Lack of funding blocks development of potential leaders
Peter Clifton, principal of Magpie Primary School, is proud that every student at his school uses an iPad and a laptop in class.
“The engagement of the kids with that technology is just astounding,” he beams.
The students’ competence with IT is a direct result of Peter’s determination to provide training to his staff to develop their own skills using new technologies.
But being based in Ballarat makes accessing relevant professional development (PD) a challenge. The majority of PD opportunities are in Melbourne and are often too expensive or too far away for his staff to attend.
Earlier this year, Peter planned to send four teachers to a leadership conference in Melbourne, however it would have cost him an “exorbitant” $3,000, once costs for transport, registration and CRTs were factored in. This was simply money the school did not have.
Much to the disappointment of his staff, Peter had to cancel their attendance.
“I have teachers who have the drive and potential to develop as leaders,” Peter says. “They’ve been disappointed.”
Instead, to fulfil their PD obligations, they attended a locally run session on curriculum that was far less relevant to their needs than the Melbourne-based leadership course.
Peter has seen the direct flow-on effects of investing in staff PD. It is evident every time he enters a classroom and sees students engaged with new technologies, only made possible because of the investment in developing the skill set of his teachers and support staff.
He wants the Government to invest in running relevant PD for staff in regional locations and to allocate specific funding for PD – as was previously the case – rather than forcing principals to take it out of their already stretched budgets.
“We want teachers and support staff to be professionals, yet we’re a step short of providing them with the support and respect professionals deserve,” Peter says.
“Where are the opportunities for the leaders of the future?”
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