Interview with Anika Blackmore, Principal of Balga Primary School
Anika talks about the Fogarty EDvance program and what she’s currently focused on as school principal at Balga Primary School.
Q1: Name 3 valuable things you gained from being part of the Fogarty EDvance program?
Through my engagement with the program I developed a deeper understanding of the importance of committing the time to establish the pre-conditions for school improvement, prior to implementing improvement initiatives.
The program is designed for Leadership teams, which meant that we built the capacity of the whole team (not just the Principal). As a result of active participation in the extensive professional learning program everyone had increased role clarity and ownership over designing and implementing the three-year strategic plan.
The program gave me an increased appreciation of the importance of having a sustained focus on both your organisation’s health (school culture) and improved student academic achievement.
Q2: What is something you wish you had known earlier in your career?
The evidence base around effective change management.
Q3: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received about being a principal?
“It’s better to go slow in the right direction that to go fast in the wrong direction”.
Q4: What is the latest topic on your mind?
I am currently reading Schools that Deliver (Bill Martin and J Edwards) so I would have to say ‘transformative leadership and creating an aligned culture’.
Q5: Would you recommend other principals apply to be part of the Fogarty EDvance program? Why?
Yes! The program is comprehensive and is structured in a way that provides a balance between high levels of support and accountability. Our mentor Su, provided extensive support when developing and monitoring the strategic plan and provided ongoing advice to ensure alignment of our school’s vision with the key themes, objectives, strategies and targets outlined in the plan. The Expert Engagement component allows schools to receive ongoing practical support in professional learning, including in-class modelling and coaching to ensure teachers are fully supported to implement new approaches.
Through my active involvement in the program I have developed a much wider network of colleagues committed to promoting evidence based school improvement and sharing best practice teaching and learning, with the ultimate aim of improving the life chances of ALL students across our system.