Australian Primary Principals Conference

Agility, Creativity, Legacy was the theme for the 2017 Australian Primary Principals Conference held in Brisbane late last term. I attended and was fortunate enough to be able to network and spend time discussing important educational issues with Principals from every state and territory of Australia. There were around 400 Principals of Private, Independent, Catholic and Government schools in attendance.

The conference ran from Tuesday to Friday where there were several high-profile Key Note Speakers as well as workshop opportunities on a variety of topics. Some of these included:

  • Dr Anthony Muhammad
  • Dr Jason Fox
  • Holly Ransom
  • Allan Parker
  • Joan Baker
  • Dr Stephen Murgatroyd
  • Robyn Moore

Each of the keynotes presented relevant research and theories on where education is and on where they believe it is going. It was particularly pleasing to see that for many of their points we are at the pointy end of planning, programming and implementation. Although the cyber world is continuing to grow, there is nothing like a face to face conversation. As such I spent the morning tea and lunch breaks seeking out Principals from leading, well respected Primary schools across the width and breadth of Australia. As I always do, I went armed with questions, seeking answers for what, why and how schools are doing different things. My specific areas of focus were:

  • Technology
  • Pedagogy – Teaching and Learning
  • What is the latest and greatest at your school
  • Homework
  • Assessment
  • Academic Reporting
  • Streaming
  • Portfolios
  • Positive Education and Well Being

Across the States and Territories there were indeed many similarities and there were also some unique things being trialled. The why question enabled me to sift through what was being done because it was aligned with funding as opposed to being the most effective way. Just as each person I spoke to highlighted that what they did suited their community, I also began to sift through what they were saying and identify what was relevant to us. As we all know, opinions are like haircuts, everyone has one. So as a school community we have also continued to seek out what research is saying. Exploring the works of John Hattie, Dylan William, Carol Dweck, Jo Boaler, Sir Ken Robinson and many other highly respected educational researchers. One of the mantras which these experts espouse is if you don’t like the results you are getting then you need to change what you are doing, if you keep doing the same thing, you are going to end up with the same results. It sounds obvious when you say it often enough. At AISHK our results, when compared to schools in Australia, are usually very good. One example of this were our Year 3 NAPLAN results where over 50% of our students achieved results in the top band in Reading, Spelling, Grammar/Punctuation and Mathematics. This is an outstanding achievement.

However, education is an ever-evolving wheel and it is our responsibility to continue to evaluate what we are doing and seek to improve where we need to. Working internationally can be isolating. Fortunately, our staff understand this and as such we build local and international networks to keep abreast of developments. By attending the APPA conference I strengthened my network and now have an even greater pool to draw from to ensure that AISHK continues to be an exceptional educational institution. Within the Primary Division we have continued to work on the Assessment Portfolios and we welcome your feedback on them. Please email me directly if you have any thoughts on structure, format, purpose etc. Their primary role is to present a snapshot to Parents on their child’s academic growth.

Cameron Reed | Dean of Studies, Primary