Project lead: Catholic Education Western Australia
Project funding: $45,400 Round 3 2014
In 2015, out of a total of approximately 5,500 teachers, Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) had 31 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers, none of whom was in the position of principal, deputy principal or assistant principal. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander School Leadership Pilot Project (ASLP) was a response to these statistics, and to the fact that very few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers applied for leadership roles.
Under the ASLP which ran from June 2014 to July 2015, 15 teachers were invited to participate and ten accepted. Activities under the program included:
- Support in assuming whole school responsibilities
- Mentoring and executive shadowing
- Four two-day learning modules
- Enrolment in a Masters Degree
- Personal capacity building including cultural reflection.
By July 2015, eight of the ten participants had commenced a Masters Degree at the University of Notre Dame. All participants planned and implemented at least one problem based learning project with a whole school or part school responsibility.
Participants’ principals were supportive, despite the program requiring significant time away from their schools. Participants developed between them a collegiality through which they acknowledged their own skills which built their confidence as potential leaders.
Program successes include:
- One participant successful in her application for a Head of Department position in a senior secondary regional school and accepted into CEWA’s Beginning Leaders Program 2015
- One participant successful in her application as Literacy Coordinator in a rural primary school
- One participant successful in her application as Early Childhood Coordinator in a remote community school and accepted into the Emerging Leaders Program 2015
- One participant successful in applying for a Head of Year in a senior secondary regional school.
The project managers reported on the challenges of recruiting participants. Generally, teachers felt they were not ready for the program, despite those who did participate acknowledging their extensive knowledge and skills. These issues demonstrate why leadership development programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers are necessary.
Issues faced by participants from remote locations were great, including large distances, travelling times and infrequent flights. To remedy these challenges, program managers recommended conducting some learning modules in school vacation times.
The program required a great deal of commitment from the program managers, the participant teachers and their principals and school colleagues. The program managers have acknowledged the support from the home schools in ensuring the completion of school based projects.
The intersection between CEWA’s two projects, ASLP and Here to Teach – Pre service and Early Career Teacher Development Program, is enabling continuous engagement and capacity building of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers from early career to leadership, enabling the development of an association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in CEWA schools.
A leadership consultant in the School Improvement Directorate has the responsibility for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers on leadership pathways in their professional learning, using a case management approach.
MATSITI evaluation conclusions
MATSITI funding provided the impetus for CEWA to establish the ASLP. While the allocated MATSITI funding was for five participants, the CEWA provided an additional $40,000 in funding to enable ten participants. The success of the ASLP has resulted in its integration within the range of leadership programs offered by the CEWA. It is planned to conduct the ASLP every two years.
From the conduct of the ASLP pilot, the program managers have identified a range of ways in which the program can be improved and made sustainable. MATSITI has raised the consciousness of staff in CEWA regarding MATSITI objectives, including the need to boost the level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school leaders which will enhance community engagement, improve student outcomes and encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to consider a career in teaching.
The success of this project demonstrates the value of careful planning to achieve a comprehensive leadership program, linking with other programs, supportive principals and continuous evaluation enabling adjustments to the program where and when necessary.
Project contact: Norman Brahim, Aboriginal Scholarships & Cadetships, Catholic Education Western Australia