Bushfire relief strategy

During 2020 the SLI offered a range of tailored leadership development and professional learning programs to principals and DELs of bushfire-affected schools, as part of the wider DoE Bushfire Relief Strategy. This Strategy supported the NSW Government’s commitment to helping communities devastated by the 2019/20 fires recover and regenerate.

A number of principals and DELs had the opportunity to engage in six individual coaching sessions, designed for leaders who have been through a stressful leadership experience. The SLI partnered with an organisation who designed and delivered the Thriving for Tomorrow program. This program helped leaders reflect on their experience, optimise learning and further develop their emotional intelligence skills so they can lead their school communities to recover and thrive.

In 2021 the sessions will be offered to a number of new or relieving principals in affected schools.

The SLI also held two leadership development webinars which were available to all principals and DELs who were impacted by fires. The webinars explored the leadership thinking and behaviours embedded in the SLI leadership frameworks. This information will help principals as they lead their communities into the future.

Following the webinars, trained Principal Facilitators provided support to small groups of principals which strengthened networks between bushfire-affected schools. They also engaged in conversations about the application of the frameworks to their leadership and school planning processes.

Here is what some of our principals had to say about the Thriving for Tomorrow coaching program.

The Thriving for Tomorrow coaching program draws upon principals’ recent experiences and develops their leadership capacities.

Three principals who took part in the coaching program all agree the program has helped them lead their school communities through such times of crisis.

Wallerawang Public School Principal, Jenny Lamborn, said she saw the coaching program as an opportunity for her to build on her capacity as a leader and reflect on her leadership during the bushfire disaster.

Mrs Lamborn said it gave her insight into herself as a leader, what she needed to do to support others and how she could do all this while continuing to look at the school’s core business which is the students.

Bilpin Public School Principal, Melanie Mackie, said it has been great for her as she has been involved in a lot of discussions at her school, and feels that when you are providing a lot of emotional support to others you tend to forget about yourself.

Narooma High School Principal, Fiona Jackson, said she found the coaching sessions provided her with good tools to use as a school leader.

“I strongly believe, if I’m in a good place, my staff is in a good place, the kids will be in a good place. It is really important that I am showing students and staff that I need time for my journey as well,’’ Mrs Jackson said.

School Principal with students outside Wallerang Public School
Image: Wallerang Public School Principal Jenny Lamborn with students
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