Australian experts put educational leadership on world stage

Here at NESLI we are delgihted to be able to announce that we have been chosen to develop and deliver a ground-breaking national teacher leadership program across the United States.

NESLI has a new website!

The National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative has a new website, where we showcase our new development courses and leadership development opportunities.

NESLI’S PROGRAMS RECOGNISED AS PATHWAY TO POSTGRADUATE STUDY FOR SCHOOL LEADERS IN USA​

The National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative (NESLI), a leading provider of leadership and wellbeing courses for those working in the schools sector, has entered into an innovative articulation partnership with Lesley University in the USA.Under the agreement, participants who successfully complete a NESLI American program offering, including the Schools Leadership Colloquium and the Advanced Leadership Program, are eligible for credit towards the Master of Education program offered by Lesley.The recognition arrangement is an exciting development in providing high quality online and blended professional learning for school and school district leaders in North America. Founded in Australia in 2014, NESLI’s focus on applicable learning outcomes and their unique blended learning methodologies has created a new global standard in the development of school leaders. NESLI started offering courses to the North American market in 2015, and has quickly established itself as a preferred supplier of leadership and wellbeing programs to the schools market across the continent.   Lesley is a leading university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, specialising in education, expressive therapies, creative writing, counselling and fine arts programs. The Master of Education program is delivered online and can be individually designed to create a personalised and unique learning experience.The agreement formalises the close working relationship that has developed between Lesley University and NESLI. It builds on similar arrangements that NESLI has with Monash University for articulation of NESLI programs into Monash’s Master of Leadership and Master of Education postgraduate offerings. “The growing demand for NESLI programs in North America, especially in the areas of leadership development for current and aspiring school principals and district superintendents, has generated significant interest from participants in pathways to postgraduate study,” explained Professor Mike Gaffney, NESLI’s Academic Director. “Our agreement brings the strengths of each partner organisation to the table. Lesley has a reputation for providing high quality, customised and individualised postgraduate courses that are ideally suited to the learning design and suite of program offerings provided by NESLI.”   Looking ahead, Professor Gaffney emphasised that the agreement provided “…the basis for further cooperation and collaboration in tackling NESLI’s and Lesley’s shared priorities for inspiring school leadership, quality teaching and engaging learning.” ​

DIRECTOR OF ASSOCIATES, PAUL LARKIN AWARDED DEAN'S AND ACEL AWARDS

NESLI Head of School and Director of Associates, Paul Larkin has just been awarded both the Dean’s and ACEL awards as part of his graduation in the Master of Leadership in Organisational Learning.Paul was awarded the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence from Monash University for his academic excellence, which recognised the fact that Paul was the top graduating student in 2017. Along with getting the highest score in his class throughout the program, Paul was also awarded the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) award, which is presented to the top graduating student across Monash’s leadership courses within the Faculty of Education.Victorian Branch ACEL President Coralee Pratt presented Paul with the awards at a ceremony dinner. Massive congratulations to Paul for his hard work and dedication in achieving such great academic results, matched only by the rave reviews he regularly receives from our clients (both individual and organisational). Connect with Paul on LinkedIn and get in touch with us if you want to find out how Paul can help you and your school in it's approach to leadership.​

ALMOST 1 IN 2 WOMEN TEACHERS EXPERIENCE DISCRIMINATION AT THEIR SCHOOL​

Important survey points to widespread biases, boys club culture and bullying.Almost one in two women teachers in Australian schools have experienced some kind of barrier or discrimination throughout their careers, according to a new survey administered by the National Excellence in School Leadership Initiative (NESLI). The 2018 Australian Schools Gender Survey is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, and points to consistent patterns of severe bias in hiring practices, salaries and professional development plans, a boys club culture in some schools and behavioural prejudices against women leaders within the education sector. When asked ‘As a woman, have you ever experienced barriers or discrimination within a school (can be your current or former school)?’, 46% said yes, 39% said no and 15% were unsure. Respondents were asked to specify what kind of barriers or discrimination they most commonly faced. They reported that women in schools are often undermined in meetings and do not get the same promotional opportunities (especially when of childbearing age), and that women leaders are sometimes seen as weak and ineffective, especially when working in boys schools.  Interestingly, survey respondents reported that these prejudicial behaviours and attitudes don’t only come from within the internal ranks of the school. Parents (particularly fathers) exhibit the same predispositions, whether it’s their preference for speaking with a male member of staff, bullying from male parents on a school council who did not recognise that a women leader was capable of understanding the finances of a school, or just a general perception from parents that women aren't as 'strong' as men and that males are better principals. Dr Janet Smith, Leader of NESLI’s 2018 Year of Women in School Leadership, has said she finds these results extremely disappointing and problematic. She commented that, “It is totally unacceptable that in 2018, nearly half of the women teachers who were surveyed have reported experiencing some form of disadvantage or discrimination because of their gender.”The ‘Education and Training’ sector is officially ‘female-dominated’, with 70.6% of the workforce being women, finds the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Since 1995, this is an increase of 5.2%, when females made up 65.4% of industry employees. However, the picture is much starker when looking at the participation of women in leadership roles – particularly for schools. The Staff in Australia's Schools survey found that 80% and 58.4% of Australia’s primary and secondary school teachers are female respectively, yet only 57.5% and 41.7% of principals in each of those sectors are female. Respondents were also asked what they think would be most helpful or supportive in addressing this issue. The most common sentiments included better support from colleagues, mentoring schemes/arrangements, leadership training and professional development and being offered more opportunities to progress. Other ideas included allowing women to work flexibly in leadership roles and not being penalised for taking maternity leave, identification of institutionalised sexism and gender discrimination and an action plan to remedy, and developing a strong reciprocal network of female trusted leaders. Fortunately, a more positive response was achieved when NESLI asked the survey respondents to rate their current level of personal wellbeing at work. The most common responses were ‘Good’ (46.7%), ‘Fair’ (27.31%) and ‘Excellent’ (20.7%). Only 1 in 20 respondents said that their level of wellbeing was either ‘Poor’ or ‘Very Poor’ (5.29%).    The survey was launched by NESLI as part of their 2018 Year of Women in School Leadership. The 12 month period includes a range of research activities, events and development programs to address the problems highlighted in the 2018 Australian Schools Gender Survey.  The results of the survey will be discussed further at the forthcoming Australian Schools Women’s Leadership Summit in Sydney on 18th April.“The results of this survey have further strengthened NESLI’s commitment to this issue,” Dr Smith said. “We look forward to working with women teachers and school leaders throughout 2018, to support and inspire them and to help reduce the challenges and barriers they face.” ​

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NESLI LEADERS IN ACTION: MERILYN BURTON

Merilyn Burton talks about her career journey and how NESLI helped her on her path to becoming a principal through the Advanced Leadership Program.

Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?

I have been extremely fortunate to have been afforded leadership opportunities early in my teaching career. I worked in western NSW for 4 years, and spent most of that time in relieving roles, receiving invaluable leadership opportunities and professional development. 

I was successful in obtaining a permanent assistant principal role after about 8 years of teaching, with the opportunity to relieve as principal for 6 terms about 10 years ago. The school I work at has significant funding due to socio-economic disadvantage, which enabled me to work in both a teacher mentor and deputy principal role, utilising and building my leadership capabilities.

What were you looking for when you chose to do the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) with NESLI?

I was at a real crossroads in my leadership journey at the end of 2015. I was unsure of which direction I wanted my career to take and felt like I needed a change. I had applied for a few positions with no success, and was starting to question my leadership abilities and career choices. My principal at the time encouraged me to apply for the ALP and I decided to take a chance and applied. 

Just being accepted into the program gave me a real confidence boost and reenergised my leadership and career ambitions.

What are the most important things you learnt doing the ALP?

I learnt a lot about myself, what I valued and the kind of leader I was, as well as the leader I strived to be. Authentic leadership was something I strongly identified with and I thoroughly enjoyed the webinars, giving me an opportunity to talk with a bunch of great women facing similar issues.

I learnt how to silence my inner critic, which I soon realised was something I had always struggled with. I had a great coach, who had travelled a similar career path, and I got a lot out of our coaching sessions via Skype.  Another thing I discovered was that I had lost my ‘sweet spot’. So I examined some of the things within my role that I wasn’t enjoying anymore and channelled my abilities, interests and strengths into other areas. I found this was really helpful, as it gave me greater purpose and fulfilment within my role again. It was something quite simple to do, yet without knowing about it I wouldn’t have changed anything.

How has the ALP helped you in your journey to becoming a principal?

At the end of last year I was successful in gaining the principal position at my existing school. As I had been an assistant principal here for 11 years, I recognised that moving into the  role of principal was going to have some challenges, such as my relationships with staff and how I was going to step up to a new level of leadership. 

As part of my interview process, I had to present what my first staff meeting would look like. Instantly, I knew that the authentic leadership principles was the perfect place to start! I used the analogy ‘from the dance floor to the balcony’ to explain how I was going to achieve this and the feedback I received when I was offered the job was that this blew everyone away and they were extremely impressed.

What is your biggest challenge as a principal? 

Time and paperwork! While I am fortunate enough to have gained a position at my existing school, it has been a very overwhelming year so far. A few new challenges have been thrown my way, including a whole new finance system and the development of a new three year plan. Building the capacity of my executive team is a big focus for me, which will set the scene for the continued growth and success of the school. 

Merilyn Burton is Principal of Pelaw Main Public School in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Merilyn completed the Advanced Leadership Program.

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