It is hard to capture the depth of impact that having time away from the daily operations of life, devoted to professional reflection, exploration and adventures has on oneself. So in summation, below are but a few highlights of the truly rich professional and personal adventure I have been blessed to have while on sabbatical during Term 1. It truly was experiential learning, something close to Annesley’s heart. As a family, we travelled over 15,000kms across Western Australia’s huge, diverse and inspiring landscape.
Professional Learning – Harvard Business School and International Baccalaureate Organisation
I am a passionate lifelong learner. While on sabbatical I commenced the formative stages of my four month Professional Learning with internationally recognised leadership expert and educator Professor Ethan Bernstein, Associate Professor at the Harvard Business School. I am collaborating with educational leaders from across Australia as we focus on managing human capital within complex organisations and translating global approaches to managing human capital. I also successfully completed further International Baccalaureate Head of School Professional Learning online, collaborating with Heads of School from around the world as we explored and further developed our understanding of leading Schools centred upon giving students a voice in their journey as learners through inquiry based learning.
Education – Connections
I was fortunate to spend quality time with highly regarded educational leaders, leadership teams and diverse learning communities at a range of outstanding schools across Western Australia. Some of my highlights included my time with Belinda Provis and her team at All Saints’ College https://www.allsaints.wa.edu.au/, Anne Dunstan and her team at Guilford Grammar School https://www.ggs.wa.edu.au/, and at Independent Public School Manning Primary School https://www.manningps.wa.edu.au/ourschool.php?id=16 with Hayden Omara and his team. Like Annesley, these three schools are committed to developing students’ Foundational Skills in key curriculum areas such as Numeracy and English, as well as Transversal Skills in their students so they are empowered to make a significant contribution now and into the future.
Business and Community – Connections
I was truly fortunate to spend time with Alicia Curtis and left inspired by the huge impact a life focused on enabling others can have. Alicia is one of Western Australia’s most inspiring social and business entrepreneurs as an award winning speaker, leadership facilitator and community change maker. Alicia has a Masters in Business Leadership and was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame in 2020, named EY’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Western region in 2018, and named in the Westpac and Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence List across Australia in 2014. Alicia also happens to be an Annesley Ambassador https://www.annesley.sa.edu.au/community/annesley-ambassadors/ Find out more about Alicia and her impactful work here: https://alyceum.com.au/alicia-curtis/
Indigenous Australians – Connections
During our exploration of Western Australia’s diverse regions, we were committed to honouring and learning more about Indigenous Australians, in particular their connection with the lands we visited. A true highlight was visiting the Dampier Peninsula, 2.5 hours north of Broome. While at Cygnet Bay, we spent time with Terry Hunter, a Bardi Jawi Man and successful owner and operator of Borrgoron Tours. Terry and his people retain a particularly special relationship with their land and sea on the Dampier Peninsula. We were totally engaged as we learnt from Terry’s in-depth knowledge of bush food, medicine and traditional hunting and fishing practices.
Due to COVID restrictions, we were unable to visit the indigenous communities we had planned, including the One Arm Point Remote Community School, located in the Kimberly Region. I was able to form a connection with the School’s Principal, Mark Batka, and look forward to seeing how this relationship develops. I am eager for Annesley to form a meaningful partnership with One Arm Point Remote Community School.
Thank you to those in the Annesley community that have flagged interest in working with the School to create a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Commencing this important project is high on my agenda. More information on RAPs can be found here: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/reconciliation-action-plans/. If you have skills and interest in supporting this project, please contact me by the end of Week 5.
Environmental – Connections
UNESCO’s World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is located over 1200kms north of Perth. Ningaloo Reef is a remarkable, rich haven for some of the worlds most significant ocean animals. I was truly mesmerised by the 10 metre whale shark that I was able to swim with on the reef. I left this majestic region with a heightened awareness of how we, as humans, continue to have a negative and ongoing impact on our oceans.
The Future of Work
As you know, I am fascinated by ‘the future of work’ and its impact on education and schooling. According to the OECD, ‘the future of work is now. Digitalisation and globalisation have sparked radical shifts in how we live and work. The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has accelerated these beyond anything we could have imagined. These changes raise essential questions about the precarity of our jobs, the support available if we’re unable to work or retire, the skills we need for current and future jobs, the quality of those jobs, and what voice we have in shaping these outcomes.’ During my sabbatical I searched for industries impacted by emerging technologies, in particular, where automation has impacted jobs and business efficiencies. One of the greatest examples I found was in the iron ore mines in the Pilbra region, where we saw RioTinto trucks and trains that are fully autonomous. Learn more about RioTinto’s pioneering work in automation and robotics in mining here: https://www.riotinto.com/en/about/innovation/automation. Spending time at the ‘Super Pit’ gold mine in Kalgoorlie was like visiting another planet. The sheer size of the mining operations here, also drastically changing due to the emergence of automation, is like nothing else I have experienced, anywhere. Emerging technologies have most certainly ‘disrupted’ the mining industry, adding efficiencies whilst creating complications for those employed in this sector.
On my return to Annesley…
I know you’ll agree with me that we are fortunate to have a talented, caring and creative team of professionals working with our children, Annesley’s students. It has been wonderful being in all the school’s learning spaces, reconnecting with students, hearing their excitement as they share their skill development and growth in key areas, seeing our teachers engaging students in meaningful ways and hearing about the current Professional Learning happening, including in Mathematics with Stanford University’s Professor Jo Boaler. Annesley is a vibrant community of learning.
Masterplan and Capital Works
We continue to grow and develop, always focused on what is best for our students. We will shortly share some exciting news with regards to progress in the exploration of the Patchell Building Masterplan and other significant capital works for the School.
AISSA Board Chair
I am humbled to have commenced in my role as Board Chair of the Association of Independent Schools in South Australia (AISSA). It is an honour to represent Annesley and serve in this position as it is elected by fellow leaders from SA’s Independent Schools. As Board Chair, I am enabled to further support the work of independent schools in this state and across Australia.
I’ve loved reconnecting with parents and caregivers in the school yard before and after school. After returning from an exceptionally rich period of personal and professional growth, I can say that Annesley truly is developing skills, strengths and passions to create belonging and impact.