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2009 Bill Kennedy Medal – Brian Ralph

Brian Ralph embodies the service and commitment to the aspirations and efforts of NSWSPC in a way that honours the purposes of the medal. As the first winner of the medal, Brian would set a standard to which others would aspire. Brian has been a principal since 1992, first at Auburn Girls High School and then, in recent years as NSWSPC Futures Principal and then as a seconded Principal Liaison Officer. He holds Life Membership of NSWSPC and has been a member for the executive of SPC for many years.

It is highly likely that no other person currently involved with the work of the NSWSPC has the depth and breadth of achievement of Brian Ralph. Even the highlights of his work are extensive.

Four highlights exemplify the pivotal roles he has played:

  • The Futures Project and Role of the Principal Projects including the responsibility for the editing and updating of the Futures Paper to be the current platform for policies, a major task undertaken in 2005.
  • Principal Authority & Accountability, where Brian’s “table” outlining the accountability framework for principals underpins both the position and project from an SPC point of view.
  • Negotiating a number of policy positions to be included in new DET programs and practices.
  • Brian worked with Bill Kennedy and Suzette Young in a major redevelopment of the organisation that resulted in changes to our constitution and governance.

Brian Ralph and Bill Kennedy have much in common. Both have a passion for the principalship and have committed a large amount of their lives to doing it well. They have also committed a significant time and personal commitment to the work of NSWSPC. Three examples highlight how Bill’s spirit infuses the work of Brian for our organisation:

  • Brian is a holder of corporate knowledge and history. If he cannot remember the event, the year or the policy he has the filing cabinets and he never minds finding the same document for succeeding generations of SPC executive. Brian always does so with grace and quiet humour at our ignorance. This powerful knowledge provides not only a source of conversation starters with other life members but also prevents NSWSPC from making the same mistake twice. This is a very Bill kind of approach.
  • Brian is expert at negotiating the “sticky” waters of introducing a range of new DET policies into schools. With his eye ever on the work and workload of principals, Brian has protected both the DET and NSWSPC from public folly on more occasions than almost any other member, except for Bill.
  • Brian’s attention to detail, his fluency in communication and his absolute commitment to high quality documents have given NSWSPC a professional face for well over 10 years. He never needs to be the public face; like Bill he prefers to load the gun with powerful ammunition and then he allows others to take the glory for the years of hard work it takes to reform policy in this state.

Like Bill, Brian is persistent, dogged and, at times downright stubborn and, like Bill, he is usually right. There could be no better reason than this for Brian Ralph receiving this prestigious award.

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