The Role of Council
“The New South Wales Secondary Principals’ Council – supporting Principals and Public Education.”
Within the Australian education environment, the New South Wales Secondary Principals’ Council (NSWSPC) is a professional body which represents Principals of government schools and colleges in New South Wales that have secondary school enrolments. These schools include government high schools, colleges, central schools, community schools (K-12) and a range of schools for specific purposes.
The NSWSPC operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education (DoE). This Memorandum identifies the Council’s role as being “to enhance the effectiveness of NSW public school Principals through advocacy, support, professional learning and collegial networks, which in turn will lead to improved learning outcomes for students in NSW public education”.
The Council is actively involved in a wide range of forward-thinking initiatives and representative activities. These focus on:
- improving the effectiveness of Principals and DoE
- providing forums for professional discussion and debate
- representing the views of Principals to the Secretary on key issues, policy and procedures
- coordinating meetings and professional learning activities to assist Principals to be informed and empowered school leaders in learning communities
- effectively participating in local, regional and state level decision making
- providing advice and welfare support for Principals
- producing and distributing information to Principals through the Council’s web site, newsletters, bulletins and other publications
- collaborating with DoE and the NSW Primary Principals’ Association in the preparation and delivery of programs, including school leadership development programs and professional learning opportunities, to meet the needs of Principals
- representing the views of Principals to relevant groups, organisations and stakeholders at local, regional, state, national and international level
- advocating for secondary Principals, public secondary schools and public education in general.
The Council also shares in the ownership of a national journal for Principals called Principal Matters and is involved in the activities of Principals Australia Institute (PAI).
The Council actively supports the work of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP). Through the ICP, the Council has direct links with similar Principals’ representative bodies in many countries across the world.
“Local councils, regional committees, State Assembly, State Executive, reference groups and project teams comprise the key elements of the structure of the NSWSPC.”
Secondary Principals in each of the Council’s ten regions usually form a regional council which acts as the focal point of NSWSPC activities at the regional level. In some regions, however, meetings of principals at the local level will also occur to discuss Council business.
Regional councils play an important role in providing advice and feedback on a wide range of issues, facilitating regional communication, providing forums for professional learning and discussion and providing a professional support network for Principals. Each regional council elects a number of delegates to represent it at State Assembly. In turn, these regional delegates act as a communication channel on behalf of State Assembly and State Executive in discussing major policy issues and other matters at the regional and local level. Regional councils also provide Secondary Principal representatives to various working parties, which in turn leads to enhanced communication and liaison with DoE staff.
State Assembly is the strategic decision-making body of the Council. It meets once each term. State Assembly consists of 40 regional delegates plus the Council Executive, a delegate from NSW central schools, a delegate from schools for specific purposes (SSP), a delegate from the NSW Deputy Principals’ Association and the Council’s nominee to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). Other representatives are invited as appropriate. State Assembly considers a range of issues and policy matters each term, including ratification of Council position papares, reports from State Executive, matters of concern raised by regions and motions for action.
The State Executive consists of the President, three Deputy Presidents, an Honorary Treasurer and ten other members of the Executive elected prior to the Council’s Annual General Meeting. All elected members of the Executive are elected for a two-year term. The President can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.
The NSWSPC Annual Conference is held on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday following the NSW June long weekend (late Term 2) at venues rotated around the State. The conference comprises professional learning, professional discussion and debate, policy development, Council business sessions and the Annual General Meeting.
Professional Learning Days complement the Council’s Annual Conference and regional meetings. These are held in Terms 1, 2 and 4 each year. Each professional learning day reflects the need for specialised professional learning, professional discussion, position development, networking, Principal support and information dissemination.
Reference groups and interest groups, consisting of Principals from a wide variety of educational environments and viewpoints from across the state, have been specially formed within Council to relate to the various portfolios and directorates of DoE or to focus on specific areas of DoE or school operation, or particular areas of educational interest to the Council. These groups consult with officers of the DoE in an advisory and/or advocacy role, and respond to concerns and issues raised by district councils. Reference groups and interest groups are organised into larger teams linked directly to one or more members of the State Executive.
The reference groups currently in operation include: Curriculum 7-10, Curriculum 11-12, Assessment and Reporting, Vocational Education in Schools, Distance Education, Rural Education, Information Technology, Student Welfare, Student Leadership, Special Education and Integration, Aboriginal Education, Leadership, Principal Support, Student Data and Accountability, Staff Efficiency and Conduct, School Saftey and Security, Occupational Health and Safety, Finance and Administration, Legal Services, Asset Management, Staffing and Personnel, Industrial Relations, Institute of Teachers.
The interest groups currently in operation include: Middle Years of Schooling, Gifted and Talented Students, Central Schools, Gender Equity, Multicultural Education, Priority Schools, Selective Schools, Senior Schools and Campuses, Multi-campus Colleges, Sports High Schools, Schools for Specific Purposes and Educational Training Units, International Students, School Cleaning.
Council has a nominee on NESA, which is the state-level statutory body responsible for the development of curriculum K-12 and for the assessment and certification of students at School Certificate (Year 10) and Higher School Certificate (Year 12) levels. This Principal is advised by a range of Council reference groups.
The Council also employs an Executive Officer, a Director of Professional Learning, a Professional Officer and a Website Manager to support the Council’s operations. All are recently retired Principals with wide experience in the Council’s operations.