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The benefits of early-career certification

The benefits of early-career certification

4 minute read

For Melissa Scully, becoming a Certified Practising Principal (CPP) was about building trust.

It was about showing her community that her leadership practice was making an impact.

‘It’s a really important step in our profession to gain respect from our community, so that people value teachers and leadership and principals,’ the Ashtonfield Public School principal said. ‘There are extremely high expectations about principals.

‘We are caring for the most precious thing on earth, and that’s our community’s children, so trust is everything.’

‘Other professions have certification and I really believe that leadership and principals should have the same process, so the community knows we have the best people in place to look after their most treasured asset.’

Mrs Scully leads Ashtonfield Public School, which is home to 540 students and 50 staff. A passionate leader, she loves her job and cares deeply about her students.

‘I love that I’m with kids every day and I find it so rewarding seeing them grow and the impact the development of their learning has from kindergarten to year 6,’ she said. ‘It’s that face-to-face time with kids that I enjoy the most – helping them when they come to you with a little hiccup like a friendship problem, and being able to listen and support them.’

‘It’s a really important step in our profession to gain respect from our community, so that people value teachers and leadership and principals. There are extremely high expectations about principals.'

Melissa Scully, Principal, Ashtonfield Public School, NSW


Becoming a CPP

Mrs Scully became a Certified Practising Principal in 2017, in her first appointment as a principal.

CPP is an independent professional certification that allows principals from all education sectors to hone their leadership skills. Upon completion, principals walk away with an enhanced ability to think critically about their practice and the tools to institute a long-term strategy for improvement in their school.

‘That evaluative thinking underpins everything I do now,’ Mrs Scully said. ‘If you don’t ask how you’ve been going along the way, there is no basis for moving forward.’

Mrs Scully said undertaking CPP early on in her career was one of the best moves she could have made, and recommends other early-careers principals consider it.

‘I think that because I did CPP early in my principalship journey, it has set in concrete that that’s my ‘business as usual’ now,’ she said. ‘As you’re learning your craft, that’s the time to really look at some great evaluative models, network with leaders and reflect on how other people think.’

Leading through the pandemic

Mrs Scully said despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the evaluative processes she developed during CPP had held her in good stead in terms of leading through a pandemic.

‘I think the removal of students from our school has made us re-evaluate why we’re here,’ she said. ‘When the students weren’t on site, there was an enormous gap for teachers.

‘With students back, the positives are the connections, the relationships that are reforming, the time we’re spending with our students to make sure their world at school is safe.’

‘The world can fall apart, but school has to be the safe space, and re-establishing those relationships has been such a positive for us,’ Mrs Scully said.

Interested in becoming a CPP?

Whether you’re an earlier career principal wanting to set yourself apart from others or a seasoned school leader looking for growth, we’d love to hear from you.

CPP will not only hone your leadership skills through critical assessment and reflection, it will also set you on the right course towards tangible school improvement.

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