As the new year begins I would firstly like to acknowledge Ron Bamford as the outgoing President and thank him for his leadership as President for the last 3 years of the Australian Principals Federation. Ron has been instrumental in ensuring an unwavering commitment to continuing to champion the need for an active and robust organisation that can present Principal class interests. It is immediately apparently that Ron has had the benefit of a very good team around him and I look forward to working with them in my tenure as President.
Life in schools continues to be challenged by bottom line fiscal challenges linked with economic, industry and societal trends, the latter giving rise to numerous challenges causing significant pressures on individuals leading schools. This is something that only an industrial organisation can bring to the negotiating table to demand attention and action for incorporation into an agreement for remuneration or recognition. Together, with the industrial organisations representing Principals, and in working with the various professional Associations, I hope to build our common strength and raise the profile of school leaders across Australia.
The recent Australian Principal Survey completed by Professor Phil Riley has delivered some sobering news, highlighting an increase in bullying on Principals, threats of violence and incidents of actual violence. It is clear we need a national response to this and it needs to be front and centre of discussions in delivering some action and protection for the Principal class.
Principals need to continue to develop strong and healthy alliances with their communities and focus on building a strong network amongst colleagues and their professional associations. More than ever before, a sense of connection and trust is imperative for a leader to be able to cope with the complexities and challenges of daily life as a school leader. To be a resilient, confident and robust leader, you need to be able to draw upon a range of support mechanisms. First and foremost is connection with trusted colleagues where you can share and seek ideas and advice without fear or favour. In being a strong leader who can offer the best to your students, staff and greater school community, first you must look after your own back yard, have a good sense of work – life balance and be able to draw upon others when needed. So, develop those networks, and if you find this a challenge, link to your professional associations and they will support you in developing your own trusted network of colleagues that just may keep you sane a little longer.
At a forum at the end of last year, the APF in WA and Victoria, and supported by the SA State School Leaders’ Association decided to develop a way to influence national education policy. The way forward is in social media as it already has a positive track record in influencing governments around the world. This year we will release quality research based propositions on topics such as school governance or Principal workload and stress, and start social media campaigns within the Principal Class across the country. This is a new way of operating for many of us and may take some time to get started but the prospects are tantalising. If we can influence government policy and not just react to government decisions then the APF will truly realise its potential.
The APF as the federal industrial body for Principals is continuing to grow. I hope all members continue to support the great organisations that are emerging for Principal Class employees across the country.
President Australian Principals Federation