2020 Annual Report

Logo of AIS ACT

Profile photo of Dr Justin Garrick Chair

A message from the Chair

It is a pleasure to present this, my first Annual Report as Chair of the Association of Independent Schools of the ACT, and to thank all involved in its preparation.

Profile photo of Andrew Wrigley ED

Message From the Executive Director

Throughout 2020, the Association has continued to promote the AISACT mission on the advancement of educational excellence through the promotion of a strong independent sector in the ACT.

The Association

Key Functions

The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT) is the peak body representing the ACT Independent School sector. Our mission is the advancement of educational excellence through the promotion of a strong independent school sector in the ACT.

The AISACT is guided by the following key principles when representing the views of the diverse group of Member Schools:

  • Parents are entitled to exercise choice in selecting the most suitable school and education philosophy for the education of their child(ren).
  • The Association advocates for and represents the issues of the independent school sector.
  • All students, irrespective of where they are educated, are entitled to a high quality education.
  • Governments have a responsibility to provide a suitable level of funding for all students to achieve high quality education outcomes, regardless of where they go to school.

In addition, the Association provides a number of services and professional learning opportunities throughout the year to Member schools. This professional learning covers a diverse range of topics including leadership, curriculum, governance, coaching, wellbeing and student engagement.

AISACT represents and advocates for the interests of all independent schools in the ACT, consulting with governments, statutory authorities, and a wide range of other educational stakeholders.


The Association has 19 Member schools, which are a diverse group of non-government schools serving a range of communities. The schools are of different types, sizes, religious affiliations and educational philosophies and are a vital part of the ACT education system.

All independent schools in the ACT are Members of the AISACT with each independent school being a separate and autonomous not for profit entity with an independent governing body.

While all schools are required to comply with relevant legislation regarding alignment with the Australian Curriculum, individual schools will make choices about the breadth of the curriculum offered and the subject choices provided within their context.

In 2020 Member schools educated 15,138 students with enrolments ranging from 25 to over 2000 students. In 2020 students in Member schools made up 19% of the total student population in the ACT. Enrolment in Canberra’s Independent schools have historically been very strong and has seen a 21% increase in student enrolment over the past 10 years.

The Association also provided its two Associate Member schools from surrounding NSW with support and opportunities in 2020. These schools have been able to access professional learning in addition to other services that the Association offered. They will continue to be a vital part of the Association and its strategic direction.

Governance and Executive Committee & subcommittees

General Meetings

The Association’s General Meeting comprises nominated representatives from each of the 19 Member schools. Each school is able to nominate two representatives, one of whom must be the Principal, and the other must be the Business Manager, or a representative of the School’s governing body.

In addition to the Member school representatives, the AISACT invites its Associate Members to participate in Association activities and meetings.

The Association extends the invitation to be an observer to the Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools (APFACTS). APFACTS is a partner of the Association and plays a pivotal part in supporting the parents.

Executive Committee

The General Meeting membership elects the members to the Executive Committee. Members of the Executive Committee consider the wide range of strategic impacts to the Association, the Association’s best response to those impacts on behalf of Member schools, and the strategic oversight of the services and new initiatives to support Member and Associate Member schools.

AISACT Executive Committee membership details are provided in the Appendix.

Executive Subcommittees

The Executive Committee supported the role of four strategic subcommittees: the Finance Risk and Audit Subcommittee, the Teaching and Learning Subcommittee, the Education Support Subcommittee and the Early Years Learning Subcommittee. All subcommittees provide advice on strategies, opportunities and approaches to the Executive Committee to achieve the Association’s key directions.

AISACT Executive Subcommittee membership details are provided in the Appendix.

Strategic Intent

The Office of AISACT continued to develop and provide Member schools with opportunities and support in line with the AISACT Strategic Intent which was endorsed by the Executive committee to continue in 2020. Member Schools provided the Office with feedback and direction via the AISACT Services and Functions annual survey.


As the representative body for the Independent School sector, the Association represents the sector’s view to Territory and Federal governments on matters of significance and importance in education and in independent schools.

The Association continued to work closely with the ACT Minister for Education and Early Childhood, Ms Yvette Berry MLA, ministerial advisors, and senior officials from the ACT Education Directorate. The Association also worked closely with The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Catholic Education to continue to advance the specific issues relating to Non-Government Schools in the ACT.


The Association, through Principals, Board Members, office staff, and teachers from Member schools, represents the interests of Independent Schools, independent education, and the Association on a wide variety of committees, consultative groups and boards.

National Representation

  • ACARA Curriculum Directors' Group
  • Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Professional Growth Network
  • Association for Learning Environments
  • Independent Schools of Australia (ISA) Board

ACT Representation

ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS)
  • BSSS Board
  • BSSS Curriculum Advisory Group
  • BSSS Accreditation Advisory Group
  • BSSS Vocational Education and Training (VET) Group
  • ACT Cross Sectoral Education Committee
  • ACT Curriculum Implementation Committee (ACIC)
  • ACT Curriculum Advisory Group
  • Communities of Practice (various)
  • ANU Extension
  • NAPLAN Online Project Board
  • NAPLAN Online Cross Sector Working Group
  • STEM Cross Sectorial Advisory Group
Teacher Quality Institute
  • TQI Board
  • TQI Initial Teacher Education Committee (ITEC)
  • TQI Professional Learning Advisory Committee (PLAD)
  • TQI Standards and Professional Practices Committee (SPPC)
  • ACT Animal Ethics Committee
  • ACT Block Grant Authority (BGA) Board
  • ACT Better Schools for Kids Committee
  • ACT BGA Priorities Committees
  • ACT Cross Sectorial COVID 19 Advisory Group
  • NDIS Education and Employment Working Group
  • School Sport ACT Board
  • School Transport Liaison Committee
  • Sector Leaders group (ACT ED, CE, AISACT)
  • AEDC
  • Safe Schools
  • Reportable Conduct (ACT Ombudsman)
  • Senior Practitioners Working Groups
  • Positive Partnerships
  • YAM Schools Working Group (part of ACT Lifespan)
  • Cross Sectoral Collaboration Group- NCCD
  • Lifespan Schools Working Group
  • Standby Advisory Committee
  • Australian Positive Behaviour Support Association

Our Partners

During 2020 the work of AISACT has been supported by a range of partners. We thank and appreciate the ongoing role of our major partner NAB Education which allows the Association to continue to deliver programs and events, and to develop new ones in response to member feedback.

Programs and Initiatives

The Association’s Strategic Intent guides the decisions and work of the Association and articulates the key directions needed to achieve the Association’s goals. The Strategic Intent is supported by a number of operational plans.

This report outlines the key activities of the Association to meet Member School needs and to positively advance the actions designed to achieve the objectives of the School Education Reform Agenda and the Bi-lateral Reform Agreement with the ACT Government

Since 2018, AISACT built and further developed the capacity of Independent schools in the ACT to meet the Australian Government’s school education reform priorities for non-government schools and has continued to build on this work in 2020 despite the challenges that we have all been presented with due to COVID. To this end, AISACT provided a strong supportive range of programs beginning in January 2020 although many were amended and delivered on a Zoom platform and over different periods.

Leadership development, staff and student wellbeing, mental health as well as coaching for school improvement were a focus during 2020. AISACT continued to build on previous work on the quality assurance, moderation and support for the continued improvement of Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability. A focus on leadership development and support was continued with the provision of expert advice from an experienced staff member providing both hotline support and advice and on-site support at individual schools. For the implementation of online delivery of the National Assessment program, AISACT continues to work to ensure that all 19 Member Schools have access to advice and assistance with regard to their readiness for the implementation of the online delivery of the National Assessment program even though NAPLAN did not take place this year.

The priority addressing the improvement of governance and financial management practices in non-government schools saw the provision of a program provided by the Australian Institute of Company Directors available to all member schools Board Directors in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 the focus was very agile, and provided through the ZOOM weekly meeting a session on key principles of crisis management. In addition, a resource document called AISACT Governance Principles for Schools was developed to inform work in 2021.

AISACT continued to provide specialist professional learning programs as identified in the Bilateral Agreement addressing Australian Curriculum, including general capabilities, reporting against the achievement standards, School Leadership, and literacy and numeracy.

The Association has continued to collaborate and contribute with all education sectors in the ACT to provide input through reform specific governance mechanisms and communication especially during the management of COVID in the ACT.

The office of the AISACT enters agreements with a range of providers who provide expert advice and support on an as needs basis to member schools:

Legal Advice – Snedden Hall & Gallop

Employee Assist and Counselling Advice – Catholic Care

Access to PL on Inclusive Practice – Everyone Everyday

Access to Curriculum Resources – C2C

Principals’ Wellbeing Program provided by National Excellence in School Leadership Initiatives NESLI

The Principals’ Wellbeing Program (PWP) supports principals to better understand and proactively manage their day-to-day health and wellbeing to be more effective role models within their schools.

Key Themes

  • Sustaining individual and organisational health
  • Physical, mental and emotional health
  • Self-awareness and self-regulation
  • Responding to organisational trauma and stress
  • Relationships and their impact on our wellbeing

The program connects principals across member schools of the Association of Independent Schools Canberra and is built around the concept of a supportive community of practice.

The delivery of these workshops was transitioned to delivery via zoom as part of the AISACT Covid-19 Response Plan.

Learning Intentions

  • Understand the links between social capital and wellbeing
  • Explore practical strategies to enhance personal wellbeing
  • Understand how to have a meaningful dialogue around wellbeing in your school
  • Help increase social capital and inclusion in your school


Adrienne Day, Director Day & Hodge Associates developed a range of activities to improve understanding of agile governance implementation due to the impact of COVID 19.

A session on key principles of crisis management was presented via Zoom at one of the many Members COVID updates that were held during 2020. It covered:

  • Acute crisis phase – What do we need to prioritise [health and safety, finances, communication]? How do we do this? – checklist to be provided to participants
  • b. Post crisis phase – What lessons did we learn? What do we need to do to rebuild [goals and priorities]? What changes do we need to make? [scenario planning, strategic planning, risk mitigation]
  • Staying on track – monitoring, evaluating progress, adapting

In addition, Day & Hodge were contracted in the development of a key/source document for our Member Schools. - AISACT School Governance Guiding Principles and Recommendations – A Guide to Promote Good Governance.

This is designed to make it easier for participating member schools to turn theory into practice by providing practical tools/templates to support best practice governance, strategic planning, risk management, advocacy and communication. A series of workshops is planned to support member school during 2021 to unpack the guiding principles.

Education Support


In 2020 there were two networks for support of school staff. The Students with Disabilities Network met each term and provided professional learning, networking and resource support in teaching and learning, program support, teaching strategies and collaboration.

The Student Wellbeing Network met across the year and facilitated networking, mentoring and sharing of opportunities.

Both networks also supported schools in the NCCD specifically in moderation, evidence management and appropriate documentation.

Cross Sectoral Collaboration

2020 saw the continuation of cross sectoral collaboration, particularly in information dissemination and moderation for NCCD processes. Schools continue to report that they find these sessions valuable and highly relevant to their work.

Professional Learning

Accredited professional learning in developing Individual Learning Plans and Behaviour Support Plans was offered, both centrally and school based on request. Feedback indicated the value of both programs and so they will be run again across 2021.

The first full day workshop for school support staff was held in term one and was attended by 36 participants from across 10 AISACT schools. Content included role discussion, self-care, working as part of a team as well as opportunities for networking. Feedback was highly positive and similar workshops are planned for 2021.

School and team based professional learning was collaboratively developed on request and included Behaviour Support, NCCD processes and inclusive practices.

Dr Michael Arthur Kelly provided three 2 hour workshops by Zoom across terms 3 and 4. These workshops supported school teams and cross sectoral representatives to reflect on and analyse the quality of teaching adjustments identified for students with disabilities. 32 participants found the workshops valuable for their planning and were very positive about the application of concepts and use of tools to their future work.

Outcomes of the 2018/19 projects were published in the December 2020 issue of The Australasian Journal of Special and Inclusive Education.

Other Support

The Manager of Education Support visited schools and provided advice and resource support in areas relating to NCCD processes as well as specific support on strategies for individual students, building teams and other areas as requested. Advice was also provided around inclusive practices at a strategic level.

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Teaching and Learning

Throughout 2020 the circuit breaker of COVID-19 globally elevated the heart and soul of education into high definition.

This afforded an unprecedented opportunity for staff in Member schools to reflect on the core business of teaching and learning. To appropriate and recontextualise Tony Blair’s words (Oct. 2011), “The kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order the world.” All staff engaged in a masterclass in change management which led to a range of adaptive teaching practice insights and supportive partnerships that enhanced learning outcomes. Initiatives emerged that supported equitable access to high-quality education, and student wellbeing insights. The AISACT Teaching and Learning Subcommittee remained engaged throughout the year, informing and supporting the work of the Association by generously sharing resources and professional insights to maximise educational excellence. The challenge regarding how to maximise and sustain emergent high yield innovative practices remains active.

Amidst this upheaval, Education Ministers agreed to terms of reference for the review of the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum on 12 June. In preparing for the review, ACARA undertook a program of research that included comparative studies of the Australian Curriculum against international curricula; feedback from states and territories on the effectiveness of the Australian Curriculum through its annual monitoring process; and involvement in international research projects such as the OECD 2030 Future of Education and Skills project. ACARA curriculum officers leading the review process worked under the mandate that the current curriculum needs refining, updating and ‘decluttering’ to better support teachers with implementation. AISACT continues to be well represented in these conversations via a range of ACARA curriculum and teacher reference groups.

On 18 February, Dr Jenny Donovan (then at ACARA) accepted an invitation to provide a summative overview of the Learning Progressions and Online Formative Assessment Initiative (LPOFAI) at our T1 Teaching & Learning Subcommittee meeting. Cross-sectoral representatives from ACT education jurisdictions were also invited and all engaged in a consultative process, contributing insights and perspectives to the initiative. The project continues to work towards building an online ecosystem that has interconnected resources, including a suggestion engine that will give direction for progressing individual students forward using differentiated methodology.

Aligned with this initiative is Version 3 of the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions (NLNLPs). Approved by the Education Council, teachers use the progressions as a supplement to the curriculum. The NLNLPs contain indicators that describe what students do or produce as they acquire more knowledge and skills, in turn, helping teachers ‘drill down’ into specific areas of Literacy or Numeracy knowledge, to inform planning and teaching.

Evidence into Action workshop series: using Implementation Science to turn evidence into action.

Member schools again engaged with this initiative throughout 2020. With professional input from Susannah Schoeffel (E4L) participants investigated the hierarchy of evidence (Deeble & Vaughan, 2018) and the latest evidence within the E4L Teaching & Learning Toolkit, including a focus on feedback, metacognition and self-regulation. Use of the implementation plan as a road map for an improvement journey, assisted educators to answer these important questions:

  • What - the approach you want to implement - active ingredients of the intervention
  • How - implementation activities (fidelity, acceptability)
  • How well - the implementation outcomes (short, medium and long term)
  • So what - the changes you hope to see - the student outcomes (short, medium and long term)

Articles pertaining to two AISACT projects were published in 2020 ACER Teacher Magazine editions:

  • 7 September: Implementing the Evidence to Maximise the Impact of Teaching Assistants: Luke Wilsmore (Emmaus Christian School)
  • 5 October: Evidence-based School Improvement – from Vision to Implementation: Liam Stakelum (Marist College Canberra)

2020 participating schools:

Daramalan College, St Edmund’s College, Marist College Canberra, Trinity Christian College, Radford College, Burgmann Anglican School, Canberra Girls Grammar School.

Susannah's professional knowledge and expertise provided the workshop participants with the opportunities to discuss how implementing change in our individual school environments could be possible. There was an air of excitement as skill sets increased in approaching change with the toolkit and basing the invitation to make a change in our schools on relevant and up-to-date research. Thank you!

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This workshop was extremely informative as it further developed my skills in identifying the importance of evidence and the types of evidence that are required to action change. Discussions and interactive activities provided opportunities in recognising evidence that works and assisted in ascertaining what circumstances are required for evidence-informed decision making. Ensuring there is a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence is essential in managing change in a school environment in improving student outcomes.’

Impact Learning Workshops

AISACT continued its partnership with the Impact Learning Team to design and deliver TQI accredited bespoke workshops to support teaching and learning. In response to the COVID-19 situation, workshops were redesigned so that teachers could access them via the Open Learning Australia platform. In excess of 150 teachers registered to complete the self-paced modules, providing positive feedback.

Meaningful Assessment Task Development (Secondary):

This workshop unpacks the National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions (V3) and familiarises participants with this valuable tool. Teachers examine their current units of work, scrutinising the literacy and numeracy demands and opportunities present. Through the lens of the learning progressions, participants will plan future assessment tasks aimed at producing accurate and meaningful results.

All assessments should be audited to ensure that numeracy and literacy demands are not impeding student results Using ACARA’s literacy and numeracy progressions allows greater access for students within an assessment task, letting them capitalise on their knowledge of a subject without being held back.

Developing Problem Solving Skills (Primary/Secondary):

This professional learning provides teachers with the tools and understanding to help their students to develop problem-solving skills.

Convergent and divergent thinking can be complimentary. I have taken away many problem- solving strategies and techniques that will allow me to grow as a professional and as a person.

Data Informed Instruction: Literacy and Numeracy (Primary/Secondary):

These workshops build on previous Literacy and Numeracy workshops. They provide an in-depth look into using data to inform planning for the classroom and schoolwide, equipping participants to begin an action research project.

Effective planning requires effective data collection, and it is what we do with our data that makes the difference. When we analyse qualitative & quantitative together, we get a full picture. It is important to make data driven decisions which are moderated by teacher insights and knowledge of the whole child.

Workshop Model and Formative Assessment: an approach to maximising learning (Primary & Secondary):

This practical session provides an in-depth look at how teachers can organise class time to allow for students to be the ones doing the reading, writing, thinking - and therefore the learning. Using current lessons, participants will unpack the Workshop Model as a tool for planning, conferencing and formative assessment.

The workshop model allows for formative assessment to be integrated more naturally. It allows for differentiation and adjustment. It gives students the opportunity to develop and apply independent thinking skills.

Empowering Success through Numeracy (Secondary):

This professional learning provides secondary teachers with an in-depth look at the Australian Curriculum general capability of numeracy, its relationship with mathematics and how it pertains to subjects other than mathematics. Numeracy is an essential tool for accessing information and demonstrating knowledge in all areas of the curriculum. Explore how numeracy skills can be utilised in all subject areas to enhance student learning.

I’ve taken away a detailed understanding of exactly what numeracy involves, strategies and examples which inspire more application in the classroom.

AISACT Instructional Coaching Project: 2019-2021

The 2019-2021 AISACT Instructional Coaching Program continued its positive trajectory of building internal coaching capacity, in turn, ‘turbo charging’ the effectiveness of implementing instructional coaching in each school’s respective context. The 2020 workshops were designed to further develop the 2019 AISACT Instructional Coaching foundations.

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Workshop 1: Instructional Coaching: Implementation Science Workshops (February & August)

Dr Mark Dowley (Instructional Coach Leader) and Dr Ray Swann (Deputy Headmaster) from Brighton Grammar School shared their experience and expertise regarding how to meaningfully use instructional coaching to enhance teaching and learning. Participants engaged in a range of workshops, unpacking the implementation science of Instructional Coaching such as:

  • Fidelity (the degree to which an approach and support system are conducted as planned, coaching supervision and deliberate practice)
  • Acceptability (evidence, jointly determined outcomes, adult learning, change, trust, stewardship)
  • Quality of Implementation (engagement and responsiveness of stakeholders
  • Dosage (amount of input and participation in componentry)

Workshop 2: Essential Coaching Skills (2-16 September)

Facilitated by Chris Munro (Director GCI) and Andrea Stringer (Managing Consultant GCI), a series of workshops provided participants with opportunities to develop key coaching skills, a conversational framework and strategic knowledge aligned to The Impact Cycle Concept Framework.

Workshop 3: A Coaching Approach to Managing Challenging Conversations (2-7 December)

Facilitated by Chris Munro (Director GCI) and Andrea Stringer (Managing Consultant GCI), this advanced series of workshops built on prior skills and knowledge of the AISACT Instructional Coaching cohort. The objectives were to:

  • Develop an understanding of the value of giving difficult feedback to surface blind spots in behaviours, attitudes and performance
  • Identify strategies for providing the positive feedback and recognition in ways that others value
  • Explore typical workplace scenarios requiring honest, courageous feedback
  • Be introduced to practical tools and resources for managing challenging conversations
  • Develop strategies for bringing emotional intelligence to interactions that ensures self-esteem and respectful relationships remain intact
  • Gain confidence to deal with challenging behaviours and situations
  • Build one’s approach to taking a coaching approach to ‘non’ coaching conversations

2020 participating schools:

Marist College Canberra, Trinity Christian College, Radford College, Burgmann Anglican School, Snowy Mountains Grammar School, Emmaus Christian School, Canberra Girls Grammar School.

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Image of Teaching and Learning Subcommittee

Image of Teaching and Learning Subcommittee

AISACT subscription to AIM & CPM Virtual & Online Capability Development Programs

AISACT partnered again with the Australian Institute of Management Education and Training (AIM) to provide an opportunity for members to access an extensive range of AIM programs. The courses were applicable for both administrative and teaching staff in Member schools and were delivered via the digital platform zoom between June to November. 50 participants from Member schools were involved in this initiative, with a total of 55 courses attended over the six-month period. Two additional AIM online courses, Resilience During Uncertainty and Addressing Difficult Behaviours, were also provided for staff in Member schools. The feedback from attendees was extremely positive.

AISACT Staff Wellbeing Initiative 2019-2020

In partnership with Exhale People, AISACT continued its delivery of a bespoke wellbeing program for staff in Member Schools. This two-year program, designed to create a holistic and sustainable wellbeing solution for staff, now has several Adesso Accredited Wellbeing Ambassadors in Member schools. Using benchmark data from the Adesso profiling tool, a tailored suite of programs based on developmental preferences is utilised by Wellbeing Ambassadors in participating schools to drive long-term sustainable results. Participants are well positioned to continue in 2021 and to add depth to their skillsets via engagement in an AISACT Staff Wellbeing Community of Practice.

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2020 participating schools:

Canberra Girls Grammar School, Canberra Montessori School, Marist College, Trinity Christian School, St Edmund’s College, Islamic School of Canberra, The Anglican School Googong, Marist College Canberra.

2020 AISACT Emerging Leaders Program NESLI: Enhancing Leadership Capabilities

This AISACT leadership program was designed by NESLI to address the leadership and interpersonal challenges associated with a leading teacher position. Co-delivered by Dr Janet Smith and Andrea Dean (NESLI), the program focused on preparing the next generation of Australia’s school leaders by equipping participants with the insights, skills and confidence to accelerate their own development as they strengthen their relationships and outcomes of their students, teams and wider school community. Activities and discussions were related back to the day-to-day realities of the participant group ensuring learning outcomes were contextualised to their specific needs.

Learning Intentions

  • To build authentic leadership capability
  • Develop responses to managing self-regulation and wellbeing
  • Understand the importance of student contribution and context in schools
  • Apply coaching principles to teaching and learning
  • Understand and progress school relationships
  • Develop capacity to address conflict in schools

It is impossible to pull just one thing out! The theory was all evidence and data based/driven and each week there were a variety of rich strategies to discover and unpack. The theory was useful to be able to understand where the ideas come from in terms of people management, and the strategies were useful and able to be implemented in the day-to-day job I am doing.

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Image of Workshops

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Significant Events

AISACT Leadership Breakfast Series

The AISACT Leadership Breakfast Series has been established by the Association to engage school leaders across the ACT, irrespective of schooling sector, in issues of significance and importance in the education sphere; specifically, lessons in leadership as delivered by guest speakers, and how these lessons may be transferred to schools to enhance the learning achievements of all students.

The challenges for leadership in educational settings are numerous, and school leaders increasingly look beyond their own environments to learn more and improve their leadership capacity. In organising the breakfast series, the speakers are not necessarily part of the regular education speaking circuit. Rather, their expertise in leadership, and their leadership journey, provide transferable lessons in leadership for educators across Canberra.

Invitations to attend the breakfasts are extended to all schools in the ACT.

Due to Covid-19 in 2020 we were only able to host one breakfast with the keynote speaker Dan Haesler. Dan then collaborated in reimagining the 2020 Colloquium.

Dan Haesler

Title of Address: Lead Less?

How might knowing, saying & doing less make you a better leader?

As a Director of Cut Through Coaching & Consulting, Dan Haesler works with corporate leaders, elite athletes & teams as well as educators.

He is an international keynote speaker and regularly presents alongside industry leaders as well as the occasional Olympian and Oscar Winner. A couple of times he has presented alongside His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His first book, #SchoolOfThought is available now with every cent going to support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to help get books and reading programs to some of our hardest-to-reach communities.

AISACT COLLOQUIUM reimagined - Dan Haesler 10 September

Building Authentic Engagement through Appreciative Inquiry

Launched via zoom - 10 September - The framework of Appreciative Inquiry.

“At its heart, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is about the search for the best in people, their organisations, and the strengths-filled, opportunity-rich world around them. AI is not so much a shift in the methods and models of organisational change, but AI is a fundamental shift in the overall perspective taken throughout the entire change process to ‘see’ the wholeness of the human system and to “inquire” into that system’s strengths, possibilities, and successes.” Stavros, Jacqueline, Godwin, Lindsey, & Cooperrider, David. (2015).

The launch via Zoom on 10 September, covered the Define stage and was followed by four self-paced modules:

Discover 17 September
Dream 8 October
Design 29 October
Deliver 12 November

Each self-paced module was flexibly structured to include:

  • 20 minutes of “Catalyst Content” in the form of pre-recorded videos from Dan
  • A range of guided activities to support key learnings and potential implementation of each stage
  • Podcasts, further readings and
  • Opportunity for Q&A with Dan and online networking conversation.

This was delivered through Dan’s learning platform, Cut through Online.

Appreciative Inquiry involves a 5D Process

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The Association welcomed guests, Board Members and staff from Member Schools to the AISACT End of Year Leadership Function Event held at the National Portrait Gallery on Friday 13 November 2020. The event provided attendees with the opportunity to celebrate the work of the member school leaders who had made significant contributions to education in Independent schools and the Association during 2020.

Each year the Award for Leadership and Excellence in ACT Independent Education is awarded. The award recognises an individual who, in the opinion of the members, best met the Association’s mission of “Excellence in ACT Independent education”.

In 2020 a decision was made at the office that we would not seek nominations for this award this year – not because of the complexities of 2020, but because it was decided that staff in the office would make the award.

So, for demonstrating outstanding leadership, and for advancing educational excellence through the promotion of a strong independent school sector in 2020, the recipient of the Award was EVERY Member and Associate Member school.

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During the evening departing Members of the ACT were farewelled by the Chair Dr Justin Garrick who sincerely thanked them for their work and contributions to the Association and, of course, to their schools.

The Chair also took the opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the extraordinary contribution to education of a Member of the Executive Committee, Rita Daniels, who retired at the end of 2020.

Rita Daniels has been the Principal of Daramalan College since January 2009. She came to that role after spending seven years as Principal of St Clare’s College, and one year as Acting Principal of St Mary MacKillop College.

Rita worked as a teacher and as an Assistant Principal at Daramalan from late 1979 through to the end of 2000, so she was well acquainted with Daramalan before returning as Principal. While at St Clare’s College, Rita was the ACT representative on the Catholic Secondary Principals’ Association and was very active in Principals Australia, an organisation that promoted on-going learning for principals.

After moving to Daramalan College as Principal, she continued her work on the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies and over that time she chaired a number of that Board’s committees.

In addition to work-related committees, she has been a member of the Company of the Australia Catholic University and a member of the Marymead Board.

For the Association, Rita has been on the Executive Committee of AISACT since 2010, and most recently served with distinction as our Chair. Rita also served on the Board of the national body, the Independent Schools Council of Australia.

Rita’s contribution to her schools, to independent education, and to the Association, over the years cannot be understated. We are all the better for her driving passion for education, her commitment to excellence, her focus, her sharp wit, and her now infamous observation that a proposed policy document was simply ‘motherhood waffle’.

When she retired at the end of 2020, Rita would have worked for just over forty years in ACT education.

Rita Daniels Leadership Response.

Excerpts from Rita’s address:

I feel extremely fortunate that in my 20 years as a Principal I have always been very well affirmed and supported by my employers, my Boards and by the people around me, in each of the schools I have worked in and beyond them.

“In my first year as a Principal the world experienced the terrible events of 9/11 and while this event happened on the other side of the world the ramifications in terms of our world being shaken up and people feeling much less safe were felt both quickly and dramatically in our schools. Like all of you here, I am sure you remember that time very well. For those of us who were in leadership roles then, like me you would have played a significant part in trying to promote a sense of optimism and hope for the future within our students to counter the fear that was so prevalent then. Some of those fears eased over time but the world was certainly changed after this event.

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To finish my time as a Principal in the year of COVID-19 has presented many challenges also. For most of this year we have all felt a bit less safe, concerned about what impacts of the virus there could be on our families and friends, especially the most vulnerable, on our school communities and so on. It is not over yet, but I think that many of us have grown and learned much through the challenges we faced this year also, as once again we have looked for the best ways to support our students through periods of remote learning, provided alternate ways of marking key events in their lives but most importantly of enabling them to stay connected with each other and maintain a positive outlook for their future.

Being around young people in schools can be quite challenging at times as we know but I think it is also an extraordinary privilege.

I think that this year has also provided us as school leaders wonderful opportunities to do things in different ways, to spend less time travelling to meetings, to attend fewer events, to receive greater acknowledgement and appreciation by the broader community for the outstanding work that those who work in schools do every day.

I did not set out to be a Principal, in fact I did not really set out to be a teacher but that’s another story. When I began my work as a teacher, I found it incredibly satisfying and I am very proud of the fact that a significant number of my former students have become teachers and some are now Principals in Canberra and beyond …..... I think it is important for us to promote a career in education and in education leadership as both rewarding and very important ways people can contribute positively to the community.

When I first became a Principal, I decided that it was important for me to not only do my job well within the school but also to step out of my own school and to contribute where possible to the broader educational community in which I have worked. By doing this, I have gained much that I think has made me a better leader and I am very appreciative of the many opportunities I have had over the years as a result of working on various boards or committees.

These opportunities to contribute to decisions about how to hold on to what is important in education or to making changes that were likely to bring about improvements for students or simply to make the best of the available options have been interesting, quite challenging at times but also highly rewarding on a professional level.

For the past twelve years I have greatly valued the collegiality that comes from being a member of AISACT, from working with fellow Principals, the Business Managers as well as all the staff in the AISACT office. I regard AISACT as being an organisation that genuinely supports its members in productive ways through the provision of a wide range of quality professional learning, through to keeping members up to date about issues that impact on our schools, but also through the individual and collaborative support provided to schools and Principals, in particular.

Being around students sometimes makes me feel quite old (which I am) but much more importantly being around students certainly makes me feel very much alive, and alert. The enthusiasm, energy, openness and caring nature of the overwhelming number of students I have encountered over my career has been inspiring. That is one thing I will miss in 2021 and beyond.

I wish to end by simply saying thank you to everyone for your good wishes, your kind words and your collegiality over the years. I am leaving with a sense of fulfilment following more than 40 years as an educator and I have few regrets.

I believe that I have been blessed in my work and in what I have been able to achieve with the support of so many wonderful people around me.

Take care of yourselves and each other. And thank you.”

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Statement of Comprehensive Income

ABN: 51 980 437 786

Note 2020
Government assistance 100,000 -
Interest income 9,755 20,092
Other income 11,245 6,280
Program administration 8,266 12,135
Reform support fund 484,071 506,135
Subscriptions 352,139 337,691
965,476 882,333
Administration and office expenses 49,323 51,667
Amortisation - right of use asset 9 35,213 35,213
Consultancy and legal 8,754 7,785
Depreciation 16,230 16,424
Employee benefits expense 603,129 584,216
Interest on lease liability 9 6,114 7,666
IT expenses 7,167 5,948
Loss on disposal of assets 660 -
Other expenses - 9,301
Projects 187,339 194,767
Rent and equipment lease 6,433 3,153
Services to schools 5,389 -
Subscriptions 50,834 48,821
Travel - domestic 2,528 11,084
979,113 976,045
(Deficit) for the year (13,637) (93,712)
Total comprehensive (loss) for the year (13,637) (93,712)


Member Schools

Blue Gum Community School

Brindabella Christian College

Burgmann Anglican School

Canberra Christian School

Canberra Girls Grammar School

Canberra Grammar School

Canberra Jewish School

Canberra Montessori School

Covenant Christian School

Daramalan College

Emmaus Christian School

Communities@Work Galilee School

Islamic School of Canberra

Marist College Canberra

Orana Steiner School

Radford College

St Edmund’s College

Taqwa School

Trinity Christian School

Associate Member Schools

The Anglican School Googong

Snowy Mountains Grammar School

General Meeting Members

Maureen Hartung OAM
Blue Gum Community School

Suzanne Power, Jay De Mel
Brindabella Christian College

Steven Bowers, Joel Anderson
Burgmann Anglican School

Bree Hills
Canberra Christian School

Anna Owen, Matt O’Brien, Melanie Andrews
Canberra Girls Grammar School

Dr Justin Garrick, Kent Peters
Canberra Grammar School

Rael Matthews, Kate Luck
Canberra Montessori School

Martin Keast, Tim James
Covenant Christian School

Rita Daniels, Hugh Boulter
Daramalan College

Erik Hofsink, Charlotte Kruger
Emmaus Christian School

Tim McNevin
Galilee School

Dr Mahmood Eid
Islamic School of Canberra

Matthew Hutchison, Christine Worth
Marist College Canberra

Jacqui Lee
Orana Steiner School

Fiona Godfrey, David Perceval
Radford College

Joe Zavone, Samantha Brady
St Edmund’s College

Amanda Bartels, Talib Sanoon
Taqwa School

Ian Hewitt, Karen Achurch
Trinity Christian School

Merryn Clarksmith, Heather Walsh
The Anglican School, Googong

Andrew Bell, David Evans
Snowy Mountains Grammar School

Executive Committee

Dr Justin Garrick (Chair)
Canberra Grammar School

Steven Bowers (Deputy Chair)
Burgmann Anglican School

Rita Daniels (Immediate Past Chair)
Daramalan College

Heather Walsh
The Anglican School, Googong

Ian Hewitt
Trinity Christian School

Christine Worth
Marist College Canberra

Samantha Brady
St Edmund’s College, Canberra

Maureen Hartung OAM
Blue Gum Community School

Anna Owen
Canberra Girls Grammar School

Jacqui Lee
Orana Steiner School

Andrew Wrigley

Finance Risk and Audit Subcommittee

Heather Walsh (Chair)

Christine Worth
Marist College Canberra

David Holmesby

Karen Achurch
Trinity Christian School

Samantha Brady
St Edmund’s College

Charlotte Kruger
Emmaus Christian School

David Perceval
Radford College

Tim James
Covenant Christian School

Andrew Wrigley

Serita Cordeiro

Joanne Garrisson

Teaching and Learning Subcommittee

Erik Hofsink (Chair, concluding T2)
Emmaus Christian School

Anna Owen (Chair, commencing T3)
Canberra Girls Grammar School

Naomi Cole
Trinity Christian School

Lisa Hivers
Galilee School

Chris De Britt
Daramalan College

Alison Easey
Burgmann Anglican School

Rachel McClure
Emmaus Christian School

Liam Stakelum
Marist College Canberra

Peter O’Donnell
Brindabella Christian School

Tim Bibbens
St Edmund’s College

Louise Wallace Richards
Radford College

Tara Dunstall
Canberra Girls Grammar School

Andy Gordon
Radford College

Joanna Leaman
Canberra Grammar School

Gillian Hetherington
The Anglican School Googong

Ashleigh Pratt
Snowy Mountains Grammar School

Kath Morwitch

Joanne Garrisson

Education Support Subcommittee

Ian Hewitt (Chair)
Trinity Christian School

Grant Barclay
Marist College Canberra

Leonie Owens
Marist College Canberra

Cath Amesbury
Burgmann Anglican School

Andrew Wrigley

Joanne Garrisson

Sue Roche

Early Years Learning Subcommittee

Maureen Hartung OAM
Blue Gum Community School, Chair

Subhadra Chapman
Blue Gum Community School

Kathe Columbine
Canberra Girls Grammar School

Karen Mahar
Radford College

Andrew Wrigley

Joanne Garrisson

Staff of the AISACT Office

Andrew Wrigley
Executive Director

Joanne Garrisson
Senior Manager Strategic Programs

Kath Morwitch
Senior Manager Curriculum and Professional Development

Sue Roche
Manager, Education Support

Serita Cordeiro
Finance Officer/Office Manager

Image of Staff

Image of Staff

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Image of Teaching and Learning Main

Image of Teaching and Learning Main