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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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The Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia project: an initiative for principals

Allan Goedecke
Partnerships Manager, Asia Education Foundation

The Leading 21st Century Schools: Engage with Asia project is a new national initiative of the Asia Education Foundation (AEF) focused on principals to support improved learning outcomes in studies of Asia and Australia. The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and works in partnership with the peak principal associations of Australia and all state and territory education jurisdictions.

Background and aims

The AEF has recognised that the support of principals is essential in the development of sustainable, whole-school studies of Asia and Australia policies and curriculum. Accordingly, the project is centred on the vital role principals play in leading the work of internationalising the curriculum and preparing Australian students to be global citizens.

The project is a fully funded professional learning program for principals from government and non-government sectors. The professional learning activities will enable principals to build their schools’ capacities to equip students with intercultural knowledge and understandings and expand their local and national networks with other leading principals.

The project will involve two phases. Phase 1 will be undertaken during 2008. It will support a national network of 120 leading primary and secondary principals to work at the forefront of curriculum change. The whole group of leading principals will be involved in an engagement and awareness raising strategy about studies of Asia and Australia in curriculum.

Phase 2, to be undertaken in 2009, involves the provision of school grants to a selected smaller cohort of principals that will deepen their commitment to support curriculum change. These principals will have the opportunity to embed Studies of Asia and Australia within their curriculum particularly in the learning areas of Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE), English and The Arts. They will have the flexibility to determine the level of involvement that best suits their particular context.

Key partnerships

 The key partners for this project include:

  • Australian Primary Principals’ Association (APPA)
  • Australian Secondary Principals’ Association (ASPA)
  • Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA)
  • Catholic Secondary Principals Australia (CaSPA)
  • Australian Principals’ Associations Professional Development Council (APAPDC)
  • National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC)
  • Australian Joint Council of Professional Teaching Associations (AJCPTA)
  • In addition to these associations, key partners include all education systems including, where possible, state leadership institutes.

State and Territory Coordinating Groups (STCG)

The project is being managed locally by cross-sectoral State and Territory Coordinating Groups that comprise representatives from principals associations and departments of education. The STCGs will identify high calibre primary and secondary principals to participate in the project.

Key activities for 2008 and 2009

The aim of the first phase in 2008 is to deliver professional learning to principals nationally to support subsequent curriculum reviews in schools. Major activities are:

  • National training conducted by the AEF to familiarise members of STCGs with the professional learning processes and products available to support their leadership of the project at state/territory level
  • AEF National Forum, which is a 2-day professional learning program at the Hyatt Regency, Adelaide 19/20 May 2008 for participating principals, members of STCGs and invited additional principals and education department representatives. The purpose of the forum is to:
    • Promote the uptake of the National Statement for Engaging Young Australians with Asia in Australian Schools
    • Highlight the need for the inclusion of studies of Asia and Australia (SoAA) in schools’ curriculum
    • Showcase good practice in schools
    • Provide strategies for leading and sustaining school curriculum change in SoAA
    • Build State/Territory networks to support inclusion of SoAA.

Following the forum, principals will be supported to undertake school-based activities such as awareness raising with staff and school communities of the imperatives for including SoAA or conducting curriculum audits of SoAA.

In November 2008, participating principals will have the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to support school action during Phase 2 in 2009. Successful schools will be supported to lead curriculum change and implement studies of Asia and Australia in schools. The 2009 AEF National Forum in August will showcase the outcomes of principals’ school action plans.

Reports of the projects’ progress and good practice in schools will be made available on the AEF website at: http://www.asiaeducation.edu.au.

About the Asia Education Foundation 

The AEF receives funding support from the Australian Government Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to promote the studies of Asia in Australian primary and secondary schools. The AEF works in partnership with education authorities in each state and territory to develop policy and curriculum support materials and deliver professional learning programs. The AEF is a foundation of Asialink at The University of Melbourne and Curriculum Corporation.

The AEF has three major goals:

  • Lead a national collaborative strategy to support the uptake of the National Statement for Engaging Young Australians with Asia in Australian Schools
  • Promote to system leaders, school leaders, teachers, parents and the wider education community the importance for Australian school students to develop understanding, knowledge and skills related to studies of Asia and Australia
  • Support system leaders, school leaders and teachers to implement the National Statement. 

Further information about the National Statement and the AEF’s work is available at: http://www.asiaeducation.edu.au and from State and Territory Project Executive Officers for the AEF. 


Subject Headings

Professional development
School principals
Educational planning