You are on page 1of 68

Support handbook for

first-time principals
Support handbook for first-time principals

Message to newly appointed principals

Congratulations on achieving your appointment as principal. This important role

will require you to utilise the leadership qualities of drive, determination, vision and
refection. How you act, how you feel and what you do will be pivotal in ensuring the
focus in your school is on learning. Teams, not individuals build success. As school
leader you will reach out to others to build teams, create a capacity for continuous
improvement and develop a belief in maximising the potential of your students.

You will continue to learn as you reflect on the strategies and challenges that will
characterise and shape your role as principal. This will allow you to continue to
adapt, change and grow as leader.

The purpose of this booklet is to provide support and answers to some of the questions
you may have in your early days as principal.

I wish you well as you begin this journey of leading and managing a NSW public

Robert Randall
Director, Professional Support and Curriculum

This handbook for first-time principals was developed (1996) and revised (1997) by
Gai McMurtrie, Principal, Copacabana Public School, with support from the
Principals’ Induction Reference Group. It is revised annually by members of the
Educational Leadership Unit. Materials by Don Nordenheimer, Principal, Edmonton
Public School, Alberta, Canada and the NSW Department of Education and Training
are also hereby acknowledged.

© The State of NSW, Department of Education and Training,

Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate, 2003
Revised January 2003
ISBN 07313 8214 5
SCIS number 1118753

Support handbook for first-time principals

Support handbook for first-time principals

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Prior to entry on duty as principal 6

Chapter 2 Staff profile 10

Chapter 3 Student profile 18

Chapter 4 Community profile 20

Chapter 5 School organisation 27

Chapter 6 Policies and planning documents 30

Chapter 7 Grounds, buildings and equipment 36

Chapter 8 Finance 40

Chapter 9 Communication 43

Chapter 10 School culture 48

Chapter 11 District office 51

Chapter 12 Principal’s welfare and development 53

Appendices 56

Reading list 67

Internet sites 68

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 1
Prior to entry on duty as principal
Try to visit your new school before you enter on duty. You’ll learn a lot, especially if you have a
chance to meet the outgoing principal.
Site visit
Good luck in your new job:
* Congratulations!
* Keep healthy!
* Enjoy your new role!
On your visit to the school you should consider the following topics for discussion
with the outgoing principal or relieving/acting principal if possible. If this person is
not available then consider discussing the issues with the District Superintendent.
• Any contentious issues such as industrial issues, unresolved conflicts,
properties issues, student issues and issues related to staff (e.g. efficiency).
• Ongoing planning issues.
• Financial considerations.
• Priorities for the year.
• Introduction to parent organisation president and school council
Access to documents
The following documents could help you become familiar with your new school.
At some stage request the following:

Document Found (Yes/No)

School management plan (last year)

School management plan (current year)

Student/family list from OASIS

Staff list OASIS Report 241

Staffing entitlement

Faculty variation (secondary/central schools only)

Maps/plan of school/map indicating school zone

Support handbook for first-time principals

Document Found Yes/No

Budget (last year)

Budget (current year)

Annual financial statement (last year)

Staff handbook

Parent handbook (school information)

Annual report (last year)

Anticipated organisational return (current update)

Sample of school newsletters

Achievement test results, e.g. BST, ELLA SC, HSC

Specific focus programs, e.g. CAP, PSPF

Don’t panic as not all schools will have these documents. Look for some of these documents under
a different name.

School governance information

The following information about school and community leaders will be very useful
as you become familiar with your new school.

P&C office bearers Names/contacts

School council Names/contacts

office bearers

School captains Names

SRC office bearers Names

Support handbook for first-time principals

Starting any new job can be daunting:
* These checklists might help.
* Don’t worry if you don’t find out the answers to all of these questions.
As the incoming principal you will need to attend to the following significant
procedures as part of the handover process.
Procedures Points or actions to consider
Keys Who has them?
Where are they located?
How do you get them?
Where is the key cabinet?
Where is the key register?
Security Is there a security system?
Are any buildings not on the security system?
Who monitors the security system and what is the contact
Where are the alarm panels?
What are the codes?
Who has the code?
Contact security company with your contact name and number.
Contact local police as the new key holder?
Is there a safe? What is the combination?
School accounts What accounts (investments)?
Which branch?
Account numbers?
Get the latest statements if possible
Who are the signatories to the accounts?
Add your signature and remove predecessor’s
Communication Access to vacation mail for HSC results (secondary/central
schools only)
Email address (password to use computer)
Fax/phone numbers of school
Answering machine
School mobile phone number
Staffing Who is your Department of Education and Training staffing
What is their phone/fax number at Blacktown or district
Are there any staff movements pending?
Teacher housing Address, location of keys, telephone number
Water, electricity, gas

Support handbook for first-time principals

Preliminary organisation to start the school year or term

Spend some time planning what information you will share with staff and parents at your first
Meet with executive to plan and/or review the first day.

Contact district office to introduce yourself.

Gather and process information to check staffing allocation.

Getting off to a good start in your new school

• Plan what you will say at the first staff meeting. Consider mentioning your
background, your educational vision and expectations. Present a positive view of
your new role and your early impressions of the school.

• Access your new office and familiarise yourself with the telephone system, the
daily routines and school procedures.

• Meet the senior school assistant and discuss current office procedures and roles.

• Personalise your desk and office to suit the way you like to work.

• Prepare a draft version of your first message to parents for the newsletter.

• Plan how you will introduce yourself to the student body.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 2
Staff profile
Get to know the staff:
* Find a recent staff photo to learn everyone’s name.
* Try to spend recess and lunch breaks with the staff.
Try to spend as much time as possible getting to know the staff at your new school.
Hopefully this checklist may help you interpret your school’s staffing.

Important staffing information

The most important and helpful document to locate is the staffing entitlement. This
will indicate all your staffing entitlements including support staff.

The anticipated student enrolment document is equally as vital to assist with staffing
at the beginning of the year. You will have to consider how you will ensure accurate
student enrolment numbers to complete the actual student enrolment return due in
the first two weeks of the year. These student numbers will affect your staffing

Another helpful document is the OASIS print-out of the staff list which indicates
staff names, contact phone numbers and staff category.

Some other considerations include:

• Staff movements such as transfers. Contact your district’s staffing officer
in State Office, Blacktown.
• Staff on leave/exchange. Consult the school’s leave plan.
• New teaching staff. Consider an executive induction program or
beginning teacher induction program.
• Staffing supplementation (if appropriate) for primary/secondary, flexible
ancillary, whole-school staffing (central schools only).
• Information on secondary staffing variations, procedures for nominated
transfers of teachers and appointment of casual teachers to the supply
casual payroll is contained in Memo 99/358 (S.266) Anticipated Staffing

Support handbook for first-time principals

Types of staffing
In the school you may have some or all of the following staff. Some questions for
your consideration are included with each category of staff.
Support staff
• School administrative support staff. What is the allocation?
• General assistant. What is the allocation?
• School counsellor. What is the procedure for referrals?
School counsellor:
Phone number:
• Home school liaison. Who monitors the class rolls?
Home school liaison officer:

Phone number:
• Support teacher learning. Is there a learning support team?
• Release from face-to-face teacher
• Teacher-librarian
• English as a second language teacher
• Reading recovery teacher
• Community language teacher
• Integration/teachers aides
• Aboriginal education aides
• Itinerant support teachers behaviour, speech, hearing, sight. Are any of
these people located in your school?
Casual teaching staff
• Where is the current contact list of casual teachers. What are their
• What is the policy for engaging casuals? Who contacts casuals?
• Are there any supply casual agreements already made for the coming
year? Contact the Casual salaries section in Blacktown State Office on
131074 for more information.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Part-time staff
• Are there any current or imminent leave arrangements?
• Are any staff permanent part-time? What are the arrangements?
• Are any staff on maternity leave? When are they scheduled to return to
• Are any staff on part-time leave without pay?
Cleaning contractor and staff
• Cleaning specifications. What are the specifications?
• Cleaning contract/arrangements. Who is the cleaner/contractor?
Contact person:
Phone number:
Scripture teachers
• Scripture roster arrangements. Who organises the roster? What are the
supervision arrangements for non-attenders?
• Bus duty staff arrangements. Who organises the bus duty roster?
Bus company contact person:

Phone number:
• Canteen supervisor arrangements
• Parent, school or privately operated canteen?
Canteen contact person:

Phone number:
Other staff
• Paraprofessional staff
• District staff based at school
• Student teachers

Support handbook for first-time principals

Staff with specific responsibilities and roles

Role Contact person

Teachers Federation representative

Teachers Credit Union representative

Industrial relations spokesperson

Anti-racism contact person

Public Service Association representative

Spokeswoman program representative

Computer technology coordinator

Occupational health and safety (OH&S) coordinator

Priority Schools Funding Program (PSFP) coordinator

Training and development coordinator

Support handbook for first-time principals

Roles and responsibilities of all staff

It is useful to clarify everyone’s role in the school early in your principalship. Spend some time
talking with everyone about their role in the school.
You will also need to determine the roles and responsibilities of all staff:
• Executive staff
• Teaching staff
• School administrative support staff
• General assistant see Memo 97/274 for duty statement (26 September
• Teachers’ aide (Special)
• Aboriginal education aides
• Itinerant support teachers.

Get to know the staff

Consider carefully how you will get to know the staff in the first few weeks of your
principalship. Plan your first staff meeting so that it is successful. If possible, contact
a few staff members and meet informally over coffee or lunch before school starts.

Staffing agreement 2002

Is there a vacancy at your school? Does a staff member want a transfer? Is there a
nominated transfer at your new school? Look for a copy of the Department’s staffing
agreement 2002, or contact your district’s staffing team leader on 131075 for more
information. These procedures are effective for the current staffing operation. The
documentation and forms are:
• Promotion and transfer: procedures for teachers booklet
• Merit selection procedures manual
• Application for transfer primary/SSP teacher
• Application for transfer secondary teacher
• Application for executive transfer primary
• Application for executive transfer secondary
• Application for lateral transfer principal.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Staffing formulas (K–6 only)

How do you calculate your school’s staffing? A copy of the primary staffing schedule
is provided below.
Classroom teachers and relief from Part-time teacher librarian
face-to-face (Use K-6 enrolments only) (Use K-6 and student support enrolments)
Enrolment Classroom RFF Enrolment Teacher P/T T/L
teachers value
1-25 1 0.042 1-25 1 0.084 0.084
26-50 2 0.084 26-50 2 0.168 0.084
51-54 2 0.084 51-54 2 0.168 0.168
55-75 3 0.126 55-75 3 0.168 0.168
76-83 3 0.126 76-83 3 0.168 0.200
84-112 4 0.168 84-112 4 0.168 0.200
113-140 5 0.210 113-140 5 0.200 0.200
141-150 6 0.252 141-150 6 0.300 0.200
151-170 6 0.252 151-170 6 0.300 0.400
171+ 7 0.294 171+ 7 0.300 0.400
8 0.336 8 0.300 0.400
based on 9 0.378 based on 9 0.400 0.600
formula: 10 0.420 formula: 10 0.400 0.600
11 0.462 11 0.500 0.600
Kx0.0385 12 0.504 Kx0.0385 12 0.500 0.600
13 0.546 13 0.500 0.800
Y1x0.0357+ 14 0.588 Y1x0.0357 14 0.600 0.800
15 0.630 15 0.600 0.800
Y2x0.0345+ 16 0.672 Y2x0.0345+ 16 0.700 0.800
17 0.756 17 0.700 0.800
Y3-6x0.0333+ 18 0.756 Y3-6x0.0333+ 18 0.800 1.000
19 0.798 19 0.800 1.000
(minimum of 20 0.840 SSx0.0333 20 0.800 1.000
seven teachers) 21 0.882 21 0.900 1.000
22 1.008 (minimum of 22 0.900 1.000
23 1.050 seven teachers) 23 1.000 1.000
24 1.092 24 1.000 1.200
25 1.134 25 1.100 1.200
26 1.176 26 1.100 1.200
27 1.218 27 1.100 1.200
28 1.260 28 1.200 1.200
29 1.302 29 1.200 1.200
30 1.344 30 1.300 1.200
31 1.386 31 1.300 1.400
32 1.428 32 1.300 1.400
33 1.470 33 1.400 1.400
34 1.512 34 1.400 1.400
35 1.554 35 1.500 1.400
36 1.596 36 1.500 1.400
37 1.638 37 1.600 1.400
38 1.680 38 1.600 1.600
39 1.722 39 1.600 1.600
40 1.764 40 1.700 1.600

Support handbook for first-time principals

Management of employee relations

Do you need advice and support in matters relating to efficiency, misconduct and
discipline of staff (except in cases of child sexual assault or improper conduct of a
sexual nature by a staff member against a student)? In the first instance contact the
personnel support officer or staff welfare officer in your district office. Principals
may wish to directly contact the appropriate Staff Efficiency and Conduct Industrial
Officer for their district to seek additional advice and support in managing a particular
matter of concern to them. Officers in the Staff Efficiency and Conduct Unit will
also provide advice about the management of complaints and grievance issues covered
by the proceduces for Responding to suggestions, complaints and allegations and on
conditions of service issues. The contact number for The Staff Efficiency and Conduct
Unit is 9561 8738 or 9561 8265.

Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act

Memo 98/322 (S.258) is a summary of the notification procedures that must be
followed for workplace injuries. A notification form and a sample Register of injuries
in the workplace are in the Appendices.

Teachers handbook
Information related to staff can be located in the Teachers Handbook under the
following headings:
• General Conditions of Employment
• Casual Teachers
• Staff Welfare
• Leave Provisions
• Legal and Professional Responsibilities of Teachers
• Permanent Part-Time Employment
• Salary - Allowances
• Separation from the Service
• Superannuation.
Industrial Relations Services
Industrial Relations Services is comprised of Industrial Awards and Conditions Unit
and the Staff Efficiency and Conduct Unit. The two units report to Mr Paul Irving,
General Manager of Personnel.

Support handbook for first-time principals

If you need advice in matters relating to efficiency, grievance issues, conditions of

service and disciplinary matters Mr Jim Ironside the Manager of the Staff Efficiency
and Conduct Unit may be contacted on 9561 8896.

The Staff Efficiency and Conduct Unit plays a vital role in matters relating to
misconduct including criminal matters. When an allegation of misconduct comes to
your attention, you must notify your District Superintendent. When an allegaion of
misconduct of a sexual nature or an allegation of physical or emotional abuse comes
to your attention, you are required to notify the Child Protection Investigation Unit
or Directorate, DOCS and your District Superintendent, as per the DET child
protection procedures.

Please note that as of 7 May 1999 the NSW Ombudsman has the role of overseeing
and monitoring investigations into allegations of child abuse made against employees
of the Department as outlined in the Ombudsman Amendment (Child Protection and
Community Services) Act 1998. The Ombudsman is required to determine whether
an investigation has been monitored or conducted properly and whether appropriate
action has been taken as a result of the investigation.

The Ombudsman’s Office may decide to undertake its own investigation into the

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 3
Student profile
Get to know the students:
* Visit the classrooms.
* Go to assemblies.
* Spend some time in the playground.
An important document which establishes the student enrolment at your school is
the anticipated enrolment report sent from staffing in Blacktown. This report will
give you numbers only, so you will need to find the answers to the following questions
to discover more about the students at your new school.

Student profile
• Are there any students who identify as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait
• Children with special needs/disabilities. Are there any students with
special needs? Do they receive support within the school? Do children
with learning disabilities receive support? Are any students receiving
integration support?
• Full fee paying students. Are there any full-fee paying students from
• Gifted and talented students. Are there any students who are accelerated
in any subjects?
• New arrivals. Have any students recently arrived in Australia?
• Non-English speaking background (NESB) students. Are there any
NESB students? Do they receive support from an ESL teacher?
• Out of area placement of students. Are any students enrolled from out-
of-area? Where are the boundaries? Where are the maps?
• Have any students been identified as at risk? Talk with the school
counsellor about any confidential issues to do with students and their
• Student lists. If classes have already been formed then class lists can be
obtained through an OASIS report, Roll Class List. Another useful report
is Students in Year.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Finding out about the students through OASIS

• Age grade distribution
You should be able to obtain a print-out from OASIS of the number of
students in the school. This information will give you an overview of
grade/year numbers of students. (See Appendices for a sample copy of an
age grade distribution graph from OASIS.)
• Student/family contact information
You can print out information about each student including emergency
contacts and family information such as family address, parent home
and work phone numbers from OASIS through a report called Emergency
Contacts. This information needs to be regularly updated.
Student enrolment procedures
• Kindergarten or Year 7 enrolment. Who coordinates the Kindergarten
or Year 7 enrolment and orientation procedures? How many new students
are anticipated in the new year? Have they been placed in classes? Have
they completed an orientation to the school?
• Orientation for new enrolments. What is the procedure for new
enrolments? How are the students placed in classes?
• Student record cards. Where are they kept? Who has access?
• Try to meet with the student leaders as soon as possible. Find out their
role in the school.
Student leaders
• School leaders. Who are the captains and prefects? Who are the sporting
captains? What roles and responsibilities do the student leaders perform?
• Student Representative Council (SRC). Is there a Student Representative
Council or a student parliament? Who coordinates this aspect of school
life? What is the role of the SRC in the school? When and where do they
meet? Ask to see the folder A Practical Guide for Student Leaders and
Teachers: Student Representative Councils, sent to schools late in 1998.
This promotes awareness and discussion of student leadership issues.
Contact your district student welfare consultant for additional

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 4
Community profile
You only get one chance at a first impression:
* Listen with both ears.
* Keep an open door.
* Be visible in the community.
Everyone in the community will be keen to meet the “new principal”. It is important
to meet with the key parent and community leaders as soon as possible. You’ll learn
a lot about the community informally “at the school gate” and formally by attending

Getting to know your school

The most common parent/community bodies your school may have are the Parents
& Citizens Association and/or a school council. You recorded the contact details for
these people under School governance information in chapter 1.

As well, you may have other committees operating in your school. These committees
may operate under the auspice of the school, the parent organisation or a community

School-based committees most likely would be:

• finance committee
• curriculum committee
• student welfare committee
• community use of school facilities
• OH&S committee
• training and development committee
• learning support team.
Parent organisation committees most likely would be:
• canteen committee
• fund raising committee
• uniform committee
• safety house program
• before/after hours/vacation care.
Community committees:

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Aboriginal homework centre

• Preschool/playgroup.
Associated issues may include:
• Community use of school facilities. Who uses the school? What is the
standard fee? Where are the agreements kept? Who has the keys?
• Fund raising plan. Is there a fund raising plan?
• Preschool/playgroup. Is there a preschool/playgroup on site?
Contact person:
Phone number:
• Safety house program. Is your school part of the safety house program?
Who coordinates the safety house?
Contact person:
Phone number:
• Before/after hours/vacation care. Is there an onsite care centre?
Contact person:
Phone number:
• Aboriginal homework centre. Who coordinates the homework centre?
What are the hours of operation?
Contact person:
Phone number:

You are ex-officio to any committee in operation in your school, however the
responsibility for the oversight and operation of any parent or community-based
committee rests with the organisation that established them.

Information such as fund raising plans, canteen mark up schedules, etc. should in
the first instance be sought from the organisation responsible for convening the

Support handbook for first-time principals

Getting to know the community

• Sister school arrangements. Is there a sister school?
• Primary and high school links, TAFE links. Does your school share
programs and/or facilities with other schools?
• Feeder area. What is the feeder area for the school? Refer to the zone
map for your school.
• Feeder preschools (K–6 only). What are the main feeder preschools?

Feeder Names/contacts

Feeder Names/contacts

• Feeder high/primary school. What are the main high/primary schools

that students go to/come from?

Feeder Names/contacts

Feeder Names/contacts

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Profile of specialist education facilities. Are there any specialist education

facilities locally such as specialist high schools/universities/TAFE/field
studies centre?

Specialist Names/contacts

Specialist Names/contacts

Other organisations in the community

• Businesses. What are the local businesses? Does the school have any
special relationships with local businesses such as work experience
• Service clubs. What are the local service clubs? Are representatives invited
to school assemblies and special events? Are any school staff members of
services clubs?
• Sponsorships. Do any local businesses/clubs offer sponsorships? What
are the arrangements?
• Community facilities. Does the school use local facilities such as
swimming pools, tennis courts?
• Community groups. Do staff attend community group meetings such
as Landcare, Schoolwatch?
• Chamber of commerce. Is the school a member?
• Local council. Who is the local mayor?

Mayoral office Name/contact

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Members of parliament. Who are the state and Federal members?

Local state Name/contact


Local Federal Name/contact


Working with parent and school community organisations

The P&C and school community organisations are autonomous associations,
established under the Education Reform Act 1990 and operates under a ministerial
approved constitution.
The Act states that P&C associations and school community organisations are
established to:
• promote the interest of the school by bringing parents, citizens, students
and teaching staff into close cooperation
• assist in providing facilities and equipment for the school and promoting
the recreation and welfare of the students at the school
• encourage parent and community participation in curriculum and other
educational issues in schools
• report, when requested by the Minister, on the material requirements of the
school and advise on the subject of maintenance of the school, alterations
and additions to school facilities and the selection of new sites
• assist and cooperate with teaching staff at public functions associated with
the school
• be responsible for the election of parent representatives to any school council
constituted at the school in consultation with the principal of the school
• assist in any other matters in which the Minister may seek the cooperation
of the Association.

Support handbook for first-time principals

These objects and functions are included in the standard and prescribed
constitutions for both incorporated and unincorporated association.
The principal is ex-officio to the P&C or school community organisations
including and any subcommittees.
Ex-officio means “by virtue of the office”. It confers full membership status:
that is, the right to vote, move and second motions and to speak in debate. The
principal is the only member of the association not required to pay a membership
The role of the principal is addressed in the Department of Education and
Training’s February 1998 Memorandum to Principals, The Partnership Between
Schools and Established Parent Bodies.
The P&C and school community organisations are advisory bodies. They may
make suggestions and voice opinions on any matter pertaining to the school.
Their constitutions prohibit them from interfering in the day-to-day
management of the school.
There is, however, no parliamentary privilege, so P&C and school community
organisations should not discuss individual teachers, students, fellow parents
or association members as defamation laws can apply.
P&C and school community organisations have total control of their finances.
The organisations operate their own bank accounts and are responsible for
their own accounting procedures and audit.
Global budgeting is a school process and does not impact on the school parent
organisation’s accounts.
Parent organisations are not obliged to meet school budget estimates. The
voluntary nature of the fund raising activity means that they should best be
described in the global budget as “possible donations” rather than “expected
The principal’s role in the P&C and school community organisations is one of
support, information, explanation, cooperation and authority.
It will grow and become strong if it is based on mutual respect and an
understanding of the different perspective that parents can bring to the schooling
If you are in any doubt or need further information contact the Federation of
P&C Associations NSW on 02 9360 2481.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Useful community information

Fire Name/contact

Police Name/contact

DOCS Name/contact

Doctor Name/contact

Health services Name/contact

and agencies

Neighbourhood Name/contact
and/or rural watch

Emergency services Name/contact

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 5
School organisation
Start with the checklist below:
* Let’s get organised.
* Ask for help.
* What are the procedures in place?
Before we delve into the practicalities of school organisation it is well worth reflecting
on the immortal words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic”. While this document may
not be the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy it does contain vital information for you
as the principal in a new environment.

A quick checklist
You will probably find that the types of organisation listed below have been developed
and put in place by the previous principal. The list that follows is only intended as a
quick checklist. Remember that these items may be found as an individual document
or as parts of a number of other documents.

Organisational documents Tick if found

Plan of the school

Classes, plan of classrooms


Curriculum structure

Period allocations

Staff profile/executive structure

Release from face-to-face teaching rosters

Teacher/class allocation

Special positions, e.g. year patrons

KLA coordinators

School day organisation (bells) start of day, recess, lunch

Yearly calendar/diary

Committees (structure/membership/function)

Technology (what, where, how used, coordinator)

Support handbook for first-time principals

Organisational documents Tick if found

Staff roles and responsibilities statements

Transport bus, train, ferry (contact address/phone number,

passes, duty, policy)

Emergency evacuation procedures

How does your new school deal with the following issues?
Some of these issues may be dealt with by Departmental policies.
Look for more information about policies in Chapter 6.
Schools tend to be highly organised establishments that function effectively through
clearly defined and articulated practices and procedures.
• Administration of • Budgeting
medication to students • Casual teachers
• Absences of staff • Child assault (sexual)
• Absences of students notification
• Accidents to staff • Class rolls and attendance
• Accidents to students • Classroom helpers
• Annual calendar • Committees
• Assemblies • Consultative processes
• Badges • Counsellor referrals
• Banking school funds • Circulation of written
• Benchmarking student materials
progress • Critical incidents
• Behaviour referrals • Departmental returns
• Bicycles • Duty of care
• Book clubs • End of day
• Book week • End of term
• Borrowing school • Enrolment of students
equipment • Equipment register
• Breakages and minor • Equipment repair
repairs (to fixtures)
• Excursions
• Breakages to electrical
equipment • Farewells (Years 6, 10 and
12, staff )

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Formal complaints • School council

• Freedom of information • School committees
• General assistant • School photographs
• Good discipline and • School rules
effective learning • School times
• Goods (ordering and • Scripture
• Staff duties
• House system
• Staff leave
• Illegal entry/breach of
security • Students at risk
• Information day/night • Staff leaving school
• Library
• Student banking
• Lost property
• Student illness
• Mail/fax/Internet
• Student information
• Media in the school
• Student lateness
• Meetings
(administration) • Student record cards
• Meetings • Students with medical
(developmental) conditions
• Meetings (management • Students use of toilets
groups) • Use of telephone and
• Newsletters fax machine
• Parent and Citizens • Written
Association communication
• Performances
• Presentation day/night
• Recording student
• Release from face-to-face
• Reporting to parents
• Responsibility/behaviour
level systems
• Repetition of students

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 6
Policies and planning documents
Look for the planning documents:
* Where are they?
* Find out what is planned for this year.
* Is there a calendar of important dates.
All schools have a range of planning documents plus working papers, background
papers and documents that provide information to assist with planning on a school-
wide basis and a student by student basis. It is imperative that you trace this
documentation as it will provide background to what is happening and what is planned
to happen in your school.

Finding documents through OASIS

Throughout this chapter reference will be made to school generated documents and
policies. It is possible that your school has used the functions within the OASIS
system to keep track of this documentation. If the tracking system within OASIS has
been used then the job of locating relevant documents will be a lot easier. To access
the tracking system, an overview of its operation is provided below.

Log on to OASIS in the normal way, at the initial screen of the OASIS menu select
E1 School Information.

The following options are then available to the user:

G1 Enter Data
Name of Policy


Arrival Date


Action Date

G2 Relevance Search
G3 Circulation Search
G4 Keyword Search
G5 Action Search

Support handbook for first-time principals

Important documents
Can you locate these important documents?

Document Location in this school

Last year’s management plan

This year’s management plan

Last year’s annual financial statement

Last year’s budget

This year’s budget

The school’s strategic plan

BST, SC, HSC, ELLA, SNAP results

Selective schools test results

Student profiles

Student record cards

Student assessment information

Confidential information on students

Details of specific programs, e.g. ESL

Records of student programs, e.g. integration

Last year’s school calendar

This year’s school calendar

Minutes of meetings, e.g. staff, grade, faculty,

curriculum committees

Support handbook for first-time principals

School policies
Where a school policy does not exist then the Departmental policy or State legislation will be the
guiding document.

Documentation in the form of policies will be found in the school. These policies
may be in a number of forms and could be sections of other school documents.
These policies provide the framework of reference for decision making and action
within the school. Policies are a reference for staff and community on the expectations
and actions of the school. Most school policies are based on either departmental
policy or state legislation. The relevant departmental policies or state legislation should
provide the basis for school policy.

Teaching and learning policies

Vital policies and documentation to do with our core responsibility of teaching and
learning will need to be located and read. These policies and documents form the
foundation for all that happens in our classrooms. Listed below are the types of
things you will need to locate.

Policies and documentation Location in this school

KLA policies

KLA scope and sequence information

Teaching programs (past years)

Staff supervision policy and TARS

Assessment and reporting policy

Support handbook for first-time principals

Student welfare policies

All school-based student welfare policies were revised in 1996-1997.
Closely associated with our teaching and learning responsibilities are your
responsibilities for student welfare. The range of student welfare responsibilities is
usually outlined in a student welfare document. You will need to locate a copy of this
document or the individual policies that cover the realm of student welfare. The
following list is an indication of the types of individual policies or sections in a
student welfare document that you will be looking for.

Policies or section Location in this school

Accidents to students

Administration of prescribed medication



Child protection

Code of conduct

Critical incident management


Drug education



Girls and boys at school: gender equity

Good discipline and effective learning



Support handbook for first-time principals

Policies or section Location in this school

Human sexuality

Infectious diseases


Non-violence in school

Peer support

Personal development/self esteem

Playground rules

Playground duties


School rules

Street sense

Student awards

Student representative council/parliament

Student welfare statement



Student support structures

Talented and gifted

Weapons in schools

Support handbook for first-time principals

Registers needed to complete reports

Some departmental policies and state legislation require that data be collected and
stored at the school level and often also require regular reports to be made to
appropriate directorates or district office. It is important that you locate these data
collections and keep them. The following registers fall within this category. Some
sample proformas are supplied for your convenience in the Appendices.

Register Location

Register of suspensions/exclusions/expulsions

Register of injuries in the workplace

Register of receipt of child protection documents

Register of participants in child protection update

Register of formal complaints

Register of first aid training

Register of probibited persons

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 7
Grounds, buildings and equipment
Find out as much as you can about:
* grounds
* buildings
* equipment.
As the principal you will need to have a detailed knowledge of your school and all
that it contains. Try to find the answers to the following questions about the grounds,
buildings and equipment in your new school.

You could begin by becoming familiar with the documents, School Building
Maintenance Guidelines and School Asset Management Guidelines. These contain
information related to grounds, buildings and equipment. Your general assistant
could assist you. Locate the data capture plan for your school. It’s a large document
(approximately 50 cm x 30 cm). This contains specific information about your school.

Buildings and grounds

• Who has the maintenance contract for your area?
• Where are the electrical distribution boards?
• Where are the gas mains or tanks and stop valves?
• Where are the water mains and stop cocks?
• Where are the communications distribution boards?
• Where are the security controls? What are the codes? Who has codes?
Who monitors the systems? What happens if there is a break in?
• Where is the telephone junction box?
• Where are the telephone, fax, data cables located?
• Where are the completed and blank managed claim forms?
• Who is your district properties officer and school service officer. What
are their telephone numbers?
• What is the incidence of vandalism or breach of security?
• Are there any special requirements regarding parts of the school, e.g.
joint funded halls?

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Is the assets register up-to-date?
• When was the last stocktake completed?
• Is there a library stocktake?
• How safe is the playground equipment in the school?
• Is all equipment engraved or clearly marked?
• Where are the warranties and manuals for equipment kept?
• Are there any lease agreements covering equipment?
• How are stores issued to staff members?
• Is there a sound system or public address (PA) system across the school?
• How is the PA used?
• Is there an asset replacement plan?
• Does the school have a mobile phone?
• What is the OASIS password for the principal?
• What is the Internet password and address?
• Where are the backup discs for last year’s annual financial statement
• What arrangements are made for storage of equipment during school
• Where is the equipment loans book? Is it up-to-date?
• Where are the keys? Who has keys? Locate the key register.
School’s responsibilities
The following list identifies the areas of maintenance that are the school’s responsibility.
Other items will be the responsibility of the Contractor or the Department.

Maintenance of these items is not included in the Contract and so must be paid for
from the school’s own funds:
• damage due to vandalism during school hours
• blinds and curtains
• flyscreens
• internal and external signage (statutory signage, e.g. safety labels are
contractor’s responsibility)

Support handbook for first-time principals

• light globes, lamps, tubes and diffusers

• grounds and landscaping including line marking, trees, shrubs, garden
beds, lawns and synthetic turf
• unpaved roads, car parks or footpaths
• windmills
• swimming pools and associated equipment and chemicals
• external gymnasium equipment and playground equipment
• computer systems
• emergency alarms
• fire safety items: blankets, extinguishers, etc.
note: these must be supplied and maintained by government contractors
• chilled water systems
• irrigation systems
• school bell and PA system
• school bell and post
• coat hooks and bag racks
• lockers
• bicycle racks
• footscrapers
• rubbish bins
• noticeboards
• whiteboards
• chalkboard repainting
• murals, sculpture and other artwork
• loose floor coverings, e.g. mats
• bathroom fittings: toilet roll holders, toilet seats, towel rails, towel
dispensers, hand driers, soap holders, soap dispensers, mirrors, water
saving devices, shower roses, shower rail and curtains and any associated
brackets, fixings, etc.
• kitchen fittings: stoves, ovens, hotplates
• antennas and satellite dishes

Support handbook for first-time principals

• electronic scoreboards
• portable or hand-held electrical equipment and wiring to it
• plug-in appliances, e.g. audiovisual equipment
• stage spotlights and lamps
• padlocks
• keys.
These items will be inspected during the Contractor’s annual condition
assessment. If any of the items are in a substandard condition the Contractor
will let you know. They won’t investigate or report on their condition unless
you specifically direct them to do so, and agree to pay for this service.

General exclusions
• sheds and lightweight prefabricated roofed structures which are not shown
on the plans, e.g. covered outdoor learning areas, tools sheds or tractor
note: covered walkways are included in the Contract whether shown on the plans or not
• fabric-covered shade shelters
• shipping containers
• railway carriages
• dental clinics
• day care or preschool buildings
note: DET-operated preschools are included in the Contract
• farm outbuildings, e.g. sheds
• staff residences.
Specific exclusions
The district properties officer will clarify with you whether any of your buildings or
facilities are excluded from the maintenance contract, and if necessary discuss with
you any alternative maintenance arrangements for them.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 8
Find these documents first:
* Last year’s AFS.
* This year’s budget.
* School funding entitlement.
OASIS provides information point to determine the school’s actual income and
expenditure for this financial year. As the principal you are accountable for the day-
to-day managing and monitoring of the school’s financial resources. Try to find the
answers to the following questions about the finances in your new school.

Useful financial documents

Annual financial statement (AFS) from the previous year. How much income was
carried forward to this year? Where are the backup discs kept off site?

Audit reports. When was the last audit completed? Any recommendations for follow-

Budget. Where is it? Schools must have an annual budget showing expected income
and expenditure programs.

Bank account statements. Where is the latest bank statement? What are the collection
and receipting procedures? Who does the banking?

Cash flow budgets. How much income has been received this year? How much has
the school already expended?

Look for a model chart of accounts in the Money Matters Kit. It is very useful.

Chart of accounts. Is the chart of accounts set up for this year?

Cheque book. Who are the signatories for the school account?

Investments. Does your school have any investment accounts? Look at last year’s
AFS for copies of all bank accounts to see if there are any investments.

Minutes of budget/finance meetings. Who is on the budget/finance committee? Has

a budget for this year been approved? When is the next meeting?

School funding entitlement. How much funding will you receive through your school’s
global budget?

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Find the folder Financial Matters and the Money Matters kit. They contain
useful information on all aspects of financial management.
Help through OASIS
The OASIS finance system can generate a variety of reports. The following reports
may help you determine and monitor the school’s finances:
• budget review report
• dissection summary report
• income/expenditure to date: OASIS H1/H2
• chart of accounts
• bank reconciliation report.
Funding for specific focus programs
Does your school receive funding for any of these special focus programs?
• Priority Schools Funding Program (PSFP)
• Country Areas Program (CAP)
• Aboriginal Student Support and Parent Awareness Program (ASSPA)
• Anti-violence program
• Staying on program
• Integration
• Student Assistance Scheme
• Multicultural education program
• Tied grants
• Trust funds.
• Community use insurance. How is it paid? Is it taken out automatically
from your global budget?
• P&C or parent organisation. If it is affiliated with the Federation of
P&C Associations or has paid the kindred association levy? They have
automatic public risk cover of $5mill per activity per claim as a basic
cover. This insurance covers all volunteers working for the parent
organisation or on any endorsed activity whether they are members of
the P&C or not.
• P&C contributions. Has the P&C agreed to purchase or fund raise to
purchase any equipment or resources?

Support handbook for first-time principals

Possible sources of income

• P&C contributions. Has the P&C agreed to purchase or raise funds to
purchase any equipment or resources?
• Donations. Do service clubs or businesses make donations to the school?
• Fund raising. Are any activities planned for this year?
• Sponsorships. Are there fees for advertising in the newsletter?
• Voluntary contributions. Have contribution levels been set for the year?
Have notes been prepared to send home to parents?
• Community use of school facilities. What is the agreed fee?
• Interest from bank accounts.
• Funds generated from education programs such as concerts.
Other financial matters
• Asset control. Is the equipment register up-to-date? Where is the
condemning register? (Remember to include asset replacement in your
• Delegation for expenditure. Who is authorised to spend funds? What is
the limit of expenditure before the principal has to authorise expenditure?
• Obtaining and recording of quotes. Who obtains quotes?
• Petty cash. How much petty cash is kept on the school premises?
• Sales tax exemption.
• Are there any lease agreements?

This chapter is only a starting point. Look for more information in the DET
School Manual on Financial Management or ask the school administration staff.

Don’t be afraid to ask!

Support handbook for first-time principals

Supplementation of global budget

Sample copy of proforma for request for supplementation of Global Budget: Memo
97/215, 15/08/97. Contact School Financial Support Unit on 131072 for more

Support handbook for first-time principals

An annual cycle of financial events

DEC • Complete the rollover

• Generate annual financial statement (AFS) and make appropriate notes
• Final finance meeting. Consider annual report and ratify
draft budget for new year
• Draft budget figures entered into OASIS for new financial year
FEB • Send new contracts to community users of school facilities with thanks
for use during previous year
• Check last year’s AFS and note unpaid goods on order, utility and phone
accounts received during holidays, lease costs and other commitments
due and monies set aside for asset replacement.
• Prepare overview of cash flow for year
• Semester 1 payment of global funds deposited into school account,
check funds, check number of students enrolled
• Complete reconciliation for January
• Present draft budget at P&C/school council meeting. Review dates for
fundraising activities for the year
• Set dates for at least six finance meetings during the year
• Confirm various program budgets with coordinators and discuss approvals
for purchase
MAR Finance Meeting 1 - about 10th of the month to allow for reconciliation of previous
month. At each meeting produce copies of H1 and H2 (expenditure and Income
for financial year) on different colours and adjust as necessary. Print out first page
of AFS, statement of receipts and payments for discussion. File copies of adjusted
H1 and H2 and finance committee minutes for audit
APR Check payment of textbooks, hire of school facilities, excursions and school
contributions at regular intervals throughout the year
MAY Finance Meeting 2
JUNE Finance Meeting 3
JULY Semester 2 payment of global funds deposited into school account. Check amount
and number of students enrolled
AUG Finance Meeting 4
SEPT Begin planning for next year’s school management plan and budget, ideas/
submissions from staff, P&C/school council.
• Discuss and set voluntary school contributions for next year
OCT Finance Meeting 5
NOV • Finance Meeting 6
• Indicative funding advice arrives to help with planning for next year’s
• If possible, minimise cheques and orders for the second half of the month
to simplify rollover
• Prepare for rollover. Check chart of accounts and ensure that all
subdissections are tagged correctly. Print draft AFS and check
• Complete a reconciliation about 20th of the month

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 9
How does your new school communicate with:
• staff
• students
• parents/community?
What kind of impression does your school give to those who work and study there
and to those who visit and phone? Try to find the answers to the following questions
about how your school communicates with staff, students, parents and the wider

Communicating with staff

Staff bulletin. Who coordinates the bulletin? When is it published? How do staff
contribute to the bulletin?

Staff whiteboard. Is there a staff whiteboard for messages and/or diary dates? Who
maintains it?

School newsletter. Who coordinates the newsletter? When is it published? Weekly or

monthly? Who is the editorial supervisor? How is news collected for inclusion? How
is the newsletter distributed?

Staff memos. Who authorises staff memos? How are the memos broadcast?

Staff messages. What is the procedure for conveying messages to staff from phone

Sick leave. Who do staff contact if they are absent from school? How do other staff
know of absent colleagues?

Students leaving school during the day. What is the procedure for informing staff
that students have left school with a family member?

Meetings, e.g. staff, executive, training and development. When and where are
meetings held? How is the agenda formed? Where are minutes of meetings kept?

Communicating with students

Messages. How are messages conveyed to students from parents/guardians?

Use of phone. Do students have access to a phone?

Assemblies. What is the procedure for conveying messages to the whole school? Who
coordinates the assemblies?
Is your school pleasant and welcoming? Is the phone answered promptly and pleasantly?
How does your new school “feel”?

Support handbook for first-time principals

Communicating with parents and community members

P&C and school council. Who attends the meetings? Are minutes regularly published
in the newsletter? Are the meeting dates and times conveyed to all interested parents?
Is there an agenda? Does the principal present a written or verbal report?

School calendar. Is there a school calendar of events/activities? Who coordinates the

calendar? When is it published?

Yearbook/magazine. Does the school publish a yearbook or a magazine?

Parent/teacher/student interviews. When are parent/teacher/student interviews held?

Information evening. Is there an information evening to facilitate working parents

to visit the school and classrooms?

Publicity. Who is the publicity officer?

Media contact. Are press releases regularly sent to local papers? What are the local

Report cards. What is the format of the report cards? Where are they kept? Do
students sign them?

Portfolios. Do teachers keep portfolios for each student with annotated work samples?
How do parents see them? What happens to the portfolios at the end of the year?

Class journals and stories. Do classes make journals of their excursions? Where are
they kept? Do parents read them? Are they published in the newsletter?

Is there a prospectus? Who prepares it? When was it last reviewed? Does it reflect the
school’s current philosophy and teaching practices? Are the contact names and
numbers correct?

School signs. How old are the school signs? Are there adequate signs around the
school for visitors? Is it necessary to have multilingual signs?

Visitor information and reception area. What information is there for visitors who
wait in the foyer? Is the information relevant for casual visitors and new families? Are
visitors who wait for extended periods offered refreshments? Are the noticeboards
kept up-to-date?

Is there a parent helper sign-on book to indicate that they are in the school in case of

Support handbook for first-time principals

Other issues
Principal’s office. Has the office adequate seating for visitors? Is there enough privacy
for interviews?

Phone calls. Who generally answers the phone? What is the greeting? How are phone
calls transferred to the principal? Is there an answering machine for after hours?
What does the answering machine message convey to callers? How are messages
conveyed to staff members?

Faxes. Who clears the fax machine? What is the procedure for sending a fax?

First aid/serious incident. Who is responsible for first aid in the school? Where is the
serious incident plan? Who contacts parents/carers if students are sick or in need of
medical attention? How do staff know that their students have gone home when
sick? Is there a partial attendance record book?

Communication register (record of all outgoing communication). Is there a procedure

for editing/checking communication to parents from staff? Are copies kept of all
written communication?

Requests for typing or photocopying. What is the procedure for having work typed
or photocopied?

Internet/address/password. What is the password for the Internet? Who clears the
email messages? Does the school have a homepage?

Incoming mail. Who processes it? Is incoming mail recorded?

What procedures or protocols are in place for communication between the principal
and the front office?

Confidentiality. What procedures are in place to ensure confidentiality? Are there

guidelines for parent volunteers/student teachers in the classroom?

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 10
School culture
Ask a few students:
• what they like about the school
• what they don’t like about the school
• what they would do if they were principal.
Finding out about the school culture will take some time and a bit of research on
your behalf. If you discover that something is amiss then you will need to boost your
new school’s image. Over the first few months try to find the answers to the following

A starting point
School mission/vision. What is the school mission or vision? Is the school’s mission
statement well known by staff and students?

School management plan. Who gets a copy of the school management plan? Is it
easy to understand? Do staff members know the main goals for the year?

School logo. What is the logo? What is its significance? Who created the logo?

School creed/prayer. Is there a school creed/prayer? When are these spoken?

School song. What is the school song? When is it sung? Do students and staff know
the song? Who wrote the song?

School rules. What are the school rules? Are they visible around the school? Do staff
and students know the rules? What are the consequences for disobeying the rules?

Sporting houses. What are the names of the houses? What do they represent?

School uniform. Do students wear a school uniform? Is there a uniform shop or

clothing pool? Who coordinates the clothing pool or uniform shop?

Documents may offer some clues!

Annual reports. Where is it? Can visitors easily access them? What are the main
achievements of students, staff and the school?

Minutes of meetings, e.g. staff, faculty, P&C, school council. Read some of the
minutes to see how many people attend meetings such as the P&C meetings? What
sort of topics are discussed at meetings? What are some of the contentious issues
recorded in the minutes? Are there many records of absenteeism from staff meetings?

Parent handbook. Is it up-to-date? Is it easy to read with relevant and useful

information? Who organises the printing and circulation?

Support handbook for first-time principals

School prospectus. Is it appealing and well presented? How is it distributed to new

and prospective families? Does it contain address, phone, fax and email contacts?

P&C or school council pamphlet. Are there pamphlets about the main parent bodies
in the school? Do new families have access to this information?

Merit certificates and awards. What is the quality of the merit certificates and awards?
Who presents them to students? Do parents attend the presentation assemblies? Are
students proud of the awards?

What happens in and out of school?

Volunteers. Are there many parent and community volunteers working alongside
teachers in the school, in the canteen, at sport, at the working bees?

Student teachers. Are staff eager to participate in student teacher practicuums and
share their expertise?

Major excursions. What are the major excursions? Are they fully supported by the
staff and community?

Sister schools. Is there a sister school arrangement? How do the sister schools
communicate? Are there interschool visits?

Discipline. Are there excessive numbers of students being sent to the office or placed
on detention for misbehaviour? What is the suspension rate of students?

History of the school

• Past principals. Who were the past principals? Are they invited to special
events if appropriate?
• Serious incidents. Have there been any recent serious incidents? Is follow-
up counselling required?
• Memorials. Are there any staff or student memorial plaques or trees in
the school site?
• Contentious issues. Are there any contentious issues in the school?
• Honour board. Is there an honour board? Is it up-to-date? Are there any
significant past students?
• Gifts to the school from Year 6 or Y12 students. Are there any gifts on
display around the school? Are they clearly labelled? Are they well
• Celebrations such as centenaries. Does the school have any special
celebrations scheduled? How old is the school?
• Archives. Where are the archives kept? Are any archives on display for

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Photos. Are there photo displays around the school? Are any framed?
Who changes the displays?
• Trophies. Is there a display of trophies and/or shields in the school?
Why have they been awarded?
Schools are complex organisations and have their own characteristics.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 11
District office
Your district office:
* Where is it?
* What is the phone number?
* What is the fax number?
A visit to your district office is advisable to meet with the district staff who will be
helping you and your staff for most school matters.

Who works at your district office?

Most district offices have the following staff although there is some variation among

District office staff Staff name and contact details


Office manager

CEO, school improvement

Clerical staff

Properties officer

Personnel support officer

T&D/curriculum coordinator

KLA consultants



Home school liaison officer

Support handbook for first-time principals

Special education consultant

Staff welfare officer

Student welfare consultants

Aboriginal community liaison


Technology adviser


District office staff will be able to advise you about the location of District Special
Education Centres such as the ED/BD units and IM/IO classes.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Chapter 12
Principal’s welfare and development
Take time to adjust to your new role:
* Talk with other principals.
* Take part in the induction program.
* Plan some time to relax.
Because you are both new to the school and new to the role of principal you may feel
quite overwhelmed at times. Adjusting to the new environment, new people and the
new role will take time. Enjoy getting to know your staff, students and the school
community and don’t forget to continue with your own professional development.

Professional development
Induction/orientation program
Try to attend an induction program even if you might feel a bit hesitant about leaving
your new school! You will benefit from the professional contact with other “first-
time” principals.
Professional networks
• Make contact with some of the local principals.
• Maintain your professional networks with the colleagues from your
previous school and district.
• Attend the local principals meetings to become acquainted with new
Professional reading
Plan some time each day to read even if it is a professional journal or 10 minutes
“surfing the net”. Professional reading is part of the role of a principalship.
Conflict resolution
Practise conflict resolution strategies such as listen to understand, negotiate, work
on the positives, attack the problem not the person. Contact your district office for
more information and support.
Professional associations
Join a professional association to help you manage your new and complex role as

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Australian Council for Educational Administration (ACEA)

• Australian Primary Principals’ Association (APPA)
• Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (ASPA)
• Australian Principals’ Associations Professional Development Council
• Australian College of Education (ACE)
• NSW Primary Principals’ Association (PPA)
• NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (SPC).

And don’t forget

Principals’ Council/Association
You can contact the Primary Principals’ Association or the Secondary Principals’
Council for advice, assistance and support. Each district has an executive team to
help you as well as state reference groups to advise on policy matters.
Employee Assistance Program
If you would like to have some professional counselling then a confidential service is
offered free to all teachers through the Employee Assistance Program. The trained
counsellors will assist with any personal or work-related difficulties. More information
is available through the staff welfare officer in each district office.

As a part of a principal welfare package, DET in cooperation with the Secondary

Principals Council and Primary Principals Association have seconded two principals
to support colleagues who may be experiencing difficulties or need advice on work
related issues.
Keep your sense of humour!
Humour will help you cope with the stresses of the new job. Swap stories and anecdotes
with staff, lots of things that happen at school are amusing! And most importantly
manage your time so that you can be with family and friends.

Coping with stress

Although stress is an integral part of daily life, too much stress can be detrimental.
You will need to watch yourself carefully as you settle into your new school. There
are so many new things to learn and people to meet but remember to make time to
relax and be with your family and friends. Look out for some of the symptoms of
stress as they are indicators that you may not be managing everything as you would

Support handbook for first-time principals

You can eliminate or modify some stressors. Try some of these techniques:
• Try to slow down when you eat, talk, walk and even drive!
• Develop good time management skills. Schedule time to walk around
the school. Follow your “to do” list.
• Have your school assistant take phone calls first. Return the calls later or
have an appointment made.
• Use breaks to walk, talk or just sit quietly.
• Focus on the problem, not the person.
• Make time to do something that you really enjoy at least once a week.
• Have favourite posters or photos in your office. Every time you look at
them take a deep breath and relax.
• List three things that you would like to modify then work toward your
• Leave work earlier one afternoon and celebrate your success so far in
your new job.
• Meet with a small group of local principals and talk about some of the
issues that are concerning you at school.
• Attend a principal’s meeting or conference and catch up with your peers.
You will find that you have common concerns and issues. Some of your
problems may even be resolved.
• If you are feeling worried about your ability to manage your new job,
then ring a colleague or friend for support. Talking with someone is an
effective stress management technique but first you have to find a good
listener. So remember to maintain your relationships with family and
friends away from school.

Support handbook for first-time principals

• Sample copy of staffing entitlement
• Sample copy of age grade distribution graph
• Staff bulletin
• Meeting agenda
• Important dates for this year
• Term dates and school vacations 2003
• School development day notification form
• Management of serious incidents
• Serious incident report proforma
• Register of injuries in the workplace

Support handbook for first-time principals

Sample copy of staffing entitlement

Support handbook for first-time principals

Sample copy of age grade distribution graph

Support handbook for first-time principals

Staff bulletin
Term Week Date:





Next week






Support handbook for first-time principals

Meeting agenda

Date: Note taker:


Agenda topics Action


Support handbook for first-time principals

Important dates for this year

• Contact Student Assessment and School Accountability Directorate to
find out dates for basic skills testing, OC placement testing and selective
high school placement testing.

Month Dates Event













Support handbook for first-time principals

Term dates and school vacations 2003

Term 1 Wednesday 29 January 2003 to Friday 11 April 2003 Eastern Division 53 days
Wednesday 5 February 2003 to Friday 11 April 2003 Western Division 48 day
Autumn Vacation Monday 14 April 2003 to Friday 25 April 2003

Term 2 Monday 28 April 2003 to Friday 4 July 2003 49 days

Winter Vacation Monday 7 July 2003 to Friday 18 July 2003

Term 3 Monday 21 July 2003 to Friday 26 September 2003 50 days

Spring Vacation Monday 29 September 2003 to Friday 10 October 2003

Term 4 Monday 13 October 2003 to Friday 19 December 2003 50 days

Summer Vacation Monday 22 December 2003 to Monday 26 January 2004 (Eastern Division)
Monday 22 December 2003 to Monday 2 February 2004 (Western Division)

Number of school days: 202 Eastern Division 196 Western Division

Support handbook for first-time principals

Support handbook for first-time principals

Support handbook for first-time principals

Support handbook for first-time principals

Register of injuries in the workplace

Support handbook for first-time principals

Reading list
Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council. (1994). A
Professional Visits Program for Principals: Guidelines and Advice on Mentoring and
Shadowing Arrangements within Principal Networks. Melbourne: APAPDC.

Beare, H. & Boyd, W. (Eds.) (1993). Restructuring schools. The Falmer Press: London.

Beare, H. (1995). New Patterns in Managing Schools and School Systems. In Evers,
C. & Chapman, J. (Eds.). Educational Administration: An Australian Perspective.
Allen & Unwin: St Leonards.

Beeson, G. W. & Matthews, R. & Baker, J. (1992). Early Professional Concerns of

Beginning Principals. Australian Educational Researcher, 19 (3), pp.29-48.

Beeson, G. & Matthews, R. (1992). Beginning Principals in Australia. In Parkay, F.

& Hall, G. (Eds.). Becoming a Principal: The Challenges of Beginning Leadership.
Allyn & Bacon: London.

Blackmore, J. & Kenway, J. (1993). Gender Matters in Educational Administration

and Policy. The Falmer Press: London.

Brady, L. (1994). Peer Assistance by Shadowing: Professional Development for Principals.

Unicorn, 20(4).

Caldwell, B. J. (1996). Reinventing the Principalship. Paper presented at the Western

Australian Primary Principals Association Conference, June 12th 1996. (Available
on the internet at

Covey, S. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. USA: Simaon & Schuster.

Finger, J. (1993). Managing Your School. No-Nonsense Management Strategies for Today’s
School Leaders. Ferfawn Publications: Queensland.

Hart, A. W. (1993). Principal Succession: Leadership in Schools. State University of

New York: Albany.

Limerick, B. & Lingard, B. (Eds.) (1995). Gender and the Changing Educational
Management: Second Yearbook of Australian Council for Educational Administration.
Hodder Education: Sydney.

McMurtrie, G. A. (1996). The Professional Development of Beginning Principals in

NSW Government Schools. Unpublished paper.

McMurtrie, G. A. (1997). Combating the Traumas of Taking Charge: Pre-entry Support

for Beginning Principals. Leading and Managing 3 (2), pp.81-96.

Support handbook for first-time principals

Misich, T. (1997). Looking to a New Professional Level for Primary Principals. Paper
presented at the National Primary Principals Conference, Sydney, October.

Paine, J., Turner., P., & Pryke, R. (1992) Total Quality in Education. Ashton
Scholastic: Gosford.

Parkay, F. & Hall, G. (Eds.) (1992). Becoming a Principals: The Challenges of

Begainning Leadership. Allyn & Bacon: LondonRidden, P. (1991). Managing
Change in Schools. Ashton Scholastic: Gosford.

Ridden, P. (1991). School Management: Team Approach. Ashton Scholoastic:


Tunica, M. (Ed.) (1995). Leading the Way. MacMillan Education Australia:


Internet sites

American Association of School Administrators -

Australian Association for Research in Education -

Australian Journal of Education -

Australian Principals’ Associations Professional Development Council - http://

Australian Principals Centre -

Board of Studies -

National Association of Elementary School Principals -

National Association of Secondary School Principals -

NSW Department of Education & Training -

NSW Primary Principals’ Association -

NSW Secondary Principals’ Council -

Welcome to ERIC -