Kirk Grinham - Sydney Technical High School

For Sydney Technical High School Deputy Principal Kirk Grinham, being part of the first Aspiring Principals Leadership Program helped him better understand what effective school leadership looks like in practice.

Kirk has been at Sydney Technical HS since 2011, first as a head teacher before progressing to deputy, and is keen to use what he learned in the program to build on his career as a leader.

When he started the APLP in 2018 he had been a deputy for two years and was looking at how he could prepare to take on the role of principal in the future.

“It came along at the most ideal time for me. The learnings and the readings …really helped me craft my own definition of what effective school leadership has to be, and I don’t necessarily think I would be where I am now in that understanding if I wasn’t in that cohort,” he said.

He said the work of Viviane Robinson was a “real lightbulb moment” for him during the course as it reinforced the importance of student-centred leadership.

After taking part in the APLP Kirk was inspired to begin his Masters in Education, with a focus on management and leadership.

He said the APLP was different to other professional learning programs because of the prestige, the attention to detail in the course offerings, and the significant time and human resources that went into developing the program.

During the COVID-19 crisis Kirk said he used the School Leadership Institute’s Leadership for Inquiry and Innovation framework as a new ‘lens’ through which to approach the challenge of providing ongoing teaching and learning for students when working at home.

“I did a lot of research around different models that existed all around the world in lots of different sectors of schooling. I think it gave me more confidence to help guide our teachers towards a more differentiated type of online teaching the longer remote learning went on.

“So I think that in terms of innovation, my participation in the APLP was just really timely and fortuitous because we could get on the front foot and really have an evidence-based approach.”

Kirk said he regularly spoke to his colleagues in the school and across his networks about the APLP and recommended it to others whenever possible.

“It has certainly impacted on my leadership in a way that I will be forever grateful for,” he said.


  • Teaching and learning

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  • School Leadership Institute
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