Home' Independence : Independence Vol 35 No 2 Oct 2010 Contents 42 Independence Vol 35 No 2 Oct 10
There’s not the same trust in schools
today. Possibly there was over-trust in the
years gone by, where the school would
be right and the child wrong, but now
in the first instance the child is right and
the school has to prove itself. It’s part
of the shift to homo economicus: we are
economic beings and people want value
for fees, so they treat the school a bit like
you might treat a tradesman who didn’t
instal your machine properly. That’s
affected some schools greatly.
relate to people like that, it’s a different
kind of culture that emerges in the school
and which continues among the people
long after they have left the school.
I think much risks being lost when
schools perceive themselves as a corporate
entity, where Heads describe themselves
as a chief executive officer and want all of
the corporate trappings; there follows an
unhelpful separation and stratification. It
is not a good shift.
To lead in building community, you’ve
got to be there, available, down at the
grassroots and not above taking your turn
on a roster or bringing a cake for morning
tea if that’s what everybody’s doing.
Servant leadership starts at this lowly level
of community and pastoral care. I fear that
with the enormous pressure of time on
Heads now they are perhaps less available
to lead in this way than you could do 30
years ago when I began at Tara.
did, are over. I’ve read the average length
of service these days is perhaps about five
years nationally and I see this as partly a
result of the pressures that corporatisation
places on the Head. It’s not necessarily
that the governing body is hostile, it’s
that there is an expectation now that
Heads must be continually proving their
If the Head isn’t proving to be ‘it-and-
a-bit’ there’s a tendency now to move
them on. And some Heads resign because
they are totally exhausted. There is more
accountability to governments, and there
is constant change – curriculum change,
technological change and social change.
On top of that there is fundraising. Most
of us hate that, no one’s a fundraiser by
A school is a very demanding mistress.
That’s not to say it isn’t a loving
relationship, but it is a very demanding
Dr Ruth Shatford AM
AHISA National Chair
John Moody AM
AHISA National Chair
Dr Judith Hancock AM
AHISA National Chair
Dr Ruth Shatford was Principal of
Tara Anglican School for Girls, North
Parramatta, NSW from 1980 to 1999.
There is now much greater accountability
to governments and stakeholders. People
at large see themselves as having much
more moral right, too, to tell Principals
and schools how the job should be done.
I also think there’s been a shift in the
perception of the role of Principal. I
suppose I’m a folksy, hands-on kind of
person. I always had my lunch with the
office staff a little before school lunch.
It gave me an ear to the ground and I
picked up ripples I hadn’t noticed. It freed
me to be available at lunchtime to any
staff or students and enabled me to get to
know people well. There was tremendous
pastoral support among staff for each
other, for students and families. When you
John Moody was Co-Principal of
Pembroke School, Kensington Park, SA
when it formed from the amalgamation
of King’s College and Girton Girls’
School in 1974, until1979. He was
Headmaster of Guildford Grammar
School, Perth, WA from 1979 to1996.
The take up of a corporate model has put
more pressure on Heads. I think we tended
to embrace corporatisation too readily.
One of the things brought in from the
corporate world was the whole concept of
appraisal and key performance indicators.
Once it began, you couldn’t have the
appraisal of staff without the appraisal of
the Head or indeed without the appraisal
of the governing body.
I think the days of Heads who serve for
20 years at the one school, like I almost
Dr Judith Hancock was Headmistress
of Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School
from 1977 to 2001 and Administrator
of Rockhampton Girls Grammar School
from 2002 to 2003.
There has been a shift from the Principal
as head teacher to chief executive officer.
In today’s world the very nature of the
legal responsibilities demanded from
school governing bodies has contributed
There is now much
to governments and
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