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EDITORIAL www.educatoronline.com.au

THE BUSINESS OF EXCELLENCE WELCOME TO the first issue of The Educator, Australia’s first print magazine completely dedicated to the business of running a successful school. It’s a rare privilege to be able to launch a new print publication, especially one focused on such a dynamic sector as education. A quick glance at news headlines reveals the ongoing upheaval the sector is going through. As the war of words over funding rages on and society’s expectations of what education should provide continues to escalate, schools need to stay informed to ensure they deliver the best possible education to students. More than ever, principals, managers and senior educators need the insights of experts and colleagues to help them push the boundaries of excellence. Designed to keep you at the cutting edge of industry best practice, The Educator will equip you with the information you need to set your school apart. This issue showcases the best of that excellence. In our inaugural Hot List, we highlight some of the leading lights of the education industry, the individuals that through their passion and achievement are doing great work for the sector.



Editor Iain Hopkins

Marketing & Communications Manager Lisa Narroway

Journalists Brett Henebery Ben Abbott Production–– Editors Roslyn Meredith Carolin Wun

ART & PRODUCTION Design Manager Daniel Williams Designers Loiza Caguiat Marla Morelos Kat Vargas Traffic Coordinator Lou Gonzales

Business Development Manager Gareth Scott

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

EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES iain.hopkins@keymedia.com.au brett.henebery@keymedia.com.au

SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES tel: +61 2 8011 4992 • fax: +61 2 8437 4753 subscriptions@keymedia.com.au

ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES gareth.scott@keymedia.com.au tel: +61 2 8437 4745

Good schools are always willing to emulate excellence when they see it in their peers, and share that excellence with others Our exclusive one-on-one interview with The Scots College’s Dr Ian Lambert brings you his inspiring thoughts on leadership, covering everything from active learning to success as a principal and the role of religion in education. We also include explorations of the latest trends in school technology and music education, and provide you with the latest business strategy insights. The business of education is quite different from other sectors. For one, it is steeped in tradition, and change is often slow. However, good schools are always willing to emulate excellence when they see it in their peers, and share that excellence with others. The Educator now gives you a chance to do both.

Key Media Regional head office, Level 10, 1–9 Chandos St, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia tel: +61 2 8437 4700 • fax: +61 2 9439 4599 www.keymedia.com Offices in Sydney, Auckland, Denver, Toronto, Manila

The Educator is part of an international family of B2B publications and websites for professionals in the HR, mortgage, insurance and legal industries

Iain Hopkins, editor



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Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept, as The Educator magazine can accept no responsibility for loss

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While most people want to bring their best to work, a few will excel and become true leaders in their fields. The Educator showcases the ‘who’s who’ of the education field in our inaugural hot list


DR IAN LAMBERT Principal of The Scots College Dr Ian Lambert may have ended up in law, business or the military if not for his own inspirational headmaster. The Educator asks how today’s principals can cultivate the next generation of leaders





‘Gamification’ is turning the process of learning into a game, but do e-learning tools in the classroom actually help your school perform better?



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CONNECT WITH US Got a story, suggestion, or just want to find out some more information? twitter.com/TheEducatorAU www.facebook.com/TheEducatorAU



UPFRONT 02 Editorial

It’s a challenging time to be in the education sector, but the pros far outweigh the cons, as any dedicated school leader will attest to

06 The data

While it might come under fire from some quarters for being too narrow a measure for gauging learning success, NAPLAN remains firmly entrenched in Australia’s education system. The Educator presents a breakdown of the top performers FEATURES


Education is undergoing fast and fundamental changes, and as Ben Abbott finds, learning management systems are both catalysts and solutions



Almost a decade after a damning report into the state of Australia’s music education, not a lot has changed. However, the passion of dedicated music educators is ensuring more children will be given the gift of music





It’s a myth that all disagreements are negative and to be avoided at all costs. Alexandra Tselios explains how some friction can go a long way

With rising class populations and continuing tight budgets, Brett Henebery chats to one principal who is thinking outside the square



08 Opinion

The Gonski review’s vision for education funding in Australia is on shaky ground. Ben Abbott asks if a perfect formula can or even needs to be found

FEATURES 40 Health & wellbeing: Six signs someone is struggling

Look around you. Are the people you work with happy or do they appear to be struggling? Karen Gately urges everyone to look out for their mates and help reverse the alarming psychological health statistics

50 Staying ahead of the curve

As the expectations of students, parents and other education stakeholders shift seismically, how can all principals keep up with the times? Brett Henebery reports

EDUCATORONLINE.COM.AU NOW ONLINE www.educatoronline.com.au

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While it might come under fire from some quarters for being too narrow a measure for gauging learning success, NAPLAN remains firmly entrenched in Australia’s education system. Here’s a breakdown of the top performers

THE NATIONAL Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has been an everyday part of the school calendar for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 since 2008. In March, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) revealed more than 300 schools across Australia which made the biggest improvements. ACARA listed the schools based on their ‘high gain’ – being their largest overall improvements, as well as improvements when compared to schools that had similar students, and students with similar NAPLAN start points. NAPLAN has been used by schools to measure students’ cognitive development in the disciplines of reading, writing, spelling and numeracy – but some educators

feel that it is too narrow a measure to use. Ron Gorman, director of the Association of Independent Schools WA (AISWA), is one of them. Gorman believes NAPLAN is the wrong focus in measuring students’ academic success because it does not reflect the realities of 21st century learning, in which skills such as knowledge building, critical thinking and creativity play a significant part. “If we are focusing on NAPLAN as the measure of success, we’re actually focusing on the wrong thing,” Gorman told The Educator. “NAPLAN plays a part in that but there is a great tapestry of ways that schools effectively communicate – not just to parents but with the students themselves about their learning and about their progress.”


Gain compared to schools with similar groups of students







Kojonup District High School (Kojonup) Grades 3, 5 Floreat Park Primary School (Floreat) Grades 3, 5


Subiaco Primary School (Subiaco) Grades 3, 5

St Anne’s Catholic School (Harvey) Grades 3, 5

Glendale Primary School (Hamerley) Grades 3, 5

St John’s School (Rangeway) Grades 3, 5 Mercy College (Koondoola) Grades 3, 5 St Emilie’s Catholic Primary School (Canning Vale) Grades 3, 5 I



Woodthorpe School (Willetton) Grades3, 5

Gain compared to students at similar NAPLAN start points

Schools have been identified where there is a gain of one standard deviation above the average gain (this is significant gain). There is diversity in schools and they cover all sectors.



The schools represented on this map have been identified as ‘high gain’ achievers in both literacy and numeracy. These schools were chosen based on methodology focusing on three standards:

Large overall gain


John Calvin Christian College (Armadale) Grades 7, 9


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St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School (Humpty Doo) Grades 3, 5



St Paul’s Catholic Primary School (Knightcliff) Grades 3, 5 G








Sunrise Christian School (Fullarton) Grades 7, 9 Port Lincoln Primary School (Port Lincoln) Grades 3, 5


Yankalilla Area School (Yankalilla) Grades 3, 5


Good Shepherd Lutheran College (Palmerston) Grades 7, 9


The Pines School (Parafield Gardens) Grades 3, 5 G


Kensington Public School (Kensington) Grades 3, 5


Canley Vale High School (Canley Vale) Grades 7, 9

St Philip’s College (Alice Springs) Grades 7, 9

Wandong Primary School (Wandong) Grades 3, 5



St Arnaud Primary School (St Arnaud) Grades 3, 5 Yinnar Primary School (Yinnar) Grades 3, 5 Herne Hill Primary School (Hamlyn Heights) Grades 3, 5



Home Hill State School (Home Hill) Grades 3-5 Maleny State School (Maleny) Grades 3-5

Seven Hills North Public School (Seven Hills) Grades 3, 5




Agnew School (Wakerley) Grades 7-9 Mueller College (Rothwell) Grades 7-9


Northern Beaches Secondary College Balgowlah Boys Campus (Balgowlah) Grades 7, 9 Sydney Grammar School, St Ives Preparatory School (St Ives) Grades 3, 5


Port Fairy Consolidated School (Port Fairy) Grades 3, 5

Dandenong Campus (Keysborough) Grades 7, 9 Dimboola Memorial Secondary College (Dimboola) Grades 7, 9


St Mary’s School (Crookwell) Grades 3, 5

St Cecilia’s Parish School (Glen Iris) Grades 3, 5 I



Para Hills School P-7 (Para Hills) Grades 3, 5 G

Geebung State School (Geebung) Grades 3, 5

Driver Primary School (Driver) Grades 3, 5


Moonta Area School (Moonta) Grades 7, 9

Greenslopes State School (Greenslopes) Grades 3, 5







Lansdowne Crescent Primary School (West Hobart) Grades 3, 5 G


Australian International Academy of Education (Strathfield) Grades 7, 9

Maribyrnong Primary School (Kaleen) Grades 3, 5 Curtin Primary School (Curtin) Grades 3, 5 Majura Primary School (Watson) Grades 3, 5 Wanniassa School (Wanniassa) Grades 3, 5

Goulburn Street Primary School (West Hobart) Grades 3, 5


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A MAGIC FORMULA The Gonski review’s vision for education funding in Australia is on shaky ground. Ben Abbott asks if a perfect formula can or even needs to be found

THE VICTORIAN Government’s reinterpretation of its approach to school funding since being elected has dashed the hopes of many of David Gonski’s supporters. Having committed in principle to the Gonski model – before backtracking on the crucial last two years – it went ahead and introduced legislation guaranteeing nongovernment schools no less than 25% of what it gives to state schools. With the Federal Government’s recalcitrant stance on those same final two years – and every indication that it will move further away from the model in the budget – the Gonski lifeline many hoped for seems to be fraying beyond repair.

Dollars and sense Gonski provided a galvanising vision: a ‘needs-based’, ‘sector-blind’ formula that

delivered funds right into the hands of the schools that needed them most. Not only that but it stood firmly behind the idea that education is the future, by allocating additional funding of almost 0.5% of GDP, or $5bn, in 2009 figures. It was of course bound by terms of reference which required it to ensure that no school would lose a dollar per student, but it also took into account rising costs – and aspirations. In doing so, it was hoped that it would elevate school funding above the cut and thrust of national and state politics and unite, rather than divide. This makes the current complex reality harder to stomach. To list a few waves of discontent that have been circulating: • Angry teachers converged on Victorian MPs to protest the backdown on Gonski.

• The National Catholic Education Commission warned ahead of the budget that, due to rising costs, schools could soon close if they did not receive sustainable funding. • A National Commission of Audit report recommended school funding growth beyond 2017 revert to a simpler measure, an indexation to CPI.

ON SHAKY GROUND: THE GONSKI-INSPIRED FUNDING PLAN STATE/TERRITORY Base funding 2014 Indexation of base funding ($m) 2014–19

COMMONWEALTH Total extra Better Schools funding 2014–19 ($m)

Base funding 2014 ($m)

Indexation of base funding 2014–19

Total extra Better Schools funding 2014–19 ($m)



1.35% in 2014 and 2015; 3% from 2016



4.7% pa




2.62% in 2014–15; 3% from 2016



4.7% pa




3% from 2016



4.7% pa




3% from 2015



4.7% pa




3% from 2015



4.7% pa

16.1 Source: National Education Reform Agreements, Centre for Independent Studies



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counterproductive and frustrating. Funding Gonski in full has become the one and only imperative. The magic formula has become the answer.

A little magic The truth is, Gonski was never simple. In addressing that all-important question of needs-based funding – with public schools in particular struggling with disadvantage – it by necessity created and entrenched (relative) winners and losers among the universe of schools. Not only was it not above politics, but as Gonski himself made clear, it was never designed to measure that other critical factor: education quality. We have also entered a different economic climate with the end of the mining boom. Australia’s students have been going backwards over the past decade when measured by international benchmarks. In addition, there is a worrying gap in student performance, and a demonstrable link to socio-economic status. The question is whether this is best tackled by a dial-up in funding alone, or are there • Schools in low-income areas are forced to rely on cash-strapped parent fundraising to pay for basic maintenance. • The NSW Greens called for a redistribution of $1bn in Gonski funds from independent to public schools. • There is a continued war of words over the lack of funding being provided for students with disabilities. • The Gonski panel’s Ken Boston warned against the threat of inequity in Victorian classrooms. Gonski was meant to be simple. Wasn’t it meant to solve all of this?

New ideas, old frustrations “I think as a country we have to stop trying to polarise the discussion around unfair funding,” The Scots College principal Dr Ian Lambert told The Educator. Instead, Lambert, who was also principal of the much less advantaged Swan Christian College in Perth before joining Scots, said the

“I think as a country we have to stop trying to polarise the discussion around unfair funding” Dr Ian Lambert, The Scots College sector should recognise just how unique Australia’s system of school education actually is. “We would be better off saying that we have a unique system and let’s work together and learn off each other, rather than being critical and defensive,” he explains. “I think that’s often a distraction, an unhealthy distraction.” And he has an idea. Support best practice and innovation in schools – public or independent, advantaged or disadvantaged – and give the rest the power to manage their affairs with flexibility so they can learn and emulate leaders. For many, any proposition or idea like this one – or a revision of the existing Gonski plan like Victoria’s – will be seen as unnecessary,

other things we can do? That question was not asked of the Gonski review. Schools will probably need to tolerate continued amendments to the original funding agreement, though hope remains that it will still be delivered in full. If Australia believes in the importance of education and equity, it certainly should be: it can help safeguard future prosperity and our social fabric. However, it can’t stand by itself. It should be combined with educators coming together in pursuit of collaboration, innovation, flexibility, and best practice. The important thing is for the sector to remain united, rather than divided. Schools just need to hope that a magic formula can be found for that.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 9     www.educatoronline.com.au

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LEADING WITH VISION Principal of The Scots College Dr Ian Lambert may have ended up in law, business or the military, if not for his own inspirational headmaster. Ben Abbott asks how today’s principals can cultivate the next generation of leaders

IT WAS in Ian Lambert’s last year as a high school student at the Southport School on Queensland’s Gold Coast that he first considered making education his vocation. While a career in law or the military beckoned first, it was the words of his own headmaster, John Day, that began the then head boy’s interest in education. “He was quite an inspirational leader, a visionary leader, and he sowed the seed by asking me if I’d ever thought about education,” Lambert told The Educator. Though it took a year of experimenting with a business degree and some labouring as a brickie for him to settle on education, since then he hasn’t looked back. Lambert is now principal of The Scots College, and The Educator asked for his views on school management success, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.

THE EDUCATOR: Your first role as a principal was at Swan Christian College in Perth. What did that experience teach you about school management success? DR IAN LAMBERT: I think it actually taught me a lot. Swan at the time was about 13 or 14 years old. It was in a lower socioeconomic area, and it probably hadn’t really developed a clear identity in terms of what it was, or a very strong culture. For me coming in at that point, I learnt everything about everything, because without


the layers of administration, as a principal of a school like that you have to choose the paint colours and pick the flowers in the garden, and I think making all those decisions actually gives you a good knowledge of all the facets of a school.

ED: The Scots College is recognised as one of Australia’s leading independent schools. What do you see as the key drivers of your school’s success? IL: Again, clarifying the distinctiveness of the

“Every community needs to understand what its heart and purpose is. You’ve really got to clarify that and help people understand that” ED: Were you able to successfully build a culture at Swan? IL: Yes. It was a lovely community of people, and while it was a lower socio-economic area the parents were really aspirational in terms of their children. Many of them were the first generation to go to university. We were able to clarify vision and culture and values in that school and give it a very strong sense of purpose and direction, and I found that quite inspiring. Swan today is a great school. I think you learn from that. Every community needs to understand what its heart and purpose is, and you’ve really got to clarify that and help people understand that. I think too many places get pulled apart and sort of scramble for things. Knowing who you are and why you’re there and what you are doing is really quite critical.

school has been really important. If we all start looking the same and talking the same and acting in the same way, then it is very hard for parents to make a choice around alignment in terms of values and educational programs and culture. The key thing for me is being really clear about purpose, why you exist, what you are hoping to do in the future, and your philosophy and values, and then taking that and looking at the resources you have, the location you are in, the people you intend to serve, and really designing the types of programs that you think are going to flourish in this environment. It’s critical to understand the history. Obviously, it is a school that has a long history – it’s been operating for over 120 years – so understanding the story and original purpose of the school and trying to honour that in a


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IN HIS OWN WORDS  … TE: Do you think religion still has a role to play in education today? IL: It is important for me, and I think it is becoming more important. Religion, both historically and I think in the present, gives you a set of glasses upon which to see the world and to develop a worldview. As the world is becoming more complex and fragmented, there isn’t a lot of clarity for kids, and they are not getting a lot of opportunities to ask questions like “What do I believe?” and “What is important in life?” and “What choices should I make?” We seem to have gone down a very technical and rationalistic path, and I think sometimes we have lost perspective about what is important in life. Values and faith can challenge that. Kids, who are in that absolutely idealistic phase of their life in their teen years, need to be able to talk about that, and who do they talk to about that with? Even families nowadays are struggling.


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IAN LAMBERT this approach so important to you and your students? IL: I think human beings are kind of born to function in community, and born to function in a natural environment and not an artificial environment. More and more, because of regulations and compliance and legal and insurance issues, we are cotton-wooling students from real challenges and real risks, and we have created a very safe world for them to function in. For boys who love notions of adventure and curiosity and challenge, an ordinary classroom doesn’t always do that for them; it doesn’t allow them to express themselves. Active learning is a philosophy about using activity as the basis on which you develop learning. You also test learning, and the way in which you investigate hypotheses around physics and chemistry or whatever the subject.

ED: Scots has pioneered this approach at Glengarry. Can you tell us about it?

IL: Glengarry is a campus in the Kangaroo Valley, NSW, in one of the most beautiful places in the country. Boys go there for six months in Year 9 to – in some ways – take personal ownership of the next phase of their life. I think that is the big change there. They’ve grown up in a house with their brother and sister and their mum and dad doing everything for them, and they have to take that step of taking responsibility for their own management, for their engagement with new groups of friends in a new setting, and to face challenge and face fear of separation and all those things. That is quite a transformative experience for a 14- to 15-year-old boy.

21st century setting is quite critical. It’s been about taking a very well-respected school and trying to position it well for the next 20 or 30 years around identity in some respects.

ED: So you’ve seen practical success from that clarity and purpose?

IL: Yes, we have. We have made sure our marketing and branding is very clear, we have made sure that all of the programs we engage in are aligned to our vision and mission, and we have really tried to articulate an aspirational


culture for the boys and for families. Also, I think one of the big things for us is to be a school that is not only inward-looking in terms of being selfcritical, but also outward-looking in terms of how we contribute to the broader discussion in education, and how we support others who are striving to effectively do the same thing – which is to provide every boy and girl in the country with a wonderful educational experience.

ED: You are a firm believer in the ‘active learning’ philosophy in education. Why is

ED: Transformative how? IL: One of the most powerful things that happens is it actually strengthens their relationships with their family, because the boys realise exactly what their mums and dads are doing for them and what life is like without them. But they also get a stronger sense of their own identity as an individual, and we know through moral and faith development theory that boys at that age are starting to question. There is a strong nurturing culture within a family and a school environment where you just imbibe the values and beliefs and


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behaviours of your family, but at 14 or 15 you start to want to take ownership of those and you question those. Glengarry allows them to ask, “What does my family think, and do I really believe that”? We tend to find that they have a strong sense of moving very deliberately towards independence and autonomous thinking and manhood, and come to understand that men

IL: I think one of the great challenges is not just throwing more dollars at problems, but actually having a long-term bipartisan view about the development of leadership for our government and non-government schools and equipping people and giving them the flexibility to do what they need to do in their local area. I think rather than trying to manage education so tightly from a centralised perspective, we should actually

“Active learning is a philosophy about using activity as the basis on which you develop learning” take responsibility for their actions and the actions of others. It’s a process where a dependent boy goes down and an independent boy comes home, and that’s rare – not many people get a chance to do that.

ED: Do you have any practical tips for schools wanting to give this a try? IL: We are lucky to have a wonderful campus, but the truth is there are amazing sites all over the country sitting empty during the week, and schools could do it, but they have got to have a vision for it and they have to understand the educational benefits. I think that like anything you have to talk to people, talk to your insurers. That can become more difficult in a systemic school structure, like an education department where a lot of things are centralised, but you have to try and work out what the parameters are, what sort of space are you allowed to play in, and I don’t think a lot of people test that. Have the conversation; there are often ways to bring about change.

ED: What if schools don’t have a campus like Glengarry available to them?

IL: The whole theory about active learning and experiential education doesn’t have to be done in the bush. It is actually about taking lived human experience and contextualising learning around that. You could do that in your school environment. There are very safe things to do that are an amazing experience.

ED: There is a lot of debate currently about school funding. What’s your view?

develop that sense of autonomy and ownership. If you were in a business and you had no control over who was coming in and who was going out, you’d find it very hard to build culture and values, and that is really what parents are looking for. They are looking for a place that they can belong to, where their children can feel very connected to, and I think choice allows them to do that. So I would like to see financing being targeted at innovation around leadership. Those schools in lower socio-economic areas or remote communities that have got great innovative plans that are scrutinised and managed – fund those, fund the good stuff. Most people in educational organisations copy best practice, so fund best practice and have the promise of future funding for others that do that as well.

ED: What do you see as important in measuring the success of a principal?

IL: I think schools are often in different places and they need different types of people. But I think fundamentally a school principal must be a role model and be able to articulate a clear vision and purpose for that school. You need all the administrative skills, but fundamentally, if you can’t inspire your community, they will stagnate. Also, children only get one opportunity to have their education, and you have to make that an amazing opportunity. You have to be on the lookout for inadequacies in your programs that are not allowing students to be engaged and flourish and develop a passion for learning and good relationships with others.

MOVING SCOTS FORWARD The Scots College has achieved much during Dr Ian Lambert’s nine-year tenure. However, there are a few things of which he is most personally proud. DEVELOPING A STRONG LEARNING CULTURE “We have tried to point boys into the realm of possibility,” Lambert says. This has involved establishing learning partnerships with leading global universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews, Stanford, Harvard and Columbia, among others. There are also programs with communities in the Pacific, Asia and Australia, designed to show boys the “amazing places” certain steps in life can take them. A SUCCESSFUL INDIGENOUS PROGRAM There are 20 fully funded indigenous boys now attending the school as part of Scots’ Indigenous program. So far, all past graduates of the program have gone on to further study, including the current president of Sydney University’s Student Representative Council, Kyol Blakeney. “It’s not what we have done for them; it is what they have contributed to our community. Being an Australian school, having Aboriginal boys at the heart of our school is quite amazing.” A CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE Scots under Lambert has worked hard to create a culture that encourages excellence. “Not everyone will be regarded as excellent, but if you create a culture that aspires to it, then it is a powerful motivator,” he says. “If you talk to our boys today, they know that if they have a go at something, it doesn’t matter what it is – they are going to pull out all stops, be well prepared, put the work ethic in, get good people around them, and set the goal as high as they can possibly imagine.”


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THE RIGHT NOTE Almost a decade after a damning report into the state of Australia’s music education, not a lot has changed. However, the passion of dedicated music educators is ensuring that more children will be given the gift of music

“THERE IS a purpose to life, and it’s music.” This is the answer that Musica Viva’s artistic adviser, Richard Gill, gave to ABC Q&A host Tony Jones last year when asked on live television – alongside the likes of fellow panellist and scientist Brian Cox – what he thought was the purpose of life. While the answer reveals Gill’s slight bias, there is a strong case emerging that quality music education can have very positive effects on children’s education outcomes. If true, Australia has a lot to improve on. A comprehensive National Review of School Music Education produced 10 years ago found the system lacking. Since then, not much has changed, with only 25% of students receiving a ‘quality’ music education. But because music, in the words of Music Australia CEO Chris Bowen, is a “marvellous” thing that has positive effects on children’s lives and wellbeing, passionate schools and other bodies are making incremental moves towards improvement.

Not wasted on the young To give students a quality music education, experts agree, you have to start early. The Australian Society for Music Education’s Judith Haldane says that, although each state has a solid music education program in most secondary schools, research shows the most


benefit is to be gained by starting before the age of seven. The Review of the Australian Curriculum recommended that the arts curriculum should be available to all students throughout all the years of schooling; it should be formally introduced in Year 3 but provide a rich source of resource material for Foundational to Year 2. “Students are at a huge disadvantage if they don’t start formal music until Year 3,” Haldane reiterates. “That is a huge opportunity lost.” Gill says an ideal scenario is for schools to have children learning music right from kindergarten to Year 2, which would all be singing based. “Instruments don’t happen until kids can sing in tune and read and write music properly, and when they get hold of an instrument, that part is already done. A good program would see kids getting regular lessons in singing and how to read and write music, improving their vocabulary of songs and language to use when composing.” One of the challenges to this taking place is the lack of specialist primary school music teachers – or interest in engaging them. Schools in most states are populated by generalist teachers, many of whom have little or no training in music or teaching music. The Victorian review found a lack of music education for pre-service teachers meant teachers were often finding music’s


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The percentage of school music programs in Australia described as ‘poor’

9.4% The percentage of schools with no music program at all, equating to about 900 schools

16.99 The average number of hours pre-service generalist primary school teacher education courses devote to the study of music and music teaching


The percentage of pre-service generalist courses dedicated to music Sources: The National Review of School Music Education 2005; Australian Government Music Education Advisory Group audit of music content in pre-service generalist primary teaching courses, 2009. Note: The National Review of School Music Education in 2005 found a “stark variation in the quality and status of music education” in Australia, and is still considered a good indicator today.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 15 www.educatoronline.com.au 15    

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MUSIC EDUCATION THE POWER OF MUSIC A recent TEDx talk by Australian educator Dr Anita Collins outlines the links that neuroscientists have found between music education and cognitive development: When musicians play, they stimulate the motor, visual and auditory cortices of the brain, the brain’s equivalent of a ‘full body workout’ Perhaps because of this exercise regimen, musicians have a larger corpus callosum, which connects right and left brain functions Musicians are better at acquiring and understanding language, exhibit higher executive function, and are better at solving problems more creatively Music is always beneficial, but mostly when started before the age of seven Neuroscientists say that musicians’ average IQ is 7.5 points higher than that of non-musicians, translating to $700 per year higher earning capacity Babies are born musicians, using their music processing networks to process their mothers’ voices before even acquiring any language All these findings suggest that music education could assist with difficult students, including those with learning difficulties or ADHD


unfamiliarity difficult. In Australia, teachers only get an average of 17 hours of music training, and many get even less. “A teacher might themselves have come through school without a quality music education and then try to pick it up as a pre-service teacher. At that stage, 11–20 hours is not going to make them confident

beneficial outcomes they will see from time spent teaching children music. The good news for music proponents is that the benefits of music are no longer anecdotal; more and more, science is backing the benefits for children’s overall performance. Haldane points anyone interested to a TEDx talk given by educator Dr Anita

“Teaching music for its own sake is good. It has wonderful benefits on us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and socially” Richard Gill, Musica Viva enough in delivering it,” says Haldane. “Government primary schools often expect a generalist teacher to do it, and if a teacher isn’t confident in a subject like music they will avoid it.” In contrast, Queensland has made music mandatory in primary schools, where it is taught by specialists. In Tasmania it is not compulsory, but the state utilises specialists. “I was up in Queensland recently, working with a group of tertiary students, and they read music instantly and really well. They have had really good training,” Gill says. Schools could remedy this with trained music specialists, which experts say could mesh well with breaks in full-time teacher timetables that are usually filled with physical education.

Settling the science Ask advocates why teaching music is good for a child’s educational outcomes, and they’ll want to tell you one thing first: you should teach music for its own sake. “We are passionate about music, and we believe, simply because music is marvellous, we should teach children to love and to make music,” Bowen says. Likewise, Gill says: “Teaching music for it’s own sake is good. It has wonderful benefits on us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and socially.” But when it comes to schools, both principals and parents want to know the

Collins. In the talk, Collins shows how two decades of neuroscience research have clearly linked music education to higher IQs and enhanced brain function (see boxout, ‘The power of music’). The full brain stimulus that musicians receive from both learning and playing improves performance and could help even problem students with learning. “There is very, very convincing scientific research showing the impact that music has on the brain. This is different from any other arts subjects and other disciplines, and as a result it has a profound impact on all learning,” says Gill. “In Finland, a recent study was completed on very early brains, comparing those exposed to music and those who had not. It found kids exposed to music consistently registered bigger brains and were able to learn and absorb more,” he says. Gill says that, to generate the best effects, music education needs to be regular and sequential, rather than just ticking a box and then “forgetting about it”. Haldane adds that there are harder-toquantify life skills and qualities children can gain from music education, including the ability to listen from a very early age. “Listening nowadays is not a lost art, but getting children to focus and listen is very hard; a lot of the programs they are watching, and their activities on computers, are very short-term activities. Music teaches children to learn to concentrate and decode.


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“They also learn to stick at something even though it might be a bit hard. Children are inclined to throw it in if something becomes difficult. If they develop perseverance they will no doubt get it finally, and that’s a skill that will set them up for life.”

Bridging the gap Incremental progress has been made in music education over the last 10 years, thanks to the efforts of passionate educators dedicated to teaching children music. One recent example is the National Teachers Mentoring Program, which has been developed and funded by the Federal Government in consultation with Richard Gill and the Australian Youth Orchestra. This program provides specialist sequential training to teachers over a period of a year. Currently a few months into a pilot in NSW, the program is due to roll out across Australia this year, and Gill has promised any interested schools

that it will expand in future should the evidence over the first three years support further funding. Federal Minister for Education Christopher Pyne and Attorney-General Senator George Brandis have both been instrumental backers of the pilot program. Music Australia, meanwhile, has had significant success with its annual school participation and advocacy program, Music: Count Us In. Last year, it reached 2,091 schools and 556,485 students, all of whom are involved in competitions, learning arrangements, and performing music in a national celebration of the subject. But in the end, some schools will not be convinced by arguments for more music. “There will be some who won’t want to do anything about it; principals who say they are only interested in literacy and numeracy. What they don’t understand is literacy and numeracy is best taught through the arts, and particularly music,” Gill says.

“We believe, simply because music is marvellous, we should teach children to love and to make music” Chris Bowen, Music Australia

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HOT LIST 2015 While most people want to bring their best to work, a few will excel and become true leaders in their fields. The Educator showcases the ‘who’s who’ of the education field in our inaugural hot list

ANOTHER YEAR, another round of triumphs, challenges, change and innovation in the education sector. Over the following pages, The Educator has identified over 30 of the hottest education professionals in Australia. Some of these professionals are well known; they are well-respected practitioners in their field. Others may be less familiar, but all


have embarked on significant projects, spearheaded innovative initiatives, or pushed the field of education into fresh and exciting new areas. You might disagree with our choices or you might endorse them – if that’s the case feel free to let us know, or make your own suggestions for next year, at theeducator_editor@keymedia.com.au.


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Adrian Piccoli, MP


Anne Ross


Cassandra Portelli


Christopher Pyne, MP


Craig Smith


Dale Bennett


Dennis Yarrington


Eric Jamieson


Gabrielle Leigh


Giovanna Iannicelli


Glen Carter


Grant Grosser


Jason Meijboom


Jenny Gore


Jim Watterston


John Collier


Julie Learoyd


Khalil Khay


Leanne Fox


Leonie McIlvenny


Mark Anderson


Matthew Jarman


Michele Bruniges


Nadene Histed


Natalie Mansour


Paul Burgis


Peter Thompson


Philip Riley


Regan Neumann


Richard Gill


Simon Crook


Simon Gipson


Stephanie Kriewaldt


Stephen Harris


Steven Cameron


Warren Marks


PRINCIPAL PRESBYTERIAN LADIES’ COLLEGE (CROYDON, NSW) Dr Paul Burgis is 13th principal of Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Sydney, and travels the world seeking to continually enhance his leadership and broaden his perspective. His area of PhD research, undertaken at the University of New South Wales, was the development of student knowledge, attitudes and values regarding poverty from the close of primary school to the close of secondary school in Australian, Filipino and Zimbabwean schools. To maintain a holistic view of the diversity of both his role and his school, Dr Burgis takes on deeply reflective professional endeavours. He recently visited the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Conference at Broken Hill and also met with international families in Hong Kong and the Australian Indigenous Educational Foundation.



Through his position at APPA, Dennis Yarrington is a leading voice in the debate and ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government on national issues that concern school principals and their school communities. Yarrington received an ACT Department of Education and Training Leadership Excellence Award in 2008 for his contribution to the creation of the Leading to Leadership program and development of the ACT School Leadership Framework. He is committed to building leading schools, with the integration of technology and 21st century learning tools and structures, and is aiming to create a coaching culture in all schools to enhance teacher performance.

Leanne Fox launched the Positive Education program at Tully State High School in 2012 to combat substance abuse, depression and adolescent suicide following Cyclone Yasi in 2011. After Cyclone Yasi devastated parts of North Queensland and nearly destroyed Tully, Fox looked for ways to assist in healing the school and its community. She subsequently led the introduction of the Positive Education program at the school, and it is now a key component of its culture. The Positive Education program combines positive psychology with best-practice teaching to encourage individuals, schools and communities to flourish.


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2015 HOT LIST DALE BENNETT DEPUTY PRINCIPAL, HEAD OF TORRENS PARK CAMPUS SCOTCH COLLEGE (ADELAIDE, SA) Dale Bennett has developed programs to support and encourage students to develop their leadership capabilities, a strong sense of social justice and a willingness to serve the community. One of these programs is an innovative and engaging leadership program for all senior school students at Scotch, designed to thoroughly explore areas of trust, respect, leadership, responsibility and innovation. The program ultimately lays the foundations for improvement in collective performance and individual ability to achieve. In addition to this comprehensive development of all students, Bennett runs the school’s formal leadership program for the Student Executive and Student Action Teams program. Over the last three years he has restructured the teams to have a clear focus on building community, wellbeing and service.

JULIE LEAROYD PRINCIPAL HERVEY BAY SHS Julie Learoyd has won state-wide recognition for her tireless work in building the leaders of the future. Learoyd identified the need for deputy principals in the Fraser Coast region of Queensland to network and build professional learning circles. She subsequently launched the HIIL (High Impact Instructional Leadership) project, which won the inaugural Queensland Jack Pizzey Award for School Leadership Team of the Year 2014. By involving a wider group of regional schools, from Gympie to Gin Gin, deputy principals are now able to broaden their networks and work collaboratively with other deputy principals with similar school improvement goals, share best practice, and engage in highly effective collegial conversations.

SIMON GIPSON HEAD OF SCHOOL ST MICHAEL’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL (ST KILDA, VIC) Simon Gipson recognises that good business performance is not incompatible with dignity, respect, care and compassion, and can be delivered with a focus on humanist values and innovative policies. When he arrived at St Michael’s in 2000, it was struggling financially. He set out to rebuild the school’s ‘customer’ base, which meant creating a value proposition – ‘Diversity Opens Minds’, an innovation program initiated and maintained under Gipson’s leadership. The program aims to ensure education of the fully rounded individual citizen. Gipson hadn’t had a particularly routine career trajectory for a principal. In 1996, he moved his wife and three boys to Thailand, where he was principal of the $80m Tridhos School Village, funded by a millionaire developer and member of the Thai Royal Family in Chiang Mai.


DR JOHN COLLIER HEAD OF SCHOOL ST ANDREW’S CATHEDRAL SCHOOL (SYDNEY, NSW) Dr John Collier has had over 43 years of teaching experience (spanning three schools) and is in his 25th calendar year as a principal. Dr Collier is deeply interested in academic excellence, strong pastoral care, vibrant co-curricular programs and modes within Christian education. Dr Collier also engages young people in authentic and critical thinking, with the aim of developing successful adults and active citizens. Indeed, these areas were the subject of his doctoral research. He advocates a style of Christian education that is open and inclusive, encourages thoughtful analysis, and permits respectful dissent. Dr Collier believes heads of schools should be students themselves, who seek to contribute to the ways in which education is conceptualised and delivered.


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ASSOC PROF PHILIP RILEY STEPHEN HARRIS PRINCIPAL NORTHERN BEACHES CHRISTIAN SCHOOL (SYDNEY, NSW) Stephen Harris commenced as principal at Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) in 1999. At that time, the school had just 250 students. Under Harris’s stewardship, the school population has grown to 1,300 students. Today, NBCS has gained an international reputation as a leader in innovation. Harris has been in school-based education for more than 35 years, with teaching experience across almost every grade, from kindergarten to Year 12. His firm belief is that every student should love learning, and that it is the responsibility of schools to relentlessly seek to engage students in their learning. No child should be excluded.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, LEADERSHIP IN THE PROFESSION AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY Assoc Prof Philip Riley researches the overlap of psychology, education and leadership, with a particular focus on the lives of school leaders. Prior to joining Australian Catholic University, he was course leader for all postgraduate leadership programs in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. He has collaborated on more than 150 publications and been awarded over $3m in research funding. Assoc Prof Riley’s research – applying adult attachment theory to the relationship between teachers, students and school leaders – was showcased in The International Handbook of Research on Teachers and Teaching. He is also known for authoring the Australian Principal Health and WellBeing Survey, which identified major issues concerning principals’ workload and stress.

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GIOVANNA IANNICELLI TECHNOLOGY COORDINATOR ST MARY’S COLLEGE (ADELAIDE, SA) Giovanna Iannicelli’s input has been integral in helping to establish and sustain a mobile device program at St Mary’s College. The Digital Citizenship Policy utilised at the school introduced the use of mobile phones and did away with a computer usage policy. Instead, the program focuses on behaviour and choices. The introduction of 3D printing and coding classes is just one example of how Iannicelli has enhanced innovative learning initiatives in her school. Lenovo has recognised her work by producing two case studies on St Mary’s College. Iannicelli was recognised by BETA on World Teachers’ Day in 2012 and was presented with an award by the state minister of education.

NADENE HISTED PATHWAYS MANAGER – BUSINESS THEBARTON SENIOR COLLEGE (ADELAIDE, SA) Nadene Histed has run the Simulated Business course at Thebarton Senior College for many years, sharing her expertise and resources with people across Australia. This program provides a fantastic tool for schools to train in Business Certificates, which provide a practical pathway to completion of senior secondary school for students across SA. Two years ago, following changes to the administrative group running the program, there was a danger that the program would cease, potentially leaving many educational institutions without a body to manage the program. Histed was instrumental in bringing people together and working with many groups to keep the network running. She also persuaded TAFE SA to assist in managing the program for all the users.

MATTHEW JARMAN PRINCIPAL YANCHEP BEACH PRIMARY SCHOOL (WA) Matthew Jarman is the founding principal of Yanchep Beach Primary School (YBPS). In just one year, Jarman has been able to establish a culture and school community that is unprecedented in the area. His school was one of the very first to have a ‘nature playground’, which includes a jetty and a nature track. The outdoor space is combined with the ‘Fish! Philosophy’, and encourages students and the school community to enjoy the moment, have fun and live for the now. Under his leadership, YBPS has created a community that embraces education and personal growth – where learning is exciting. YBPS has high aspirations and equally high expectations and standards. Families in the area had previously been very unhappy with the standard of education choices available to them, but now parent satisfaction levels at YBPS are the highest the community has encountered.



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KHALIL KHAY DEPUTY PRINCIPAL K–12 HUNTER SCHOOL OF THE PERFORMING ARTS (NEWCASTLE, NSW) The Hunter School of the Performing Arts is the only fully selective performing arts school for Years 3–12 in NSW. Khalil Kay is a dedicated and award-winning educator with nearly 25 years of experience in education. He has a broad range of experience, from lecturing, course coordination and university council experience, to teaching across the early childhood, primary and secondary sectors and maintaining his three current roles, which directly benefit over 1,200 Year 3–12 students daily, 300 principals, and many more educators across the Hunter/ Central Coast region. He is described by colleagues as empathic, capable, energetic and proactive in improving the provision of education and educational leadership, from the youngest child to the most experienced principal.

CRAIG SMITH EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH CONSULTANT AND ASPECT PRACTICE SPECIALIST ASPECT HUNTER SCHOOL – AUTISM SPECTRUM AUSTRALIA (NSW) Craig Smith is an inspirational teacher and leader in autism education. As his school’s aspect practice specialist and acknowledged Apple Distinguished Educator, Smith shares his evidence-informed practice around the use of iPads for teaching and learning with the wider education community. Smith has been involved in research into the use of iPads in Aspect Schools and has successfully translated that research to practice in support of children with autism. He has also written a book, The iPad Model Classroom, which illustrates how to use iPads to deliver the Australian Curriculum (it is freely available to anyone via iTunes U). Smith also provides workshops as part of Aspect Practice and as the Aspect Hunter School educational outreach consultant, supporting colleagues in mainstream schools.

SIMON CROOK DIRECTOR CROOKED SCIENCE Simon Crook’s commitment to improving the quality of science teaching in both primary and secondary schools is second to none. This year he embarked on an innovative new enterprise drawing on his decades of experience working as both a science teacher and a curriculum consultant. CrookED Science brings professional development and mentoring solutions to schools, which help them to improve the quality of their science teaching while enhancing student engagement and outcomes. Crook is also completing his PhD on how technology can enhance the teaching of science. He is the author of numerous academic articles, and is one of Australia’s key education social media voices, fostering debate and a relentless focus on using data and evidence-driven decision-making.

JASON MEIJBOOM DEPUTY PRINCIPAL HILLIARD STATE SCHOOL (QLD) Throughout Jason Meijboom’s 15-year teaching career he has worked in numerous roles in both schools and at DETE Central Office on initiatives such as OneSchool, Learning Technologies and eLearning. For the past five years, Meijboom has been deputy principal at Hilliard State School and has led the school’s e-learning transformation by introducing a highly innovative and successful BYO iPad program, iLearn@HilliardSS. The program’s focus is on transformational leadership: Visionary Leadership, Parent and Community Engagement, Harnessing the Platform, Developing Professionals, Innovative Teaching and Learning, and Sharing Evidence of Success. In this program, every teacher is provided with a school-owned iPad, while over 500 students bring their own iPads to school to support them with their learning.

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MARK ANDERSON DIRECTOR PEOPLE AND SERVICES NSW DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & COMMUNITIES Mark Anderson, as director people and services, provides strategic leadership to meet current and future needs in relation to the staffing of the state’s 2,232 public schools. In 2014, he worked with NSW school principals to fill over 3,200 classroom teaching positions and 1,100 executive vacancies. His team’s productivity increased in 2014 with an additional 100 classroom teachers, 187 executives and 40 principal vacancies being filled. He has also played a critical role in maintaining the Department of Education’s place as a significant employer of Aboriginal people in the state.

THE HON. ADRIAN PICCOLI, MP NSW EDUCATION MINISTER NSW GOVERNMENT As NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli has built a reputation as a pragmatist with a keen focus on improving outcomes for regional students. Piccoli has spent much of his working life providing a strong and passionate voice for the people of his local community and across country NSW. Among Piccoli’s many achievements as education minister, he has helped implement direct Gonski funding in schools across NSW, filling crucial gaps in resourcing.

THE HON. CHRISTOPHER PYNE, MP FEDERAL EDUCATION MINISTER AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT Christopher Pyne has one of the toughest portfolios in government. Since taking on the role in December 2014, he has driven crucial reforms and improvements across all areas of Australia’s education system. These include reforms to improve the quality of teacher education across the country, financial assistance to struggling rural schools, and improvements to the MySchool website. Some of Pyne’s proposed reforms have been called controversial, namely his plan to deregulate university fees. Nevertheless, his impact continues to be felt across the spectrum of education in Australia.

ERIC JAMIESON DIRECTOR, HIGH PERFORMANCE NSW DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND COMMUNITIES As director of high performance, Eric Jamieson is responsible for leading the development and implementation of schools’ academic excellence. As a result of Jamieson’s work, there has been a significant culture shift in NSW public education. Today, a culture has been embedded in which data analysis is used to inform practice, and there are stronger review and evaluation practices in place. Jamieson is leading the development and implementation of school excellence, underpinned by a streamlined planning, self-assessment and reporting process to better support schools.



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ANNE ROSS DIRECTOR SCHOOLS – GEORGES RIVER NETWORK (NSW) DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND COMMUNITIES Anne Ross has had an outstanding career in a number of different roles within the education sector. As principal, Ross led the Georges River College (GRC) Penshurst Girls Campus and established a reputation for innovation and achievement during her leadership of the campus’s management team. Ross has led many professional development activities for her own staff and GRC executives. She challenges executives to see their role as leaders of learning and has designed training to increase their leadership and change management skills. Ross also led the development and implementation of the National Partnerships around Local Schools Local Divisions. Currently, she is responsible for setting up the Georges River Network’s Leadership Strategy to assist school principals in achieving their strategic goals.


DR MICHELE BRUNIGES SECRETARY NSW DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND COMMUNITIES Dr Michele Bruniges leads one of Australia’s largest state government departments and is responsible for over a fifth of the state’s budget and a workforce in excess of 84,000 staff. She is responsible for all state public schools, which provide education to more than 760,000 students in over 2,200 schools. She is also responsible for early childhood education and care, Aboriginal affairs, volunteering, youth and community engagement. In 2012, Dr Bruniges was nationally recognised for her work in public policy as a joint recipient at the Westpac/Australian Financial Review Inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards.

DIRECTOR GENERAL DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING (QLD) If education is the profession of hope, then inspirational educators are motivated by people such as Dr Jim Watterston. He always presents a clear, articulate vision for how education and its supporting systems can be improved, and strategically uses his influence to make this a reality. Dr Watterston has had significant systemic leadership roles in WA, Victoria, the ACT, and currently in Queensland. He understands the ever-changing education landscape and the reform processes needed to accommodate this rapid-change agenda, but he knows how to leverage change in a respectful and collaborative manner. Watterson has a broad, evidenced ability to translate policy or theory into practical action at all levels.

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STEPHANIE KRIEWALDT TEACHING AND LEARNING COORDINATOR VINEYARD LUTHERAN SCHOOL (CLARE, SA) Stephanie Kriewaldt is leading the way in ICT education with a pioneering unit on coding. For her efforts in this ground-breaking technology, last year she was awarded the Adelaide Advertiser Women in Innovation Award in the education category. This award recognised her work with Vineyard students in the area of ICT, particularly the new concept of coding. This year, Kriewaldt has been a motivational speaker on coding, leading a cluster group and presenting to other Lutheran Schools in SA. She has also been a presenter at AISSA (the Association of Independent Schools of SA) and will be a guest speaker at EduTECH in Brisbane later this year.

Cassandra Portelli has transformed the Mathematics Faculty at Hunter School of the Performing Arts in the last two years, creating programs that challenge the traditional delivery of mathematics in schools by focusing on problem-based and collaborative learning. She has created strong professional links across the region and state through the Mathematics Association of NSW and the Newcastle Head Teachers of Mathematics Network. Portelli is also working with the University of Newcastle to encourage and inspire quality graduates into the teaching of mathematics. In addition, she has developed a volunteering program in collaboration with the university whereby maths teachers in training act as tutors for students during a daily ‘Maths and Milo’ program.

PROF JENNY GORE NATALIE MANSOUR PRINCIPAL GLENMORE PARK PUBLIC SCHOOL (NSW) Natalie Mansour is an inspirational school leader who has recently taken up her second principalship in the short space of two terms. Mansour reinvigorated Glenmore Park Public School’s staff, inspiring them to take up the challenge of catering for 21st century learners by way of self-organised learning environments, flipped classrooms and project-based learning. Expanding her focus beyond her own school, Mansour is regularly contacted by colleagues across the Sydney basin for advice on planning and procedure. To this end, she has forged a partnership with digital education thought leader Ian Jukes and invited two other local schools to investigate ‘disrupted technologies’ – a twoyear project to help school leaders change pedagogy in order to keep up with the pace of societal and technological change.


PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND ARTS, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE (NSW) Prof Jenny Gore was a co-author of the Quality Teaching framework, a pedagogical model adopted by the NSW Department of Education and Communities in 2003. It has also been adopted in the ACT Department of Education. With the current focus on the issue of teacher quality at a national and global level, Gore’s work stands out as a beacon. It shines a light on how to improve teacher practice in classrooms through collaboration, peer observation and feedback, and distributed leadership. Prof Gore has a substantial body of academic publications, over 108 in total, has attracted more than 60 research grants, and has successfully secured over $4m in funding that has focused on improving the quality of teaching in classrooms across Australia. She has influenced thousands of teachers in countless schools and education systems worldwide. She is currently leading projects in ‘Quality Teaching Rounds’ across two states.


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WARREN MARKS CO-DIRECTOR LEADING EDUCATORS AROUND THE PLANET (LEAP) Warren Marks has directly facilitated global peer-shadowing opportunities for principals around the world through the Leading Educators Around the Planet (LEAP) program. Launched by NSW educators in Ontario, Canada, in 2011, LEAP allows principals to host one another at their homes, engage in professional study tours and explore management best practice with their peers in a friendly and professional way. Since its inception, the program has expanded into other parts of the world, including New Zealand, the US, the UK and Finland. The feedback that Marks has received from some of the participating principals is that it is “the best thing they’ve ever done” for their careers.

RICHARD GILL ARTISTIC ADVISER MUSICA VIVA Richard Gill is currently the artistic adviser of Musica Viva’s acclaimed music education program, which reaches more than 250,000 students nationally each year. Gill has been at the forefront of music education in Australia for over 50 years and is respected worldwide as a music educator. He is particularly passionate about ensuring that all children in Australia have access to a quality music education. He believes that the greatest way for children to listen, and therefore to understand and comprehend, is through music. Gill is a strong and vocal advocate for music education’s immensely positive impact on children’s learning. He believes it is the key that enables children to be successful in whatever path they choose in life.

Dr Regan Neumann was recently awarded a fellowship by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders Queensland, which recognised his outstanding contribution to the improvement of student and organisational outcomes. Neumann currently leads a high-performing P-12 college in a competitive environment and is also assistant regional director at Queensland’s Department of Education and Training (DET). In this role as an executive leader, Neumann translates DET’s goals and priorities into a reality for all students and school leaders in Brisbane.

LEONIE MCILVENNY CO-HEAD OF I-CENTRE IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE (MOSMAN PARK, PERTH, WA) Leonie McIlvenny has developed and built her school’s Iona Inspired Learning website – a one-stop shop for students’ learning and study skills, wellness, and relationships. Not content with this, McIlvenny used elements of gamification to create an innovative online computer literacy course for Year 7 students based on a concept of completing tasks to earn digital badges for an e-portfolio. McIlvenny has inspired other learning areas to add digital badges for their own material (eg earning ‘Lab Safety’ badges in science). Her enthusiasm and generosity make her an influential figure in Australian education.

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2015 HOT LIST PETER THOMPSON INSPECTOR – TECHNOLOGY CURRICULUM NSW BOARD OF STUDIES Peter Thompson has been instrumental in driving developments within the national Industrial Arts/Manufacturing Technology curriculum. Thompson was responsible for introducing 3D printing, 3D routing and processing, as well as emerging technology approaches, in teaching and learning. Volunteering his own time in the development of others, he currently oversees web design and communication systems for the professional support of a national technology teachers’ forum. Thompson’s initiatives have been instrumental in the development of current practices in the technology teaching environment, and have been major contributing reasons for his recent move into inspector position at the NSW Board of Studies.


GRANT GROSSER DIRECTOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCT STRATEGY SEQTA SOFTWARE As an ex-teacher and deputy principal, Grosser experienced first-hand the stress that an increased administrative workload (due in part to the introduction of ineffective and disparate technology) had on teachers – in both their work and their personal lives. Grosser wanted to create a piece of software that would lead the industry in its ability to reduce teacher stress and empower teachers to spend their time doing what they love: teaching. SEQTA software starts and stops with teachers. Grosser has maintained his ‘coalface’ commitment, providing constant and ample opportunity for users to give feedback and influence the product development. The SEQTA interface is unique in that it is modelled on the actual workflows of teachers. Grosser and his team have won numerous awards, including National Winner, Education 2013 iAwards, and Winner, Consensus Software Awards 2014.


Steven Cameron has won just about every major award for teaching that Australia has to offer, including being named Australian Director of the Year in 2011 (Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards), and winning a 2012 National Excellence in Teaching Award for Leadership. He has also been recognised in the local community for his work, being named Young Citizen of the Year on Australia Day in 2012 and receiving a South Australian Community Achievement Award for Leadership in 2013. Cameron is a published author and holds bachelor and masters degrees in early childhood education, and a degree in neuroscience. He is also a current Doctor of Education candidate at the University of South Australia.

GLEN CARTER PRINCIPAL MIRANDA PUBLIC SCHOOL (SYDNEY, NSW) Glen Carter is not your standard pen-pushing school leader. It’s safe to say that Carter has a greater connection with his staff, students and community than many other principals in Australia. After all, there are not many principals out there emceeing staff member weddings and dancing with their students to Rock Lobster as the recess bell goes. It is his enthusiasm for developing and educating the whole child that sets him apart from the rest. While Carter could boast many achievements in his 18 years as a principal and in his teaching career before that, one of his greatest triumphs is the sustained growth of his “baby”, Film by the Sea, a film festival for primary school students.


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GABRIELLE LEIGH      PRESIDENT      VICTORIAN PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION AUSTRALIAN GOVERNING PRIMARY PRINCIPALS ASSOCIATION Gabrielle Leigh is an educator dedicated to equity and excellence in education. She is a charismatic, inspirational school leader who has worked to establish a visionary college – Caroline Springs – that in the space of a decade grew from 78 to 4,500 students (K-12) on four campuses. Leigh, in her present role as president of the Victorian Principals Association, is energising those around her through a shared vision for public education and excellence in international pedagogy. Leigh also encourages educators (especially Australian principals) to take a global approach to education, and she believes that Australia should share with and learn from school practitioners in Finland, Canada and China.

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RISE OF THE MACHINES Education is undergoing fast and fundamental changes, and as Ben Abbott finds, learning management systems are both catalysts and solutions

FOR CHRIS Marley, SEQTA Software’s national solutions manager, the definition of a learning management system - or LMS - is abundantly clear. Having spent 15 years of his career rolling out technology for Sydney’s Catholic Schools Office, and as head of ICT at John XXIII College, Marley is well aware of how LMS products have evolved and what they can do. “An LMS is an integrated solution that is able to manage all the learning associated with a child – not just content – and is able to paint a whole picture of how that child is going at school and put that in front of me,” he says. In the case of SEQTA, think attendance management, student welfare, and lesson planning; think curriculum mapping, marking and academic reporting – all managed from one system; a child’s journey mapped on one screen. Does this sound simple, or confusing? Perhaps a little bit of both. And unfortunately, the LMS market can be a confusing one for schools. Terms such as ‘learning alignment system’ or ‘virtual school environment’ can be used just as easily as ‘LMS’ by providers. Different providers have different functionality, and different messages about adoption. Vendors often disagree. One provider even argues that the term LMS itself has been ‘hijacked’.


If you are a principal thinking about upgrading your old systems and feeling daunted, you aren’t alone. Vendors report that schools often approach them without a clear idea of what they need, or knowledge of what is possible. But if there is one thing for sure, the rise of the LMS has already begun.

From little things... The LMS began life 15 years ago in the form of simple intranet-style systems, providing online portals for teachers and students to access repositories of content. How things have changed. Though some schools remain at this early stage of adoption, large segments have embraced newer generations of technology.

“I see a lot of promise in the concept of personalised learning, where students could choose their own journey through the curriculum” James Leckie, Schoolbox The big shift came with Moodle. With a model cloned from university-level education and course delivery, Moodle, like competitor Blackboard, offered schools a new structured approach to delivering courses to K-12 students.

“Moodle hit in a big way around 2000, and for five years or so schools were busy rolling it out,” says Tom March, thought leader at Hobsons’ Edumate. Though credited with leading schools


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beyond intranets and opening them up to new possibilities, Moodle has, like simple intranets, lost its cutting-edge status. “A lot of schools started using it, with big pockets of teachers using the site, but being a tertiary, university-based system it really wasn’t designed for K-12 schools,” March explains. “There was a bit of a mismatch there.” Some schools moved on to using blogging platforms like WordPress, which allowed school communities to engage with each other and share information. Still others

used developers to make the Moodle model continue to work for them. However, a significant shift in reality has occurred, thanks to the Digital Education Revolution. With laptops having been put into the hands of students, and schools and parents now considering access to devices as the status quo, it has become a matter of necessity for schools to have an online space. “If students all have a device, then they need to meet some place online, so there has been a rapid movement to the LMS of the world,” March says.

DID YOU KNOW? FINLAND recently embarked on a radical overhaul of its education system, designed to better equip students for work and life in a modern society. Instead of teaching by ‘subject’, the nation will put its international reputation for leadership in education on the line by teaching by ‘topic’ instead, and embracing collaborative learning rather than didactic teaching. It is an approach enhanced by student access to computers and devices.

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LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS “If students all have a device, then they need to meet some place online, so there has been a rapid movement to the LMS of the world” Tom March, Hobsons

Whether it’s SEQTA, Schoolbox or Edumate, or even Schoology or Canvas, schools are now moving to take advantage of the power of technology.

Power and purpose The LMS has now entered a new phase – what the directors of Schoolbox call the third generation of systems for K-12 schools, which are often unrecognisable when compared with the simple systems that were their predecessors. “This generation is more about the social and collaboration side of learning,” says Schoolbox technical director James Leckie. “It is about building an online space where we can communicate, share and collaborate, and have a discussion around the course material,” he says. This collaboration could be between students in groups, between individual students and teachers, between parents and schools, and even between different teachers and campuses. A school community can be connected online. For example, a school’s teachers – who have often operated in silos, delivering curriculums on their own in their own way

– could use LMS systems to share knowledge and resources and centralise delivery of the curriculum. Or they could even be used to cure that long-term parent bugbear – by load-balancing homework to ensure that students are not overloaded on one night. Along with collaboration, there’s another big drawcard: business intelligence. Cuttingedge systems are all about consolidating a variety of outdated systems in order to capture, centralise and use growing amounts of data. “This is going to become very powerful,” says Marley. “Ultimately, we’ll be aggregating data from NAPLAN all to one screen, and overlaying that with what is happening at a school – for example, welfare and attendance – and we’ll then be able to map in real time how a child is going in literacy and numeracy compared with state and national averages and over time.” Many teachers – perhaps frustrated with the pace of change to their own in-house systems – have embraced online social learning network Edmodo, or the suite of education applications offered by Google Classroom. However, March says they risk losing the advantages of data.


HAVE A VISION Vision is the number one priority. Are you putting in place a system to protect your students, so teachers and students can pass documents back and forth, or do you want something more robust, to bring to life genuine 21st century skills and connectedness? Edumate’s Tim March warns that, without clear vision, ‘fault lines’ can emerge between stakeholders and systems. “Schools need leadership, vision, and to be specific about what they need and want.”


CONSULT YOUR STAKEHOLDERS Stakeholder engagement during technology rollouts is critical. For instance, if it’s a curriculum delivery decision that’s being made, is a business manager or IT manager the best person to inform the decision? Those in charge of your curriculum should have a say. “You should ensure the people responsible are engaged early on about the software that will be best for them, not just one person who has a vested interest in one system,” says Schoolbox’s James Leckie.

MAKE IT STICKY For Schoolbox, success is not only based on when a school signs up to use Schoolbox but also on when 80% of users are logging in weekly. When implementing an LMS, ‘stickiness’ is a key consideration in making it work. Moodle saw usage rates plummet in some schools as it became less relevant and sat unused in a corner, so getting your teachers and staff to log in and engage with more of your LMS functionality is critical.


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“If no one sees it other than the teacher who launched it, you are undermining the advantages of big data and metrics, and it goes against the move towards learning based on evidence and data rather than gut instincts,” he says. In consolidating and integrating with other systems, the LMS also promises to

systems, with vast scope to change the way education is delivered to the students of the future.

The coming revolution Leckie suggests the LMS of the future might borrow concepts from online gaming and apply them to teaching.

There is no reason why a gifted student couldn’t leave a school fully graduated in Year 9 streamline everyday administration for teachers, with most systems aiming to decrease duplication of tasks and potentially save time and money. Like SEQTA, which aims to provide a one-stop-shop ecosystem, LMS products as a whole are also moving closer to incorporating more school management functions. For example, Schoolbox integrates closely with management system Synergetic. The aim? For LMS products to evolve over time to become increasingly powerful, enterprise-level intelligence and management

AVOID FATIGUE In recent years, teachers have often been asked to learn how to use new systems, or even to input data into different systems at the same time, creating what SEQTA’s Chris Marley calls ‘software fatigue’. The easier that your system can make adoption, from a user experience perspective, the better. This will not only save on user fatigue, but also useless duplication, time and money.

“I see a lot of promise in the concept of personalised learning, where students could choose their own journey through the curriculum,” he explains. “They would do this with a system able to deliver the requirements and resources of the curriculum they require when they require them – that is the ultimate goal.” Like a role-playing game, students would move through a curriculum via an LMS much more flexibly, unlocking new knowledge as they follow each new branch of the learning tree, and could work at their

ENGAGE AND MANAGE Adopting an LMS is not an easy project; it takes ongoing work for success to be achieved. This could involve convening a working committee, with representatives from different disciplines, including teaching, marketing, IT and management, and holding regular PD sessions to build adoption rates. Teachers with natural skills can be leveraged to assist those who struggle. Buy-in is needed at the top as well as the bottom, to ensure resources are available to see it through.

own pace. The increased ‘gamification’ of the curriculum would encourage motivated students to progress through the curriculum for ongoing acknowledgement and rewards, while teachers would be turned into ‘trusted guides’ along the path. Taking this to fruition, Schoolbox director Sean Richards says there is no reason why a gifted student couldn’t leave a school fully graduated in Year 9. While this may seem far-fetched given the current entrenched and structured approach to the curriculum that schools are used to, March is another advocate of a student-centred approach to teaching. “This is my pedagogical view, but this approach will allow us to change the curriculum to allow students to move at different paces and explore.” Without this adaptation, he says the market hasn’t really taken advantage of the new generations of devices and technology that are coming online. “They are still using them as teaching platforms delivered to an online space, rather than using that online space to liberate students to work at different paces and standards, which is the real benefit of one-to-one,” he says. To some extent this style of teaching is already the case in primary school, and some secondary schools are already moving in this direction. Platforms like US-based Khan Academy are designed with this theory in mind. March and the Schoolbox directors are realistic that the benefits of the ‘one-to-one’ model of teaching will take time and can’t develop overnight. “The biggest impediment is that in senior schools teachers are held back by state curriculum systems, based on fixed curriculums that students regurgitate into essays,” Leckie says. “That doesn’t facilitate this new form of learning. “In the future we will need to see serious discussions about what the curriculum is, how to deliver it, and what is expected of students of the next generation.”

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GAME OF LIFE ‘Gamification’ is turning the process of learning into a game, but do e-learning tools in the classroom actually help your school perform better and put your students ahead in the game of life?

CEO OF LiteracyPlanet Adam McArthur is an eyewitness to the misfortune that can befall students failing to build solid literacy foundations. “For us as a business, in primary school education we are really making sure that kids are getting the building blocks right,” McArthur says. “The biggest challenge is making that engaging, and we find those who have missed some of those building blocks struggle to catch up in high school.” LiteracyPlanet offers curriculum-aligned online literacy education for pre-K to Year 9 students in a ‘gamified’ learning environment for use at school or at home. It aims to be fun and motivating while delivering a boost to results. However, the platform is just one of a growing host of new learning tools, all of

which offer schools the promise of making use of increasingly ubiquitous technology to give teachers and students an edge. The question is, can teachers use these online tools practically and effectively in schools, given the limited time and resources they have available? More importantly, will the trend towards gamification in schools actually put students ahead in that much more important game – life?

MAPPING THE MARKET For many schools and teachers, their first interaction with gamified learning would have been in the use of 3P Learning’s highly popular Mathletics platform. Now used in over 50% of schools in Australia, the platform was a pioneer in

E-LEARNING GROWTH BY SECTOR, 2012–17 Higher education





K-12 Sources: GSV Advisors, Docebo


bringing online learning tools into the classroom using new technology. 3P Learning listed on the ASX last year and is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Australian CEO Andrew Smith says the group continues to benefit from a strong brand following and loyalty among schools. “Schools tend to see us as a provider they trust, having worked with us over a period of time. They often make use of a range of products across our suite.” 3P Learning has experienced early success with its new science tool, IntoScience, for Years 7, 8 and 9, in addition to continued growth in Reading Eggs, Spellodrome and its Mathletics products. The company issues about 2.3 million licences locally, with Mathletics alone accounting for 1.5 million. However, 3P Learning is now just one provider of many. An influx of local and overseas vendors and developers – from small tech start-ups to large established players like Microsoft and tertiary institutions – is turning the local landscape into an increasingly complex one for schools to navigate. The offerings differ. Some providers like 3P Learning, LiteracyPlanet, Ideal Resources and Studyladder provide genuine gamified learning tools, which are said to engage students in new ways to enhance learning progress and results. However, there are many online learning providers – including textbook publishers – that are largely repackaging content in traditional styles so it can be digitally accessed at home or on platforms like classroom smartboards.


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“We are trying to open teachers’ eyes to the fact that resources like ours can actually save time rather than add to the burden” Andrew Smith, 3P Learning Most technology pundits predict that gamification will woo progressive educators in future, and interim-step ‘shovelware’ – or repackaged content – may be replaced in time as schools move to embrace a ‘flipped classroom’ dynamic. If there is one certainty, it is that the e-learning universe is set to expand. A global report from corporate LMS provider Docebo has predicted 50% growth worldwide in the

K-12 e-learning market by 2017, compared with 2012 levels. “The online K-12 education industry is a fast-moving industry and the rate of technological change and competition is increasing,” 3P Learning told its ASX investors in an update earlier this year. “The risk associated with the market requires management to continually focus on innovation and change to keep pace

THE CODE BREAKERS Do you know how to code? If not, your students may already be a step ahead. Microsoft is reaching out directly to students with hardware like the Xbox and PCs to teach them how to code through gamified learning initiatives Kodu and Project Spark. As it turns out, gaming may not be such a waste of time. with competitors and new entrants to the market.”

GAINING THE ADVANTAGE Smith knows exactly what it means to face the day-to-day pressures of teaching a class full of students. Having spent 20 years teaching himself, he keeps his products

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GAMIFICATION use its products, the indication so far is simple: two activities per week per child. E-learning application providers say there are other advantages for students and schools that incorporate gamification into their classrooms: ENGAGEMENT AND REWARD Four gamer types sit in your classrooms, according to the gamer psychology Bartle Test: Explorers, Competitors, Achievers and Socialisers. Gamified learning applications tap these inbuilt traits to replace didactic learning with a fun and motivational experience for students. “One of the big day-to-day challenges for teachers is getting kids engaged; gamification can do that really well,” says LiteracyPlanet’s Adam McArthur. While students can compete against their classmates, friends and nationally to earn



“One of the big day-to-day challenges for teachers is getting kids engaged; gamification can do that really well” Adam McArthur, LiteracyPlanet




Socialisers 36

focused on what teachers want. One of those key drivers is performance. In a results-driven environment measured by NAPLAN and other tests, do these tools make a difference? The tentative answer is yes. Though research will continue to emerge, a study conducted by the Australian Catholic University’s Dr Tony Stokes for 3P Learning found that schools using Mathletics were able to boost their NAPLAN score by up to 9%, based on data available between 2008 and 2012. LiteracyPlanet, meanwhile, estimates that its own online literacy tools boost NAPLAN literacy scores in participating schools by 5–10%. While Smith says 3P Learning is planning further detailed analysis of pedagogy to gain more insight into how successful schools

points or even certificates at school assemblies – very appealing to Competitors and Achievers – they can also explore information through enquiry-based learning tools like 3P’s IntoScience, while having fun along the way.


TIME, MONEY AND DATA E-learning providers say that, rather than adding work to a teacher’s already busy day, curriculum-based games can actually help lighten their workload. “We are trying to open teachers’ eyes to the fact that resources like ours can actually save time rather than add to the burden,” Smith says. “The biggest time-saver is the data that e-learning resources can gather and provide.” Data on e-learning platforms can be accessed and analysed to keep teachers up to


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date with students’ progress and give students instant feedback. “Students have access to their progress, immediate feedback and support with their mistakes, and there is a history of previous work. It’s an up-to-the-second picture of

Term 1, for example, and it might not be revisited until Term 4,” Smith explains. “That’s a gap for students for the long term, and may remain a problem forever if it impacts their interaction with maths in the future. If kids are using Mathletics regularly

“The key that I have seen is to stay truly focused on the education outcome that you are trying to achieve” Ray Fleming, Microsoft where they’ve come from and what they have to do next,” McArthur says. This can have cost-saving benefits for cash-strapped schools, by taking some of the legwork out of administrative tasks. “A lot more when we talk to schools we are not only showing the educational benefits but how they can save money in the long term,” says McArthur. “Teachers can cut out the marking and recording and some of those administration elements, which are a significant cost to schools.”


COLLABORATION AND SOCIALISING Using gamified tools in schools marks progress towards what K-12 learning specialists argue is probably the future of education: the ‘flipped classroom’. Students can pursue and unlock their own learning in gamified environments and have experienced teachers present in class as guides and facilitators. At the same time, classes are used for group collaboration and social tasks, where online tools can provide valuable focal points for group activities. Parents can also be brought into the process by having access to progress data but also through helping children at home with their homework. FILLING IN THE GAPS As both LiteracyPlanet and 3P Learning argue, regular use of e-learning tools helps students fill gaps in their learning to ensure they don’t fall behind. “You can have a situation where a student misses algebra in Week 3 of


– for example, two activities per week per child – we are helping to ensure that there are no gaps in their learning,” he says. Providers also say curriculum-aligned programs, rather than ad hoc use of digital content or even Google searches, is better at filling those gaps.

TAKING THE CHALLENGE Many schools have been slow to adopt new e-learning, for many reasons. “The biggest challenge is time, and often it is speciality. Teachers are under so much pressure to teach content in such a short space of time,” Smith says. “E-learning resources or introducing something that is slightly different presents enormous challenges. Teachers looking to use new resources or ways of learning need to know they add value not a burden to their load.” Available resources for computing devices can also be scarce. “In certain sectors it is well accepted students are using computing devices in the classroom; often the biggest barrier is access to those devices,” McArthur says. “A lot of independent schools have gone down the path of forcing parents to buy devices, while other schools have computer labs. What we are seeing is more active parents and P&C committees doing fundraising activities, and more schools reserve more budget for online tools,” he says.

SIMPLY WINNING Schools convinced of the benefits of gamification may still be confused by the

HOW ARE SCHOOLS USING GAMIFICATION? There’s no single way to win using new curriculumbased e-learning games, but here are a few ideas that could propel your students ahead of the rest: Use these programs as your main classroom resource: some teachers actually do, and their NAPLAN results seem to indicate it works. Use them as supplementary resources in group settings, rotating groups through traditional activities with a ‘fun’ e-learning payoff. Use them as the focal point of an individual computer lab session. Flip your classroom by allowing students to learn and study at home, and then come back to school for questions and reinforcement. Get traditional and set some tasks as homework to reinforce a lesson. Give extra help to children with learning difficulties by spending more time in the classroom with them and the available e-learning tools. Get parents involved by inviting them to ‘game’ with their kids. Don’t forget the magic formula: two activities per child per week. This may help boost your school’s NAPLAN score by up to 9%. array of options that are being made available to them. With a range of vendors, platforms and approaches, choice itself can lead to stalling and confusion. The trick, say the experts, is to keep it simple. “The key that I have seen is to stay truly focused on the education outcome that you are trying to achieve,” says Microsoft’s education head, Ray Fleming. “It is easy to get seduced into the latest buzzword, but if you stay true to that focus, you can start to look at the choices that will help you achieve it.”

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Time to think outside the box “It took from the beginning of time until the year 1804 for the world’s population to reach one billion. The last billion came up in the last 12 years,” says Turramurra North Public School principal Paul Taylor. He outlines to Brett Henebery what his school is doing to conquer the challenge of burgeoning class sizes TURRAMURRA NORTH Public School on Sydney’s leafy North Shore has a mission: to empower its literate, creative and confident citizens through real-life learning experiences. Apart from boasting a highly respected reputation in the visual and performing arts areas within the community, as well as strong academic programs, Turramurra North Public School is also making progress through ground-breaking innovation. And it is taking a fresh approach to the issue of ever-increasing student populations.

DID YOU KNOW? Australia’s population will reach 42 million by 2050, six million more than the Federal Government’s target, if migration, fertility and life expectancy continue at today’s pace.* The global population will peak at 8.1 billion by 2052 but will subsequently be impacted on by a rapid decline in fertility in urban areas.^ Sources: *Modelling by Australia’s Centre for Population and Urban Research ^From a group of futurists organised through Australian Future Projects and BOSS Magazine


A new era When Paul Taylor became principal at Turramurra North 12 months ago, he set out to revolutionise the school’s classrooms to adapt to 21st century realities. Taylor cites the rapidly increasing global population as a motivating factor behind some of the creative methods he is now using to streamline learning as well as his school’s resources.

Taylor believes that creating larger, more dynamic and collaborative classrooms is the best way to confront the potentially negative effects of a surging population. “We’ve got population growth out of control, and we’ve got declining resources. So how are our kids going to get through this? Well, the only way through this is to get creative, to collaborate, to critically think, and then to communicate,” Taylor says.

“Eventually, what we’re doing is moving from teacher-centred classrooms to student-centred classrooms. We’re not planning our teaching but designing our learning” Paul Taylor “We believe in 21st century learning here at Turramurra North for one core reason: our world’s population is increasing at an incredible rate,” Taylor says. “It took from the beginning of time until the year 1804 for the world’s population to reach one billion. The last billion came up in the last 12 years.”

“These are the four C’s of 21st century learning, and this is why it is mandated in our national curriculum. “Eventually, what we’re doing is moving from teacher-centred classrooms to studentcentred classrooms. “We’re not planning our teaching but designing our learning.”


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Turramurra North’s modern learning zone, The Hub

‘Supercharging’ student thinking In the 12 months that Taylor has been principal, he and his team have provided the school with Wi-Fi, transformed the library into a modern learning zone named ‘The Hub’, and combined the Year 5 and 6 students to create a ‘super class’ of 76 students, led by three teachers. “There are now different zones within that space: an instruction zone, a creative zone, an independent zone, a collaborative zone, and a withdrawal zone where kids can go and work in groups,” Taylor says. “Each child has their own device, such as a tablet or an iPad, and the apps on these devices

are only productivity-based apps. We’re not interested in skill-and-drill low-level rubbish. “What we want to do is supercharge our students’ thinking, not dumb it down.” Taylor says learning should be about “deep, rich, meaningful learning experiences” that teachers can feed into the curriculum rather than the other way around. “We call it the collision of pedagogy and learning space. It’s only when you really understand the pedagogy and the thinking behind it that you start to demand the change in learning space,” he adds. “In the end, the learning space itself becomes one of your teaching tools.”


Opened in 1914

Co-ed government school

LEARNING SPACES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY Want to reinvigorate your school’s learning space? Principals around Australia can follow the lead of Taylor’s colleague Stephanie McConnell, principal of nearby Turramurra High School. The school’s ‘Inside Out’ project involved the building of a sandstone amphitheatre, an outdoor kitchen, seating areas for groups, an outdoor chessboard, and a large vegetable garden. The area can accommodate up to 90 students at one time, providing ample space and a relaxing environment for students to collaborate in and learn together. McConnell recommends two essential steps to making a dream project a reality:

Set in spacious and well-maintained grounds on Bobbin Head Road, North Turramurra, NSW

1. Be proactive and have a vision: Principals must be proactive about what they want and how they’re going to achieve it. McConnell, who is currently leading a reference group of secondary principals on behalf of the Secondary Principals’ Council, says there is an increased focus within schools on developing new learning spaces. “Principals are very interested in finding ways to change how teaching and learning is happening in their schools. The conversation is around how learning spaces can be the lever to bring about that kind of change,” McConnell explains.

255 students (131 boys and 124 girls)

2. Get community buy-in: To help bring her school’s project to fruition, McConnell was able to get the support of the community bank in Turramurra as well as the Australian Men’s Sheds Association, which built the seating for the outdoor space. While principals may write off ambitious ideas they might have for their schools because of a lack of government funding, it should not stop them from turning to their community for help. “There are principals who will say that these changes are impossible, because public schools are not given the money for these things – but it is possible,” McConnell says, adding that budgeting was unnecessary thanks to the school’s fundraising efforts. “It’s not about saying ‘we can’t do it because we’re limited’; it’s about having the attitude ‘we have to do it because we are limited’.”

96% attendance rate

14 staff

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Looking out for our mates:


Look around you. Are the people you work with happy and do they have a sense of wellbeing, or do they appear to be struggling? Karen Gately urges everyone to look out for their mates and help reverse the alarming mental health statistics

GIVE SOME thought to the people you spend time with every day. Reflect on people at home, people you work with, service providers, and any other person you regularly interact with. Reflect on their happiness and mental wellbeing. How sure are you that you know how they are? How well do you observe these people and see when they are struggling? We all have a role to play in ensuring the members of our community who are battling mental illness get the care they need, and it starts with seeing the issue. According to the ABS, depression and anxiety affect one in seven and one in four people, respectively, at some point in their lives. However, a staggering 65% of people with mental illness do not get the help they need. Every day at least six Australians commit suicide; a further 30 attempt to take their own lives. According to beyondblue, at


any one time approximately 20% of working Australians are mentally unwell. Changing these numbers will mean each of us doing our part. We all need to take responsibility for looking out for one another and helping those in need. As employers we have a critical role to play in creating workplace environments that are healthy and supportive. It is essential that people are encouraged and expected to behave with respect and compassion. Every person, irrespective of their role, should be expected to take responsibility for having a positive impact on the wellbeing of the people they work with. In Australia every employer has a legal obligation to provide a work environment that is free of risk to health and safety. This obligation extends to the mental wellbeing of people. Principals themselves play an essential role in ensuring that people

understand how the workplace can impact on the mental health of the team, how an individual’s mental health can impact on the workplace, and what can be done to promote awareness, respond to issues and provide support. When consideration is given to the very real and detrimental impact of mental illness on the productivity and performance of a team, the commercial justification for making it a priority becomes clear. There is no doubt as to the extent to which people can focus their efforts, collaborate effectively,


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Every person, irrespective of their role, should be expected to take responsibility for having a positive impact on the wellbeing of the people they work with

invest energy, and make good decisions when mental health is optimal. Diminished work performance, morale and engagement, high rates of absenteeism, high staff turnover, accidents and workers’ compensation claims are costly consequences of mental illness for many businesses.



Extended period of time feeling ‘down’

Feeling depressed most of the time for anything more than a couple of weeks

is a clear sign that something is wrong. Constantly feeling sad, down or miserable isn’t normal and is an obvious indicator that the person may need help. Depression is often also evident when people regularly feel overwhelmed, guilty, disappointed, irritable and frustrated.


Lost interest and resignation

Keep an eye on the person who no longer wants to do the things you know they love. Losing interest in playing cricket, for example, may not simply be a case of

moving on to new interests. Observe when someone has disengaged from their interests and resigned themselves to living in a state of unhappiness. When people are depressed they are more likely to put off work tasks, postpone appointments and give up easily.


Becoming withdrawn

Withdrawing from close family, friends and colleagues is another sign that someone is struggling. For example, a colleague who in the past was keen to socialise but suddenly has no interest in interacting with other


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WELLBEING people may well need support. While of course this example on its own isn’t enough to give you full insight into their mental wellbeing, it is all the insight you need to know it’s time to ask if they are okay.


Lost productivity

Take notice when someone who is typically productive starts to regularly miss deadlines and appear disorganised. Observe when people are unable to concentrate or become unusually indecisive. Being tired all the time may be another that sign someone is struggling.


Lost confidence and self-respect

The way people talk about themselves can be revealing of the state of their mental health. Look out for people who often say things like “I’m a failure” or “I’m worthless”. Constantly hearing someone say “I’m sorry – it’s my fault”, particularly when they are not at all or only partially responsible, is a cause for concern. People who are struggling often express their unhappiness by saying things like “Nothing good ever happens to me” or “I don’t see the point in trying”.


Physical symptoms

Our physical health is unquestionably impacted on by our mental wellbeing. Feelings of stress, anxiety or depression have the potential to adversely impact on our bodies. Headaches, sleep problems, loss of or change in appetite, and even significant weight loss or gain are telling indicators of someone who is struggling with depression.

TAKING ACTION Leaders play a particularly important role in driving commitment to policies and practices that promote mental health and ensure people are appropriately looked after. It is essential that senior school leaders work in partnership with teachers at all experience levels to ensure a consistent approach is adopted. Driving education initiatives, influencing a healthy workplace culture, and providing support services are all essential roles that leaders must play.



A lot of people are relatively uneducated about both the signs of mental illness and what to do when they become aware of it.

PROPORTION OF PEOPLE AGED 16–85 WITH A MENTAL DISORDER* – 2007 Males Females 50% 40% 30% 20%

Ensuring that people understand how to recognise when they or a work colleague may be experiencing mental illness is an important way of tackling the issue. Just as important is overcoming an all too common stigma associated with mental illness. It’s a big issue that stands in the way of many people getting the help they need. Employers can play a role in shifting the underlying attitudes that drive this stigma by educating their managers and team about the facts.





Creating a respectful and compassionate workplace culture that inspires people to look after themselves and one another is among the most important ways that an employer can influence the mental health of their team. Leading by example and holding people accountable for behaving respectfully are essential. The expectations a leader sets, the coaching they provide and the consequences they apply for the way people choose to behave can have a profound impact on the workplace environment created.

Talk about the issue. The more hidden mental illness remains, the more people will continue to believe that it is shameful and needs to be concealed. No matter the nature of our relationship with someone, we should never hesitate to ask how they are. Simply asking “Are you okay?” tells someone you care and invites them to talk to you. While of course it matters that we maintain appropriate professional boundaries in our relationships, acting with compassion when we see anyone struggling is simply the right thing to do. It’s not our role to diagnose or provide counselling, but it is our role to assist the people we work with to get the help they need.

10% 0%

At any point in their lives

In the 12 months prior to the survey

*Selected mood, anxiety and substance use disorders Source: National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary Results, 2007 (ABS cat. no. 4326.0)


Karen Gately works with leaders to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. For more information, visit www.karengately.com.au or contact info@ryangately.com.au.


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15/05/2015 10:35:04 AM



WHY FEARLESSNESS OFTEN LEADS TO FAILURE In this extract from their book Selfish, Scared & Stupid, Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan reveal how being fearless – while idealised to a great extent – can lead to sloppy mistakes and poor decisions

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, the headlines and accolades have always belonged to the fearless. We celebrate the heroic souls who dismiss personal safety and stride forth into the fray against odds that seem insurmountable. St George and the dragon, Jason and the Argonauts, Odin and the Frost Giants. Almost every culture has its myths and legends lionising bravery and self-sacrifice. Australians, too, have a history of finding national cohesiveness in some pretty catastrophic military losses – Gallipoli the most obvious. So, what is it that we find so enticing about bravery and fearlessness when most of us in reality prefer lives of relative safety and comfort? Certainly, part of it has its origins in our evolutionary history – adrenaline in the correct doses is a highly addictive substance, hence our obsession with horror films and roller coasters. However, one of the more significant reasons the fearless are so admired is that they very much represent the outliers in the human experience. Few of us regularly seek out truly risky situations. For instance, most of us prefer job security to the unknown of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, and though many of us do travel, most prefer to settle within a short drive from where we grew up. We are


also mostly inclined to base our judgment on past experience rather than to speculate with the new, however compelling. In truth, we love to look at the adventurous road, but mostly from the comfort of the safe path. But is this such a bad thing? Can fear be a factor in achievement? And is the favouring of heroism and persistence over contrary data and good judgment actually a formula for success or simply a way to have stories told about you in the past tense?

As is the case with many such questions, it kind of depends.

The pros and cons of fear Fear, it turns out, is actually quite a useful emotion when it is appropriately applied. An overly curious nature mixed with naivety and overconfidence can be a recipe for disaster. Sending a canary into a mine to test for the presence of gas, while cruel, is actually a pretty savvy thing to do.


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Where fear can undermine leadership is when it becomes paralysing, when judgment is replaced by constant evaluation and dataseeking. The truth is, in any decision we make we never have the complete picture or enough information. This is, it turns out, why good judgment is so critical to good leadership.

Fear can be an aide to judgment One of the things that particularly defines leadership is a willingness and ability to make decisions and back them. What this really means is embracing ownership of the results. One of the burdens of leadership is that when you do achieve a success, it’s your team who won, but should failure be the outcome, you lost. This makes good judgment one of a leader’s key accountabilities. While the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli are considered heroes despite their eventual loss, we don’t look quite so favourably on those who had them fighting what was, literally, an uphill battle. So fear must necessarily be a part of this equation. It has us identify and weigh up risks and consider more than just the possibility of success and account for it. One of the criticisms we often make of strategic business plans is that the margins allowed for error are so slim. In other words, success is only guaranteed if everything goes exactly according to plan. Of course, this is statistically unlikely, and a far better approach is to stack the odds of success in your favour by implementing systems and processes that allow for success, even on those days when not everything goes as it should. Failure is often cited as being critical to success. But this is far more than a twee catchphrase of the eternally optimistic; it is a recognition that failure, rather than being a result, is a constant feature of the results we produce daily and should therefore be accounted for.

Learn to see fear as a lever for positive change If we accept that fear has a lot of downsides, how can we turn this around and use fear as an asset in achieving positive change in order to generate the behavioural change we so desire? How can we generate an opposite fear, one that is linked to not changing?

TEDx speaker Kelly McGonigal and other health psychologists assert that, contrary to popular belief, not all stress (which is essentially a fear of possible outcomes) is

One of the burdens of leadership is that when you do achieve a success, it’s your team who won, but should failure be the outcome, you lost necessarily bad. They further state that stressful experiences can be used to promote adaptive responses, and that individuals can be trained to think of stress arousal as a way of maximising performance. The long and short of it is that reframing fear as an asset may not only remove impediments to performance but can actually serve to heighten and lift it. Fear (and its close cousin, stress) are suffering from some bad PR and really need some rebranding. We all need reminding that sometimes fear has been the good guy, and it has certainly been a considerable asset in the armoury of social change. AIDS awareness campaigns have featured Grim Reapers in bowling alleys, bowling victims down like tenpins, in an effort to shift the fear of not having sex, to having sex; and immunisation and anti-immunisation campaigners have traded blows in a war of fears, each trying to tip the argument in their own favour. Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, famously tells the story of Atatürk, a military leader in the then Ottoman Empire and later the first president of Turkey, who in an effort to stabilise the food supply added an additional carbohydrate to the mix – in this case potatoes – flipping the fear of eating potatoes into a fear of not eating them. In fact, by decreeing them a ‘royal’ vegetable that no commoner was to eat, he also ensured that not only was the fear flipped but a desire to eat them was achieved.

Rather than seeing fear as one-sided, these examples show that by seeking to defeat or decrease the fear that was limiting them, people found that a better, or more compelling, strategy was to increase the fear on the other side of the equation.

Rebalance the fear This is perhaps the most important facet. We are not advocating that you ignore your fears or throw yourself at them as part of a midlife extreme-sport crisis, nor are we suggesting that they are all irrational and imaginary. What we are suggesting is that they can be useful for driving change and shifting behaviour, and that this relies on shifting the balance of the fear equation from one side to the other. For instance, if you are afraid to go for a jog because you’re looking a little wobbly around the middle (after a few too many ice creams) and are scared that people might laugh at ‘the fat guy in tight-fitting exercise gear’, that’s one side of the fear ledger. But if a chainsaw-wielding madman were storming through your house, you would not only jog but hurdle, parkour, long-jump and sprint, all while dialling for the emergency services. The next time you’re quaking in your boots and wishing you had picked up that ‘clinical strength’ antiperspirant, stop to consider fear not as a barrier to success but possibly as one of the most overlooked and underutilised motivators we have for driving us to success. Then set about reframing your fear. The trick is to see fear – when appropriate – as a useful tool of leadership rather than something to avoid. Published by Wiley, Selfish, Scared & Stupid is available in paperback, RRP $25.95, from www.selfishscaredandstupid.com. Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory are behavioural researchers and strategists. An author, educator and corporate coach, Flanagan is the chief creative officer at The Impossible Institute, while Gregory is a regular on the ABC’s Gruen Planet and is president and CEO of The Impossible Institute – an innovation and engagement think tank.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 45 www.educatoronline.com.au

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The diplomatic leader:


There’s a myth that says disagreements are negative and are to be avoided at all costs. However, as business consultant Alexandra Tselios explains, if you avoid them entirely, you may never achieve truly effective workplace outcomes



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the ability to compare perspectives and make a decision. But what happens if a conversation becomes emotional or worse, an all-out argument? The key is to have the ability to separate yourself and look at the situation from a holistic point of view. How has this

wasn’t even personal? Sometimes, you cannot influence workplace politics, and people will not always get along, but how that affects a discussion is up to the diplomatic leader. The crux to effectively disagreeing is to ensure that all participants of a discussion feel as

There is a fine art to disagreeing with staff members without seeming combative or stubborn, and all too often managers get caught up in the fact that ‘they know the business better’ or ‘they’ve been in the business longer’

ONE OF the biggest misconceptions that is detrimental to our society, in my opinion, is that a disagreement has a negative connotation to it. Too often, I hear people re-telling a discussion they had at work that was regarded as a disagreement, and they become upset and disillusioned by the event. Quite simply, a healthy team in a school moving forwards is going to face disagreements. It is the only way conversations will be effective, outcomes can be achieved and targets can be met. Beware a leader who avoids conflict, or any sort of disagreement because the most effective leaders are the ones who are able to agree to disagree diplomatically. Leadership communication skills 101 suggests that a productive conversation has

conversation derailed? What are all participants trying to achieve? Part of leading effectively is to have the ability to identify strengths in others that you lack, and navigate social nuances. One particular type of person that senior staff members often surround themselves with is the Yes Man. This person consistently pats their staff on the back, never questions any decisions and generally flees when their ‘big boss’ faces a huge legal dispute or failure. While these Yes Men can be fantastic motivators when the chips are down, their inability to provide an alternate opinion is ultimately their downfall. It’s crucial to feel a sense of team unity and have a defined goal, but it’s equally important for a manager to encourage diplomatic disagreements with effective outcomes, something that’s not possible with a Yes Man. A school is built on its employees and every staff member is selected for their specialist skill-set and experience. A diplomatic leader is one that considers a variety of different perspectives and analyses this information when making their final decision. Understanding how the delivery of information can impact those around you is a crucial part of ensuring that a disagreement doesn’t result in a negative blow to productivity. Who wants to deal with a situation where the bursar refuses to speak to the deputy principal, all over a conflict that

though they have been understood and validated, even if their suggestions aren’t adopted in the resolution.

The art of disagreeing There is a fine art to disagreeing with staff members without seeming combative or stubborn, and all too often managers get caught up in the fact that ‘they know the business better’ or ‘they’ve been in the business longer’. With differing opinions, there must come detachment. Don’t make it about being right or wrong, but have the overall goal of finding the best outcome for the school. School leaders should make quality decisions based on data and facts, and this can only be done if they are able to diplomatically disagree when required. Because every staff member comes with their own filter on how they view and behave with conflict, a manager needs to have a tight rein on their own personal reaction to disagreements. Before engaging in any disagreement, whether it’s between colleagues, unions or the department, it is essential to leave the ego at the door and identify why a disagreement is occurring. Sometimes it is simply a clash of personalities, but more often than not, it’s because someone can see something that you can’t. Consider the fact that this colleague or client may be providing you the opportunity to gauge a fresh

FEBRUARY 2015 | 47 www.educatoronline.com.au 47    

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LEADERSHIP perspective you didn’t have the latitude to scope. This is why a top-tier manager should be able to value the differences of those around them, rather than employ a strict autocratic leadership model.


Negotiate and compromise

DIRECTIVE – a coercive style that demands compliance and can contaminate everyone’s mood and drive talent away. To be used sparingly – in a crisis or to kick-start an urgent turnaround.

VISIONARY – inspires and is able to explain how and why people’s efforts contribute to the ‘vision’. Moves people towards shared outcomes through empathy and clarity.

AFFILIATIVE – creates harmony that boosts morale and solves conflict: a useful style for healing rifts in a team or for motivating during stressful times.

PARTICIPATIVE – superb listener, team worker, collaborator and influencer. Values people’s input and gets commitment through participation.

PACESETTING – strong drive to achieve through their own efforts, has high personal standards and initiative. Can be impatient and prone to micromanaging and leading only through example.

COACHING – listens and helps people identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Encourages, delegates and improves performance by building people’s long-term capabilities. Source: Hay Group


Negotiation skills and compromise are another key part of being a diplomatic leader and the best managers are able to negotiate in such a way that they receive the

realised it is absolutely welcomed, they gain confidence and a discussion can truly start to form. This is not the time to assert your leadership position, or flaunt your dominance; this is the time to show your staff members that you value their strengths and want them to contribute fully. One of the strongest qualities of a good leader is their ability to say no to something without causing tension or resulting in loss of staff morale. Use each disagreement as an

If it is second nature to be avoidant of conflict, you simply need to get over it because quite frankly, conflict can be a productive and important part of analysing data and reaching decisions outcome they desire, without the other parties realising they’ve compromised on their original position. Leadership is about surrounding yourself with a group of advisors, and if you build a reputation of being unmovable, you can quickly find yourself alone. Ultimately, by creating a workplace culture conducive to discussion and feedback, you are facilitating a change around the myth that disagreements are negative. The right way to disagree with others is only possible after you have listened to all perspectives while considering the impact on whatever decision is finally decided on. Whether you agree or not isn’t the point; the point is what resolution is best for the school, the staff and students. Until you respect the opinions of others, they are unlikely to respect yours, but once a culture of discussion and appreciation is fostered, it will be far easier to make a decision that will be adhered to by even your strongest opponents. This is why it is important to have a healthy balance of personality types on your team who are capable of both encouraging and challenging. I have often heard the meekest of voices challenge me in a meeting, but once they

opportunity for greater understanding. If a staff member offers a suggestion that isn’t in line with school procedure or standard, take the time and brainstorm together the reasons it won’t work, and what an alternative could be, instead of belittling or disregarding the individual. The core of a diplomatic leader comes down to respecting and valuing the strengths in those around them. This has nothing to do with personality differences or clashes, and everything to do with the ability to listen, respond and validate. If it is second nature to be avoidant of conflict, you simply need to get over it because quite frankly, conflict can be a productive and important part of analysing data and reaching decisions. Diplomatic leaders have to be comfortable that they are responsible for decisions that drive the school to success, as well as the decisions that don’t work as well as planned; they need to be at ease with their own leadership abilities, and clear on the gaps that require personal investment. Alexandra Tselios is a business consultant and publisher of The Big Smoke. She has a diverse background in corporate, public and creative fields. Visit thebigsmoke.com.au


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The leading magazine for the education industry The Educator Magazine is Australia’s only magazine for the most senior educational professionals & decision makers. The Educator Magazine works with some of the world’s most high profile business schools and leading education executives from around the globe. Every issue of The Educator will contain aspirational cover stories and high-level case studies providing a global and national perspective on education leadership and management best practice, as well as interviews with the finest minds in education.


15/05/2015 10:03:14 AM



STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE As the expectations of students, parents and other stakeholders shift seismically, how can principals keep up with the times? Brett Henebery reports

AS A principal, you craft the futures of thousands of people. Let that sink in for a moment. The quality of leadership you exercise can mean the difference between blazing inspiration and droopy disillusionment to every student in your school. Depending on how effectively that role is managed, both teachers and students may go on to become motivational speakers, business and community leaders, or even prime ministers. As a principal, you may be just starting out, halfway through your tenure, or even a veteran, but whatever the case, the education landscape beneath your feet is steadily shifting. The times are a-changin’ The Educator spoke to Jim Davies, CEO of the Principals Australia Institute (PAI), to examine the key factors shaping this new era, and how principals can adapt and thrive in the coming years. “The role of principals has changed over the years,” Davies says. “Learning used to be

DID YOU KNOW? The average number of days that school leaders spent in professional learning over a 12-month period from 2012 to 2013 was:

13.7 days for primary school leaders

12.1 days and

for secondary school leaders

Source: Staff in Australia’s Schools 2013: Main Report on the Survey, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)


teacher-driven and directed. Emphasis was on memorising and replication. Today, learning is student-centred, with a great focus on self-direction, critical thinking and problem solving.” Noting the growing trend towards 24/7 learning, Davies suggests that students are increasingly learning less in structured subjects and more beyond the classroom, including in virtual environments. “Being connected globally is also growing in importance,” he says. “This shift in the way we learn means principals need to lead schools in ways that help students to learn differently and embrace today’s world.” But what are the implications for how principals do their job? When asked if he foresees any significant differences in management and leadership strategy between the next generation of

principals and the last, Davies says new learning trends towards hi-tech and collaborative learning will have “significant implications” for principals. “The emergence of new learning trends, including collaboration amongst learners through virtual networks, extends student learning well beyond the physical spaces of schools and the traditions of set homework pieces,” Davies explains. “This has significant implications for the way principals lead.” Not surprisingly, the onus is on principals themselves to upskill to remain ahead of the curve.

The digital age Gabrielle Leigh is president of the Victorian Principals Association, an organisation that provides professional training and support to school leaders. She says principals are adapting


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“admirably well” in this rapid-change environment; however, they must themselves remain vigilant and agile if they’re to adequately prepare students for challenges posed by the digital world outside the school gates. “The world is a very fast-moving place now. We have to prepare our students for a digital age, so we need to be very cognisant as leaders of what that actually means.” Australian Primary Principals Association president Dennis Yarrington agrees that principals would do well to stop and think about how effectively their schools are preparing students for the digital world. “The challenge we have is there are some who are asking ‘how do you know what to prepare kids for?’ and ‘what do you need to

it, but I might also have about 20–30% of people saying ‘that’s not how high school should be’. “Getting our principals to feel confident – whether it’s taking a risk or undertaking a carefully managed change to a different way of learning – is important.”

Affecting societal change as a principal Leigh sees some encouraging developments in the way that principals are able to exercise power to affect positive change in their schools as well as in the broader community. Having autonomy over decision-making is enhancing the impact that principals have in both their schools and their communities, allowing them to tailor their strategies to the

“Getting our principals to feel confident – whether it’s taking a risk or undertaking a carefully managed change to a different way of learning – is important” Jim Davies give them to operate in the world out there?’ ” Yarrington says. For example, forecasters predict that more than two billion jobs – roughly 50% of all jobs on the planet – will disappear by 2030. However, there will be many new jobs we have not even thought of yet. How principals adapt their existing knowledge to new environmental realities in schools is also a key consideration, Yarrington explains. “It’s become a matter of seeing what you can do with what you know. It’s not necessarily how much you know but what you can do with it … and with whom you can work.” Like Leigh, Yarrington holds the view that principals’ ability to steer the entire direction of their schools indeed makes them powerful forces, but he cautions about the factor of dissent in times of change. “As a principal, if I say to my school that all the textbooks are being replaced with iPads, I’d have some who strongly support it, some who understand the rationale behind

environmental realities in their communities. “I think the impact of principals in this sense can be very far-reaching,” Leigh says. “If it’s a multicultural community you might have different priorities than you might in a middle-class community, so you’re really tailoring to people’s needs and expectations.” The influence that principals can have in their communities can be immense, says Davies, noting that principals who reach out to their communities help students “transition to citizenship and become flourishing contributors to society”. “We should be connected with the economic, commercial and social activities of the local community,” he adds.

Continuous learning Much like a mechanic might tinker with everyone else’s car except their own, school leaders might also be accused of looking after the professional development needs of everyone else while neglecting their own needs.

Yet the scope for professional development is immense. If you’re a principal with decades of experience in the role, don’t see these changes as everything you know being turned on its head. Rather, consider how you can fuse your existing knowledge into this new paradigm. For example, consider the latest research on student-centred leadership. Keep up to date with the ideas and recommendations coming out of international education symposiums. Alternatively, enrol in a short course. The PAI’s courses, for example, provide principals and school leaders with professional learning and leadership development tailored specifically to their needs, with training courses offered both on site and online. “We’re very focused on doing everything we can to support school leaders at the forefront of professional practice, and making sure principals get the same professional status and recognition as barristers, dentists and lawyers,” Davies says. “Our school leadership professions deserve it.”

FROM SURVIVE TO THRIVE: HOW TO STAY AHEAD IN 2015 Be informed: Keep pace with new research on 21st century learning trends such as student-centred learning, collaborative learning spaces and gamification. Take a course yourself if you have to! Be connected: Engage with your community and other principals by attending conferences and symposiums on school leadership. Be savvy: Familiarise yourself with emerging technologies such as cloud computing, learning analytics and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Be innovative: Get creative and resourceful with the tools you have. Be prescient: Envisage ways to confront these 21st century challenges and discuss them with your executive.

FEBRUARY 2015 | 51 www.educatoronline.com.au 51    

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ABOVE & RIGHT: Schools around the country celebrated Harmony Day on 21 March 2015. Harmony Day is held every year to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. TOP RIGHT: South Australia’s Banksia Park School art project, celebrating Harmony Day on 21 March.

ABOVE: The ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind “school with no walls”, Aurora College, opened to 160 Year 7–11 students on 2 February 2015. The school connects students in rural and remote locations into a selective strand covering English, mathematics and science, using computer technology and personal contact to deliver the curriculum. Students attend classes by logging on to an online conferencing system. Teachers can see and hear each student using webcams and microphones. Twice a year, students are brought together for a residential camp. ABOVE LEFT: NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli (middle) inspects the school with his host, Aurora College principal Chris Robinson (right). LEFT: Year 8 student Caitlyn Campbell logs into her first Aurora College class.



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LEFT: Garah Public School in northwest NSW celebrated its 100-year anniversary. Photo: Moree Champion. BOTTOM LEFT: Pupils at St Francis Xavier Primary School in Ballarat form the number 100 to celebrate the school’s centenary. Photo: Jeremy Bannister. BELOW: Ivanhoe Grammar School celebrated 100 years in February. Art teachers Helena (left) and Sofi with the Centenary project. Photo: Ivanhoe Grammar School.

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Lila Mularczyk, principal, Merrylands High School, and president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council

5.00am: Rise and (hope to) shine after the intrusive morning alarm reverberates throughout our home. I have my first coffee of the day and pat my beautiful dog. I discuss the day ahead with my partner of 28 years, open a multitude of emails and respond, then check a series of texts, respond, glancing at the Twitter accounts to see if any educational issue is trending.

7.20am: I arrive at Merrylands High School. I greet the first of our students and a few teaching staff. I again open more emails and respond. The emails are numerous, diverse in topic and source, covering the complexities of my two roles as principal of MHS and president of NSW Secondary Principals’ Council.

8.45am: I address the school assembly. This address, albeit brief, primarily highlights the significant achievements of individuals and groups within our school community each week.

9.00am: I begin a teleconference with colleagues and state office leaders on a reform development. 9.45am: I hold meetings in my office regarding the Community of Schools, as well as Creative and Performing Arts week.

11.00am: I begin my tour of duty around the grounds with the senior executive team as students exit the building for their first break of the day. This is a multilevel strategy allowing school leaders to facilitate general greetings and conversation with a number of students.


11.30am: I return to my office and participate in a videoconference meeting (around draft material on state policy implementation) from my desk. 12.10pm: I then commence preparation of material for a professional learning presentation later in the week.

1.30pm: The next bell rings and I enthusiastically bound outside to undertake lunch playground duty. This is another opportunity to have positive interaction with staff and students and for me also to physically mobilise. 2.00pm: I return to my office to meet with a staff member regarding goal setting and desired professional learning to strategise for career development.

5.30pm: I leave Sydney to drive home. 6.40pm: I occasionally pick up dinner on the way home. When I arrive home I eat and chat with my partner about the day that passed. Telephone my mum. After dinner, I pat the dog and commence some semblance of planning for the next day. 7.20pm: I open my laptop again and respond to more emails and answer at least one more professional call.

10.15pm: I close my laptop, feeling reasonably confident that I am ready for the next day. But I secretly know that working as a school leader of 800 and being president of a principals association of 500, I am never prepared for all the nuances, needs, events that will occur in my roles. I do know,

“I have the best job(s) in the best places. I am privileged to have such a professional career” 2.50pm: I exit school to drive into town to the Department of Education state office for a scheduled meeting. 4.00pm: I arrive at Bridge Street and proceed to the meeting. Representatives from Departmental Directorates, the Primary Principals Association, the Secondary Principals’ Council (that would be me) and the NSW Teachers’ Federation assemble for our consultative discussion.

however, that I have the best job(s) in the best places. I am privileged to have such a professional career. I am privileged to work with and for a dynamic school community and with my principal and department colleagues.

5.30am: Rise and shine. I make myself a coffee and pat my beautiful dog. I scan the newspapers for any potential media interest stories …


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FAVOURITE THINGS Catherine Misson, principal, Melbourne Girls Grammar School Summer pastime: Growing up on the NSW mid north coast, with the best beaches in the world, I have to have sun, surf and my current favourite water sport, paddleboarding.

Holiday destination: In recent times as a family we have discovered Maui – if you can’t have Aussie beaches, this is the piece of heaven you just can’t go past! Food: A guilty pleasure: nachos with extra guacamole.

Drink: Nothing beats cold water on a hot day, but when I’m not being a principal it would have to be a lime margarita.

Music: At the moment, I’m loving Ed Sheeran, and at least my children somewhat think I’m up to speed.

Winter pastime: As an avid reader there is nothing I like to do better than curl up on the coach in front of a toasty fire, latest novel in hand.


Books: Pride and Prejudice. I read it at 12 years of age, and whilst I revisit it often I have also now extended my tragic addiction to include modern adaptations.


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Profile for Key Media

The Educator issue 1.01  

Australia’s only business magazine written for the most senior educational professionals & decision makers.

The Educator issue 1.01  

Australia’s only business magazine written for the most senior educational professionals & decision makers.

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