Why principals could be going back to school
EXCLUSIVE: A national principals training academy would be established by Labor in government in order to boost the academic performance of our kids, and cultivate better school leaders to address Australia's poor educational performance on the world stage.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek will today unveil the plan as a key centrepiece of the party's education strategy in a speech to the National Press Club.
The academy will cost $30 million over the forward estimates and will focus on advanced leadership, teaching and learning to bring Australian principals up to world standards and give our kids the edge on their learning.
Peak principals associations, along with state and territory governments and academic experts will be involved in the establishment of the academy that will deliver face-to-face training, mentorship and also virtual courses.
Some courses will run for several years, while others will be single-day courses.
Fewer than one in four new principals complete training before they start.
The training will be available to current and aspiring school principals, as well as other school leaders.
Tanya Plibersek said there was an urgent need to identify and train more principals, and support them well due to the majority of school principals being over 50 years old.
"That's what Labor's new National Principals' Academy is all about - giving thousands of Australian principals advanced leadership training and development," Ms Plibersek said.
President of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, Andrew Pierpoint, welcomed the move by Labor and said it was long-needed.
He said more support for principals would lead to better academic outcomes for students.
"If we have a fit and healthy principal workforce we will see increased student performance," Mr Pierpoint told News Corp.
Director of the Gonski Institute for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said there were already a plethora of development resources for principals and that what they needed most was a reduction of their admin tasks.
"It is one of the things that stops people for applying for the job because principals are just swamped with paperwork and admin," Mr Piccoli said.
Associate professor of educational leadership at Monash University, Jane Wilkinson, said Australian school principals were under more stress than ever before. She suggested the government look at having shared leadership roles in schools rather than it being down to one person.
"It seriously needs to be thought about … the old industrial model of a principal being like a CEO just doesn't work."
Executive director of The Parenthood Alys Gagnon said the principals academy would be welcomed by parents.
"Parents know the impact principals have on a school and on our child's learning outcomes. We know that a great principal who is well-trained and supported is critical for a school," Ms Gagnon said.
A UNICEF report card on quality education released in 2017 ranked Australia 39 out of 41 countries.
The Programme for International Student Assessment Countries also has Australia trailing behind countries including New Zealand, Singapore, Estonia and Japan on many indicators.