Home' Independence : Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 2011 Contents Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 11 31
cross the Pyrenees into Roncesvalles,
following the yellow arrows and scallop
shell signs in the 700+km journey to
Santiago de Compostela.
At ground level and at pedestrian pace,
you see the world differently. Scenery
does not flash by. You live in the present.
No cell phones, no meetings, no reports.
Crops ripen and wildflowers bud then
bloom. Heather grows on the hills.
Windmills provide the power (more than
Don Quixote ever thought possible – and
he came from here). Memories have time
You have time to think about what really
needs to be done in the future – and why
it matters. You have time to reflect on
what you have learnt.
See: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino
de Santiago by John Brierley, www.
In the second half of Term 3 2010, I
undertook a five-week sabbatical – a
period of leave to engage in a leadership
course, visit schools, reflect and rejuvenate.
Although I am not really convinced I was
in need of the latter, the time in the USA
and Canada provided me with time ‘out
of school’ to reflect on what we do at Hale
and how we do it. Probably the greatest
realisation from this aspect of the trip was
that, even with a highly effective leadership
team, Heads need to build into their
schedule time to think, unencumbered by
other issues or interruptions.
I started the trip by attending the
Leadership Development course run by
The Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL)
in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, one
of many courses offered by CCL in their
home base of Colorado and in other parts
of the world. The course is not exclusively
Sin 7: I must justify every day of my
sabbatical to the board
Most Heads try to do too much on
sabbatical – two school visits a day
followed by countless reunions. This
might make for a long report to the
board, but what value does it add to your
ability to lead your school for the next
Keep your report to the board simple.
Most board members will appreciate
your views on pedagogy, learning
curriculum design and management.
But also focus on some of the key
learning you have experienced rather
than provide a comprehensive travel
monologue: what would you like to bring
back to the school to implement over
the next five years? The school board is
right in demanding accountability for
expenditure, but it will also require such
learning from a sabbatical, and have an
expectation that the Head will return
refreshed, relaxed and ready.
Tension between boards and Heads
sometimes surfaces. Boards know this,
and they know also that you are hard
to replace. The education workforce is
ageing and retiring. Few of our senior
staff are aspiring to Headship as they
observe the demands of the task. Pools
of applicants for Headship positions are
shrinking. This means greater pressure on
the board to find a successor at least as
good as you, or hopefully better. Maybe
a Head with a few miles on the clock and
fine-tuned after a sabbatical grease and oil
change is a better bet than the glossy, new,
untested sports car.
Philip Grutzner last took sabbatical while
Headmaster of Braemar College, Vic. He
visited the United States where he undertook
a leadership course at Harvard’s Faculty of
Education and wished he’d been able to take
a leadership course at Columbia University’s
Klingenstein Centre for Independent School
Leadership. He also visited the United Kingdom.
Amid study, school tours and alumni reunions,
he holidayed with his family for one week in a
remote village in rural France, and for another
week in rural Italy.
Some of the most rewarding conferences I
have attended have been those organised
by the International Confederation of
Principals (ICP). As a new Head with a
tight budget, I initially dismissed these
international conferences, assuming they
were out of reach. Later I realised that I
could incorporate them into my sabbatical
leave and pay for them that way.
I have attended two ICP conferences: in
Cape Town (2005) and Auckland (2007).
I missed Singapore (2009) but hope to
attend the next one, in Toronto (August
2011). These are large conferences,
with delegates from, literally, all over
the world. Obviously the numbers
skew towards the host country. There
is a wealth of leading keynote speakers.
The opportunities for networking are
limitless, and I have enjoyed stimulating
conversations with Principals from places
like Iceland and Uganda.
There are also opportunities to visit local
schools, sample the culture, or simply
extend one’s travel horizons.
Taking the ancient pilgrims’ route – the
Camino de Santiago – across northern
Spain is a sabbatical option worth
considering. Start at St Jean-Pied-de-Port
in France (best accessed from Bayonne),
Head of School, The
Glennie School, Qld
Dr Jillian de Araugo
Chilton Saint James
LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT
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