Home' Independence : Independence Vol 40 No 1 May 2015 Contents VOL 40 NO 1 MAY 2015 INDEPENDENCE 75
leadership team who will help create a
balance across all leadership abilities, and
to adjust your own leadership style when
necessary. For example, according to
Goleman’s six leadership styles I am very
strong in ‘pacesetting’, that is, building
challenging and exciting goals for people,
and in ‘commanding’. I’m great in a
crisis! But I have had to learn to be more
‘affiliative’ in the work place, that is, pay
more attention to people’s emotional
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS One of the most
satisfying highlights of my career was the
opportunity to lead the restructuring of
a school like St Michael's Collegiate, to
create Junior, Middle and Senior Schools,
to actually set up a K-4 campus, a Year
5-8 campus and a Year 9-12 campus. I
relished having to build the buildings, put
leaders in place, have the staff come on
board and win community acceptance.
We ended up with a fabulous learning
environment for girls.
Another highlight was establishing the
EDGE (Enrichment, Differentiation and
Gifted Education) program at Collegiate.
When I first arrived at the school I invited
Karen Morrison of Bialik College in
Victoria to assess the school’s practices in
regard to differentiation. Her report gave
me the leverage to introduce EDGE and
have some teachers trained in programs
for special needs and gifted students.
Each girl had their learning needs
assessed and was given an individual
learning program. It was a cultural
transformation for teachers, and it did
take time, but Collegiate now has an
incredibly strong reputation for catering
for girls individually.
For me, it is all about the learning. To
know you have put in place something
that actually affects the learning and
the outcomes of the students gives a
tremendous sense of achievement.
Better learning for teachers and therefore
better learning for students was the
driver to establish the Collegiate Institute
of Professional Learning, Research and
Innovation in 2012. The Institute has
partnered with the University of Tasmania
so that Collegiate teachers can count
four school-based units of work based
on classroom practice toward a Masters
degree. Teachers thinking about their
practice in an active research way has
helped change the professional culture of
Another thing I value as an achievement is
having the School accredited through the
Council of International Schools process.
We went through that process in 2013-14
and were accredited at the end of 2014.
BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR HEADS NOW
Heads need to be aware that parents
today want reasoned explanations
about decisions that affect their child’s
education, whether it is about using
iPads in Prep or the choice of coaches for
sports. The days of the school knows best
are well and truly gone.
When we analysed our parent body
at Collegiate, we found nearly two
thirds had a university degree and half
of those had post-grad qualifications.
Highly educated Gen X parents have
high expectations and genuinely want
to know about and understand their
child’s education journey. It is important
to remember that when a parent bails
you up at an athletics meet, they are not
having a go at you. They are just seeking
answers and wanting the best for their
child in an intelligent way.
Managing finances is another challenge.
The cost of education is rising at a higher
rate than the Consumer Price Index, and
annual fee increases of six to seven per
cent are not tenable in all environments.
Heads need to be thinking about alternate
income streams, whether it is out of
hours use of the school pool or other
facilities, an early learning centre or some
A third challenge is appraisal and
professional learning of staff. The answer
to whatever you are doing in your school
is the quality of your staff. Keeping staff
aligned with the school’s goals and
direction and ensuring staff members
have the professional learning that
enables that are vital.
Technology is another challenge; it is
becoming more and more important in
everything we do in schools. Keeping up
with technology is expensive, but it is
one of the balls Heads must always have
in the air.
first piece of advice would be to get the
funding right. Funding of schools has to
be equitable and it must be secure, so
that schools can go forward confidently,
knowing they have government support.
The focus on teacher professional growth
that the federal government has pursued
through AITSL (Australian Institute of
Teaching and School Leadership) is very
positive. It is important that this focus is
MOVING ON My resignation from St
Michael’s was announced 12 months
in advance of my leaving. That is not
unusual practice in the independent
sector, but it is one that school Boards
should reconsider. CEOs of companies
in the business sector can move in two
or three months. In my case I was taking
time out to study for a Masters of Business
Administration, but in general the practice
of Heads of independent schools staying
on for six to 12 months while the school
searches for the new Head is restrictive
for those looking for an overseas position
or a job not related to schools. It does not
serve schools or Heads well. If the school
has to get a temporary arrangement while
they find the right person, so be it.
ADVICE TO NEW OR ASPIRING HEADS If you
are a new Principal you need to believe
you got the job because you were chosen.
Self belief is vital; so is an awareness of
the need to keep learning.
At the beginning of my leadership journey
I was warned that I was never going to
please everybody. At those times when
I was making hard decisions or creating
new ways of doing things I was very
aware that I was not pleasing everybody. I
remembered those early words, and they
gave me tremendous encouragement.
Being a Principal is demanding, and if
you are going to do a good job then it
does take over your life. But at the same
time, what could be more joyous than
helping young people achieve fabulous
outcomes. It makes all the work and effort
Robyn Kronenberg FAICD FAIM was a member
of AHISA’s Board from 2010 to 2013. She was a
member of the Board of the Alliance of Girls’
Schools Australasia from 2007 to 2013 and its
National President in 2011-13. She is currently
studying for an Executive Masters of Business
Administration at Bond University, Queensland.
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