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Volume 14 No. 1 Autumn/Winter 2008
Journal of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders
Inspiring educational leaders
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NO 4 May 2008
On the Move
'LO NG MARCH' TO BRISBA NE . In mid April, ten students fr om Trinity Be ach
Stat e Sc hool, and their par ent s, travelle d 1,700 k ilom etres to P arliament
Hou se i n Brisbane to ask t he Queen sland Go vernment to fix a long list of main
tenance problems at the Cair ns school . On e prot esting parent, Niels Munks
gaard, said that the pl umbin g w as in disrep air, the oval was f looded for man y
m ont hs of the year, and that the bu ildings had rus ted support columns . ' T hat 's
no t a cceptable when we, as taxpayers, put huge amoun ts of funds in to the
sc hool sy st em', he said.
GONE MIS SING. F igures recently released by the H ome Off ice in the UK re ve al
that around 2,000 s tudent s were unaccounted for last ye ar, i.e. they should
have stillbeen inschoolbutwere not.Itisbelievedthatmanyofthe'miss
ing' studen ts wer e child br ides, s ent over seas for (poss ibl y forced) ar r an ged
marriages in count ri es such as Pakistan and Yemen. Schools in the UK are
be ing asked to do more t o track studen ts they identify as being at risk of
si multaneously beco ming under a ge br ides, school dr op out s and ve ry young
mot hers (with f ore ign husband s who then seek cit izenship in the UK). The
city of Cardiff has been descr ibed as 'lea ding the way ' by issuing the first
set of paper pr oto co ls rela ti ng to chil d t r aff icking, and placing much great er
empha sis on the role of s choo ls.
LEADERSHIP C HANGE. Education Queensland figu res obtained by the Co urier
Mail sug gest that, of the near ly 600 pr incip al p osi tions adver t ised between
200 5 and 2 007, on e in six b ecame vacant due to retirement. Fifty principa ls,
dep uty p rincipals or head teacher s hav e alread y ret ir ed since the begin ning of
the2008schoolyear.Change atthe schoolleadershiplevel ishighinQueens
land, with gover nment figure s sh owing that ne arly half of all t he p ri ncipal
and senior te acher p osi ti ons have chan ged h ands in t he past three ye ars. A
recent nat ional survey conduct ed by t he Aus t ralian Council for Education al
Res ear ch foun d t hat mor e t han half of Aus t ralia's school principal s ar e aged
prese nce of gir ls i m pro ve s the academic outcomes of all st udents, and warns
par ent s to thin k twice be for e movi ng their childr en t o s ex segre gat ed schools.
'Beingwith more girls isgoodfor everybody'saidtheauthorofthepaper,Pro
fes sor Analia Schloss er. 'We find t hat bot h boys and gi rls do better when th ere
are more gi rl s in the cl ass.' Prof ess or Schloss er's r esearc h was conducted in
mixed gender class roo m s in the primary, middl e an d high sc hool leve ls of th e
Israeli school system. Classrooms with more than 55% gi rl s res ulted in bet t er
SC HOL ARSHIPS F OR SUDA NE SE. Me ntone Girls' Grammar School, in Mel
bourne, i s plannin g t o grant scholarship s, initial ly to two Sudanese re fugees
of primary sc hool age. Thr ough i ts f ounda ti on, the scho ol is raising $120,000
for each st udent, to cover their school fees. The sc hool hope s that the f ir st
Sudane se stu dents will be able to sta r t their educatio n at MGGS withi n t wo
years.Theprimary goal oftheprogramistopromotesocialinclusionandbuild
on the relations hip t he s chool has alre ady dev eloped wit h near by Sud anese
communi ti es.
HOME SCHOOLING RIS E. Th e nu m ber of studen ts registe red f or home sc hool
ing in NSW jumpe d by 15% b etwe en 2006 and 2007. More than 1,630 st u
dents were r egistered for home s choo lin g in 2 007, up f rom 1417 in 2006 and
1419 in 2 005.
LUNC H BOX AUDITS. Year 4 tea cher and environme nta l sc ience studen t,
JuanitaO'Connor, has introducedthe idea oflunch box audits to herclassat
ErskinevillePublicSchool, inNSW.Aone offaudit ofnon recyclablewaste
in l unch boxes developed into a daily ritual, wher e stude nts now bring their
lunch in en viro nmentally fr iendly, r eusable con tainers and co mpost their food
s craps. P arents are also enco urage d to purchase lunch i tems that are wrapped
in cardboard rather tha n pla st ic. The lunch b ox au dits are part of a lar ger
commitme nt t o envi ron ment al sustai nability. The school has also i nstalled a
3 0,0 00 litre un derground wa ter tank, which is made from inter loc king mi lk
cr ate shape d cube s wrapped i n as semi permeable geo textile. Har ve st ed
rainw ater is us ed in t he toile ts, to ir rigat e grass and also to wat er the inner
ci t y s choo l's organic v egetable garden.
V OLUNTEER NE EDED. A grade 4 teacher at Wonthaggi North Primar y Sc hool,
i n c ountry Victor ia, has a stude nt who has just arriv ed f rom Myanma r (f orme r
ly Bur ma) and cannot spe ak , read or w ri te Englis h. Ms Joy M cKaige is seeking
volunteers who c an speak Bu rmese and Englis h to assi st this s tud ent wit h
Eng lish language develop ment and work in other sub jec t s. If you are able to
assist, pleas e contac t Ms McKaige by email at: email@example.com om.au.
Education and the Law
C OMPL AIN T TO OMBUD SMAN. The Hur stbridg e Primar y Scho ol A ction Group
ha s lodge d a complaint with t he Vict orian Ombudsman, claiming t hat the De
partment of Education and Ea rl y Childhood Develo pment (DE ECD) breac hed i ts
o w n guidelines in investigating allegations m ad e against t he s chool's former
principal, Ms Marg aret U'ren. T he all egations , a s reported by the Age, 'are
be lieved to r elate to sta ff bullying a nd ha rassmen t '. A s pokesp erson for t he
parents gro up said that the complai nt ou tl ined conc ern s about the time taken
b y the department to est ablish the nature of the alleg ations, the time t aken to
in for m M s U'ren, an d an alleged breach of its own c onf identiality gu idelines.
What does it do,
what does it look like,
and how might it evolve?
Dr David Gurr
Centre for Organisational Lear ning and Leadership
The University of Melbourne
Fellow and past Vice-President of the
Australian Council for Educational Leaders
ACEL is an active professional a
ociation th t
suppo ts aspiring and current educatio
NO 1 February 2008
Pedagogic Obsolescence: Principals' Role
Dr Neil MacNeill & Dr Rob Cavanagh
Department of Education, Curtin University of Technology
Inthelast50years,the roleofthe schoolprincipalhaschangedfrombeing
that of a teacher, to that of a full time admin istr ato r in mos t lar ge sch ools.
Th is change of role h as been in flue nced in schools b y an ideol ogically driven
phe nomenon t hat i s now known as the int ensificatio n of wor k, arising as a
co nseque nce of go vernme nts' adoption of the prin ciples of New Public Man
agement and Neoliberalism, terme d economic rationalism in Austr ali a (Pus ey,
New Public Management and Accountabalism
The pressur es o f t he New Publi c Managemen t and Neoliberal m arket driven
reform s (Fink, 20 05; Gro nn, 2003a, 20 03b; H ursh, 2007; Moos, 1999; Sach s,
2 003, Wittmann, 200 6) on pr inc ipals' pe rceptions of the ir role s have been
pro found . Hood (as cited in M oos, 1999, p. 44) ide ntified seve n principles of
New Pu bli c Managem ent and t hese include act ive, vi sib le ma nagement; set
goals and tar get s; res ource s lin ke d to perfo rman ce and results; a mo ve to
wards s m aller uni ts o f operation; d ecen tralised budget s; competition; a b usi
ness orie nte d m an agement st yle; and an emphas is on doing more for l ess.
A similar si tua ti on was identi fi ed in A ustralia (B urk e, 1997; Cranst on, 1999 ),
wh ere p ri ncipals became preoccupied with issues of accountabili ty and t hey
were d rawn away from the real p urp ose of schools: teaching and learni ng in
clas sr ooms.
Observing American s ociety and s chools, Weinberger (2007, p. 5 4) decried
t he development of a rabid, insidious ac co unt ability that he call ed accou nta
balism. Ac count ab ali sm is chara cterised b y the belief t hat t her e are just right
and w ron g answe rs , and mistakes can be preven ted by demand ing more de
tai l. He sa id, "(I) t f lourishes where we can measur e results exactly. It spread
t o schools--where i t is e ating o ur young." Gronn (200 3a, 200 3b) identified a
consequence of growing accountabi lity as the in ten sification of w ork , and it
has affe cted the role s of both t each ers and prin cipals .
Cr anston's (19 99, p. 109 ) wor k showed that princ ipals have had a massive
incr ea se in acc ountability an d no n t each ing a dministrat ive tasks; and as a
result the y have: les s int eract ion with t each ers, les s di rect involv eme nt in
day to da y cur ri culum mat ters, less c lass roo m i nv olvemen t (vis itations ) and
less i nte raction with stu dents.
The problem f or principal s is that the encroac hing adminis trat ive c omponent
of t he ir jobs and stereotyp ica l expecta tions, accompanied by a ra ft of per sona l
and pro fession al expect ations are re enforcing the drive toward pedag ogic
obsolescence. Sin ce pr incip als ' time is f ini te, they constantly have to juggle
a r ange of confli ctin g demands, and consequ ent ly, as Co t ton (20 0 3, p. 63)
note d: pr in cip als we re "drowning in a sea of admi nis tri via" while also facing
an incr ea se in ti m e spent dealing wi th student behavi our manag eme nt. The
MetL ife (2003, p. 36) examinatio n o f school leadership in the Uni ted States
ranked f inan cia l issue s as the greatest c hallenge for pr in cipals, which su p
porte d the beli ef that m anagerialis t pressur es impac t hea vily on pr incip als in
the c ont emporar y climate. The overt a nd cov ert san ctions for fai lin g to mee t
accoun tab ility expectations can over whelm the desire the prin cip al may hav e
In most juris dict ions, principals s tarted their career s as teachers. Lo der and
Spillane (200 5) r eferred to the growing dis sonance between the pr incip als'
p edagogic an d adminis trat ive le adership ex pectations a s r ole discontinu ity,
which has been a neglected issu e in school le ad ership study. The specific
skills needed in tea chi ng are n ot nec ess arily tr ansfera ble to those needed
by p ri ncipals administering lar ge schools. In all schools, the p ri ncipal's r ole i s
cl ea rl y de fine d and this de finition forms a critical componen t of the pr incip al's
perf ormanc e manage m ent . To a large degree, th e p arameters of th e princi
pal's r ole are defin ed in terms of key are as o f ac count ability, w hich includes
bu dgetar y managem ent, human r esource manage m ent , and studen ts ' lear n
ing outcomes . Budget ary accountability is r egard ed as o f primar y impor t ance
because responsibilityforfailures in thisarea can result inthedismissal and
public humiliation of prin cipals, w hil e it is r are f or a principal to be dismi sse d
be cause th e s tandard of students ' learning i s poor.
W ith th e admin istrative p ress squ ee z ing principals out of teaching, g rowing
a distributed leade rs hip has develop ed an imperative quality in the govern
ance and develo pment of sc hool s. It is in teres ti ng to note tha t all principa ls in
Queensland Catholic hi gh school s a re re quired to teach o ne cl ass a week.
Loder a nd Spillane observed th at th e majori ty of educ ational writer s no lon ger
se e any cont inuity b etwe en th e teac hing and principal ro le.
Questioning the Power of One
In s chools across t he world , principals ar e r equired to g ive attent ion to bot h
inst ruction al an d no n instr uc tional t asks, and the balanc ing of t he administra
ti ve role with the c urriculum/ ins truction al role i s one of t he greate st ch al
lenge s o f the principals hip. Murph y and Hallinger (1992) que st ioned th e notion
of bal ancing, and considered that it was impos sib le for on e p erson to gi ve
adequate attentiontobothroles.As a result,theysuggestedthe needfor
empowerin g others to ass ume and exerci se leader ship role s. Moreov er, in
the United St ates, Fink and Res nick (2001, p. 599) observed th at principals
Balancing 'Rich Tasks' and the Disciplines
The dr iver s of cu rriculum change are diver se an d the r esulting progra ms have
co nseque nc es not always foreseen . Int erdisciplinary programs ar e driven
by several desidera ta: the need for s tud ent s to intera ct with a small t eam
of tea chers; broader knowledge frameworks; pr oblem bas ed le arn ing; and
interactive grou p l ea rning. Som e re sista nc e come s f rom te ache rs claiming
t hat discip lines hav e bee n downg rad ed. Cle arly, in terdi sciplinary curric ulum
planne rs need to i nte grate the streng th of the dis cip lin es and e ngage in a
nu anced dialogue w it h the t each ers of those subj ects.
Dr Richard Cotter, Th e U niversity of Mel bourne, Vi ctoria
Email: rcotte firstname.lastname@example.org u
Geography Seeks its Place
A report into th e teaching of geography in A ustralian schools, funded by th e
Aus tralia n Gover nment and undertaken b y E reb us Inter national, f ound that
te ache rs are c once rne d th at content, rigour and sk ills are lost when geog
raph y is absorbed i nto the broader Studi es of Societ y and the Environment
(SOSE) cu rriculum grouping (Age, 8/4/0 8:8 ).
Commissioned by the for mer go vernme nt, the report fo und that when geog
necessar y t raining and enthusiasm f or the subject. Teachers lacki ng a s ound
under standi ng of the c once pts and sk ills of geogr aphy wer e conside red to be
mor e li ke ly to conc ent rate on areas th ey felt comf ortable with , such as his tory
o r cu lt ure, wi th geogr ap hical mate ri al addre sse d superfic iall y.
The la ck of sui tably qualified geog raphy teachers was cited as a contributing
factortoadecline inthe statusofthe subject andthenumber ofsenior stu
dentsselectingit.In manyStates, years810SOSEteachers areexpectedto
tea ch across the disciplines of his tory, geo graphy and e conomics, even th ough
they may have stu died only one of the se subjects at universi t y l ev el.
The report found that the dec lin e in th e numb er of s tudents st udyi ng s enior
school geogr aphy has had an imp act on the number enrolling in terti ary level
ge ogr aphy courses, re sul ti ng in fe w er geography gradua tes entering teach
ing . Profession al associations repre sentin g geography teacher s h ave called
f or an in crease i n the numbers of te achers wit h a s ound knowledge of the
Respondi ng to t he rele ase of t he report, e duca tion mini ster Julia Gillar d in
d ica ted th at the Nationa l Cur ricu lum Board would inclu de geography a s part
of its brief to develop a 'rigorous, world class curri cul um' for all A us tralian
studentsfromkindergartento year12.TheErebusReport includesa mapping
o f the geography component eac h State's SOSE courses and provides a sample
Mr R ob Berry, Past President, Austra lian Geography Teachers' A ssoc iatio n
Em ail: email@example.com
AN E XPANDING BASE O F R ESPONSIBILITY. Scho ols ' increasing resp onsibili
ties for students' heal th and wellbei ng a re dr iven by an ex panding base of re
search, as shownbyour nexttwo contributors.R.Cotter
Are Schools Responsible for Children's Health?
HEA LT HY Deve lopme nt Adel aide recently h eld a t he matic ev ening entitled
'Childr en's Wellbeing : Are We Doing E nough?' The c onsensus was that we
need to do a lot mor e. It is en couraging that interventions targe ted at address
ing ch ildhood obesit y, b y in cr easin g scho ol based physic al act ivi ty progra m s
and creating heal thie r s chool canteens, are on the r ise. F or examples, s ee
Sydney's Eli z abeth M acA r thu r High ( 'Dive in and help', Sunday Mail Brisbane
13/4 /08), the Au st ralian Sports Commiss ion's 'Activ e Af ter School C ommuni
st yle', H sun, 10/ 4/08), Sout h Austra lia's 'E at W ell, Be Active' ini tiative (www.
he al th.sa.gov. au/PE HS/ branche s/ hea lth promo t ion/hp ea t well be ac tive.
ht m) modelled on similar pro gram s in other Status, includin g Q ueensland's
(w w w.eatwellbeactiv e. qld.go v.au /e atwe llbea ctive/ ) and V icto ria's (ww w.
goforyourlife.vic.gov.au/hav/articles.nsf/pracpages/Be _Active _Eat_
Well?open). Th ese i nitiatives can al so b e fou nd overse as, wi th t he UK's ' Eat
Well, Do Well' program (www.hull.ac .uk/ifl res ea rch/finalrepor t .pdf) and
Franc e's EPODE projec t (http://w ww.epode.fr/), which is b eing extended t o
other Eu rop ean coun tries an d is earmarked for S outh Aus tralia.
Man y scho ols are con cerned that healthie r food will cost mo re and i nv olve
more p rep aration t ime. Incre ases in th e cost of fresh foods can be s ee n world
wid e, and the perceiv ed impact on s chool c an teens was voiced by the Seattle
Time s ('I s nutri ti on s till on the school menu? ': h ttp://s eat tletimes.nwsource.
com/). A South Austr alian school, S ea view Down s P r imary Sch ool, has proven
o the r w ise. On it own initiat ive, t he sc hool canteen was trans formed by con
sult ing with children on menu item s and in vo lving them in the process. Due
toincreaseddemand,the canteenwentfrom running at a loss to runningat
a sli ght profit.
T her e is also an ongoing debate as to wh eth er schools are r esponsible f or chil
dren's health and wellbei ng. Cer t ainly, su gges ti ons that scho ols st art includi ng
measurements ofchildren'sBMI on their school report cardmay be taking
things too far ('Scho ol Report', SunM ail, 13 /04/0 8). Many schools argu e tha t
teachers and sc hool curricula are a lr eady o verloa ded. Thi s ope ns up a complex
philosophical debate. Howe ve r, we c an circumvent that debate by arguing
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