School Principal Simon Mulready was a recipient of the prestigious Harvard Club of Australia Education Scholarship.  He elected to study ‘Leadership: An Evolving Vision’ at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in July 2016. Here’s what he took away from the course.

Every day in public schools across Australia, principals advocate for the vision they want for their school. They advocate when stopping to talk with students in the playground. They advocate when chatting with parents at the school gate. They advocate in the staffroom when sharing a morning coffee with a teacher. But what is our message? For what are we advocating? What is our vision?

School principals often have little time to invest in the planning, thinking and strategy for their school vision. Sometimes a clarity of vision can be lost. With so many competing priorities, this core work of school leadership can easily be put aside. At the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I was reminded of the significance of this foundational work, which provides the framework for what our schools will look like.

Undertaking the course, Leadership, an Evolving Vision, I was fortunate to hear from world-leading academics and engage with world-leading educators, as I reflected on my vision for my school. Together, we spent time delving into school culture, unpacking school strategy and shaping and refining a vision for school excellence.

A key message which has remained with me, since returning from Harvard, was that of Prof Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, who explained that every school principal is the identity prototype for their vision for the school. This means, that every conversation, every communication, every interaction, will reflect my vision for the school. More than this, the way in which I lead, the manner with which I speak and the style of my engagement, will be resounding in its proclamation.

But this is not enough. The vision must be the lens for school planning. The vision must be at the heart of school strategy. The vision must be at the forefront of every decision that I make.

Humbled, enriched, re-focused and inspired, I know that I am a better school leader because of the opportunity provided to me by the Public Education Foundation, together with the Harvard Club of Australia and the Teachers Mutual Bank.

Simon Mulready

Principal, Floraville Public School