The event

The event

The Principal For A Day ‘shadows’ the school principal and participates in normal day-to-day activities in a primary, special or secondary school.

The principal and the Principal For A Day discuss the challenges and current issues each is facing in their leadership role. Other activities on the day usually include a tour of the school buildings and site; and discussions with students and teachers.

The forum

The process

All Principals For A Day and host principals are carefully matched to provide the best possible experience. Once you have registered, we'll ask for more information, such as your professional goals and interests, and a member of our team will contact you to discuss your needs.

The relationship

The relationship


Independent research has found that the experience of participating in the program is mutually beneficial for schools and Principals For A Day.

Principal For A Day is a valuable and rewarding experience for participants, and many Principals For A Day and schools continue their relationships on a voluntary basis. Results to date include professional learning exchanges, curriculum development, careers advice, job offers to students, industry and work experience visits, two-way mentoring and sharing of ideas and resources.

Image copyright: ABC Melbourne's Jacinta Parsons at Sydney Road Community School for PFAD 2019

In 2019, 774 ABC Melbourne Breakfast co-host Jacinta Parsons was Principal For A Day at Brunwick's Sydney Road Community School. Listen to Jacinta's story [8 minutes 42 seconds].

Bayswater Secondary College Principal Warren Dawson and entrepreneur Ms Daizy Maan (Program Manager, SPARK, Deakin University, founder Bold Punjab, entrepreneur), talk about the challenges facing students and the skills young people need to achieve success in the workplaces of the future.

Benefits for school principals

Benefits for school principals

  • Acquire new insights on leadership from successful leaders in other spheres.

  • Showcase the school to significant business and community leaders.

  • Develop ongoing relationships for the school and its students.
Benefits for business and community leaders

Benefits for business and community leaders

  • Increase knowledge of the issues facing schools and the work they are doing.

  • Share ideas and perspectives on leading complex and innovative organisations.

  • Add value to their own organisation through participation.

I am interested in my school participating in Principal For A Day

I am interested in being a Principal For A Day

In 2001, when Principal for a Day launched in Victoria, the theme was “Leadership and Learning, Indispensable to each other”. Many years on, it continues to provide business and community leaders with the opportunity to shadow a school leader, and in doing so, to increase shared understandings and build effective relationships between schools and the wider community.

Mary Cahill, founder Principal For A Day in Australia

Principal For A Day®

Program features

Participants from diverse backgrounds and geographical locations are able to share their leadership experiences, observations, networks and knowledge.

Our individualised matching process of business and community leaders with school principals ensures a good fit between personal and professional interests, areas of expertise, organisational priorities and location.

A comprehensive information kit that includes biographical and organisational profiles briefs matched participants on each other’s backgrounds and priorities.


Ongoing relationships between Principals For A Day and school leaders, with positive long-term benefits for both parties, are an optional but frequent outcome.

About Principal For A Day®

Principal For A Day® launched in Australia in 2001 and has been managed by ACER since 2006. It is currently operating in state primary, secondary and special schools in Victoria and is funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) through the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership. Expressions of interest from other education systems in joining the Principal For A Day program are most welcome.

Principal For A Day® in Australia is modelled after the program of the same name developed by PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning) in the United States. ACER acknowledges the generosity of PENCIL in allowing the use of their materials.

Principal For A Day is a very important program, and all business leaders should be encouraged to participate. It gives a real insight to the challenges we face in helping all students realise their potential, and what we as business leaders can, and must, do to help.

Michael Ullmer, Director Lend Lease, Director Woolworths

Mission and aims

The mission of Principal For A Day® is to increase and strengthen partnerships between schools and the community.

Principal For A Day® aims to:

  • Increase understanding and awareness between schools, business and the wider community
  • Promote the great work that schools do
  • Provide business and community leaders with first-hand and current experiences of schools
  • Enable school principals to develop on-going relationships with leaders from other spheres
  • Increase opportunities for schools and the community to work together in mutually beneficial ways.


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