Coura­geous lead­er­ship

The Vic­to­rian As­so­ci­a­tion of Catholic Pri­mary School Prin­ci­pals Con­fer­ence was held from the 21-24th of March this year.

The Australian Education Reporter - - VACPSP CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS - EMMA DAVIES

THE Vic­to­rian As­so­ci­a­tion of Catholic Pri­mary School Prin­ci­pals (VACPSP) is a pro­fes­sional col­le­gial body that leads ed­u­ca­tional di­a­logue and ini­tia­tives to en­hance Catholic Pri­mary School Prin­ci­pal­ship.

VACPSP ad­vo­cates on be­half of Catholic pri­mary school prin­ci­pals; fo­cuses on col­le­gial­ity sup­port for prin­ci­pals; fosters a di­a­logue with ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties, Gov­ern­ment, par­ents and other ed­u­ca­tional pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions; and sup­ports the en­ter­prise of Catholic pri­mary school­ing.

VACPSP is the re­fer­ring body for is­sues raised by mem­bers, li­aises and ad­vo­cates with all rel­e­vant or­gan­i­sa­tions on be­half of Vic­to­rian Catholic Pri­mary Prin­ci­pals in all pro­fes­sional and op­er­a­tional is­sues that af­fect the day-to-day man­age­ment of their schools.

The As­so­ci­a­tion pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for col­lab­o­ra­tion and pro­fes­sional dis­cus­sion among Catholic Pri­mary School prin­ci­pals and holds reg­u­lar meet­ings across Vic­to­ria with Catholic ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tors and As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers.

The bi­en­nial con­fer­ence is the cor­ner­stone of the work VACPSP does, and of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for Vic­to­rian Catholic Pri­mary School prin­ci­pals to come to­gether to learn and net­work.

This year’s con­fer­ence had at­ten­dees ex­plor­ing the con­fer­ences’ theme of ‘Courage is Key – do the thing you think you can­not do!’; a quote by Eleanor Roo­sevelt.

Catholic Pri­mary School prin­ci­pals in Vic­to­ria are fac­ing chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions ev­ery day with enor­mous work­loads and ex­treme pres­sures.

Prin­ci­pal health and well­be­ing is a ma­jor fo­cus of the VACPSP.

The con­fer­ence brought to­gether a range of ex­perts in their field that had faced ad­ver­sity and found a way through.

Del­e­gates were able to hear method­olo­gies that they could im­ple­ment at their own schools to lift per­for­mance lev­els, change cul­tures, and cre­ate or re­new en­er­getic en­vi­ron­ments.

The ob­jec­tives for the con­fer­ence were to have a se­ries of key note speak­ers pre­sent­ing to all the del­e­gates to­gether. The pre­sen­ta­tions in­cluded adult learn­ing prin­ci­ples of en­gage­ment, shared dis­course, Q&A, vis­ual pre­sen­ta­tions, and strong links to the theme of coura­geous lead­er­ship.

“This year there was a rich­ness in the speak­ers and that [led to] re­ally good pro­fes­sional learn­ing.” VACPSP Pres­i­dent Michael Gray said.

“I think that they all tapped into that do­main of the so­cial-emo­tional, not the tech­ni­cal as­pect of lead­er­ship.

“We did not fo­cus on man­age­ment or the skills of ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship; rather mind­set and courage.”

“Many prin­ci­pals can gain the tech­ni­cal as­pects in many other ways, such as study, on the job train­ing, and sys­tem brief­ings. I think we know these things oth­er­wise we wouldn’t have the jobs we have.

“This year’s con­fer­ence was about the pas­sions and burn­ing de­sires to make a dif­fer­ence that are at the core of in­spir­ing lead­er­ship.”

“I think that some par­tic­i­pants were in


need of hope and some­thing to be­lieve in again af­ter the ef­fects of the past few years and the Royal Com­mis­sion into Child Abuse. “I have had feed­back re­lat­ing to that.

“I think peo­ple went away in­spired and that’s a good thing for their well­be­ing and for their lead­er­ship.”

VACPSP aimed to present au­then­tic, qual­ity and world recog­nised speak­ers with a dy­namic range of world views, new think­ing, and a pos­i­tive mind­set.

Key speak­ers in­cluded ac­claimed Aus­tralian ed­u­ca­tor, speaker and coach Bren­dan Spil­lane, Emer­gent chief ex­ec­u­tive Holly Ran­som, Se­mann & Slat­tery di­rec­tor and founder An­thony Se­mann, and ex­pe­ri­enced ed­u­ca­tor Hugh van Cuylen­burg.

Speak­ers also in­cluded ‘So­cial­prenuer’ Peter Baines; So­cial en­trepreneurs and founders of the Or­ange Sky Laun­dry Nic March­esi and Lu­cas Patch­ett; as well as Gee­long St Mary’s Parish Pri­est Fa­ther Kevin Dil­lon, a fi­nal­ist in the Vic­to­rian Se­nior Aus­tralia of the Year award for his work with sur­vivors of abuse.

“You have to have well ed­u­cated, well in­formed, con­fi­dent lead­ers if you want good schools that are well led,” Mr Gray said.

“The role of prin­ci­pal is vi­tal in a school. It can make or break it” he said. In­ter­na­tional busi­ness and ed­u­ca­tional re­search sup­ports the im­por­tance of lead­er­ship in learn­ing and safety out­comes for stu­dents.”

“Per­sis­tence is the key to success and we need to think in the long term, not the short term with change.

“Catholic prin­ci­pal­ship is pow­er­ful and must al­ways be held as a priv­i­lege.

“We are serv­ing oth­ers and we work in a sacred place.”

On the cards for the next con­fer­ence in 2019 are what Mr Gray con­sid­ers up­com­ing trends in ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing agile hope filled lead­er­ship; aware­ness of the world that stu­dents are en­ter­ing when they leave school­ing; cul­tural di­ver­sity and shift­ing val­ues sys­tems; tech­nol­ogy; so­cial re­la­tion­ships; and en­gag­ing rel­e­vant cur­ricu­lum for young peo­ple.

At­ten­dees at the bi­en­nial con­fer­ence.

Speaker Peter Bains.

Con­fer­ence speaker Hugh van Cuylen­burg.

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