Leaders learning from leaders
Since its inception, AHISA’s primary form of support for the professional development of its members is the provision of a broad platform for professional exchange. At Branch meetings and retreats, at our national Biennial Conference and at forums and workshops, members have the opportunity to share their wisdom and expertise and form supportive professional friendships.
Collegial exchange is also fostered virtually via AHISA’s main digital network, HeadNet, which enables members to seek in-time support from Heads nationally or within their own state or territory. In 2019, over 210 requests for information or assistance were sent out on HeadNet, covering a broad ranges of issues, including staffing policies and practices, role descriptions, general school policies and procedures, consultant or provider recommendations, organisational structures and governance.
AHISA’s journal, Independence , is also an important vehicle through which members record and share leading practice in their schools.
A highly valued aspect of AHISA’s work is the targeted support available to members who are new to the principalship or new to the independent sector. The AHISA New Members Conference, held in Canberra in May of each year, provides an intimate and powerful forum for new Heads to meet and discuss the challenges they face, and learn from the experienced Heads who serve on AHISA’s Board and from experts in employment law, communications and education architecture. For many new members, the Conference is where valuable, long-term professional friendships are formed.
New Heads also have the option to participate in AHISA’s mentoring scheme, which links them to a current or former AHISA member.
The first two years of Headship are often identified as a ‘window of vulnerability’ for principals in all sectors. It can also be a period in which new appointees are reluctant to ask the school Board for funds for their professional development. In 2018-19, AHISA tested the feasibility of a no-fee, voluntary Advisor program in which former AHISA members would be available to new members. Following the success of the trial, AHISA is exploring options for extending the program during the 2019-21 biennium.