I hope you all had wonderful Easter celebrations with your community and your family. I also trust that in recent times you have enjoyed a two week break from the demands of your time that abound during the term.
As we all know from the extensive research, looking after your well-being is so important. In that spirit, CaSPA has signed a partnership with the Deakin University and Australian Catholic University for 2021. This partnership will support the research of Philip Riley and his team. The CaSPA Board will be meeting with one of the key researchers at the May Board meeting in Sydney. Importantly, a key part of CaSPA’s partnership is to obtain the specific data related to the Catholic sector Principals. I encourage all our Principals to participate in the survey this year as it will provide a significant and specific analysis of the experiences of our work in Catholic Education.
This year CaSPA has engaged a Branding Partner (Athas Concepts) to evaluate and improve CaSPA’s communications and online presence. This is an exciting initiative which will be evolving during the next 12 months. As you can see from this current newsletter, there is a new logo and newsletter style being developed. In the future, work will also be focussed on the redesigning of the CaSPA website, emails, Twitter and LinkedIn. I hope you will enjoy the new look. It is CaSPA’s intention that this strategy will help to raise the profile, status and professional appearance of our national association.
We are looking forward to our face to face Board meeting in Sydney on 24 & 25 May, which also means we can arrange other consultations with key partners, officials, policy makers and stakeholders. Amidst this, we will be fortunate to join in celebrations of 200 years of Catholic Education.
Consultation is a key driver of our purpose and strategy – this was enhanced by our opportunity through my representation, to be a part of the “State of Social Sciences” stakeholder meeting last week. This is a 12 month project led by the Academy of the Social Sciences to take stock of social science disciplines and plan for the future. This will hopefully lead to a foundation for Australia to have policy settings, funding and infrastructure to enable world class education and research in the social sciences. Moreover, this links so strongly to our diverse society and the need for greater equity, tolerance, understanding and empathy.
AITSL has been active in a range of areas including developing research around strategies to address abuse of staff in schools, online formative assessment, and a major development for CaSPA has been to gain representation on the AITSL’s School Leadership and Teaching Expert Standing Committee (SLTESC) through my appointment to the committee. The primary objective of the SLTESC is to advise AITSL on its work to promote excellence in teaching and school leadership to maximise impact on student learning in all Australian schools. This committee is chaired by Professor John Hattie and is directly responsible and accountable to the AITSL Board of Directors. It provides quality feedback and guidance on the development of policies, resources, and other AITSL-led initiatives that support teachers and school leaders, benefitting the education sector for years to come. In addition, our EO Phil Lewis will represent us at the AITSL’s “Indigenous cultural competency in the Australian teaching workforce: National Dialogue” on the 18 &19 May in Canberra also enabling liaison with CAP (Coalition of Australian Principals) at that time.
I would also bring your attention to the ACARA curriculum review and commend CEO David de Carvalho for his efforts in consultation with associations.
On behalf of the CaSPA Board, I wish Mothers and those who fulfill the role of Mother a very Happy Mothers’ Day on 9 May. I also hope that you and your community have a very productive and rewarding Term 2.
Blessings to all
“All-loving God, we give you thanks for mothers of every kind… those who have loved us and helped to shape us with motherly care and compassion.”
ACARA – Australian Curriculum Review Stakeholder Pre-Briefing
CaSPA attended the pre-briefing for national peak associations. Details will be released by ACARA soon.
The CaSPA Board has been meeting with Mark Grant (AITSL CEO) to contribute to the 7 key issues AITSL is working on in 2021. CaSPA’s President, Ann Rebgetz, has now been appointed to the School Leadership and Teaching Expert Standing Committee (SLTESC).
AITSL has arranged for the CaSPA Board to meet with Nick Weideman from Education Services Australia at the recent Board meeting. Nick outlined the new Online Formative Assessment Initiative (OFAI) being developed in conjunction with ACARA and AITSL. The progress of this Networking Tool can be seen at: https://ofai.edu.au/the-spindle-prototype-demo/
CaSPA will be represented at the Indigenous Cultural Competency National Dialogue to be held in Canberra (18 & 19 May 2021)
Australian Catholic University
The Principal Researcher from the Philip Riley Team will make a presentation at the Sydney Board Meeting (24 & 25 May). It is also hoped that the new Vice Chancellor Professor Zlatko Skrbis will also be able to join the meeting.
During March there was a change of Director in Tasmania. Frank Pisano who had served on the CaSPA Board for 4 years as a Director and Treasurer completed his term and Craig Deayton from Guilford Young College has joined the Board. In welcoming Craig, the CaSPA Board sincerely thanks Frank for his committed and outstanding service during his time on the Board.
Profiles of all the CaSPA Board is available on the CaSPA Website: https://caspa.schoolzineplus.com/current-and-past-board-members
CaSPA Principal Profile
Name: Craig Deayton
Current School: Guilford Young College
Previous Position: Principal – Sacred Heart College Hobart
First Year as a Principal: 1995
My big picture for my current school is: Successfully bring the College through the major restructure of Catholic Secondary school in 2023, establish the new vision for Guilford Young College in adult learning in the senior secondary college model and guide the major expansion of VET in the GYC Registered Training Organisation
The Joy of Principalship is: Working with young people and leading a marvellously dynamic and committed staff.
Favourite Book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Favourite Food: Korean BBQ
Interests / Hobbies: Writing, cycling, surfing, military history
My Favourite Well-Being Strategy: An hour in kindergarten
Advice for a Beginning Principal: Be open to seeing the joys and opportunities of the role. Problems come and go, but there’s no problem so unique and difficult that an experienced colleague hasn’t successfully managed so reach out, build a support network and actively seek out their advice – especially if you don’t think you need it.
Favourite Leadership Quote: “Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.”
- Joanne Ciulla
What Title would you give to your TED Talk or Book: At Any Price
Intuition and evidence: How I built a thriving school culture from the ground up
By Adam Voigt
Community contribution / April 23, 2021
In 2011, I was an impatient and ambitious young principal who had bitten off more than he could chew.
After only a couple of years in the principal position and having recorded some success in turning around the culture and outcomes of a challenging disadvantaged school, I was handed to keys to a new school.
A brand-new government school, Rosebery Primary School in Darwin, was a school planted in an accelerated growth corridor populated by what some would call the aspirational middle class. This was a school that was going to grow exponentially and rapidly.
Even twelve months before the school’s opening, enrolments started to flow in steadily and interest from teachers in joining the staff of the school grew too. By the time that we did open, around 350 students assembled who had been to 36 different schools on their previous day at school. Thirty-six staff were in attendance, dressed in black RPS embroidered polo shirts so that folk actually knew they were staff, who had worked in their previous day in 35 different schools.
Getting them all onto the same page that I’d begun espousing about our school was going to be quite the task.
As I’d seen these diverse cohorts of both staff and students take shape in the lead-up to Day 1, I’d begun to ponder the enormity of the mission. How does a school leader bring so many personally invested people onto this metaphorical same page without everyone complaining “Well, at my old school...?"
Gradually, I began to realise that what I had on my hands was an imperative not of an operational nature. After all, we may have had 35 different opinions on how lunch orders should get to the canteen in the morning – and we did, resulting in an equally vociferous and pointless staff meeting discussion lasting 45-minutes one day – but this wasn’t what mattered when it came to the school realising its potential.
I also realised I didn’t have a resourcing imperative. Despite the countless hours I’d spent on furniture selection, staffing, learning resources and program selection, this really isn’t the point or the purpose of a great school either.
That said, I’d become so conditioned to the resourcing work that I even developed a model for school commencement that would guide my focus:
I’d managed to thoroughly convince myself that attention and toil in these domains would ultimately determine my success, or otherwise, as Rosebery PS’ inaugural principal.
I was wrong.
As we approached January 27th 2012 and the opening day of the school, I started to listen more intently to what parents were telling me in enrolment meetings and on school tours. I also started paying more attention to the subtext and mood of the conversations and meetings I had with staff.
And then the penny finally dropped. My imperative was not a resourcing one, but a cultural one. Resourcing, you see, is an imperative based on what you’ll do and not on how you’ll do it.
Culture is all about how you work. Focusing less on the what and more on the how would more allow me a greater work focus and allow me to focus on how my stakeholders – my students, my staff and my parent/carer community – will flourish and feel as a result of engaging with me and our burgeoning community.
Everyone has a story to tell about their school. These stories are told at dinner tables, around campfires and in the queues at supermarkets. Schools should be places that generate more positive anecdotes, tales and stories from their stakeholders than negative. I needed to imagine myself as a fly on the wall in these locations and imagine what people were saying about our school. And then, I needed to be brave enough to wonder “How can we make that story more positive, exciting or meaningful?”
I’m no data nerd. I don’t particularly enjoy laboring through graphs and spreadsheets. However, I do want to be a highly accountable school leader who can prove that what he does and decides upon makes a difference in areas that matter.
Every choice we made about opening Rosebery PS must, therefore, be evidence intended. If the metrics we needed didn’t exist, we invented them. And, as we explored our evidence, we did it without attachment to the evidence needing to be eternally positive. Some of our best leadership lessons were learned through failing.
When you’re handed a new school to lead, I think you’re also handed an obligation to change and innovate. After all, if you don’t seize this particular opportunity to challenge existing conventions and traditions in education, to blaze a trail or to shake things up, when will you?
As such, we became determined to trust and build our own professional knowledge and to discard useless engrained school habits. Sure, when you land on the front page of the newspaper for “banning homework” in a primary school, it causes a ruckus. But we can ride that out, knowing that our policy serves our students long after that newspaper has become a wrapper for fish and chips.
Please note: You don’t need to steal my model, although I suggest that taking some inspiration from it might be a good idea. After all, it wasn’t a model built for your school, but mine.
I’ve become convinced, however, that a strong reflective model designed for the how of School Leadership and for sustaining your focus on School Culture can be an incredibly worthwhile pursuit for any school leader who knows that the culture of their school matters, like, a lot.
What would your how model look like?
How school leaders can use ethics to build an inclusive school culture
By Deniz Uzgun
Published April 8, 2021
Ethical leadership plays a key role in building an inclusive school culture, according to Professor Suzanne Carrington from the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology.
Deniz Uzgun sat down with the researcher to find out how school leaders can bring ethics into their leadership practice.
How did that experience shape your views on what’s required to building an inclusive school culture today?
Trinity Beach State School was actually the last place that I was a teacher at. So I’d been a teacher for 10 years in Queensland and in England. At Trinity Beach State School I was appointed as what was then called a ‘teacher in charge’ which was the head of special education. Because Cairns had closed their special school, all children with disability were enrolled in their local primary or secondary school. We were lucky to have a great school leader at Trinity Beach State School, who was really committed to inclusive education. He led the school to work in collaborative and really respectful ways, and valued listening to parents and students. We all developed shared values and vision to support an inclusive culture for the school. And that really took time and commitment. So this was way back in 1990 and we’ve learned a lot, I think, over the years, because there’s a lot more research and evidence to support our work now in schools.
Do you think we have a more clear and decisive definition on what inclusive education means today?
Well, I don’t think we even knew what inclusive education was back then. So yes, definitely. Now, in 2016, we have what’s called ‘article 24, comment 4’ in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So that really gave us a very clear, internationally agreed definition of what inclusive education is and what it is not. So that’s been really helpful, I think.
You mention a quote that states: ‘If it isn’t ethical, it isn’t leadership’. How can school leaders build an inclusive school culture using the three interrelated areas of ethics within a leadership framework?
So this is drawing on Starratt’s (2014) work and it talks about ethics of leadership. There’s three interrelated ethics within that leadership framework; they are care, justice and critique.
School leaders can pursue an ethic of care by valuing diversity, confronting stereotypes, and having high expectations for every child. An ethic of care is the process of listening to the voice of the students, parents and the teachers in the school, and having empathy with different people’s backgrounds and experiences, and honouring every member in the school community.
The next one is about the ethics of justice and that relates to authority and management within an education system, particularly in a school that considers equity and fairness. As a school leader, they’re often needing to make decisions that can impact on people in the school, and sometimes they’re trying to weigh out a decision that might be equitable and fair for an individual, but they’re also thinking about how that’s going to impact on the whole school or a group of children or a group of parents. And that’s really challenging I think, particularly when it comes down to making decisions about resources and student behaviour. For example, when thinking about children’s behaviour, it’s also thinking about their learning needs because often issues around disability and how young people are being accepted and supported can influence their behaviour. So we need to really think about equity and fairness and that comes down to that ethic of justice.
The last one is ethic of critique and that’s really often about trying to challenge the status quo. It is where school leaders look at their school in terms of structural justice and injustice to promote common good, such as ensuring high expectations of every member of the school community. In schools, we have policies, we have rules but we also have done things in certain ways for many years. And sometimes it’s a really important role of a leader to bring in that ethic of critique and think about, ‘Well, is there another way we could be thinking about this issue?’
In an education context that’s increasingly focussed on standardisation, testing and accountability, how challenging is it for school leaders to build an inclusive school culture?
That’s an ongoing international education challenge. I guess one of the key areas of research that we can draw on now is that inclusive schools are good for everybody. So there’s a strong body of research over 15 to 20 years, that can really demonstrate that having a school culture, practice and policies that support inclusive education, has good academic and social outcomes not only for children who have disabilities, but also for children who don’t have disabilities. So that’s a really important point I think we need to make because for some years, there has been a feeling that we can’t have a focus on improving school performance if we’re also trying to be inclusive. And so that’s changed now. I think we’re seeing in many places around the world a stronger focus on supporting leaders to enact socially just change and provide support in equitable ways. There’s been a little bit of a movement there I think, but still an ongoing challenge and we need to be aware of supporting school leaders to balance all of those issues.
What can we learn from schools in New Brunswick, Canada, which are held in high esteem for their inclusive education model?
There’s been a lot written about what they’ve done and how they have proceeded to support that systemic change for inclusive education. They closed all special schools in 1986. It is recognised that their success required strong leadership at systems and school levels, as well as collaborative teamwork. The work is informed by values based on the principles of inclusion where all people are valued and treated with respect. We can draw on a systems framework for change (Michael Fullan) which includes understanding the problem, inform the planning process to inform a clarity of purpose and vision, and communication and collaboration with education leaders, parents, students and the community about the value of the proposed change.
What is the biggest challenge for achieving these outcomes for schools in Australia?
We have many schools in Australia that are really great inclusive schools, but our biggest challenge is it’s patchy. We don’t have a systemic national approach to inclusion. And we continue to still have special schools and segregated schooling. I mean, Queensland is one of the states that has an amazing inclusive education policy, but we still have an ongoing focus on special schools and special education, which is actually in opposition to an inclusive approach.
Why do school leaders need to resist the urge to implement practices leading to rapid improvement and focus more on ‘slow schooling’?
Enacting socially just change to support inclusive education takes time at an individual, collective and theory level. The change will need to be slow and incremental and requires critical dialogue and planning over time with people at school and all levels of education … This is because there is a need for multiple levels of change that considers inequities and injustices and the courage to have the difficult conversations to interrupt and challenge the status quo. It is clear that long-term change requires school leaders and staff to work together over a sustained period of time.
What is some of the work you’re involved in with the Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC)?
Autism CRC has been going for about seven years. I’m the director of the school years program and we’ve been working with about 300 schools, in most states and territories around Australia, to develop evidence-based practices that make a difference to students on the autism spectrum in their schooling years. We found that what works in the classroom for children on the autism spectrum often works for many children.
One project involved working with about five different schools around Brisbane to support a whole school approach to school connectedness. School connectedness is where children have a sense of connectedness and belonging to their school, it’s obviously very aligned with an inclusive approach to schooling. As part of that project, we worked with one school that wanted to have a particular focus on students that were truanting from class. The team of support teachers were particularly keen to try and find out ‘Well, why are these students not going to all of their lessons? What are the reasons from their perspective?’ So I went in and did a focus group interview with the group of students, some of them had disabilities, some did not. Some were having difficulties at home and a whole range of reasons why they might have been disengaging from their learning at that time. But once we actually had some conversations with those students, they were able to share with us very legitimate reasons why they weren’t always going to their class. And that contributed to that ethic of care, because for some of those young people, they were having pretty challenging times in their families for different reasons, and not coping very well and didn’t really want to talk about things with their peers at lunchtime. So some of them would take off and have a chat behind the sporting shed, because they just needed to have a chat to each other and they had similar situations. Some would say, ‘I can’t go to that class because it’s too noisy’, because they were students on the autism spectrum and they had sensory issues. And rather than coming forward and saying something about it, they just decided that they didn’t go because it was really impacting on them in terms of their anxiety and coping.
So, once the teachers listened, we were able to work together, to put in some different support systems and opportunities for students to get help, including teachers being a bit more flexible in how they provided learning or how they provided support, access to more pastoral care offices and counsellors in ways that really respected students’ privacy, for example.
At the ACEL Conference, you gave an example of a student with additional learning needs who had been given separate tasks from the rest of his class, and as a result, felt more segregated. What might be a better approach in this instance?
In secondary school we often have students who have different learning needs and so our teachers really need support in terms of their capabilities about providing inclusive approaches in their classrooms. Now we actually have a lot more evidence-based practice around multi-tiered systems of support in schools, and this is very much connected to the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability. So we are getting much better at this. Teachers have a better understanding of, ‘Well, what type of adjustments can I make to how I represent the content? How can I change my pedagogy that might better meet the needs of different students in my classroom? How can I give choice for students in how they demonstrate their learning and how they demonstrate their skills?’ Doing that in ways that I guess starts with a tier of teaching that is good for most students in the classroom, and then moving up through a range of tiers that provide more intensive support to students as they need it.
There are a lot of really good inclusive education models of teaching that we’re teaching at university to our pre-service teachers and many teachers are learning those pedagogies through professional learning. So I think the focus, particularly with that example, was that the student was given a task that may have appeared to be appropriate to their learning level, but really what that student needed to be doing was to be joining in with his peers in the learning activities. We often find that peers are very good at supporting each other and helping each other along with whatever the learning task is. So that sense of belonging and having fun in the activity is often a really positive way of supporting a student’s learning, rather than giving them an individual activity that’s a worksheet where they’re sitting on a table, in a chair away from their peers, you know, that’s not inclusive education at all.
It is something we’re getting better at and there’s a lot more research evidence to support that and that’s really what inclusionED is all about. So inclusionED is a community learning platform that shares evidence-based and research informed teaching practices through videos, printable template resources, all contributed from Australian researchers and teachers in schools, that are designed to support diverse learners in inclusive classrooms.
For more information on inclusionED, head to www.inclusioned.edu.au.This story appeared in the March 2021 edition of LeadershipEd.