doors At 141 years old, Tintern Grammar is steeped in rich history, but it’s what the school is doing for today’s generation that is most exciting

IN 2017, Tintern Grammar, located in Melbourne’s east, celebrated its 140th anniversary, making it one of Australia’s longeststanding schools. The school’s story begins in 1877, when Mrs Emma B Cook founded a learning centre to educate her own 11 children, which she named after the Welsh abbey immortalised in poem by William Wordsworth. As time went on and word of mouth spread, many local and country families began sending their children to the school. In 1918, this growing demand prompted thenprincipal Hilda Ball to formally make Tintern a girls’ school. In 1946, the school purchased its current site at Ringwood East, which had more spacious and modern facilities. When rural and international boards moved to the new grounds in 1956, it opened a range of further learning opportunities, including Tinternwood Farm, where animals were introduced in 1961. Another defining moment arrived in 1994, when the school allowed boys to enrol for the first time. Parallel to this milestone was the introduction of an International Baccalaureate program to the school’s curriculum. Five years later, the school was renamed Tintern Schools with two separate


campuses: Tintern Girls’ Grammar School and Southwood Boys’ Grammar School. After the opening of Tintern Senior College in 2010 and Tintern Schools Early Learning Centre in 2011, the decision was made in 2014 to bring both Tintern Grammar Schools together on one site at Ringwood East. In 2015, Brad Fry took up the role as the school’s first male principal, ending a 138-year tradition.

“By allowing our students to engage with one another outside of the classroom, we combine the academic benefits of single-sex education and the social benefits of co-educational environments. We want to have the best of both worlds” So what does teaching and learning look like 141 years after Emma Cook had a vision to create a school that would provide “the best education possible” for her own and other children? The Educator spoke to Fry about the opportunities the school is delivering its students in 2018, as well as how it

plans on continuing to drive educational excellence into the future.

TE: What can you tell us about Tintern Grammar students’ VCE results, and what the school is doing to ensure the best possible outcomes?

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At 141 years old, Tintern Grammar is one of Australia’s longest-standing schools

In 1994, the school opened its doors to male students for the first time

In 2015, Brad Fry became the school’s first male principal

Tintern is one of only three Australian schools to adopt a parallel learning model (single-sex classrooms within a co-educational setting) Brad Fry: Year-on-year, our students’ dedication to their studies never ceases to amaze me. Last year, nearly half of our Year 12 cohort achieved an ATAR score of 80 or above. Their hard work is reflected in their outstanding results, and more than that, we find that their performance is a great credit to not only their commitment and effort, but also that of our Tintern teaching staff, who have guided them in their studies across all year levels. As a truly open entry school, we are proud of all our students who have achieved their VCE certificate and successfully forged their preferred pathway. In addition, one-third of our cohort takes the International Baccalaureate diploma qualification, a highly regarded and internationally accredited alternative to the VCE. Likewise, the IB results of our students

continue to impress me and are consistent with the long-term trends of academic excellence at Tintern Grammar, with last year’s median IB score at 37 – the ATAR score equivalent of 95.9. These results are the consequence of programs that are tailored to meet the needs of each student and maximise their potential. In the Junior School, the foundations are laid with explicit teaching of phonics, numeracy and literacy, mixed with more expansive inquiry skills to engage our learners in higher-order and 21st-century thinking skills. We are an open entry school, and our teachers are highly skilled at differentiating for the full and very diverse range of abilities. All students are engaged, extended and enhanced through appropriate challenge and

Tintern offers an International Baccalaureate diploma as well as the Victorian Certificate of Education

The school also operates Tinternwood Farm, a working farm that provides unique educational opportunities for students

support for their individual learning journey, and our pastoral guidance and wellbeing programs ensure students are in the best possible care to support their learning. In all sections and areas of our school, we have

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“We believe the IB program develops independent thinkers … it aligns with our school’s values and philosophies that inform our approach to education across all year levels” experienced teachers who work in a systemically collaborative environment to plan scaffolded learning experiences for students across classes. They use fine-grained assessment data to track student progress and to inform their practice in an evidence-based approach. All teachers set explicit goals for their students and collaborate with others to set strategies in order to boost


student learning in a way that is supported with evidence.

TE: Why did Tintern Grammar choose to offer the International Baccalaureate program, and what kind of outcomes have you seen since it was introduced? BF: IB offers a global qualification that is the

most nationally and internationally portable high-school qualification available. It is academically rigorous and focused on developing the skills needed for tertiary education and the contemporary world of work. It focuses on students taking subjects from all discipline areas – including a second language – which promotes learning through inquiry. Additionally, it requires students to complete project-based creative, action and service activities, an extended research essay, and a critical thinking course that asks students to question what they know and how they know it. These requirements challenge students to extend their learning beyond the classroom and be equipped to face the world in the 21st century. In addition to the outstanding IB results that our students achieve, we believe

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the program develops independent thinkers. Tintern Grammar continues to offer the IB program because it aligns with the values and philosophies that inform our approach to education across all year levels. Our school is dedicated to offering a coherent and holistic education so that our students can graduate feeling well prepared for tertiary studies and beyond.

want to have the best of both worlds. It allows us for both targeted learning and enhanced social interaction. In our senior school, we promote a holistic co-ed approach to learning, as we believe once students have become confident in their learning, they also need to develop their interpersonal skills to flourish in the world beyond our school.

TE: Can you tell us about Tintern Grammar’s Parallel Learning Model? How has this been working for the school?

TE: What are some of the unique educational opportunities the Tinternwood Farm offers for students?

BF: Working separately with our Prep to Year 9 students in boys-only and girls-only environments allows us to target the different needs of boys and girls in both academic and wellbeing domains. This is particularly important in the middle years of schooling, when fostering engagement is so vital. However, we also know that during developmental years, encouraging young men and women to work together respectfully before moving into the real world is equally as important. By allowing our students to engage with one another outside of the classroom, we combine the academic benefits of single-sex education and the social benefits of co-educational environments. We

BF: Tinternwood Farm offers the Young Farmers Club, where students of all ages can work with our animals on the farm, caring for them and preparing them for agricultural shows around Victoria. The Year 4 cohort visits the farm weekly for one term a year, where they undertake integrated units combining elements of science, sustainability and geography, as well as connecting with nature and animals. Our Year 7 students take a core agriculture subject for a semester, and we offer a Year 10 agriculture elective. The science and geography curricula, in particular, also use Tinternwood Farm and the classroom situated there to give some real-life experiences

FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH In 2016, Tintern Grammar’s Year 12 cohort achieved an ATAR score of 80 or above As of 2017, one-third of the school’s cohort is in the International Baccalaureate diploma program The median IB score in 2016 was 37 (the ATAR score equivalent of 95.9) The school opened its Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics [STEAM] Centre in July 2017

to their study of core topics. Our outdoor education electives at Year 9 and 10 also use the farm land and the bushland reserve on site for a range of school and farm learning activities. Tinternwood provides our students with the unique opportunity to apply their classroom studies in a practical environment, as well as to see how developments in STEM affect fields such as agriculture.

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Continuing the path of inspiration After stepping down as St Michael’s Grammar’s long-time principal, Simon Gipson has found new purpose in The Song Room. Brett Henebery reports

WHEN SIMON GIPSON stepped down as the head of St Michael’s Grammar school last year, concluding what can only be described as an illustrious career, he began the onerous task of deciding what to do next. Among his options were returning to South East Asia, where he had previously worked with a consultancy helping disadvantaged children in Cambodia and led a school in Thailand. He also looked at a number of bureaucratic roles across Australia. However, while browsing LinkedIn one Sunday afternoon, Gipson stumbled across a link to The Song Room, a national non-profit organisation that uses a range of programs to ensure that children across Australia have access to music and creative arts education. Established in 2006, The Song Room now reaches more than 80% of Australia’s schools and more than 1 million students. What’s more, the organisation is addressing a pressing issue in the delivery of contemporary arts education by providing schools with specialist arts teachers who can train local


teachers to carry on quality arts education once they’re gone. “While researching the company, I realised that I happened to personally know several of

Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL] and deputy chair of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. Gipson and McKay first met each other 20 years ago when they were presenting at a conference in Darwin. Gipson got McKay involved in the first professional development opportunities he was coordinating at St Michael’s. A year later, McKay invited Gipson to join the board at the Centre of Strategic Education in Melbourne; Gipson would continue to work there for the next 17 years. In February, after Gipson took up the role as The Song Room’s CEO, their paths would serendipitously intersect once more. “So far, it’s been a very interesting transition, going from running a high-profile, highfee-paying independent school in the centre of Melbourne to being in charge of a national non-profit,” Gipson says. “It sits at completely the opposite end of the socio-economic spectrum in terms of education and learning. Working in a different mode with very different resources has also been a significant shift, but it’s incredibly rewarding.”

“The arts and creativity allow us to envisage and reconceptualise the future we wish to have. ... If we lose that capacity and don’t encourage it through our major agencies of learning, we’re condemned to have a very different society from the one we want” the directors, and that it was based 400 metres from where I was working at the time,” Gipson says. “One of the directors was Tony McKay, a very old friend of mine whom I deeply respect as an education thought leader.” McKay, an internationally renowned educator, is also chair of the Australian

Evidence-based foundations According to Gipson, the Song Room’s programs are independently proven to lift students’ academic performance, school attendance, social-emotional wellbeing and community involvement. “The Song Room is an organisation that is

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intervention, all based around bringing ‘teaching artists’ into schools,” he says. “This program can improve student engagement and outcomes in music, drama, visual arts, dance and all of the other areas that arise from the more generic skills like confidence in risktaking, active participation and so on.”

A continuity of quality arts education

not only having successful intervention, but the intervention and efficacy itself is also well supported by evidence-based research that was conducted across several studies,” he says. One of these studies was by Brian Caldwell and Tanya Vaughan. Caldwell’s defining work, The Self-Managing School, is described by Gipson as “the equivalent of Luther’s theses for education departments and ministries around the world”. Caldwell and Vaughan’s three-year research study, funded by the Macquarie Foundation, looked at a number of schools in Western Sydney that were using The Song Room program. The researchers used a number of measures to examine the program’s gains, including experimental design that enabled them to determine that

the Song Room program was having a profoundly positive impact. “The program is improving not only student attendance, but also learning engagement, which leads to positive rises in wellbeing and outcomes,” Gipson says. “The researchers were using a number of research methodologies, but one simple measure was that the program was seeing significant improvements in the quality of students’ NAPLAN results.” Gipson says the program has also received qualitative feedback from teachers, who indicated a rise in positive learning outcomes in all subjects, from humanities to science. “The Song Room has quality, authentic, well credentialled research supporting the

Gipson points to the crucial role of specialist teachers in helping schools deliver quality arts education. To help schools in this area, The Song Room offers ‘teaching artists’ who work closely with teachers and students to produce the best possible outcomes. Over the last few years, The Song Room has developed an online learning platform called Arts Live, which addresses the issue of how to sustain the learning and impact of arts programs beyond the teaching artists. “Schools cannot rely on a teacher who does not have the specialist skills required to deliver an arts program,” Gipson says. “We know that most teachers who go to primary schools will get around 20 hours across their degree that is focused on an arts education, let alone the specialisms that sit within that. The reality is that one in four primary schools across Australia have a specialist arts teacher, so what the program was initially designed to do was to provide modules of lessons for teachers in those specialist arts areas.” Not only is this model helping to provide a continuity of quality arts education for schools, it’s also cost-effective in the long run. “A teaching artist in a metropolitan school, working for one day a week, costs around $18,000,” Gipson explains. “When you look at the research, there are profound and significant outcomes that are being produced in classrooms as a result of The Song Room program. If you then equate it to the cost and the number of kids impacted, it’s an extraordinarily cost-effective way of shifting the needle specifically and significantly around educational disadvantage.”

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The Song Room is a non-profit organisation established in 2006

Its programs reach 80% of schools and more than 1 million students

Programs are based on evidence-based research with proven academic results

One of its directors is internationally renowned educator Tony McKay An uncertain future Despite the popularity of arts in Australian society, Gipson says he “worries deeply” about the future of arts education in Australian schools – an issue driven by a consistent focus on NAPLAN and the ATAR over humanities and the arts. “I think we’re at a particular point in our whole approach to education where we need radical reform,” he says. “However, I don’t think we’re going to get that because the reform we’re getting is incremental. The sort of opportunities for learning that we really need to provide young people to position them for their future as contributing citizens in the knowledge economy is nonexistent in


schools as long as we continue to have the approach that we do.” Gipson says the education system currently focuses too much on skills and knowledge that are likely to be automated and mechanised in the near future, rather than improving critical human abilities like creativity, imagination and problem-solving. “We have the segmentation of school into primary, secondary and tertiary, which is an archaic model initially based on 19th-century approaches to the organisation of schools and learning,” he says. “If you think about it, we still get kids to learn one way in primary school, and over a few warm nights in January, expect these kids to morph into very different kinds of learners at the age of 12 when they transition into secondary school.” Gipson says that once schools then make students journey through six years of secondary schools and sit a series of exams, they’re sending the message that “the only real measure of success is that they get into the right universities and do the right courses”. “There is also a worrying ‘credential and certification creep’ that occurs now, which is that if you don’t have a master’s and a double graduate degree, then you’re probably not worth much and won’t get a job,” he says. Gipson believes that in light of ongoing advancements in AI and robotics, computers

will soon be doing many of the tasks associated with skills currently being taught in Australia’s schools. “One thing we’re certainly not doing enough of is thinking about the things that humans do particularly well,” he says. Gipson says he became increasingly concerned about the current landscape after seeing state schools in Melbourne gradually cutting their arts and humanities programs in Years 11 and 12 because they feel that “the only important game in town is the VCE and the ATAR”. “Think about this: NAPLAN has reached such a particular position that one of the topselling children’s books in Australia right now is a book on preparation for NAPLAN,” he says. “What we need to do is think about the value of arts. The arts and creativity allow us to envisage and reconceptualise the future we wish to have. It empowers us to think differently and causes us to be creative problem-solvers.” Gipson considers the arts to be “one of the most important aspects of human endeavour” and one that “distinguishes humans from all of the other creatures on the planet”. “If we lose that capacity and don’t encourage it through our major agencies of learning,” he says, “we’re condemned to have a very different society from the one we want.”

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Photo by Keith Saunders

Take a bow Opera Australia is celebrating 20 years of a program that’s given more than a million students the chance to experience opera 46

IN FEBRUARY, Don Harwin, the NSW minister for the arts, launched Opera Australia’s 2018 NSW Schools Tour at Sydney’s South Coogee Public School. Over seven months, the schools tour production of The Magic Flute, a 50-minute version of Mozart’s opera, will travel to more than 100 schools across regional and metropolitan NSW, as far north as Coffs Harbour and as far south as

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Queanbeyan. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Opera Australia’s NSW Schools Tour Program. “During that time, we’ve showcased opera to over 1.4 million students through more than 7,500 performances across the nation,” says Rory Jeffes, CEO of Opera Australia. “This year, our schools program will reach 45,000 students in NSW and 25,000 in Victoria.” The program began in 1998 as a continuation of the schools tour started by the Victorian State Opera (which merged with Opera Australia in 1996). “The Opera Australia Schools Tour program developed out of a desire to bring high-calibre opera into schools to foster a love of the performing arts in people of all ages,” Jeffes says. “Music plays an important role in our culture and should be a natural part of our everyday experiences. But so often a person’s ability to experience the creative arts is limited by factors including geography, accessibility

children with the opportunity to experience the richness of the opera and live performance. “Unfortunately, not all children are able to experience the creative arts in their early childhood,” van Konkelenberg says, “so being able to deliver the performances of music and drama to children directly in their classrooms is very exciting.” Jeffes adds that the Schools Tour performances give children the opportunity to really engage with opera. “We find that the children in the audience of a Schools Tour production are not shy when it comes to offering a reaction to a performance,” he says. “They will gasp in fright at monsters, cheer their favourite heroes and ‘boo’ the villains in the piece, making themselves part of the production almost as much as the performers themselves. It’s fantastic to see children become so engaged in a performance style that most of them have never seen before.”

“It’s fantastic to see children become so engaged in a performance style that most of them have never seen before” Rory Jeffes, Opera Australia and finance. What the Opera Australia Schools Tour Program aims to do is to break down those barriers and to democratise access to the arts for children and teachers across the state and the nation.”

Creating an experience

Joshua van Konkelenberg is a highly accomplished and highly qualified music teacher who began touring with Opera Australia as a pianist for its schools production of Cinderella in 2014 and then as regional chorus-master for the 2016 and 2017 regional tour seasons of The Marriage of Figaro. He says a key benefit of the Schools Tour Program that it provides

Similarly, van Konkelenberg says it is “incredibly rewarding” to see how children react during performances. “It is fulfilling to know that we are breaking down those boundaries and providing access to the arts for children and teachers across the state,” he says. “All young people, at least once in their life, should have the opportunity to experience music and drama. Being able to bring that directly to thousands of children across NSW and Victoria is truly remarkable.” He continues to be surprised – and delighted – by the impact of Schools Tour performances on young students. “We hear so many stories about children

OPERA AUSTRALIA: FAST FACTS Australia’s national opera company – then known as the Australian Opera – began life in 1956, presenting four of Mozart’s operas for his bicentenary

Today, Opera Australia is Australia’s largest arts employer

Each year, Opera Australia presents more than 700 performances to more than 500,000 people

Lyndon Terracini, the artistic director of Opera Australia, was recognised for his service as an opera performer, director and administrator with a Member of the Order of Australia at the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours who have never seen opera – or any live performance – being totally spellbound after attending a show,” van Konkelenberg says. “And so often the effects are felt far beyond the day of the performance. One young student was so inspired that he began composing his first opera! It’s not uncommon for us to hear feedback about kids starting to request opera being played in the car or at home when they’d usually be listening to contemporary pop music.”

The impact of the arts In education today, a tremendous focus is being placed on STEM subjects as a means of preparing children to live and work in tomorrow’s world. So why is it important for exposure to the performing arts to remain part of a child’s education experience? “It is certainly important for children to

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Since 2000, the Schools Tour production of The Magic Flute has been performed more than 1,400 times in more than 100 schools

To date, The Magic Flute has been seen by more than 260,000 children; this year, it will be seen by its 300,000th child

The Schools Tour experience involves a fully-staged, 50-minute performance of a complete opera, plus 10 minutes of questions and answers with students and teachers

The 2018 NSW Schools Tour will travel from Coogee to Coffs Harbour, Parkes to Parramatta, and Bowral to Bondi, stopping at many government and independent schools along the way

learn STEM subjects, but exposure to the creative arts bolsters the creative and life skills necessary to succeed in all fields of education,” Jeffes says. “Studies have shown that musical experiences in childhood can accelerate brain development and improve academic achievement, particularly in the areas of language, literacy and numeracy. “Creative performance and engagement ignites areas of child development and skills for life readiness, including intellectual stimulation, social and emotional comprehension, motor skills, and cultural understanding. It can also be a source of joy. Exposing children to music and creative art early on in life can

“Including the arts as an integral part of a child’s education helps them connect many aspects of their education and life together” Joshua van Konkelenberg, Co-opera give them a head start in all of these areas at a crucial period in their learning development.” An opportunity to engage with any art form is an opportunity to broaden one’s experience and ideas, van Konkelenberg adds. “The questions we encounter when making or experiencing art force us to engage in our world and to see a world that is bigger than ourselves,” he says. “Including the arts as an integral part of a child’s education helps them connect many aspects of their education and life together. As with any work of art, we can learn about the lives and feelings of other people, so an opera has very tangible connections to history, politics and literature – and, of course, music, art and drama.”

A launching pad Not only does Opera Australia’s Schools Tour Program represent a wonderful opportunity


for the children who attend to experience the creative arts, but, according to Jeffes, the program also offers opportunities for talented young opera singers in Australia. “The program provides a platform for them to launch their professional careers and to perform to a variety of audiences in locations across the state,” he says. Jeffes says most of the Schools Tour artists are recent university graduates; Schools Tour performances are often their first professional singing job. “Some of Opera Australia’s most popular singers have made their start in the Schools Tour, including Kanen Breen, Andrew Jones,

Lorina Gore, Stacey Alleaume and Miriam Gordon-Stewart,” he says. “So many careers have been launched from an early start in the Opera Australia Schools Tour company.” So, what does the future hold for the Schools Tour program? “We expanded schools touring into South Australia for the first time last year and are hoping to spend more time there in the future,” Jeffes says. “It would be great to develop the Schools Tour program further into states across Australia.” Reflecting on what is now a 20-year success story for Opera Australia, van Konkelenberg says he hopes the program will keep expanding. “It would be fantastic to see this program continue and grow into the future and to see outreach programs like Opera Australia’s become regular fixtures in schools and local communities across the state.”

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Curious leadership Rather than having all the answers, good leadership is the art of asking the right questions, writes Michelle Gibbings

IN TODAY’S fast-paced world, there’s often an expectation that leaders need to have the answers at their fingertips, that’s it’s not OK to say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”. However, it’s not possible for leaders to have all the answers all the time. Additionally, we are surrounded by more information than ever, and it’s becoming harder to know which sources to trust. Discernment and good judgment are critical – particularly because in a complex, ambiguous and interconnected world, everything may not be what it seems. When we take something on face value, we may be missing key pieces of information or overlooking unseen options. And when leaders hold dogmatic views and are certain about their opinion, they open themselves to decision failures. Your mindset is critical History is littered with stories of leaders who thought they had the answers, ignored advice and consequently made poor decisions – from the failure of Kodak to AOL’s disastrous purchase of Time Warner to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. When leaders are certain they are right, they close themselves off to other ideas and different opinions. This can lead to


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poor decision-making due to the bias we all have in how we process information and make decisions. Stanford academic Carol Dweck confirmed this in her research on fixed and growth mindsets. She found that people who have a fixed mindset see intelligence as static – a fixed trait. As a result, they always want to look smart and appear as though they have all the answers. They believe that success is based on talent alone, not work. This means they will avoid challenges and give up more easily. They also ignore feedback, which they see as criticism, and they often feel threatened by the success of others. In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe intelligence can be developed through hard work and effort. Consequently, they are more eager to embrace learning, take on challenges and persist in spite of setbacks. They love learning and usually display higher resilience. They are also more willing to learn from others and receive feedback.

Embrace scepticism In contrast, leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty have a growth mindset and are more willing to embrace the art of curiosity. They recognise that good decision-making comes from asking lots of questions, not finding the one right answer. And that’s where scepticism plays its part. According to the dictionary, to be sceptical is to be not easily convinced or to have doubts or reservations. It’s easy to paint the sceptic in a negative light – as the person who’s cynical and therefore to be dismissed. In fact, being sceptical means you are curious. It means you recognise you don’t have all the answers and are open to challenge and debate, rather than having a fixed idea or opinion. Sceptics question. They critically think and ponder ideas. They reflect on what is really happening. In doing this, they

take the time to ensure they are: Considering what’s happening around them and reflect on what they are seeing and hearing, and therefore what action should be taken Challenging assumptions they and others may have to ensure they are making a good decision and are being open to dissenting views and outlier opinions Checking their facts and interpretations of those facts as they are on the lookout for bias, which may adversely impact their thought processes and decisions

uncover elements that may be missing from the conversation ensure the discussion has examined the issue from multiple perspectives challenge their own thinking process and the processes of those around them By asking questions, leaders show they are interested in the ideas being shared and open to new information and thoughts. They are also welcoming divergent views and encouraging debate and discussion – all characteristics that are critical for successful leadership. So instead of encour-

Leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty have a growth mindset and are more willing to embrace the art of curiosity. They recognise that good decision-making comes from asking lots of questions, not finding the one right answer The art of the good question Leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty have a growth mindset and are more willing to embrace their curiosity. They recognise that good decision-making comes from asking lots of questions, not finding the one right answer. This isn’t about asking a question to get the answer they want. Instead, leaders need to ask questions that: clarify their understanding help to seek out different ideas ensure that outlier opinions and diverse views are heard make sure the trade-offs from decisions are clearly articulated

aging leaders to find the answers, encourage them to ask the right questions. It was the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss who said, “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers; he poses the right questions.” Being open to asking the right question is a hallmark of influential leadership. So, what question will you ask next? Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Gibbings works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work. For more information, visit or contact

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Creating a culture where innovation thrives What does it take to embed a culture of innovation in an organisation? Amanda Imber examines the key drivers of innovation culture

DOES YOUR organisation have a culture in which innovation thrives? Are people challenging the status quo and being encouraged by leaders to take risks in pursuit of innovation? Or is the opposite true – managers don’t take time to listen to new ideas, and suggestions to make improvements are met with the comment, “But we tried that last year and it didn’t work”? Building a culture of innovation is hard work. Many leaders who have been given this directive immediately think about the Googles and Apples of the world. Images of beanbags and table-tennis tables fill their minds, as do ‘blue sky’ workshops in far-off country retreats. However, what we know from research is that all of this is completely ineffective in creating a culture of innovation. As is often the case, the voice of popular culture and fad-ridden management books wins out over the voice of scientific research. Jargonfilled, densely written journal papers are harder to access than the pop-psych books filling the shelves. The scientific research into how to create a culture where innovation thrives is both plen-


tiful and precise. For example, Samuel Hunter from the University of Oklahoma, along with his colleagues Katrina Bedell and Michael Mumford, ran a large-scale meta-analysis to understand which variables had the biggest impact on innovation culture. They reviewed 42 journal papers, which, in total, had drawn

lenge’ as the ‘perception that jobs and/or tasks are challenging, complex and interesting – yet at the same time, not overly taxing or unduly overwhelming’. It is important that you don’t simply think about how to give people the biggest possible challenge. Instead, you should ensure that the

It is not uncommon for senior leaders to play it safe when confronted with the choice of whether to support innovation data from 14,490 participants. The research revealed 14 key drivers into innovation culture and ranked the drivers from most impactful through to least impactful. Let’s delve further into three of the top-ranking variables. 1 Find the right level of challenge

Hunter’s meta-analysis found that employees feeling a strong sense of challenge in their work is one of the strongest drivers of a culture of innovation. They defined ‘chal-

level of challenge you set is one that is achievable. On the flip side, setting tasks that people are able to complete with their eyes closed will not breed a culture where innovation thrives. In a 2014 review of several meta-analyses, Silvia da Costa and several colleagues from the University of the Basque Country examined the difference in creativity for those in challenging versus non-challenging roles. The researchers found that if people are in a role that challenges them, 67% will demonstrate above-average creativity and innova-

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even want to consider having a company award for innovations that were not successes, but where the learnings were really rich. Finally, consider reframing risk-taking in a positive way, such as talking about how risks provide people with the opportunity to learn. 3 Support from the top

tion in their performance. In contrast, only 33% of people in ‘easy’ jobs show aboveaverage innovation. At GE, Jeff Immelt famously introduced imagination breakthroughs [IBs], defined as an innovation that will contribute $100m worth of incremental growth, to his senior leadership team. Each member of the team was responsible for generating three IBs every year. The challenge is big, but the resources made available to leaders make it a challenge they can meet. Matching the level of challenge to an individual’s skill level is key to finding the optimal level. As a manager, take time to thoughtfully consider how you allocate tasks and projects to people. Ensure that you are matching these elements so that people feel a significant sense of challenge. 2 Encourage risk-taking

The notion of failure being unacceptable is one that I have found resonates with many organisations. Failure is generally thought of as a dirty word, something that gets swept

under the carpet when it does rear its ugly head. But being able to acknowledge and learn from failure is a huge part of building a culture where risk-taking is tolerated and innovation can thrive. Leaders play an important role in signalling that risk-taking is encouraged and that failure is tolerated. The Tata Group is an example of a company that has embraced risk-taking. Like many organisations serious about innovation, they have an annual innovation awards program, known as InnoVista. While that is not particularly ground-breaking, what is innovative is the awards categories. InnoVista pays tribute to the group’s most outstanding and promising innovations, but there is also a category called Dare to Try, which was launched back in 2009. This category is reserved for ideas that were attempted but that, according to the Tata Group, ‘have fallen short of achieving optimum results’. As a leader, think about initiatives and actions you can put in place to illustrate that your company doesn’t just pay lip service to risk-taking, but actually does it. You might

Ensuring that senior leaders in your organisation understand and communicate the importance of innovation is critical. In fact, Hunter’s meta-analysis showed that people feeling that the top level of management truly supported innovation efforts was one of the strongest predictors of an innovation culture. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for senior leaders to play it safe when confronted with the choice of whether to support innovation. I recently worked with the Australian leadership team of a global technology company. While innovation was a strategic priority for the company globally, the Australian CEO was frightened of innovation because it meant taking a risk. And this fear permeated the business, which meant that employees were too nervous to do anything differently because that was the message they were getting from the top. If you are a senior leader, make sure that you see your role as actually innovating, as opposed to just delegating it to other people. Research has shown this is a key differentiator between leaders in innovative versus non-innovative companies. Further, as a leader, think about behaviours you can engage in that symbolise your commitment to and support of innovation.

Dr Amantha Imber is the founder of Inventium, Australia’s leading innovation consultancy. Her latest book, The Innovation Formula, tackles the topic of how organisations can create a culture where innovation thrives. For more information, visit inventium. or contact her at amantha@

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CAUGHT ON CAMERA STUDENTS PLAY INTEGRAL ROLE AT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE In a world first, Melbourne Girls Grammar School students delivered the major keynote address at the 2018 APAC Blockchain Conference in March. Blockchain is a decentralised database system that enables cryptocurrencies to be exchanged in a quick and secure way. The event brought together blockchain innovators, business leaders and regulators for the purpose of helping to build blockchain strategy and assess the viability of the technology. “We really believe it is an historical moment for women to take advantage,” said MGGS principal Catherine Misson. “Women leading the digital economy would significantly accelerate gender parity. I am incredibly proud of our girls for stepping up and demonstrating that they have the insights, creativity and skills to be these digital pioneers.”



For two weeks in March, Scott Davidson, director of educational leadership for the NSW Department of Education’s Fairfield Network, returned to the classroom at Cabramatta and Canley Vale high schools to walk in the shoes of today’s students. Having not been a student for 30 years, Davidson described his two weeks in the classroom as an “eye-opening experience”, helping to inform his perspective as a leader in the NSW public school system. “What struck me straight away at Cabramatta and Canley Vale high schools was how the student-teacher relationship has evolved and the important mentoring role that teachers now play,” he said. He also noted how technology is “blurring the boundaries between school and home”, as students are now able to communicate with teachers before and after class.


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SCHOOL WOWS STUDENTS WITH FUTURE-FOCUSED LEARNING CENTRE Drone-flying areas, an ‘Imaginarium’ and excursions to Mars are just a few of the features of Coomera Anglican College’s exciting new immersive learning facility, The Pod. When students walk into The Pod, they are given the chance to explore the pyramids of Egypt, trek through Antarctica or take excursions into space. The centre is designed to take learning out of the traditional classroom and make primary students the architects of their learning. It features the latest in immersive and interactive technology, including robotics, interactive touchscreen displays, 3D printing, writeable walls, smart glass and an indoor drone-flying space. The climate-controlled, 360-degree Imaginarium is the centrepiece of the new learning facility, featuring six laser projectors and cinema-quality surround sound, which creates a seamless 360-degree sensory experience for students without the need for wearable technology.

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From leading St Michaels Grammar to promoting arts education, Simon Gipson has made a lasting contribution to education in Australia – and beyond


DISCOVERS A PASSION FOR EDUCATION While taking a break from his PhD thesis on T.S. Eliot, Gipson was invited to assist in developing a drama program at Christ Church Grammar School in Western Australia “It only took a couple of lessons teaching literature to senior students to make me realise that this was the career for me”


CEMENTS A SOLID REPUTATION Returning to Australia, Gipson took up the role of headmaster at Melbourne’s St Michael’s Grammar, a position he would hold for the next 18 years “I led St Michael’s Grammar School through a series of significant innovative reforms and spearheaded creative approaches to teaching, learning and caring. My work was acknowledged by a number of awards and invitations to work internationally”

2018 BECOMES CEO OF THE SONG ROOM After stepping down from St Michael’s, Gipson moved into a new phase of his career as CEO of The Song Room, a national not-forprofit organisation that provides evidence based, face-to-face and digital education programs focused on creative learning


1996 RELOCATES TO ASIA After 12 years in senior teaching roles at independent schools in Perth, Gipson headed to Asia with his young family “I set up a new school in Chiang Mai to serve as a model for school reform in Thailand and worked as a consultant to the Ministry of Education and other education organisations on best practice, uses of IT and issues of school reform. I continued my work in Asia, where I was involved in the establishment of an Australian and Asian presence for the international educational consulting organisation Endeavour Group”


WINS A SIGNIFICANT ACCOLADE Gipson’s work at St Michael’s was recognised with the Lynda Gratton Australian Business Leader of the Year Award from the Australian Human Resources Institute “This award recognises CEOs who, through best-practice people management, achieve success for their business”

“The Song Room vision is that all Australian children have the opportunity to participate in music and the arts . . It is a an exciting and rewarding privilege to be leading such an effective organisation that makes such a profound difference to the learning opportunities of disadvantaged young people”

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