Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Appendix: Acronyms, Terminology, Programs and Historical Note

Wherever possible, acronyms have been spelled out in stories. Mostly the extended title is enough to explain its use. Because the names of government departments and some organisations change over time, readers may find a lack of continuity in acronyms for what appears to be the same organisation.  Without offering a complete history of name changes, we offer the following explanations.

 SAITthe South Australian Institute of Teachers became the Australian Education Union (AEU) South Australian Branch in 1993.  SAIT had been formed in 1951 from the South Australian Public Teachers’ Union and the South Australian Women Teachers’ Guild.

Education Department
The South Australian Education Department, like other government departments, changes name as governments change the combination of government departments reporting to a particular Minister. At various times it has held names such as the Department of/for Education, the Department of/for Education and Training, the Department of/for Education, Training and Employment, the Department of/for Education and Children’s Services. While these changes impact on schools through, for example, policies to incorporate child-care centres in schools, or programs for transition to vocational training, for the most part school principals communicate with a core school education section of the Department of their time whatever the name. For this reason, Education Department has been used as a shorthand in most stories.

Family Services
The Ministry responsible for family services changes from government to government in a similar way to that of Education. At various times the department responsible for matters like Child Protection, Adoption, Child Care, Child Welfare and Childhood Support Services has been known as Family and Youth Services, Family Services, Community Services, Family and Community Services, Families SA and has often been located within the Health Department. No attempt has been made to use a generic term in these stories.

South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) is the certificate awarded at the end of Year 12 to students who meet the requirements agreed by government and tertiary institutions. It is overseen by a Board (SACE Board). Prior to the SACE, the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australian (SSABSA) oversaw the SSABSA certificate which was heavily geared toward University entrance rather than entrance to a wider range of pathways.

The first computer-based programs used in South Australian schools were educational programs, mostly operating on Apple computers. Systems were soon developed for the administration of schools and school libraries. At this time, Information Technology, or IT, was a commonly used term. However, the term was quickly overtaken by ICT – Information and Communication Technology, as educators realised the potential of the technology for creation of knowledge rather than storage of data. It is, of course, now widely used for both purposes.

SRCs – Student Representative Councils are usually made up of elected representatives of year groupings in schools and meet to discuss a wide range of school matters raised by students and others in the school.  While there is no legislative requirement for South Australian Schools to have an SRC, today they are found in most schools, both primary and secondary.

VET – Vocational Education and Training.  Models for tertiary training have evolved rapidly in South Australia over the last decades. From apprenticeships where all training was supervised by Master Tradespeople to apprentices, to combinations of on-the-job apprenticeships and TAFE (Tertiary and Further Education) course attendance, to outsourced training in Registered Training Organisations(RTOs). Standards are currently set and monitored by the national ASQA (Australian Skills Quality Authority). VET in Schools is a range of programs undertaken by students in the senior years of schooling that count towards a Vocational Education Qualification. They may be undertaken within a school, a local TAFE college or an RTO.

Government Programs
A wide range of Programs, initiated by either the State or Federal Governments (or both) have been in play throughout the timeframe of these stories. The following programs are mentioned in these stories.

Affirmative Action – in the 1980s the South Australian Government introduced, for a limited time, a policy and program of Affirmative Action to ensure a better balance of female to males in leadership positions in secondary schools.  

PEP – the Participation and Equity program was a program introduced by the Federal Government through the Schools Commission in the 1980s with an aim of encouraging and enabling more students to participate in schooling beyond the age of compulsion. Programs were wide-ranging and included the development of a wider range of methods of identifying and assessing student achievement as well as establishing school-community links.

Commonwealth Schools Commission was established in 1972 when Peter Karmel was appointed by the Whitlam Government to chair the Commission and report on the state of schooling in Australia and recommend ways of better supporting (and funding) schools. The Karmel Report recommended significant changes around seven key programs of Commonwealth expenditure:
  1. general recurrent resources,
  2. general buildings,
  3. primary and secondary school libraries,
  4. disadvantaged schools,
  5. special education,
  6. teacher development, and
  7. special projects and innovations.

The Commission remained in place until 1988 to oversee the implementation of such programs as they were funded by successive Federal Governments.

A Pathways Program – providing links with community and industry providers and building on the Participation and Equity work, was supported by the South Australian Government in the 1980s-90s following the Federal government programs.

Partnerships 21 (P21) was a South Australian Government initiative introduced around 2000 to give schools greater control over their resources, including staff.

Leadership Training
From the 1990s governments have focused on school leadership. Successive Federal Governments have funded the AustralianInstitute for Teacher and School Leadership (AITSL) to develop and maintain leadership standards across all Australian Schools.
A number of Leadership Training programs, using those standards, were instituted and funded at both State and Federal levels. The SA Education Department has had programs in place in recent years.

In 1993 the Federal Government funded the establishment of the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council which became Principals Australia in 2008 and the Principals Australia Institute in 2012. Located in Adelaide, this organisation was a major provider of leadership programs for Principals. It announced the resignation of its Board, and change of direction, in 2018.

The following terms used in South Australia may be unfamiliar outside our State or the time of the story.

Area School – a school that caters for students from Reception to Year 12 in a geographical area that is not large enough to sustain a separate high school. Area schools are not large enough to sustain a full range of subject choice for senior students from within their own resources and may call on assistance from the Open Access College to offer subjects for which they cannot provide qualified teaching.

At various stages the South Australian Education Department has used a range of different administrative divisions to support schools.  In the 1980s and 90s there were five or six broad Areas of the State administered by Area Directors. These areas were divided into Districts, each with a District Superintendent to whom school principals reported. Areas also provided a range of support services such as curriculum advice, training and development, disability and behaviour support units. More recently the Area structure has been removed and 35 geographically-based Education Directors provide support and supervision for schools.

Until the 1980s the Education Department appointed Inspectors to visit schools and assess whether a teacher was ready to assume the responsibility of ‘senior teacher’ in a subject field. Inspectors also assessed whether a ‘Senior’ was ready to become a Deputy Principal or a Deputy Principal ready to become a Principal. This system was replaced by a process of job application, partly as a result of  Affirmative Action policies.

The titles of Senior Master/SeniorMistress/ Special Senior were replaced by the term Coordinator. A Special Senior was one with a responsibility that was not simply subject based. It might, for example, be for Social Sciences rather than History or Geography, or it might be for an organisational division, like Middle School.

School Review
In the 1990s the Education Review Unit (ERU) was established to conduct reviews of all schools on a three-year rotation. The review function is now conducted through a Partnership Review process and individual school reviews (External School Reviews) conducted every four years unless identified for a follow up in 12 months.

School Support Staff – any worker who is employed by the school in a non-teaching capacity is part of that school’s support staff. For employment purposes there is a salary structure of School Support Officer (SSO). Staff employed at a regional or state level to provide direct non-teaching support to schools (such as curriculum advisers, social workers, guidance officers) are also referred to as School Support Staff.

Historical Note

Administration of NT education by SA
Until the Northern Territory was granted responsible government, with a Legislative Assembly tor by a Chief Minister in 1978, its education system was managed by South Australia and teachers were able to move between the two systems while retaining continuity of employment and benefits. Some stories tell of principals moving between the two systems.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Pip Burfield's Story

First principalship
Pip's first school as principal was a small mid-North high school, where he had taught as a young teacher 16 years previously.  The school had recently been rebuilt to an open plan design and his seven years open plan experience in the city was an advantage. The principal he succeeded had developed a sophisticated system of students choosing subjects up to six times a year, enabling students a wide choice for a small school.  It was a complex process and a lot of work for the staff, particularly for the deputy. Although he had been a contender for the principal position he was a loyal and effective deputy.

Pip's first tasks were to get to know staff, to get his head around the complexity of the school and to understand how the system of frequent student selection of elective and core subjects worked.  At the same time he needed to get to know the community quickly. In many small towns this is often achieved through sport.  In Pip's case, it was through participation in a local church and many community activities, including stage drama  and musicals. He continued teaching as much as possible to get to know the students and to understand the school culture.

The previous highly respected principal had died unexpectedly the term before. There was still a lot of grief being experienced by members of the school community, so it was important for him to understand where they were coming from and how much they supported the unique and impressive direction of the school. It was important to be a good listener; to listen to students, staff, parents, school council and the local community.

Growing in the job
His next school was a city one in transition from a rapidly shrinking high school for adolescents to a rapidly growing school for adults.  He was familiar with schools and communities in the area, but the changes occurring in this school were quite dramatic.  The previous principal, with strong staff agreement, had set up supportive structures for re-entry students.  Further structures were required to manage the transition with due care to the sensitivities of the community.  Listening became even more important than it had been in previous schools.He had to understand the interests and aspirations of the different groups in order to make decisions.  

At the same time a major community change saw all schools in the area become  campuses within a new overarching College.

These circumstances demanded sensitive leadership as well as a very thick principal hide!

Satisfaction and achievements
The most satisfying part of being a principal, and indeed a teacher, is seeing young  people, through their education, growing up and becoming young adults; seeing them flourish and to see the school working for them. Seeing them go ahead in life was a real thrill, as it still is when he meets former students. He stayed seven years in his first principal position seeing three cohorts through five years of schooling.

Pip is part of a teaching dynasty. His father was a secondary principal and he was one of his  father's students. Pip feels his father was probably a little bit tougher on him than on other students so he couldn’t be accused of favouritism, but it was never a problem for either father or son. Pip taught his own two children and they are now teachers, teaching their own children.

His greatest achievement in his second principal appointment was leading the change from a traditional high school, with diminishing enrolments, to a re-entry school. He had lots of support from departmental officers and also politicians, including the local member who was a Federal Minister. The latter took a keen interest in the school and helped to secure the annual federal funding required to operate the creche. 

Challenging times
Every day in his final principalship he was presented with something new and challenging to deal with.  He got hooked on adrenalin. 

Creating a re-entry school from a traditional high school was challenging for all concerned as it involved staff and students grieving the loss of familiar structures and processes.   

In all the schools there were always members of staff, particularly  senior staff and deputy principals, with whom he could share problems. At times school cleaners and caretakers were great sounding boards. Of course school councils were an essential support for frank feedback.

Some Department staff were very helpful (particularly Area staff)  fellow principals were always very supportive as were particular students and support at home was wonderful.

Advice and Comment
Principals are in a position of potentially great influence, directly impacting on hundreds of people.  Listen to people from all relevant areas before you make big decisions and make sure you take the people with you.

Appendix: Acronyms, Terminology, Programs and Historical Note

  Acronyms Wherever possible, acronyms have been spelled out in stories. Mostly the extended title is enough to explain its...