Framed by the theme ‘Leadership for Improving Learning: Insights from research’, over two days delegates heard from a spattering of high profile speakers, each selected for their unique take on what exceptional school leadership entails. 

EducationHQ was thrilled to cover the two-day event live from the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on August 28 and 29. 

Welcoming attendees, ACER CEO Geoff Masters delivered a rousing reflection on the type of shared visions and commitment to students and staff that highly effective principals champion. 

He spoke of school leaders’ responsibility to "lead the moral purpose" of their school, and to “articulate and champion a compelling vision of a future in which every student’s needs are identified and met and every student is engaged and learning successfully…”

The end goal, according to Masters, is to ensure that “every student is making excellent progress in their learning every year”.

Conceding this notion might seem a “bit utopian”, Masters was quick to justify his stance. 

“A vision is supposed to be utopian, it’s supposed to be ambitious,” he told delegates.

Masters defined the core belief that needs to drive every principal in their work each day. 

“It’s an underpinning belief that every student is capable of achieving high standards” he said, adding that leaders must also be “explicit and consistent in their advocacy of this vision”, willing to take “calculated risks” and a “firm stand” when required.  

It’s not enough for principals to stick true to their own internal visions for a better future, Masters posited.

Communicating goals and aspirations in ways that are “emotionally and intellectually stimulating” is key to rallying support and fostering trust across all levels of the school and its community. 

Essentially, Masters said great principals dedicate themselves to winning the “hearts and minds” of those in their charge, so that all members of staff feel part of the “collective vision” to bring aspirations into fruition. 

With that Masters handed over to Professor Viviane Robinson from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

The inspired learning has begun.